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Leitz lenses - what makes them special?


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OK, this has probably been asked a few zillion times before, but I'm

trying to make this more specific! What advantage do Leitz/Leica

lenses have, specifically for magazine reproduction? Images used up

to double-page spread (interiors plus exteriors). My subjective

impression is that they have a perceptible 3D quality. Is there a

perceptible difference between older and newer generation lenses? How

does Voigtlaender compare? Which transparency film do you prefer for

magazine reproduction?

I know there are a whole heap of other options available, including

digital, but that's not what's needed. I'd just like to stick to

these main points. Many thanks.

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Leica lenses have no advantage whatsoever over most any other

lenses available, but those of us who have them are desperate

to rationalize our purchases, so we use coded language to

speak amongst ourselves to hide our secret shame. And even if

there <i>was</i> some advantage to using Leica glass (and

there isn't, remember! wink, wink!) we wouldn't be allowed to

discuss it on the Leica forum.

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Hand-held and printed to 4x6 I see one, and only one, difference between my $1000 50mm Summicron and my $50 50mm SMC Pentax: a rounder shape to bright out-of-focus lights.

 

Though I'll be the first to admit that that is hardly a test designed to show off any real differences btween the lenses. But it does represent how I use my camera and that was what I wanted to see. YMMV.

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David,

 

I don't think it is an advantage....it is an aesthetic.

 

In my opinion the modern Leitz has gotten so sharp and contrasty that it is kind of

overkill. I own old Leica Glass because it has vibe for days.

 

VC lenses look really good, are cheaper and happen to fit on Leica cameras.

 

I don't think there is a transparency film that is better for Magazines...just different Color

Curves.

 

jmp

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Ok,

 

Kevin seems to have some issues against Leica. I bought Leica, for two simple reasons.

 

1) The best ( and I mean best) heart stoping, jaw dropping images I have ever seen in 35mm have been taken with a Leica Camera and Lens. That is my personal opinion and very subjective. That opinion was made way before I could even think about affording Leica. So I had no reason to lie and justify their purchase. I had not even owned Leica at the time I fell in love with Leica quality.

 

2) Ease of use, ease to carry, silent unobtrusive function.

 

those are my reasons, Sorry, I was not able to answer your question, But, I had to respond to Kevin's post.

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The main thing that distinguishes Leica lenses is the very small variation from spec. in resolution, contrast, and distortion. Newer models are sharper than older ones. If you are seeing 3D plasticity that has more to do with the aberrations in the lens than anything else. Voigtlander is optically excellent, sometimes the build quality isn't up to par. Are Leica "better"? No.
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Leica will tell you it's their "rare earth" glass and perhaps they do have a

formula that rises above the competition. Some investigation will bear out

they are better than most as good as the others. My work shows an edge to

Leica but I may have progressed as a photographer and this may account for

the later-Leica work- being better.

All subjective.

 

One undisputible fact is the quality of the lens as a whole. Pick up any leica

lns and the equvilent Canon or Nikon and unles your a big fan of

polycarbonate the point will be made.

 

For some mind numbing technical specs try www.photodo.com

Some suprises there as well.

 

Warren

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Here my two Nikon F 50mm F1.4 (AIS; and SC); two 50mm F2 (NonAI and a AI one) are abit less snappy in contrast and resolution at F2; than my new Summicron 50mm F2. This is based on using these lenses on 35mm still cameras; 16mm movie cameras etc. The Leica glass is great wide open; in many of their lenses. All are good at F5.6 in their central core; the Leica Summicron of mine is better than the 4 Nikon 50mm's; when used at F2. At F5.6 to F8; most all prime 50mm lenses made are good. Some specific Leica and NON Leica lenses are good wide open. The 180mm F2.8 ED; and 105mm F2.5 for Nikon F series of mine are great wide open. <BR><BR>What F stop do you need; if stopped down; many lenses are great.
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This is a subjective point of view, but my eyes are convinced that

Leica glass is better. Why? when i was first introduced to Leica

glass, a friend of mine showed me a photo ( transparency film )

of a beautiful autum forest full of color. As I said how beautiful

his photo was, he took out a second one, taken with a leica,

same focal lenght, same framing, even same roll of film, so

developement and emulsion batch was a match for both slides.

When I saw the leica, the colors were really OUTSTANDING!

nothing else, just absolutely overwhelming over the previous

Nikon shot. When I started photographing with leica, I could

easily tell on a light table ( just by the richness of color ) which

were made with a Leica and which were made with my Nikons.

then i made the switch to Leica completely. I can't see any more

sharpness from Nikon or Canon lenses, I would say they are

about the same ( Only among the best, each brand has to offer )

, but the color has made me stick to the brand eventhough Nikon

or Canon SLR bodies are much better than the obsolete Leica R

body line. As for the original question, for magazine spreads, I

just like how editors love the slides on the light table. CMYK

printing ruins most of the advantage that Leica glass has to offer

except for some of the best publishings. At the end, I think any

good Nikon or Canon lens would print the same, but as a sales

tool, I appreciate the Leica glass.

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My leica Summitar at f2 is soft my Summarit 50/1.5 at f1.5 is soft, my Summicron Rigid at f2 is flare prone and soft at edge too. so it is non sense to claim Leica is better wide open. th current prime lenses are all good wide open. Voigtlander 50/2.5 21/4 28/3.5 are all good wide open and compact too, better than most old fogged/clouded/scratched Leica lens. Why buy Leica? the solid feeling in my hands
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<i>What advantage do Leitz/Leica lenses have...</i>

<p>

Most of them cost several times as much money as their counterparts from Canon, Nikon, Konica, etc., and hence allow their owners to feel exempt from taking more traditional routes toward improving their photography such as mastering exposure, development, and printing/Photoshopping, developing better compositional sense, etc.

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Stephen, please re-read my post. My tongue was firmly in my

cheek! I was making sport of the all-too-frequent opinions

expressed here (see Douglas K.) that there is no visible

difference between Leica and Brand X.... Say, a Canon EF

50mm f1.8 and a Summicron 50 wide-open. Or a Summicron

90 and a Canon EF 100 f2.0 wide-open. Baloney.

 

I own both systems and the difference is obvious on even a 4x6

print. I wish it weren't because I'd be glad to sell the Summicron

90 as it handles like a truck and the auto-focus of the Canon

works like a charm, but the lens itself is dull wide-open. It's not

the most important factor in any given picture, but the difference

is still there.

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<i>"What advantage do Leitz/Leica lenses have, specifically for magazine reproduction?"</i>

<p>None. That's why magazine photographers use cameras of all types and sizes, from large format for landscapes and architecture monthlies, to digital SLRs for news weeklies.

<p>You see, <u>real</u> photographers use the best tool suited for the job, rather than waste their time getting their panties up in a knot over the imaginary superiority of boutique equipment.

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I suspect (though I may be entirely wrong, and not for the first

time either) is that the lens designers at Leica, rather than

design optical systems that are to the highest spec on some

MTF chart, instead are quite happy to tweak the output of their

lenses so that they give subjectively appealing results. Epson

seems to have done something similar with it's printers (ie start

with what appeals to the human visual system and take it from

there). The two lenses I own are both current and by far the

sharpest I have, even more than my Hasselbad lenses.. It

seems to be that contrast plays the biggest part in the Leica

"look". Even photographs that are blurred (slow shutter speed,

etc) are snappy and crisp. And literally, built for a lifetime.

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"You see, real photographers use the best tool suited for the job,

rather than waste their time getting their panties up in a knot over

the imaginary superiority of boutique equipment."

<p>

For magazine or newspaper work, I agree with you. But if you

can't see the difference between, say, a Summicron 50 and a

Canon EF 50, or a Summilux 35 Asph. and a Nikon 35mm f1.4

<I>wide-open</i>, either you or the lab who makes your prints is

doing something wrong. For wide-open shooting, many Leica

lenses are simply unbeatable. Not a factor that outweighs

lighting or composition, but it's there.

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>>>But if you can't see the difference between, say, a Summicron 50 and a Canon EF 50, or a Summilux 35 Asph. and a Nikon 35mm f1.4 wide-open, either you or the lab who makes your prints is doing something wrong. For wide-open shooting, many Leica lenses are simply unbeatable. Not a factor that outweighs lighting or composition, but it's there.<<<

 

compare the newest leica lens with old version lens does not make any sense, the old Leica Summarit 50/1.5 was beat up by Canon/Nikon in the same era, why just try to compare 35/1.4 pre-ASPH with nikon 35/1.4? personal taste play a big role in selecting lens, I think the old non-coated Summar is the best lens for me but may not for you.

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