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Strategy for lens choice in a mixed SL2 / M10 ecology


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I'm currently wrestling with which lenses to keep / sell  / add - and wonder if others are dealing with similar issues.

At the moment I'm using two systems.  L mount and M mount. 

The L mount system is one SL2 body and the following lenses:
VE 24-90
VE 90-280
Sigma 45 f2.8 DG DN

The M system is two M10 bodies and:
15 Voigtlander Super-wide Heliar III f4.5
28 Summicron Asph
35 Summicron Asph
50 Summilux Asph
50 Summarit f2.4
75 Summarit f2.4
90 Macro-Elmar + macro adapter
135 M Apo-Telyt f3.4

In the current circumstances, my daily carry everywhere is the SL2 + 24-90.  I never thought it would be so easy to manage - but it is.  Because of how life is at the moment, I'm hardly using the VE 90-280.  This means there is a large lump of money sitting in a lens that is little used.  However, I got it for a good price used and I'll hold on to it for a year or two and then review.  I don't use the Sigma 45 so much since I got the VE 24-90 (which is SUCH a good, well behaved lense), but I still like the images I make and I am happy to retain it for now.  I'm also not using the M's much at present. This isn't a reason for getting rid of them - but the retained lenses are another issue.  If I look back through thousands of images in my Lightroom archive, the three M lenses that dominate are 28 / 35 / 50.  The others account for only about 5% of images.  I loved the 90 Macro when I first got it - but I was mainly using it as a compact medium telephoto on the M10, and not really using it for macro!  AND The Sigma 45 (with its near macro capability)  on the SL2 was so much easier to work with!  Likewise, I've had the 135 A-T for a long time, and it's a flawless lens (which works great on the SL2), but how much do I use it? Very little at the moment.  I use the Voigtlander 15 Super-wide Heliar very little too - but I know that it's essential for certain kinds of interior and landscape

Now that I have the SL2, the lenses that are really redundant are the 50 & 75 Summarits + the 90 Macro-Elmar.  Off to Ffordes they will go.  But then what.  What am I lacking.  My current feeling is that it's a really good portrait lens and (possibly) a dedicated medium telephoto / macro lens.  Which leads me to Sigma.  It seems that the new 85 1.4 DG DN is a candidate as is the 105 Macro DG DN.  I'm also tempted by the 35 f2 DG DN - though this overlaps with the 35 Summicron (which works beautifully on either M or SL).

SO - does anyone have experience with the two Sigma lenses mentioned above (85 / 105).  Does anyone have other thoughts?  I'm toying with the Sigma 14-35, but I'm not sure if I'd use it that much.  Heigh ho - I suppose this is all to do with too much time on my hands during the pandemic - though I did get out this morning in beautiful sunshine and snow (with the SL2 and 24-90!). Examples here: 

 

 

Thanks for any thoughts...

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Hi Chris,

With respect, it seems you are yourself aware that this is not so much about lenses as it is about a desire to change something. The lenses you have cover almost everything from 15-280mm. If you are looking for a good portrait lens, you have four of them already -- 75mm Summarit, 90mm Macro Elmar, the 135mm APO Elmarit and the 90-280mm zoom. Not so many truly accomplished portraitists are working wide open...

To me, the only lens that looks very redundant to me is the 50mm 2.4 Summarit, since you already have the Summilux ASPH. Adding a macro lens that fits on the SL2 is not going to hurt anything, nor would a wide angle zoom etc, but it strikes me that they are not really going to help much either. Most of us are susceptible to this sort of reasoning, but it does not mean that we shouldn't question it. Normally I would suggest going out to take photos instead of thinking about lenses, but of course, that is sometimes easier said than done these days.

You have my sympathy! I know what you are feeling...

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Stuart, thanks. Agreed that all the lenses you mention are perfectly capable portrait lenses. However, I have very fond memories of canon’s L series 85 1.2 and don’t have anything that covers that territory really - at least not in AF (which I’m humble enough to recognise can be very helpful). While the 90-280 would do the job, in my canon days although I could use a fast 70-200 zoom for portraits it was never as good as using a prime (of only in terms of carrying around all day / intimidating the subject).

 So - I fully accept that some of this comes from lock down and too much time on my hands. However, it’s also to do with the continuing challenges that came from selling out of Canon and coming across to L Mount and wanting to put together the simplest and most effective see of tools to meet current and future needs. 
All the best!

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I also use the SL2 in conjunction the M system (M10 and M9 Monochrom).  For the M’s, I stick to 28/35/50. For the SL2, I stick to the SL 24-90, 90-280 and SL 75.  The latter serves as a nice portrait lens as well as a general purpose lens.  The M lenses stay on the M, using RF only.  The SL 2 serves complementary needs and offers a very different shooting experience (longer/wider FL’s, weather sealing, zooms, AF and IBIS, etc).  The Monochrom provides a unique shooting experience and never gets used simultaneously with another body.

If the rumored SL 28-70 f2.8 lens comes to fruition (if compact with same great IQ), I could see adding a lighter travel option.  Same consideration if a smaller 70-150/200 or so ever emerges. Otherwise, don’t miss anything.  I’m not an ultra wide user.

Jeff

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1 hour ago, Jeff S said:

I also use the SL2 in conjunction the M system (M10 and M9 Monochrom).  For the M’s, I stick to 28/35/50. For the SL2, I stick to the SL 24-90, 90-280 and SL 75.  The latter serves as a nice portrait lens as well as a general purpose lens.  The M lenses stay on the M, using RF only.  The SL 2 serves complementary needs and offers a very different shooting experience (longer/wider FL’s, weather sealing, zooms, AF and IBIS, etc).

Jeff

Jeff, appreciated. It sounds as if we think along similar lines. I’m trying to work out what’s best in terms of funding things. Maybe I have to consider the 75 APO rather than the Sigma 85. Oh to be able to drop in to Red Dot, have a coffee with Ivor and play around with some options. In the meantime you’ve helped me clarify a couple of issues. 
Thanks!

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7 minutes ago, chris_tribble said:

Jeff, appreciated. It sounds as if we think along similar lines. I’m trying to work out what’s best in terms of funding things. Maybe I have to consider the 75 APO rather than the Sigma 85. Oh to be able to drop in to Red Dot, have a coffee with Ivor and play around with some options. In the meantime you’ve helped me clarify a couple of issues. 
Thanks!

Glad it helped.  These matters are so personal, though, and complicated these days by so many quality options, Leica and other. BTW, a good friend of mine loved his 85mm Canon lens, his favorite, until he discovered the SL 75, which he uses on a Panasonic S1R.  He has since sold his Canon gear.  But he’s a tripod shooter and still shoots 5x7, which yields lovely prints, while I’ve given up my darkroom days and lately shoot primarily hand held.  

Jeff

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Indoors studio shoot, the VE 24-90 can be used to good results.

However for outdoor shoot on achieving shallow dof to separate subject against background, both SL75 & M 50 Noctilux more than does the job. In addition to background bokeh, combined with OCF to create additional subject to background separation through deliberate background underexposure to bring viewer attention to subject (fine art portrait artist have been using this trick for hundreds of years).

The SL75cron allow the use of AF on the L mount cameras for fast shooting and ease of use.

To achieve more background separation, the 0.95 Noctilux is still a gem although it calls for manual focus. For portrait work, manual focusing is acceptable and precise. With 47MPx, some cropping should be fine.

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Chris_Tribble,   In my years of photography, I found myself buying and then selling/trading camera lenses only to regret doing so and repurchasing the lens(es).  When I transitioned to the M system in the 90s, I found the M and other Leica lenses each model rendering like a finger print; distinctive and unique.  The M lenses work best on M cameras, just like SL lenses work best on SL cameras, etc..  I found myself suffering from incurable GAS with no rehab program that worked.  As my photography professor in the 70s who was a die-hard Leica photographer, once told me,  "If you ever go to Leica as your photographic tool of choice, never sell a Leica M lens".  He was correct...I should have listened to his sage advice and I learned the hard way.  When it comes to M lenses...I don't sell/trade any Leica M lens.  Just my 2 cents.  r/ Mark 

Edited by LeicaR10
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Rules are made to be broken: after arriving at the highly satisfactory combination of SL, CL and digital M bodies and lenses to match, I noticed the disturbing consequence that I was hardly using my M system at all: the CL was lighter and more convenient for travel and social, and the SL was more versatile for events and portraits. So I broke all the rules and sold all my M equipment except the Thambar, which I intend to use on the SL when we're allowed to do close portraiture again.

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11 hours ago, LocalHero1953 said:

Rules are made to be broken: after arriving at the highly satisfactory combination of SL, CL and digital M bodies and lenses to match, I noticed the disturbing consequence that I was hardly using my M system at all: the CL was lighter and more convenient for travel and social, and the SL was more versatile for events and portraits. So I broke all the rules and sold all my M equipment except the Thambar, which I intend to use on the SL when we're allowed to do close portraiture again.

Agreed, but also not agreed 🙂The SL and M will continue to be the heart of what I do photographically. As travel is out of the question at the moment, the SL2 is proving to be one of the best decisions I’ve made for a long time. However, when I can get on trains and boats and planes again, I can see M being the first choice as a companion.

Although he was talking about SLR photography, when McCullin said all you need is 28 and 135 he spoke a lot of sense. I’ll have those two focal lengths plus 35 and 50. All my attempts at using Ms with ultra wide or longer lenses ended up being frustrating. I reckon, however that the quartet above really covers all my needs for travel and documentary/ reportage. The SL will also come out for journeys where I don’t need to travel light - or if I want to do birds or beasts. It will also be there when I want to work with AF or do jobs where I need dependable and rapid AF (portraiture mainly with the 75 SL) and for performance work where I need long glass. 

Thanks again for all your thoughtful and helpful responses.

All the best

Edited by chris_tribble
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I recently acquired three Sigma lenses, the 85mm f1.4 DG DN, the 35mm f1.2 DG DN, and the older 28mm F1.4 DG HSM which seems to have a pretty good mtf chart. I also own the Summilux-SL 50mm f1.4, so I've been doing a bit of comparing over the last several days. My impression is that all the lenses are quite sharp in the center of the frame, and render bokeh well. The only puzzling thing I've noticed is that the 85mm f1.4 DG DN seems to be a bit muted in color rendering relative to the Summilux, which I find a bit odd. The 28mm seems to be a bit better matched to the Summilux in that regard. Unfortunately I have not shot enough with the 35mm to see how it behaves, but in the several shots I've done, it seems closer to the 28mm in color rendering. Overall I think the lenses are quite a good value.

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14 minutes ago, ualbertin said:

I recently acquired three Sigma lenses, the 85mm f1.4 DG DN, the 35mm f1.2 DG DN, and the older 28mm F1.4 DG HSM which seems to have a pretty good mtf chart. I also own the Summilux-SL 50mm f1.4, so I've been doing a bit of comparing over the last several days. My impression is that all the lenses are quite sharp in the center of the frame, and render bokeh well. The only puzzling thing I've noticed is that the 85mm f1.4 DG DN seems to be a bit muted in color rendering relative to the Summilux, which I find a bit odd. The 28mm seems to be a bit better matched to the Summilux in that regard. Unfortunately I have not shot enough with the 35mm to see how it behaves, but in the several shots I've done, it seems closer to the 28mm in color rendering. Overall I think the lenses are quite a good value.

One thing I forgot to mention is that for a given exposure, the pictures with the Sigma 85 1.4 seem to come out a bit brighter than the Summilux, which may be a contributing factor to my impression that the colors from the lens are a bit more muted and less saturated. 

 

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I think the TL lenses are overlooked (or maybe they aren't talked about enough?) I offers a more than decent 20MP resolution with great optics and the absolutely non-obtrusive form factor.. I have the TL 60 macro and a TL 23 f2 and they're really handy to have in your kit bag.. 

I don't have the Sigma 85 f1.4 DG DN but I would've purchased it if I didn't have my Canon 85 f1.2 with adapter for my SL2. I think this new version is the right size and from what I've seen it renders beautifully as well. I didn't think the 45 would see any use at all because I would wanna use my 24-90 over a 45mm 28 sigma any day.. that is why I never purchased it.. I did however get the Voigtlander 40mm f1.2 though.. purely because its 1.2 and tiny and got great character. I really like the newer Sigma 105 macro as well - might just get it someday.. I like it more because the front element doesn't get an erection when you focus like most macros do 😁

 

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I'm sort of running into the same situation you are. Recently acquired a SL2 and it's blowing me away. A VE 24-90 will show up this week.

For the SL2: VE 24-90

For the M10M: APO 50mm + 28mm Elmarit.

Specialty: APO 100mm Macro-R (with adapters)

I've use the 100mm Macro in the past for portraits, which work fine but doesn't quite have the character I'm used to with other 85mm 1.4 lenses. I'm leaning towards an APO 90mm Summicron-M that I can use on both M and SL platforms. The APO 50 on the SL2 is just so amazing, I can imaging the 90 being the same way. I will eventually need something longer than 100mm for nature stuff, but I think there's some non-Leica options for the very infrequent times I'll use it.

Maybe this is a different perspective, but I'm hoping approach is simple and reduces the number of times I really need to switch lenses in the field.

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