Leica 90mm f4 Mystery

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by kent_staubus, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. I've been looking at three different Leica LTM lenses, 35mm f2.5, the 50mm offerings, and the 90mm f4. I am struck by how relatively cheap the 90mm is. Was it a poor lens? Has a design flaw? Or, do people who normally buy old Leicas just don't like putting lenses on that stick way out? I'm curious why the the 90mm "don't get no respect?"
    Kent in SD
  2. The 90/4 elmar has been produced over a long period of time and my own copy dates pack to post WWII. And faster
    lenses (90/2.8 and 90/2) tend to be more expensive. It's a good lens, maybe not quite as good as the summicron but a lot
  3. I believe you are describing the 90/4 Elmar in Leica thread mount, (LTM) is that right? The Leitz code designation is ELANG. As long as there is no fungus, fog, or haze, there's nothing wrong with it. Until 1963 these were of the four-element triplet design. Then they changed to three elements. Like most triplets (and to some extent like practically all lenses), they are sharp in the center, and perhaps less so at the edges and corners especially wide open--like the 50mm Elmar. But there are always photographers who prefer the imaging properties of one or another lens! It's a decent lens, and a compact one. As the lens began production in 1931, early examples are probably not coated. The thin version started in 1932. They were black until the late '40's, when they switched to chrome. They pretty one with the band of Vulcanite was introduced in 1950.
    I don't think there's anything wrong with them. Maybe they have not been "discovered" yet!
  4. Supply exceeds demand. Also, it's not the sharpest of lenses, but it is a pleasant lens. The VIOOH (Imarect) finder commonly used with it provides a quite small image at the 90mm setting. You have to be careful about parallax with this lens.
  5. SCL


    The collapsible 90 (mine was in an M mount rather than the LTM) was my first 90mm back in the 1970s. The center was reasonably sharp, the edges less so. It looked kind of dorky on the camera when it was extended...I remember getting a lot of strange looks. I used it mostly for indoor family shots and it worked out pretty well. in the 90s when I could move up to something "better" I did, and eventually sold the old 90. All in all it was a perfectly serviceable lens, not a poor lens by any means. It is just that later designs have really improved performance as well as speed.
  6. I have a soft spot for the 90mm Elmar. I found a 1960 4 element M version to be excellent for most applications - nice bokeh, very smooth rendition, and nice and light. Not the highest resolution lens compared to more modern designs, but the overall sharpness impression I found was good using K64 (may appear less so on a lower contrast medium). It's main problem, of course, is that it is slow. It has similar characteristics to the 135mm Elmar-M.
  7. Kent, This article may provide you with some comfort if shallow pockets prevent you from possessing the sharpest lens currently available. To steal a phrase, " the main focus in photography should be having fun." I used that lens at the Leica School in 1963 but don't recall it's lack of sharpness as the main reason my photographs were not all award winners. :) Best, LM.
  8. The 9cm Elmar was made for long. Its users did not obsessively compare each lens with all others: they simply used those that gave them what they wanted. So many used examples would not have been available today if it had not been successful. I replaced my Elmar with the later Elmarit mainly for the added speed; and I suspect that many others did the same.
    By "Leica LTM ... 35mm f2.5" do you mean Nikkor, perhaps, or the newish M mount Summarit?
  9. I think the Elmar 90/4 is a bargain.
    It IS slow. In an age of high quality/resolution/ISO film/sensor, at f/8 I think the Elmar 90/4 is far more than just adequate.
    The lens was successfully used by legends.
    My opinion.
  10. I think the Elmar 90/4 is a bargain.
    It IS slow. In an age of high quality/resolution/ISO film/sensor, at f/8 I think the Elmar 90/4 is far more than just adequate.
    The lens was successfully used by legends.
    My opinion.
  11. I don't remember using my 90mm three element Elmar wide open -- A 2.8 was available for that. It was sharp at smaller apertures.
  12. Josiah's 02:47 contained a link to Luminous Landscape.
    Quite a read. Gggl "Most lenses are better than most photographers",

    and you will get there without any server problems!
  13. Like others have said: supply vs. demand. I have two LTM (all chrome, and one with vulcanite banding) and I've found 'em to be a plenty fine lens. Apart from speed, the only other downside is that it needs a hood to help with flare.
    IMO, I think it is plenty sharp enough. Click here for an example.
  14. Knut Schwinzer , Jul 13, 2012; 07:11 p.m.
    Josiah's 02:47 contained a link to Luminous Landscape.
  15. Hi Josiah, no, it was Len Marriett, I just didn't see the link at the first glance of revisiting this thread,

    and pnet didn't let me upgrade because of the 10minute deal!
  16. If I wanted max sharpness, I'd just use my Nikon DSLR and Nikon f2.8 zooms. Consider that I love shooting my 1922 Heliar, 1906 dagor, 1847 Voigtlander Petzval, and 1855 E.G. Wood achromatic doublet, you can guess that what I'm after is a nice vintage soft look. I am definitely not after the sharpest or fastest lens. What I was thinking of is what to mount on a Leica III that would be true to the vintage. I don't want to really get into Leica, but I'd like to have a nice lens or two for my Leica III, preferably uncoated. I was thinking the 90mm might be good for portraits. I've also seen a Wollensack Velostigmat in Leica thread mount that would work. I have a 1920s vintage 300mm Velostigmat in Betax shutter that I really like the results from on 4x5.
    Kent in SD
  17. great lense; easy to use: I've got the standard LTM and the M collapsible. I should use them more -- like all my Leica stuff,
  18. I have one from 1947; it's black with coated glass, LTM. The bokeh is especially beautiful with it, and you get rich colors. It is also very sharp. It doesn't give the knife-sharp edges that the 90mm Tele-Elmarit later did, but really it is all the 90mm you'll ever need. For portraiture, it surpasses the later 90s that I've seen. It looks strange with a lens hood on it, but I can't criticize. I look terrible in hats myself.
  19. Best Leica lens for under $150 in my book. Great definition, decent contrast, and nice bokeh.
  20. It's a very good lens and remarkably sharp but mine (1936) wasn't designed for colour so I only use it with B&W. It's small and very solidly built. (Not the fat Elmar) which I think is ugly. I'm going to try it on my M8 - I'll put a pic on tomorrow.
  21. This is the 90mm Elmar (1936) fitted to my M8
  22. Try again
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  23. Photo taken with 90mm Elmar fitted to M8

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