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APO Elmarit-R 180 on SL2 - Replace with Pana 70-200 F2.8?


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I am debating whether I should sell my APO Elmarit-R 180 and get the Panasonic 70-200 F2.8. This would be for use on my SL2. Pana is solid in IQ, APO 180 may be better, but both are good enough in IQ for my use cases.

The APO is (obviously) a great lens and have used it on several bodies with great results (SL2, Z6, Sony A7 series, etc). On one hand, the flexibility of the Pana zoom + AF +  no need for adapters is tempting when travelling. On the other, the reality is that I will likely shoot mostly on either end of the zoom - 70 or 200. APO 180 + SL 90 weigh almost the same as the Pana. So apart from the hassle of changing lenses and MF on the 180, not much to say here in terms of weight. I shoot mostly static subjects.

Thoughts?

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Stick with the APO 180.  I also found with zooms that I use either end, and less in the middle (depends on the lens) and AF is a pain by definition.  Not sure what other lenses you have, but a great combination with the APO would be the 16-35 zoom, and then a couple of primes between ...

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Posted (edited)
On 3/17/2021 at 2:10 AM, IkarusJohn said:

Stick with the APO 180.

+1. Never sell a Leica lens. I learned through experience that I have to stick to this principle, although I’m sometimes tempted, now for instance with my Summicron 28 asph ii. I now own my second Elmarit APO 180, because I had regrets that I’d sold it. The OOF is unequalled, the focus thread is an erotic experience. On an SL or 2 with video shots,  getting the subject slowly in focus is a lust for the eyes.  The R lenses that Leica made in this period of APOmacro 100, this 180, and the 280/4.0 is for me top of character lenses. 

Edited by otto.f
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To me this would be more of a question of what you are photographing...I have not had the 70-200, but I used to shoot the 180mm APO on the DMR and Nikon D3 via adapter. Every time I have tried a zoom (even SL zooms and S zooms), I have preferred the primes. But I am primarily a landscape shooter of static objects, and I print very large. In those cases the advantages of primes (even edge to edge sharpness and lack of distortion/aberration) are more important than convenience. If you are primarily working with people and dynamic environments where changing a lens for just getting a picture is more challenging, then the zoom makes more sense. Have you considered the less expensive Panasonic lens as an addition, rather than replacement? You might find that you will have it for the times when you are more dependent on speed and flexibility, rather than quality.

I tend to agree with IkarusJohn too...when I have a zoom it tends to be used at the tele or wide end...seldom in between. It seems to me having the SL 90mm and 180mm APO gives you an extraordinarily good kit, and I imagine you might miss their character and performance if you decided instead to use a zoom.

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I've got the Lumix 70-200.  Nice, but not amazing.  Very good image stabilization.  Needed, as it is a bit heavy for hand-holding.  I've also got the APO 180R, and that is Amazing.  So if the focal length fits your needs (you can't zoom with your feet as easily in landscape situations) stay with it.

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4 hours ago, scott kirkpatrick said:

I've got the Lumix 70-200.  Nice, but not amazing.  Very good image stabilization

Agree, I have the 70-200 to, wouldn't buy it again, especially now that I am experiencing the 90-280.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/19/2021 at 7:17 AM, Stuart Richardson said:

To me this would be more of a question of what you are photographing...I have not had the 70-200, but I used to shoot the 180mm APO on the DMR and Nikon D3 via adapter. Every time I have tried a zoom (even SL zooms and S zooms), I have preferred the primes. But I am primarily a landscape shooter of static objects, and I print very large. In those cases the advantages of primes (even edge to edge sharpness and lack of distortion/aberration) are more important than convenience. If you are primarily working with people and dynamic environments where changing a lens for just getting a picture is more challenging, then the zoom makes more sense. Have you considered the less expensive Panasonic lens as an addition, rather than replacement? You might find that you will have it for the times when you are more dependent on speed and flexibility, rather than quality.

I tend to agree with IkarusJohn too...when I have a zoom it tends to be used at the tele or wide end...seldom in between. It seems to me having the SL 90mm and 180mm APO gives you an extraordinarily good kit, and I imagine you might miss their character and performance if you decided instead to use a zoom.

My use case is similar to yours - landscape / static subjects. I don't print large, but like the "look" of higher res cameras. To me, there is that certain brilliance / bite to the images with SL2 with SL primes and Q2 that is apparent even on normal monitors.

I do like the flexibility of zooms, my best experience was with the Sony GM 100-400 on A7RII in Iceland. Being able to frame precisely as opposed to cropping after the fact was very useful. That was the first time I actually a zoom for precise framing to the mm as opposed to using one of the two low/high sides.

I also hike a lot, so weight is a consideration. 

Generally, I find that I can "adapt" my shooting for the lens I have at hand. So if it is 180mm prime, I will just choose subjects that fit well.

More recently  I am enamored with the flexibility of Sony RX 100VI.  A blasphemous thought, but it is so light and good in decent light that I am mulling over SL2 with SL 50 and RX 100VI for zoom may be a good option. Perhaps throw in my Q2 as well. For longer mountain hikes where weight is a concern,  Q2 + RX100VI seems to be a decent option. 

Edited by ravinj
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7 hours ago, scott kirkpatrick said:

I've got the Lumix 70-200.  Nice, but not amazing.  Very good image stabilization.  Needed, as it is a bit heavy for hand-holding.  I've also got the APO 180R, and that is Amazing.  So if the focal length fits your needs (you can't zoom with your feet as easily in landscape situations) stay with it.

Thanks....and agree, APO Elmarit 180 R despite the hassle of adapters is lovely. Hence the constant internal debate in my mind.   

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Interesting .... seriously looking at a Pany 70 - 200 2/8 for my SL2s.

Looking back on the shots I took with my Canon  70 -200 they fall into shots around  the 90 -105 range then the 120 -145 range with another group of shots at the far end , 200.

I by far prefer primes but ..... 

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/23/2021 at 2:56 PM, RM70 said:

I have just got the pana for my SL2 and my initial impressions are that it is an exceptional lens

My advice to you would be that if you just bought the lens, you should return it and consider the Leica 90-280. Here’s why. The Pano 70-200 is not really compatible with the SL2 due to the inherent battery problem. Most often when shooting telephoto you will want to start burst shooting moving subjects, and this is when the system will fail and give your error messages preventing burst and 4K video.

If you haven’t tried it yet make sure you do, and see if it is something you can live with. 

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On 3/16/2021 at 4:57 PM, ravinj said:

I am debating whether I should sell my APO Elmarit-R 180 and get the Panasonic 70-200 F2.8. This would be for use on my SL2. Pana is solid in IQ, APO 180 may be better, but both are good enough in IQ for my use cases.

The APO is (obviously) a great lens and have used it on several bodies with great results (SL2, Z6, Sony A7 series, etc). On one hand, the flexibility of the Pana zoom + AF +  no need for adapters is tempting when travelling. On the other, the reality is that I will likely shoot mostly on either end of the zoom - 70 or 200. APO 180 + SL 90 weigh almost the same as the Pana. So apart from the hassle of changing lenses and MF on the 180, not much to say here in terms of weight. I shoot mostly static subjects.

Thoughts?

Weren’t you also using your R 180 with a gfx 50r? 
 

I had the 70-200 f2.8 pana but returned it to get the 90-280. IQ in pana is stellar and won’t disappoint but there are 2 issues that drove me away from it

1- pana requires more power apparently and won’t let you shoot in burst mode or take videos below 50% battery levels.. this is still unreliable and not consistent at what point the camera will refuse to shoot high speed or videos

2- back button focusing won’t work with pana. It will still work for AF but so will the shutter button.. which kinda beats the whole purpose of BBF

Coming from a manual lens, this shouldn’t bother you but thought you should know these before buying it

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6 hours ago, aksclix said:

Weren’t you also using your R 180 with a gfx 50r? 
 

I had the 70-200 f2.8 pana but returned it to get the 90-280. IQ in pana is stellar and won’t disappoint but there are 2 issues that drove me away from it

1- pana requires more power apparently and won’t let you shoot in burst mode or take videos below 50% battery levels.. this is still unreliable and not consistent at what point the camera will refuse to shoot high speed or videos

2- back button focusing won’t work with pana. It will still work for AF but so will the shutter button.. which kinda beats the whole purpose of BBF

Coming from a manual lens, this shouldn’t bother you but thought you should know these before buying it

I can live with #1. #2 is a non-starter as I use only back button focus with AF lenses. Very strange though, I would never have thought that it behaved differently.

Yes, have used the R 180 APO Elmarit with GFX 50R (now sold) too. But lack of ibis meant restricted use case as I avoid tripods. 

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2 hours ago, ravinj said:

I can live with #1. #2 is a non-starter as I use only back button focus with AF lenses. Very strange though, I would never have thought that it behaved differently.

Yes, have used the R 180 APO Elmarit with GFX 50R (now sold) too. But lack of ibis meant restricted use case as I avoid tripods. 

Yea, the MF option is not even available for selection when Panasonic lenses are attached. The shutter button disabled AF only when MF option is selected 

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