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Portrait Lens for Leica M


cesc
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Hi all!

I am looking for a lens to take portraits (head, details shots) to fit into my Leica M system

My current gear is a 28mm biogon 2.8f that I use all the time to document my family and events in general with my MP and M10.

But I would love to have another lens to add some detail shots and narrow scenes

What would you recommend for film and digital use, 

I know the question I am asking is not very narrow in details, but that will help me see your setups

Thanks in advance! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Portrait lens ... you will have as many answers as people who dare post.

Your 28mm can do ( I think of Garry Winogrand ).

35mm for many good photographers of past or present time.

50mm of course.

Then easy with these well know focal lengths "for portrait" with 75/90mm.

[ My prefered "portrait lens" (nothing fancy)  is Summilux-M 75mm (my wife's for everything is Apo-Summicron-M 75mm) ].

Have a look at Thambar 90mm, 2.2

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Cesc, as usual, take one lens which you feel "the best for...", use the lens, then you will see by yourself that well used every lens can be "what you want it to be".

 

Edited by a.noctilux
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I forgot to mention Summarit-M 2.5/75mm that I use happily (not portrait oriented but might be good candidate) for many years now, much more friendly handling than Summilux-M 75.

At first I wanted the 2.4/75 with 70cm close focus, second hand, but now that I use for a while 1m is fine for me and some times I use Elpro lens to take closer photos.

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6 minutes ago, cesc said:

Thanks a lot! How do you compose with a 75mm with a rangefinder? I guess a 90mm is "better" in terms of having the lines already in the viewfinder

Good thing that Leica choice was to pair 50 frame with 75.

With a good learning curve, I just use the two frames as guides and of course newbies need to practice a bit.

First when I used 75mm, I tried to compose "loosely" with the 50 frame lines.

After a while the frames became just "guides" to compose.

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1 hour ago, cesc said:

I know the question I am asking is not very narrow in details, but that will help me see your setups

Matter of tastes. Do you want to disclose pores, wrinkles and other details of your models or do you prefer a more gentle rendition?  As far as my lenses and uninteresting tastes are concerned, i prefer a rather gentle rendition so i don't use modern asph or apo lenses for portraits and prefer earlier designs like Summilux 50/1.4 v2 or v3, Sonnar 50/1.5 (on film or LV mode due to focus shift), Summicron 50/2 v4 or v/5, Summilux 75/1.4, Summicron 90/2 v2 or v3. If you are on a budget, Hexanon 50/2 (similar to Summicron 50/2 v5) and Jupiter 85/2 (similar to Sonnar 85/2). FWIW.

Edited by lct
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Depends on the portraits you want to take… and how much photoshop you want to do afterwards.

I selected my lenses based on a classic look, soft and not too sharp, to be more flattering for my subjects. I don’t like to do retouch, hence my choice.

That said, those lenses are very disappointing when shooting nature: nothing is tack sharp…

So, if you want soft, I can recommend the cron50mm v2/3, the sonnar 50/1.5, the nokton 35/1.4sc or the nokton 75/.5.

If you want sharp, I don’t have the slightest idea 😇

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Since you have a 28 I'd skip the 35 and go for a 50 perfect for poortraits but still very usefull for other formats.  If it is only portraits then the 75, 85 or 90 range will be perfect, but lmiting for other uses and a little bit bulkier.

I have a 90 APO and love it but the 75 is as effective and more user friendly.

On the 50 for portraits alone I'd consier a wider aperture option so you really have a lens that can give you every effect/affect needed.

 

Of course the summilux stands out but it is expensive.  Fortunatelly Voigtlander and other akers have very good options for 50 mm lens on M cameras.

 

If you where to get a 35 for portraits I would also go with a wider aperture. Summilux FLE again.  I have a Voigtlander Nokton 1.2 35 mm that I absolutely love for portraits at 35 mm. You can get the Bokeh and DOF of a 50 to 90 range but with the context of a 35.  Amazing lens for about $900.

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3 hours ago, cesc said:

Thanks a lot! How do you compose with a 75mm with a rangefinder? I guess a 90mm is "better" in terms of having the lines already in the viewfinder

I find it quite intuitive actually.  I don't really use the guidelines that much.  After a few dozen shots you will be framing with your eye not the guidelines.  The 90 is great, I borowed the 75 and it was remarkably more user friendly in terms of focus, also smaller.  I use the 90n becasue I was used to a 100 canon for portraits and I got it before I tried the 75.  If I where just getting it now I'd get the 75.

I also use a Walter Leica range finder magnifier with enhanced contrast to help my old(er) eyes

Edited by S Maclean
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All these are taken with the 90 APO except for the one by the brick wall whcih was taken with a 50 Cron. Ironic that the 50 is out of focus but I wanted to give you the frame equivalent to the 90.

 

The dog taken at 2.8.  The Brick wall with the cron at 6.2, probably 5.6 on the lens (lens opens to 2) and the living room portrait B&W with the 90 at 3.4 Probably either 2.8 or 4 in the lens(also opens to 2)

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Edited by S Maclean
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Speaking as a dedicated portrait shooter, I recommend you start by experimenting with some different focal lengths first. This is a super subjective thing and depends on your taste and use case.

For me the 35mm and 75mm combo works well for portraits. I needed something easy to focus when on location. I love shooting 90mm when I use a system with autofocus, but when I’m the chump having to do the manual focusing, I find the 75mm to be the sweet spot for a short tele – balance between the look/compression and ease of use/focus... I just can’t make my models stand on location and watch a middle-aged man struggling with manual focus on a 90mm 😅

There are some seriously cheap vintage FSU m39 and Chinese M mount lenses out there (esp if you don’t mind using liveview). I managed to pick up 2 used Chinese M mount glasses (TTArtisan 50mm f1.4 and 7Artisans 75mm f1.25) for USD375 combined. Once you work out the focal length you like, you can start torturing yourself about the specific glass to get (speed, size, look and price) 😉 

 

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You write that you want to take head/detail shots. Personally I would not choose anything wider than 75 for such shots unless I was looking for character/effect images where the nose or leading shoulder are slightly disturbingly disproportionate.

I now use a SL2-S for portraits, but I choose lenses for headshots on the same principles. I have two: one that makes a modern sharp image, and one that has more of a classical soft focus look. When I used the M9/M240, I had both 75 and 90 Apo-Summicrons, and a Hektor 7.3cm. Now I have both 75 and 90 Apo-Summicron-SL and a Thambar-M. TBH, I find 75mm still a bit too wide for true head & shoulder shots - I use that for 2/3 body or environmental portraits. I can use a 90 for environmental portraits as well, of course, but I prefer to be closer to my sitter, to interact with them, not shooting sniper-style from long range!

I do like shooting with the aperture fairly open for headshots, to focus attention on the eyes, unless in a studio or where the background is totally undistracting. I can use the 24-90 SL zoom for portraits, but find f/4 a limitation - I prefer at least f/2 in a portrait lens, even if I don't always use it.

I can only write of lenses from my own experience - I have no experience of the highly praised Summilux-M 75, for example, so I don't claim I have the best choices.

One issue I always had with headshots and the M is framing: I needed to be generous with framing to allow cropping in post: judging symmetrical framing shooting with the camera held vertically is tricky due to parallax errors in the frame lines as you get in close - too often I'd find I had cut it a bit too tight on one side. Experience and practice help you get over this, but it's one reason I like the WYSIWYG experience of the SL2-S.

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Lots of great advice here, just want to mention the 135mm focal length, beautiful natural head shots. APO-Telyt is amazing and images from it have made the journey through my darkroom to my walls. M3 is the best M for 135mm, of course…

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When I was using film I had 2 M2s, one with a 35 and one with an 85 Nikkor LTM. I liked the combination, but I sold the Nikkor with the M2s. I right now have an Elmarit 90 and like the rendering of that lens. With a good 28 I'd look at 75mm, I'm not a low f stop person, I like f2.8 or 4 for portraits, so there are a lot of 75s in that range. 

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19 hours ago, cesc said:

I bought it twice... And I had a love hate relationship with it

 

I bought and then sold the Sonnar 1.5, but now wish I hadn't, but am too stupidly proud to buy it again. Zeiss does that to me: sometimes just enough flaws to annoy me, but I miss the character.....I have a Nikon mount Planar 50 f/1.4 arriving soon and I'm committed to keeping it, no matter what....

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