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Leica Tri-Elmar 4/28-35-50mm (E55)

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What are the practical experiences with the Leica Tri-Elmar 4/28-35-50mm (E55) on a M10?

Edited by analog-digital

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Posted (edited)

Nice lens that I use sometimes.

While my wife adopts the MATE for some years, I "replaced" it happily with two out of three lenses 28/35/50 mostly, in Summarit-M for 35/50,

and when I need the tiny Elmarit-M 28mm asph.

When I had the MATE for some years, I must "bet the framing" at 28mm 1/4 of "hiden" bottom/right, or I used external VF 28mm .

 

Otherwise the MATE is not "replaceable" when changing lens 28/35/50 is not an option, as we all know.

Results are not lower than prime lens if we accept f/4, but with the good ISO (to 6400) of M10, f/4 is enough, even when the light is low.

Have a look here ( onasj talked about MATE )

Edited by a.noctilux

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Impressed! ¨Faultless¨ and nice/subtle drawing. But could also be a bit dull...

Mine though seem to prove that Leica with the MATE really is at the limit of what is technically possible. My M10 & MATE went to Solms to be adjusted together. And while the framelines now shows/changes nicely, the EXIF info still miss out on the 35mm (shows 50mm). At the same time the EXIF info turns up correctly on my M9, but here the framelines ¨lag¨ a bit...

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I've owned two.  I would still have the first copy had I not indulged an ill considered urge to explore medium format.  

I rather enjoy mine.  I can certainly recommend one.  Be aware that they can be a bit cranky, with some reluctance to engage the correct frame line or change focal length without pointing the lens downward.

The original reason for the purchase was for use as a travel option when I wanted to carry only a lens and a body.  The occasions when I use the Leica tend to be satisfactory with f4.

Travel may not be practice for some time unfortunately.

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I’ve owned two over the years, both later iterations, purchased used. The first developed mechanical problems; the second had just been refurbished in Germany and functioned very smoothly. But I sold it earlier this year, preferring my equivalent primes.  Besides the obvious speed and convenience differences vs primes, both samples had a tendency to badly flare at 50mm in certain circumstances if I didn’t pay attention (RF use only).  This is more of a user issue, as one should adjust accordingly; however, my 50 primes are more forgiving  (Summilux ASPH and APO Summicron).

Jeff

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9 hours ago, Stein K S said:

My M10 & MATE went to Solms to be adjusted together.

I thought M10 is made in the High Holy City of Wetzlar?:)

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Great lens overall.  Perhaps more of a mechanical and engineering marvel than an optical marvel (my favorite part is how the frame lines change when you change the focal length, all done mechanically!), but very good at 50 mm and good at 35 mm as well.  28 mm wide open is only ok.  Of course if you want a zoom-like Leica M lens at medium focal lengths this is the only game in town.

The 40 mm macro feature—an undocumented but very real "fourth lens" you get with the MATE is actually quite useful if you have a live view camera.  See my post here: https://leicarumors.com/2020/03/30/the-four-lenses-in-the-leica-mate-leica-28-35-50-tri-elmar-lens.aspx/

 

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, setuporg said:

I thought M10 is made in the High Holy City of Wetzlar?:)

For a period in time the factory was in Solms.

In 1986, the Leitz company changed its name to Leica (LEItz CAmera), due to the fame of the Leica trade-name. At this time, Leica relocated its factory from Wetzlar (Germany) to the nearby town of Solms (Germany). In 1996, Leica Camera separated from the Leica Group and became a publicly owned company. 

Edited by jdlaing

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I thought the Solms period ended way before the M10... Moved in 2014, around the Edition 60, and the M10 is 2017?

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4 hours ago, setuporg said:

I thought the Solms period ended way before the M10... Moved in 2014, around the Edition 60, and the M10 is 2017?

It did. I think he made a mistake. 

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... old ¨habit¨ I guess. I will write ¨I sent it to Leica, Germany...¨ hereafter to be safe.

PS: maybe that is why the repair was not 100%... I sent it to wrong adress... 😉

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I have a vers.1 MATE which  I've used on the M8, M9 & M10. Over the past +13 years it's travelled all over Africa and have used it in Antarctica as well. Faultless.  

Its versatility and not having to change lenses in these kind of environments, far outweighs any minor shortcomings. Some of my favourite images have come from this lens. 

 

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Thanks for all the comments. I find out:

 

This lens is available in 2 versions.

Filter mount E 55mm is the first version.
Filter mount E 49mm is the second version.

Both lenses are identical in optical construction.
The first version was a bit unluckily constructed, i.e. the mechanics were sometimes a bit choppy. When turning the lens to the 28mm focal length it did not always work the Leica way.

The later version was mechanically optimized, also the mount was reduced in size in favour of the 49mm filter size, which makes it look much more compact now, also in combination with the camera. 

The light intensity is no problem at all with today's sensors, and the image quality is also on a high Leica level.

In short, an ideal travel lens in this focal length range, without the trouble of changing lenses with the dust problem.

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Posted (edited)

I have the E49 MATE. It is a fabulous versatile lens, has been mechanically reliable, f4.0 is not an issue for more general use, and I very much like how it renders.

Not to put you off but just to put some balance into assessment of this lens, I find it has two issues:

1.  minor: barrel distortion at 28mm (fine as long as you're aware of this for architectural photographs etc),

2.  major: lens flare at 50mm. This was supposed to have been improved with the E49 but if so then it must have been pretty bad in the E55. For this reason it gets less use than I would otherwise like as use of this focal length is limited in more challenging lighting, and very unpredictable even in more straightforward situations.  I asked for this issue to be looked into when I sent it to Leica for 6-bit coding some years ago. The lens was inspected, I was told it was in the best condition of any MATE that Leica had serviced for some years,  but nothing could be done.  If used on an M10 with the EVF then the flare can be monitored but this is not how one would necessarily want to use an M10.

Edited by MarkP

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19 hours ago, MarkP said:

2.  major: lens flare at 50mm. This was supposed to have been improved with the E49 but if so then it must have been pretty bad in the E55. For this reason it gets less use than I would otherwise like as use of this focal length is limited in more challenging lighting, and very unpredictable even in more straightforward situations.  I asked for this issue to be looked into when I sent it to Leica for 6-bit coding some years ago. The lens was inspected, I was told it was in the best condition of any MATE that Leica had serviced for some years,  but nothing could be done.  If used on an M10 with the EVF then the flare can be monitored but this is not how one would necessarily want to use an M10.

Indeed....post#6.  I've since sold (traded) mine.  Can't remember the exact interview source (last year?), but a Leica exec was quoted as saying that he'd like to see a more modern, updated MATE. One would think he'd have some influence and know the plans.  :) I'd be interested in that, or even a bi-Elmar, say 35/50.  

Jeff

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Posted (edited)

Analog-Digital,  I once owned both versions of the Tri-Elmar 28-35-50 at different times.  In both cases, my copies were soft wide open at 28mm and certainly flare more-so at 50mm.  Also, I had to send both lenses to Wetzlar for calibration adjustment.  I also found both lenses needed to be stopped down to f/8 to get a satisfactory resolution from edge to edge, like the WATE.  Ultimately, the lenses found new homes after using both lenses for a year each.  I found M primes to be far better at rendering.  IMO, both MATE lenses make a good travel lens for daylight conditions.  As Jeff S wrote in post # 16 above, Leica is said to be considering a resurrection of the MATE lens.  Hope this helps.  r/ Mark

Edited by LeicaR10

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, Jeff S said:

Indeed....post#6.  I've since sold (traded) mine.  Can't remember the exact interview source (last year?), but a Leica exec was quoted as saying that he'd like to see a more modern, updated MATE. One would think he'd have some influence and know the plans.  :) I'd be interested in that, or even a bi-Elmar, say 35/50.  

Jeff

Is that why you dumped (traded) your MATE?

The flare at 50 is often predictable, but at other times seems to come out of nowhere (sometimes from any bright light sources either direct or indirectly reflected into the lens.  This unpredictability is what mainly restricts my use of the lens to when I'm fairly certain the light will be appropriate.

I would prefer a 2.8/28-50 Bi-Elmarit-M ASPH... but MABE just doesn't sound the same as MATE 🙄

 

Edited by MarkP

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Maybe there are still visible differences when developing on larger paper sizes, but when viewing on screens (28-32 inches), I think to notice better results of the Summicron-M 2.0-28mm asph than from the MATE.
At 28mm everyone would agree with me easily, but I think that even at magnifications corresponding to the 35 and 50mm cutout, the Summicron-28 is at least equivalent to the MATE.
Aperture 2 of the Summicron-28 offers further advantages.

And what the flare of the MATE at 50mm is concerned, would the use of an alternativ lens hood calculated for 50mm help a little more?
The original lens hood of the MATE had to be designed for 28mm.
A telescopic lens hood, which is mechanically coupled to the selected focal length, would have made the high technical feat of the MATE even more complicated🙂.

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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, MarkP said:

Is that why you dumped (traded) your MATE?

 

Not solely, but a factor.  I wasn't using it much, especially after getting a great deal on a 50 APO M (black chrome) to go along with my 50 Summilux ASPH, both of which had superior rendering, and I wasn't using 28mm much at all.  Plus I bought into the SL2 system and I didn't mind selling the MATE to help fund.  The dealer I worked with on the MATE had to sell it twice; the first customer returned it because of the flare issue. 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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