French Cream: The Angenieux 45-90mm f/2.8 Zoom

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by lou_meluso, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. This is a re-post of a thread I started a few days ago. Everything was uploading fine until I suddenly could not upload any images. This occurred, just as I was getting to the results section. I am re-posting now and will include the entire front matter for continuity sake. Thank you to those that tried to post comments on that thread.
    I recently received a wonderful gift of an entire Leica R system which consisted of four bodies (a pair of Leicaflex SL's and a pair of R4's) and a pile of Leica R lenses. The bodies didn't interest me much but the lenses were pretty cool. I immedially adapted them to my digicams and started to enjoy those nicely made primes. However, amid the 'Crons, 'Luxes and Telyt's, was this wooden box covered in soft, burgandy leather.
  2. On opening the box, I found this black, P.Angenieux-Zoom 45-90mm lens in beautiful condition. There was not much information that I could find except that this lens was introduced in 1969 and was the first zoom lens offered to fit the Leciaflex SLR.
  3. While I have never owned an Angenieux lens, I recognized the name as the French (Paris) producer of quality movie camera lenses and as one of the innovators of retro focus lens design. It appears to be a well constructed optic with an all metal barrel that contains 15 elements in 12 groups.
    It has a two-touch design, which frankly I found a bit fiddly since the zoom and focus rings are close together, that can focus as closely as 1 meter. At 1lb 11 oz, it's a hefty bugger yet reasonably compact. It came with a filter holder/hood that accepts Series 8 filters.
  4. I closed the box and put it away. I mean, come on, a late '60's zoom. How good could it be? And fast f/2.8 no less. I have never seen an early, fast zoom that was really good. I was fixing to sell it when I discovered the approximate value of this lens. Zounds! Ok, a famous name vintage zoom lens that still has high value. Hmmm, I figured I should try it out and see what I could discover before sending off to eBay land. So I pulled out one of the Leicaflex SL's and locked the lens on.
    The Leica SL is a simple, well made tank of a camera with a bright finder. Some say the red lens locking button on these is iffy but mine works fine. A heavy beast, but nice looking in all black with one heck of a snappy focusing screen. It has a meter but I was too lazy to put a battery in it so I made a few test shots just using sunny 16 on Fujicolor 400.
  5. When I got my film back I was quite surprised. The images were all very sharp with good contrast. This is the view from my office building. f/11
  6. I live a stones throw from Wrigley so it's a handy target. 2014 is Wrigley's 100th birthday. It's home to the Cubs but most people forget that Wrigley was once home to the Bears for the first fifty years of it's life. f/8.5
  7. Sure, the lens looked mighty good stopped way down. I was looking for some shade so I could open the lens up more and found this girl with a fish in a fountain. F/5.6
  8. I waited for a cloudy day so I could really open 'er up. Looking for something to shoot I grabbed one of my Strat's and stuck it up against a fence. This is at f/4.5 and it is oh-so-sharp.
  9. While I had the guitar out, I did a simple Bokeh test. The lens is zoomed to the 65mm setting. The transition from sharp zones to out of focus is a very smooth. The lens is really sharp, even at f/2.8! I detect an ever so slight increase in contrast at f/4 but that's it. The resolution and contrast appears very uniform across the aperture range. There is a bit of light fall off wide open but gone by f/4. The bokeh appears very smooth and soft. Quite pleasing I think. Oddly, I noticed a slight color change between the frames. Being cheap, Walgreen scans, I don't put much stock into that but it was something I noticed.
  10. With good sharpness, and a 90mm focal length on the long end, I though it might be a good portrait lens. If I thought the Bokeh was good in the middle range, the 90mm setting really impressed me with its buttery smoothness. The combo of sharpness and softness helped give a 3-D pop to the image. f/4
  11. The sitter really comes forward in this frame. Pin sharp at f/4 in front of a sea of French creaminess. I popped on an old Sunpak 411 flash for a bit of fill light and eye sparkle. Needless to say, I was super pleased with the results. The lens focus and zoom rings are a bit fiddly and a 2X zoom range isn't much but the image quality is excellent for any lens nevermind a vintage zoom. I don't know yet what I'm going to do with those old Leica bodies but one thing is for sure...this lens stays! Thanks for looking and hanging with the thread.
  12. Nice. I'd heard about the Angenieux zooms for years but have never seen one or seen any photos taken with one. Like you, I was a little skeptical of the claims made for those zooms.
    BTW, if you encounter photo upload problems again like the other night, there's an alternative way to post photos to the forums. You can upload photos to your portfolio (or Flickr or other host), then drag and drop them into a single post. That way you can keep the photos in the desired sequence, all in a single post. If you want to separate the photos a bit, add the <hr> tag between each photo. Click once and done. Not necessarily better than the old method for directly attaching one photo per post. Just an alternative for keeping sequences of photos together.
  13. Worth the wait, Louis. A fine old lens, indeed. Angenieux lenses seem to have achieved some sort of cult status; (I sometimes suspect that anything with a French name has a head start in this process), and I've noticed that the ancient French-assembled Retinettes with the Angenieux lenses command heady prices on the big auction, compared to their lesser Reomar brothers. You've put the lens through it's paces very adeptly and the results are a great combination of lens quality and photographer aptitude. The "late 60's zooms" are a continual source of surprise; I've been doing similar things with a Tamron zoom of the same era, with unexpectedly fine results. Thanks for an excellent post.
  14. The Angenieux was always known to be an excellent performer amongst Leica R-philes: its only drawback being its large size and limited range (a bit like the 35-70/2.8 Elmarit-R). Glad to see you have confirmed that.
  15. Do you happen to have Amy's phone number handy?

    Great performance by photog and lens.
  16. Definitely worth the wait.
    Would you believe that I'm still sort of a St. Louis Browns fan? There are causes more forlorn than the Cubbies. ;)
  17. SCL


    Beautiful. Your shots remind me of the "sparkle" I often got from my Leica R lenses, especially the 90, but less so from my M lenses.
  18. Thanks, Louis.....I too was awaiting the results. V. nice!!! Gees, the box alone made me drool :>). I mean how many lenses do you know that come in this fashion ?...perhaps the 30K cine zoom. The Telyt lenses might be worth checking out too...though I haven't seen any stills taken with one. Anyway, this bad boy is as rare as Maserati Quadroporte :>). Enjoy.
  19. JDM, the Browns actually made it to the 1944 World Series. Would have been a "subway" series if St Louis had a
    subway. My beloved 1948 Cleveland Indians prevented a Boston (subway) series by beating the Red Sox in a one game
    playoff. The Tribe was led by SS player manager Lou Boudreau who batted .355 for the season. In the playoff game,
    Lou hit 2 homers and 2 singles. Even more amazing was that Lou was named manager of the Indians when he was 24
    years old.

    Ah, the good old days.
  20. Wonderful results. No surprise here that lens was so expensive. Thanks for posting.
  21. I knew that this would be worth waiting for...the Angenieux's have such a good reputation. The full aperture performance does amaze me, I couldn't see any difference in sharpness at all!
    You are a lucky man to be gifted this, so enjoy! I remember that scene from the Blues Brothers that featured Wrigleys Field...yep, I'm a Blues Brothers tragic!
  22. Thanks for the comments, all!
    Lex - I appreciate the posting tips. I'll keep that in mind.
    Rick - Funny, I never had much luck with early zooms before. I look forward to seeing your Tamron results.
    Robin - You long time Leica R users are in the know. I'm a newbie but I'm liking the lenses... a lot.
    David - Thanks for the kind words and the sports history.
    JDM - The SL Browns were well before my time. I'm not a real baseball fan, Cubs or otherwise, too slow a game for me. Luckily, Chicago has a couple of other decent sports teams that I do enjoy.
    Stephen - Yeah, sparkle is a good word. The images on the negs have a snappiness to them.
    Leszek - It sure is a pretty box, however I'd trade it for the Maserati any day, LOL!
    Mike - I appreciate the comments. The value was a bit of a shocker.
    Tony - Yes, I feel very lucky to come into such a nice kit. I'm a big Blues Bros fan, too! Sometimes making a post here I too feel like "I'm on a mission from gaaad" Ha, Ha! Thanks for the comments.

Share This Page