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Summarit- talk to me

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It's great to see Leica breathe new life into one of its grand old brand names: Summarit.

 

Did I miss this: are these new lenses 6-bit coded? Reading the Leica site twice didn't reveal anything on this topic. If no coding, perhaps these optics are meant for use by traditionalists and meant to staunch the market erosion caused by Zeiss and CV lenses over the last few years. (I'm "guilty" here too: five of current M8 lenses are Leica optics; four are CV.)

 

I wish them great success with this surprising launch. I think this may indicate some fresh market-oriented thinking, perhaps imposed by new president (and experienced marketeer!) Steven K. Lee.

 

One quibble: why not a Summarit-M in the 24-28mm range?

 

-g

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Guest Walt

I can't imaging what I could say that Sean hasn't already said. This discussion, like so many on the forum is focused on equipment, not photography. These are two entirely different, almost unrelated conversations. Sean is in the complex position of evaluating equipment for photographers, which is not usually done I think. (Have you looked at Puts' photographs? How could such a man help a photographer?) Sean's reviews have been very helpful to me as a photographer, Puts' not at all. What I enjoy most about Sean's reviews is the photographs. The 35mm article, being one example, had a lot of really good photographs in it, the "samples," not the comparative shots. So, when I read the article, I say, this is a man I can learn something from.

 

Incidentally, my "best" lens (truly) is a Zeiss zoom on a Sony DSC W100, used at widest position (38mm FOV and I've never tried "zooming" the lens). It is also my "best" camera, except for very low light situations. For those, the M8 and 28/2.0 is my "best" camera.

 

This discussion reminds me of the battle over whether human life is best described as about thoughts and feelings ("mental life") or about electro-chemical events. I'm usually interested in the first discussion. They're not the same discussion and one has little bearing on the other.

 

Good wishes,

Walt

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Guest guy_mancuso

I fell a sleep , wake me up in late October when i get to play with them hopefully.

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One quibble: why not a Summarit-M in the 24-28mm range?

 

What do you expect? a Summarit-M 2.5/24 ... for 1450 US, or a Summarit-M 2.5/28 for 1450 US?

 

Then who will buy the Elmarit-M 2.8/24 ASPH. or Elmarit-M 2.8/28 ASPH.?

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I fell a sleep , wake me up in late October when i get to play with them hopefully.

 

You can enjoy a long winter sleep, Guy ... let me handle this job for you instead. LOL

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What do you expect? a Summarit-M 2.5/24 ... for 1450 US....Then who will buy the Elmarit-M 2.8/24 ASPH.?

 

They will just have to up the game and produce a 24mm f/2 Summicron

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Did I miss this: are these new lenses 6-bit coded? Reading the Leica site twice didn't reveal anything on this topic.

 

Yup, they're coded.

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Sometimes the "measure everything" crowd gets it wrong, because they measure what is easy to measure, and ignore other things that matter. This phenomenon is not limited to photographers. Those of us who work for large organizations see it all the time. The search for numbers to put on spreadsheets and charts sometimes (often?) makes people lose track of what they are really after. And like Internet discussions, "winning" the argument becomes more important than finding more truthful but often ambiguous answers.

 

--Peter

 

I couldn't agree more and this is why I once posted that a primary influence on my own reviewing style has been Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's "The Little Prince" . I'm well aware that a comment like that will leave some people scratching their heads while others, if they've read the book, may immediately see the relevance.

 

And...sometimes differences that seem to be very important on charts and the like are of little to no consequence when one is actually making pictures. And neither of these approaches can be fully objective.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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(Have you looked at Puts' photographs? How could such a man help a photographer?) Sean's reviews have been very helpful to me as a photographer, Puts' not at all. What I enjoy most about Sean's reviews is the photographs. The 35mm article, being one example, had a lot of really good photographs in it, the "samples," not the comparative shots. So, when I read the article, I say, this is a man I can learn something from.

Walt

 

Hi Walt,

 

I rarely write "LOL" but your first line above truly caused me to laugh out loud. I'll bite my tongue while hoping not to injure it from the mouth-jiggling of my laughing. BTW, thanks for the comments on the work. Many of the pictures in the 35 mm lens review are part of a larger project that will be going on for years.The latest twist of where its going can be seen in some of the pictures in the 90s review. But soon it will get cold here and I'll have to stop with these water places pictures until I start working in Florida again next February.

 

My friend Ben Lifson, whom you may know from his criticism or maybe his early photography, began photographing again, intensively, about three years ago. He's working on several projects but one involves people and all sorts of "glass": windows, bus dividers, etc. In a couple of years, I'd like to do a show with him which we could call "Water and Glass" (in which, of course, water and glass would often only play supporting roles).

 

Walt, BTW, learned photography from Cartier Bresson, who was a family friend. When he first posted here, the first thing most people reacted to was his work. Would you mind posting a link again, Walt?

 

As many can guess, when I'm interested in a photographer's work, I also tend to be interested in what he or she says about the tools that create it.

 

We're OT, of course, but since the Summarits aren't out there quite yet, what's the harm in a little wandering vs. conjecture about new lenses. They are coded, they're likely to be very good (in several respects) and that's about all we can say until we actually have them in our hands to try.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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OK – I’ll rise to the bait.

 

Firstly Sean’s post clearly and unambiguously defines one hypothetical lens, the “Low” contrast one, as being “better” that another hypothetical lens, the “High” contrast one, on the purely technical, not aesthetic, grounds that the images it produces are within the compass of a hypothetical sensor’s dynamic range whereas the “High” contrast lens’ images exceed its dynamic range and therefore unavoidably produce defective negatives or digital files. This is unexceptionable – but it is not due to the lens, it is due to the lens/sensor combination. I maintain that the better lens, on purely technical grounds, is the one that most faithfully retains in an image the information content of the subject. I believe that this is what Leica have been striving to achieve over the last 40 or more years. They have done it by reducing all forms of flare and by correcting lens aberrations using a wide variety of means including aspheric surfaces. They do not deliberately design lenses to have “Low” contrast though it happens that in making the tradeoffs that are part and parcel of designing and manufacturing lenses of different apertures, fields of view and price some lenses are of greater contrast than others. There is no way that they could design improved lenses on the basis of practical, aesthetically pleasing photographs. However a great deal of knowledge and experience has to be brought to bear to understand the subjective effect of any residual defects – coma being a classic case. It is no accident that Leica’s modern designs tend to balance the sagittal and tangential structures rather than optimising one at the expense of the other.

 

Does this mean that everyone will prefer the “Improved” lenses? Absolutely not. But one has to answer a few questions at this point.

 

If Leica took the route of deliberately mimicking the performance of older, or competitor’s, lenses would it increase sales? Their judgement is obviously no.

 

Why do people pay the considerable premium associated with Leica lenses, (Let’s not be coy about this they are very expensive and quite beyond the reach of a great many people.), when it is claimed by some that aesthetically more pleasing results can be achieved with older designs or less expensive designs from Leica’s competitors? They do so because they like, value and indeed prefer the images they get with the modern lenses.

 

So where does this leave the aesthetic argument? Sean is right to point out that in reviewing a lens, which will inevitably have residual defects, it is important if possible to identify these defects and certainly to point out and comment on their consequences. Such things are not conveyed well by technical measurements such as MTF. But the corollary is that they must be described in words and phrases which are open to interpretation.

 

It is my contention when people put forward a case for Leica Glow, or any other aesthetic value which depends for its existence on residual optical defects, that the cost of achieving the desired effect cannot be set aside. It makes no sense to buy a Noctilux if the exact same result is achievable using another much less expensive 50mm lens with, say, a Zeiss Softar filter. And even if this argument is dismissed a modern lens and a Softar is a much more versatile outfit.

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Of course it means the lens is purer transmitter of light. But while high lens contrast is a technical accomplishment (as I've written many times) it doesn't necessarily make a lens "better" in actual use.

 

Right. My point is you can know if a lens is better from an optical/mechanic point of view by comparing vectors of variables (I explained the rule for unambiguous results: at least one component better and no other component worse).

 

Solid, perhaps but really most useful to photographers whose subjects are resolution cards. I don't know of many. The problem with that approach (aside from the assumptions that must precede the testing) is that it tends to make mountains out of molehills. It emphasizes differences that often have little relevance to photographers working with a normal range of subjects.

 

Well, resolution cards is just an example. The same goes for distortion, chromatic aberration of vignetting, using resolution cards or Zeiss' measurement equipment (= independent of any capture medium). In any case, resolution is a relevant data for many photographers. The resolving power of a lens shows up when the subject has details you want (or expect) to be clearly resolved, irrespectively of the subject itself. If you don't care about resolution, the information doesn't harm you.

 

You're missing an important component.There are assumptions that govern how statistics are created, as you well know. Those assumptions are not objective and people often forget that subjectivity in the seeming objectivity of numbers.

 

Well, that's true, to some extent. It is a difficult subject.

 

Can I get these in English? If yes, I'll read them over the winter. Have you read Kuhn? Paradigm shift (leaving aside the cliche that phrase has become in some cases) is relevant here.

 

Yes, you can find these books at Amazon. I don't know how good the translation is. José Ortega y Gasset is a superb writer in Spanish. He was one of the greatest philosophers of the XX century. I know Kuhn's book. I like it.

 

Best,

 

Rubén

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(Have you looked at Puts' photographs? How could such a man help a photographer?)

 

Well, I think that comment is unfair. Puts has provided a lot (tons) of information (technical, historical) about Leica and Leica lenses, for free, to all Leica users/buyers/collectors. It is a great service. I learned a lot from him.

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I think you are both right. Puts' information is technically useful, but tells very little about how much you will like a lens. I enjoy reading his lens reviews too, but they are too technical in some ways.

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OK – I’ll rise to the bait.

 

Firstly Sean’s post clearly and unambiguously defines one hypothetical lens, the “Low” contrast one, as being “better” that another hypothetical lens, the “High” contrast one, on the purely technical, not aesthetic, grounds that the images it produces are within the compass of a hypothetical sensor’s dynamic range whereas the “High” contrast lens’ images exceed its dynamic range and therefore unavoidably produce defective negatives or digital files. This is unexceptionable – but it is not due to the lens, it is due to the lens/sensor combination. I maintain that the better lens, on purely technical grounds, is the one that most faithfully retains in an image the information content of the subject. I believe that this is what Leica have been striving to achieve over the last 40 or more years. They have done it by reducing all forms of flare and by correcting lens aberrations using a wide variety of means including aspheric surfaces. They do not deliberately design lenses to have “Low” contrast though it happens that in making the tradeoffs that are part and parcel of designing and manufacturing lenses of different apertures, fields of view and price some lenses are of greater contrast than others. There is no way that they could design improved lenses on the basis of practical, aesthetically pleasing photographs. However a great deal of knowledge and experience has to be brought to bear to understand the subjective effect of any residual defects – coma being a classic case. It is no accident that Leica’s modern designs tend to balance the sagittal and tangential structures rather than optimising one at the expense of the other.

 

Does this mean that everyone will prefer the “Improved” lenses? Absolutely not. But one has to answer a few questions at this point.

 

If Leica took the route of deliberately mimicking the performance of older, or competitor’s, lenses would it increase sales? Their judgement is obviously no.

 

Why do people pay the considerable premium associated with Leica lenses, (Let’s not be coy about this they are very expensive and quite beyond the reach of a great many people.), when it is claimed by some that aesthetically more pleasing results can be achieved with older designs or less expensive designs from Leica’s competitors? They do so because they like, value and indeed prefer the images they get with the modern lenses.

 

So where does this leave the aesthetic argument? Sean is right to point out that in reviewing a lens, which will inevitably have residual defects, it is important if possible to identify these defects and certainly to point out and comment on their consequences. Such things are not conveyed well by technical measurements such as MTF. But the corollary is that they must be described in words and phrases which are open to interpretation.

 

It is my contention when people put forward a case for Leica Glow, or any other aesthetic value which depends for its existence on residual optical defects, that the cost of achieving the desired effect cannot be set aside. It makes no sense to buy a Noctilux if the exact same result is achievable using another much less expensive 50mm lens with, say, a Zeiss Softar filter. And even if this argument is dismissed a modern lens and a Softar is a much more versatile outfit.

 

"Firstly Sean’s post clearly and unambiguously defines one hypothetical lens, the “Low” contrast one, as being “better” that another hypothetical lens"

 

Not at all, in which post did you think I was saying that?

 

No bait intended and nowhere in this thread do I put forward a case for any one lens design being "best". In fact, I've been arguing against that "best" idea all along. The long and short of it is that higher or lower lens contrast (and a host of other qualities) can be more or less desirable to a given photographer, for given lighting conditions, etc. There's no one best level of contrast, high or low. If you reread my lens reviews over the past few years, you'll hear that message time and again. A "defect" is in the eye of the beholder, however, one must first define what the perfect would be and then work backwards from that. Optical designers no doubt set their goals but their priorities may not be shared by all photographers.

 

A Leica lens, no matter what it costs, is a compromise just like every other lens. The character that some admire so much in the Noctilux is partly the result of several aspects that some would consider technical defects.

 

I don't think there's much else for me to add to this that I haven't written already.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Hi Ruben,

 

You wrote:

 

"Right. My point is you can know if a lens is better from an optical/mechanic point of view by comparing vectors of variables (I explained the rule for unambiguous results: at least one component better and no other component worse)."

 

Sure, but this aspect is only one piece of the puzzle. Its often over-emphasized and mountains are made of molehills (do you know that expression?) Otherwise, I think you know where I'm coming from and why. Its not so much a question of objective vs. subjective but rather one of assumptions, priorities, values and approach.

 

 

"Yes, you can find these books at Amazon. I don't know how good the translation is. José Ortega y Gasset is a superb writer in Spanish. He was one of the greatest philosophers of the XX century. I know Kuhn's book. I like it."

 

I'll look for it for winter reading. Thanks.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Have you looked at Puts' photographs? How could such a man help a photographer?

 

That's grossly unfair IMHO. Yes his is the opposite approach to Sean's, but both have value - and let's not forget that they've had their spats in the past and that may influence both of them when commentating on the other.

 

Puts has put huge amounts of stuff into the public domain for free. Sean hasn't. And a lot of the images that Sean uses to illustrate his points are just as banal as photographs as anything Puts has published.

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I fell a sleep , wake me up in late October when i get to play with them hopefully.

 

You're not really going to sleep through your assignments are you? What about your workshop? Although, a nice warm cave in Yosemite could be nice.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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That's grossly unfair IMHO. Yes his is the opposite approach to Sean's, but both have value - and let's not forget that they've had their spats in the past and that may influence both of them when commentating on the other.

 

Puts has put huge amounts of stuff into the public domain for free. Sean hasn't. And a lot of the images that Sean uses to illustrate his points are just as banal as photographs as anything Puts has published.

 

I do this professionally now and Erwin does it as a dedicated amateur although his book(s) must have earned something. Erwin works for free because this is, apparently, a hobby for him. As for the other comment about my "banal pictures" (in which you responded to Walt by criticizing my work), I try to illustrate all of the articles with interesting work whenever possible but sometimes one just needs to illustrate a point for the sake of information. I think Walt's point is that Erwin is not and has never been a photographer and that does influence his priorities, approach, values, etc. In fact, he doesn't use many pictures in his articles and that makes it harder for the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

 

Speaking for myself. I always consider people's photographic work (if I've seen it) when I read their positions on photography and equipment. I do especially value the comments, technical perspectives, etc. of photographer's whose work I respect. I think that's true in any field. But...we all have different ideas about what constitutes good work in photography (to say the least <G>). But I won't attack your work Steve because A) I don't think I've seen it and

it's not my style to comment on other people's photography unless I'm asked to.

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Sean, when I described the illustrations you provide as 'banal' it may seem strange, but that wasn't intended as a criticism. The photographs you provide illustrate the points you are trying to make and as such they don't have to be masterpieces - pages of shots illustrating 'bokeh' or edge sharpness spring to mind.

 

Puts takes a lot of flack for not being the greatest photographer, that's missing the point IMHO, criticism and the production of great work are two completely different things. Just as someone doesn't have to be a great chef to enjoy eating food, one doesn't have to be a great photographer to be a good critic. Sure a 'professional' can offer insights into the process, but that doesn't restrict criticism to professional photographers IMHO.

 

And I'm fully aware of the standard of my personal photography. I'd guess I produce one or two images a year that I'm really happy with.

 

By the way Puts lost a lot of royalties from Hove who published his book, they then went into receivership.

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