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Is There A Reason to Own Both the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 ZM and Voigtlander 35mm APO-Lanthar?


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About 15 years ago I found myself with little time to shoot develop/scan and migrated to digital.  I am now selling a dozen cameras and twenty plus lenses, so going through my retained boxes and stored lenses/camaras.  Last week, I purchased an M11 .. my first digital Leica.   I was primarily a 35mm shooter on ‘M’s and have the f/2.0 and f2.8ZM lenses.  Fed-Ex has my just purchased Voigtlander 35mm APO Lanthar, which I purchased thinking that I wanted a very sharp 35mm at f/2.0-f/2.8.  The little f/2.8ZM is great stopped down.  The thing is, while organizing my camera and lens boxes, I pulled out a box for the 35mm F/1.4 ZM.  It turns out that I had forgotten about this lens, because in the early Sony days there weren’t many lenses and I had used this lens via an adaptor.  My motivation for going ‘M’ again is that I’m beginning to travel again.  I went monochrom because I want the challenge that I use to enjoy shooting film M’s in B&W.  I will travel much like I did in my film days, with one lens and one camera.  I don’t mind carrying the larger lenses.  So, to the point, I believe that the ZM is only slightly larger than the APO and pretty competitive in terms of resolution.  Is there a good argument for opening the APO box and keeping both lenses, or best just return the lens to B&H?  For the few that made it so far..and thanks.. great forum..

Edited by BWColor
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I would try out the two in a competition for the type of photography you enjoy. If one is noticeably "better", however you measure that, I'd keep that and sell/return the other, unless you just want to have a spare.

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I have considered the same thing, as I use an M11 and M10M and 35mm is my most used focal length. I have a number of 35mm lenses. A pre-aspheric Summicron, which is very small with nice rendering but does not have very high resolution. I won't get rid of it. A 35/2 Voigtlander Ultron type II, which is closest to the current Summicron ASPH but which has a bit harsher rendering and more vignetting while having NO focus shift and great resolution and is smaller; it's my most used 35. I also have a Summilux ASPH, bought when it came out. I like most things about it: it's not too big for an f/1.4 with excellent resolution, but it has a bit of focus shift and flares sporadically and a bit too often. Then I have the Zeiss Distagon with the only downside being its size. Excellent resolution both near and far, excellent flare control, excellent vignetting and distortion control and lovely rendering. Truly wonderful results.

As I have the 50mm App-Lanthar, I considered the 35, but it's very, very close to the Distagon in size having also a 49mm filter thread and being within a couple of mm of the same length. It's very sharp but doesn't have as nice rendering, somewhat more vignetting and is a stop slower. In the end I'm not likely to use it instead of the Ultron or Distagon.

So I'm staying with the Distagon and will probably mostly still shoot with the Ultron due to its size and generally high performance.

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It depends on how rigorous your technique is. If you don't use the optimum aperture and don't use a tripod almost any modern M lens is good as the next, just go along with some random recommendations.

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Posted (edited)

I had the ZM years ago that I used on my Sony A7Rii with adapter. Sold it because I was still into auto focus (not any more). I thought it had better micro contrast and just more punch than any other lens I've ever seen since. Can't say enough good things about that lens. Here's a pic shot wide open with it (and I've got plenty more if interested).

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Edited by brickftl
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A question analogous to the OP's:
Is There A Reason to Own Both the Summilux 35mm f/1.4 and APO-Summicron 35 f/2 ASPH?

Many do. It is the comfort of speed vs. image quality and ubiquitous challenges of peers. They are two different beasts. In reality one just needs one, but we are irrational beings when it comes to Leica M.

If you can live with an oversized barrel the ZM will do absolutely every job imaginable. It is, after all, the best 35mm f/1.4 lens for Leica M in the known universe and Beverly Hills.

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I fully realize that if I open the box, I’ll keep the lens.  As mentioned and shown above, the ZM provides sharp, contrasty images from f/1.4.  The lens is sharp, but I wonder if it is as sharp as the APO and as mentioned above, short of lots of care in taking the photo, the extra sharpness would be a bit elusive.

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The question is if you want to run sharpness studies or you want to take photographs? In the second case I just would keep the ZM. You have 1.4 and more character. And you also can stop down to 2.0. Believe me! The Zeiss is also tack sharp at 2.0

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Jan1985 said:

The question is if you want to run sharpness studies or you want to take photographs? In the second case I just would keep the ZM. You have 1.4 and more character. And you also can stop down to 2.0. Believe me! The Zeiss is also tack sharp at 2.0

Well said…. If there isn’t a major deficit incurred by returning the APO, it seems to be the best action.  The only real life downside that I can see is the slightly larger size of the ZM, but that seems like a silly difference to consider when I could just shoot with my f/2.8 ZM..which is very small.

Edited by BWColor
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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, BWColor said:

  Is there a good argument for opening the APO box and keeping both lenses, or best just return the lens to B&H?  For the few that made it so far..and thanks.. great forum..

Only you and your pocketbook can answer that question.

I own three 35's; the Leica 35mm f1.4 FLE (version 1) and two Voigtlander optics, the 35mm f1.7 Ultron VM and 35mm f1.2 Nikon III VM.

I go through periods of time using all three. This past week I took only the two Voigtlanders to West Texas, using one on an MP240 and the other on an M246.

I wouldn't want to sell any of them.

Edited by Gregm61
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Welcome to the forum! My personal, impulsive answer is that my curiosity would compel me to keep both, if I had both, my possession. One can never have too many 35mm lenses. 😉 Unless I am starving my family, by doing so, I usually keep lenses.

The only direct comparison, using both lenses to shoot the same landscape scene, that I have seen, is at Lloyd Chambers’ site, which requires a paid subscription. The comparison is posted on his Leica lens page, not his Zeiss lens page. He prefers the APO Lanthar, because be prioritizes optimal landscape lenses. Formerly, he had praised the Distagon for having a flatter field than than Leica Summilux-M 35mm FLE. Apparently, the APO Lanthar has a flatter field than the Distagon. He very rarely posts images of people or pets. His test images are landscapes and architecture. My “take-away” is that I will consider adding the APO Lanthar, before I go on a long road trip, to shoot landscapes that are more interesting than the flat Texas Coastal Prairie, where we live, but that I will keep my much-loved Distagon lenses, for people, pets, and general photography, because one can never have too many 35mm or 50mm lenses. 😉

Yes, Distagons, plural. I like them that much. Sometimes I shoot color with an M10, and black & white with a Type 246 Monochrom, at the same time. Changing the lens from one camera, to the other, would involve not only the lens swap, but attaching or detaching the yellow or orange filter. I bought the second Distagon, during a Zeiss-sponsored price promotion, because I inferred that the silver-toned finish would be less hot, to the touch, when shooting under the merciless southern Texas sun. Then, after adding the new, silvery Distagon, I could not bring myself to sell or trade the black-colored Distagon that I had originally acquired. 

Yes, I know; having two Distagons means that it would be silly for me to order an APO Lanthar 35.

There is a very long discussion thread, on the 35 matter of the APO Lanthar, that should have at least some discussion that compares these two lenses, if I remember correctly.

 

 

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vor einer Stunde schrieb Gregm61:

Only you and your pocketbook can answer that question.

I own three 35's; the Leica 35mm f1.4 FLE (version 1) and two Voigtlander optics, the 35mm f1.7 Ultron VM and 35mm f1.2 Nikon III VM.

I go through periods of time using all three. This past week I took only the two Voigtlanders to West Texas, using one on an MP240 and the other on an M246.

I wouldn't want to sell any of them.

Woud you recommend the Voigt 35 1.2 III for a wedding and portrait photographer?

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I can't imagining the 35mm f1.2 III not being a good option for that type work.

I do not do that type shooting but if you're practiced in using this system for that type work the lens will deliver.

The 35/1.2 III, 75/1.5 and 21/1.4 is a hard-to-beat kit on a cost/results basis.

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vor 34 Minuten schrieb Gregm61:

I can't imagining the 35mm f1.2 III not being a good option for that type work.

I do not do that type shooting but if you're practiced in using this system for that type work the lens will deliver.

The 35/1.2 III, 75/1.5 and 21/1.4 is a hard-to-beat kit on a cost/results basis.

I purchased the Voigt 75 1.5 one month ago and now will sell my 75mm Noctilux. I thought about adding the 35 1.2 

 

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Posted (edited)

I resisted opening the 35mm APO, by only opening the 75mm Ultron f/1.9..small and will fit in my bag vs the 90 APO Asph.  Day two..opened the 35mm APO and lens hood.  Funny thing.. the concern regarding which lens resolved itself quickly in that this lens was just enough smaller than the ZM that it fit in my small travel bag.  So, that made the decision to keep the lens an easy one.  Thanks for the input..

 

After posting and out of curiosity, I tested the Loxia 35mm f/2.0 on the A7Rv and the corners were very close to the APO-Lanthar.  I have three Loxias, 21mm, 35mm and 85mm and they are all killer lenses.  I know..not posting on the correct forum..

Edited by BWColor
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