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PaulJohn

Why old lenses on the Monochrom?

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Why are people interested in old lenses on the Monochrom and not old lenses on other Leica bodies?

 

Is this because low contrast lenses bring the best tonality from the monochrome sensor?

 

I've seen this penchant before on old lenses with Nikon's Df. Not a monochrome camera but a highly regarded sensor.

 

On the surface it looks like people want to pair the best sensors with the worst lenses.

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Well, most of them are far from "the worst lenses", actually.  But they have a different character, just like oil paint has another character than acrylics. And, with the Monochrom, differences in colour rendering (which can be rather dramatic) are not an issue.

 

That said, lots of people do use old glass on other Leica bodies as well.  Look at threads like this one!

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I'm not denying the appeal of older lenses or stating that the appeal is exclusive to the monochrom cameras, just observing that those with monochrom cameras appear to be more inclined to be interested in older lenses. Perhaps I am mistaken in this but there is a thread just for monochrom and older glass. There is no thread for M10 and older glass or any other one camera for that matter apart from the monochrom.

 

Perhaps it is just that the colour differences are less desirable than the differences in other lens characteristics. Perhaps the unique rendering of certain lenses are more pronounced once colour is subtracted.

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Why old lenses working on BW digital camera? It is because old lenses works best on BW film. I have tried almost all old 50mm Leitz made lenses and to my eye they gives something Rigid and after Crons can't give on BW film. Old lenses are good enough on BW film, but not sterile as new ones.

Monochrome is not film, but true and only BW camera. This is why.

Just like converting color film to BW under enlarger or in software doesn't work as good as BW film, converting to BW is not this good on cameras with color array sensors.

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Why are people interested in old lenses on the Monochrom and not old lenses on other Leica bodies?

 

Is this because low contrast lenses bring the best tonality from the monochrome sensor?

 

These lenses were designed in an age when B&W film ruled, so ability to render subtle grey tonalities mattered; I have found that the MM is best able to capture this. For example, looking at M9 images from a Canon 50/1.4 LTM; colors are on the pastel side and muted or simply "off". Nowadays, it can be seen as an effect but only if your tastes run that way. Probably why the heavy saturation of Kodachrome appealed to many, as it compensated for the lack of color saturation many lenses were capable of delivering.

 

I've seen this penchant before on old lenses with Nikon's Df. Not a monochrome camera but a highly regarded sensor.

 

The Nikon Dƒ was a half-baked (? marketing) plan to appeal to legacy Nikkor owners (recall that the Nikon F mount dates from 1959, so it's the 2nd oldest mount still in production today, after the Leica M). With its design reminiscent of the FM film camera line, the Dƒ is the first digital Nikon to mount non-AI lenses without conversion, yet no focusing aid, like a split circle was included to use with these manual focus lenses.

 

On the surface it looks like people want to pair the best sensors with the worst lenses.

 

Shoot a Nikkor 8/2.8 FE, 16/3.5 FE, 28/2 & 2.8 AIS, NOCT, 85/1.4, 105/2.5, 180/2.8 ED or a Leica 50 Rigid, 35 Summaron ƒ/2.8, or Canon LTM 50/1.8 & 1.4 and 100/2 and you will see this is most definitely not the case.

Edited by james.liam

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Perhaps I am mistaken in this but there is a thread just for monochrom and older glass. There is no thread for M10 and older glass or any other one camera for that matter apart from the monochrom.

 

Sure there is... going back to the M8...

 

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/110554-m8-and-old-glass/page-1

 

And elgenper already linked to another thread that includes various M models.

 

The Monochrom gained additional interest in use of older lenses as a counterpoint to its reputation as a high resolution camera, perhaps not as well suited to less than ‘perfect’ rendering.

 

Jeff

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Why are people interested in old lenses on the Monochrom and not old lenses on other Leica bodies?

 

Is this because low contrast lenses bring the best tonality from the monochrome sensor?

 

I've seen this penchant before on old lenses with Nikon's Df. Not a monochrome camera but a highly regarded sensor.

 

On the surface it looks like people want to pair the best sensors with the worst lenses.

Yes I think that modern lenses on my Monochrome1 render often too sharp/clinical/digital. But not every old lens is succes guaranteed.

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Less is often more. More beautiful. I got rid of all my Aspherical lenses once moved to the monochrome. They were better in terms of detail and sharpness, but the more I compared to photos taken with my older lenses, the newer lenses were unappealing. Cold and harsh, or clinical as many have described.

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I think the premise is mistaken. There is a pinned thread called “The View Through Older Glass,” for one thing. An alternative question could be “why are so few M10 users interested in older glass?” I suspect a big reason there is that many M10 users are new to the M system, bought their camera together with one or more latest-and-greatest lenses, and bought into the notions of ultimate image quality that Leica’s marketing tends to present. Probably few Monochrom users are new to the M system or have the Monochrom as a first digital M. They tend to own older lenses and appreciate what they do. In addition, the original M9-based Monochrom had a reputation for high-contrast rendering that some users sought to “tame” through the use of older, lower-contrast lenses. Finally, both Monochroms and especially the M246 allow unrestricted use of older small-maximum-aperture lenses like the 50mm Elmar f/3.5.

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An alternative guess: people who like B&W are older, more nostalgic (and indeed are more likely to own a bunch of vintage lenses already) - and therefore tend to pair their Monochroms with old glass. So, maybe it's got nothing to do with the quality of the lenses/sensors but it's rather a matter of demographics.

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Thank you for your comments. I am certainly getting a taste for old glass (not the swirly bokeh ones). I already have the 50 lux pre-ASPH and would not swap it for the latest lux. My next quest is an interesting 35mm. 

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An alternative guess: people who like B&W are older, more nostalgic (and indeed are more likely to own a bunch of vintage lenses already) - and therefore tend to pair their Monochroms with old glass. So, maybe it's got nothing to do with the quality of the lenses/sensors but it's rather a matter of demographics.

 

Yes, I'd guess there's a lot of truth in this.

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An alternative guess: people who like B&W are older, more nostalgic (and indeed are more likely to own a bunch of vintage lenses already) - and therefore tend to pair their Monochroms with old glass. So, maybe it's got nothing to do with the quality of the lenses/sensors but it's rather a matter of demographics.

Seems an interesting idea but I don’t think that you can reduce the issue of new (Karbe) vs. old (Mandler) lenses to nostalgia. There is a good deal of old lenses that aren’t really interesting. I really don’t see for instance the worth of bringing back the Summaron 28 and I am very sceptical about the Thambar 90 too. Here I suspect Leica of exploiting nostalgia for commercial reasons. But this is not the whole story.

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Thank you for your comments. I am certainly getting a taste for old glass (not the swirly bokeh ones). I already have the 50 lux pre-ASPH and would not swap it for the latest lux. My next quest is an interesting 35mm. 

 

May I suggest the Summilux pre-ASPH v2? The little critter is certainly an interesting one... 

The Canon 35/1.5 or the Apoqualia 35/1.4 also come to mind for being "interesting", but they would not pair well with your 50/1.4 pre-ASPH.

If it doesn't need to be that fast, there are several more options for interesting vintage 35/2 or 35/2.8 lenses.

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Seems an interesting idea but I don’t think that you can reduce the issue of new (Karbe) vs. old (Mandler) lenses to nostalgia. There is a good deal of old lenses that aren’t really interesting. I really don’t see for instance the worth of bringing back the Summaron 28 and I am very sceptical about the Thambar 90 too. Here I suspect Leica of exploiting nostalgia for commercial reasons. But this is not the whole story.

 

Of course not. Karbe vs. Mandler (or Berek for that matter) has not much to do with nostalgia indeed.

I was only speculating that a certain group of people, who just happen to be more prone to nostalgia, are more likely to buy a Monochrom and own vintage glass - and may actually prefer a certain type of lens rendering, or even haptics, to another.

And yes, I'm with you regarding the new Summaron and Thambar. But whatever the marketing and financial reasons for these re-issues, they are fine by me if others enjoy them and the revenues generated support Leica's development.

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More older people would own older glass because they're older and haven't sold off the older glass they bought when they were younger.

 

I really like my older lenses on my Monochrom and my M10.

Edited by MarkP

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More older people would own older glass because they're older and haven't sold off the older glass they bought when they were younger.

 

Indeed. My guess was also that the same people would be more likely to also own a Monochrom - possibly due to B&W nostalgia (and more disposable income).

 

I really like my older lenses on my Monochrom and my M10.

 

Me too. And I'm not THAT old, despite what my daughters seem to believe since I started wearing reading glasses...

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Why are people interested in old lenses on the Monochrom and not old lenses on other Leica bodies?

 

Is this because low contrast lenses bring the best tonality from the monochrome sensor?

 

I've seen this penchant before on old lenses with Nikon's Df. Not a monochrome camera but a highly regarded sensor.

 

On the surface it looks like people want to pair the best sensors with the worst lenses.

 

I'd imagine you're looking too deeply into this.

 

Probably just a throwback to classic black and white film images with lenses that are less clinical and perfect than the modern ones. Softer rendering, spherical aberrations, less contrast makes for a lovely black and white image.

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I find it quite reasonable to expect most old lenses to work better for B&W photos, especially if they were developed before colour films were available. Some vintage lenses give a bit of a yellowish/greenish cast on coloured photos, but give very pleasing skin tone and highlights in b&w. 

Edited by Rus

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I use a 1960 35mm Summaron F2.8 on my M Monochrom mk1. The images that combination produces are quite beautiful in their rendering. Slightly lower contrast, I think, might be the reason, whilst still being very sharp.

 

One extra benefit with the older lenses is that they’re often smaller than their modern aspherical counterparts, so handling is nice too.

Edited by colint544

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