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Question for R users about M lens

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#1 Csacwp


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Posted 15 February 2018 - 03:03

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To those who have tried it, how does the 135mm apo M compare to the top R glass... 90 aa, 100 apo, 180mm f/2 apo, 280mm f/4 apo? It’s my understanding that these lenses share a designer (Lothar Kolsch).

Edited by Csacwp, 15 February 2018 - 03:04.

#2 lct



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Posted 15 February 2018 - 12:52

I'm not good at comparing focal lengths that different. My R 280/4 apo is a fantastic lens but i use it less than my Nikon 300/4 which is much lighter and has autofocus. At 135mm there is no "top" R lens AFAIK only the R 135/2.8 which has the same decent optics as the M 135/2.8. At 180mm my only experience is with the R 180/3.4 apo which is a brilliant lens indeed. See http://www.marcocavi...lass/00_pag.htm. Only con its MFD of 2.5m. You will read here and there that this lens is soft on close ups which is exaggerated. Reminds me of the 90/2 apo which has the same reputation but performs more than decently at MFD in the centre of the frame at least. Now the M 135/3.4 has not this reputation, can focus at 1.5m and is so light and so good at all apertures that i'd rather bring it with my CL than the 180/3.4 apo on my M240. Only con is flare when there are strong light sources just outside the frame. Better use a long hood or make some shade with your hand or a hat then. 

Edit: R 135/2.8 and R 180/3.4 apo are Mandler lenses BTW. No idea about other designers.

Edited by lct, 15 February 2018 - 12:59.

#3 james.liam


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Posted 15 February 2018 - 14:48

Got into R lenses for my Nikon DSLRs when Leitax introduced its replacement mount at about the time R lenses were discontinued in ~2009 (and somewhat affordable).

The 90AA is the same optical design as the M; wasn't overly impressed with its behavior at MFD. It did best (and by best, well beyond any Nikkor 85), at something like 4 or 5 meters to infinity. The 100 APO is a more difficult lens for regular usage because of its damped, long focus throw but the detail it is capable of capturing was well beyond anything my Nikon sensors could record. I owned the 180 Telyt APO for a short while. Designed for the US Navy at the height of the cold war to keep tabs on our Russian friends (the more things change, the more they stay the same), it is very compact but peak performance is at infinity (or nearly so). Closer in, it was no more impressive than its Nikon equivalent. However, the Telyt's ability to capture shadow detail in the darkness was nothing short of magical. The larger 180 Elmarit APO has a more uniform performance from MFD onward (exceeding even the Telyt APO), and is already diffraction limited at ƒ/2.8 (crazy!!). The 280 is a hefty creature and only used this one sporadically. Another diffraction-limited lens at the widest aperture, I don't think even the latest flourite Canons or Nikons can exceed the color fidelity or resolving power.

The APO siblings (90, 100, 180's, 280) are a design tour de force that have stood the test of time.

I tried the 135 M APO but could not accurately or reliably focus it on an M6 .85, except for f/8. Once I get a Visoflex and an M10, I’ll borrow it again and try.

The 135 R's? meh...CV 2,5/125 was superior to any of them. My absolute favorite short tele.

Edited by james.liam, 15 February 2018 - 15:33.

#4 wizard


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Posted 15 February 2018 - 18:57

To those who have tried it, how does the 135mm apo M compare to the top R glass... 90 aa, 100 apo, 180mm f/2 apo, 280mm f/4 apo? It’s my understanding that these lenses share a designer (Lothar Kolsch).


I'd say the 135 apo M is in the same league as the 90 AA and 100 apo R (I've never tried the 180/2 apo and the 280/4 apo). Exact focus is critical, as is lack of any vibration during exposure. Once that is achieved, the lens renders stunningly even at full aperture, with a level of detail that is hard to believe and almost no corner fall-off. It is certainly THE best 135mm lens Leica ever made.

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