Which smallish portrait M-mount lens?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by ant_nio_marques, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. Hi. This is my first foray into the L world, so I apologise for asking stupid questions.
    I'm not keen on carrying big lenses. On the other hand, what I like rangefinders for is mostly single-subject photos with small DOF. And I'm preferably looking for something under $1000.
    I've looked (on paper) at the Voigtlander 75mm f2.5 (or the f1.8 but that's heavier) and the Tele Elmarit 90mm (or the older Elmarit, but that's heavier as well). I think 90mm is a better focal distance for what I want, but I suspect 75mm will be easier to focus accurately with my lacklustre eyesight. But this is all hypothetical.
    Do you have personal input about this issue? What is your opinion, subjective or not? What would draw you to a particular lens in this segment?
    Thank you.
  2. A 90mm f4 Elmar is of course smaller and lighter (also cheaper and easier to find). Focusing should not be a problem - with a Leica you just need to line up 2 rangefinder patches, you don't need to be able to see the viewfinder images super-sharply. If you get an Elmar, make sure it doesn't have any haze.
  3. SCL


    Assuming you want something longer than 50mm, there are a lot of choices, several mentioned above. Of course, a longer focal length lens is usually going to be longer and heavier than a 50. The 75s seem to be a good middle ground, whether CV or Leica. IMHO the 90 summicrons of any era are just too big and/or heavy for my tastes. If smaller is better and you don't mind giving up a little light gathering capabilities, in adition to the above, there's the collapsible 90/f4 Elmar, which I used for years when my daughter was growing up, the beautiful Elmarit 90/f2.8 which has become increasingly pricy, and the Elmar 90/4 rigid (I'm presently using the screwmount version, and an adapter ring when I want to use it with my M body). Your price range precludes the most current 90s, but IMHO they are just too clinically sharp for my tastes in portraiture.
  4. In my last few years with M Leicas I used mainly an Elmarit 90/2.8; but I also developed much respect for the Canon 100/3.5, which is a screw mount lens.
  5. Focusing ease is the same for all Leica lenses using the rangefinder - although the focus precision decreases as the focal length increases-not much you can do about that. I suggest an Elmar f4 or original Elmarit or Tele-Elmarit. Is the original Elmarit heavier than the Tele-Elmarit? The latest Elmarit is heavier, but an older, chrome, 1970-era Elmarit? If so not by much.
  6. I bought a Summicron 90/2 (version 2) for under $1000 two years ago. Browsing through KEH, it seems it's now a seller's market for used Leica lenses. I suspect that they can be used on most mirrorless ILC cameras contributed to the shortage. This lens is all brass and glass, which makes it somewhat large and heavy. Nonetheless it is one of the best 90's Leica ever produced, and has a tripod socket to balance the load.
    The Elmar f/4, both normal and tele versions is very small and light, and is available for under $500 used. It's a little soft at the edges at f/4, but that may be to your advantage for portraits.
    If your viewfinder is rigged for 28 mm lenses (0.68x), even a 50 can be hard to focus wide open. I bought a Leica 1.4x magnifier, which takes the guesswork out of focusing lenses from 50 mm to 135 mm. It can be used together with a diopter if you otherwise wear glasses.
  7. Will you be shooting a lot in dim light? If so- F2 is nice to have. My favorite is the Sonnar formula Nikkor 8.5cm F2. Not
    a long lens, but it has some heft to it. Mostly chrome over brass. Much smaller than the Canon 85/2, which is a Planar
    formula lens.<p>

    Nikkor 8.5cm f2, wide-open.<p>

    <img src="https://c5.staticflickr.com/1/270/19624757748_6fd16f5a09_o.jpg" width="681" height="1024"

    If speed is not as big a concern- the 90/4 Elmar is a jewel. <p>

    The Minolta 8.5cm F2.8 is "obscure", but runs less than the Elmarit and is a good performer. <p>

    The Tele-Elemarit 90/2.8 is light, and sharp.<p>
  8. I got the Macro Elmar. - Leica's lightest, also collapsible (even on digital) and that way very small. I think I read good reviews of it somewhere. - I'm not entirely happy with it's focus throw 90° infinity to 1m but I can say the same about the 180° provided by the 2nd version Summicron, so I guess 120° would be perfect.
    For focusing on a digital I firmly recommend a magnifier. - I wish I had one for every camera. - Its still hit and miss / spray and pray for me but seems fun & worth it.
    The old Summicrons are very heavy compared to 85mm f2s, but beaters go cheaper than Elmarits - If you have a lot of money maybe buy a lighter aspherical Summicron? - A buddy added an old Elmar to his, to have something more flattering to shoot female double teens. He sold me the spherical one as a single lens solution.
    Big warning: Stay away from Jupiter 9s from average sellers. - I have 2 of them but none really works with the Leica RFs. - If Brian claimed to sell an aligned one, I'd mail-order it, but otherwise I'd suggest printing out a Siemens star, doing test shots and being prepared to bring your money home from at least 3 attempted deals.
  9. Thank you all, this is precisely the input I was looking for!
    Low light is a nice-to-have, not a priority, I'd say the priority is shallow DOF. In that regard, an important thing is how much the lenses are usable at large apertures. I don't mind corner softness, but I prefer the center to be reasonably sharp. I prefer contrast to sharpness, anyway.
    I'll have to stick to the European market because otherwise customs are a gamble. But from what I've seen so far, that's not such a limitation as it is with Pentax (or Canon, even) material, which you find much cheaper overseas.
  10. (Robin Smith: Focusing ease is the same for all Leica lenses using the rangefinder - although the focus precision decreases as the focal length increases-not much you can do about that. I suggest an Elmar f4 or original Elmarit or Tele-Elmarit. Is the original Elmarit heavier than the Tele-Elmarit?)
    90mm: The f4 Elmar, with bayonet, is a tweaked version of the older 1931(?) thread mount, and frequently found very cheap, like under $100 in good condition. It was made well into the 1960's.
    The Elmarits are all f2.8 and slightly more modern optically. The Tele Elmarit will be the shortest & lightest, arguably the sharpest, but also the most expensive as it is still considered highly desirable.
    Started this earlier and don't know if anybody has since mentioned the Elmar C. Made for the Leica CL, some people have focusing issues with other M cameras, but it's very sharp, light, and undervalued. Unlike the others, it has a series #? filter thread, but will take ordinary 39mm filters if not screwed in hard.
    I would get an ordinary cheap Elmar 90, and go from there; change it if you want; you won't lose money. There's nothing cheaper with the same quality.
  11. I've used the CV 90 and thought it was a pretty good lens. Its light and sharp.
  12. <img src="https://c8.staticflickr.com/1/637/22994195735_94be5e21d7_o.jpg" width="681" height="1024" alt="Marine Museum"><p>

    This is the Nikkor 8.5cm F2 Wide-Open. It's the lens that got the attention of David Douglas Duncan to come and visit the Factory.<p>

    Lomography will be re-introducing the Jupiter-9 85mm F2, will be a classic Sonnar formula lens. It will be made to the Leica standard, I suspect it will be within your price range. <p>

    <img src="https://c2.staticflickr.com/2/1701/25847466393_4c8fd8722d_o.jpg" width="682" height="1024" alt="Spring 2016"><p>

    My Jupiter-9 works across the full range.... but I re-arranged the optics of the lens to do so.<p>
  13. Yes, if non-Leica lenses are wanted, I recommend the Voigtlanders too.
  14. A second to Mukul's recommendation of the Canon black 100 f3.5 LTM lens. In addition to rendering a good sharp image, it is light with white on black distance markings together with click f stops. I prefer it to the 90 Elmar LTM.
  15. I had no idea about a reintroduced Jupiter.
    Regarding 85mm lenses, can they be rangefinder-coupled? What's really needed for it?
  16. All three of my medium focal length lenses are rangefinder coupled. However as they are LTM lenses I use a 90 Leica M adapter then mount them on an M3. I have two problems using them, first, focus is critical due to the shallow depth of field when used close up. Accurate focusing is not a severe problem with the Elmar 90 and Canon 100 at f3.5-4.5, but it is with the 85 Nikon at f2. The M3 has a .95 bright finder making it easy to focus, but the Nikon at f2 leaves little room for focus error due to the shallow depth of field. Secondly, stopping down to increase depth of field requires slower shutter speeds so camera movement needs to be minimized or you have to go to a faster film. Camera movement becomes more apparent as you use longer focal length lenses. Due to the weight of the Nikon on the M3, I use a monopod and a softie shutter release button and that helps steady the camera. I love the portrait results but I have to concentrate when using these focal length lenses. You may wish to consider practicing by dry shooting with the camera/lens combination prior using film. Best wishes.
  17. Would you consider using one of any good quality 50mm lenses for portraiture? The 50mm focal length is actually very good for portraits. Lenses of f1.4 (depending on design) or less are quite compact, so if you already have one, you needn't purchase another.
  18. Regarding 85mm lenses, can they be rangefinder-coupled?
    All Russian LTM are rangefinder-coupled. The problem is that some were sloppily assembled so that the optical focus in the film does not coincide with the overlap of the rangefinder patches. A camera tech can re-position ("collimate") the entire optical assembly in the lens barrel and thus fix this. I have had this done to 2 Jupiter 3 (50 mm f1.5) lenses, which now perform well. I have 2 examples of Jupiter 9 (M42 and Contax rangefinder) which seem to be OK.
  19. The Russian rangefinder lenses in 39mm screw mount are built to the Zeiss standard, which is slightly different from the
    Leica standard. A lens properly collimated for a Russian lens will not focus properly on a Leica.
  20. I have two primary portrait lenses. They are the 90mm Tele-elmarit f2.8 and the 75mm Summarit f2.5. They produce very different images. The 90m is softer and preferable for photographing Women while the 75mm is much sharper and preferable for photographing men. As silly as it sounds it is a major consideration. For travel I prefer the 90mm as it is lighter and the 75mm is too close to the 50mm. As far as wide open is concerned I photograph portraits at f4 & f5.6 which provides me with the necessary depth of field if I have the subject move about slightly and blurs the background nicely. Both my be had for under $1k.
  21. I'm surprised not to have seen the 75mm Summicron ASPH mentioned for this purpose. It's a great portrait lens; a combination of excellent sharpness with enough glow to make portraits of women look great, especially wide open or nearly so. Here's a sample, taken on film, with this lens.
  22. I think the original post mentioned a ceiling of $1000. That might knock out a 75mm Summicron.
  23. The Steinheil 80/2.8 is an excellent portrait lens for around $100 as ltm.
    The Canon 100/3.5 is tiny and very sharp (usually requires haze removal).
    The Elmarit 90/2.8 is hard to beat for overall quality and cost.
    The old version 2 Summicron 90/2 is beautiful and very sharp. It is not expensive either.
    The Canon 100/2 is praised by many to be "the best" ltm tele lens.
    The 50mm/1.5 CZJ Sonnar is excellent for portraits.The Canon 85/1.8 and 85/1.9 both are excellent lenses.
    There are many excellent portrait lenses for under $1000. Most are ltm.

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