Lengendary Leica Lenses

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by jack|1, Jul 6, 2001.

  1. Hi,
    Can anyone tell me which lenses are considered lengendary and unsurpassed in performance in Leica's current M-mount lineup?

    <p>


    Jack
     
  2. All the current summicrons, all the current elmarits,the 75mm
    summilux and the 135 apo. Up to 11/14, and all things being equal, it
    is hard to see any difference in resolution between current leica
    lenses of the same focal length. To see a difference, you need a slow
    film and a tripod. Since most Leica M users, including me, do not use
    a tripod, the difference is irrelevant.
     
  3. "Legendary" and "current" both together kind of threw me off. There
    isn't a lens in the current line that isn't at or near the top of its
    class. That would include the 21, 24, 28 f2.0, 35 f1.4 and 2.0, 50mm
    f1.0, 1.4, and 2.0, 75 f1.4, 90mm f2.0 and 2.8 , and 135mm f3.4.
     
  4. Focal length for focal length, I believe that none of the current
    Leica lenses is surpassed in price, which is legendary.
     
  5. Nikon lovers discuss which lenses are "killers" and which
    are "dogs". Even Hasselblad lovers bicker over T* vs non-T* and FLE
    vs non-FLE, in terms of good and bad. Only Leica lovers discuss
    which generation of each lens is more superlative than another.
     
  6. What are you going to shoot? Sharpness might be one thing that
    is "unsurpassed" in the new lenses, but there are intangibles that
    don't show up on MTF graphs. My 90mm Elmarit M is simply too sharp
    for close-up portraits of the woman in my age group, so would it make
    sense to "upgrade" to the optically superior 90mm APO / Asph
    Summicron? Superior doesn't always mean better depending on the
    intended use.

    <p>

    Some of the photos submitted on this forum are being produced with
    lenses written off as obsolete by the "new is better" crowd, (look at
    the terrific shots that Mike Dixon has presented made with very old
    50mm and 90mm Summicrons). Everything is subjective about words
    like "unsurpassed" and "legendary." All of my lenses were "the best"
    20 years ago, and they still keep on giving me great images, so I
    think I'll keep them. They may have been surpassed (on-paper), but
    they're still legendary.
     
  7. "Legendary" may not equal "unsurpassed in performance". Legendary
    Leica lenses outside the current generation include the 21/3.4
    Super-Angulon, the 50/2.0 Dual-Range Summicron, the first 50/2.0 Rigid
    Summicron, the fourth version 35/2.0 Summicron (the pre-Asph that
    people talk about so much) and the 90/2.8 fat Tele-Elmarit.

    <p>

    I'd consider the "legendary" lenses from the current generation to
    include the 21/2.8, the 24/2.8 the 35/1.4, the 50/1.0 and 50/2.0, the
    75/1.4 the 90/2.8 and the 90/2.0AA. To be considered a legend, a lens
    has to be not only very good, but also widely used. This latter is th
    only thing standing in the way of lenses like the 28/2.0 and the
    135/3.4 which are at the pinnacle of 35mm optical excellence, but not
    widely used. Of course the 50/1.0 isn't widely used either, but it's
    just such an outrageous lens that its status was assured when the
    first glass hit the molds.
     
  8. I consider only 14 of the current M lenses to be unsurpassed, each
    within its particular specialty and purpose. Maybe you can figue out
    which 14.

    <p>

    I also consider a number of older lenses unsurpassed, too, for their
    ability to render a softer image, when called for. Happily, Leica is
    unique in its long heriage of tools to choose from, that are forward
    and backward compatible, unsurpassed for individuals according to
    his/her own standards.
     
  9. Hello Jack,

    <p>

    Sitting here in front of me is the reason I have a Leica Camera and
    lens. I was browsing through some books in the public library and
    happened across "Eisenstaedt's Guide to Photography." c1978 I found
    my copy in a used book store the other day. The minute I saw his
    pictures I wanted a Leica.

    <p>

    Alfred Eisenstaedt is, of course, a legend. In this book are
    countless examples of his work taken with the 35mm Leica lens. He
    used a Nikon F and other Leica lenses to be sure. Yet the 35 is his
    confessed favorite. "I find the 35-mm lens best suited for the
    majority of pictures that I take."

    <p>

    From Jackie O to the Tah Mahal AE defines legendary with this 35mm
    Leica lens.
     
  10. Summicron 50, Summilux 35, 50 Telyt-180 are legendary lenses,
    designed by legendary Walter Mandler, who put Leitz into the
    forefront of lens
    design
     
  11. Summar 50
     
  12. Legends are good and bad. In my opinion the greatest legendary lens
    was the 50mm Summar. Brand new, unscratched, and un poilished (user
    polishing) it will match a Summicron. Front element haze affects the
    image in most versions you can find now but it was the lens that
    really gave Leica lenses that extra something.
     
  13. Erwin Puts on the three generations of Leica lens design. Fairly new
    article.

    <p>

    http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/magazine/threegen.html
     
  14. Elmar 50/3.5, can be the first legendaty lens, is the lens on wich
    all leica quality is well founded, also the summicrons 25 years
    latter, and the rest of them for particular reasons.
     
  15. Excerpt from Alfred Breull's Leica Diary:

    <p>


    The story ...

    <p>

    Leica didn't have the funds in the 1920's and 1930's to design lenses
    which would blow the doors off of Zeiss and Voigtlander products -
    they were, after all, the 'new kids' on the block, a small microscope
    works which had moved only lately into photography.

    <p>

    Their lens designer, Max Berek, used a trick to make Leica
    lenses 'seem' to perform better than they actually do, by emphasizing
    out-of-focus softness. Thus, the in-focus portion of the image pops
    out at the viewer, producing the 'Leica glow', as Gianni Rogliatti
    calls it.

    <p>

    This was seen as a cheap trick by the larger houses, but it built a
    foundation for the magical effect of Leica lenses. And it also
    explains why older designs do not test well, but produce images which
    stand out from those of other houses.

    <p>

    This changed following Berek's death in the early 1950's. Certainly,
    Leica lenses produced today test competitively and, in many cases,
    blow the competition away. But such was not always the case - and the
    Leica 'glow' of 1930 has become the 'bokeh' of today.

    <p>

    ... and additional information

    <p>

    Actually, the Summar shows a very high resolution (but low contrast)
    in high-end tests. And, even in today, it belongs to the small group
    of Leitz and Leica lenses with the most beautiful rendition (up to f
    4.5).

    <p>

    Other characteristics: corners are dark at f 2.0, no increase in
    performance above f 6.3, low or moderate color saturation, little
    shadow details, over-pronounciation of bright parts, hood required in
    sun shine pictures. Also, its front element is rather soft - most
    Summars show serious marks and signs from cleanings.

    <p>

    Cheers.

    <p>

    link: http://members.aol.com/abreull/index.htm
     
  16. According to the dictionary, a legend is a story which is handed down
    and retold, and generally accepted as true, even if it isn't. Like
    Paul Bunyan. I wonder which Leica lenses come to mind from this
    point of view? Like maybe a belief that the pre-war Elmar is still
    better than anything made since. You know, the old they-don't-make-
    em-like-they-usta thing. At any rate, I guess the current lenses
    haven't been around long enough to become legends. A contradiction
    in terms, you might say.
     
  17. I think Bob has hit the proverbial nail on the head.
     
  18. I would equate "legendary" in this case to those well-know photogs
    who have used Leica M's and its lenses. They all have their favorite
    lenses: Eisenstaedt and D.A. Harvey with the 35mm, and H. Cartier-
    Bresson with the 50mm. Which lens version? It doesn't really matter
    since they didn't seem to place too much emphasis on that matter
    anyways.
     
  19. Legendary, that is a tough one. I suggest the 50mm 3.5 Elmar, the 50mm
    Summicron, the 100 Macro-Elmarit-R, and the 180 f3.4 Apo Telyt-R. All
    of these lenses are talked about with reverence. Some of the modern M
    and R lenses may well become legends but are probably not yet - the
    Summilux-Asph 35mm comes to mind.
     

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