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Portrait Lens for Leica M


cesc
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Happy to have some choices of 75/90

I'd take one of these, my now preference  goes to the shorter and good focus ring nice rubber grip 2.5/75 at right    

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With M10 and Visoflex 020, I can access to some nice SLR lenses like here, Summilux-R 80mm

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With right adapter x to M, I can use also Zeiss 1.4/85, Nikkor 1.4/85, Pentax 1.4/85

Imperial choices 😇

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Different people use different focal lengths for "portraits", but since you specifically mentioned, "head, details" I would lean towards longer focal lengths. Ideal in the Leica world for this purpose would probably be a 90mm lens, but I always found 90mm difficult to focus accurately enough at f/2.8 or faster with a rangefinder, so I would recommend a 75mm instead as a compromise. It will still give you a reasonably tight field of view, it's easier to focus since you will have a touch more depth of field than with the 90mm (and, yes, I know if you get close enough to have the exact same framing that advantage over the 90mm goes away, but most people do vary their framing a bit to suite the focal length chosen), and it's close enough to a "normal" lens that it will probably be a better complement to your 28mm for general use.

My first choice in your place would be the 75mm APO Summicron-M. It's a very similar optical design to the current 50mm Summilux, just with a touch more reach. It's not super sharp in the corners, even stopped down, but that's probably not critical for your use case, and it does a really nice job of producing sharp, contrasty images when stopped down a bit, and slightly less contrasty but still detailed images (often good for portraits) when wide open. It's also fairly small and light for its focal length and aperture with minimal viewfinder blockage. By the way, both your cameras do have frame lines for 75mm so no issues there.

My second choice would be a 75mm Summarit, only available used. You lose a bit of control over depth of field since it's half a stop slower, and you can gain a bit of chromatic aberration on high-contrast subjects like back-lit tree branches, but it is otherwise really, really good and an excellent bargain in the Leica lens world. I believe the f/2.4 version focuses a bit closer than the f/2.5 version, so I'd lean that way if you have a choice. 

I'm sure there are also excellent offerings from Cosina Voigtlander and from Zeiss, but not having owned any of them at this focal length I can't provide a recommendation. Last lens I'll mention in passing, though I doubt it's what you are looking for given your description, is the 75mm Noctilux. Absolutely superb lens, and it doesn't have the corner softness issue of the Summicron when stopped down. HOWEVER, it is extremely expensive, very difficult to focus wide open without LiveView (so an issue for your MP), large, heavy, has lots of viewfinder blockage, and did I mention it's extremely expensive? Even by Leica standards? Great lens, though, just not something I would consider "general purpose" in any meaningful way. When you need it, there's nothing like it, but you won't often need it.

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As A.Noctilux wrote much earlier in the thread, there are thousands of opinions on the 'portrait' lens. Any lens will do! I find that there is a bit too much worrying about the rendering of a lens when doing portraiture. Yes, a favourite lens can make a difference, but the really goes to the time — almost pre-historical — when doing portraits meant using a large or medium format camera. And when one might have had to retouch a negative before enlarging it; or having to use some darkroom technique to soften skin, etc. Today, LR or CaptureOne will by and large allow you to fix the rendering to your satisfaction. 

Yet, I must say, that I usually go for my 90 mm Macro-Elmar  for portraits, 50mm Summicron for ¾ or full portraits. And that is with my M cameras or now even with my SL2.

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I rarely use a 50mm lens for portraits and definitely not for head shots.  If you're sticking with Leica lenses only, any of the 75mm or 90mm lenses will do the trick, the rest comes down to how creative you intend to be with differential focus. 

I use either my 75mm apo-summicron asph or 90mm apo-summicron asph for the type of headshots the OP is interested in. You can't go wrong with either of them.     

Edited by Ouroboros
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By far the best lens for portraits I used from Leica was the Summilux 75mm f1.4 (Mandler design). Simply amazing, unlike any other lens. Issue though, is that it is too heavy and large for a rangefinder (at least for me), and I also hate the 75mm framelines, or using any lens longer than 50mm on a rangefinder. Therefore my choice would always be a 50mm. The 50mm Summilux pre-asph or the asph are amazing lenses, and on top of that you have the Noctilux 50mm f1.2 remake or the f1 which are really unique for portraits too. 

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18 hours ago, Jared said:

. Last lens I'll mention in passing, though I doubt it's what you are looking for given your description, is the 75mm Noctilux. Absolutely superb lens, and it doesn't have the corner softness issue of the Summicron when stopped down. HOWEVER, it is extremely expensive, very difficult to focus wide open without LiveView (so an issue for your MP), large, heavy, has lots of viewfinder blockage, and did I mention it's extremely expensive? Even by Leica standards? Great lens, though, just not something I would consider "general purpose" in any meaningful way. When you need it, there's nothing like it, but you won't often need it.

Clearly the Noctilux wide open will be different, and I know the answer will be subjective ….. but (say) at f2 has anyone happened to compare the rendering of the M 75 Noctilux to the SL 75 Summicron? Is the emphasis of the Noctilux to be very modern / super sharp too, or does it have something “extra” that provides a different output?

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Thanks so much for all your help and advices and sorry for replying so late, this week has been a bit complicated with some illness at home. Now that I have more time I wanted to thank you all.

Yesterday I discovered a french photographer whos photos blew my mind, it has the kind of photos I am looking for, first of all because he documents his family and that's what I do. And second because he was just using a single camera and a single lens for doing all that, portraits and more wide angle shots and I realize that I was spending more time looking for gear than taking pictures... GAS suffering, fooling myself that I needed a lens for that and another for another thing .. and not learning photography instead, not trying to be a better photographer 

So I've decided to stop looking for a lens that does one job in special, and keep it simple. I know most of you , that I usually read your advices here, are professional photographers and I understand that making a living with photography, you need different gear to cover different situations. In my case in the other hand I am just a passionate amateur photographer and father so I my main goal is taking pictures of my kids, just documenting my kids while they grow up.

So like the French photographer, I am going for a 35mm 1.4 and my M10, so portraits and more action shots in indoor lights are well covered

So my portrait lens for an M will be a Summilux 35, (no head, detail shots) also main reason I won't be able to do that kind of shots 'til my subjects are sleeping ;)

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17 hours ago, cesc said:

Thanks so much for all your help and advices and sorry for replying so late, this week has been a bit complicated with some illness at home. Now that I have more time I wanted to thank you all.

Yesterday I discovered a french photographer whos photos blew my mind, it has the kind of photos I am looking for, first of all because he documents his family and that's what I do. And second because he was just using a single camera and a single lens for doing all that, portraits and more wide angle shots and I realize that I was spending more time looking for gear than taking pictures... GAS suffering, fooling myself that I needed a lens for that and another for another thing .. and not learning photography instead, not trying to be a better photographer 

So I've decided to stop looking for a lens that does one job in special, and keep it simple. I know most of you , that I usually read your advices here, are professional photographers and I understand that making a living with photography, you need different gear to cover different situations. In my case in the other hand I am just a passionate amateur photographer and father so I my main goal is taking pictures of my kids, just documenting my kids while they grow up.

So like the French photographer, I am going for a 35mm 1.4 and my M10, so portraits and more action shots in indoor lights are well covered

So my portrait lens for an M will be a Summilux 35, (no head, detail shots) also main reason I won't be able to do that kind of shots 'til my subjects are sleeping ;)

I think that’s a wise decision, and also to be able to ‘see’ in 35 from not switching lenses regularly.

I am in the same situation as you (passionate amateur) who only captures my family in a documentary style, and I am only using the 35 APO Cron. That is the ultimate multiple lenses in one solution given the close focus capabilities which add flexibility to a single lens solution. When that close up to get more than a flower in focus I just stop down more.

May I ask what French photographer you discovered? Always looking for inspo in the family documentary space.

And any of your own work publicly available out of curiosity?

Good luck to you!

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On 9/29/2022 at 12:29 PM, Jon Warwick said:

Clearly the Noctilux wide open will be different, and I know the answer will be subjective ….. but (say) at f2 has anyone happened to compare the rendering of the M 75 Noctilux to the SL 75 Summicron? Is the emphasis of the Noctilux to be very modern / super sharp too, or does it have something “extra” that provides a different output?

I'd like to hear an answer to this question as well. And if it doesn't divert the responses, a comparison of both with the Summilux-M 75 at f/2 would be valuable. (I know the correct answer is "you need all three", but.......)

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19 minutes ago, Photojournoguy said:

I think that’s a wise decision, and also to be able to ‘see’ in 35 from not switching lenses regularly.

I am in the same situation as you (passionate amateur) who only captures my family in a documentary style, and I am only using the 35 APO Cron. That is the ultimate multiple lenses in one solution given the close focus capabilities which add flexibility to a single lens solution. When that close up to get more than a flower in focus I just stop down more.

May I ask what French photographer you discovered? Always looking for inspo in the family documentary space.

And any of your own work publicly available out of curiosity?

Good luck to you!

French photogrFather is Alain Laboile. Probably you already know him. 

Does f2 of the cron enough to isolate subjects? 

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13 minutes ago, cesc said:

French photogrFather is Alain Laboile. Probably you already know him. 

Does f2 of the cron enough to isolate subjects? 

Thanks big fan for sure and I also capture only B&W so his stuff really resonates with me.

Yes f2 has full isolation capabilities, and many comparisons here between the APO and the 1.4 lux completely with side by side shots and anecdotal feedback. The APO at least has added contrast in the focal plane so looks closer to 1.4 than 2 anyhow. I don’t use f2 and MFD at same time for kids as that’d be really extreme (unless you capture just the eye lashes or something) so end up stopping down, but of course f2 depends on the distance you shoot from. I also pair it with the M10M so don’t need the extra stop of light necessarily as that has ISO that goes all the way to the sky.

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Since you are talking about detail shots, closeups are not the particular strength of M-lenses (with exception of the most recent lenses).

The 75 mm APO-summicron is an awesome lens that gives you the highest magnification.
 

There is also a 90 mm macro M lens. That’s the one I would try out next. But I have no experience with this one and cannot give you a qualified opinion. 

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2 minutes ago, laowai_ said:

Since you are talking about detail shots, closeups are not the particular strength of M-lenses (with exception of the most recent lenses).

The 75 mm APO-summicron is an awesome lens that gives you the highest magnification.
 

There is also a 90 mm macro M lens. That’s the one I would try out next. But I have no experience with this one and cannot give you a qualified opinion. 

Valuable advices.

See post #31, his choice is done, 1.4/35mm.

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1 hour ago, cesc said:

French photogrFather is Alain Laboile. Probably you already know him. 

 

I didn’t know his work, so thanks for introducing it here. I like his style a lot. It reminds me quite a bit of some of the work of the famous US photographer Sally Mann.

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