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120 ts


Leicalifer
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I used thisT/S  lens one time for a couple of days several years ago. It was in a Mamiya mount and I used it with a manual Mamiya adapter.
I thought about buying the Mamiya version because it was available then and it was two thousand dollars cheaper than the Leica version. Very good lens for what it’s intended to do. I used it on my S2 and tethered. It should be easier to shoot the lens with the Soo7 because of the live view. 
I did not buy it because I had a Sinar p3 with a multi shot back at the time and I had a lot of fun with my Sinar. 
 

yevgeny 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there,

I've used the 120TS for product shots for the last three years: clothing mostly. This was a more a case of fitting the subject matter to the lens than vice-versa; to echo what John (McMaster) mentioned above, it doesn't focus especially close and it's worth underlining that note by remembering the 120TS isn't a macro lens either... it worked just fine with motifs about clothing size, so that's where I got most productive use from it. (I'm using the past tense here as I'm transitioning away from clothing work.) 
I used it for a few cosmetics packaging shoots, but a bottle of shampoo is about the smallest you can go before you really start wanting more pixels on subject. I went as small as a couple of foundation compacts for one shoot, but that image wasn't destined for repro on anything big so the image size wasn't such a concern (it was a cheap job too, so I just wanted to have a play).
I'd say the 120TS is well suited for general purpose table top stuff, so food photography sounds within its wheelhouse to me... you'll have to switch to the S 120 macro Summarit for close-ups and detail shots (and that only goes to 1:2 by the way); for plane of focus stuff, to match shots, with that (the 120 macro) you will have to turn to computational techniques (focus stacking etc.)—that's how I'm approaching it, at any rate. Really we want both these lenses in one package. Que sera!

The 120TS is a dumb lens (though I notice the Phase One blue ring version has a CPU contact board superglued on!) so you won't get EXIF info, but more importantly, it means you'll need to do manual stop down for shooting (and open back up for adjusting focus and movements). You get used to it really quick (if you've never had to do that before). I use an S (typ006) for work, so I'm doing it all through the optical finder with the 120TS. It would be heaven to work with the live-view available on a typ007, but I get along fine just doing my work through the OVF. It certainly forces the concentration... But, yea, you will have the best experience with your typ007 and working with its LV, so don't worry about that.
The good thing about a dumb lens is it frees it up to twist and turn however you like. I have used the 120TS hard for three and a bit years, and I still get a little smile from what a pleasure it is to work with its versatile range of movements (for a DSLR TS lens). Often slept on detail: the movements have nicely notched increments and it makes working the movements, eye to finder, nice and user friendly/ergonomic—I couldn't go back to the Nikon PC-E lenses I used to use with the tiny screws and no haptic feedback for how much you've tilted or shifted (you have to take your eye away from the finder and look at the scale on the lens, instead of look at your subject, when you are moving the lens)—and most importantly, not staying put if you loosen your grip on the screw! thing of the past for me now with the 120TS. 

I started out shooting the 120TS tethered and the camera locked down on a tripod (more specifically, the lens locked down on a tripod using its Arca tripod foot, and the camera hanging off the back of the lens); after a year or so of using the lens I got to where I could use it, movements and all, handheld when the mood took—I was shooting all the time with strobes so hand-shake was not a worry... pre-shot was the main thing: critical focus was not so straightforward under modeling lights, and through a matte screen OVF, as the lens is a f/5.6 wide open. Not sure how much of an issue this might be to you, but it was a hurdle to get over for me. When shooting with others in the studio/location I could have someone put ambient lights on and off for me whenever I needed to set, check, adjust focus; when on my own, I'd set up an extra light on the subject just for extra modeling illumination (light on a different channel) and switch it on and off with a spare profoto remote. It gave my spare/backup remote something to do instead of sitting in a bag endlessly waiting for its day, I suppose.
So just be aware that critical focus with this lens really demands an environment where you can see the subject well. Not sure if you are doing food on location -- in customer's restaurant/kitchen, etc -- but if you are, keep that in the back of your mind. No great shakes though.

Rounding up, my experience (so far):

LIKE

-- Image is good (I find it hard to comment on sharpness, as it changes where you are in the image circle and I don't know your starting expectations... but this has been, and is, no problem at all for me. Sharpness is really a camera-lens system combo thing: the S and the 120TS work well together)

-- Twist and turn it anyway you like: great range of shift and tilt for general table top product photography applications

-- Notched movements, that don't slip or give even with the weight of an S camera body hanging off the back of the lens (when lens attached to tripod and camera attached to lens)

-- Tripod foot lets you clamp the lens down and move the sensor instead

HEADS UP

-- It's a dumb lens--give yourself time to get used, if you haven't worked like this before (manual stop down, open up)

-- close focus and reproduction ratio

-- It's an E95 

-- It's f/5.6 wide open, so you'll need plenty illumination on subject for checking plane of focus and critical focus

DON'T LIKE

-- the lens aperture setting ring and iris stop down ring turn the Leica way (anti-clockwise = less exposure) but seems like it is marked the opposite. Maybe a sign of my mental faculties withering away, but it breaks my head every time... always thinking twice if I look at it before I adjust it

--- bit of play in the tilt section on my copy, so that when I attach the lens to a tripod with the Arca foot, and mount the camera to the lens, i.e., the camera is hanging off the back of the lens, the weight of the camera body pulls on the tilt section

-- I find all my S lenses (35/70/120macro) have slightly different color casts, and the 120TS is no different

-- Seems a bit darker at the same aperture as other S lenses. About half a stop to two thirds, depending. It's no big deal and not especially shocking or surprising (the lens wasn't designed for the S by Leica, so it's normal, I think, that this should differ a bit) but it is there

 

Hope this helps.

Cheers

 

Tom

 

Edited by TomLiles
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  • 1 month later...

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On 1/14/2021 at 5:39 AM, TomLiles said:

Hi there,

I've used the 120TS for product shots for the last three years: clothing mostly. This was a more a case of fitting the subject matter to the lens than vice-versa; to echo what John (McMaster) mentioned above, it doesn't focus especially close and it's worth underlining that note by remembering the 120TS isn't a macro lens either... it worked just fine with motifs about clothing size, so that's where I got most productive use from it. (I'm using the past tense here as I'm transitioning away from clothing work.) 
I used it for a few cosmetics packaging shoots, but a bottle of shampoo is about the smallest you can go before you really start wanting more pixels on subject. I went as small as a couple of foundation compacts for one shoot, but that image wasn't destined for repro on anything big so the image size wasn't such a concern (it was a cheap job too, so I just wanted to have a play).
I'd say the 120TS is well suited for general purpose table top stuff, so food photography sounds within its wheelhouse to me... you'll have to switch to the S 120 macro Summarit for close-ups and detail shots (and that only goes to 1:2 by the way); for plane of focus stuff, to match shots, with that (the 120 macro) you will have to turn to computational techniques (focus stacking etc.)—that's how I'm approaching it, at any rate. Really we want both these lenses in one package. Que sera!

The 120TS is a dumb lens (though I notice the Phase One blue ring version has a CPU contact board superglued on!) so you won't get EXIF info, but more importantly, it means you'll need to do manual stop down for shooting (and open back up for adjusting focus and movements). You get used to it really quick (if you've never had to do that before). I use an S (typ006) for work, so I'm doing it all through the optical finder with the 120TS. It would be heaven to work with the live-view available on a typ007, but I get along fine just doing my work through the OVF. It certainly forces the concentration... But, yea, you will have the best experience with your typ007 and working with its LV, so don't worry about that.
The good thing about a dumb lens is it frees it up to twist and turn however you like. I have used the 120TS hard for three and a bit years, and I still get a little smile from what a pleasure it is to work with its versatile range of movements (for a DSLR TS lens). Often slept on detail: the movements have nicely notched increments and it makes working the movements, eye to finder, nice and user friendly/ergonomic—I couldn't go back to the Nikon PC-E lenses I used to use with the tiny screws and no haptic feedback for how much you've tilted or shifted (you have to take your eye away from the finder and look at the scale on the lens, instead of look at your subject, when you are moving the lens)—and most importantly, not staying put if you loosen your grip on the screw! thing of the past for me now with the 120TS. 

I started out shooting the 120TS tethered and the camera locked down on a tripod (more specifically, the lens locked down on a tripod using its Arca tripod foot, and the camera hanging off the back of the lens); after a year or so of using the lens I got to where I could use it, movements and all, handheld when the mood took—I was shooting all the time with strobes so hand-shake was not a worry... pre-shot was the main thing: critical focus was not so straightforward under modeling lights, and through a matte screen OVF, as the lens is a f/5.6 wide open. Not sure how much of an issue this might be to you, but it was a hurdle to get over for me. When shooting with others in the studio/location I could have someone put ambient lights on and off for me whenever I needed to set, check, adjust focus; when on my own, I'd set up an extra light on the subject just for extra modeling illumination (light on a different channel) and switch it on and off with a spare profoto remote. It gave my spare/backup remote something to do instead of sitting in a bag endlessly waiting for its day, I suppose.
So just be aware that critical focus with this lens really demands an environment where you can see the subject well. Not sure if you are doing food on location -- in customer's restaurant/kitchen, etc -- but if you are, keep that in the back of your mind. No great shakes though.

Rounding up, my experience (so far):

LIKE

-- Image is good (I find it hard to comment on sharpness, as it changes where you are in the image circle and I don't know your starting expectations... but this has been, and is, no problem at all for me. Sharpness is really a camera-lens system combo thing: the S and the 120TS work well together)

-- Twist and turn it anyway you like: great range of shift and tilt for general table top product photography applications

-- Notched movements, that don't slip or give even with the weight of an S camera body hanging off the back of the lens (when lens attached to tripod and camera attached to lens)

-- Tripod foot lets you clamp the lens down and move the sensor instead

HEADS UP

-- It's a dumb lens--give yourself time to get used, if you haven't worked like this before (manual stop down, open up)

-- close focus and reproduction ratio

-- It's an E95 

-- It's f/5.6 wide open, so you'll need plenty illumination on subject for checking plane of focus and critical focus

DON'T LIKE

-- the lens aperture setting ring and iris stop down ring turn the Leica way (anti-clockwise = less exposure) but seems like it is marked the opposite. Maybe a sign of my mental faculties withering away, but it breaks my head every time... always thinking twice if I look at it before I adjust it

--- bit of play in the tilt section on my copy, so that when I attach the lens to a tripod with the Arca foot, and mount the camera to the lens, i.e., the camera is hanging off the back of the lens, the weight of the camera body pulls on the tilt section

-- I find all my S lenses (35/70/120macro) have slightly different color casts, and the 120TS is no different

-- Seems a bit darker at the same aperture as other S lenses. About half a stop to two thirds, depending. It's no big deal and not especially shocking or surprising (the lens wasn't designed for the S by Leica, so it's normal, I think, that this should differ a bit) but it is there

 

Hope this helps.

Cheers

 

Tom

 

Very useful summary. On an expensive whim I acquired one of these 4 years ago. I never got the hang of it so it's a paperweight to me. Any pointer on it's operation will be appreciated.... I guess I should YouTube.

Thanks for the details already provided.

Dean

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Hey there dritz,

I think, in the end, the quickest way to learn it is to use it. It won't happen in an afternoon—if you haven't used camera movements before, it may take a good while. Think in months, not days or weeks. But I guarantee you, once you understand movements and get in the habit of using them, you'll feel oppressed by anything that doesn't have them.

I like the below video, for so many reasons, but it's a great primer for movements and I still go back to it for that every now and then. Please keep this gem a guarded secret!

If you start to enjoy using your lens and the control movements give us: all roads end at technical cameras. I'm going that way—it's just a matter of money...

Hope you get some use out of your 120TS. Enjoy.

Cheers👍

 

Tom

Edited by TomLiles
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Yes John. And once in the groove of using movements, it starts to seem more intuitive that a camera should work that way, not less (as it does to beginners). The 120TS is better than, say, Nikon PC-E or Canon TS, in in-use terms; but as you say, compared to a technical / view camera, none of the above are even close. I can only afford to do film capture with large format, which is saying something! but using movements on a proper camera is a different league. This said, the laws of optics don't change, so the same principles for the large format still apply when using a 120TS... there're just less principles in play. 

Best advice for dritz is to use the lens as much as he can and get familiar that way. It's the same as driving or flying or most things: the more road time you have, the better pilot you'll be. So getting out on the road at any and every opportunity is key. I remember looking at the Scheimpflug principle drawings and explanations a lot when I was starting out, but nothing made it make as much sense as actually figuring out photographic problems by using the lens: in no time at all, I started seeing the principle in my head intuitively. You always have the viewfinder to check too!

Wishing dritz the best with his lens

Edited by TomLiles
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Could be Dritz, but there are quite a few tilt-shift adapter solutions for the GFX100 already, and I think they will prove more popular (they are cheaper answers). The focal length of the 120TS and its minimum focus distance, probably also limit it in the eyes of most contemporary users, I'd imagine.
Re: the GFX100, you can even pair an adapter with tilt-shift movements built-in to a PC (shift) lens or tilt-shift lens—I just saw that Hartblei have such an adapter in prototype for adapting the RZ Mamiya Sekor 75/4 shift lens to the GFX100:

For my tastes and outlook and work goals, I'd rather go with a digital back and Arca Swiss F-line, or Linhof M679cs, type of thing; but I can see how this will be popular. You get to use the versatile GFX100 body, rather than be stuck with a dedicated technical camera and back all the time—you can keep one camera to do it all.

I'm more from the horses for courses school, but I agree this type of thing will probably be all the rage!

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