Newly announced LEICA 18mm F3.8 Super-Elmar.

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by hodo, Feb 14, 2009.

1. hodo

- Angle of view: With M8 (18×37mm): 84 °, 74 °, 53 ° (diagonal, horizontal, vertical)
- Optical Formula : Number of 8 lenses in 7 groups (2 aspherical lens)
- Distance adjustment from 0.7m to infinity
- Dimension : length 48.8mm
- Weight : 310g
- Cost : 2,290 Euros (\$2,956)
Is there anyone who has more information for MTF and Relative Distortion for this?
This Super-Elmar weight 310g and 3.8 F-stop. Tri-Elmar weight just 335g and 4 F-stop.
I hope Super-Elmar has really good Distortion control, MTF and vignetting control.

2. Sanford

You give line after line of technical information and leave out the most important statistic - what is the 35mm focal length equivalent?

3. doug herr

Sanford, the angle of view is what you're looking for, but if you're most comfortable thinking in terms of equivalent focal length you multiply the M8's crop factor(relative to a 24mm x 36mm film camera) by the lens focal length: 18mm x 1.33 = 24mm.

4. Sanford

Thanks, I didn't know the 1.33X factor. Nikon is 1.5X, Canon 1.6X I think, Olympus 2X, and then there are all the point & shoots with their various sensor sizes. The easiest way for me (and most people I think) to relate to this stuff is still in 35mm terms.

5. cpj

This is another academic question for someone like Erwin Puts to answer--if it needs and answer at all. At \$3000 for a 3.8 lens you can be assured Leica is not trying to short change anybody with a "marginal" lens. Undoubtedly it is the best lens in that focal length that can be produced. It is more than twice the price of the Zeiss Sonnar 18mm f4 lens of which I've never read anything but positive comments. In fact, I own one myself. If your images are being examined by people who can see the difference between a \$1400 18mm Zeiss and a \$3000 Leica 18mm, you might either accept the embarrassment or find two other friends. I wonder: are there really four people whose eyes can see a differences between two 18mm lenses made by the most experienced lens manufacturers in Germany when looking at a 16x20 print? And, as for those who would criticize the Zeiss as being "inferior" to the Leica, ask them if they would shell out an extra \$1600 to satisfy their perception of prefection? Let's get real folks. We're talking about an 18 mm lens, NOT a 135mm where the sharpest eye "might" be able to differentiate which print was made with the less costly and "inferior" lens.

6. doug herr

Probably would be best to wait for objective comparisons before deciding there's no difference in image quality.

7. dougmiles

CPeter, I think the two 18mm lenses will simply be "different" in their own ways and each have their own character and strengths... and it's delightful for us to have the choice between the Distagon and Super-Elmar. I too have the 18mm Zeiss and will be interested to see what others make of the new Leica offering. (Without getting all frothed up over the price!)
It may well turn out like the 24mm Elmarit and 25mm Biogon distinction; each with incredibly good performance but doing it differently in regard to sharpness center vs corner, corner brightness fall-off, reaction to flare, contrast, etc.
My Distagon has not yet been 6-bit coded, so I'll also be curious to see what coding the Super-Elmar carries.

8. ray .

If it's the look you like and have the cash why not?

9. ray .

Let's get real folks. If you make 300 good prints then it cost you \$5 a print over the Zeiss if that's what you want. Some people will settle for nothing less. Also holds its monetary value to a great degree anyway, not like a digital camera that becomes cash worthless after 5 or 10 years..

10. stuart_richardson

I have the distagon and I will agree that it is a super lens. There are two issues though -- in order to use it on the M8, you need to send it out to have someone change the mount and have it drilled to mimic the 16-18-21mm tri-elmar -- you are probably violating the warranty (thought it is reversible), and you no longer have the exact flange to focal distance established at the factory. You are essentially depending on the skill and precision of your machinist. From there, you need to get a stepping ring and a 55mm IR filter. Every time you turn on the camera or mount the lens, a message comes on the camera screen, and you need to choose 18mm, so the camera knows what focal length it is for the cyan-vignetting correction. These are not great obstacles if you use the lens occasionally, but if it is a commonly used focal length (24mm equivalent is very much a standard wide angle), it can become annoying. The 18mm Super Elmar probably will not have these issues. But anyway, I am not saying it will be better -- it's just that using the 18mm zeiss on the M8 implies certain difficulties that the super-elmar will probably not have.

11. Alex_Es

Hmm. A consideration. What is the filter size?

12. hodo

I'm pretty sure that after Tri-Elmar, Summarit line, Leica wants to make there new line lens' hood as a screw type. It gives us good looking but sometimes buzz off (screw hoods are screwing!).
However, Super-Elmar looks has screw type hood too. And it may use series VII type filter. This is just my guess of course...

13. frederick_muller

My sense is that in the 28mm to 135mm range we are probably fussing around the margins of performance improvement by now. That's when Puts says perfect technique is required to bring out the best the lens has to offer (Reads: Hold it steady and make sure your rangefinder is properly adjusted). Wider than 28mm there is probably still a lot of room for improvement, and lenses are probably optimized for different qualities. The sharpest lenses might not have the least distortion, and so on. For this reason, I wouldn't be surprised to find that the performance qualities of the Zeiss and the Leica differ. Neither would I be surprised to find that some prefer the Zeiss and others the Leica regardless of affordability.

14. steven_moseley|1

"Thanks, I didn't know the 1.33X factor"..
.....If you ARE that interested in the crop factor with an M8 then surely you either own an M8 or intend to buy an M8....in which case, how on earth do you not know the crop factor? ...do you often buy several thousand dollar cameras with no knowledge of such important factors?

15. dougmiles

Regarding Stuart's comments... I agree on the flange issue, and address the other two... B+W offers an IR cut filter in 58mm size to avoid the need for a step-down ring (unless you must have the Leica filter). And what filter size will the Leica lens have?
In my previous reference to the Super-Elmar coding, I expect it will not have the same code as the WATE, so if I have the Super-Elmar coding applied to my Distagon, then it should be recognized as such without fiddling with the menus. And back to the flange, we'll want to check what framelines the Super-Elmar brings up, or is it safe to assume 28mm?

16. Sanford

Steven - I've owned a few Leicas, most recently an M6 as well as a Voigtlander and several Contaxes. I'm a fan of the Leica and rangefinders in general and have always tried to keep up on the latest developments. What the hell else would a Nikon owner be doing on this forum?. Aren't I allowed to participate here if I don't actually own a Leica? I'm sorry if I don't know the 1.33X factor - that's why I asked! Now I know.

17. john_shriver

Not surprised by the focal length, Leica had an obvious need for wide lenses to make up for the M8's 1.33X sensor crop. Surprised it's so slow, but since they won't make crop-sensor-only lenses, that's probably what it takes to keep the corners sharp enough on film. (They are letting their newest wides be a little less sharp in the "film only" corners of the field of view.)

18. samoksner

Doug,
I sure hope it doesn't bring up 28mm frame lines... 18-1.33 =23.94 or about 24mm...
This being just announced, it could be a long while before we see it... Personally, i've yet to see a review or even an image taken with the new 0.95 Noct or the 21 & 24mm f1.4... Maybe it's me but i wouldn't hold my breath

19. dougmiles

Hi Sam -- Both the 21 Elmarit ASPH and the WATE have mounts that trigger 28mm framelines, reasonable that the 18 would do the same. The M8 crop factor isn't important in this frameline selection, as none of the M8's framelines can show such wide angles of view as these lenses present to the sensor. The widest frame is for 24mm lens which, considering crop factor, corresponds to 32mm in film terms. What is relevant here is that the frameline selection works together with the 6-bit coding to inform the camera which lens is mounted, and these apparently need to match data in the firmware.
Zeiss did not follow Leica precedent with the ZM lenses' mounts, making it more difficult to get them coded properly. Zeiss defaulted to the 50/75mm frameline for their wide lens mounts instead of Leica's 28/90. So Zeiss 21 and 18mm lenses need to have their lens bayonets changed to ones bringing up 28mm framelines for the 6-bit coding to work correctly, as Stuart alluded. (Oddly, the 25 Biogon is "wrong" too, triggering 28/90mm framelines, inconsistent with Leica's 24/35 frames for the 24 Elmarit.)
PopFlash is selling Zeiss wide angle lenses "modifed for M8" that already have bayonet mounts triggering the same framelines as Leica's of similar focal lengths.
With my not-yet-modified 18 Distagon, I'd want to mimic both the bayonet frame selection and the 6-bit coding of the Leica 18 Super-Elmar, therefore it would be useful to (in due time) know that info.

20. cpj

Gentlemen:
I spent several hours today researching the "negative effects" of using non-coded lenses on the M8 or 8.2 and, as far as the image goes, I found ZERO. Many people report essentially what I said about comparing the Leica 18 with the Zeiss 18 and that is with the naked eye they just can't tell any difference between a 6 bit coded 21 mm Leica lens and a non 6-bet coded one, even when photographing a clear blue sky--and that's good test, one I recommend myself.
The frame line problem is very minor with the 18 as I only use it for a quick focus check if at all due to the tremendous depth of field. For framing the shot, I use a Leitz 24 mm finder slipped onto top and it perfectly frames the image, 18 coverting to 23.94.

21. arthuryeo

For that matter, CPeter, besides the Zeiss 18mm/4 ZM Distagon, please don't forget the Zeiss 15mm/2.8 ZM Distagon. I heard more cheers for the latter.

22. ray .

CPeter, if that's the case you are either shooting black and white, don't have an ir filter on the lens, or you don't see color well. Try shooting a neutral grey background with the filter on and no coding. For anything as wide as 28 (and even 35) you will see cyan edges and corners. Of course if you are shooting subjects which don't contain synthetic fabrics, such as straight landscapes, you don't need to use a filter, in which case you don't need coding.

23. dougmiles

After initial resistance in the first few months of M8 ownership, I gave in on the filter & coding issue. I did take the M8 with filterless uncoded 28mm Summicron for three weeks to Malta, Sicily, Canary Is, and Madrid. This experience taught me that it wasn't just certain black/grey synthetic fabrics but foliage colors and warmly-lit restaurant interiors for example where colors were skewed. Actually, I was mostly ok, but the exceptions were sufficiently annoying. So the Summicron and a 21 Elmarit are finally off getting coded now, I'm using coded filtered 21 C-Biogon and 1.4/35 Nokton, and will send several others off in months ahead.
When the ordered Zeiss 25mm finder arrives, I'll go ahead and use the uncoded 18 Distagon without the cut filter (and maybe with, fixing results with CornerFix).
I'm very curious about this new Super-Elmar... It seems to be similar in size to the Distagon, 1/3 stop faster, 2mm longer, and 10g lighter. Two fewer elements, and two that are aspherical... Should be some differences in character!

24. stephen_asprey|2

My only comment is WHY??

25. ray .

“You see things, and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'”
George Bernard Shaw

26. Nowhereman

>>>If your images are being examined by people who can see the difference between a \$1400 18mm Zeiss and a \$3000 Leica 18mm...<<<
Actually the price of the Zeiss 18mm Distagon at Popflash is \$1,100, with the correct M-mount.

27. ray .

The popflash Zeiss is uncoded.
Mitch, for your contrasty style I imagine the Zeiss works well.

28. 35mmdelux

Leica is starting to get brutal. Now, if they can figure out a FF M9 we might be talking business. The 18mm will undoubtedly rock as do the f/1.4 superwides.
Rock on!

29. kens

Don't know about the 18, but the new Summilux's came out of S2 development. R&D can bring unexpected benefits. Hopefully there will be more to come in the way of camera and lens development.

30. john_layton

My concern regarding lenses that have supposedly come out of S2 development would be their compatibility with film. (remember film?) Does better chip performance equal better film performance - or at least no compromises regarding film performance - with the latest M-lenses?

31. doug herr

John Layton wrote: "My concern regarding lenses that have supposedly come out of S2 development would be their compatibility with film. (remember film?) Does better chip performance equal better film performance - or at least no compromises regarding film performance - with the latest M-lenses?"
So far, Leica is resisting the direction some other makers have been following of relying more on post-exposure software correction, instead Leica's design goals are to minimize distortion, chromatic errors and vignetting in the lens. As far as I know this would make the lens as usable on film as with a digital sensor.

32. rick_moscola

The Zeiss 18mm f/4 is a terrific lens. But, I bought the Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar. Leica lenses are investments that last a lifetime. They are great lenses, they retain their value and can even increase in value and can easily be sold. So, in addition to the M8.2 issues regarding 6-bit coding and with the added thought for the longevity/demand of Leica lenses making them good long-term investments, I bought the Leica 18mm.