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Best value 'M' lenses available today


pgk

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1 hour ago, Al Brown said:

In relative  terms - considering the perverted brutal overvalue of the original, being brand new & 6-bit coded plus what this lens actually offers - the Steel Rim reissue is a steal

6 times as expensive as the Nokton 35/1.4 SC v2. Proof that a steal is not necessarily a bargain 😇 (smiley with glow)

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4 hours ago, lct said:

6 times as expensive as the Nokton 35/1.4 SC v2. Proof that a steal is not necessarily a bargain 😇 (smiley with glow)

I don’t think you’re allowed to say that on a Leica forum 😁. 89 Leica purists deleted their accounts and one was saved by a pill under the tongue from heart attack.

…also, the thread is called best VALUE M lenses, not best bargain 🤗

Edited by Al Brown
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I think the Tri-Elmar 28/35/50 ‘MATE’ can provide good value, as it serves as multiple lenses in one. It could benefit, however, from a modern makeover. I’ve sold two copies, both eventually requiring service, but a good value when operating smoothly. (I don’t shoot ultra-wide, so the Tri-Elmar ‘WATE’ provides no value for me, although the design is improved.)

Jeff

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I am a little surprised that the Voigtlander APO Lanthars did not have more nominations here... I guess there are two more or less general camps of Leica users. There are those who are the romantics, who tend to like the style and older lens renderings, and focus more on the compactness, build quality and ambience of using Leica cameras and lenses. Then there are the precision/optical quality fans, who tend to like that Leica usually has the very best optics at every given generation, at least in relation to the size of the camera/lens, and they tend to be willing to pay a premium for those very latest entries.

I think the Voigtlander APO Lanthars are not as appealing to the first group for two main reasons. The first is that they are not Leica, and while well built and in a vintage aesthetic, they are not as classic as an actual older Leica lens. The second is that they are quite a bit bigger than the more compact lenses in their focal length. Their absolute optical performance is not as important to this group of users. On film, you would be very hard pressed to see a difference between an APO Lanthar and a V4 or V5 Summicron, for example.

For the second group of optical purists, they are a bit more attractive. They still have two main strikes for this group. 1. They are not Leica, and a certain subset of this group are Leica purists who do not want a non-Leica lens no matter how well it performs and what kind of value it offers. 2. These lenses are bigger than the 50mm APO Summicron and 35mm APO Summicron they compete with.

My case for them as being the best values would be that if you truly want to get everything you can out of one of the newer digital M bodies like the M10R, M10 Mono or M11, the more modern APO lenses are required (assuming you are interested in sharpness across the whole frame at wide/moderate apertures and minimal aberrations like fringing). Leica's best standard lenses for the M are the 50mm APO and 35mm APO, both of which are extraordinarily expensive, particularly in comparison to other companies's options in the same focal length and aperture. While most of those other lenses cannot compete optically with the Leica, the Voigtlander APO Lanthars can, and they can do so at a very very low price by comparison. For me this is the key arbiter of value. The Leica 35mm APO is 8300 dollars before tax at B&H and the 35mm APO Lanthar is 999. The Leica is smaller, but it is actually a few grams heavier. In the case of the 50mm lenses, the Voigtlander is also a bit bigger, but still slightly lighter, and then you are comparing 999 to 9095 dollars...nearly ten times the price for a lens that is made by Leica instead of Voigtlander and with a more compact, but heavier body.

Anyway, I realize that this has become super long, but that's my vote for the Voigtlander APO Lanthars as being the best value M lenses. Nothing else can give you essentially the very best Leica is capable of making at a tiny fraction of the price. For me at least, it makes the 35mm and 50mm APO Summicron M lenses a very poor value by comparison.

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13 minutes ago, Stuart Richardson said:

I think the Voigtlander APO Lanthars are not as appealing to the first group for two main reasons. The first is that they are not Leica, and while well built and in a vintage aesthetic, they are not as classic as an actual older Leica lens. The second is that they are quite a bit bigger than the more compact lenses in their focal length. Their absolute optical performance is not as important to this group of users. [...]

Or the opposite if they prefer a more compact Leica.

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1 hour ago, Stuart Richardson said:

I am a little surprised that the Voigtlander APO Lanthars did not have more nominations here... I guess there are two more or less general camps of Leica users. There are those who are the romantics, who tend to like the style and older lens renderings, and focus more on the compactness, build quality and ambience of using Leica cameras and lenses. Then there are the precision/optical quality fans, who tend to like that Leica usually has the very best optics at every given generation, at least in relation to the size of the camera/lens, and they tend to be willing to pay a premium for those very latest entries.

I think the Voigtlander APO Lanthars are not as appealing to the first group for two main reasons. The first is that they are not Leica, and while well built and in a vintage aesthetic, they are not as classic as an actual older Leica lens. The second is that they are quite a bit bigger than the more compact lenses in their focal length. Their absolute optical performance is not as important to this group of users. On film, you would be very hard pressed to see a difference between an APO Lanthar and a V4 or V5 Summicron, for example.

For the second group of optical purists, they are a bit more attractive. They still have two main strikes for this group. 1. They are not Leica, and a certain subset of this group are Leica purists who do not want a non-Leica lens no matter how well it performs and what kind of value it offers. 2. These lenses are bigger than the 50mm APO Summicron and 35mm APO Summicron they compete with.

My case for them as being the best values would be that if you truly want to get everything you can out of one of the newer digital M bodies like the M10R, M10 Mono or M11, the more modern APO lenses are required (assuming you are interested in sharpness across the whole frame at wide/moderate apertures and minimal aberrations like fringing). Leica's best standard lenses for the M are the 50mm APO and 35mm APO, both of which are extraordinarily expensive, particularly in comparison to other companies's options in the same focal length and aperture. While most of those other lenses cannot compete optically with the Leica, the Voigtlander APO Lanthars can, and they can do so at a very very low price by comparison. For me this is the key arbiter of value. The Leica 35mm APO is 8300 dollars before tax at B&H and the 35mm APO Lanthar is 999. The Leica is smaller, but it is actually a few grams heavier. In the case of the 50mm lenses, the Voigtlander is also a bit bigger, but still slightly lighter, and then you are comparing 999 to 9095 dollars...nearly ten times the price for a lens that is made by Leica instead of Voigtlander and with a more compact, but heavier body.

Anyway, I realize that this has become super long, but that's my vote for the Voigtlander APO Lanthars as being the best value M lenses. Nothing else can give you essentially the very best Leica is capable of making at a tiny fraction of the price. For me at least, it makes the 35mm and 50mm APO Summicron M lenses a very poor value by comparison.

The vm35 is on my list to acquire, the 50 not really as i have a lux already…

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I had fun with my M mount 1954 Ernst Leitz GmbH Weltzar Hektor 13.5cm f/4.5 over the weekend. 

It's a challenge to use quickly & tbh it looks a little odd but it cost me £50 in a reputable camera shop earlier this year.

I guess that even though it's cheap to buy it may not be the best value if it's not used much :)

I just happened to find a use case that suited it (right focal length and the lens stopped down to reduce the shutter speed for panning).

 

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Edited by robbie3
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Apologies in advance for repeatedly flying the flag for the 50mm f1.5 Summarit but I'm about to do so yet again!......:lol:......

Having just delved into the archives of the dim and distant past (well; August last year) for an image for a completely different thread hereabouts I thought some members who don't frequent that quarter of the Forum might be interested in viewing an image which shows how the lens in question renders if stopped down just one click.

'A Picture Is Worth...'... (and so on) so here is a happy-snap taken at pretty-much MFD. Camera (FWIW) was M Monochrom and exposure was 1/2000 / f2.0 @ ISO320. If I had remembered to profile the lens to the body (hardly a 'Given'!) it would have been that for an old 50mm Summilux;

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IMO at f2.0 there is no issue with the lens' sharpness and the rendering of the OOF bits is very pleasant. I also consider there to be easily enough 3D Pop for my liking and there is a fair amount of 'character' on show into the bargain.

It would, of course, have been nice - and probably rather educational - to have taken a second frame of the same subject-matter with my v4 Summicron for comparison-purposes but, well, I was on holiday and the waiter had just delivered my glass of beer...

:)

Philip.

Edited by pippy
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8 hours ago, pippy said:

Apologies in advance for repeatedly flying the flag for the 50mm f1.5 Summarit but I'm about to do so yet again!......:lol:......

..... I thought some members who don't frequent that quarter of the Forum might be interested in viewing an image which shows how the lens in question renders if stopped down just one click.

Indeed. Photographic lens progress appears to have taken place optically in two areas over the last century - wide open performance of fast lenses and improved performance of wide-angle lenses. Most seems to have happened in the last 20 years. I had a 50mm Summilux (the last version pre-aspheric) and now have the aspheric which shows siginifican improvement wide-open over its predecessor. And as for wide-angles, well ultra-wide zooms or diminutive lenses such as the 21SEM show marked progress and again much of this is within the last two decades.

Faster, older lenses show more 'character' when used wide open in that their aberations can be pleasant and effective, but IMO and FWIW older wide angles often show poor (soft) corner and close-up performance which has improved significantly with new designs. Having used many older wide-angle lenses I would say that few (perhaps the SA being one) really provide 'character' unlike faster lenses used wide open.

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1 hour ago, pgk said:

Faster, older lenses show more 'character' when used wide open in that their aberations can be pleasant and effective, but IMO and FWIW older wide angles often show poor (soft) corner and close-up performance which has improved significantly with new designs. Having used many older wide-angle lenses I would say that few (perhaps the SA being one) really provide 'character' unlike faster lenses used wide open.

Indeed but the character of older lenses may come from superior features too. Distortion comes to mind on lenses like Biogon 21/4.5 or Super-Angulon 21/3.4 to a lesser extent. Shorter MFD and sharper rendition at close distance can be a character of older lenses too (same examples). As far as chromatic aberration is concerned, new designs don't look significantly superior either.  

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39 minutes ago, lct said:

Indeed but the character of older lenses may come from superior features too. Distortion comes to mind on lenses like Biogon 21/4.5 or Super-Angulon 21/3.4 to a lesser extent. Shorter MFD and sharper rendition at close distance can be a character of older lenses too (same examples). As far as chromatic aberration is concerned, new designs don't look significantly superior either.  

The thing is; distortion can be corrected for in post processing, soft corners can't (but they can be added). Semi-symmetrical designs such as the SA worked well close up but so do modern designs. I have had a couple of SAs and the only real difference that can't be mimicked is the effect of the square aperture although it might not actually be an endearing feature!

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1 hour ago, pgk said:

The thing is; distortion can be corrected for in post processing, soft corners can't (but they can be added). Semi-symmetrical designs such as the SA worked well close up but so do modern designs. I have had a couple of SAs and the only real difference that can't be mimicked is the effect of the square aperture although it might not actually be an endearing feature!

Hehe yes but to me, at least, there is only one relevant difference, i mean pics i can shoot with legacy lenses and i could not with modern ones. Two examples below with ZM 21/4.5 (low distortion) and S-A 21/3.4 (sharp close-up). Not to say that i dislike modern lenses like SEM 21/3.4 but i can't seem to make it perform at such levels.

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On 7/9/2023 at 9:31 AM, Stuart Richardson said:

I am a little surprised that the Voigtlander APO Lanthars did not have more nominations here... I guess there are two more or less general camps of Leica users. There are those who are the romantics, who tend to like the style and older lens renderings, and focus more on the compactness, build quality and ambience of using Leica cameras and lenses. Then there are the precision/optical quality fans, who tend to like that Leica usually has the very best optics at every given generation, at least in relation to the size of the camera/lens, and they tend to be willing to pay a premium for those very latest entries.

I certainly do recognize the value of the Cosina/Voigtlander 50mm and 35mm APO Lanthar VM lenses, but did not “nominate” them, because I do not yet own either of them. If I nominated them, I might well have been quoted, and challenged to defend them. I reckoned that I would leave that to folks who actually own these lenses. 😉

As for the “two camps” of Leica shooters, I seem to have a foot in each camp, with a mix of characters lenses, and modern lenses. Life is good. 🙂

I very much love the Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZM, but, until I can directly compare it with the Voigtlander 35mm APO Lanthar VM, I am not certain whether the Distagon is a better value than the APO Lanthar. 

If I had a duty to provide best-quality images, at the “normal” focal length, especially in conditions where flare might be a problem, and wanted to use a Leica M camera body to perform that task, I would most certainly be ordering a Voigtlander 50mm APO Lanthar VM. I have seen reliable reports that the APO Lanthar is more flare-resistant than the Leica APO. I know that the Zeiss Distagon 35mm ZM is more flare-resistant than any of my Leica lenses, except perhaps for the quite “modern” Elmar-M 24mm ASPH, and that is simply because I have not shot them side-by-side, and have not yet tried the Elmar-M 24mm ASPH in challenging conditions, so, simply do not yet know that I do not yet know.

I was well-acquainted with Cosina-made Voigtlander and Zeiss SLR lenses, before I added the Leica M system. Actually, the day, in April 2018, that I bought my first Leica M lens, pre-owned, and my new M10, I also bought a new Nikon-mount Zeiss Otus 85mm, which I “financed” by permanently scuttling plans to buy an expensive (~$13K US, after taxes) Nikon 600mm f/4 super-telephoto monster of a lens. (I was still rehabilitating a left shoulder injury, so, would not be using a heavy lens, anytime soon, but also felt that I was simply aging-out of wanting to tote a lens weighing over 3800 grams, no matter how serious we were about bird photography*.)

*Filling the frame, with a small bird, is something that “requires” 600mm, and, early-morning or sundown shooting “requires” f/4. Thankfully, my wife and I both tired of trying to keep up with the truly serious small-bird photographers. She shifted her attention to plants, fungi, and small creatures. I already liked macro and close-range, anyway, and started dabbling with using short telephoto lenses for landscapes and seascapes.

Edited by RexGig0
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3 hours ago, lct said:

Hehe yes but to me, at least, there is only one relevant difference, i mean pics i can shoot with legacy lenses and i could not with modern ones. Two examples below with ZM 21/4.5 (low distortion) and S-A 21/3.4 (sharp close-up). Not to say that i dislike modern lenses like SEM 21/3.4 but i can't seem to make it perform at such levels.

 

 

The Zeiss 21mm f/4.5 ZM is a truly wonderful lens. I may yet, someday, buy a 21mm SEM, but, it will not replace my little Zeiss gem.

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On 7/9/2023 at 3:31 PM, Stuart Richardson said:

I am a little surprised that the Voigtlander APO Lanthars did not have more nominations here... I guess there are two more or less general camps of Leica users. There are those who are the romantics, who tend to like the style and older lens renderings, and focus more on the compactness, build quality and ambience of using Leica cameras and lenses. Then there are the precision/optical quality fans, who tend to like that Leica usually has the very best optics at every given generation, at least in relation to the size of the camera/lens, and they tend to be willing to pay a premium for those very latest entries.

I think the Voigtlander APO Lanthars are not as appealing to the first group for two main reasons. The first is that they are not Leica, and while well built and in a vintage aesthetic, they are not as classic as an actual older Leica lens. The second is that they are quite a bit bigger than the more compact lenses in their focal length. Their absolute optical performance is not as important to this group of users. On film, you would be very hard pressed to see a difference between an APO Lanthar and a V4 or V5 Summicron, for example.

For the second group of optical purists, they are a bit more attractive. They still have two main strikes for this group. 1. They are not Leica, and a certain subset of this group are Leica purists who do not want a non-Leica lens no matter how well it performs and what kind of value it offers. 2. These lenses are bigger than the 50mm APO Summicron and 35mm APO Summicron they compete with.

My case for them as being the best values would be that if you truly want to get everything you can out of one of the newer digital M bodies like the M10R, M10 Mono or M11, the more modern APO lenses are required (assuming you are interested in sharpness across the whole frame at wide/moderate apertures and minimal aberrations like fringing). Leica's best standard lenses for the M are the 50mm APO and 35mm APO, both of which are extraordinarily expensive, particularly in comparison to other companies's options in the same focal length and aperture. While most of those other lenses cannot compete optically with the Leica, the Voigtlander APO Lanthars can, and they can do so at a very very low price by comparison. For me this is the key arbiter of value. The Leica 35mm APO is 8300 dollars before tax at B&H and the 35mm APO Lanthar is 999. The Leica is smaller, but it is actually a few grams heavier. In the case of the 50mm lenses, the Voigtlander is also a bit bigger, but still slightly lighter, and then you are comparing 999 to 9095 dollars...nearly ten times the price for a lens that is made by Leica instead of Voigtlander and with a more compact, but heavier body.

Anyway, I realize that this has become super long, but that's my vote for the Voigtlander APO Lanthars as being the best value M lenses. Nothing else can give you essentially the very best Leica is capable of making at a tiny fraction of the price. For me at least, it makes the 35mm and 50mm APO Summicron M lenses a very poor value by comparison.

Fully agree re the APO Lanthars, I have both the 35 and 50mm that I use on an M11 and M10M. IMHO, the image quality is epic, and very much reminds me of the M 50 APO Summicron (which I used to own).

The physical length of the Lanthar lenses is the main downside for me, esp the 35mm which is physically longer than the 50mm Lanthar and compounded by the framelines dynamic too for 35 vs 50mm. Having tried the M 35 APO Summicron, I’d personally consider that lens more from the angle of its small size, which is lovely in itself (rather than image quality differentials versus the APO Lanthar). 

Reid Reviews did a detailed review of comparing the M 35mm APO vs the Voigtlander 35mm APO Lanthar, which I found very helpful and worth (for me) his modest subscription price.

The M series of camera bodies seem to get more expensive over the years, but lenses such as the APO Lanthars keep the cost of the “system” more manageable without giving up any image quality (to my eyes at least).

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