Jump to content

Leica S 35mm -- what's normal corner sharpness?


epines
 Share

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Advertisement (gone after registration)

I'm just getting started with a Leica S system, and I've gotten a 35mm, a 45mm and a 70mm, all lightly used. I shot a brick-wall test to make sure they're all performing as they should. The 45mm and the 70mm are incredibly sharp all the way to the corners, even wide open. I expected the same from the 35mm, but it's not quite there. The center is bitingly sharp like the other two lenses, but the corners aren't.

If there's anyone who knows what I should rightfully expect from this lens, can you take a look at the attached and let me know if you think this is normal or if my copy is subpar? I'm attaching four tight crops from the test, all from the 35mm. If you click each attachment, I believe it will appear at its actual size; they're actually appearing too large in the post itself:

1) f/2.5, center at 100%

2) f/2.5, top left at 100%

3) f/5.6, center at 100%

4) f/5.6, top left at 100%

Thanks!

e

 

Edited by epines
clarifying the text
Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Epines,  First, welcome to the Forum.  Second, I owned the S system for my business for over 12 years.  The S 35 is a superb lens as are most, if not all S lenses are of the same calibre.  Personally, I see nothing wrong with your brick wall shots.  Depending on your genre of photography, the S system is designed for fashion, portrait and landscape photography.  There are a few other genres that fit this MF niche too.  You will find the S lenses work best between f/8 - f/11.  These are IMO the ideal f/stops for genres like landscape photography using the S system.  I would recommend you go shoot the subjects that you envision creating photographs with the S system rather than brick walls.  This will give you a far better idea what the lens and others that you now own are capable of doing.  David Farkas of Leica Store Miami wrote an excellent artilcle about the S lenses:  Try this link to David's article:  https://www.reddotforum.com/content/2020/04/the-definitive-guide-to-leica-s-lenses/   David's article will give you some very good insight into the optical qualities of the S lenses.  The S camera and most certainly the S lenses are in a class unto themselves.  Nothing comes close to it.  I suggest you will find enjoyment once you get out and start creating your masterpiece photographs that make the viewer; Stop, Look, Think and if possible Feel something about the moment in time.  Last, as I would always tell my workshop clients, it is the content of the photograph that determines whether its is a mere photo or a masterpiece photograph.  I hope this helps.  r/ Mark

Edited by LeicaR10
Link to post
Share on other sites

Epines,

Good to see you here. The S 35 might have some field curvature. I'll check my copy. You could also try focusing with live view (You have the 007, right?) and see if the corners sharpen when you refocus.

The 35 was one of the first S lenses, along with the 70 and 120, and it may well be the weakest of its superb family (meaning 98/100). It's better than the Contax Zeiss 35 Distagon. This prints quite nicely at 40" tall, but there is no corner detail to worry about, and it was f/8.

Matt

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Here are my 35 corners wide open and at f/8. These are 100% crops from an S3, so maybe a 6 foot wide print. Technical camera lenses are never shot this wide open. The only lenses I know that can better this are those with geometric distortion corrected by the camera (a technology that I think is great, but the devil is, as always, in the details) The computer is about 25 feet away. Camera on Gitzo 5, 2 second delay, etc. etc.

Matt

Edited by mgrayson3
Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, mgrayson3 said:

....The only lenses I know that can better this are those with geometric distortion corrected by the camera ...

Should have said "Medium Format lenses". The 28mm Otus (same FoV) may be sharper at f/2 (same DoF) in the corners.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, both of you. Notes:

@LeicaR10: Agreed, and I knew someone would give me a hard time about shooting a brick wall. I don't enjoy it, and I rarely do it, but it's actually an informative way to test used lenses and ensure you've received good ones. There's the occasional dog out there, and when spending this kind of money, I'd like to know that mine are good copies while I'm within the return period. I also focus and recompose quite a bit, so it's helpful to know if the lens I'm using is sharp toward the edges. And in this case, I was surprised that the 35mm wasn't sharp to the edges the way that the 45mm and 70mm are. I'll attach a bit of what I normally do here.

@mgrayson3: good to see you here too, and thanks for the replies. I figured this was the place to ask this. Those corner shots are helpful. Looks like my copy is normal and not an anomaly. I did focus with live view, and I hear you about MF lenses and what's possible wide open; been shooting the Hassy H system for about 12 years (which is also very good). As I mentioned, once I saw the edge sharpness of the 45mm and 70mm wide open, that set my expectations for the 35mm, but I can certainly work with it. Seems like a great lens. (BTW -- checked out your site. Nice work.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a side note, I love both the 30 and 35 on the coast, but here is where the MTF charts help some.  Wide open, both the 30 and 35 fall off in the extreme corners.  At 5.6, not so much at 5 and 10 lp’s, but f/8 is pretty level all the way across.  The 45 and 70 are much flatter wide open.  

I typically need the DOF for landscape work, but when I shoot wide open, the subject is typically not in the corners.

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, davidmknoble said:

Just a side note, I love both the 30 and 35 on the coast, but here is where the MTF charts help some.  Wide open, both the 30 and 35 fall off in the extreme corners.  At 5.6, not so much at 5 and 10 lp’s, but f/8 is pretty level all the way across.  The 45 and 70 are much flatter wide open.  

I typically need the DOF for landscape work, but when I shoot wide open, the subject is typically not in the corners.

Thanks -- good to know. And of course it's true about DOF in landscape vs what's needed when shooting wide open. I certainly place subjects off-center sometimes when shooting wide open, but never in the corners.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is not razor sharp in the edges, but it was actually unheard of how sharp it was for medium format. Nothing could come close. There is field curvature, however. Here is one of the first shots I took with it on the S2 in 2012. I could not believe how sharp it was wide open, and how well controlled the distortion and CA was. That said, if you compare it now to the 35mm or 28mm APO Summicron SL lenses, you will probably not be as pleased with the sharpness. But it is a fantastic lens. I agree with the others that as a medium format lens, it still tends to sing the best at f8 or f11. The only S lenses that are really astounding wide open in my opinion are the 45mm and 120mm. But all were extraordinary for their time, and still at the top of the heap when all their characteristics are compared.

Apologies for the small pic. Back in 2012 I still made them that size. The center is razor sharp and that beam in the corner is still very sharp. I think focus was on the closest wheel/wheel arch.

Link to post
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, Stuart Richardson said:

It is not razor sharp in the edges, but it was actually unheard of how sharp it was for medium format. Nothing could come close.

I agree with you Stuart.  From a print perspective I think it is more noticable than I would like at 17x22.  However, I also notice it most in the bottom corners, because that is were I have sand, shells, rocks and plants at the coast.  I can live with it all day long in the sky.  

I also think the most valuable trade-off here is the larger aperture is so much nicer / easier to focus in an optical system.  It took me a few years to get more comfortable with a large camera body after 10+ years with the M system.  But, I adapted because of the optical viewfinder and the incredible dynamic range, which at the time of the S007 was also, I think, better than any other digital medium-ish format.

As I would with anything, I don't shoot wide open unless I have a creative reason to do so, or if light demands it.  That was true with the M system too.

Here is one that shows the opposite end.  This is 1 second long, but at f/13, which I think the S lenses handle very well.  The diffraction is not bad at high f/stops.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. I found f11 and even f13 totally fine on the S2 and S006. f/16 lost a bit, but not enough to ruin a picture. 22 was pushing it in most cases. The 35mm was not really made to shoot landscapes wide open. You get better results stopped down to 5.6 or smaller. That is really the bare minimum for most wide angle MF lenses.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Stuart -- thanks for the sample image and crops. They're quite helpful. And, yes, I'm really impressed by the S lenses, and I've been shooting medium format for a long time. I will add the 70mm to your list of sharp-wide-open lenses. I was amazed when I shot the recent test.

David -- thanks as well. Good to know about diffraction / what's optimal. Yeah, I've also accepted the bulk of medium format in exchange for the quality. But the S system with two primes is definitely smaller, lighter and faster than my H system (which is still a great system), so it is really hitting a sweet spot for quality and size between 35mm and larger MF.

best,

e

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

By the way -- for anyone who's interested, I ultimately tested my 35mm lens against one that the west-coast Leica rep had, and they were identical in performance. It takes until about f/8 for the extreme corners to sharpen up completely, but that's fine. I never put anything important in the extreme corners. The area just before the corners is very sharp starting wide open. I'm happy with the lens.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a Leica S, but I was just wondering, you seem to be concerned about how sharp the corners are when the centre of the frame is in focus.  Can you set focus in a corner and check whether the other corners are sharp, and how sharp the centre is?  This would determine whether it is a field curvature issue rather than unsharpness.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not overly concerned about the sharpness of the corners, but I initially wondered if I had a poor copy of the lens, since my other two lenses are sharp to the corners wide open. But I do care about sharpness outside of the center and off toward the corners, since I often focus and recompose. Maybe this is obvious, but with a theoretically perfect lens, the corners would be as sharp as the center when you focus on the center -- the plane of focus would be a flat plane.

To answer your question, I suppose you could use live view to set focus in a corner; I'm not sure what results that would produce. But if you simply focused on the corner using the single center AF point and recomposed, the focus would definitely be off for the whole plane (due to the geometry of focus-and-recompose, since the distance of your initial focus is now farther than intended plane of focus).

Link to post
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Eclectic Man said:

I don't have a Leica S, but I was just wondering, you seem to be concerned about how sharp the corners are when the centre of the frame is in focus.  Can you set focus in a corner and check whether the other corners are sharp, and how sharp the centre is?  This would determine whether it is a field curvature issue rather than unsharpness.

My tests were using corner refocusing. It's not just field curvature. I came to the Leica S from a tech camera. Their lenses are used at f/8 or f/11 and the 35 is perfectly sharp there. I view the wider apertures (and AF) as en extra.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...