SL2 - wide and long lens choices?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by astral, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. I've been searching for a decent, cheap, classic Canon F1 and 24mm/35mm f2 lens for a while, but without any success. However, I've just been offered a 'classic' black Leicaflex SL2 for a very (very) fair price, all professionally checked over and adjusted as required, etc. So, I am very tempted .... despite a price difference vs vintage Canon gear.

    The one thing that I don't know about the SL2 is its suitability for use with quite short (24mm) and fairly long (180mm) lenses - particularly with respect to the split-screen black-out that occurs with some older cameras from other makers (admittedly at f3.5 onwards). I presume that the 24mm f2.8 shouldn't be a problem, but I am wondering about the 180mm f3.4 or f4 lenses in particular - what's the situation there, please?

    A supplementary question might be this: Are there any really great "must-have" lenses, or "forget that" options for the SL2? It's hard to imagine any real 'dogs', but I am totally unfamiliar with R-mount cameras/lenses.

    Many thanks, AC.

    BTW: My initial (affordable) lens line-up would be 24mm/f2.8 & 35mm/f2.8 - and ultimately a 50mm and 180mm when I get a lottery win!
  2. I’d grab the black SL2 if working properly, it will be a lovely camera.

    The 2.8/24 is generally not considered one of the better lenses in the R line. I have not personally used one as general opinion turned me off. It could just be snobbery due to it being a Minolta design, I’m sure it’s not a bad lens, but you may be better off with the 2.8/28.

    I would get the 2/35 Summicron (second version) over the 2.8/35. In my opinion, the 2/35 is one of the best R lenses, and is available for a reasonable price. This would be my first buy.

    My other two favourites are the second version 2.8/19 Elmarit and 2.8/100 APO Macro Elmarit, although both are quite expensive.

    The 3.4/180 is a great lens, very sharp. Its weakness is its close focus distance, which is not very close.
  3. I use the area outside the focussing aid(s) to focus long/slow lenses. This area looks like ground glass but it's actually tiny microprisms that snap into focus very clearly. The 180 f/3.4 APO is fine on the SL2 aside from the minimum focus distance.
  4. SCL


    I use the 180 f3.4 and 35mm Elmarit as my main lenses on my SL2. If I want a zoom, I use the 80-200 f4 Vario-Elmar. I also occasionally use a 400 f6.3 Telyt. I've use many other lenses over the years on this camera, but these are my go to lenses for this camera.
  5. Thanks gentlemen.

    I had some recollection that the 24/2.8 has a bit of "history" and may not be much better than my 24/2.8 Nikkor.
    OK, it sounds like I should investigate the 28/2.8 instead. It might make the 35mm f2 a lower priority tho' and
    I'd pick a 50/2 instead - at least to start with. Ideally I'm looking for just a three lens kit ... 28-50-180
    would do just as well as 24-35-180 ... "It ain't what you have that really matters, it's how you use it".

    Thanks for the tip on the 180/3.4 APO - is the minimum focus very close? I could live with 2.5-3m for most
    purposes, since it would mostly be used for landscape photography. I guess a short extension tube might just be
    ...... if Leitz made 'em.

    Yes the SL2 comes via a popular UK-based Leitz trained repairer: all faults fixed (within reason), and cheaper
    than a Canon F1 or Nikon F2, etc, in comparable condition .... it's the cost of lenses that is scary!
  6. I think the 90mm Summicron is a must have for a Leicaflex.
  7. I agree w/ Jim. The 90 R Summicron can be a magical lens wide open, and is darn sharp stopped down. Here's a shot from mine that doesn't really demonstrate it's capabilities, but I like it anyway.
  8. "... on the 180/3.4 APO - is the minimum focus very close? I could live with 2.5-3m for most purposes ... "
    Its minimum focus distance is 2.5 meters.
  9. I had the 24/2.8 for years and it amazed me every time I used it. It's sharp and contrasty, its colour is rich but its main strength is small amount of distortion. Photos taken with it looked very natural and you could not tell that it was taken with such a wide lens.
  10. The 24 has some issues with off axis images that should be within the debth of field that are not sharp.

    The off axis in the focus plane is sharp however.

    I used the 21 4.0 and the 28 2.8 both of which are pretty good.

    180 4.0 is a typical Leica tele. The 180 3.4 is APO and is a sharper lens. The downside is it is awkward and front heavy and most use odd ser 7.5 filters.

    90 2.8 is the best 90. 90 Summicron is good. 80 1.4 is well liked by some. Not the best at 1.4, but Very nice at 5.6.

    The best 35 is the 2.8 with 55mm filter threads. The 2.0 and first 2.8 are ok.

    60 2.8 is a great lens. 100 APO is a Killer.
  11. I guess that in the highly religious Leica community the 2,8/24 is mostly disregarded because of its Minolta heritage. Looking at it a bit more rationally, you'll find that it is a fairly sophisiticated design with floating elements and a very satisfactory performance; only in very demanding situations the wide-open performance may be behind the latest designs, but I bet that most of us wouldn't see any difference.
  12. I had the 60 2.8, too. Agree it is a great lens.
  13. For value and performance I suggest 90mm and 35mm Summicrons. The 180mm 3.4 is a bargain too. I also recommend either of the 28mms. All of these are excellent lenses. If you have more money or want more exotic choices then I suggest the 80 1.4/35 1.4/ and 19mm ver 2. The 100mm APO is also legendary.
  14. "'s the cost of lenses that is scary!"

    Alan - most s/h R stuff is, in Leica terms, cheap (exotics excepted) and quite honestly they are a bargain in terms of excellence compared to say their Nikon and Canon equivalents.
  15. Alan, I've got two SL's, one SL2 & one Standard. For me the most used wide has been the 28mm 1:2.8 Elmarit & the best tele
    has been the 180 1:4 Elmarit. I also have the 21 1:3.4 Super Angulon (for the Standard and with Ring 22228 for my M2 as well);
    the 50 Summicron, the 60 Macro-Elmarit (truly a marvelous lens); and the 90 Summicron which, as has been said above, is
    probably the best Leicaflex/lens combo. if you could only have one lens.
  16. Thanks for all the ideas - The 90mm seems to have a lot of afficionados, and I have seriously toyed with the idea - not least because they can be really cheap. The 28/50/90 combo is quite 'conventional', but a viable option if prices are right. This would suggest a 19mm or 21mm, rather than a 24mm, in due course - and I really like 21mm. Still, if a good deal comes along I could be seduced - far, far too easily!

    Yes Robin, I've seen many 2-cam lenses at less than the cost of an equivalent Nikkor, though 3-cam & ROM lens prices will always be too "scary" for me - the trouble is that 2-cam lenses are a bit scarce hereabouts.

    Hopefully I'll clinch the SL2 deal early next week ....
  17. Be aware that there are (at least) two versions of the 28/2.8 Elmarit. The merits of the older version are in dispute, but the
    current version with built-in lens hood seems to be universally praised. It does cost considerably more, though - i got a
    used sample for about $1100. I like it quite a lot.

    I used to have the 35/2 Summicron, late version, but found it wasn't any better than a Canon 35/2 EF. That is to say, not
    bad, but not exceptional either, as the Canon 35/2 is easily bettered by the 35/1.4L.
  18. I mean't, of course, 180mm 1:4 Elmar R NOT Elmarit
  19. "Be aware that there are (at least) two versions of the 28/2.8 Elmarit" - why am I not surprised? Each with its own filter arrangement and unique quirky hood no doubt ... That's one thing that Leitz/Leica never seemed to get a grip on - hoods and filters.

    Despite such scepticism I've reserved an unmarked 28mm Elmarit c/w "useless" hood (the one with "28" on the barrel). $320 with a year's warranty sounds fair to me - Yup, it aint much dearer than a 28 AIS Nikkor (Robin). Please don't tell me they go on 'Bay for $199 ...
  20. Dang! Why is Leica-dom so complicated? After some surfing/browsing here and there I'm wondering if all late
    (pre-Asph) 28/2.8 Elmarits are 3-cam, or if any could actually be "3rd cam only" lenses? I believe, those only give
    stopped-down metering with a SL2.

    I thought running M and Barnack cameras and lenses was complicated ... What am I getting myself in to?
  21. Alan Clayton wrote: "I'm wondering if all late (pre-Asph) 28/2.8 Elmarits are 3-cam, or if any could actually be "3rd cam only" lenses? I believe, those only give stopped-down metering with a SL2."
    There are no 28mm Elmarit-R ASPH (yet), and 3rd-cam lenses will not fit on the SL2 without modification (50mm Summicron-R seems to be an exception).
  22. OK Doug - I just stumbled over the "3rd cam" complication in relation to the SL/SL2 elsewhere on P-net. Clearly
    experience is needed in this territory - which I don't have - and this makes me wary of buying online/unseen,
    especially at auction.

    I just learned that the SL2 will be in the post on Monday, and I'm keen to run a film through it during the week:
    having a lens could be rather useful! But I can't recall if the 28/2.8 lens I've reserved is 3-cam or 3rd-cam
    .... I must pay more attention to detail.
  23. The SL2 is quite a camera. I bought mine from Dr. Welcker of the Solms factory. I have been very happy with the 21mm f/4 Super Angulon-R. Great color rendition and very low distortion and sharp. The only thing I don't like is the four blade diaphragm. Anyway, I recommend the 21mm f/4 as one to consider.
  24. I've been using my Leicaflex Standard (with the 21mm 1:3.4 Super Angulon R) like crazy and my two Sl's as well. However, I've just been morev or less fondling my mint, Chrome, "50 Jahre" SL2 -- kinda scared to use it much!
  25. That's a fine camera Paul .... Let's swap mine for yours, then you won't need to scare yourself any longer ...... ;-)
  26. Alan, if you can add $1,400 to the swap, you've got a deal!
  27. Sorry Paul, I sold the kids last week, and I've just this minute bought a 50/2 Summicron-R - so no more cash in
    hand at the moment!

    Paul, I see in another post that you may have a pre-APO 2x Extender? If so, is it any good? A comment on LUG says
    something like 'not in the same class as the APO' .... No surprise there. then, but let me guess: Leitz/Leica
    made several models, all different ....
  28. To get back to your original question about splitscreen blackout with slower lenses, for me a killer advantage of
    an SL(2) is the incredible brightness of the (large) prism viewfinder. My own long lenses are pretty slow, the
    80-200/4 and when needed, 350/4.8, yet I can focus just fine even
    at 4.8 -- annoying blackout doesn't start until 5.6, which is a stop or two later than most other SLRs I've seen.
    (How does that F1 do?) Definitely go for the SL2. Most vendors will state whether a lens is (all) 3 cams. The
    complexities of Leicadom are well worth figuring out, and even "budget" lenses like mine are pretty stellar.
  29. Eric, thanks. Yes, I gather most of the 'competition' becomes tricky beyond f3.5, especially with wides and telephotos, unless replacement screens are used. I'm aiming at a 180mm f4 (or f3.4 APO if funds allow) for use in summer 2009, so I'm planning ahead somewhat.
  30. You will like the 180mm f/4 lens, Alan. I had one with my SL, and it took some of my favorite landscape images. The fact that it is lightweight on the tripod means you can hike with a slightly lighter tripod and head than for the heavier telephotos. f/4 is usually bright enough to focus in most any outdoor situation.
  31. Alan, yes, I have the 2x extender #11237 made especially for the Leicaflexes not the "R" reflexes. It's very good -- not fabulous -
    - I use it on my 400 1:6.8 Telyt R to make an 800mm 1:11. Lots of fun. Good for use on a 50 or 90, etc. -- not to be used on
    any R lens shorter than 50mm though. Jim is correct IMHO, the 180mm 1:4 Elmar is a great, and reasonably-priced, lens.
  32. Alan, here's a shot of my oldest daughter & her husband taken with my 180mm 1:4 Elmar
  33. Thanks, Paul, Jim. Planning ahead somewhat - I should be back in the Italian Dolomites and Julianske Alps (Slovenia) - and beyond - in 2009 for a month or more. This year's Alpine photos with a D200 haven't delivered just what I hoped for (dynamic range issues), and I didn't make enough use of my medium format gear, or shoot much 35mm film - big mistake.

    If I get my hand/eye in with the SL2 and a couple of lenses (back to basics a la 1974) I know I'll be a lot happier - and more careful setting up shots. A 180mm +/- extender would be just right for Hungary (and the Alps, even) and f4 is plenty fast enough for landscapes, etc.

    Thanks for all the info. and sample pic - nice 'bouquet'. -A-
  34. I have the Non-APO 2x Extender, and have found it to be good. Used mainly with a 2.8/60 Macro Elmarit and 2/50 Summicron. You need to be a little more careful when focusing, but the results are very pleasing, and it saves carrying a big heavy telephoto.

    Apparently the main advantage of the APO version is that it does not soften APO lenses. I think the Non-APO Extender is fine with Non APO lenses, especially considering the price difference. In fact, it is very sharp with the 2.8/60 and retained great bokeh.
  35. I own a SL2. I just love it. But it demands all the three cams in the lenses. I cannot use my late 90 Summicron on it, I suppose the latest 28, 35 or 19 won't fit either, at least without the proper cams. As a matter of fact, the latest lenses lack the SL cams and just won't fit the camera unless fixed by Leica.
  36. There are three cam versions of the latest 19, 28 and 35. I've never seen an AA 2/90 that wasn't ROM, however, most modern R lenses have been made in 3 cam. They're generally a bit cheaper than the ROM versions second hand too.
  37. Strictly speaking an SL and SL2 only requires 2 cams, but more recent lenses only included the single third cam for
    the R models (dropping the first two) and hence need conversion. So it is important to check whether it is 2 or 3-
    cam, both of which will work. ROM and third cam only will not - but can be converted.
  38. Reading Doug Herr's note I realize there are some differences SL to SL2, as my three cam lenses work fine on the SL. I don't have an SL2.
  39. "That's one thing that Leitz/Leica never seemed to get a grip on - hoods and filters."

    It is a fair point for the first set of R lenses - they followed the continental style - series filters and special hoods like
    Contax/Zeiss/Hasselblad, but most of the later models (starting c 1976) have built-in hoods and are well designed, so
    much so that I find returning to use Canon or Nikon with their clunky or flimsy (often enormous) hoods and fiddly
    caps an ergonomic nightmare in comparison.
  40. 1, 2 or 3 Cams for Leicaflex Standard; 2 or 3 Cams for SL or SL2; 3 Cams (or 3rd Cam only ) for R cameras R3-R7; 3 Cams, R
    Cam or Rom for R8-9 cameras. Think I got that right -- Doug will correct me if I'm wrong!
  41. Having used LTM and M Leicas for a while I am used to the quirkiness of older Leitz hoods and filters, though to
    be fair this applied equally to many European marques too. Indeed, the major change was the ascendance of
    Japanese gear in the early 70s with the ubiquitous 49/52/55 etc filters and hoods. But that approach has its
    limitations too, particularly the use of circular hoods when rectangular ones were/are often so much better ......

    Yes, there are a number of "3rd cam only" lenses around to trap the unwary like me, and matters are not helped by
    some sellers not being any more knowledgeable than I am .... but I'm learning reasonably quickly. Thanks for all
    the help - I'm off to size-up the 180/4 market and possibly sniff out any pre-Christmas mega-bargains ... (Ha!)
    Regards, AC
  42. The SL2 arrived today and looks, feels, and works fine. I just need to get used to the metering pattern - it
    seems a little different to my Nikon F2 & F3, etc, but no problem. A 28mm/2.8 arrived at the same time, so the
    camera is now in service - and a very cheap, late model 50/2 is on its way from Vienna by carrier pidgeon.

    Thanks to everyone for the invaluable information and advice. Alan
  43. My very first Leica "R" series was an SL2. The meter has to be precisely aligned for the proper exposure to be rendered. Any slight up or down of the needle, even if it's still within the bracket, will mean an over/under-exposure by about one stop. This I learned through rather painful experience.

    As I write, it just occurred to me that it would be a good a idea to bracket your shots for the first roll and then check the results to see if the meter is properly calibrated.
  44. I just purchased an SL2- 50Jahre at an estate sale, here in Florida. I also purchased the 35mm lens with it. What other lens would you recommend for a longer focal length? The camera came with the case, but I need to get a battery for it. I understand that the new batteries have a higher voltage, so I'll have to recalibrate the meter, is that correct?
    Steve Hinds
  45. "I understand that the new batteries have a higher voltage, so I'll have to recalibrate the meter, is that correct? "
    That's what I've done.
  46. Well, my 'new' SL2 came already adjusted for alkalines. But I'm told (by my repairer) that silver oxides are just
    outside the adjustable range ... though the suggestion is that this varies a little with individual cameras. I'd
    silver oxides in the longer-term, but alkalines are cheap enough to replace every few months. However, the
    camera has a minor issue with the ISO setting cam which wasn't spotted during the checks, etc. So I'll be
    without it for a week or so.

    In the UK the cheapest 'longer' lenses at present seem to be the 135/2.8 and 180/4 - so I placed a 99GBP ($146)
    bid - you-know-where - on a clean 180/4, and it's mine: no other bidders. According to a London dealer I know,
    Leica R prices generally appear to be slowly falling, especially so for R bodies. I'm almost tempted to look for
    a cheap R5/6 body while the SL2 is in dry-dock ...... AC
  47. "But I'm told (by my repairer) that silver oxides are just outside the adjustable range ... "
    Leica USA calibrated my chrome SL2 for silver-oxide cells and likewise DAG adjusted my black SL2 for silver-oxide cells.
  48. That's interesting Doug .... I wonder if that was just an adjustment, or if it involved installing a Schottky
    diode. I'm planning modifications for my Nikkormat's at some point, but it's arguably a better solution to
    buy/make a battery adapter that can be switched between cameras, rather than modifying several cameras. I'm still
    'chewing' on this issue. In the meantime I still have some original batteries in cold storage.

    Back on the subject of 'longer' lenses: while the 90 Summicron is clearly very good, is there much difference
    (image-wise) between the 135/2.8 and 90/2.8? Both lenses are/were rated highly on wilidlightphotos ... "gone but
    not forgotten" ;-)
  49. My experience with the 90mm Elmarit-R is very limited, but I didn't find enough difference between the 135mm Elmarit-R and the 90mm Summicron-R to keep both. The 90 'cron is a stop faster, focusses closer and weighs less and their imaging character is very similar so I sold the 135. The 135 is much better than the 90 'cron with extension tubes, but then the 90 Elmarit-R is too.

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