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Buying the SL for someone, but which lens? Hmm


LostBoyNZ
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I'm looking at buying the Leica SL for someone, but I'm a Sony shooter myself so I really don't have much knowledge on the lenses. I'm spending more than I should on the camera really, but it's a very special occasion

It doesn't leave much for a lens though, unfortunately.

 

I see I can get an adapter to use the M lenses on the SL. But when I started reading more, it seems like some lenses have a color cast unless the camera recognizes it? I wonder, is that what the 6 bit coded is about, that the camera will automatically recognize the lens and apply the profile? If it's an older lens without that, can it be dialed into the camera?

 

Sorry for the newbie questions, but any advice is great, thanks!

 

Ideally something wider than 24mm would make for a great first lens. Maybe the Zeiss 21mm or Voigtlander 15mm.

 

Thanks again for any thoughts!

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I'm looking at buying the Leica SL for someone, but I'm a Sony shooter myself so I really don't have much knowledge on the lenses. I'm spending more than I should on the camera really, but it's a very special occasion

It doesn't leave much for a lens though, unfortunately.

 

I see I can get an adapter to use the M lenses on the SL. But when I started reading more, it seems like some lenses have a color cast unless the camera recognizes it? I wonder, is that what the 6 bit coded is about, that the camera will automatically recognize the lens and apply the profile? If it's an older lens without that, can it be dialed into the camera?

 

Sorry for the newbie questions, but any advice is great, thanks!

 

Ideally something wider than 24mm would make for a great first lens. Maybe the Zeiss 21mm or Voigtlander 15mm.

 

Thanks again for any thoughts!

 

 

I think if I were buying an SL for someone else, and wanted to include a lens, the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm native lens is the right one to include with it. If, for financial reasons, that was too expensive, I'd look for an appropriate 35 or 50 mm lens (my personal predilection being a Leica Summicron or Summilux lens from the R system, plus mount adapter). Unless you know the recipient really loves ultra-wide-angle work, I wouldn't look at sub-24mm lenses. Selecting the 'right' ultra-wide is a far more fussy business than picking a nice wide to normal lens. 

 

Leica includes lens profiles for their M and R lens series to help optimize their performance on the SL; they correct issues like color shifting and corner fall-off. For R lenses, when you use the Leica mount adapters, the camera allows you to manually select the correct lens profile when you mount a lens. For M lenses, when you use the Leica lens mount adapter, when the lens has the Leica six-bit code on its mount, the correct profile is chosen automatically. When it doesn't, you can choose the appropriate lens code manually just as for R lenses. 

 

For third party M-mount lenses (Voigtländer or Zeiss) that have no six-bit codes, used with the Leica lens mount adapter, you can manually choose a Leica lens profile that works well if you know what it might be. There are lists of what people have found works well, but it's not an automated or simple process. Most people seem to use them uncoded and do whatever corrections are required in post processing. This is part of what makes choosing ultra-wide lenses trickier than choosing normal and tele lenses. The shorter the focal length, the more likely that a specific lens design, focal length, and digital sensor combination needs corrective action to perform well. 

 

In general, for someone new to Leica cameras and lenses, the best bet is to pick a Leica R lens (there are lens profiles for nearly all of them) or a Leica M lens that is six-bit coded. It makes using the camera and getting the expected results much simpler and more automatic. 

 

That said, from another forum member's testing, the Voigtländer Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Mark III lens seems a very good pick if you are looking for an ultra-wide and is quite favorably priced. I use the Leica Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH (also called 'WATE') myself, which is six bit coded but still needs a manual profile assignment for which of the three focal lengths you want to use. It's expensive but more versatile. I had the Elmar-M 24mm f/3.8 ASPH prior to the WATE and, while it performed well enough, I could see no performance advantage to it over the SL24-90mm zoom for the SL, other than being more compact and portable. Which one appeals to an individual most might vary.

 

On the other hand, I don't think anyone could fault receiving something like a Macro-Elmarit-R 60mm f/2.8 and Leica mount adapter for the SL. This is simply a terrific lens at a reasonable price with a slightly-longer-than-normal FoV and 1:2 magnification close up capability. Add a Macro-Adapter R and it can reach down to 1:1 magnification. It's reasonably light, reasonably compact, fits the camera beautifully, and delivers superb performance. Useful as a general purpose lens or for macro work, or for portraiture ... it's a great pick IMO. 

 

Good luck! 

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A nice combo extending from wide angle into normal+ focal lengths - if the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm is out of question because of size or weight or cost - is the Leica 21 mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar-M and the Leica 35-70mm f/4 Vario-Elmar-R.

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A nice combo extending from wide angle into normal+ focal lengths - if the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm is out of question because of size or weight or cost - is the Leica 21 mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar-M and the Leica 35-70mm f/4 Vario-Elmar-R.

 

 

Those two lenses are a nice combination, but if the problem is primarily cost, the SEM21 (est $2500) + R35-70 (est $600) + M Adapter T (est $330) + R Adapter M (est $300) only prices out to be about a $700 savings over the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH (est $4500). 

 

At that small a price difference on what is essentially a $13,000 purchase, the native zoom lens would be my pick ... again, assuming that the principle issue is the cost. 

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I can strongly recommend the 24/90 - it is a lens with autofocus - which is a big advantage and a reason, why many people have bought a Leica SL. If this is too expensive for the moment, I would recommend to buy a  Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8 II L USM plus a Novoflex adapter. The adapter supports all functions with exception of the IS, but  this lens has none, like many special lenses of Canon. Therefore this combination  grants all functions including autofokus and this  is an excellent lens. The price of this lens is slightly more than Euro 1700 and the price of the adapter is app. Euro 500. And if there later on a wish to change to the 24/90 it is no problem to sell the Canon lens. The adapter I would keep anyway, because there are some special lenses in the Canon program, for which a Leica version is very unlikely to come - i.e. the tilt shift lenses or the MP-E 65 lens or the excellent 11/24 mm - which is not a cheap one, but worth every cent. I myself use the Leica 24/90, the 11/24 of Canon and the MP-E 65 plus the other  Macro lenses

i.e. the 100mm Macro and the 180 mm Macro from Canon as well as a 70/200 2.8 IS II USM.

Edited by HeinzX
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I do not really understand how it is possible to buy a camera for someone else - maybe for a son or daughter ( or wife?). Usually the other person has a specific wish and there is no room for free decisions.

But alas, the SL can be used with almost anything. (regarding adapting Leica lenses, and also adapting DSLR lenses).

 

So on a limited budget buy the camera and add a few adapters for the lenses this person already has. I find an M adapter a must, and an R adapter a very wise decision. But if the person has Nikon or Canon lenses, or Contax lenses, add these adapters.

 

Do not worry too much about the "problems" that are described about the SL. I have adapted all sorts of lenses - even many more than I was just referring to. The sensor works nicely with M and R lenses - no problems to be expected.  (The problem seers have mostly no SL of their own, and are just talking nonsense.)

It will be best if you are more specific and tell us which brands you want to adapt - to warn you if there is anything special that cannot be attached (e.g. Contax  N lenses)

Telll us also more about the budget - if it should be not so small, then add a native lens (the SL 24-90 is popular, but I actually prefer the SL 90-280)

 

Summary: Buy the camera with the knowledge that there are no problems (no color casts with Leica lenses). But give more details so that we can help you better to make an informed decision.

 

Again I'm baffled that an UWA lens should be the first lens. For gods sake why ? What's the idea ?

My favorite UWA is the WATE for the SL (16-18-21). But no idea if this is appropriate here. If UWA is all this person is interested in, buy a fixfocus box  with a UWA lens. Or a Hasselblad SWC. or or or    Or the Canon 11-24 with EOS adapter for the SL. Or the Nikon 12-24 with adapter. Or the Leica T zoom lens 11-23, it does not even need an adapter as it has the same bayonet. This is actually the most elegant first lens solution. (rather small and handy, and with AF. High quality AND relatively inexpensive. It is equivalent to a 16-35, so a good starting point.)

There is no limit to ways of spending a budget .....

Edited by steppenw0lf
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Thanks everyone!
 

The 24-90mm would be my personal choice if it was for me yes. I know my wife will find the combo a bit heavy though (from similar weighted gear with her Nikon), and she enjoys the manual focus experience, so I think something small and light would be a good starting point.

 

Ah she absolutely loves wide and ultra-wide yes, haha. The Voigtländer Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Mark III sounds awesome, but I wonder if 15mm is a bit too limiting for the first lens. Could be good though. Thanks to all your help I've been checking out the lenses mentioned (damn, the WATE looks great, haha!).

 

I'm thinking maybe the Leica Elmarit-R 2.8/24mm could be good. It's wide but still could be used for some everyday shots, the comments about it online seem great, it's a good price, and being able to dial it in to the camera manually sounds ok.

 

HeinzX: If only it was a Nikon adapter. Although I did a bit of googling and it looks like Novoflex are working on one for Nikon lenses that don't have an aperture ring. If they announce a Nikon adapter with electronic aperture control at photokina, that'll make things easy. She could start with her Nikon lenses as she gets an idea of what Leica lenses she'd like to buy.

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... I'm thinking maybe the Leica Elmarit-R 2.8/24mm could be good. It's wide but still could be used for some everyday shots, the comments about it online seem great, it's a good price, and being able to dial it in to the camera manually sounds ok. ...

 

 

It's a good choice ... and a fine lens! I use mine often. 

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It's difficult to take it seriously?

 It's her photography dream to switch to Leica (yes she's used some Leica's before), so I've been putting a bit aside for a long time, along with selling some of my gear, ready for her 30th birthday.

 

She loves the look and color science of Leica photos right out of camera (and really doesn't enjoy post processing), and the light weight lenses solve a big problem she has with her Nikon gear.

 

I know she'll take stunning shots with it, and really enjoy it 

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It's difficult to take it seriously?

 It's her photography dream to switch to Leica (yes she's used some Leica's before), so I've been putting a bit aside for a long time, along with selling some of my gear, ready for her 30th birthday.

 

She loves the look and color science of Leica photos right out of camera (and really doesn't enjoy post processing), and the light weight lenses solve a big problem she has with her Nikon gear.

 

I know she'll take stunning shots with it, and really enjoy it 

 

 

 

The various Leica cameras' images, straight out of the cameras, have different image footprints.  SL images require PPing to get the best from them - more so if taken with non-SL lenses. Consider buying her an X Vario; XV jpegs straight out the camera are renowned for requiring minimal or nil post processing and would likely please her - and you'd save yourself $£€'000s. 

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/206939-leica-x-vario-photos/page-61

 

And would be wise to take your wife to a Leica dealer and let her try an SL before buying same; take an SD card with you and then process the images at home. 

 

dunk

Edited by dkCambridgeshire
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Start with a 28mm lens. They are wide, but still easy to use, you could say, the widest "normal" lens.

If it gets wider, you need more concentration and knowledge - maybe she already has that, then it's ok.

There is an inexpensive Elmarit-R 28 that is very nice for snapshots and gives you very dreamy close-ups (with vibrant colors, some say these are typically Leica colors). It is very small (the smallest R lens). The M 28 are even smaller, excellent, but more expensive, and cannot be used for close-ups (longer distance because rangefinder lens).

From there you can start in both directions - wider or longer.

 

As somebody mentioned, the Q with 28mm would be the modern snapshot camera (and also with a nice Leica look - both camera and photos). Also a nice starting point.

 

Go to a shop and show her an SL and a Q. I would not be surprised if she likes the Q better. (smaller lighter)

 

A small warning: The R 28 I mentioned is an older lens (with the typical Leica looks) and not as perfect as the new 28mm inside the Q. Find out if she prefers the technical perfection or the "old-fashioned" look.

Edited by steppenw0lf
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Starting with an SL, sight unseen, and then worrying about cost seems inconsistent.  For the damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead solution, manual focus, I would go for the SL, M adapter SL, and the Summilux-M 28.  I've used it a lot (some examples posted here), and it never disappoints.  For wider, I prefer the very precise Super-Elmar-M 21/3.4, and for wider still, the Super-Elmarit-R 15/2.8, a few copies of which are still available on the web at about the price of a 90-280 SL zoom.

 

On the other hand, a trip to the Leica store (blindfold her en route and make it a surprise) could well end up with your wife coming home with a sparkling new M262 and a new very sharp and very light Elmarit 28/2.8, and you with heavy pockets full of whatever mineral backs your currency down there.

 

scott 

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To LostbayNZ:

 

Nikon lenses on the SL are no problem. I have been using Nikon since 2000 and can use all my lenses on the SL.

Only for the newest lenses of type E (e.g. 4/300 PF) there is currently no automatic adapter (no AF and no aperture control).

Use a cheap adapter (for Nikon D or G)  until an AF adapter will be available.

 

(I actually prefer a manual adapter to a imperfect (slow and maybe noisy) AF adapter - but that is just for me.)

(I often use 2.8/17-35, 2/135 DC and micro 70-180 and other Nikon primes). Using them is similar to using M or R lenses. Maybe you have also used them adapted to a Sony camera.

Edited by steppenw0lf
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If you're buying cold into the Leica system, the SL is a sensible (if expensive) choice. The latest sensor, the best EVF and all round a very good camera. Having purchased the camera, your wife is into the system and can start accumulating lenses. She's a lucky lady.

 

As for lenses, there's a bit of a conundrum. The 24-90 zoom is fantastic, and if you can stretch to one, it's the way to go. Ignore the dismissive "kit lens" comments you may see here from time to time. It really is very good. At some point, she will acquire this lens, or the soon to be realeased 50 Summilux-SL.

 

Otherwise, you're into adapters, which brings a little compromise.

 

M lenses, particularly modern ones, are excellent on the SL. Stars are the 28 Summilux, 21 Summilux and Noctilux. They are as good, if not better, on the SL than they are on the M(240). But, they are expensive. On the plus side, second hand prices are depressed at the moment, and you will be able to pick one of these up for a good price (compared to a few years ago), if you can find one. These modern M lenses are the best bet for the SL.

 

R lenses are also very good, but harder to find and pricey. They are also not optimised for digital.

 

Alternatively, get a Novoflex adapter for your wife's existing Nikon lenses.

 

I do think the 28 Summilux-M is the best bet for one Leica lens with the SL (if you can find one at a price you can afford). Alternatively, the 28 Summicron-M. Sadly, I just sold mine, or the 28 Elmarit.

 

Your wife really is a very lucky lady.

 

Cheers

John

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If you happen to know her favorite focal length in the Nikon system, then buy the same focal length.  A 24mm would make a great first lens for someone who likes wide angle lenses.  I wouldn't go wider for a first lens unless the photographer already uses an ultra-wide lens most of the time.  If smallness is a top consideration, then it should certainly be an M-mount lens, not the big SL zoom.

Edited by zlatkob
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Thanks guys, and for the various lens suggestions. I'll look into all those

I think 21, 24 or 28 sound great yes.

 

Agreed on not going ultra wide for a first lens unless she uses ultra wide most of the time, that makes good sense.
 

Certainly a lot to consider.

 

I've talked with various Leica users over the last year about bodies, and I know how she feels about camera features more than lenses (I don't think she's even sure which lenses to go for sometimes - a problem I also have). Coming from a D750 (about half way between an M240 and the SL), the size and weight of the body itself should be no problem, when paired with light lenses.

 

I'm still not 100% sure on SL vs M240, but there's certainly features on the SL she'd love. As IkarusJohn posted, she'll be into the system and can start accumulating lenses.

 

steppenw0lf: Unfortunately her Nikon lenses are quite new, so I think the lack of auto focus would be no worries, but there's no physical aperture ring on the lens. Thanks though! Even with my Sony, using adapted lenses I'm the same way, I'd rather manual than a slow auto focus adapter.

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It's difficult to take it seriously?

 It's her photography dream to switch to Leica (yes she's used some Leica's before), so I've been putting a bit aside for a long time, along with selling some of my gear, ready for her 30th birthday.

 

She loves the look and color science of Leica photos right out of camera (and really doesn't enjoy post processing), and the light weight lenses solve a big problem she has with her Nikon gear.

 

I know she'll take stunning shots with it, and really enjoy it 

This post was written at the same time as you were writing above...

 

My 2c - In chasing the Leica look, I'd personally be more focused on the lens than the camera. If small and lightweight are important, and manual focusing is not an issue, I think I would head down the M path, rather than the SL. Lighter, smaller, cheaper - therefore more money for the lens purchase.

 

If you want to really surprise her...there's always the Monochrom.

Edited by EoinC
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