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ONE lens : which ?

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Oh, lordy. This question always strikes me as being akin to asking "If you had to play Beethoven's 9th symphony with only one instrument, what would it be?" I LIKE using the interplay of different focal lengths to play with quote-perspective-unquote and modulate the subject within space.

 

The orchestra-of-lenses metaphor is originally W. Eugene Smith's.

 

Realistically, the 21 FOV has been my money-making lens over the years, and the first focal length I've bought in every camera system, including Leica M, since 1978. (Thus, the 15mm C/V on the M8).

 

Then a short tele, and then a fast in-between lens - 35 for film, 28 for the M8.

 

I personally just don't get along with the 28 'cron - I prefer the drawing of my 28 Elmarit v.iii (c. 1983 build). But would like f/2, so I'm going to try the C/V Ultron 28 to see how it does.

 

On film or an M9, I'd be in the 35 'cron pre-ASPH v. 4 camp, or perhaps the 35 'lux ASPH.

 

But the 20-21 field of view would still be my first buy and my "must-carry" lens most of the time.

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The 'gold standard' with film M's is a 35mm lens, so on a M8 28mm would be the equivalent choice.

 

And so there is only one the 28/2 summicron ASPH, sharp from corner to corner, without being harsh or too contrasty, no focus shift, still not too big/heavy.

 

The 'best' M lens more or less by common consent is the 50lux ASPH, the 28cronA is a close runner up. If I was to start again I would consider the 50luxA and 28cronA as my first (and only) choice.

 

What would I do if Leica made a 28mm summilux ASPH

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Oh, lordy. This question always strikes me as being akin to asking "If you had to play Beethoven's 9th symphony with only one instrument, what would it be?"

 

And as with lenses, not everyone can afford to buy all the instruments of the orchestra so they have to make a choice. There's a school of thought that it's better to use just a single lens as it forces you to think more about the photographs you take, and how to get them to work.

 

28mm for me, though many would prefer a 35mm. It's no different to the 35 or 50 question that used to pop up before the M8 was released. It's a case of how you see the world, there's no right or wrong answer.

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If I had to live with a single focal length lens I'd go first for either the 35mm 'cron v.1 or v.4.

 

BUT I could also live with a 21mm as my only lens (now I'm using the 3.4 s-angulon - the second that I've owned). In both cases the lenses are small and light which I also value.

 

So either of two lenses could be my ONE lens!

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Oh, I know, Steve.

 

Although it is funny, if one really gets familiar with the work of many of the "one-lens" gods, how many of them actually used several focal lengths in the real world, even if they had a stated preference for one. There is a lot of "myth" to the idea.

 

E.G. H-C.B. clearly used at least 35, 50, 90, and even 135 at times over the years (and even 645 folder roll-film cameras at one point). Check out "People of Moscow" which he likely did with a pre-production M3 and full lens kit.

 

Alex Webb, Dave Harvey, and Mary Ellen Mark have all used at least 28s and 50s in addition to their "one-lens" 35s.

 

Me - if I'd wanted only one lens, I'd have stuck with my mother's Yashica Electro-35 and skipped this whole expensive interchangeable lens thing althogether.

 

But there it is....

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I'd get by with a piano transcription of the 9th and a Bosendorfer, with maybe a violin or a woodwind to hear different inflections in different passages.

 

In lenses, if I were starting from scratch I would re-create the traditional 35 and 90 EFOV combo -- meaning a 28 and a 75 on the M8 -- starting with the 28. In my view the f2.0 is the better choice because the extra stop is useful for low light and interior situations.

 

My 2 cents!

 

Robert

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Listz made both 2 and 4 hands piano transcriptions of all the 9 Symph... a funny oddity and no more...

 

As for lens : Cron 35 asph,or Cron 28 if one, on film, loves the concept of "std=35"

Budget-wise alternative : Summicron C 40.

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E.G. H-C.B. clearly used at least 35, 50, 90, and even 135 at times over the years (and even 645 folder roll-film cameras at one point)

 

You forgot the 40mm that he used towards the end of his life. Old Henri did use several lenses, but most of his output was with 50mm.

 

The only point I was making is that noe everyone can afford a selection of lenses, and it can be a good dicipline to shoot with just one. It helps develop your eye IMHO.

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Listz made both 2 and 4 hands piano transcriptions of all the 9 Symph... a funny oddity and no more

 

I have the 4 hand transcription on a double LP. Probably not played it for 25 years or more. I'm pretty sure Naxos have a full set of the transcribed symphonies, might be worthwhile ordering a couple.

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The only point I was making is that not everyone can afford a selection of lenses, and it can be a good dicipline to shoot with just one. It helps develop your eye IMHO.

 

I couldn't agree more. Although I use Canon dSLRs I no longer own ANY zooms as I find that using fixed focals actually forces me to consider composition, point of focus and aperture choice to a far greater extent - I now use fewer, although much faster, lenses and consider that my images are all the better for this.

 

It goes without saying that using an M rangefinder is a very disciplined way of taking photographs and reducing lens choice, whilst inevitably imposing limitations, undoubtedly does help develop you eye. For my own images I often take my M8 out with just a 35 or 21 lens on it.

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Seeing as you already have the 15mm and 50mm focal lengths, the choice IMO is pretty straight forward, 28mm summicron Asph will fit nicely between your 2 existing lenses and be possibly your main walkabout lens. Well ..... it is in my case.

 

If your question is to use only ONE lens then the choice becomes a little more complicated and your shooting style & subject matter will dictate the focal length. For me it would be a toss up between the 28 Summicron Asph or the 35 Summilux Asph with the 28 possibly winning on versatility.

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In the past, a normal lens was defined as being the closest to the diagonal measurement of the film/sensor size. This would give you roughly a 1:1 size with what the human eye sees. That would mean the following:

 

M8 - Sensor Size 18 x 27mm - Diagonal 32.45mm = 35mm

Full Frame - Size 24 x 36mm - Diagonal 43,27mm = 50mm (40 Would be closer)

Medium Format - 60 x 60mm - Diagnol 84,85mm = 85mm

 

When SLR's first came out, they actually came out with a 45mm Lens (some even 42mm). It was just easier and cheaper to manufacture 50mm - so this ended up being the standard. By definition this is thus a slight Tele.

 

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference and what you enjoy shooting the most. However, I do think that you can not go wrong with either 28mm or 35mm. For me personally I still enjoy 50mm the most.

 

Andreas

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Question : if you had to have ONE lens on your M8, which one and why ?

 

Whilst it's not my most used lens the one I would want is the Leica 75mm Summilux.

 

Why ? It makes photos with a really special and pretty unique look on the M8. It's not easy to use and it's always worth the cost of a second frame. (

 

The Noctilux is similarly unique, but I prefer to have the option of getting in closer and going for a head shot and 50mm at 1.0 metres just doesn't do that.

 

My most reliable lens is the 24mm and that on the M8 provides me with pleasing images.

 

I do find it more difficult to settle on a single lens with the M8. Instead of settling for the 35mm, or other, I find myself changing lenses more than I ever did with my film M's. Maybe it's because of the use of zoom lenses in recent years. Dunno.

 

Rolo

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My 28mm Elmarit asph sits on my M8 camera by default to be changed for other lenses where appropriate - it is so small and nice to handle and produces wonderful files. My 35mm Summicron v.4 sits on my M6 for the same reason (and it's so nice to have F2 on such a handy size lens). I hate to be with only one lens on the M8 but when I have to the 35 Summicron v.4 is the one I always choose because it is so versatile and so unobtrusive and produces wonderful files. The one lens situation is the only time I use this lens on the M8 however!

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A Summilux 50mm f71,4 Aspherical for me, that's the lens i feel more comfortable with on the M8. I'm a 50's fan. Only, shud I have to buy it again, I would choose the black lighter one this time. The silver is beautiful, but way too heavy.

By the way, I love to go out with one lens only. It is quite challenging whether it is a 50, a 35 or a 90.

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Well, I used to love the 35 cron on film. However I find I use the 35 lux asph on my M8 more than any other lens. I also have the 28 cron and 50 lux, but the 35 lux is well ahead in usage.

 

One other thing, if you like to shoot in subdued light - then the 35 lux is a better choice imho. That's one reason why it spends more time on my M8 than the 28 cron.

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May I put in an enthusiastic word for the Konica UC Hexanon 35mm f2. It performs well in low light, renders attractive OOF areas (though that is, of course, largely a matter of personal taste), is beautifully made, and amazingly compact, measuring about one inch in depth. In short, it's a little gem. It's screw-mount but works perfectly with a Voigtlander M adapter. If you see one of these rare lenses for sale grab it.

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If I had to choose only one lens, I wouldn't be using a rangefinder but a DSLR with a wide-to-tele zoom instead.

 

 

You are right, but not neccessary DSLR. Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150 4/3 lens and Digilux or Olympus or G1 with adapter.

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Another vote for the 35mm Summicron ASPH. But there's a lot of mileage for one's money in those Voigtlanders, esp. the 28.1,9, 35/1.7 and 50/1.5. Ditto, but to a lesser extent for the Zeiss ZM lineup.

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