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Vario-Elmer 75-200 What's wrong with it?

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I have been hanging around here for a number of years and seem to recall comments negative towards this Lens.

It so happens that I'm in possession of one such and I should like to know from you much more experienced folks what I need to be observant of when using it.

A link to a previous topic discussing this is also appreciated. Somehow I seem to recall that "the opinion of some" was that the

80-200 is a "far better lens" and I'm just curious as to why.

Preben

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I have one although rarely need to use it. It was a Minolta lens 'tweaked' by Leica. It's a fine performer and I would guess that most negative comments you might find will be from people who haven't used it.

The newer lens might be more contrasty but 'better' is subjective. I think the newer lens is designed so that the front section doesn't rotate as you focus which is better if you use certain types of filters.

Enjoy your lens.

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It's an adequate, late-1970's Japanese mid-tele zoom.

"Japanese" is not necessarily a negative quality - since Leica was outsourcing it from Minolta precisely because Leica didn't have the "German know-how" to design one for themselves (yet). Leica didn't get around to designing a zoom lens in-house until 1995, with the f/2.8 70-180. The 80-200 followed the next year (Leica-designed, but manufacturing farmed out to Kyocera/Contax/Zeiss in Japan). 20 years of gains in optical know-how makes a difference.

Wrong? A lot of color aberrations and fringing, softish center and even softer corners, obvious vignetting, a bit muddy in contrast, significant distortion at the zoom extremes (barrel at 70, pincushion at 200). In short, all the flaws that gave rise to the idea that zooms could never match prime lenses.

Leica's own contemporary (1980) 90mm Summicron (the "soft-sharpness" one) performs the same at f/2 as the 75-200 does at f/4.5. Even the 75M/80R Summiluxes (also 1980) at f/1.4 are slightly "cleaner." That is, you give up 2-3 stops of speed - and don't gain optical quality. The Leica-M Tele-Elmar 135 f/4 (1964) or the APO-Telyt-R 180 f/3.4 (1975) will both eat it for lunch at f/4.5.

I'd say the only thing Leica did by tweaking the glass was to match the overall color tone and palette to Dr. Mandler's preferred slightly-greener-cyan "look" - in which they succeeded.

The good news is that, these days, most of its flaws can be digitally corrected, whether using a film scan, or a digital original (Canon, SL, Sony, etc.) Distortion, color fringing, sharpening, contrast, vignetting - all just a mouse-click away.

I tried a couple of copies with an (original) SL film body and adapted to a Canon 5D2. Because it allowed slightly closer focusing than the 180 APO. Just didn't find it satisfying.

Edited by adan

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I own the 75-200 and the 80-200/4 for several years and I have used both lenses (no hearsay). What I can conclude from my experience is that they are in different leagues. What disappoints me most with the 75-200 is the flat colour rendition, low overall contrast and lack of sharpness across the frame, even when stopped down. I cannot comment on distortion as I have not performed dedicated shots to assess that weakness. The 80-200 is a great lens and I use it a lot. The 75-200 sits in the box now for years, probably going to the bay soon. I once compared the 75-200 directly with a really cheap 70s-design m42 Vivitar 70-210 zoom lens and I could not make out a difference that would speak in favour of the 75-200. As written above, you can correct flat colours, sharpnes etc. etc. etc. nowadays, but apart from the low current price I think nothing actually speaks for the 75-200.

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Well, I own the the Elmar 75-200 and use it regularly on slide film. What can I say? The results are great an when I show slides taken with the lens on a 2,5m screen - under slides taken with

the Summicron 50mm, the Leica Vario Elmar 3,5-4/21-35, the 2,8/135, 2,8/180, Canon 2,8/70-200- etc. - nobody ever complained about bad quality....

In a "Color Foto" Test from 1983 Leica's 75-200 has been under the best Zooms. And I agree. In praxis - on film - that cheap 75-200 can still deliver nice pics.

Yes, there are of course better lenses, I know that. - working with lenses is my daily bread.... - But sometimes the "best lens" doesn't create necessarily the "best pic"...

I know , the lens manufacturer do want to sell there new designed lenses. Of course! And, yes, they are in this days perfect. 99.99%....But do you need that for a good picture?

In the movie industry a lot of shoots are taken with old glass,  because it has more character, than the perfect new lens designs.

New lens designs getting more and more interchangeable anyway. Perfection makes them equal....

And, improvements to older designs are getting more and more difficult today. They can make lenses smaller, faster, create bigger zoom ranges, but the quality you get out later is hardly better then the one from the predecessor. At least not in praxis......

So, of course, nothing wrong, with enjoying the perfection of new lens designs , but old designs can sometimes be good enough or even be more satisfying....

 

Regards,

Torsten

 

 

 

 

 

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Here's a couple of shots I took with this crappy old useless lens. OK I took them on a Canon 20D which has a crop sensor but it gives you some idea of what a terrible lens it is!

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Nice pics, James, especially considering, that is´s not easy to shoot soccer with a manual lens.

Here a link with some pics from the Minolta MD 4/70-210, which is in the same league as the 4,5/75-200 and their results are ,of course, pretty much the same as the one from the Leica counterparts.

https://www.juzaphoto.com/recensione.php?l=en&t=minolta_md70-210_f4

 

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I've used both the 75-200 f/4.5 and the 80-200 f/4 and IMHO the 80-200 f/4 is a much better lens.  The 75-200 was good in its day but comparing image detail, color, contrast and bokeh I prefer the 80-200 f/4.  There's also the rotating filter thing.

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1 minute ago, wildlightphoto said:

 There's also the rotating filter thing.

Particularly annoying if you are using a polariser. 

Wilson

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James and Torsten,

"I can live fine with results like that" 🙂 

James, did you crop those images? I did notice quite some vignetting at full extreme zoom and see nothing in your images, just wondering.

Personally, I don't particularly care if Minolta or any other fine Company builds a product for Leica, as long as the results are good. Even a Bugatti has VW parts in it 🙂

I will use it both on my newly acquired R9 as well as my Sony A7II and see what I can elicit out of this one lens. I believe that the image below was taken with this latter combination.

Thanks

Preben

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