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Stiff lenses


magosak
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I find the focusing on all three of my 50mm lenses to be too stiff. Summilux is 3-4 years old, apo asph is perhaps a bit less (I am the second owner) and noctilux is brand new. I need to fight with these lenses to be able to properly focus. Is it the amount of glass that has to move or the viscosity of the grease that's causing this? Isn't it possible to make these lenses buttery smooth for easy focusing?

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Bit of both, I think, but the main culprit seems to be the extra lens elements that have to be moved in these modern lenses with floating elements. They do tend to loosen a little over time but I think the basic lack of buttery smoothness goes with the territory of these highly corrected optics. It's a major reason why I preferred the ergonomics of the pre-FLE 35 Summilux and continue to prefer my 35 Summicron ASPH (older version) to my 35 Summilux 'FLE'. 

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Even though the lenses with floating elements may seem a little bit more stiff than other lenses - if you have to "fight with it" something is wrong (either the description or the lens).

 

I have some lenses which are 50 to 80 years old and are "stiff", so that it would be difficult to focus them with one finger, but they move - without any fighting  - when I use two. If a lens relly resists focussing it needs CLA.

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Normal that brand new modern Leica lenses are built that way.

Partly because of floating elements and short focus throw.

 

I had Summilux 50 asph. that was difficult to nail focus at medium distance, I replace with pre-asph Summilux.

Oddly, of the three Summilux 50mm pre-asph., two with short focus throw (46mm filter/collapsible hood) and one old with long focus throw, they have silver smooth focussing.

 

MATE (28-35-50) is another story, the focus stiffness became smoother over time.

 

My last 28mm Summaron-M has stiff focus even without floating lens, but I hope that will be softer after some time.

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Lenses must be very modern then, indeed!  I have Summarit-M 35 2.5, purchased new in 2016, the focus ring is amazingly smooth and even. Man, it is so addictive, I need to feel it, now.

 

BTW, if old Leitz lens isn't smooth to focus it means two things. It was dropped and focus barrel became egg shaped or it needs CLA.

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I certainly need to use two fingers to focus and need to re-frame afterwards.

 

The smoothest lens I have is the tiny 40mm summicron-c but this one is out of commission for now as it does not reach infinity on M10. The other m-lens I have  is the 24mm summilux and that one is ok to focus.

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I had some issue with an early chrome 50mm summilux type II. It was not that the focus was not smooth when you turn the focusing ring from end to end, or any issue with stiffness or greased-up helicoid. The general resistance in the focus ring of this lens was not that much anyway.

 

The problem was whenever I rotated the focus ring back and forth very slightly in order to fine-tune focus, it seemed to get slightly stuck, making these minor movements quite difficult. The stiffness would immediately disappear when I turned the focus ring in broad strokes with big rotations. 

 

I've always wondered if this can be remedied by re-lubricating the focus helicoid. 

Edited by Rus
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I've always wondered if this can be remedied by re-lubricating the focus helicoid.

 

The answer is yes.

Re-lubricating is the solution.

Ask your dealer. It unnecessary to send the lens to Leica.

Ciao

Franco

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Some copies of those lenses are indeed stiff but other ones are smoother, even brand new. Such are my 35/1.4 FLE and 50/2 apo for instance but my 50/1.4 asph was stiff (now butter smooth after several months at Wetzlar) and my 75/2 feels like it has no grease enough. Poor QC if you ask me.

Edited by lct
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My 50mm summilux is as stiff as it was on day one.  I would like to send them all in for adjustment but dealing with customs and long delays to get them back are my major concerns.

 

Focusing smoothness would be a major consideration in buying my next wide angle lens.  

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[...] Focusing smoothness would be a major consideration in buying my next wide angle lens.  

 

Main culprits are floating elements and quality control as suggested above. Better try the lens in person or have it tried by your dealer if you can. Otherwise wide lenses sans floating elements are usually smooth i my experience. At least such are currently my 35/2 asph v1, 28/2 v1 & v2, 28/2.8 asph v1, 24/3.8, 21/2.8 asph and 21/3.4 asph. Same for my ZM 35/2.8 and CV 21/4 which are almost perfect from this standpoint.

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My smoothest focusing lens is a 1960 35mm Summaron 2.8 - just right. My 28mm Summicron V1 is even smoother. The 50mm Summilux Asph was never right - sold that one. Need to try modern FLE Leica lenses in person!

 

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Leica doesn't currently use the same quality grease as the old Leitz stock. This was explained to me by DAG, who replaced the grease in my sticky focusing 50 Summilux ASPH with his supply of the old Leitz lubricant. Leica NJ tried to address my stiff focus issue but could not. DAG fixed it immediately and expressed his disgust with changing times.

 

Jeff

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I have just received my Summilux 50 asph back from a complete overhaul. Although focusing feel was OK before, it returned feeling "oldfashioned" smooth. I think they might have changed the grease again.

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Apparently nobody has told New Jersey. I personally spoke to the tech working on my lens, and he didn't have a clue regarding a potential fix. DAG knew the problem before I sent the lens to him. Oh, and NJ did replace the grease, which did nothing.

 

Maybe things have changed, but grease is the least of concerns with NJ service, which I'm told is undergoing an overhaul.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S
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