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Tell me about the 35 Lux AA ?


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I arrived into the Leicaverse just about a year ago. 

It took my life by storm. I am learning new things every day, aiming to gain more expertise on the red dot. I've hear several time that the 35AA is a special lens, and that it's extremely rare, yet imperfect. Being a unconditional fan of that focal length, I wondered if I should buy one. I went on eBay, then this happened. 

Can you guys tell me what you know about that lens? Any knowledge will be valuable. Long life to the double aspherical ! 

 

 

Edited by Steven
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Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!   35 AA  - Ilford Pan F 50 - M2 

Leica is an optical technology company that is followed intently by collectors. Generally, the newer the lens they make, the higher the optical performance and the more that users initially say it is lacking in character and presence. Five or ten years later, when an even sharper lens comes along, people decry that that lens does not have the character of the lens that everyone was bagging on when it was released. This has happened a lot, and it continues to happen... At the time that the 5

No time for many photos yet, but my first impression of the lens is great.  Ergonomically, it's smaller and thinner than the FLE (or the pre fle), so it's similar to the new APO. The aperture ring has the nicest click of any lens I've ever tried, and is much more preferable from the one of the APO wich is too soft and moves alone. The focus tab, unlike my pre fle, is very resistant. A little like the one of the 28 lux. It takes a bit of time to get used to it, but it's better for precise fo

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At f/1.4, the AA is ever-so-slightly sharper in the center, and ever-so-slightly softer in the corners, than the ASPH. A bit more the way Dr. Mandler balanced his 1980 lenses.

The AA is ever-so-slightly warmer/yellower than the ASPH. Again, a more "Mandler-y" characteristic.

Check the samples on that MarcoCovina site of the non-ASPH and the ASPH color (guy sitting with his Rollei) - and the AA falls in between those two.

That is from a comparison I made on film about 2002, when an AA owner was visiting my favorite camera shop, and both were available side-by-side for a few minutes.

My taste (but not my wallet) would ever-so-slightly favor the AA fingerprint - but at the same time, I've also made good use of the ASPH's clean corner rendering wide-open.

Realistically, a 35 is my third lens - to fill the gap between a 21 and a tele. So not a high priority place to spend a lot of bucks in any case. But you never know - I might win a lottery. ;)

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The 35 AA is just as 'special' as a great number of other Leica lenses. The reason it is so highly valued isn't because it is so much 'better' than anything else Leitz have created in 35mm lens terms but because it was built in far fewer numbers and that's the main factor which interests collectors.

End of Story.

The way it renders is almost a side-note. It does render quite beautifully but, then again, so do so many other Leitz 35mm lenses. In comparison to all the other 35mm lenses made by Leitz the AA is extremely rare and that's why it is so exhorbitantly priced. No other reason.

Philip.

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Thanks. It's disappointing to know that the most expensive lenses aren't necessarily the best. 

Drifting away a bit, but what's your opinion on the steel rim, at 10k per copy? 

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36 minutes ago, Steven said:

Thanks. It's disappointing to know that the most expensive lenses aren't necessarily the best. 

....

 

Indeed, it is very often the case as soon as "collectors" and "investors" are involved...and not only for Leica gear 

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I am feeling a bit lost right now with the historical lineup of the 35 lux from Leica. With some of them having official names, like pre ASPH v1 vs nicknames like silver rim and double AA, its hard to know what everyone is talking about. 

Would anyone be knowledgeable enough to make a chronological list of all the 35 lux made by Leica, or have a link to this maybe ? 

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Leica is an optical technology company that is followed intently by collectors. Generally, the newer the lens they make, the higher the optical performance and the more that users initially say it is lacking in character and presence. Five or ten years later, when an even sharper lens comes along, people decry that that lens does not have the character of the lens that everyone was bagging on when it was released. This has happened a lot, and it continues to happen...

At the time that the 50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH was released, lots of people said it was too harsh and that the sharpness hindered the rendering. When the 50mm APO Summicron came out, people said the same thing and lamented the fact that Leica did not make more balanced lenses like the 50mm 1.4 ASPH. This was the same story with the 90mm APO Summicron M, which was also criticized as being too sharp for portraits etc. You see it now with the SL lenses.

I bring this to point out that the best performing Leica lenses are generally the newest. The prices of these items are driven by a different motivator. In the case of the 35mm AA, production was difficult and expensive, and the lens was not initially very popular. Leica built machines to make grinding ASPH elements easier and adjusted the design, and therefore it was easier and cheaper to make the new 35mm lens. That got popular, so there are more out there. The two lenses are different, but the more expensive one is not necessarily better, it was just rarer and more "interesting" to a collector, since it represented a significant point in Leica history.

The best optical performing (MTF performance and freedom from aberration) 35mm Leica lenses are the 35mm APO Summicron SL at the top, then probably the 35mm S or 35mm FLE, 35mm ASPH and AA, then the 35mm ASPH Summicron, 35mm 2.5 Summarit, 35mm R lux, 35mm R cron, 35mm Summicron M non ASPH, followed by the M pre asph summilux. I have not had the M or R Summicrons, so they may be slightly shifted up or down this list, but I have had most of the others at one point (not the AA though, because of the cost).

"Character" is another debate, which is more complicated, as it relies more on taste than objectively measured characteristics.

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1 hour ago, Steven said:

I am feeling a bit lost right now with the historical lineup of the 35 lux from Leica. With some of them having official names, like pre ASPH v1 vs nicknames like silver rim and double AA, its hard to know what everyone is talking about. 

Would anyone be knowledgeable enough to make a chronological list of all the 35 lux made by Leica, or have a link to this maybe ? 

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/M_Lenses_x_Focal_Length

https://kenrockwell.com/leica/lens-reviews.htm#35

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1 hour ago, Steven said:

Thanks. It's disappointing to know that the most expensive lenses aren't necessarily the best...

If I may say so that's not quite the way to look at it, Steven.

When the 35 AA was released it would have been the 'best' performer as well as being the most expensive. But that was then; this is Now. Now it has moved into the realm of being a 'collectible' and is bought as such rather than as a 'user'. Yes; there will be exceptions and some wealthy buyers will no doubt take them out to play but, in general, for a 'user' (and as Stuart mentions in post #11) a more up-to-date design will almost certainly be a 'better' choice.

As another example of rarity being able to command sily prices have a look at this 50mm lens;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LEICA-LEITZ-50MM-F1-2-NOCTILUX-12503-HOOD-BOX-EXTREMELY-RARE-11820-2963/133607914990?hash=item1f1ba6fdee:g:TLoAAOSw6bVf2dOI

Incidentally I have absolutely no issues with things becoming the objects of lust to collectors; 80% of my pro snapping is for clients who are specialist dealers in this type of market.

Philip.

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2 hours ago, Steven said:

Thanks. It's disappointing to know that the most expensive lenses aren't necessarily the best. 

Depends on what one considers "the best": measurable optical quality (MTF)? speed (f/)? ability to be carried everywhere (size/weight/ergonomics)? "character" (whatever that means - highly subjective)? capital preservation - and sometimes 'bragging rights' (rarity)?

Enough variables, and combinations thereof, to keep each and all of us happy in our own belief that we own "the best"...😉

Edited by Ecar
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1 hour ago, Stuart Richardson said:

At the time that the 50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH was released, lots of people said it was too harsh and that the sharpness hindered the rendering.

Leica built machines to make grinding ASPH elements easier and adjusted the design, and therefore it was easier and cheaper to make the new 35mm lens.

I compared the 50/1.4 pre-aspheric to the aspheric. The wide-open performance of the aspheric is obviously better in that it is 'sharper' across the frame. If you don't use it wide-open then the rendering differences are more subtle with the pre-aspheric lens showing the effects of marginal spherical aberration which 'rounds off' edges and gives them a 'smoother' appearance - as does the 75/1.4. I can live with either but the aspheric is optically a technically better lens.

Not wanting to be pedantic but I think that the aspheric elements are now moulded and this is how they have become economically viable to use in so many modern designs (Leica are far from alone in the use of aspheric surfaces). Technology changes.

There is a huge difference between rare, sought after and collectable lenses and those revered by users. Personally I think that the current models are extraordinarily good - especially so given their size. If you are looking for 'character', remember that it comes at a cost in terms of a lens being old, with wear and servicing problems. I have a set of what I would refer to as 'classic; lenses - 21/3.4 Super-Angulon, 35/1.4 per-aspheric Sumilux and 90/2.8 Tele-Elmarit (lightweight) which I use for their different 'rendering', but my current equivalents get far more use. Very few people can actually see differences in rendering even in identical comparison shots let alone stand alone images unless the characteristics of a lens are used to their extremes, so buying and extremely expensive collectable to use for its characteristics is IMO not an effective thing to do. Cheaper lenses can be just as 'quirky'.

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13 minutes ago, pgk said:

..Cheaper lenses can be just as 'quirky'...

It's moot that you mention this, Paul, because I picked up - just for fun - a Russian Jupiter-12 35mm f2.8 and it's Very Good Indeed! It's a Biogon design (copy of the pre-WWII Contax) and, as such, has the typical Biogon 'quirks' - very sharp in the centre-area softer at the edges and corners - but for certain subjects it's the perfect choice. I've used it with both digital- and film-bodies without any downside that I can discover. Not the same rendering as my 35mm Summaron, obviously, and so they offer me different things.

It cost me a whopping £40.00. How much was the 35mm AA again?........:lol:.........

Philip.

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3 hours ago, Steven said:

Drifting away a bit, but what's your opinion on the steel rim, at 10k per copy? 

Not sure why the 'steel rim' is attracting such high prices.  Optically, it's no different from the v2, 'tho there is a school of thought that says the v2 was reformulated optically from around serial number 222xxx. 

Then there are other 'rare' 35 'Lux pre models such as the v2 with an infinity lock. I have one of those, which allegedly should fall into the reformulated model range too but it's hard to be certain.

In any case, it's a lovely lens with real character and it's one that I'd never be without.

Ernst

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8 minutes ago, Ernstk said:

Not sure why the 'steel rim' is attracting such high prices.  Optically, it's no different from the v2, 'tho there is a school of thought that says the v2 was reformulated optically from around serial number 222xxx. 

Ernst

FWIW these extracts from a paper by optical designers from Elcan, may be of interest, although they do not seem to know when the modification took place:

"Considering our 1st example, C27 ... the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux. LaF21 replaced three elements, marked as ‘LeT29’ in the original design, at some point. We have been unable to clearly identify the latter. "

and:

"It is interesting to note that this over-constrained simple double Gauss design was superceded by the Summilux 35mm f/1.4 Aspherical in the 1990s. This new design with 3 additional elements, two of which were aspheres was able to greatly improve the imaging performance; the form is however now a departure from the double Gauss with a -+–+- power structure."

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1 minute ago, pgk said:

FWIW these extracts from a paper by optical designers from Elcan, may be of interest, although they do not seem to know when the modification took place:

"Considering our 1st example, C27 ... the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux. LaF21 replaced three elements, marked as ‘LeT29’ in the original design, at some point. We have been unable to clearly identify the latter. "

 

Thanks. Very interesting. Do you have access to the full paper?

Ernst

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