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Unimpressed with 24-70 - Other options? Help needed please


JTLeica

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Hi guys,

I bought a 14-24, 24-70 and 100-400. I have not had time to test them all properly, but the 24-70 I have, and personally I think it's poor. Its soft from 2.8-5 ish at the edges, relatively evenly too so its not a bad copy (I have actually tested two of these lenses, and the first was de-centred)... So I will be sending back. It seems sharp enough at F8 but for £1600 used I am not going to be satisfied with that. 

What do I do?

I will use this handheld 80% of the time, the other 20% on a tripod and almost exclusively for landscapes. 

The reason I 'need' a zoom like this is that I am often in harsh weather, either sand, wind, rain, dust and need something that can stay on. This isn't all the time but 50/50.

Do I buy the new 24-70 II sigma, its so cheap by comparison to Leica, and supposed to be a 9/10 lens?

Do I buy a used 24-90 at around double the Sigma price, likely no better optically, but has stabilisation. My only issue with doing this is that I often hike with camera in hand and this lens gives me concern just 'hanging' off the mount all day. Also is it honestly ok to be using this without a collar on a tripod?

I have a 35 APO (and a 75 being also off centre and being returned)

Any experience or thoughts is welcomed of course

Chris

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I have the same 3-lens kit as you, and cannot find fault with any of my lenses. I am using both the SL2 and SL2-S and all three lenses are sharp to me. I, however, use these lenses for landscape photography and tend to shoot from f/8 to f/16, as depth of field and edge to edge detail is a priority. In addition, I post-process my work and this includes a sharpening routine.

I fear my thoughts do not resolve your dilemma, but everyone speaks very highly about the output from the 24-90 VE and the 90-280 VE. I have little doubt that both of these would be an upgrade to what you are using, but they come at a steeper price, more weight, and sluggish AF.

Finally, I'd be curious to see some samples from your 24-70. Are you shooting with IBIS activated,... have you tested the lens with a tripod and IBIS off? While the new Sigma 24-70 is likely to be a better lens, the original... and Leica modified version are no slouch. I'd rate the overall performance slightly lower than the Nikkor Z 24-70 f2.8, but not enough to be noticeable unless you are doing a side-by-side comparison at 100%... ie pixel-level comparisons... something that I suggest is futile because no picture is shared or printed at the pixel level.

bruce

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17 hours ago, jaapv said:

The Sigma is well regarded. I have the 28-70 2.8 for speed and less bulk/ weight and I have no complaints. 

Yes I saw that. Looks great. When I had an A6500 I had a few contemporary lenses, the primes, and they were incredibly good 

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17 hours ago, BLeventhal said:

I have the same 3-lens kit as you, and cannot find fault with any of my lenses. I am using both the SL2 and SL2-S and all three lenses are sharp to me. I, however, use these lenses for landscape photography and tend to shoot from f/8 to f/16, as depth of field and edge to edge detail is a priority. In addition, I post-process my work and this includes a sharpening routine.

I fear my thoughts do not resolve your dilemma, but everyone speaks very highly about the output from the 24-90 VE and the 90-280 VE. I have little doubt that both of these would be an upgrade to what you are using, but they come at a steeper price, more weight, and sluggish AF.

Finally, I'd be curious to see some samples from your 24-70. Are you shooting with IBIS activated,... have you tested the lens with a tripod and IBIS off? While the new Sigma 24-70 is likely to be a better lens, the original... and Leica modified version are no slouch. I'd rate the overall performance slightly lower than the Nikkor Z 24-70 f2.8, but not enough to be noticeable unless you are doing a side-by-side comparison at 100%... ie pixel-level comparisons... something that I suggest is futile because no picture is shared or printed at the pixel level.

bruce

Thanks for the reply. Appreciate your time and thoughts. I will try and upload a few edge samples later. They were all handheld with ibis, but I took enough images over several days to realise no corners were remotely sharp at 2.8/4. Smeary is how I’d describe it.

I had the Nikon 24-120 and also the 24-70 F4 and both feel better than the Leica sigma 24-70 copies I had. It would just be the copies I don’t know. Maybe 60mp highlights the issue.

Very happy with the 100-400, took it to Stonehenge last night and was really impressed with it.

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In my experience, the 24-90 was also kind of soft in the edges and corners. But very sharp on center and over most of the frame. If I were in your situation and it must be a zoom, I would still gravitate towards the 24-90, as it is good, and the extra focal length is useful, otherwise the new Sigma. But in general, I would say with proper technique, changing lenses in bad weather is not a major issue. Iceland is notorious for the wind and weather. I have found little problems with turning my back to the weather, hunching over a bit and changing lenses while my back and sometimes the sides of my jacket are protecting the camera a bit. For really bad weather, I will usually just put the camera in the bag, close the flap over my hands and change inside the bag. Dust has really not been an issue for me with the SL2 and this technique.

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I assume you mean the SL Vario-Elmarit 24-70/2.8? If so then it does not sound right at all. I bought into SL system with SL2s body and Vario-Elmarit 24-70/2.8 switching from Sony A7IV with the second generation GM 24-70/2.8. From the first moment I was impressed that the Vario-Elmarit is equally sharp right from f/2.8 on all focal lengths and in fact more "cinematic" with its character. Definitely my most used lens on SL2s and currently on Lumix S5IIX. Also it was my fastest focusing L-mount lens I owned among other Leica, Sigma and Panasonic lenses.

Just recently I sold the Vario-Elmarit to fund purchase of other camera, but regretted my decision instantly. And just last week I snapped when new Sigma 24-70/2.8 II arrived to local camera store. And man... THAT lens! I would love to compare it to the Vario-Elmarit head to head. After just few days of using it I can say it is the best of all L-Mount Sigma Art lenses I ever tried, sharp on any setting, aperture and FL. Just the plain impression from looking at the magnified images in LR is that the new Sigma 24-70 resolves even better than the Vario-Elmarit and matches extremely well with the S5IIX sensor. Focusing is super fast and I would really like to know how does it measure with the already excellent focusing of the Vario-Elmarit. When it comes to the character of the drawing I still need some more variety of environments and captured images to draw final conclusion.

I would be happy with any of those two lenses, although the Sigma's lower weight advantage is something I got used to quickly. If you feel your Vario-Elmarit 24-70/2.8 is not sharp try to test another sample if you have that possibility. From my experience that lens fully deserves the Leica badge. Image in attachment is at f/2.8 and FL 57mm.

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8 hours ago, Stuart Richardson said:

In my experience, the 24-90 was also kind of soft in the edges and corners. But very sharp on center and over most of the frame. If I were in your situation and it must be a zoom, I would still gravitate towards the 24-90, as it is good, and the extra focal length is useful, otherwise the new Sigma. But in general, I would say with proper technique, changing lenses in bad weather is not a major issue. Iceland is notorious for the wind and weather. I have found little problems with turning my back to the weather, hunching over a bit and changing lenses while my back and sometimes the sides of my jacket are protecting the camera a bit. For really bad weather, I will usually just put the camera in the bag, close the flap over my hands and change inside the bag. Dust has really not been an issue for me with the SL2 and this technique.

Thanks Stuart,

This might be the only option for me at the moment, just change lenses and stick to primes.

I think I have been very unlucky. A new 75 APO, soft on the left, two 24-70's both garbage but for different reasons. One soft on one side the other smeared in the corners, but evenly. A 14-24, seems poor at the bottom right... Brand new Sigma DG DN II (the newly released one) and its superb... but woeful just at 35mm, even F8 I cannot get sharp centre and corners, some very stand things going on with that lens.

The one, perfect lens is the 35mm APO. And actually the 100-400 is good too.

Am I just very unlucky? 

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5 hours ago, PavelS said:

I assume you mean the SL Vario-Elmarit 24-70/2.8? If so then it does not sound right at all. I bought into SL system with SL2s body and Vario-Elmarit 24-70/2.8 switching from Sony A7IV with the second generation GM 24-70/2.8. From the first moment I was impressed that the Vario-Elmarit is equally sharp right from f/2.8 on all focal lengths and in fact more "cinematic" with its character. Definitely my most used lens on SL2s and currently on Lumix S5IIX. Also it was my fastest focusing L-mount lens I owned among other Leica, Sigma and Panasonic lenses.

Just recently I sold the Vario-Elmarit to fund purchase of other camera, but regretted my decision instantly. And just last week I snapped when new Sigma 24-70/2.8 II arrived to local camera store. And man... THAT lens! I would love to compare it to the Vario-Elmarit head to head. After just few days of using it I can say it is the best of all L-Mount Sigma Art lenses I ever tried, sharp on any setting, aperture and FL. Just the plain impression from looking at the magnified images in LR is that the new Sigma 24-70 resolves even better than the Vario-Elmarit and matches extremely well with the S5IIX sensor. Focusing is super fast and I would really like to know how does it measure with the already excellent focusing of the Vario-Elmarit. When it comes to the character of the drawing I still need some more variety of environments and captured images to draw final conclusion.

I would be happy with any of those two lenses, although the Sigma's lower weight advantage is something I got used to quickly. If you feel your Vario-Elmarit 24-70/2.8 is not sharp try to test another sample if you have that possibility. From my experience that lens fully deserves the Leica badge. Image in attachment is at f/2.8 and FL 57mm.

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Gorgeous image Pavel and thanks for you comments. I must just be unlucky then, you seem to know what you are talking and I have definitely had a fair share of issues with SL lenses so far. I took delivery of the 24-70 Sigma (DG DN II) today, seemed perfect, apart from being basically unusable at 35mm, sharp centrally but absolutely awful in the outer 60% of the image. Very odd. Can you try this for me when you have time? 35mm seems so bad it would never have been passed as an acceptable design, so I must have another poor copy.

Cheers

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That sounds really unfortunate... I see no drop / change in performance at 35mm. I just found an image from this past Friday, the second image is original composition at 34mm f/2.8, focus is on the guys face. The image on the left is a crop.

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JTLeica you are having a run of bad luck with lenses that is truly epic. I'm wondering if it's not your lenses at all but is it your SL3 that is the culprit here. Specifically something defective with the sensor stack and/or ibis mechanism that manifests in different ways with different lenses.

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8 hours ago, goodbokeh said:

JTLeica you are having a run of bad luck with lenses that is truly epic. I'm wondering if it's not your lenses at all but is it your SL3 that is the culprit here. Specifically something defective with the sensor stack and/or ibis mechanism that manifests in different ways with different lenses.

So... I thought this and came to the conclusion that, no it cant be the camera as some lenses like the 100-400, 50mm APO Lanthar Voigt and the 35mm APO are perfect. However, I have spent time today looking at every image I have taken, there seems to be something weird going on, all of the out of focus areas seem to show a double exposure effect like this. What is going on here? Any help from anyone is appreciated.

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It does look like motion blur yes, it happens in the out of focus areas generally, or any 'soft' areas like on the F2.8 zooms wide open in the corners. The 35 APO is sharp across the frame, however in the 'bokeh' areas it exhibits the same issues in the photos above.

The cops of the blur / motion blue bokeh is from several lenses not the same lens. So it's most definitely the camera. Just not sure which part...

I will go home, check firmware (I think its up to date), turn off the mechanical shutter and IBIS and try again, again.

Very disappointing start to life with the SL but I will let it slide and get another one if I have to


Thanks so much for everyones help so far

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Posted (edited)

Consider testing your lenses with a static test target and with camera / lens combinations fitted to a decent tripod & tripod head – and use the shutter release with self-timer – thus eliminating 'shake'. And 'turn off' IBIS when using a tripod. 

BW, dunk 

Edited by dkCambridgeshire
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Your photography tells me you know the craft's ins and outs. I'd be very disappointed if I were shooting images with issues like the ones you posted above. 

That's what I'd do:

Here's a step-by-step approach to troubleshooting: Start by resetting the firmware to factory default. Then, switch the camera to full automatic mode. Next, head outside on a bright day and take a few shots with all of your Leica lenses. Aim for a classic landscape shot and a medium-long shot at a distance of 5 metres, such as a wall.

In full auto, the camera and lenses should deliver, technically speaking, good results.

If the issue persists, pay your Leica dealer a visit. 

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