Leica lenses vs others

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by ray_cutting, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. I wanted to share with everyone my short lens comparison, ive collected a few Leica lens along with some Russian copies and also a few Cosina Voigtlander lens.
    My test comparisonwas to compare these lenses at different aperatures, mainly on the large end of the scale.
    As this is where the the diferences should be seen, so im posting the pics here with the lens used along with f-stop and shutter speed
  2. next Summarit 50mm
  3. next a series of f2.0
  4. next summarit
  5. next Summicron 50mm type 4
  6. next summicron 50mm rigid
  7. Next these lenes at f2.8
  8. next summarit at f2.8
  9. next summicron at 2.8
  10. next summicron rigid f2.8
  11. now all at 5.6
  12. next summarit at f5.6
  13. summicron v4 f5.6
  14. now rigid at 5.6
  15. this concludes the 50mm tests, i inserted the wrong summicron rigid at f2.0 pic, had no way to correct this but you get the idea.
    Next i am posting a couple of 35mm pics along with a 28mm and a uncoated elmar 50mm 3.5 lens
  16. next 35mm Summaron
  17. next 35mm summaron 3.5 lens
  18. now a voigtlander 28mm Ultron 2.0
  19. Now elmar at 5.6
  20. next 35mm summaron 2.8 at 4.0
  21. What are you trying to show? If it's sharpness, you probably need to post full size excerpts, say the Leica camera. You can show color balance and maybe Bokeh (not sure I spelled that right) this way-- maybe even general contrast. Good thought though.
  22. By the way i took all these pics with my M3 using kodak 400hd film, processed at local 1hr lab.
    The reason for doing the test was for my own curiosity about he differences between my various lenses, Leica vs Russian and also between the different Leica lenses.
    In my opinion i was very surprised how well the Jupiter 3 lens did by comparison, i actually expected poorer quality, or softer, or even old vintage dreamy look, but was very inpressed how sharp it is.
    Im new to film and i just recently bought these Leica rangefinders and lenses, so i was interested to look at Bokeh and sharpness for each lens.
    As i'm used to shooting with my Nikon digital, i wanted to see how they differ from that also.
    What i noticed mainly was the color differences, some warmer than others, and some colder.
  23. Due to the file size limitation for posting pic here, this was the largest size possible.
    I don't have these full size images on flickr, so i could not link to that.
    But when i studied the full size image at 100% on my computer, i could not see any differences in sharpness from one to the other.
    I will continue to do more tests to see how well the different lenses perform in sunny conditions.
    Because i have noticed in other pictures ive taken they seem to react differently to flare.
  24. We need to see full-sized (100%) crops, not full-sized files. At this distance, the weaknesses of the Jupiter will not be visible--at least where resolution is concerned. In other words, crop out sections that do not have to be resized to fit the size requirements of the thread.
  25. I have to say that the bokeh on the Jupiter looks a bit more pleasing than on the Summarit 50. In fact the Summarit 50 has quite an irregular looking bokeh. Might that be indicative of a misshapen aperture?
  26. here are a couple crops
  27. next is summicron
  28. The aperature on the summarit is perfect, just CLA'ed by Gus Lazzari, as was the M3 i used, the Jupiter, and the iiif that is pictured here.
    If any one needs a excellent camera/lens repair guy, email Gus at thegreatgus@gmail.com
    He has CLA'd and repaired all my rangefinders (seven now), and 2 lenses.
  29. now the summarit crop
  30. now the rigid
  31. now the elmar
  32. One thing i noticed, is the coatings make a big difference on the color, as opposed to the uncoated elmar which is quite dull in comparison (but closer to reality)
  33. I believe that it's called "reinventing the wheel."
  34. But when i studied the full size image at 100% on my computer, i could not see any differences in sharpness from one to the other.​
    ...and the in focus point is central to the frame. Just test (dont post) some shots wide open with "supposedly" in focus objects towards the corners. That is where your wheels will start to fall off !!! There are also too many other variables you choose not to control to really call this a test.
    Modern Leica lens are superb and can be clearly shown to hold a significant advantage over almost any other manufacturers products, especially at the wide end. The newer Zeiss offerings are probably the only close contenders.
  35. I know they are superb and superior lenses, thats why i buy them, but for those you can only afford a $70 lens like the Jupiter i used, i think they will be more than happy with the results.
  36. Craig
    Your photo's on flickr are very impressive, nice work!
  37. You might also be interested in a comparison of AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8D, Carl Zeiss Distagon 2/28 ZF and Leica Elmarit–R 2.8/28—have a look here. Leica lenses are superb.
  38. Whether or not Leica lenses are "better" than, say, a Nikkor lens, in an absolute sense, the reality is that in a practical sense it many times makes no difference. Most of us shoot small cameras handheld with subjects that won't stay still. We either print 8x10 or smaller prints, or show our work on the web. What the corner of an image looks like cropped from an image that would print 30 inches across really is not important to what most of us do with cameras.
    Leica lenses are superb lenses. I've paid silly prices for them, just as I've paid silly prices for my Canon L lenses. But, in a practical sense, all of this resolution and sharpness is many times just thrown away in the way we actually use photos. YMMV, of course.
  39. Jim
    I totally agree, i think we all own Leica cameras and lenses for many more reasons than just great quality images, me personally, i love the metal contruction of the cameras and lenses, the precision and quality of materials used.
    I can take a great picture faster with my Nikon D3 or D300 or even a D40, but i have so much more fun using one of my old M3's or iiif's, even though i have to use a light meter and select aperature and speed, well to me that is the fun part.
    Also i love i can take as good a picture with a 50 year old camera as one made today,
    I am totally hooked on the Leica system, and have gotten completely carried away on my purchasing, but will never regret the money spent and my wife will never know what ive really spent!
  40. I would have used an easier focus point than a camera since it is unclear where exactly didy ou aim to focus. Having a light source in the background also helps with checking flare and showing bokeh better. The Summicron 50mm lens is known for being a high resolution lens. I have the rigid Summicron.
    Thanks for the comparisons.
  41. Oleg
    You have a very interesting web site, which i will be following from now on, i do have a question for you.
    Your comparison really showed wear Leica shines!
    How was the Leica lens converted to be used on the d700, since i started buying these Leica lenses i wanted to try them with my D3, and after a little research, i found some adaper rings for a Leica screw lens to fit on nikon f mount, but read on the web, due to distance from the sensor, we would not be able to focus to infinity, and only really be able to focus on close objects.
    Please explain how i might be able to use my screw or m mount lenses on my Nikon.
    I love your China pictures, China is one of my most desired places to go to do photography.
    I may have opportunity to go to Yuyao City, Ningbo, China, it would be work related but i would use it as a opportunity at take some great pics.
  42. Raid
    I focused on the rim of the lens on the camera, where a filter would attach.
    After i had the film processed i also seen where i could have show Bokeh better with having more lights and shiny objects in the back ground, also if i were to do it again i would have more things in the focus plane so we could see objects on edges of frame in focus.
    I would also use a finer grain film, so i could get some high resolution crops to share.
    And of course use a tripod to maintain accurate position.
    I was basically just playing around, killing time and having fun switching out lenses and playing with my toys.
  43. is that a can of kraft parmesan cheese? you should buy the real stuff...
  44. After buying all my Leica equipment, i can't afford the real stuff.
  45. just kidding ray. i have that summarit. it,s gourgeous, looks like a million dollars but i have to admit that i have never used, well maybe once or twice. in your pictures and in my computer it looks a little colder compared with the jupiter.
  46. Yes, i agree, and also on the prints i had printed, must be the coatings, because the uncoated Elmar is also quite cold.
    Maybe someone could shed some light on this warmth difference between the lenses.
    And yes it is a quite beautiful lens, i also love the Jupiter, it is also very nice looking lens, lot's of glass to look at.
  47. Aside from the difference in color balance, and maybe bdokeh, I can't come to any conclusion from this. The only way to tell is to examine the negatives themselves. Once you start introducing other variables into the mix, all bets are off. Scanned for the web? Can't tell a thing.
  48. it does seem that wide open they are not that good?
  49. nrb


    The Jupiter is a german Carl Zeiss pre-war design. Your results could even look better if you did choose a black and white film.
  50. I would like to see a B&W version, focused on something at the closest range, off-center with a single light source, and fix me a tuna salad sandwich while you're at it, I'm starving.
    Was the Jupiter made by Kiev or Fed? The Early Kievs cameras were made from confiscated equipment and staff from Zeiss, I wonder how old Kiev lenses stack up to newer ones?
    I hear a lot about Fed, did they confiscate Leica machinery, too?
  51. Ray; what vintage of Rigid Summicron; I suppose it is the one from decades ago; and not the 1990's LTM new Summicron?
  52. No doubt that the more modern coatings and designs produce higher contrast.
    But you know, with Ray's comparison, I really like the look & color rendition of the tiny collapsable 50mm Elmar!
    Good job Ray, & thanks again for the kind mention.
  53. Ray
    I found this very useful, even given the limitations mentioned by other members. Thank you.
    The performance of the Jupiter amazed me. Like you I am new to Leica (with an M4).
    I accept that I am in no position to pass definitive comment on any of this. I realise that we are only looking at scans on computer screens, but the reality is that this is the platform most photographers use these days to display their images. So, if it looks as good as a Summicron ... and if its bokeh looks equally as pleasing and maybe better than some of the Leica glass ...
    ... then I would like to know where I can get some of the Jupiter lenses. Can anyone recommend a vendor?
  54. Hi Ray,
    Thanks very much for the kind words. I had the Leica lens on loan from a friend and it was already converted when he gave it to me. I have no idea how it was done but can confirm that it was done in a neat way and you can focus to infinity without problems.
    I have never been to Yuyao but visited Ningbo a few times. If you have time, you might want to visit Mount Putuo, which is not far from where you will be and a great photographic destination.
  55. OPK


    nice comparision! there's no need to peep at 100% crops in real life (you'll never be watching pictures closer than 50cm). what really count is overall look and your test gave us an idea. good work:)
    and to all sharpness/pixel peepers - don't you feel sorry wasting your time instead of shooting pictures;)
  56. Andrew, according to Wikipedia, the Jupiter lens was made by KMZ, the factory that later made Zorki cameras, they also made some Fed cameras for Fed, to help with their production requirements.

    Kelly, the Summicron rigid is a 1957 ver. and is one of the heaviest feeling lens i have, i love how solid it feels.

    Dan, welcome to the Leica family, you will never regret the thousands you are about to spend, LOL. The only place to buy a Jupiter is online, like ebay, thats where i found mine. According to the web, some lens are good and some are not so good. If i were you i would buy one and factor in a CLA cost to have it cleaned and adjusted like i did. Gus Lazzari did a fantastic job on mine, he made it look and feel like new, and now it take great pictures.
  57. Speaking of comparisons of Leica to other lenses, I seem to recall a Popular Photography column in 2001 (May issue?) by the late great Herb Keppler comparing the 50mm f/2 Summicron (I think) on an M6 to the Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens on a 1964-era Spotmatic. Identical scenes were taken with both lenses at the same aperture and identical 8x12 enlargements were printed... the analysis showed no discernible difference could be made. Caused quite a stir if I remember correctly!
  58. Ray, I hope you enjoyed the activity
  59. Paul
    I had alot of fun doing my little comparison, when ever i get to spend quality time with my toys, im in heaven!
    I have some other lenses i woud like to test sometime, a jupiter 35,50,85 and 135.
    It's all for fun.
  60. The jupiter seems to do a pretty good job. It's so hard to compare because focusing with a rangefinder can be difficult to execute repeatedly. Also people tend to think certain kinds of pictures "look" sharper, often related to color contrast and general contrast of the shot, as well as lack of flare. Jupiters and other lenses from the Soviet age can be great or not so great depending on construction, age, and how well they were put together that day (as well as who has maintained them since). With a Leica lens (or indeed Nikon, Canon, etc.) you can rely on good quality control where with a Soviet lens, it's more of a gamble. Thanks for posting.
  61. I think that David G. sums it up beautifully !
  62. Ray--
    All the effort at testing these lenses is appreciated.
    Oleg-- Ditto.
    The latest Summicron gets my vote as the most pleasing insofar as sharpness, contrast and neutral color rendition.
    What I'd like to view is the latest Summicron against the 50mm Elmar-M. There is a difference, but I can't really say what it is! They're both tack sharp. The Rollei 35S f2.8 Sonnar did excellent work for me, as well.
  63. About 2 years ago another person did a similar test but with far more lenses, all of them 50mm! Can't remember the details now.
    the uncoated elmar which is quite dull in comparison (but closer to reality)​
    That is why I have one, I like the closeness to reality.
  64. Yes, i also like my Elmar, i am really impressed at the sharpness of this lens.
    It's incredible for a 1939 lens!
    I wouldn't hesitate only taking this lens and a Leica IIIf on a trip, because when collapsed you could put it in your pocket and have it available all day long.
  65. I think it may have been Raid (see above) who did that exhaustive test on the 50mm lenses. Search on him.

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