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White Buffalo

yet another "which lens" thread- sorry!

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you guys must be sick of me already, littering the front page with all my indecisive lens threads- apologies! 

the fact is, that i remain entirely undecided and only more confused than when i started researching leica lenses. i will soon be taking delivery of my first leica- a matte black m-a-, hopefully in the next couple weeks. i only in recent weeks/months started doing serious research into leica and while i thought all the body variants were confusing, that was nothing in the face of the overwhelming number of lens options. i generally really like the idea of buying things brand new, but understand that it's not so black or white with leica lenses as every generation yielded iterations with various differentiating factors to the next/last gen. i fully intend to get into the older lenses (and that'll be another "which should i get?" thread down the line), but want to start with a new one. 

i'm not the biggest 50 guy (i was when i started though, and want to try getting back into them), though the apo cron really intrigues me. while everyone praises it from a technical standpoint, it seems polarizing in its actual rendering, some folks saying it's too sterile. that said, it's far more than i intend to invest in a lens and will likely get the zeiss 50 1.5 as a cheap (relatively) 50 option to start. this decision isn't entirely driven by cost, but because i actually really enjoy the images i've seen taken by this lens- i love the way it renders, especially people (which is what i mostly shoot). how is the current summilux 50 and standard summicron 50? i've heard the 50 lux is actually apo, just was never marketed as such. 

the first 'big' leica lens purchase i've been thinking about is the lux 35 fle, but just today i read some rather disconcerting threads about qc issues on it and about it having an unattractive oof area. i don't want to have to send a brand new expensive lens into leica to make right and 100%, which seems to be the case with several examples of this particular one- i wonder why? i've heard people say it's a great lens technically, but still has some character to it, though it seems the earlier lux versions are the ones to go with if character is what you seek. what does the fle introduce or make different in the lux rendering compared to previous generations? i have heard people sugges the rendering of the fle is very modern. i've also heard some say the oof is lovely and that even wide open the subject is tack sharp (i don't really associate tack sharpness with the lux range for some reason?... maybe the fle is like leica's otus?), making for a modern look, while others have suggested the oof is downright bad. 

also, talking of the brand new summicron and summilux offerings... could you guys tell me about the character they each offer? i've got it stuck in my head that summicrons have always been the more sharp/precise/perfect (relatively) lenses while the summilux have more... character? but i could just be imagining things since so many lux images are shot wide open, perhaps leading to this perception of mine re: them being a more characterful option. stopped down to 2-2.8 it seems the lux's are pretty much as sharp as a cron, right, so wouldn't it seem like the better option, with the added bonus of having the ability to shoot at 1.4? 

here is some of work (i've linked it in my previous threads): 

https://imgur.com/a/2Ux5ZUG

i mostly shoot 85mm (1.8G) on my nikon dslr and intend to later add the legendary summilux 75 as i feel it would be a good fit for me, or perhaps the summicron 90 apo. 

a couple of the above images were shot on a 28mm (1.8G) though and i've been using that focal length a lot more lately- was even thinking of getting into a 24. but basically i'm mostly considering the 35 lux fle as the length will be perfect for me on a leica i think. i'll experiment with wider options later. 28 is not my favourite, i just use it 'cause i have it, but would prefer either something wider or a 35 for a more 'regular' field of view. 

based off my above images, would you suggest i go for a more sharp/technically perfect lens or one with more character? i shoot mostly around 3.5-5.6 fwiw, but that's on dslr... i'm sure that on the leica and on film i will utilize wider apertures as well. on that note, i never considered the interaction between film speed and how it affects sharpness and other aspects of a lens- fascinating. 

seriously the more i research the more crazy i go... also perhaps i really shouldn't limit myself to only brand new offerings... 

could anyone kindly provide me a brief summary of just a few key words describing the character of the v2-v5 summicron and summilux offerings? that would be tremendously appreciated. i've read tidbits here and there (iirc v3 and v4 are "the ones to get"), but have failed to take notes up to this point so the info is falling out of my mind as fast as it's coming in- but i will definitely start taking notes now. i'm just so hugely confused- i never imagined it'd be this difficult choosing a first lens.... i thought i would just get a summicron 35 or 50 to start, but then i started reading and, well, here i am... 

i'm really sorry to post yet again about this... i just don't have anywhere to try these things out for any useful period of time before buying, so must rely on you knowledgeable lot in helping inform my decision. 

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There aren't any bad Leica lenses.  Pick a focal length first, then prioritize your other needs...price point, size, rendering, etc.

If 35 is your choice, a 35 Summicron or Summarit might be a good place to start.  I started with a 35 Summicron in the 80's...still a core lens for me, albeit a later generation.  The Summarit line, however, is underrated, and the 35 is optically superb (less flare potential than the Summicron and no focus shift).

Demo or rent if possible.  Otherwise just pick one and get going.  You won't be disappointed with any, assuming you care more about the pics than GAS.

Jeff

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Investing in Leica is a very expensive way to pursue photography either as a hobby or as a professional.. Yes admittedly a few Lenses out of the Leica factories do need attention.. (some more than others) Personally I have never had to return either a camera or lens for adjustment or service.. (111f, M3, M6, R6.2 & 6 Leica Digitals, 10-15 assorted Leica Lenses) Find a good rental establishment, or ask your Leica dealer for help.. We all see things differently. including how our lenses render depending on the body to which they are attached.. There is no shortcut, you must use any lens yourself, tune your camera and mind to the lens on your camera.. Unless of course you are fabulously rich, then you can order every Lens you heart desires, try em, buy em or return em..L

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In the former thread about this from you everything has been said. You are too much in your head. Try to forget it a while, sleep well and wake up some day with a strong inclination towards one of your options. Maybe the prices are too high for you to dare. Start with a second hand then. 

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22 minutes ago, Jeff S said:

You won't be disappointed with any, assuming you care more about the pics than GAS.

yes, i'm 100% certain they're all great, but not having a money tree in my yard makes the decision seem so much more dire. and yes, it's 100% about creating images for me above all else- never has been about the gear-; i am a full-time photographer so that's all that i care about... i've only recently (in the past weeks) gotten more into gear. and once i get this setup, i will vanish for at least a year or two before researching a new piece to add. my work keeps me too preoccupied/busy to be constantly researching new stuff- this has only been a new thing the past few weeks for me, i've never studied gear like this before, hence why it's all so intimidating/overwhelming. i know there's no wrong choice though. 

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14 minutes ago, otto.f said:

Maybe the prices are too high for you to dare.

yes, this is absolutely a consideration- and not one i'm ashamed of. i'm a full-time photographer and while it can pay well, it hasn't afforded me the ability to spend recklessly on luxuries such as leica lenses. i would love to be able to buy several examples of these fine lenses all at once, but the fact is that the leica m will occupy but a small niche in my photographic workload and will be a piece i  only sometimes utilize on certain projects. as such, i can only really justify getting one or two lenses to start- then it will be at least a year before i get another. i've certainly considered second hand examples, however some of the lenses i'm considering rarely pop up on the used market and when they do, they're not at much of a discount, so i'd rather just buy new and have that certainty for a little bit more cash... so this is all why i must do as much research as possible before committing to anything. luckily, the m-a is still at least a couple weeks out so i have some time to decide still. but you're absolutely right, i'm too much in my head... and it's due to all the literature out there on the subject; it's mind-numbing! simplest thing would be to spend some time with them myself, but it's just not possible where i am. 

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I really don't see what's either intimidating or overwhelming! as a photographer you should already understand  Lenses, being they Leica or another manufacturer. Each Leica lens has it's own rendition (depending on Body. Digital or Film) Maybe you should start with a Q-P, get to know the lenses and what is possible with your level of expertise.. L 

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I don’t think a Q with this hobbyist cropping procedure can give a representative picture of the character of Leica lenses 

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1 hour ago, White Buffalo said:

so i'd rather just buy new

Well in that case it’s quite simple: Summicron above Summilux, less expensive. Summilux 35 FLE is expensive and you’re afraid of the OOF (I think that on film this will show less, if it would ever be a problem, I don’t see it in my images, it’s great in color, especially on film, Portra for instance). You tend to start with a 35, so Summicron 35 asph. You’ll learn to love it. It’s handy too, the FLE is quite a bulk, like all modern Summiluxes. 

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Posted (edited)

I forgot, which film you plan to use with  your future M-A ?

Edited by a.noctilux

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5 hours ago, a.noctilux said:

I forgot, which film you plan to use with  your future M-A ?

various ones, but mostly hp5, portra 400 and 800, and maybe some tmax 100. 

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IMHO you're overthinking the issues. Film is more forgiving  wih all the lenses discussed than digital. As a professional photographer you already know the DOF/OOF "bokeh" issues. From your research you know Summicrons have been the standard workhorses, but don't offer that extra stop of the Summiluxes. In earlier times Leica concentrated on a balance of contrast and resolution of its lenses, and in more recent times it seems has improved both, with emphasis on resolution as the digital age blossomed, and then worked to reduce abberations, and things like focus shift which became much more noticeable in the digital world. Being new to film Leicas, I think in making your initial lens purchase decisions, you should decide whether you want a clean "clinical" look or a softer-more "classical" look to your Leica shots. Since cost considerations need to be factored in, like many of us, you should give consideration to 2nd hand clean lenses from reputable dealers offering exchange or return privileges. Then it's a plunge into the cold waters and you find your own swimming strokes. Only then can you really decide among the myriad of choices what works best for you long term. I've waffled back and forth for many years, and come to love the "clasical renderings of earlier lenses more than the more modern rendition of more "perfect" (less abberations) modern lenses...but to each his own. Good luck in your choices, but just get on with it...overthinking doesn't usually solve the dilemmas but leads to more frustration in not arriving at definitive answers.

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Yes, new or used, buy from a reputable dealer with warranty and return/exchange policy. Analysis paralysis.  Just do it and enjoy using whatever it is.

Jeff

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Depending on where you live buy second hand you shouldn't be disappointed. It can always be resold or traded with out much loss to your wallet.

Leica dealer, Popflash, Tamarkin and KEH just to name a few places to look.

I've bought most of lenses second hand over the years. I recently purchased a 50mm summilux new. I traded a 50mm summicron to ease pain of purchasing a new lens. Wish I still had the cron. I am missing the look of the 50mm cron.

 

Keep glass buy and sell bodies is my new motto. That way regrets are minimal.

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14 minutes ago, White Buffalo said:

various ones, but mostly hp5, portra 400 and 800, and maybe some tmax 100. 

For faster film 400 or 800 ISO, Summilux-M non asph. would be good choice,

in 50mm I'd get one of these second hand to begin with or better but harder to find one of those, second hand also

 

in 35mm I'd get the one of asph. this type which I use for long forgiving in film use more than the FLE (created for sensor)

the non-asph. Summilux-M 35mm ( very compact aswecan see here ... ) can be a nice choice if you want some characters

one of the Summicron 35mm asph. or not can't be bad choice to begin with only one lens for M-A 😉

or why not one of the Summarit-M 2.4/35mm to begin with if you want new.

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6 minutes ago, a.noctilux said:

one of the Summicron 35mm asph. or not can't be bad choice to begin with only one lens for M-A 😉

or why not one of the Summarit-M 2.4/35mm to begin with if you want new.

First response to OP.  Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

Jeff

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27 minutes ago, Jeff S said:

First response to OP.  Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

Jeff

ha, yeah... seems i'll just end up going with what my gut suggested at first. 

that said, i have just discovered the zm 35 1.4 and am quite impressed... i know it's larger than the summilux and much larger than the summicron (which really is the perfect size imo), but i can live with a big lens... i'm a big dude with big hands and love zeiss rendering. 

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4 minutes ago, White Buffalo said:

i'm a big dude with big hands and love zeiss rendering. 

So why not just buy some Zeiss lenses for you Nikon? Anyway, sounds like you have resolved your dilemma and saved some cash. Zeiss ZM lens are very good/excellent if you don't mind the higher contrast.

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Zeiss makes quality lenses, albeit innately  high contrast, but I believe in sticking with native lenses, regardless the system.  The native lens line is a core reason for my choosing a system in the first place (along with viewing/focusing quality, ergonomics and handling and control interface).   But we each have different needs and preferences. It helps to have a clear idea what those are.

Jeff

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1 minute ago, pedaes said:

So why not just buy some Zeiss lenses for you Nikon? Anyway, sounds like you have resolved your dilemma and saved some cash. Zeiss ZM lens are very good/excellent if you don't mind the higher contrast.

Already have Zeiss for my Nikon... the 135 f/2 is the most brilliant lens I've ever used. 

 

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