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What lens for a Leica newbie?


rmcnelly
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Welcome, rmcnelly!

A lot is going to depend on what you prefer to shoot, how fast you want your lens to be, and whether you prefer sizzlingly sharp or a touch slower with a little character. 

To avoid bank account shock I recommend either a 'pre-loved' Leica or one from the Voigtlander range but until you give us a little more to go on there are so many options and possibilities that it's difficult to suggest.  Many responses are likely to be along the lines of "my favourite lens is ..." but that might not be right for your purposes.

Pete.

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Perhaps try the 35 first, sooooo many options. Summarits, Summicrons, older Summarons, Hexanons, Voigtlanders, TTArtisan/7artisans and the odd 40/2 for Leica CL are all good "budget" options (lol, speaking of Leica and budget options in one sentence is something that always brings a smile to my face).

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Welcome!

Regardless of whether you decide on a 35mm or a 50mm there are some 'constants' across the field. Pretty much any 35mm / 50mm lens from companies such as Voigtlander, Zeiss or Leica will be great. It might be best to avoid some of the Chinese lenses at this point as lenses from 7Artisan / DJ Optical and TTArtisan do tend to require user-calibration for focus-accuracy which is probably something you would do better to avoid initially. Each of these companies do make very fine lenses but calibration can be slightly problematic. Some Chinese manufacturers, of course, craft really fabulous lenses which need no such fettling; ask if you would like to know more.

Farnz' points made in post #2 are absolutely spot-on. Decide whether you prefer a lens to render images which are clinically sharp across the frame; something more 'neutral' or something with, perhaps, a bit more 'character'. The choice of 'clinical' is far smaller than the others (and they will almost always be more expensive). If you have a look through the 'View Through Older Glass' thread you will get a feel of how some of these older lenses render. Similarly there are many threads here which have examples of the newest offerings. Take your time; see what you like - and, as importantly, what you don't like - and please come back if you have any more questions about any aspect in terms of how various lenses 'draw'.

Decide which max. aperture you need; do you shoot a lot indoors in low light or not? As a rough generalisation, all else being equal, the faster the lens the higher the cost. An f1.2 lens might be a nice thing to have but if you never shoot at f1.2 then it's a bit of a waste of money buying one. Are you going to be carrying your camera around all day or just for a few hours or so? Do you prefer 'small and light' or could you handle 'larger and heavier'? Some fast 35mm leses (for example) are superb performers but can be, relatively speaking, rather large and surprisingly heavy. Lenses with a max. aperture of f2 all tend to be far smaller and far lighter. The M10 performs much better at high ISO than do previous digi-M bodies so, in some ways, ultimate lens-speed nowadays is just as much about rendering wide-open as is its low-light performance.

Stating the obvious; new Leica lenses are expensive. Even 'used' examples of the recent offerings are hardly to be found at bargain-basement prices but there are always exceptions. The 35 / 50 Summarit lenses were introduced as sort-of 'entry-level' range and are truly fantastic lenses. They were not - at the time - wholly embraced by 'LeicaMan' which means that on the s/h marketplace these can be a superb find. Going more 'historic' from the Leica catalogue would take a LONG time to discuss. If this is the way you wish to go, however, I'm sure we would all be happy to give you some pointers.

In terms of buying 'New'? Voigtlander, in particular, has a selection of 35 / 50 lenses to suit almost every pocket.

Best of luck!

Philip.

 

Edited by pippy
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Since you mention both 35 and 50mm I'd recommend the Leica 40mm summicron which is still a bargain (second hand only). It exemplifies the Leica ethos being a small size, high quality lens. Pretty sharp despite its age and with a lovely character (subjective, I know). The only downside is that it brings up the wrong frame lines, though some have been modified to activate 35mm lines.

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When I bought my first Leica I bought the 28mm Elmarit and 50mm Summicron (the latter coming in a kit with the M7). 

35mm and 50mm do seem to be the Leica 'standards' though it is interesting that Leica chose 28mm for the Q series cameras, a focal length I like and along with my 50mm is my preferred combination. 

The idiom 'buy cheap pay twice' may well apply given you currently don't want to destroy your account. If you want to keep to one camera and one lens, I would get the 35mm Summicron if you can afford it. Otherwise I would consider buying both a Voigtlander/ Zeiss* 35mm and 50mm to determine your preferred focal length. If you buy a second hand one from an auction site, you probably will not lose that much when (if) you come to re-sell. 

One point to bear in mind (as was recently pointed out to me) is how you intend to present your images, say, large prints or on a computer screen to family and friends, which may help you decide if you need top of the range or not.

Welcome to the forum and you will enjoy the M10, however, as was also recently pointed out to me, all paths do lead to the M11 and APO lenses ...

* These are not cheap lenses by any means, I am more than happy with the ones I have, they just render differently.

Edited by dgc
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3 hours ago, Aryel said:

I’d suggest to choose the focal length at first, from there we can help you more. If you are unsure, maybe share a bit about what type(s) of photos you’d like to make 😊.

Welcome to the forum!

Thanks!

I think 35mm or 40mm would work well for me. 

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1 hour ago, pippy said:

Welcome!

Regardless of whether you decide on a 35mm or a 50mm there are some 'constants' across the field. Pretty much any 35mm / 50mm lens from companies such as Voigtlander, Zeiss or Leica will be great. It might be best to avoid some of the Chinese lenses at this point as lenses from 7Artisan / DJ Optical and TTArtisan do tend to require user-calibration for focus-accuracy which is probably something you would do better to avoid initially. Each of these companies do make very fine lenses but calibration can be slightly problematic. Some Chinese manufacturers, of course, craft really fabulous lenses which need no such fettling; ask if you would like to know more.

Farnz' points made in post #2 are absolutely spot-on. Decide whether you prefer a lens to render images which are clinically sharp across the frame; something more 'neutral' or something with, perhaps, a bit more 'character'. The choice of 'clinical' is far smaller than the others (and they will almost always be more expensive). If you have a look through the 'View Through Older Glass' thread you will get a feel of how some of these older lenses render. Similarly there are many threads here which have examples of the newest offerings. Take your time; see what you like - and, as importantly, what you don't like - and please come back if you have any more questions about any aspect in terms of how various lenses 'draw'.

Decide which max. aperture you need; do you shoot a lot indoors in low light or not? As a rough generalisation, all else being equal, the faster the lens the higher the cost. An f1.2 lens might be a nice thing to have but if you never shoot at f1.2 then it's a bit of a waste of money buying one. Are you going to be carrying your camera around all day or just for a few hours or so? Do you prefer 'small and light' or could you handle 'larger and heavier'? Some fast 35mm leses (for example) are superb performers but can be, relatively speaking, rather large and surprisingly heavy. Lenses with a max. aperture of f2 all tend to be far smaller and far lighter. The M10 performs much better at high ISO than do previous digi-M bodies so, in some ways, ultimate lens-speed nowadays is just as much about rendering wide-open as is its low-light performance.

Stating the obvious; new Leica lenses are expensive. Even 'used' examples of the recent offerings are hardly to be found at bargain-basement prices but there are always exceptions. The 35 / 50 Summarit lenses were introduced as sort-of 'entry-level' range and are truly fantastic lenses. They were not - at the time - wholly embraced by 'LeicaMan' which means that on the s/h marketplace these can be a superb find. Going more 'historic' from the Leica catalogue would take a LONG time to discuss. If this is the way you wish to go, however, I'm sure we would all be happy to give you some pointers.

In terms of buying 'New'? Voigtlander, in particular, has a selection of 35 / 50 lenses to suit almost every pocket.

Best of luck!

Philip.

 

Wow, this was very helpful. Thank you Philip!

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I’m grateful to all who responded (really fast response here too!). My very first camera was a Yashica rangefinder, but I have not shot a rangefinder in 45 years. So I’m a little worried about adjusting to a rangefinder again, when I’m over 60 and now wear progressive lenses. 
 

I have a long love affair with 35mm with much experience shooting the X100 series. Recently I picked up a Ricoh GR III (28mm equivalent). 
 

I’ve used a variety of adapted lenses on M4/3 and Fuji X-H1 and prefer character over sharpness. 
 

there is a M10 for sale near where I live, and I hope to get with the seller and get a sense of handling and focusing before spending so much on this platform. 

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As first lens for Leica M10, now I'd take a Leica lens.

@rmcnelly

When you decide for M10 ...

Summarit-M lens line is not to be neglicted.

 

I neglicted the line for long, but when I tried one 2.5/50 on M10 (just to see how it can be used periodically, as I do have other 50mm lenses already).

When after first Summarit-M 2.5/50, I took , always in second hand market the 35mm then the 75mm of same line, max f/2.5 is enough for M10.

Take one 35 or 50 Summarit-M as first M lens is a path to use M10, better than trying 3 parties brands which you can try later, they have some merits to discover.

 

 

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40 minutes ago, Knipsknecht said:

http://joerivanderkloet.com/category/lenses/

He's a professional photographer from the Netherlands. His reviews are not so much technical. Joeri focusses on every day usage of the lenses and I like his stile of writing. 

Thank you!

I’m also reading many modern and vintage lens reviews at 35mmc.com

 

Edited by rmcnelly
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42 minutes ago, rmcnelly said:

Any preferred websites for lens reviews?

Matt Osborne (a.k.a. Mr. Leica) has many very informative, impartial and interesting reviews posted on the www. He tends to be very straightforward and sticks to the cardinal points. He doesn't 'do' the MTF curve stuff but the overviews he does give offer a far more valuable (some might say) illustration of how lenses render which is (some might say) pretty much all that matters.

Philip.

 

Edited by pippy
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49 minutes ago, rmcnelly said:

Any preferred websites for lens reviews

I’d also take a look at the forum M10 photo thread, there will be many shots with 35mm showing the combination. 

You can also take an opportunistic approach and select from the ones you can find locally to you. 
 

Have fun 🙂

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11 minutes ago, pippy said:

Matt Osborne (a.k.a. Mr. Leica) has many very informative, impartial and interesting reviews posted on the www. He tends to be very straightforward and sticks to the cardinal points. He doesn't 'do' the MTF curve stuff but the overviews he does give offer a far more valuable (some might say) illustration of how lenses render which is (some might say) pretty much all that matters.

Philip.

 

Got it, thanks!

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Another thought as old Leica M user...

a - If I waited for reviews, I would not buy and use happily those nice lenses I use for decades.

b - with M mount lens, any review is (for me of course) pointless the lenses of our time is as good as can be

c - I took one Summilux if I want Summilux and I don't rely on another one's review of the Summilux (which one ? pre-asph. , asph. , FLE 1 or 2 ?).

d - only trying in real life/use with myself and my taste to get if the handling, size, weight etc. can suit my use

 

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3 hours ago, rmcnelly said:

Any preferred websites for lens reviews?

My favorite review site is the gear page from K. J. Vogelius:

http://gear.vogelius.se/index.html

He does a wonderful job describing the qualities of several M-mount (and LTM mount) lenses, after using them over a long period of time, years in some cases. Not the typical influencer blog or video channel that is trying to promote affiliate sales by reviewing lenses every week. I particularly like how he provides detailed descriptions of alternative lenses and how each lens renders on various camera bodies. For instance, here is a review for the Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH:

http://gear.vogelius.se/-reviews/leica-summicron-35-asph/index.html

My advice is to purchase Leica if you can, and the Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH is a wonderful all-around lens. Version 1 ASPH (manufactured from 1996 to about 2016) with 6-bit coding is a good option and will hold its value. I like small and light lenses, and (relatively) affordable ones, so I prefer this to the Summilux 35mm that I once owned. I also like the Summicron construction and usability (larger aperture ring, smoother focus, and closer minimum focus) compared to the Summarit 35mm f/2.5 lens. 

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