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David Campbell

46 year old Tele Elmar f4 135mm

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I have just bought a Leica Tele-Elmar 1:4/135 lens (11851), serial no. 2383908. So, it is 46 years old. It is in its original box with original guarantee card, and appears to have never been used - it is absolutely as brand new without a single mark or blemish on it - must be a record!!

Look in my 2 x Gallery pics for an example of this lens used on my M-P 240.

The clock house in the centre of the first picture is exactly 1645 metres (1 mile) away from the camera - and the 2nd picture is just a “crop” from the original.

What a testament to the quality of the Leica lens!

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I also have in near new condition. I think few owners actually used the lens after the initial novelty has worn off which explains why many samples have survived in such fine condition. It has to be one of the better bargains in used Leica lenses and comes into its own on the M-240. Welcome to the forum.

 

Why not post your pictures in this forum for ease of viewing?

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You have made a good purchase. I bought my copy, serial no. 2232369 1967 vintage, from its original purchaser who must have used it very lightly and looked after it well as it is in near mint condition and only the box shows minor signs of wear. It gives similar results to your copy. As you may know the head is detatchable and can be used with Bellows II for macro work. I have also used the Tele Elmar on my Olympus E-M1 when of course it behaves like a 270mm lens and benefits from image stabilisation.

 

It is indeed a testament to Leica lens quality. At present it is a bargain and I feel no need to update to a more modern lens.

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Thanks for your responses.

I would have included the pics here David, but at the time did not realize this was possible, but now know for the future.

Thanks for your comments Archie, I did not know the head was detachable - another bonus!

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You are indeed extremely fortunate.  I went through numerous samples of that lens and never found one that didn't mis-focus on full-frame digital Leica (yes, rangefinder was perfectly calibrated, and all other lenses focused perfectly including an older 135 Elmar and LTM Hektor).  I even sent my last one to a "legendary" repair guy who returned it just as bad as when I sent it.  Finally resorted to taking precise measurements and shaving down the part on the optical cell where it butts into the focus mount in order to make it seat closer to the focal plane, little by little until it focused spot-on.  Then had to reorient the outer barrel so the marks lined up properly.  Quite an ordeal, but the end result is a superb lens.  I had the APO Telyt a short while and sold it because in practical use nobody could tell which was which from the images.   Congrats on a great buy.

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I also like the older 135 lenses. Sold my APO Telyt too. Now use the f4.0 Tele-Elmar M  e46 1993 and also like the f.4.0 Elmar-M e39 1961. Had DAG 6 bit code each as I like to monitor my lens usage via EXIF data.  That TEM is exquisite.

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Thanks for your responses.

I would have included the pics here David, but at the time did not realize this was possible, but now know for the future.

Thanks for your comments Archie, I did not know the head was detachable - another bonus!

David,

 

You wouldn't have a shot of that building from the same vantage point and using a 50mm would you? (It's certainly not imperative).

 

Thanks,

s-a

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Over the years I've had 3 copies of that lens and 1 of the APO. For my money I'd stick with the oldie. A wonderful lens. As an aside, not only is it usable on the bellows, but you can use it on a Visoflex with infinity focus turning the camera into a (somewhat clumsy but wuite usable) SLR...or as I've done, used it a viso mount for my Nikon and Canon FD film bodies .

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Wonderful 135. I could not get a good copy and found the handling awful. It's fashionable to say it's as good as the APO.

 

Puts compares it to the APO:

 

"The Apo-Telyt- M is a very fine example of a design that combines the special demands of the M series (lightweight and small volume) with that other characteristic of the M lenses: impeccable optical performance. With only five lens elements (to reduce weight) the designer has computed a masterpiece, supported by the engineers of the production department. The Apo-Telyt at full aperture (f/3.4) produces a high contrast image with exceptionally fine details very crisply rendered over the whole image field from center to corners. Stopped down to f/4.0 the Apo-Telyt improves visibly on the Tele-Elmar-M on its ability to render the finest possible details with excellent contrast and clariy. Stopping down this level of performance holds to the aperture f/8, and stopping down further only very small losses in edge contrast can be detected. This APO-Telyt -M shifts the performance level of M-lenses to a higher plateau. It represents current thinking about optical performance as implemented by Leica. At wider apertures and closer distances the unsharpness area sets in abruptly and the shapes of objects rapidly lose its details. For me personally this behavior is excellent, but bokeh aficionados might be less happy. The distinctive characteristic of the Apo-Telyt is its superior clarity of exceedingly fine details that give the Apo- Telyt images a new look. While for some purposes the Tele-Elmar-M gives adequate performance, the Apo-Telyt offers a lucidity of fine color hues and almost lifelike rendition of very small subject details. In direct comparison the rendering of the same fine details by the Tele-Elmar-M is dull, or when going to the edge soft or washed out. When reproducing still smaller details the Tele- Elmar-M produces noise where the Apo-Telyt still records these details with authority." Erwin Puts

 

The TE is a steal now, but many are beat to hell, and you can't tell to you try it. I sent 2 back to KEH. But obviously the APO is much nicer handling, way better color, less noise, and slightly sharper.

 

The late model TE is no steal, bringing a grand anyway.

 

But it also seems very hard to get a proper focusing APO, mine is also not perfect but now I'm used to it.

Edited by uhoh7

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Wonderful 135. I could not get a good copy and found the handling awful. It's fashionable to say it's as good as the APO.

 

Puts compares it to the APO:

 

...

 

The TE is a steal now, but many are beat to hell, and you can't tell to you try it. I sent 2 back to KEH. But obviously the APO is much nicer handling, way better color, less noise, and slightly sharper.

 

The late model TE is no steal, bringing a grand anyway.

 

But it also seems very hard to get a proper focusing APO, mine is also not perfect but now I'm used to it.

I'm not disagreeing with what you're saying here, but Leica, for example, offered great 2.8/28mm's in spite of the evidently fantastic performance of the 2.0/28mm. Puts knows very well that price figures in to Leica's calculus, just like performance and volume. He elects to ignore that when it suits his needs, such as when an old lens might provide too much market competition to a new lens. Leica could not keep offering a lens, unchanged except for cosmetics since 1964, and not appear to have run out of creativity (or paying customers). If you have a typical bazillion pixel digital number then the APO is there if you need or just want an ultra-135. For everyone else the Tele-Elmar might serve quite well, and at considerable savings, especially if you do not chase the last cosmetic rev. 80+% of the performance at 30% of the price sounds like quite a steal. Even for critical digital sensor use.

 

I'm struggling with a 135 T-E now, and I don't even have the resolution of an M-240 to point out my errors. To have you say the APO is also prone to focusing errors is almost comforting. I'd bet it is not the first time Leica has shot itself in the foot by making a lens that is almost too good to improve upon.

 

Regards,

s-a

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I'm not disagreeing with what you're saying here, but Leica, for example, offered great 2.8/28mm's in spite of the evidently fantastic performance of the 2.0/28mm. Puts knows very well that price figures in to Leica's calculus, just like performance and volume. He elects to ignore that when it suits his needs, such as when an old lens might provide too much market competition to a new lens. Leica could not keep offering a lens, unchanged except for cosmetics since 1964, and not appear to have run out of creativity (or paying customers). If you have a typical bazillion pixel digital number then the APO is there if you need or just want an ultra-135. For everyone else the Tele-Elmar might serve quite well, and at considerable savings, especially if you do not chase the last cosmetic rev. 80+% of the performance at 30% of the price sounds like quite a steal. Even for critical digital sensor use.

 

I'm struggling with a 135 T-E now, and I don't even have the resolution of an M-240 to point out my errors. To have you say the APO is also prone to focusing errors is almost comforting. I'd bet it is not the first time Leica has shot itself in the foot by making a lens that is almost too good to improve upon.

 

Regards,

s-a

LOL Points taken. Puts loves the TE, marvels at it's 30 year reign, and calls it "cinderella". Nevertheless this is not just a sharpness issue, but color and noise, as well. The TE is a great great 135, and contrary to what most think, the big ol 135/2.8 is very close to it at F/4 and closer yet at 5.6, but the TE is slightly sharper. The Elmarit is also a fantastic 135 even by today's standard.

 

But the 135/3.4 is one of the 2 or 3 sharpest, highest performing lenses ever made by Leica, or at least he thinks so. So I agree that the TE is great, but the APO is visibly superior, and on the camera, handling is far superior. Which should be no surprise, considering the cost.

 

When I have a lens which is not perfectly calibrated, and especially a 135 which DAG says is really really hard to get right, I just take the time to learn it. It takes about 40 mins I find. I march around the neighborhood shooting various objects, then chimping, refocus and chimp again till I get it making a note how far towards or away from infintiy I need to adjust, and if this changes with aperture. Then I choose another target. I may shoot 50 shots. But the brain remembers, and next time out you start hitting it. The M9 LCD is fine for this, just zoom in.

 

But 135 on the M is expert territory and few have the patience to practice enough. Rewards are high though, as a great 135 really expands the field of creation

 

Shiny Girl by unoh7, 135/3.4

 

Small Fall by unoh7, on Flickr

 

BTW i never use a tripod anymore. But I try to get up to 1000 shutter or higher. The APO is so sharp at 3.4 you can do a great long infinity right form there

Edited by uhoh7

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Thanks all, I have gained a lot from this. It is new to me that the TE135 f4 (11851) can be 6 bit coded, as Leica told me it could not when I asked them.

I therefore set the lens detection on manual & select the 11851version on the menu so that it is recorded on my pics. I then have to select manual ISO, aperture, shutter speed & focussing, but at least I get the scale showing over/under exposure, so although more time consuming, perfectly OK.

As I understand, if the lens was 6 bit coded I would still have to do all this manually, so no advantage?

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I have the same lens, but it is from 1970. It is a good lens if you can focus correctly. I have a problem reaching infinity every time I use it. The baseplate of the M9 could be the problem, because I am using a tripod.

 

This picture is as good as it could get at infinity. 2. picture is a detail from lower left corner.

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I love mine- it was also in mint condition when I got it:

 

 

Edited by jaques

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I had so much fun with this lens in the beginning.. while the novelty lasted.

See examples below on how to use the lens head with various combinations.

 

(left to right)

135 head + focusing helcoid 16464K + M adapter 14127 + X2 APO converter + R to Nex adapter + Nex6 >> Perfect infinity focusing. Making it 270mm f/8 lens. It works

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I love it... Someone who is worse than me at being infatuated with adapters and hacking lenses onto cameras that they were not made for...

 

Thankyou!

One gets creative ideas after some nice scotch.

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