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Ok guys, what about the OTUS lenses?


NB23
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Affer reading about the Otus lenses one could easily dismis his whole collection of lenses. The great legendary nikkor 105 f2.5, noct and 28 f1.4 with their unique signature suddenly becomes meh, either on the sharpness aspect, contrast, color rendition or whatever else.

 

We all love our M lenses becausenof their size and unique system. I often can't help to think that we're lying to ourselves about their "character" being a feature. I mean, while an Otus 55mm kills any nikkor 50mm f1.4, I would hardly see myself saying "yeah but that Nikkor has such a unique character. The Otus is clinical".

And then again, the comparison shots from a 50 50mm f1.4 nikkor versus an Otus 55mm passed on as a "50 Lux V3 versus 50mm Cron apo" in this very forum would, I am sure, cause a debate wether the 1973 Summilux is more desireable.

 

Is there conclusion of any kind? Are we romantics within a niche simply lying to ourselves? This is my personal theory. Or are we blind to true oprical perfectbess although Leica is supposed to be unsurpassed even though Zeiss does it regularly?

 

Or is it that the M world is really about the body first ans the lenses second while the reality for any other system would be "glass first, camera second"?

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Interesting point you make. We are well into to the law of diminishing returns for cost vs performance with these Leica and Zeiss Lenses. I do not want to travel or walk about with such a large lens as the Otus. Personally, I want the best performance in a primarily manual interface on the smallest package. The M-system does this best for me.

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Yes, the whole M package is just so sweet. And the relative rarity of the lenses makes them into Jewels more then into pure equipment.

 

I've just realized this, I remember the af-d nikkor 85mm f1.4. It was known as the "cream machine". The very best in all aspects, according to die-hard Nikkon fans.

By today's standards this lens is nothing else than a low contrast lens with pastel colors and woth lots of aberrations. How perceptions change.

 

Now the funny part: while I wouldn't hesitate nor blink while giving Leica 6000 Dollars for a Summilux 28, you will never see me go crazy and add 400$ over my existing old 85 f1.4 for their newer and better version. I'm crazy but not THAT crazy.

 

400$ is a lot of money, man.

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After reading about the Otus, perhaps. After shooting with it, perhaps not so much.

 

Well, okay, that was a quip. More seriously, I can only talk about why I chose the 35/1.4 FLE over the 35/1.4 Distagon, which I think is a parallel situation. I'll concede that the Distagon appears to be, in optical testing terms, the superior lens. What I won't concede is that the Distagon would help me create better images.

 

I wouldn't say that Leica shooters -- as opposed to collectors or, worse, buyers who are afflicted with GAS and the Leica mythos -- are "glass first." Surely, invest in glass before you invest in cameras. But, invest in images first of all. Better to take a class, or even a photographic-oriented vacation, than to buy a lens that serves no marginal purpose. Shoot first. Create images second. Third, buy what serves those two goals -- lens, then body. (Some might quibble about #1 versus #2. Fair enough.)

 

Back to the point though. I find that field curvature makes images more whole. After reading about how wonderful the Otus 55 is, honestly, I'm drawn toward the Noctilux 50/1. I would absolutely love to work with that donut pattern. The way that the 35/1.4 FLE brings in the corners wide open, emphasizes the center at f/4, and hits everything at f/8 is a tool I love having in my box. The world is not flat. I do not want my images to be flat. Therefore, a flat lens is not what suits me best. This might just be rationalization, as is your thesis, but I simply have not seen many images I have loved from the Distagon (and I have looked for them), but I have seen images that stood out (in the work of others and in my own images) because of how the lens embraced the scene.

 

Overall, I think Leica lens designers simply "get it" along the lines of what I want. Color correction is essential, and Leica has been on that wavelength since the beginning, as far as I can tell. Resolution is important, as is contrast, as is handling, as are transitions. I think Zeiss lens designers are no less capable, but just have different priorities. The same with any other lens designers I can think of. I'm glad that there is diversity, and I cast no dispersions on those who prefer Zeiss, or Canon, or Nikon, or Pentax, or off-brand lenses. The more the merrier.

 

I choose Leica because they deliver the most of what I want. I think it is that simple. I do appreciate the critical questioning and introspection, though. I went through a lot of that before dumping my savings into my kit. But I'm glad, every day, that I did.

 

Cheers,

Jon

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It's the body.

Small lenses are just a requirement of the body.

 

While M lenses might not be the best of the best any more, they're still the best per unit volume IMHO. Over and above that, the ergonomics are perfect and perfectly matched to the body, so without even considering optical quality it's a no brainer. (I can't stand the Zeiss focus nub - what is it for!).

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It's the body.

Small lenses are just a requirement of the body.

 

While M lenses might not be the best of the best any more, they're still the best per unit volume IMHO. Over and above that, the ergonomics are perfect and perfectly matched to the body, so without even considering optical quality it's a no brainer. (I can't stand the Zeiss focus nub - what is it for!).

I would agree with this. I have all of the Otus lenses and they are even a little large for use on a 1D-X, especially the 28 & 85. For professional landscape photography or cinematography with Canon or Nikon bodies, they are a great tool, but not a necessity unless you are committed to delivering work at the absolute highest level.

 

However, they are comically large for use on an M or SL body and really not a viable option unless you demand impeccable performance across the entire frame at 1.4. Wide open, the best M Summilux lenses deliver 80-90% of the performance at one-fourth of the size. At 5.6, the difference is negligible.

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That just confirms the old saying that you cannot have a lens that is perfect, affordable and small at the same time. I would say that Leica is better at approaching the perfect corner of this compromise  triangle than Zeiss is at approaching the small corner. Both of them miss out a bit at the affordable part

In other words, Leica lenses are better for their size than Zeiss lenses are small for their quality and with both it is reflected in the price.

 

Anyway, this "Leica builds the best lenses" myth is historically incorrect.

Since well before WW II there has been a ding-dong battle going on between Leica and Zeiss in lens quality, with Zeiss regularly taking the lead. Leica has, on more than one occasion "borrowed" Zeiss designs like for instance the Sonnar (Summarit 5 cm 1.5), based on the Tessar by Paul Rudolf and modified by Zeiss' Ludwig Bertele.

Even the Elmar was close to the Tessar, although not derived from it.

A bit later on  the Super-Angulon was designed by Schneider -Kreuznach based on the Biogon, and there are more examples .

Both Leica and Zeiss (and quite a few other manufacturers/designers) are part of an optical industrial complex in central Germany that has been world-leading for well over a century now.

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Cameras are only digital backs for me. Bodies change but lenses remain and they do so with their own character and the small size i'm after. This is true for Leica lenses but also for my small ZM, CV and other M lenses for the same reason. I have nothing against bulkier lenses per se but i prefer bigger bodies with them and my only reason to use them is AF now.

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on more than one occasion "borrowed" Zeiss designs like for instance the Sonnar (Summarit 5 cm 1.5), based on the Tessar by Paul Rudolf and modified by Zeiss' Ludwig Bertele.

This is hardly the case as Leitz marketed the 50mm f/1.5 Xenon before WW2 and many have described the corresponding Summarit as a "coated Xenon". Further, both the Xenon and the Summarit are developments of the Taylor, Taylor, and Hobson Speed-Panchro of 1920. These lenses are all of nearly symmetrical design. The Xenon and the Summarit depart farther from symmetry by having their rear element split into two. They are definitely not Tessar-types.

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I use the Otus mostly for landscape and stitching. I have used it for street shooting but it eventually wears out my arm.  I use the 50 Lux ASPH for general photography when I want to shoot a rangefinder. I just acquired an S006 - not sure where it fits in yet. These are some of the finest lenses you can buy according to the ratings people. However, they are designed for today's digital sensors - not sure how they would perform on film. There is nothing like an Otus and you do have to shoot it for more than a test session to become familiar with it. I rented one first to compare to my benchmark 85 1.4G. It was only after I studied prints made from both did the Otus advantage show itself. From what I have seen so far from the 100 f2 on the S - it's definitely in the same class as the Otus, but probably with more character.

Oh, and fyi, the Otus isn't perfect - it does vignette a bit at f1.4 which can be useful sometimes.

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Always the first glass, the camera does not matter, it's just speed - shutter, ISO, or film, and a simple display.

In this line of thought I have gone back in time of old Leica lenses, and have successful, in my opinion and make my photos.

 

Raymon depardon and his lens, his photos with that lens, ...... this is with ASPH lens??

 

Photographs of Raymon Depardon, (for example) thank God that already had the new Leica ASPH lens manufactured today, no ??

These are the pictures I always look where this sharpness, lens correction, where is the best that Leica makes its crystals ?.

I want that for my pictures, so I changed my glasses ASPH Leica lenntes by old photographs offered me so bad how are you !!!.

Now I must not believe I'm Depardon, I just go out and find good photographs and those lights.

 

 

 

 

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This is hardly the case as Leitz marketed the 50mm f/1.5 Xenon before WW2 and many have described the corresponding Summarit as a "coated Xenon". Further, both the Xenon and the Summarit are developments of the Taylor, Taylor, and Hobson Speed-Panchro of 1920. These lenses are all of nearly symmetrical design. The Xenon and the Summarit depart farther from symmetry by having their rear element split into two. They are definitely not Tessar-types.

The Xenon again was not a Leica design, but a  Schneider Kreuznach lens.  Probably the reason you used the word "marketed"

. All of which supports the core of my post that the supposed "Leica superiority" is but a myth. They were and are good, no argument, but there were others as good or even better at times in the optical development history (Don't forget Asahi, from 1919 onwards, BTW another myth : the Japanese did not "copy their way" into photography after 1945; there was a lively camera industry in the first half of the 20th century, although they were certainly inspired by German design.)
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The apples/oranges comparison (not sure what the Dutch, Spanish or German equivalent for that expression is) seems apropos.

 

-First, consider the technical challenge of designing a cutting-edge 50 APO (300 gm) 39 mm or 50 Summilux (330 gm) 46 mm filter thread lens compared to a Zeiss 55 Otus (1 kg) 77mm thread behemoth. 

 

Orders of magnitude more complex

 

-Raw performance. Roger CIcala of Lens Rentals did an interesting, albeit non-scientific but very relevant comparison of rangefinder 50's vs the Otus and ART. Again, MTF graphs being what they are (for better and worse), consider the Leica lineup; 50 Summilux (2004), 50 Summicron (1979) and 50 APO (2012) vs the Zeiss Otus (2013) and Sigma ART (2014). See attached

 

If we pretend all else being equal, the best DSLR lenses are just now approaching Leica benchmarks.

 

But do I really want to carry a 1 kg lens on a 1 kg body and have no way to accurately focus it, save with Live View on a tripod? 

 

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My favorite 35mm lens is a 1972 vintage Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2, designed by Walter Mandler. Compared to all the later and more modern lenses, it's soft and flarey wide open, becomes very sharp and contrasty when stopped down, and is very small and light. A dozen different lenses in one ... just turn the aperture ring. 

 

I'll take its exquisite, malleable rendering qualities over any Otus or Art lens, regardless of technical specifications or performance charts. 

 

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My only interest is why the Otus 1,4 55 is marked "Apo Distagon" ... which usually is a name used by Zeiss for wideangles...

 

Interesting indeed. According to Zeiss, about the « Best Standard Lens in the World » (sic.):

« In contrast to its predecessors with similar focal lengths and speed, this is first time that the Distagon type has been selected for the optical construction of a standard lens. Only this optical design with its considerably longer construction makes it possible to already realise consistently excellent correction from corner to corner of the frame and extremely low image field curvature at a very large initial aperture ».

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The LensRentals numbers raise two questions:

 

1. Is it possible that the Leica 50mm Summicron produces the exact same resolution at Center, Middle and Edge? (1200)

 

2. Is it possible that the Leica 50mm Summilux does not improve in Center and Middle resolution when stopping down from f/1.4 to f/2.0?  (1488, 1152)  Only improving at the Edge?

 

These are strange results and seem to be errors.  If so, it raises the question of what the correct numbers would be.

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The LensRentals numbers raise two questions:

 

1. Is it possible that the Leica 50mm Summicron produces the exact same resolution at Center, Middle and Edge? (1200)

 

2. Is it possible that the Leica 50mm Summilux does not improve in Center and Middle resolution when stopping down from f/1.4 to f/2.0?  (1488, 1152)  Only improving at the Edge?

 

These are strange results and seem to be errors.  If so, it raises the question of what the correct numbers would be.

Or, possibly, these lenses are (partly) diffraction limited?

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