Leica Lens versus Zeiss Lens - Mechanical Build Quality & Durability?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andre_noble|5, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. Hello,
    If one can generalize the mechanical build quality of a manufacture's entire lens line - how would those who have used both Leica and Zeiss (Leica M mount type) lenses compare the robustness of the mechanical build between the two?
    I already assume based on hours on web research optical quality of Leica lenses and Zeiss lenses is 'fairly' comparable.
    As an aside: Some of the best mechanically built lenses I ever handled/owned were the Bronica PS series lenses for their SQ series 6x6 - but boy did they suck optically!
  2. I've got two of each: Leica 50mm Sumicron, 75mm Sumilux, Zeiss 50mm Sonnar, and 35mm Biogon. There's no difference in build quality between them--about the biggest distinguishing features in terms of build quality are that the Zeiss lenses have better lens hoods but worse lens caps, which is really a rather trivial distinction.
  3. That's not my experience. The Leica lens are built to a far higher standard than the Cosina Zeiss lenses. I have a 50mm Planar, and it is very nice, but actually most of the ones I have seen have stiff focus and feel a lot less solid than comparable Leica Summicrons. I like the chrome, but the black finish on the Zeiss lenses looks very cheap, and is nowhere as nice as the black chrome on the Leica lenses.
  4. I own the Planar 50/2 as well and although an optically superb lens, the build quality is not quite on par with my Leica lenses. The focus travel isnt as smooth, and I tend to notice more resistance when I take vertical shots with my M6. I cant fault the optics of the Planar, however....
  5. I have not noticed any difference in construction at this point.
  6. Both brands are built very well. But if I have to pick one, then it would be Leica, which has better built. But then, it's comparing 100% and 105%, so you may feel differently.
    One thing I like about Zeiss is that the aperture ring has 1/3 stop instead of 1/2 stop of Leica. I like the lens cap of Leica better than Zeiss. I like focusing "ring" better than focusing "tub".
    Anyway, this is just how I feel about those lens built quality, and optical quality is totally different story so is the pricing...
  7. You can't fault the build quality of Leica lenses, but there are degrees of it. The best build quality is in their older chrome lenses. The dual range summicron is probably the best built Leica lens I own. Next up are the late-model silver and titanium lenses. The titanium lenses weigh a ton, but they are built like tanks, even better than some of the silver lenses. Finally, the black lenses are nice, but are much lighter.
    I do like the build quality of the silver Zeiss lenses. The aperture click stops are nice, and the aperture and focus rings smooth and well damped. However, they are lighter than silver Leica lenses, and one gets the feeling they are not as rugged. It's a subjective impression, but they are probably somewhere in between silver Leica lenses and black Leica lenses in build quality.
  8. Is that really possible that the finish (black vs chrome) would affect the mechanical build quality - or are you also factoring in the durability of the finish itself?
  9. However, they are lighter than silver Leica lenses, and one gets the feeling they are not as rugged.​
    The silver chrome Leica lenses have brass barrels and rings, I would guess that the silver finish on the Zeiss ZM lenses is anodized onto an alloy, like the black Leica lenses. That would also account for the difference in weight.
  10. I don't factor paint finish into build quality, though some might. To me build quality is about the ruggedness of the barrel and mount, the smoothness of the aperture and focus rings, and how well the whole assembly holds together.
  11. " ...The titanium lenses weigh a ton..."
    True, and a funny accomplishment on Leica's part.
    As for differences, I also like the 1/3 stops on zeiss lenses, very useful on older bodies when shooting chromes. In cold weather, zeiss focus rings get really stiff. Leica always took pride in the type of lubricant they used in their lenses...
    In any case, I would choose based on price performance, the build quality is good in both brands. I have a mix of them.
  12. While generally I found the build quality a little better on the Leica lenses, the ZM lenses somewhere inbetween the CV and the Leica. One thing however that really bugs me about about the ZM product is that the shallow milled grip ring at the base of the lens barrel is perfectly flush with the focus ring unlike all Leica lenses where it's diameter is slightlty larger. This makes it very hard to remove the lens from the bayonet mount of the camera as my fingers tend to have less than a firm grip with this design especially in a more compact lens like the ZM 21/4.5 that tightly mounts onto the camera.
  13. "Leica always took pride in the type of lubricant they used in their lenses..."
    ... like whale oil and Canadian balsam ?
    " ...The titanium lenses weigh a ton...
    True, and a funny accomplishment on Leica's part."
    Yeah, they should have used real titanium alloy instead of merely applying a film of Ti coating to brass, and it made them laugh all the way to the bank.

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