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In praise of the Mandler lenses


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Excellent review.   I have been lucky in my Leica ownership. I now find myself with a fantastic Monochrom camera and a decent selection of glass that is apparently Mandler strong.   35 cron v4 50 cron v4 75 lux v2 Canada (my all time favourite lens bar none) 90 tele-elmarit Thin   I consider this a wonderful collection and I really enjoy the results I have been getting.   The included photo is a snap in natural light at ISO2000 with the 50 cron direct from camera only resized for uplo


Next up is the "version III" 28mm Elmarit. It has a touch more macro contrast than the 21, but quite a bit less than the 28 Summicron ASPH. Frankly, while I can appreciate the qualities of the 'cron, especially in a 28mm f/2 lens - I have tried it 3 times and always gone back to this Elmarit, because the 'cron is just too red and harsh (IMHO) to achieve the pictures I want.   The Elmarit (III) does have slightly less smooth bokeh, although fairly neutral. It is also the largest of the M 28s, a


I love the lenses designed by Walter Mandler at E. Leitz Canada, and especially the M-lenses that I discuss below. I just want to bring them to the attention of all Leica shooters, because I think there is a place for their distinctive familial properties in the world of pricey ASPH and APO lenses (not that those are not equally distinctive in their own ways).   LCT, I believe, is working on an essay about Walter Mandler, so I'll just briefly describe his place in Leica lens design. Mandler wa

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Great article Andy.

Mandler designed more than 30 M lenses like the famous Summicron 35/2 IV, Summilux 35/1.4, Summilux 50/1.4, Noctilux 50/1, Summilux 75/1.4 and Elmarit 90/2.8 (# 11129) which is another favourite of mine.

Also great R lenses like Summicron 35/2, 50/2 and 90/2, Summilux 80/1.4, Apo-Telyt 180/3.4.

For more details, see 'Eulogy for Dr. Walter Mandler' by Rolf Fricke here:


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Interesting stuff. Do you happen to know which of the 35mm Summicron R's Mandler designed? I have the earlier example with the square snap on lens hood - was this his or did he do the later (current) version?


I recall an article or letter I read a few years back from a pro (can't recall who or where I read it now) but he said he'd sold his R gear to buy Nikon at the time, but he so missed the 35 Summicron that he bought another R body and another example of the 'Mandler' lens, because it was so special.

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Andy, thanks for the monograph. Your obvious adoration and scholarship are to be commended. I very much enjoyed your images. I'm struck by the absence of the Nocti in your dissertation. Most genius produce prodigiously,but there's a singular signature that remains distinctive long after they're gone. All in all, the Nocti's & Lux's will be Mandler's legacy. As the Voodo Child sings; "Well, I'm standing next to a Mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand. Well I pick up all pieces and make an Island, might even raise a little sand."

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Ben: main reason I left out the Nocti is - I don't use one. So have no examples or user-based comments.


James E. Putz's Leica Lens Compendium list the SECOND (1976) version of the 35 'cron-R as being a Leitz Canada design. First was Wetzlar.

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Sorry, but it´s Puts for Putz not Putz ...


It´s so often quoted wrong that I start to wonder if it´s perhaps intential.


AND it´s Erwin, not James, but nevermind ...










BTW, thx a lot for your fine contribution on the MANDLER- lenses. Really great, expertly taken sample shots you showed here. Sorry, for not to having mentioned this before.

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LCT, I believe, is working on an essay about Walter Mandler, so I'll just briefly describe his place in Leica lens design.


Then I can send him an article by Thorpe and James, engineers at ELCAN, on several classic double-gauss designs of Mandler.


(I added the reference to the Mandler's article of Wikipedia some time ago, and several other links, very interesting).


Walter Mandler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


I have a Noctilux and Summilux 75. I love them.


I was surprissed by the cold and somewhat harsh comments of Erwin Puts about Mandler. He comes to say that Mandler was a good designer, but not so creative, original or significant as Zeiss' chiefs of optical design, or those of japanese brands like Canon.


See for instance, Puts' comments on the Canon 50mm f/1.2 (he mentions the Noctilux), or his late comments about the 75mm/80mm Summiluxes. The Noctilux is a very small lens and a half stop faster than the Canon.... and Leica wasn't able to produce ASPH lens elements, as the first Noctilux demonstrated. So, Was Mandler's Noctilux design less good than possible? Puts also wrote about Mandler and other Leica designers (Three generations of... ), but he didn't find kind words for Mandler (as he has for Karbe and Kölsh).


Was Mandler one of the great lens designers of the second half of the XX century or simply a good engineer of a small but reputed brand of cameras? Was he an innovator or a pragmatic designer?

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All of my SL2 Lenses are from the Mandler era. All of my M lenses, save for the Noctilux and 28 Elmarit, are from the current Asph Designs. I feel as if I have the best of both worlds.

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Andy, hat off for such a refreshing read and accompanying images.


Youa re largley to "blame" for me getting the 90 Tele Elmarit (recent post) which I just got today.


Images to follow soon,,,,first impressions are gooooooooooooooood:)


Great thread and hope more people will enjoy



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That's great. And awesome details of the 28mm. I never regarded the 28mm a "real" lens but you prove me (completely!) wrong.


I guess I'll have to integrate the (design by Mandler) on my lens compendium as I've done a few places (included the designers name). I did a few, then thought of it as a bit silly, but it's actually interesting. Because one can tell.


leica.overgaard.dk - Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Pages - Leitz and Leica Lens Compendium

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