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ardbeg

180 Elmarit-R non-APO versus APO (and 280 APO)

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I currently own the late model (E67) non-APO 180 Elmarit mounted via adaptor on an M10. I use it mainly for portraits and landscapes. Is the performance of the APO version significantly improved to warrant the price differential of replacing the non-APO with the APO version? OR (option 2) would it be more advisable to keep the non-APO for portraits and add a 180 / 3.4 APO to my arsenal for landscapes given the infinity optimization and longer minimum focus? Lastly, I've read various reports of compatibility issues of the APO 1.4X TC with different models of the APO 180s. Any clarity would be helpful as I would like to have option to go longer and thus option 3 could be to again keep the 180 non-APO and source an APO 280/F4 which seem to be more available on the used market (based on cursory searches) than an APO 180/2.8. Thank you.

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For several years the 180mm APO-Elmarit-R was my most used lens.  My copy was #11273, which does not take the APO-Extender-R 1.4X.  A subsequent iteration, #11357, does take the APO-Extender-R 1.4X.  I sent my copy to Leica to have it converted to accept the 1.4X and was somewhat disappointed to note that after the conversion it still needed to be stopped down to f/5.6 to produce its best imagery in that configuration.

Some time after I acquired a 280mm f/4 APO a few years back, I sold the 180mm APO.  A few months ago, I acquired a non-APO 180mm Elmarit-R version 2.  I prefer the rendering of the non-APO, and I find the main difference to be slightly lower contrast with the non-APO when used wide open (f/5.6 eff.) with the APO-Extender-R 2X.

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So, you would advise combining a 1.4X or 2X with the existing 180 non-APO for more reach when needed rather than sourcing an APO 280/4 or swapping to a APO 180 for general use? Certainly a much more economical approach which I like.

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There are other considerations:  weight, convenience, focus throw, focus drag, lens age/condition, and whether you intend to use your choice only on a Leica camera or with other brands.  IME, the 280mm f/4 APO--which I no longer own--rendered at its very best only on full frame, only without teleconverter, and specifically on the SL and M240 (others will likely disagree).

The 180mm APO and APO 2X worked well on every camera on which I used them, even m43 bodies.  So far I've used the non-APO 180mm only on M240 and SL, both with which it works beautifully.

Your eyes, chosen subject matter, and photographic objectives are unique; and no words on this forum can help you as much as field-testing these lenses, if possible, to see which combination produces your desired results.

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Exclusive use will be on full frame M10. Why did you sell the APO 280/4 if I may ask. Generally, at least in M lens realm,  I prefer “older”, lower contrast, and  lower total element count lenses however medium to semi-long telephotos seemed like an area where more “sharpness” could be advantageous.

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After trying the 280mm f/4 APO in various configurations with either of the  APO extenders on no less than seventeen bodies, I encountered an issue with a non-Leica body in which there was reflected light between the rear element of the lens and the camera sensor, causing--in my case--a greenish cast on photos taken in bright sunlight.  There's a thread somewhere on this forum in which someone who had a similar experience furnished a technical explanation for the phenomenon.

At about that time, I had switched to another brand for shooting long, so I traded the 280 with a dealer friend of mine for some M gear.

Until recently I favored long lenses with fewer elements.  Several long telephoto options introduced in the past few years, however, in both L-mount and other brands, have shifted my viewpoint considerably.

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I have a 11357 (second model 180/2.8 APO-R) and on the M10P and M10M it is an outstanding optic—worthy of its reputation.  A great balance of size, reach, an optical excellence.  I haven't yet tried it with the 1.4 or 2.0 teleconverters.

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Follow up question - I know the 180 APO 3.4 isn’t compatible with a 1.4X APO TC but can you stack the APO 2X (to the lens) and the API 1.4X (to the 2X) to achieve a “relatively” compact ~APO 500mm / 9.5?

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On 7/5/2020 at 3:05 PM, ardbeg said:

Follow up question - I know the 180 APO 3.4 isn’t compatible with a 1.4X APO TC but can you stack the APO 2X (to the lens) and the API 1.4X (to the 2X) to achieve a “relatively” compact ~APO 500mm / 9.5?

Unfortunately not...the issue is that the 1.4x sticks out (i.e into the lens it's mating with). Neither the 180 f/3.4 APO nor the 2X extender have the room to accommodate the 1.4x.

FWIW, I have the 180 f/3.4 APO and the 280 f/4 APO. Before finding the 180 f/3.4, I was hunting for a 180 f/2.8 APO at non-collector prices and after finding a "bargain" copy it was destroyed in transit in a fedex truck fire (right outside my apartment)...I took that as a sign 😉

For landscapes, the 180 f/3.4 APO has been my one of my all-time favorite lenses. The 2x APO extender works very well with this lens. My ~light-weight digital kit includes a 21 SEM, 35/50, 90 APO, 180 f/3.4 APO (+2x APO if I have room).

One other note about stacking extenders is that support becomes an issue. I've rigged up 280 + 1.4 +2x +(SL/M) on a rail, and it was quite tricky to get the heights sorted out.

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Thank you for the comment. Since posting this question, I ultimately found a "reasonably priced" (i.e. non-mint but very usable condition) APO 280 / 4 and failed miserably in resisting the temptation to buy it. I've used it with and without the 1.4X and 2X APO TCs (individually and stacked) to get equivalent ~400/5.6, 560/8, and a crazy ~800/11. Fun experimentation.

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