Any advice on using a 90mm f/2?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by 02pete, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. Do any of you have advice to offer, based on personal experience, on how best to use a Leica 90mm f/2?
    I have recently acquired a second-series Leica 90mm f/2 Summicron. This is the one with the built-in lens hood that looks a bit like a collapsible drinking cup -- the one prior to the pre-ASPH Summicron-M.
    I have already examined prior threads in this forum regarding Leica's various 90mm lenses, so I have at least a general sense of how this model stacks up against later versions of the same lens, and other Leica 90mm lenses. I'm not asking for that sort of comparison with other versions, or with other lenses. I'm also not looking for comments on its size and weight, which I was aware of before I bought it.
    Rather, I am interested in practical advice from those who are currently using this lens, or have used it in the past. What sorts of of subjects, circumstances, or photographic approaches would you consider this lens to handle most favorably? How do you get your best results with it? What techniques would you employ to use it to best advantage? What, in your view, are its greatest optical strengths and weaknesses? What sorts of subjects, circumstances or techniques would you consider this lens to be less well suited for? If it has any particular weaknesses, are you aware of any techniques which might be used to avoid or minimize them when shooting with this lens?
  2. Used at f/2-f/4, depending on the desired degree of OOF or sharpness, this lens makes a perfect portrait lens! Some of my best, most pleasing portraits, especially with available light, were taken with this lens. To nail the focus if used wide open, must use with an M3, or a later M with a .85 viewfinder, or viewfinder magnifier on other models.
  3. SCL


    +1. I sold mine after about 3 years, and moved onto a different model. As a portrait lens it was outstanding.
  4. I have & like it. The focus throw and an overaverage sticky ring in my copy make it less suited for following moving subjects. Another issue: dealers told me that a dedicated filter mounting adapter is missing so I can't use any on that lens. - I never used fine grain film behind it. Test shots on a M8 looked promising.
  5. Very basic advice. Shoot at f2 and get used to it. This is a not a difficult lens to use.
  6. Alex S., on target as always -- great portrait lens at 1:2 -- focus on the subect's eyes
  7. "subject's" sorry; I wasn't focused!!!
  8. Focussing a medium tele on a range-finder camera is tricky. I used my 85mm f/2 lens mostly at f/2.8 or smaller, and even with my current Elmarit 90mm f/2.8 I work at full aperture only if the light demands it. Little depth of field is both an advantage and a risk.
  9. f2 and 90mm is getting very near the limit of the RF system, but you can aid focusing accuracy considerably at f2 and f2.8 by adding a screw on VF magnifier, even a non Leica one of Hong Kong variety.
  10. I never had difficulty focusing on my m4-2s and m4-p. Though it isnt a small lens. I
    ended up using my f/2.8 version a lot, because of its tiny size. A lens some people
    dont like. The f/2 is pretty crisp and a great portrait lens. I dont have experience with
    later version f/2s, but the second series is the one I owned, and it is a great lens.
  11. If you don't have an M3, or an M with a .85 viewfinder, or the Leica viewfinder magnifier, then this is a very nice magnifier...
  12. If you don't have an M3, or an M with a .85 viewfinder, or the Leica viewfinder magnifier, then this is a very nice magnifier...
    I found the weight of this lens helped with stability.
  13. I ended up using my f/2.8 version a lot, because of its tiny size. A lens some people dont like.​
    Not sure why? When the Elmarit-M replaced the the smaller Tele-Elmarit f2.8 M lens it was heralded as a great move in transferring that design from the R mount to an M version. If I remember well, the R version was highly regarded.
  14. As you say it's heavy! Really there's no point having one unless you use it wide open right? If you're not, you can buy a
    90/4 or 90/2.8 cheaper. I have the other two summicrons but was never tempted by the 90 because it was just too heavy.
    On the other hand I bought the 135/2.8 and boy was that a monster so what do I know?
  15. Thanks to all for your quick responses, which I appreciate. I appreciate your collective advice to use it for portraits at apertures of f/4 or below, and top focus very carefully. For what it's worth, I do have a Leica viewfinder magnifier, and will take your advice about using it when shooting with this lens.
    I enjoy my Leica's compact size when shooting with a 35mm lens, and could for the same money or less have bought one of Leica's smaller and lighter 90mm lenses (f/4 Elmar or Elmar-C; f/2.8 Elmarit, Tele-Elmarit, or Elmarit-M; or f/2.5 Summarit). I enjoy available-light and portrait photography, however, and knew of the 90mm f/2's reputation as a portrait lens, so I was willing to accept its size and weight in return for its optical qualities. While it may be large and heavy for a Leica lens, it's not all that bad in comparison with SLR lenses such as long and fast Nikkor telephotos.
    We'll see what this lens does for my portrait and available-light photography. If I get some decent results, I may post them.
  16. I used the pre-ASPH 90/2 and found it excellent. The older one is larger and not as crisp wide open, but this may be an advantage. Certainly is a beautiful looking lens I must say.
    Arthur - I found the 90mm Elmarit-M excellent, but rather sterile. I switched to the Summicron-M and preferred it. Something about the f2 making the shot. I did the switch for my R kit to an Elmarit-R from the Summicron as it was smaller and then rather regretted it for the same reason. I solved this by getting the 80mm Summilux which was lovely.
  17. Robin, I do believe you, but you will have to excuse me, I have trouble with qualifications like "sterile" and "lovely". Perhaps sterile means that it has no colour bias (i.e., neutral), whereas some optics give a cool or warm result? Or are we talking about out of focus rendition or the presence of spherical aberrations or the like? If you can elaborate in regard to (especially) the Elmarit-M or the Summilux (which I don't have, but imagine it is a Walter Mandler design) I for one would greatly appreciate it. In passing, I like many of your compositions in your portfolio. "Stonehenge" has a mystical quality to it (perhaps the unusual striated sky).
  18. Can't really explain it - quality of bokeh is probably what I'm talking about. Also I never noticed the Elmarit being any better at any aperture than the Summicron, so the only disadvantage with the Summicron was the greater weight. I also think that with film I really needed f2 a great deal so the Elmarits came up short - not so much of a problem today with digital. For the 80mm Summilux the resolution at f2 was superior to the Summicron-R at f2 and then there was the faster apertures available - although it was certainly not APO crisp at full aperture. Nice bokeh, but about the same as the Summicron-R, but of course more of it available. By the way, I am not a great believer in talk of bokeh and rendering and all that (although there are undoubted differences between some lenses), but there are some lenses that do seem to make taking photos more enjoyable for whatever reason.
  19. The only advice I can think of is to test it and have the rangefinder adjusted if it needs it.

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