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Slimming down the lens choices...


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Hi all. I've been using Leica for a few years now, and have been picking up lenses here and there. Trying out classic vs modern, ergonomics, focal lengths, the like.  I've now amassed quite a few lenses and enjoy things about each one. 

But lately I've been feeling like I have too much. There's so much to choose from, and don't get me started on picking things for trips. I just took a trip to Vancouver BC for a few days and I think I grabbed 6 lenses (yikes). I used 3 lenses, and one of the 3 I used for maybe 15 shots. I'm sure I could have left that at home. I probably could have done with just one lens! 

I'll just need to bite the bullet and sell some on. I don't think I own a lens that I truly don't like. There's always a characteristic I like, be it size or optical character. In the long run, having much less choice should be a lot better. Too much time mulling over which classic 50 I want to take out for example.

Anybody cut down their collection to a few pieces? Maybe you were glad, maybe you weren't. 

I should also get rid of one or two film M bodies, but this is the lens forum and a different discussion.  😁

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Cutting down the collection of lenses violates the rule of entropy…

If you nevertheless want to grab only one lens for your trips, you might try the following refreshing idea: make several trips to the same destination, each with a different lens. Such as New York @50mm, New York @28mm, New York @90mm etc. Other cities could work as well… 🤔😉

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Posted (edited)

Late in my father-in-law’s life, I captured an image of my wife, feeding her father. I used a Canon EF 135mm f/2L lens. To be captured, candidly, from the next room, with the Canon 5D, in that available morning light, the lens NEEDED to be a very fast 135mm, or similar short telephoto. At that moment in time, it HAD to be candid, because my wife would not have cooperated. Today, however, that decisive-moment image is one of the most-treasured images that we have.

Late in my father’s life, I used a Zeiss 21mm f/4,5 ZM lens to capture several most-treasured images, of my father, my brothers, my son, and my mother, gathered around my father’s bed. I was able to hold the M Type 246 to get myself in one of the images, without looking too ridiculous. The room, in the care home, was quite small. A 28mm lens could have only captured part of the scene, with each shot. There was no room to “step back.”

If we factor-out bird and wildlife photography, I could do everything within the 21mm to 135mm lengths, and the longest being 90mm would probably not be be too limiting. but, I would not want to be limited to only 21mm and 135mm lenses. My favorites are 35mm and 50mm. 28mm is “just right” for chasing my toddler grandsons about, using zone/scale focusing.

I do not see anything wrong with having six or more M-mount lenses, but, notably, I generally do not set out, for a day of shooting, with more than two lenses, and, I have gone on multi-day road trips with only two or three lenses. 

Lenses do not eat much. They are low-maintenance, unless I drop them.

Edited by RexGig0
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7 hours ago, Mech-Dragon said:

Anybody cut down their collection to a few pieces? Maybe you were glad, maybe you weren't. 

 

Great topic @Mech-Dragon.
Yes, recently I have cut down the selection. Turns out one really needs only 5 or 6 M lenses in life, even professionally.

There are three basic questions you need to ask yourself for each lens in the proces of minimalization:

- Does this lens make me happy?
- Do I use it frequently enough
- WOULD I BUY IT AGAIN IF I DID NOT HAVE IT?

The answer to the latter is super important and is a fabulous determinant.

There is a very thin line betweeen a hoarder and a collector. And between "need" and "want". If you want to keep your M lenses as an investment, you should never look back. But if you feel the volume is putting pressure you, by all means do minimalize. You will feel better about yourself when you do.

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If a lens doesn’t let me down, it’s usually a keeper. I don’t sell M lenses (not anymore, I regretted the only time I did). Every lens I have, I use it. Some more often than others, but I use them all. Today let’s play with this, tomorrow with that. It usually works, and I never get bored shooting.
.
When traveling, the secret is to make a choice and be calm (😎) and loyal to that choice. I usually bring w/ me one or two lenses maximum. I enjoy having less options to choose from and being more focused on shooting. I know there will always be a time you say, “I wish I had this lens,”… But it’s ok. I prefer to “suffer” for some missing shots but be freer w/ one lens kit. But it’s me. 

 

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2 hours ago, Dennis said:


If a lens doesn’t let me down, it’s usually a keeper. I don’t sell M lenses (not anymore, I regretted the only time I did). Every lens I have, I use it. Some more often than others, but I use them all. Today let’s play with this, tomorrow with that. It usually works, and I never get bored shooting.
.
When traveling, the secret is to make a choice and be calm (😎) and loyal to that choice. I usually bring w/ me one or two lenses maximum. I enjoy having less options to choose from and being more focused on shooting. I know there will always be a time you say, “I wish I had this lens,”… But it’s ok. I prefer to “suffer” for some missing shots but be freer w/ one lens kit. But it’s me. 

 

This is what happens to me, i take turn which 50mm lens i take to travel each time 😂😂😂

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Mech-Dragon said:

I probably could have done with just one lens! 

😉you answered it.

 

to be more positive,

I don't need to sell the lenses I have and use now.

I'm happy to have choices in "house ready", to choose from.

M is "cruel" system (too many choices) having the lenses is not meaning to use them all.

So for many years now, I carry and use (most of the time) only one lens, knowing that I can use other lense if I want to, letting them

at home or hotel room.

Edited by a.noctilux
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11 hours ago, Mech-Dragon said:

There's always a characteristic I like, be it size or optical character. In the long run, having much less choice should be a lot better. Too much time mulling over which classic 50 I want to take out for example.

It is because i like their different character that i own several lenses. But i know them well too so i have no problem in choosing them at all. I never hesitate between 50mm lenses personally but YMMV.

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I'll have phases where I'm buying lenses and trying stuff I've always wanted to try, then I'll feel like I've too many lenses and too much overlap, and will go through a purge and sell a number of them to streamline my choices. Usually when I'm buying lenses to try, I have an idea of whether I'd keep it long term or not. When "purging", I group the lenses into workhorse lenses ("daily drivers" with dependable image quality as well as function - basically a smallish 28mm, 35mm and 50mm) and "indulgence" lenses. My "indulgence" lenses are lenses which are larger than 400g, do not overlap with the "daily drivers" too much (so they will get some use over the daily drivers when the mood strikes) and are lenses i'd regret selling if I do get rid of them. Thus far, I've done at least two proper purges, and have ended up with the same 5 lenses after it all.

For example, 2 indulgence lenses i own are the 50 Noct f1 and 75lux (my favourite Mandler lens and favourite portrait lens). I prefer modern glass for my day-to-day stuff, shooting paid work and shooting during my travels, so my "daily drivers" are the 28cron, 35FLE and 50APO and I rotate between them quite evenly. One example of a lens I sold because it didn't fit into either "daily driver" or "indulgence" categories is the 35lux pre-FLE, because it overlapped too much with the 35FLE as an indulgence lens and I could not stand the focus shift on it for daily use. One danger of categorising is that it really depends on how you frame the qualities of each lens. One could easily slip any of the lenses I've sold into either category if they were reluctant to sell them or wanted to justify keeping any of them. It must be said that while I've always felt better after streamlining my kits, because as minimal a setup is an appealing thought, sleeping on the idea of selling each lens or camera is probably best. I've sold some stuff too hurriedly in my bid to declutter. I don't necessarily miss any lens I've sold in terms of use, but on hindsight I feel some of the lenses I've sold could've fallen under the "indulgence" category and would've been worth keeping, or could've fetched much higher prices, if not for my lack of holding power after I've decided to sell.

When I go out to shoot and when I travel, I only ever bring one lens and commit to it for the day/for the trip. I've done trips with just a 28cron/35FLE/50APO alone, oftentimes cropping or stitching if I need. If a shot doesn't suit the lens, I'll try anyway or forgo the shot entirely (or use my phone). I feel like it's quite like shooting with an M monochrom/shooting B&W film - you chase the shots the gear excels in and learn to ignore the stuff that won't work. Like others have said, it's the freedom from choice which is liberating and it's also a good opportunity to try to master a lens (and/or camera) through focusing on using that kit solely for many hours over that period.

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Please do not sell any lenses for the time being. Rotate your use of your lenses and be stimulated by the possibilities each one offers. You will find your favourites, quite quickly.  If you sell any of your lenses, which you say you don't dislike, you will regret it. Moods and opportunities change, as several members have written about, often poignantly. Experience shows which lenses you need for specific roles.

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I agree with the idea of limiting yourself intentionally for these kind of escapes. I’ve done it several times and the benefits this decision brings often surpass any other potential conflict you might have… I’ve been to Mallorca for example last summer: 1 body (color) + 1 lens 35mm. Recently in NYC I had the choice of taking M color or Monochrom body… decided for Monochrom + 35/50mm. Ideally I’d even try to keep it to one lens although in this last case it paid off a lot for me because had a serious gig to cover. Anyway: force yourself. I’ll do it this coming summer period again: one body, one lens and enjoy everything else!

Cheers 😉

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Posted (edited)

I currently own 13 Leica lenses… a mix of classic and modern. And I would like to think that every one of them was obtained for a good reason 😉. And I do not dare to sell off any of them being quite certain that I would have major regrets sooner or later.

But when leaving for a travel, I very often find myself with the 35 cron v4 (owning a 35 Lux asph as well) on the camera and the elmar-m 50 (owning a 50 Lux as well) in my pocket… the 50 just in case (both actually being my two first Leica lenses…). A tiny tiny set. And I basically never regret my choice. Which could also provoke some thoughts about the remaining rather costly lenses back in the drawe.

But as stated by many… once owning a Leica lens, it is too late 😉

Edited by Stein K S
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Posted (edited)

I only own a meager number of 4 lenses (28, 50, 75, 135) which I always bring with on a trip. I usually stay more than one day in a city so I pick my lens for the day (the rest goes into the roomsafe). I do miss some shots, but there is always another day. Personally find the 28 ideal for cities with narrow streets, but find the 50 and 75 more walk about lenses. The 135 gets less use, but no trip without the 135 in action. Now I am at home and have decided that the 135 is my lens for the week

Edited by stephan54
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When I had 2 M2s I had 3 lenses a 25mm Canon, 35mm Summilux and 85mm Nikon. I mostly used the 35 and 85 one on each camera. Now I have 3 different Leicas, a CL, M8 and M3, and I have ended up trying to duplicate the set on each camera. I sold the Nikon with the M2s but now I have a 90mm. Many of the lenses are interchangeable between bodies (M mount).  I  do sometimes get bewildered with the number of lenses I juggle.

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1 hour ago, wda said:

For 30 years I owned only three Leica lenses, 28/50/90. They served me very well. 50 mm Summicron was my fastest lens, the other two f/2.8.  I seldom felt the need for more. They went with me on most trips and served me well.

Those are the three focal lengths I always take with me - a 50mm Summicron, 28mm/2.8 Elmarit ASPH and 90mm/2.8 Elmarit.  I also have a 35/2.4 and 75/2.4 Summarit but don't use them much now that I have the 28 and 90.  I've thought about selling the Summarits but that little voice in the back of my head says "don't do it".

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On 7/12/2022 at 3:02 PM, Robert Blanko said:

Cutting down the collection of lenses violates the rule of entropy…

If you nevertheless want to grab only one lens for your trips, you might try the following refreshing idea: make several trips to the same destination, each with a different lens. Such as New York @50mm, New York @28mm, New York @90mm etc. Other cities could work as well… 🤔😉

That's a great idea for the places I go to frequently, which in my case is Seattle. Thank you! 

22 hours ago, Al Brown said:

...
- WOULD I BUY IT AGAIN IF I DID NOT HAVE IT?
...
 

Great question, thank you for bringing that up. I'll be keeping that in mind as I look through my collection to see what I might be willing to let go. 

Funny enough, that question can also work both ways! For example, I picked up a 8.5cm Summarex for quite the deal. I bought it for the sole reason that it was right there and so cheap. I'm actually pretty eager to find a portrait opportunity with this very cool lens. If I were to sell it on, there's NO WAY I'd buy it at its current collector rate. But it's uniqueness is what keeps me from selling it. 

16 hours ago, chasdfg said:

I'll have phases where I'm buying lenses and trying stuff I've always wanted to try, then I'll feel like I've too many lenses and too much overlap, and will go through a purge and sell a number of them to streamline my choices. Usually when I'm buying lenses to try, I have an idea of whether I'd keep it long term or not. When "purging", I group the lenses into workhorse lenses ("daily drivers" with dependable image quality as well as function - basically a smallish 28mm, 35mm and 50mm) and "indulgence" lenses. My "indulgence" lenses are lenses which are larger than 400g, do not overlap with the "daily drivers" too much (so they will get some use over the daily drivers when the mood strikes) and are lenses i'd regret selling if I do get rid of them. Thus far, I've done at least two proper purges, and have ended up with the same 5 lenses after it all.

For example, 2 indulgence lenses i own are the 50 Noct f1 and 75lux (my favourite Mandler lens and favourite portrait lens). I prefer modern glass for my day-to-day stuff, shooting paid work and shooting during my travels, so my "daily drivers" are the 28cron, 35FLE and 50APO and I rotate between them quite evenly. One example of a lens I sold because it didn't fit into either "daily driver" or "indulgence" categories is the 35lux pre-FLE, because it overlapped too much with the 35FLE as an indulgence lens and I could not stand the focus shift on it for daily use. One danger of categorising is that it really depends on how you frame the qualities of each lens. One could easily slip any of the lenses I've sold into either category if they were reluctant to sell them or wanted to justify keeping any of them. It must be said that while I've always felt better after streamlining my kits, because as minimal a setup is an appealing thought, sleeping on the idea of selling each lens or camera is probably best. I've sold some stuff too hurriedly in my bid to declutter. I don't necessarily miss any lens I've sold in terms of use, but on hindsight I feel some of the lenses I've sold could've fallen under the "indulgence" category and would've been worth keeping, or could've fetched much higher prices, if not for my lack of holding power after I've decided to sell.

When I go out to shoot and when I travel, I only ever bring one lens and commit to it for the day/for the trip. I've done trips with just a 28cron/35FLE/50APO alone, oftentimes cropping or stitching if I need. If a shot doesn't suit the lens, I'll try anyway or forgo the shot entirely (or use my phone). I feel like it's quite like shooting with an M monochrom/shooting B&W film - you chase the shots the gear excels in and learn to ignore the stuff that won't work. Like others have said, it's the freedom from choice which is liberating and it's also a good opportunity to try to master a lens (and/or camera) through focusing on using that kit solely for many hours over that period.

I like that train of thought, thank you for sharing.  I too have some indulgence lenses:  my 8.5cm Summarex I just mentioned is one. I thought my 35 FLE was indulgence, until I really began to use it on my film cameras. I really love it's rendering on film, and that 1.4 aperture was needed with night photography and 800 speed film. I also own my little 35mm V3 Cron which is the perfect daytime walkabout lens. 

Having a classic and a modern lens in focal lengths i use the most is ideal.

 

15 hours ago, sergiomarried said:

I agree with the idea of limiting yourself intentionally for these kind of escapes. I’ve done it several times and the benefits this decision brings often surpass any other potential conflict you might have… I’ve been to Mallorca for example last summer: 1 body (color) + 1 lens 35mm. Recently in NYC I had the choice of taking M color or Monochrom body… decided for Monochrom + 35/50mm. Ideally I’d even try to keep it to one lens although in this last case it paid off a lot for me because had a serious gig to cover. Anyway: force yourself. I’ll do it this coming summer period again: one body, one lens and enjoy everything else!

Cheers 😉

Thanks! With the recent trip I had, it was really the first fun trip I had in probably years. The pandemic as well as school really took that all down for me, so the excitement of this trip caused me to overload on lens choices. I'd love to limit and challenge myself with that.  Challenge brings about more creative juices.

So the solution is traveling more frequently to use more lenses! 😄

-------------‐‐------

Thanks for all the replies! I had a feeling I'd get the sentiment of "don't sell" from a few of you. I've definitely been thinking on it for awhile, and considering the pros and cons of selling the ones I have. It helps when you're busy and or too lazy to take pictures of everything up list it online. 

It also doesn't help when I shoot film and digital. Plus with film, I regularly enjoy both Barnack and M bodies. So there's a lot of variety there. It's just crazy to look at my shelf and see 6 50mm lenses. I'm more of a 35mm gal, where the heck did all these 50s come from! I even have two 85mm lenses, when it's not even a normal focal length.  😅 

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