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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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I do not own Mandler's M lenses, but have many of his R lenses. They are simply wonderful, the way they draw the picture can be found only in some rare examples from Zeiss and Nikon, in my opinion.

Yes, these lenses are not made for photographing MTF charts (though they're not bad at all at that

), but for photographing the real world. I really prefer them to the newest asph designs. For my taste, Mandler is the best "optical artist" up to now.

 

i've just started looking for 1-2 R lenses, preferably from the mandler designs. could you, maybe garyp and others post some examples from the 19mm and 35mm lenses here to help?

 

thanks

 

greetings from hamburg

 

rick

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could you, maybe garyp and others post some examples from the 19mm and 35mm lenses here to help?

 

I do not have the 19 Elmarit-R (second version) lens, since when I tried it before buying it gave me serious IQ problems on the Digilux 3 4/3 sensor.

The resolution was not really good on that sensor, specially on borders. Probably the effect was due to the fact that it's a very complex and extreme retrofocus design, so on sensor without microlenses and with high pixel density it can be a huge problem. Colors were good in any case. In fact, the Leica 4/3-R adapter is built in order to let you mount lenses up to 35 mm of focal length. In order to try that lens, I had used a Novoflex adapter that does not have this mechanical limitation.

 

I have both the 35 Cron-R and Elmarit-R, both wonderful and a perfect complement one to the other (the Cron has more tonal resolution, the Elmarit more microcontrast).

 

I have ordered an adapter to mount R lenses on my just arrived Ricoh GXR, I will post some photos as soon as I will have the adapter in my hands. On the Digilux 3, the 35 Cron is a wonderful portrait lens, while the 35 Elmarit is very good for landscapes and some street.

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It's really nice how old threads re-surface like this. It's one of the things I truly appreciate with this forum. Andy's reviews of the lenses at the start are very interesting.

 

In picking which 90 to use with my M3 I chose between the 90 Summicron and the 90 Elmarit-M. I eventually got the latter and am very happy with it. The picture quality appeals to me and with 2.8 I can still get nice out of focus backgrounds. Plus the lens (in black) is very light, too. The "nano" is of course smaller but I believe it is right that the Elmarit-M has a somewhat more contrasty rendering, which I like.

 

Though I would have wanted an f/2 lens, this thread put me off (well, sounds a bit harsh perhaps, but it made me think twice before) buying the Summicron 90. It is a bit bigger and for how I use the 90mm focal length the f/2.8 has not hindered me.

 

Another question - the pre-Asph Summilux 50 in LTM, is that also a Mandler design?

 

cheers

Philip

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  • 3 weeks later...

This has been a terrific thread. I assumed that the only two lenses I owned were by Mandler, the V4 35 Cron, and the V4 28mm Elmarit, but on checking it out, it turns out to be a Solms design. It is a wonderful lens -- with a smooth drawing. Here is it wide open -1/30th with 320 ISO. Jpegs are dismal, but the print has done quite well , having paid for an M9 and an Epson 4900; The V4 35 Cron has a lot of fans here, myself included. I generally shoot around F5.6-8, and the results are gorgeous. I put little faith in the massmarket testers like Rockwell and Huff. Huff tested the new 28 asph Elmarit and raved about it, but he didn't seem to notice how many completely blown out highlights there were in his pictures. Nice and contrasty is to me an oxymoron.

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The Summicron 35/2 v4 is indeed a Mandler lens and the Elmarit 28/2.8 v4 is hardly less contrasty than the current asph version IMHO. The latter is just sharper on edges and corners.

 

I expressed myself poorly -- knew that the V4 35 Cron was Mandler's and assumed the last 28 Elmarit was, too. I just find both of them completely fine for my needs, and don't need to spend a ton of money for some basically invisible improvement. Just out of curiosity, I have ordered a 35 Zeiss Biogon 2.8, in part because Sean Reid rated as the best technical performer of a bunch of 35's he tested. The only problem is that, shades of Leica, it is back ordered. I don't think Cosina is over the tsunami.

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...knew that the V4 35 Cron was Mandler's and assumed the last 28 Elmarit was, too. I just find both of them completely fine for my needs, and don't need to spend a ton of money for some basically invisible improvement...

They sure are fine lenses but if you need a sharp lens at full aperture, you'll be better off with a 35/2 asph than with a 35/2 v4. And if physical size is a choice factor, the 28/2.8 asph is significantly smaller than the Summicron-like 28/2.8 v4. Horses for courses as always.

BTW a mint 28/2.8 v4 is almost as costly as a new 28/2.8 asph nowadays.
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The Summarit 35mm shows higher contrast than the Summicron 35mm v4. Is more than just resolution. The whole picture looks contrastier, with more "punch". Therefore, it is not the aspherical element, but the maximum aperture and the design itself. New glasses or new experiences in lens design explain this clear improvement.

 

The Summarit 35mm has a lens pattern similar to the Summicron ASPH, and very different to the modified Gauss type of the v4.

 

The last Mandler lens is the Summicron 50, and it was a superb design and really good even today. But it is the mixture between image quality and cost production which explains the longevity of Mandler designs. It seems to be really difficult, even today, to improve his designs keeping maximum aperture, size and cost. The Noctilux is a good example of this. This idea of "optimum design" in Mandler's work was defended by Jonas and Thorpe in the paper quoted in the Mandler article of wikipedia. Erwin Puts says the same, I think. He presents Mandler as a great optimizer.

Edited by rosuna
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The Summarit 35mm shows higher contrast than the Summicron 35mm v4. Is more than just resolution. The whole picture looks contrastier, with more "punch". Therefore, it is not the aspherical element, but the maximum aperture and the design itself. New glasses or new experiences in lens design explain this clear improvement.

 

Where I am coming from, high contrast is not desirable. Usually the range of light in the real world is greater than a sensor can deal with, and I find that less contrasty lenses can give better shadow detail, with less chance of the highlights blowing out. I am trying to get away from that overly sharp, punchy and to my eyes unreal look of so much digital work. I maybe don't know what I am talking about -- I know nothing about lens design, but I did learn shooting 8x10 a lot that there is such a thing as a lens that for me is too sharp and too contrasty. I will probably get the last Mandler 50 cron, because I don't have a "normal" lens.I was thinking of the first rigid 50, but the trick is to find one in really good shape. BTW, I hardly ever shoot wide open. Usually around 5.6-8, where all these lenses are gorgeous.

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Though I would have wanted an f/2 lens, this thread put me off (well, sounds a bit harsh perhaps, but it made me think twice before) buying the Summicron 90.
I use the v.3 Summicron which I believe is a Mandler design. Once I got this lens I sold my Summicron ASPH as the v.3 renders so beautifully and was better close-up than the ASPH. I've read that the v.3 renders somewhat similarly to the 75/1.4 but I've never used that lens so can't comment, but the 90 Summicron is smaller than it.

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I use the v.3 Summicron which I believe is a Mandler design. Once I got this lens I sold my Summicron ASPH as the v.3 renders so beautifully and was better close-up than the ASPH. I've read that the v.3 renders somewhat similarly to the 75/1.4 but I've never used that lens so can't comment, but the 90 Summicron is smaller than it.

 

Do you recall what year your v.3 Summicron was made?

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90mm Summicron E55 - ISO 160 at f2.

 

(The toughest part was getting him to stop fidgeting long enough to stay in the focus zone for 1/160th of a second)

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  • 2 months later...

What a great thread.

 

Wonderful shots, I do keep wondering about a 35 Summilux pre asph.

 

I do get the 75 summilux now, the DOF is in theory a knife edge but the transition is quite beautiful

 

Some of the later 35 Summilux FLE's and 50 Lux pictures do both sharp and bokeh better to a degree but somehow don't 'blend' with the same natural beauty to my untrained eyes of the earlier lenses

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90mm Summicron E55 - ISO 160 at f2.

 

(The toughest part was getting him to stop fidgeting long enough to stay in the focus zone for 1/160th of a second)

 

Is this the lens with the pull out hood? The 90 before the APO 90?

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Great thread. I really like the way Adan used example photos to highlight the specific merits of different Mandler designed lens.

 

Could the moderator consider classifying this thread so that we can discuss not only the efforts of Mr Mandler, but those of Mr Berek, Mr Kölsch and Mr Schröder in shaping the Leica lens philosophy and direction.

 

 

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