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Wide angle lenses: overview of Leica M alternatives


Leicaboy Norway

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Hey, guys

 

I have a M 240 + Summicron-m 50mm f2 v5 and a Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/1.7.

For an upcoming vacation I was wondering if I should get a wide angle lens too. I do have a Leica Q, but I also want something for my Leica M.

 

I assume the best ones are the ones from Leica, but I am not looking to spend more than $1000.

 

I guess I am looking for like an overview of what alternatives there are, their strenghts and weaknesses, which offers the most bang for the buck etc.

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I don’t think you need to add just a 28mm lens to your M-system as another wide angle lens. For most occasions 35mm is great enough to be an all rounder. Instead overlapping with your Q, I suggest you go to 21mm lens. It produces a very different perspective than going from 35 to 28, so you will surely find the situations that needs a 21mm if you want, instead of getting just a little bit more from a 28mm.

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Hi

You might want to consider something like this. Great Value. Very cool focal length.

Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical III Lens for Leica M

If you got another lens, that would be 4 focal lengths you would have with you.  From my personal opinion I think that's too much. Too many choices make it harder to be creative and actually 'see' the scene. I think if you limit yourself to 2 focal lengths, you will find much more interesting photos in scenes that you might have overlooked before. I personally would take the Q and the 15 for the 240.   But as I said, that's my opinion.

Have a nice time!
Mike

 

 

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I’d look at the Voigtlander 21mm f/3.5. It’s very small, quite affordable, excellent quality. 21mm is a good complement to your setup and a useful focal length not just for landscapes but for ordinary photography. It’s also wide enough to be a meaningfully different companion to a 35. On my Ms, I have 21, 28, 35, and 50, and I often go out with 21 plus either 35 or 50 for a nice two-lens setup. (21 + 50 is very fun.)

There’s a nice review of the lens here. (Although I think the lens has since been updated.) The CV 21mm was my gateway drug to 21mm, and I liked it so much that I bought a 21 SEM.

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For occasional wide angle shots I purchased the Voigtländer Color.Skopar 3.5/21mm. This tiny little lens (180g, 39mm filter thread) fits in every bag or even a pocket. It has aspherical elements and focusses down to 0.5m.

On my M11 it performs very well, resolution, sharpness, contrast and suppression of reflections are very well controlled. There is only one caveat - it produces slightly magenta tint especially on the left part of the frame (and much smaller on the right side) that is visible in neutral color scenes like clouds, white walls etc. It can be easily corrected with a linear gradient where just a green color temperature tint is applied. (I coded the Skopar as an Super Elmarit to get a good match of EXIF - need to try oder codes as well).

I had the Voigtländer 5,6/12mm before that did not show this effect. but the angle of view was far too wide for my taste. 

Johannes

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I had a similar question a while back.  Like you, I have the Q, but wanted a wider lens for the M10.  Considered the 21mm but thought framing with the viewfinder would be difficult.  Then I found a lightly used copy of the 24mm Elmarit at one of the Leica stores.  Its field is only slightly larger than what I see through the viewfinder.  I think the lens is a bit underrated which translates into a better price on the used market, if I remember correctly, it was around $1200.

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I don't use an ultrawide much, but one is useful now and then. So about 12 years ago I got a CV 21 f4 to try on my M9. It's about the smallest lens I have, so it tucks nicely in a corner of my bag for when I need it. (Smaller than the more recent 3.5) It can produce colored edges/corners on digital cameras, but the M9 corrects reasonably well if you keep the ISO low and code the lens as a Leica 21. But I hear that the 240 has more of an issue with colored edges, so the CV 3.5 would be a better choice for you.

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I second (or third or fourth) the choice of the 21mm f3.5 Voigtlander Color Skopar.  Tiny, pocketable, and sharp out to the corners from f4.0, with some vignetting, gone by f5.6.  I have not seen any edge color casts on my M10R.  One can also easily add coding to the recessed flange which is an essential added benefit. There are faster lenses out there in your price range, but they are much larger in size and, while usable at more open apertures to a varying degree, still do not get sharp into the corners until f4-5.6.  

I don't remember if the M240 allows the in menu coding of one non-coded lens.  If not, then a 6-bit coded wide angle Leica lens is beyond your stated budget.  Sending a bargain-priced Leica lens off for 6-bit coding cost me $350 last time I did it.    

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You may consider the Voigtländer 21/4 (tiny, decent optical quality), the Voigtländer 21/1.4 (bulky and heavy, good optical quality, and of course f1.4) or the Zeiss 18/4 Distagon (some say it’s comparable to the Leica pendant).

I had all, but sold the Zeiss, as it was redundant to my WATE (which means that the others that I still have are IMHO not redundant…).

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2 hours ago, Leicaboy Norway said:

And what does that coding do again? Only for in camera corrections and exif data? I hope there was more?

Yes, but generally considered necessary for the extreme wide angles.

You might consider the 25mm Zeiss Biogon as a non-coded lens.  Larger, 60mm in length, but worked really well uncoded on my M9.

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From my time using SLR lenses, including the excellent Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G, I knew that I liked 21mm, and that 21mm has almost always seemed to be wide enough. My first 21mm M-mount lens acquisition was the Zeiss C Biogon 21mm f/4.5 ZM, though only for monochrome/black & white images, because this film-era lens shows color shift effects, on digital M cameras, through the M10-series cameras. (The M11 uses a different sensor, which seems to be able to color-correct this lens.) A notable advantage of this lens is that geometric distortion is VERY well-corrected.

Last year, for shooting color images, I added the Cosina Voigtlander Nokton 21mm f/1.4 VM, which, like most Voitlander lenses released within the past few years, is very well-designed and well-made, competing well with its Leica counterparts. This is a somewhat large lens, which does not bother me. There are smaller-aperture 21mm Voigtlander lenses, with good reputations, that are smaller, but I have no personal experience with them.

My Zeiss 18mm f/4 ZM lens is well-made, but the 18mm focal length is not particularly inspiring, for me, personally, so this one rarely sees the light of day. 21mm seems to be wide enough. Obviously, others’ creative tastes will vary from mine.

The Elmar-M 24mm f/3.8 ASPH seems to be a most wonderful 24mm lens. Geometric distortion is notably very low, for a 24mm lens. 

I bought my Zeiss 25mm ZM lens, before the Elmar-M 24mm ASPH, and found the Zeiss to be quite like-able, but the Elmar 24 relegated the Zeiss 25 to reserve status.

I have run out of time. I may type more, later.

 

Edited by RexGig0
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On 9/21/2023 at 11:00 AM, Leicaboy Norway said:

And what does that coding do again? Only for in camera corrections and exif data? I hope there was more?

If Leica, themselves, do the 6-bit coding, a new mount is installed. Some of the older Leica lenses were built to somewhat less-precise tolerances.

Edited by RexGig0
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I use an Elmarit-M 2.8/21 (the non aspherical version) on my M-P 240. This lens is on the camera for probably 90% of my photography.

It's a Mandler designed lens and renders beautifully with the M240 sensor. I have never used an external viewfinder with it. With practice, you can learn to 'see' the 21mm field of view, making the lens very quick and usable.

You should be able to find one for around 800-900 Euros.

EDIT: There is one on sale on eBay, boxed with accessories for £785

Ernst

Edited by Ernstk
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On 9/25/2023 at 9:16 AM, Ernstk said:

I use an Elmarit-M 2.8/21 (the non aspherical version) on my M-P 240. This lens is on the camera for probably 90% of my photography.

It's a Mandler designed lens and renders beautifully with the M240 sensor. I have never used an external viewfinder with it. With practice, you can learn to 'see' the 21mm field of view, making the lens very quick and usable.

You should be able to find one for around 800-900 Euros.

EDIT: There is one on sale on eBay, boxed with accessories for £785

Ernst

Does yours focus closer than 0.7m? If so, could you please share a photo of it, particularly the minimum side on the focus distance scale ring. 

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14 minutes ago, Bear said:

Does yours focus closer than 0.7m? If so, could you please share a photo of it, particularly the minimum side on the focus distance scale ring. 

No, mine is the 0.7m version.

Ernst

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  • 3 weeks later...

I use the Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 on the M11 and find it outstanding. It focusses down to 0.5 metres, though of course not coupled at that distance. While it is uncoded, I have found that coding it manually not only works well, but the camera keeps that code so it doesn't need to be re-entered when the lens is mounted again. (Unfortunately I only discovered this after ordering a coding ring - it appears unnecessary on the M11).

For FWIW I used a large sheet of white paper to see which coding worked best and settled on 11134, the non-ASPH Elmarit..

 

 

Edited by BillCB
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