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Sean Reid on 35mm lenses for M8

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...The second copy of the 35/1.4 Asph is here now and I am currently processing a reshoot of the res. tests. This copy is fine, the other must have been damaged in press use...

 

I am another happy subscriber, and your reviews have been very helpful to me and worth many times the subscription cost. Having said that, I think you may be giving Leica a little more leeway than they deserve.

 

I understand the first Summilux tested did not match your expectations for the lens, and that since you had previous experience with better examples, you felt the lens tested was not representative. Fine. We (and you, I'm sure) have heard of a number of other recent examples that did not measure up. Now you say it "must have been damaged in press use", as if the only way a Leica lens could perform so poorly was if it was damaged by hard use.

 

I think Leica has had or is having quality control problems with some of their recent lenses. Granted, lenses are complex devices not stamped out by cookie cutters, and individual lenses vary in tolerances. Since it is not reasonable to test more than one of each model, when you do run across one you have reason to think may be significantly below par, what do you do? In this case you presented the results as you measured them, which is fine. You obtained another copy to retest, which is fine. I just think when you include excuses to explain why the results should have been better, your review becomes less objective and you begin to sound like something other than a neutral reviewer. If you don't want to attribute the problems to poor quality control, you could just state the facts "Leica sent this lens - it was bad - they sent another - it was good", without making any excuses. That way the reader knows it may take one or two tries to get what they want, and can factor that in to the buying decision.

 

Other than that, and knowing you sometimes include discontinued lenses in your tests, I would love to have seen a pre-asph Summicron tested. In fact, if you are still testing and want to do so, I'll be happy to loan you a "good one".

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Sean, What's the colour difference in the CA test shots between all other lenses and the Nokton?.

 

Hi Eoin,

 

It arrived after the other lenses and had to be tested for CA on its own. It was balanced to a WhiBal.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Interesting review - thanks Sean. I have to admit to rarely having noticed the softness of my 35 Biogon in real life and I do use f2.0 a bit. I think the high contrast it has, tends to fool the eye into thinking that the sharpness is better than it actually is. A number of other reviewers have wondered if Zeiss pushed the lens beyond its 'natural' limits, when going from f2.8 to f2. You wonder if a wiser decision might have been to work on the 35mm f2.0 Planar G to improve its unpleasant bokeh and get a smoother transition from in focus to out of focus. The one thing it could never have been accused of was not being sharp at f2.0. It would also have been considerably more compact than the 9 element Biogon. Maybe they will bring out an f1.4/1.5 version of this lens - should be a good seller if they get it right.

 

Wilson

 

"I think the high contrast it has, tends to fool the eye into thinking that the sharpness is better than it actually is."

 

I think at F/2.0, that's quite true. By F/2.8 the resolution is excellent. And...it's really not that soft at F/2.0, just a bit softer than the others. Some of these resolution differences, as I tried to stress in the article, aren't all that important for "real world" photography.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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I rellay would like to get a subscription, but his subscription homepages is badly programmed and he is not really interested to give a better service or a clear instruction how it will be possible to get a subsciption

 

If I recall you have a PayPal problem that has nothing to do with RR. Let's keep the facts straight please.

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Olof,

 

Whats the problem with either the registration or viewing reading the reviews? im not affiliated with reid, only a customer also "salesperson" and even for me his reviews/comparisons are priceless.

 

That one cant print them out i find not relevant, and then i guess his price would been higher, imagine the time it takes just to arrange all thoose test/cyandrift shots.

 

if i would dare to complain about anything there, it must be that it sometimes when you open an article it doesnt start at the top, but then again even i can scroll to the top.

 

if you find them poorly "designed/coded" i would ask, is that why you want to read them in the first place? and the link for ordering a subrscription is on the bottom of the front page.

 

just my two cents, and as a "fairly" new leica user but older rd1s user, i would say hes done quite alot of work on the important parts, the review.

 

 

moan..

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/images/smilies/smile.gif

are/marmelade

 

Hi Are,

 

Thanks. He's having problems with his credit card being accepted by PayPal and seems to think RR is to blame. I've tried to help and a public forum probably isn't the best place to discuss a credit card problem.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Sean, the hood on the 35 Lux is the 28 Elmarit pre-Asph/28 Cron hood. You can even read the text 2.8/28 on your photo Someone messed up. Interestingly, on the M8, the 35 Lux hood is meant to fit well on the 28 Cron, and is thus smaller, to match the crop factor.

 

What is the waiting list like for the 35 Lux for the 30% people?

 

That's the one they sent with it so I had to test what I had. But...the new one has the proper hood so I'll revise the notes on VF blockage, etc. accordingly.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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What is the waiting list like for the 35 Lux for the 30% people?

 

Hi Carsten,

 

I don't know. If you remind me by PM Monday, I can find out.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Tim,

Just for curiosity. Which one would you let go? I have the cron asph and the color skopar and the cron has become the body cap on my M8. The USD 200 Skopar is a surprisingly strong performer, but I think there is something special with shots taken with the cron. But then my eyes might see what I wish them to see (subconsciously I might doubt that something costing ten time less is almost as good as the premium product). However, I'll keep the Skopar, since as a backup it is of higher value to me than the tied-up money of some USD 150 a resale might bring.

 

Cheers

 

The contrast is higher with the Cron (for better or worse) and that may be what you like. My preference, in that respect, runs towards lower contrast. There's also some res. difference at F/2.8 in the corners.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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I am another happy subscriber, and your reviews have been very helpful to me and worth many times the subscription cost. Having said that, I think you may be giving Leica a little more leeway than they deserve.

 

I understand the first Summilux tested did not match your expectations for the lens, and that since you had previous experience with better examples, you felt the lens tested was not representative. Fine. We (and you, I'm sure) have heard of a number of other recent examples that did not measure up. Now you say it "must have been damaged in press use", as if the only way a Leica lens could perform so poorly was if it was damaged by hard use.

 

I think Leica has had or is having quality control problems with some of their recent lenses. Granted, lenses are complex devices not stamped out by cookie cutters, and individual lenses vary in tolerances. Since it is not reasonable to test more than one of each model, when you do run across one you have reason to think may be significantly below par, what do you do? In this case you presented the results as you measured them, which is fine. You obtained another copy to retest, which is fine. I just think when you include excuses to explain why the results should have been better, your review becomes less objective and you begin to sound like something other than a neutral reviewer. If you don't want to attribute the problems to poor quality control, you could just state the facts "Leica sent this lens - it was bad - they sent another - it was good", without making any excuses. That way the reader knows it may take one or two tries to get what they want, and can factor that in to the buying decision.

 

Other than that, and knowing you sometimes include discontinued lenses in your tests, I would love to have seen a pre-asph Summicron tested. In fact, if you are still testing and want to do so, I'll be happy to loan you a "good one".

 

Hi Chuck,

 

First, thanks for the comments on the reviews. I anticipated this question coming up. It really is important to remember that all press pool lenses can lead very hard lives before I see them. This particular lens is well worn externally. It's very possible that it has been dropped several times, whacked by a tree branch, etc. If you saw the steady flow of press lenses that I've tested over the past few years, you'd know just what I mean. If you ever read car or motorcycle reviews, you'll find that the same thing happens to those vehicles (ie: read a Motor Trend review of a sports car). The performance I saw from this lens is very unlikely to be sample variation and very likely to be the result of abuse or accident. This lens seems to be several years old.

 

What do I do when this happens? I do just what you read. I describe the problems with the first example and I also try to test one that is not damaged. The mention of the weaknesses in the original lens will remain in the article (and, as you know, they are there now). Nonetheless, I think that it would be misleading if I left the impression that this problem was caused by sample variation when I have strong reasons to believe it isn't.

 

In this case, being objective *requires* a discussion of press lenses. The omission of those comments would, in itself, be misleading. In my mind, telling only part of the story (lens 1 bad, lens 2 good) would be mistaken.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Sean,

 

Great article - I'd interested in your views of the 40/1.4 vs. 35/1.7.....

 

Regards,

 

Sandy

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I am another happy subscriber, and your reviews have been very helpful to me and worth many times the subscription cost. Having said that, I think you may be giving Leica a little more leeway than they deserve.

 

I understand the first Summilux tested did not match your expectations for the lens, and that since you had previous experience with better examples, you felt the lens tested was not representative. Fine. We (and you, I'm sure) have heard of a number of other recent examples that did not measure up. Now you say it "must have been damaged in press use", as if the only way a Leica lens could perform so poorly was if it was damaged by hard use.

 

I think Leica has had or is having quality control problems with some of their recent lenses. Granted, lenses are complex devices not stamped out by cookie cutters, and individual lenses vary in tolerances. Since it is not reasonable to test more than one of each model, when you do run across one you have reason to think may be significantly below par, what do you do? In this case you presented the results as you measured them, which is fine. You obtained another copy to retest, which is fine. I just think when you include excuses to explain why the results should have been better, your review becomes less objective and you begin to sound like something other than a neutral reviewer. If you don't want to attribute the problems to poor quality control, you could just state the facts "Leica sent this lens - it was bad - they sent another - it was good", without making any excuses. That way the reader knows it may take one or two tries to get what they want, and can factor that in to the buying decision.

 

Other than that, and knowing you sometimes include discontinued lenses in your tests, I would love to have seen a pre-asph Summicron tested. In fact, if you are still testing and want to do so, I'll be happy to loan you a "good one".

 

I agree with you Chuck on this being a possible problem.

 

What I mean is, if one reviewer knows the quality of a certain item and doesn't find it in the copy one has to review, then (as Sean did) one would probably want to get a second copy and see if one's previous impressions are confirmed or not; try and make sure wether the first sample for review was very much under par, or on the other hand if the reviewer's previous personal experience has been with an exceptionally good sample. Under this light, I understand Sean not wanting to give up to his own long personal experience with Leica lenses for one bad sample - however, if one reverse the situation, one can easily start questioning most findings of every and each reviewer: for instance, why should we not assume that the performance of the Biogon tested in Sean's 35mm review is under par as far as sharpness goes, and that the lens Sean got was not reflecting the actual quality of this lens (or any other for that matter)? So, should we expect Sean to get 2 copies of each lens for review? Maybe even more than 2? Then again, how many copies of the same lens should be tested before accepting the conclusions of a test?

 

I do admit that I too had the feeling Sean gave some leeway to the Leica 35 lux in his 35mm review, but I can understand that - as well, after reading all his reviews I can say that when a lens has, say, IQ issues on one corner only, or something that looks to me more like a sample variation than a implicit characteristic of the lens itself, I draw my own conclusions: if I like all the other qualities of this particular lens, I just keep in mind there might be sample variations to be aware of; if, on the other hand, I am not convinced by the general IQ then - oh well, I wouldn't even bother. So, back to the case in point, I am not doubting Sean's integrity for a second and I do appreciate all the work he does for the RF community with his testing; I am sure he will report objectively his findings on the second copy of the Leica, and I hope he will treat other similar non-Leica cases in the same way when faced by a similar situation.

 

Last, let's not forget that doing equipment's reviews is a tough job - as we could see here, the road towards completeness and objectivity is often full of obstacles not depending on the reviewer's will - keep up the good job Sean!

 

Best,

 

Vieri

 

P.S. Sean, are you considering including the Zeiss 85mm f2 in your 75mm review - or 90mm review maybe? Thanks!

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I expect to have the new set of res tests in this weekend (maybe even tonight but its a busy day). Contrast and OOF sections (+ gen. illustrations) will come in next week.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Sean,

 

Great article - I'd interested in your views of the 40/1.4 vs. 35/1.7.....

 

Regards,

 

Sandy

 

Hi Sandy,

 

I prefer the 35/1.7 overall and its also a lot easier to use on the M8 (LT-M8 adapter will give correct frame lines and wells for coding). Only down side, in my view, is that it is less compact. *Much* prefer the OOF rendering of the Ultron to the 40.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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I prefer the 35/1.7 overall and its also a lot easier to use on the M8 (LT-M8 adapter will give correct frame lines and wells for coding). Only down side, in my view, is that it is less compact. *Much* prefer the OOF rendering of the Ultron to the 40.

 

Thanks, interesting - I'd been thinking about the 40. Maybe need to rethink....

 

Regards,

 

Sandy

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I agree with you Chuck on this being a possible problem.

 

What I mean is, if one reviewer knows the quality of a certain item and doesn't find it in the copy one has to review, then (as Sean did) one would probably want to get a second copy and see if one's previous impressions are confirmed or not; try and make sure wether the first sample for review was very much under par, or on the other hand if the reviewer's previous personal experience has been with an exceptionally good sample. Under this light, I understand Sean not wanting to give up to his own long personal experience with Leica lenses for one bad sample - however, if one reverse the situation, one can easily start questioning most findings of every and each reviewer: for instance, why should we not assume that the performance of the Biogon tested in Sean's 35mm review is under par as far as sharpness goes, and that the lens Sean got was not reflecting the actual quality of this lens (or any other for that matter)? So, should we expect Sean to get 2 copies of each lens for review? Maybe even more than 2? Then again, how many copies of the same lens should be tested before accepting the conclusions of a test?

 

I do admit that I too had the feeling Sean gave some leeway to the Leica 35 lux in his 35mm review, but I can understand that - as well, after reading all his reviews I can say that when a lens has, say, IQ issues on one corner only, or something that looks to me more like a sample variation than a implicit characteristic of the lens itself, I draw my own conclusions: if I like all the other qualities of this particular lens, I just keep in mind there might be sample variations to be aware of; if, on the other hand, I am not convinced by the general IQ then - oh well, I wouldn't even bother. So, back to the case in point, I am not doubting Sean's integrity for a second and I do appreciate all the work he does for the RF community with his testing; I am sure he will report objectively his findings on the second copy of the Leica, and I hope he will treat other similar non-Leica cases in the same way when faced by a similar situation.

 

Last, let's not forget that doing equipment's reviews is a tough job - as we could see here, the road towards completeness and objectivity is often full of obstacles not depending on the reviewer's will - keep up the good job Sean!

 

Best,

 

Vieri

 

P.S. Sean, are you considering including the Zeiss 85mm f2 in your 75mm review - or 90mm review maybe? Thanks!

 

Vieri,

 

I'm convinced that this is not sample variation. One thing that I do when I first get a lens is to look at its external condition. A lens with perfect cosmetics may have never been dropped but multiple markings on the barrel often come from being dropped, hit, etc. It's simply not accurate to assume that a consumer buying a new lens will encounter the same problems as a scuffed up press lens that's been in circulation for several years.

 

In fact, in order for a photographer to really run the same risks (of getting a bad lens) that I do, he or she would need to buy a lens new, send it around to various journalists for a few years and then see how it does. Fortunately, that's the experience of a typical purchaser.

 

I'm not trying to give Leica any extra leeway but, rather, calling things as I see them. I think, traditionally, most lens reviewers just don't mention these damaged lenses at all. I mention them, always, but also give my honest opinion about what I think is involved. Do you think I'm the only reviewer to receive lenses that are damaged? How often have you seen this discussed in various reviews on other sites, magazines, etc? I think some may tend not to mention this problem at all exactly because people will assume sample variation which is unlikely to be true.

 

As for the general comments about sample variation - its always possible in testing any example of anything.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

P.S. The Zeiss is here. I'm told that it is the first press copy in the US and it will be tested against whichever 90s are available.

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As many of you know I just returned from a trip to Leica with Guy Mancuso and others. We had a factory tour and got to see how the final QC is done which is something not usually covered on the tour. The lens under test is put into a custom jig where a test image containing hundreds of cross hairs is projected on to a scree at about 5x8 feet. The operator who is a very skilled technician then observes the cross hairs looking for focus and distortion issues which are fairly easy to spot. This is done with the lens wide open. Every single lens which leaves the factory undergoes this test. I grant that apparently bad lenses slip through now and then but it is hard to imagine how given what we saw. Anyway, probably just more useless information but we all found it a pretty remarkable outgoing QC test.

 

Woody Spedden

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Well, there is one clue in your own text: "this is done with the lens wide open". I think the test ought to be repeated at f/4 and f/8, at least.

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{snipped}I'm convinced that this is not sample variation. One thing that I do when I first get a lens is to look at its external condition. A lens with perfect cosmetics may have never been dropped but multiple markings on the barrel often come from being dropped, hit, etc. It's simply not accurate to assume that a consumer buying a new lens will encounter the same problems as a scuffed up press lens that's been in circulation for several years. {snipped}.

 

I want to extend what Sean said to just about any used lens. Not that they would show the same obviousness softness as Sean's press sample, but they simply may be out of alignment. The buyer (or the seller, if they're not using it) may be none the wiser.

 

But when it shows up, it's not Leica's quality control. It's a simple fact that all lens / camera combos go out of alignment from time to time; if this weren't the case the new Canon 1d3 wouldn't have some built-in technology to help mitigate this.

 

So if you have a single lens acting up, I would get it (and the camera, ideally) checked out. Having just gone through this with a seemingly absolutely mint Summilux 75, I can't recommend this too much!

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Guest guy_mancuso
Vieri,

 

I'm convinced that this is not sample variation. One thing that I do when I first get a lens is to look at its external condition. A lens with perfect cosmetics may have never been dropped but multiple markings on the barrel often come from being dropped, hit, etc. It's simply not accurate to assume that a consumer buying a new lens will encounter the same problems as a scuffed up press lens that's been in circulation for several years.

 

In fact, in order for a photographer to really run the same risks (of getting a bad lens) that I do, he or she would need to buy a lens new, send it around to various journalists for a few years and then see how it does. Fortunately, that's the experience of a typical purchaser.

 

I'm not trying to give Leica any extra leeway but, rather, calling things as I see them. I think, traditionally, most lens reviewers just don't mention these damaged lenses at all. I mention them, always, but also give my honest opinion about what I think is involved. Do you think I'm the only reviewer to receive lenses that are damaged? How often have you seen this discussed in various reviews on other sites, magazines, etc? I think some may tend not to mention this problem at all exactly because people will assume sample variation which is unlikely to be true.

 

As for the general comments about sample variation - its always possible in testing any example of anything.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

P.S. The Zeiss is here. I'm told that it is the first press copy in the US and it will be tested against whichever 90s are available.

 

 

After seeing how these lenses are made first hand in Solms and the complexity of the mechnical setup on many of these lenses it is amazing how well they are done but I agree with Sean if one gets dropped and no one tells the next guy than a lens could very well be off and i mean by a extremely tight tolerence. These are very precise lenses and leica builds to exact specs with very little room for error.

 

I have a 35mm Lux myself and i have a deadly copy of one. But press pool gear sometimes get's abuse that is beyond resonable from a normal user point of view.

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Vieri,

 

I'm convinced that this is not sample variation. One thing that I do when I first get a lens is to look at its external condition. A lens with perfect cosmetics may have never been dropped but multiple markings on the barrel often come from being dropped, hit, etc. It's simply not accurate to assume that a consumer buying a new lens will encounter the same problems as a scuffed up press lens that's been in circulation for several years.

 

In fact, in order for a photographer to really run the same risks (of getting a bad lens) that I do, he or she would need to buy a lens new, send it around to various journalists for a few years and then see how it does. Fortunately, that's the experience of a typical purchaser.

 

I'm not trying to give Leica any extra leeway but, rather, calling things as I see them. I think, traditionally, most lens reviewers just don't mention these damaged lenses at all. I mention them, always, but also give my honest opinion about what I think is involved. Do you think I'm the only reviewer to receive lenses that are damaged? How often have you seen this discussed in various reviews on other sites, magazines, etc? I think some may tend not to mention this problem at all exactly because people will assume sample variation which is unlikely to be true.

 

As for the general comments about sample variation - its always possible in testing any example of anything.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

P.S. The Zeiss is here. I'm told that it is the first press copy in the US and it will be tested against whichever 90s are available.

 

Sean, I agree with you - as I did in my previous message - on having the second lens tested; as well, I think your reviews are between the best I have ever seen on the net, and I do appreciate your sharing of information on the lenses tested; I haven't seen this done elsewhere. Maybe you misunderstood my message, but there is no need to get so defensive :biggrin: One more question, once you get a press lens that looks evidently worn out - why don't you immediately ask Leica or whichever manufacture for a (better) replacement? This would save you lot of time for repeated tests and free some time for other work :biggrin:

 

As far as the 85mm, I am very much looking to your opinion on it - I think that size, closest focus at only 1m, frame lines, would all be potential things to think about when putting it against Leica 75mm f2 or 90mm f2: I have the latter, am waiting for the former to arrive here, and I have been thinking about getting the Zeiss instead; I am really looking forward to see how the Zeiss will fare in IQ against these! :smile:

 

Best,

 

Vieri

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