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R tele lenses with an SL2


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Hi, I'm an SL2 newbie, got the camera yesterday with the VE 24-90 (a bit of a beast).  I'm looking to get a tele lens but as it's for occasional use only I don't want to spend a lot of dosh in case I end up not using it much.   I've been looking at R lenses both fixed focal length e.g 180mm and the 70/80-200mm zooms and wondered if anyone one here has experience and could offer suggestions/reccomendations.  Whilst there appears to be some benefit in looking for ROM versions which pass focal length and some EXIF data, these require the Leica Adapter to gain those benefits and at £650 for the adapter alone this scuppers the low cost outlay preference.  The Novoflex adapter (I've used these before with an M), at around £106 is more reasonable with an R lens.   I have an R5 with a 50mm Summicron (non ROM), so I'm hoping to use this too.

I've  read a few reviews of R lenses, e.g the APO Telyt 180, but most of these were not related to being used with digital and specifically the SL2.

Main questions are:

  • How easy is it to manually focus i.e do you need to open the aperture to use focus peaking and then close down prior to taking the picture (this would be a bit of a pain)?
  • With ROM does the software make any necessary corrections and if so what happens when using non ROM lenses?
  • If for example was using a non ROM 180mm, how would I set a lens profile as there's no current lens to match it to, and similarly for the 50mm Summicron R I would use the current 50mm Summilux ?

The alternative is to look at Sigma/Panasonic zooms with full functions but they start at around £1000 and as I'm unsure how much I'm going to use a longer lens, again this is cost I'd rather avoid.

Any help is much appreciated.

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The IBIS in the SL2 is a big advantage with, for example, the R 180, or an R tele zoom but it needs to know what focal length it is working with.  As soon as you use more than one R lens, or especially an R zoom having a ROM version with the Leica adapter does all that for you, so you won't forget.  The longer R lenses are still pretty much state of the art, and the 180s are quite light and easy to use.  So if you can settle for just one R prime, the adapter is less important.  But the mid range to wide angle R designs are quite outclassed by modern M and L lenses.  

I use a 180 and 280 R telephoto prime and an 80 R Summilux, with the Leica R to L adapter.   Without the Rom + Leica adapter, there is a long list of R and M prime lenses that you can set the camera to expect, but it is a hassle to keep that current if you change lenses.  I've used the Panasonic 70-280, and while it operates nicely, it is  not as sharp as the R primes or the SL 90-280 zoom.

Finally, if you already have a few R lenses without ROM, go with Novoflex and enjoy them..  They'll do fine, and when you want better, they have reasonable resale value.

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1 minute ago, scott kirkpatrick said:

The IBIS in the SL2 is a big advantage with, for example, the R 180, or an R tele zoom but it needs to know what focal length it is working with.  As soon as you use more than one R lens, or especially an R zoom having a ROM version with the Leica adapter does all that for you, so you won't forget.  The longer R lenses are still pretty much state of the art, and the 180s are quite light and easy to use.  So if you can settle for just one R prime, the adapter is less important.  But the mid range to wide angle R designs are quite outclassed by modern M and L lenses.  

I use a 180 and 280 R telephoto prime and an 80 R Summilux, with the Leica R to L adapter.   Without the Rom + Leica adapter, there is a long list of R and M prime lenses that you can set the camera to expect, but it is a hassle to keep that current if you change lenses.  I've used the Panasonic 70-280, and while it operates nicely, it is  not as sharp as the R primes or the SL 90-280 zoom.

Finally, if you already have a few R lenses without ROM, go with Novoflex and enjoy them..  They'll do fine, and when you want better, they have reasonable resale value.

Thanks very much for the info' Scott.  Currently I only have the one R lens, the 50mm Summicron which might be interesting for some street photography.  I'm favouring a prime and the 180 focal length seems more useful than a 250 or 280mm.  Which version 180 do you have; looking at Overgard's list (https://www.overgaard.dk/leica_lens_compendium.html) there are 8 variants from 1968 - 2009; are the APO's that much better?  Many thanks

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I have not done much manual focusing with the SL2, but I've done a ton with various Sonys and the SL2 seems very similar in use. I never use focus peaking, as I hate seeing all those colors when I'm trying to compose and take a picture, I just us magnification with one of the top buttons programed for that. I also always focus at the taking aperture. The electronic viewfinder makes that very easy as opposed to a DSLR, which darkens the image. With magnification, the extra depth of field from focusing stopped down is rarely a problem.

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1 minute ago, Rob L said:

I have not done much manual focusing with the SL2, but I've done a ton with various Sonys and the SL2 seems very similar in use. I never use focus peaking, as I hate seeing all those colors when I'm trying to compose and take a picture, I just us magnification with one of the top buttons programed for that. I also always focus at the taking aperture. The electronic viewfinder makes that very easy as opposed to a DSLR, which darkens the image. With magnification, the extra depth of field from focusing stopped down is rarely a problem.

Thanks Rob, I don't mind the focus peaking too much but I can see how it can be distracting. Interesting to know that focussing at the selected aperture is not a major issue. Thanks

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9 hours ago, stevegaskin said:

Thanks very much for the info' Scott.  Currently I only have the one R lens, the 50mm Summicron which might be interesting for some street photography.  I'm favouring a prime and the 180 focal length seems more useful than a 250 or 280mm.  Which version 180 do you have; looking at Overgard's list (https://www.overgaard.dk/leica_lens_compendium.html) there are 8 variants from 1968 - 2009; are the APO's that much better?  Many thanks

I only have one of them, so I can't compare.  I used Puts' books as holy writ, and chose an APO Elmarit-R  180 model # 11273.  It's incredible, light, easy to focus (wide open) with controls that you don't have to look at.  I never figured out exactly which APO was the most APO, but these lenses were made relatively late, if they are ROMed versions.

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OK, Here are some experiments with the R 180 Elmarit.  First I tested the IBIS.  With just the body stabiization I found 1/20 sec pretty reliable with an R 90 and 1/40 sec with the 180.  That's not 6.5 stops below 1/f or whatever is claimed, but it works for me.  As for how sharp is the 180, here are some quick samples:

U1040936 by scott kirkpatrick, on Flickr

U1040933 by scott kirkpatrick, on Flickr

U1040940 by scott kirkpatrick, on Flickr
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If keeping budget under control is a priority, then avoid the APO Rs, they are awesome but in high demand (with prices to match) in the used market with the exception of the APO Telyt 180 3.4 which is more reasonably priced. Of the non-APO mid tele Rs, I like the non-APO 180 Elmarit-R version 2.

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2 hours ago, scott kirkpatrick said:

OK, Here are some experiments with the R 180 Elmarit.  First I tested the IBIS.  With just the body stabiization I found 1/20 sec pretty reliable with an R 90 and 1/40 sec with the 180.  That's not 6.5 stops below 1/f or whatever is claimed, but it works for me.  As for how sharp is the 180, here are some quick samples:

U1040936 by scott kirkpatrick, on Flickr

U1040933 by scott kirkpatrick, on Flickr

U1040940 by scott kirkpatrick, on Flickr

Hi Scott thanks for posting these, they look very good.  What's your thoughts on R Zooms (80-200 or 70-210), how would setting the lens profile work, and to benefit from IBIS do you have to set a focal length if not using ROM adapter?  Thanks

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1 minute ago, stevegaskin said:

and to benefit from IBIS do you have to set a focal length if not using ROM adapter?  Thanks

I'll let Scott et al. comment on the R zooms, but yes, sans ROM lenses (I'm using 3-cam lenses via stacking of Leica R to M and M to L adapters), you have to manually set the lens profile for IBIS to kick in. As mentioned previously, if you have only one R lens, the camera will remember your last manual profile setting but if you swap between multiple non-ROM lenses you will have to toggle the profile each time. You can edit the list of available lens profiles to only show the lenses you own to reduce the scrolling.

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1 minute ago, ardbeg said:

I'll let Scott et al. comment on the R zooms, but yes, sans ROM lenses (I'm using 3-cam lenses via stacking of Leica R to M and M to L adapters), you have to manually set the lens profile for IBIS to kick in. As mentioned previously, if you have only one R lens, the camera will remember your last manual profile setting but if you swap between multiple non-ROM lenses you will have to toggle the profile each time. You can edit the list of available lens profiles to only show the lenses you own to reduce the scrolling.

Thanks. I can see how the profile works with primes but can't get my head around how you set it for a zoom as the focal length is variable.  I have a 50mm Summicron so that's straight forward and I've been looking at both 180mm primes which I can get for around £500 or 70-210/80-200 zooms which I can get for less than £200.  As these focal lengths are for occasional use I. want to minimise the spend but of course want good IQ. I'm guessing the prime will perform better than the zoom and would make life easier for setting the user profile. 

 

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IBIS really just needs the focal length so I assume (with a non-ROM zoom), you'd need to set to a known length on the zoom and then apply a similar length lens profile. And yes, this will give you inaccurate metadata (and possibly apply some software defined autocorrect changes in LightRoom but those are usual very minimal outside of wide angles). So, for example, I use a 400 6.8 R. There is no lens profile for that old of a lens (~1970s) but you can get some IBIS benefits by manually setting lens profile to the 400 APO. Not optimal for primes and certainly not for zooms, but doable.

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2 minutes ago, ardbeg said:

IBIS really just needs the focal length so I assume (with a non-ROM zoom), you'd need to set to a known length on the zoom and then apply a similar length lens profile. And yes, this will give you inaccurate metadata (and possibly apply some software defined autocorrect changes in LightRoom but those are usual very minimal outside of wide angles). So, for example, I use a 400 6.8 R. There is no lens profile for that old of a lens (~1970s) but you can get some IBIS benefits by manually setting lens profile to the 400 APO. Not optimal for primes and certainly not for zooms, but doable.

Thanks again. So just to clarify your comment "you'd need to set to a known length on the zoom"; Would I therefore need a number of profiles e.g 70mm, 100mm, 150mm, 210mm which I then would need to select before shooting at that focal length?  This would be a bit of a pain, and what happens if I zoom to 120mm?    Or if I set the maximum focal length i,e 200mm or 210mm for the lens and that would apply through the range, that doesn't make sense I don't think.

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This link (https://us.leica-camera.com/content/download/133226/1815664/version/1/file/160726_Kompatibilität_R-Objektive_E.pdf) lists the lenses supported by both the L Adapter R (meant best for ROM lenses) and the combination of M Adapter R and L Adapter M which is usable on all/most R lenses (but which doesn't pass lens data as there are no digital contacts). This list of lens is useful as it shows you what profiles are available within the SL2. So, you could conceivably set a non-ROM Vario lens to use the applicable ROM lens equivalent profile. That will "enable" IBIS but I am not sure how effective it will be as it will not dynamically adjust the IBIS as focal lengths change during zooming. It will  likely still work as like I said it works reasonably well when I lie to the camera and tell it that a 400 6.8 is a 400 4 or a 400 2.8 to force IBIS on.

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4 minutes ago, ardbeg said:

This link (https://us.leica-camera.com/content/download/133226/1815664/version/1/file/160726_Kompatibilität_R-Objektive_E.pdf) lists the lenses supported by both the L Adapter R (meant best for ROM lenses) and the combination of M Adapter R and L Adapter M which is usable on all/most R lenses (but which doesn't pass lens data as there are no digital contacts). This list of lens is useful as it shows you what profiles are available within the SL2. So, you could conceivably set a non-ROM Vario lens to use the applicable ROM lens equivalent profile. That will "enable" IBIS but I am not sure how effective it will be as it will not dynamically adjust the IBIS as focal lengths change during zooming. It will  likely still work as like I said it works reasonably well when I lie to the camera and tell it that a 400 6.8 is a 400 4 or a 400 2.8 to force IBIS on.

Hi again, thanks for the info’, very interesting 👍🏻

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6 hours ago, stevegaskin said:

Thanks. I can see how the profile works with primes but can't get my head around how you set it for a zoom as the focal length is variable.  I have a 50mm Summicron so that's straight forward and I've been looking at both 180mm primes which I can get for around £500 or 70-210/80-200 zooms which I can get for less than £200.  As these focal lengths are for occasional use I. want to minimise the spend but of course want good IQ. I'm guessing the prime will perform better than the zoom and would make life easier for setting the user profile. 

 

The zooms present their focal length setting over the ROM signals.  I don't think you can set the SL cameras to an arbitrary focal length otherwise.

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