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135mm f4 Tele-Elmar vs new 135mm APO f3.4


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Is it worth upgrading from an older 135mm f4 to the new APO design? I have the old one and it seems plenty sharp to me. What I've found online seems to indicate that the differences in sharpness are slight. If anyone has used both, I'd be curious to hear what you think

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Tele-Elmar 4/135 is excellent 135mm.

I use also the Elmarit-M 2.8/135 (for ease of focussing) which lacks the fine contrast of the lighter brother f/4.

 

I have tried the Apo-Telyt-M 3.4/135 and found that from about f/5.6 and above, I could not see the "apo-advanced" quality.

 

I have read somewhere that the old Tele-Elmar is "apo" without the name

.

 

Later, comparing the MTF graphs of the two 135mm, I understood what I've seen on photos.

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I use the last version of the f/4 Tele-Elmar, myself (build-in hood, 46mm filter size)

 

But being objective - the APO has the following advantages:

 

- A cleaner more APO(chromatic) image wide-open - the f/4 will show red spills or fringes to fine details at f/4

- Sharper by a tiny amount down to f/5.6 (where the non-APO hits peak performance)

- More contrast and snap - the f/4 is muddier in duller (e.g. overcast day) light.

- half a stop faster

- noticably lighter weight: 450g (APO), 510g/550g (early/late Tele-Elmar f/4.0)

- 6-bit coding now factory-installed (and available for installation in early f/3.4s)

 

and the following disadvantages

 

- price

- tendency towards strong veiling flare bouncing off the inside of the lens barrel, if a bright light is just outside the image area.

 

For a 1964 telephoto, the f/4 Tele-Elmar comes very close to apochromatic, but not quite there at f/4-4.5.

 

It is important to remember that "APO" does not mean "sharper" - it means "less or zero color fringing" in in-focus details. In the grossly-enlarged segment from a 135 f/4 picture below, the "black" lines of the drawing, and shaded pits in the concrete blocks, have turned reddish, due to red light being focused in a different plane than the green and blue light, and spilling into the shadows - a classic sign of "non-APO" performance.

 

 

"Red blacks" also contribute to the muddier look of the f/4 in some light.

 

The added DoF at f/5.6 will hide the defocusing of red almost completely, but it is visible wide-open.

 

However, shoot at f/5.6 or below, or in B&W, or in low light where color-fringing is the least of your worries, and the non-APO behavior becomes a non-issue. Which is why I'm comfortable sticking with the slightly older f/4.0.

Edited by adan
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The Apo-Telyt 135/3.4 is simply a superior lens IMHO. Clearly sharper than both Elmarit 135/2.8 and Tele-Elmar 135/4 at f/3.4 and f/4, it is lighter and shorter than them. Now to shoot at f/5.6 and on, a much cheaper lens like the Elmar 135/4 from the sixties has little to envy the apo and is even lighter (but taller) than it.

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Is it worth upgrading from an older 135mm f4 to the new APO design? I have the old one and it seems plenty sharp to me. What I've found online seems to indicate that the differences in sharpness are slight. If anyone has used both, I'd be curious to hear what you think

 

What do you use the lens for? How often do you use it?

FWIW, my use of the 135mm FL is mostly limited to tight portraits and rather infrequent.

For this, I prefer the rendering - and relatively low cost - of the last 135/4, so I quickly sold the APO.

If I were to use this FL more often for critical, non-portrait work that required maximum sharpness across the field, I'd get the APO.

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The lower weight and half stop of light were enough to make my choice the APO-Telyt, especially as I found a mint less than 1 year old one for a good price. I use it for perspective effects and for portraiture. On travels I tend to take my ‘thin’ Tele-Elmarit 90 however as that is similar to a 50 in volume and lighter than some 50’s...

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thanks for the advice everyone. I use my f4 135mm mainly for landscapes. I'm usually stopped down a bit anyways since I'm rarely out during magic hour (try telling your pregnant wife to bathe the toddlers alone because the light is perfect now...) I think for my needs I can resist the urge to upgrade for now.

 

What I most would like is 6 bit encoding since once I switch to 135mm, there's a good chance I forget and all of my EXIF has 135mm after that. I heard the M10 automatically will recognize the 6 bit once you change lenses, I wish they would do a firmware upgrade to do that in the M240 line.

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Indeed. Getting an M10 made using my uncoded (and uncodable) 135 much more seamless in concert with 3 coded lenses (21/35/75). Leave the menu set to Manual > 135mm, and it automatically switches to read codes if it detects one, and back to "135" if it sees no code.

 

As does its slightly better focusing and ISO performance (relative to a 240, much larger improvement relative to an M9). One could say that the "best upgrade" to any 135mm is to just get an M10 (but that is obviously even more expensive that switching to the APO

  ). Edited by adan
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thanks for the advice everyone. I use my f4 135mm mainly for landscapes. I'm usually stopped down a bit anyways since I'm rarely out during magic hour (try telling your pregnant wife to bathe the toddlers alone because the light is perfect now...) I think for my needs I can resist the urge to upgrade for now.

 

What I most would like is 6 bit encoding since once I switch to 135mm, there's a good chance I forget and all of my EXIF has 135mm after that. I heard the M10 automatically will recognize the 6 bit once you change lenses, I wish they would do a firmware upgrade to do that in the M240 line.

Why not use a predefined user profile for your uncoded 135. 6 bit coding is certainly a convenience but switching profile is not that bad.

 

I have not seen any noticeable CA wide open from my TE135. If there is any, it can be easily removed in PP. But then again, it makes it only cleaner and not sharper. That will be APO territory. I am sure side by side comparison will show difference but if you are happy with non APO then why care?

 

I even shot a comet with this lens.

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/250601-46-year-old-tele-elmar-f4-135mm/?p=2896559

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I hadn't thought of that, I'm going to look into that, thanks

Just remember to switch profile back to auto when you switch to other lens. This is why I have a quick checklist while changing lens.

1) Switch lens

2) press info button and check whether new lens has been detected. Also a good time to check remaining battery, ISO being used (it shows shooting ISO) and remaining space. This is M240 but M10 should be similar.

3) if not then switch profile or manually select new lens.

 

BTW, it seems you are new to the forum. Welcome.

Edited by jmahto
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thanks for the advice everyone. I use my f4 135mm mainly for landscapes.

 

I use the E46 version of the Tele-Elmar for landscapes. Stopped down I'd struggle to have any complaints about the images it delivers.

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thanks for the advice everyone. I use my f4 135mm mainly for landscapes. I'm usually stopped down a bit anyways since I'm rarely out during magic hour (try telling your pregnant wife to bathe the toddlers alone because the light is perfect now...) I think for my needs I can resist the urge to upgrade for now.

 

What I most would like is 6 bit encoding since once I switch to 135mm, there's a good chance I forget and all of my EXIF has 135mm after that. I heard the M10 automatically will recognize the 6 bit once you change lenses, I wish they would do a firmware upgrade to do that in the M240 line.

I set up a profile for 135mm and nearly always remember to set it.
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I do want to add that if one is open to EVF then not only TE 135 but *any* old manual focus 135mm lens from other manufacturers will give quite good results stopped down to f8. I have Konica hexanon 3.2 and Minolta MD rokkor-x 3.5 in 135mm as well and all are same at f/8. The differences are in MFD, bokeh, weight etc.

Edited by jmahto
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I own both. Haven't done a scientific comparison, and I don't shoot daily with either but my impression is that the greatest difference is exactly what you'd expect when comparing a modern Leica lens to one produced several decades ago. The TE renders more gently with lower contrast, the APO more decisively with higher contrast. I find the modern lens superior for scene compression/isolation, say a face in a crowd.  For landscape, stopped down, it's more a matter of preference. 

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  • 2 months later...

I happen to own both a Tele-Elmar-M (built in hood) and an Apo-Telyt-M.
I shot a few test images to check the differences at 4.0 - 5.6 and 3.4 - 4.0 - 5.6 respectively, using a Fuji X-T2 with a Fuji Leica mount adapter. Using a tripod, focousing at infinity and checking carefully and in bright Sun, there seem to be some differences - maybe. Actually, I am going to take some more shots as soon as conditions are favourable again, in order to double check.

The ATM looks slightly more contrasty, the TEM seems slightly "softer", but it's hard to tell if any of the two actually reaches beyond of the other in terms of sheer resolving power.

I think that at such levels there are many other things to consider that may easily be more important than any slight 'sharpness' difference - if actually any. I am thinking at the feel of the lenses (one heavier and maybe more 'solid', the other lighter - brass vs. aluminium?), filter size (46 vs. unusual 49), focousing ring damping (which can easily be more important than any sharpness difference), general image rendering with special attention to out-of-focous details (here the 'softer' TEM could have the edge).

Reading what Tailwagger wrote, that's what I'd expect in real shooting, from what I have found. Only I am not sure the ATM 'superiority' in 'scene compression/isolation' is actually preferable to a better 'blending in' ability and tri-dimensional effect from softer sharp/unsharp transition. Pretty much 'new vs. old', but not sure which is nicer. Assuming this difference as the main one, and considering therefore one has to choose between which behaviour he likes better (isolation vs. blending in) and of course price, I'd say the Tele-Elmar is the winner. In other terms: I don't consider the ATM as clearly superior in anything, but price. Maybe my next shots will make me change my mind.

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  • 2 months later...

I don't know if on APS-C the perceived IQ is less or better than FF when TE is used.

 

My finding...

Usable also on bigger sensor (maybe ?) than 24x36.

 

Tele-Elmar 4/135 has some unknow secrets as it's larger than expected image covering property:

 

seen here http://www.marcocavina.com/articoli_fotografici/Leitz_Tele-Elmar_135mm_4/00_pag.htm

(sorry in italian only, but pictures of this clever using TE 135 by Marco Cavina can be clear)

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I don't consider the ATM as clearly superior in anything, but price. Maybe my next shots will make me change my mind.

 

I would imagine the plus side for the APO primarily comes down to:

 

1. Wide open image quality between f3.4 and f4.

2. 6-bit coding as a more convenient way of shooting. Half the time (or more) I forget to change my M262 and/or M-P 240 back to auto when I go back to my all-six bit system of lenses from the 135mm Tele-Elmar.

3. Smaller size than the Tele-Elmar and in-line with the same handling characteristics of the last Tele Elmar version with the built-in retractable hood and more modern ergonomics.

 

I'll know shortly as my brand-new APO-Telyt is on the UPS truck and scheduled for delivery today.

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