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Leitz lenses - what makes them special?

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Most of the above, plus cost. My friends that are always chasing the "latest bestest" are always trading "up" and sometimes switching entire Nikon systems for Canon, then back again a couple years later. Me? I'm pretty much using, and supporting myself with, the same damned indestructible Leica cameras and lenses that I bought in the 60's and 70's. They might have been expensive then, but they haven't been replaced 6 times over. That makes them CHEAP! The lenses are designed to give pleasing images and they do.
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when dealing with leica m's, lens quality is the third reason out of the three main reasons

for choosing one.


i think one chooses leica m's number one for form factor, superior build quality then the

characteristics of the lenses.


technique, format size, films, subject matter, style of shooting etc... play such huge parts

to the look of your images. shooting scenerios can be set up to emphasize the best

qualities of leica glass but for everyday real world professional or non professional

shooting, i wouldn't get too caught up with "having to have leica glass because

theoretically it's the best" because you pay such a huge premium for it.


the leica m's are niche cameras that carry a huge premium. they are one of the best built

cameras i have ever owned but also one of the most expensive systems. they cannot

shoot macro or telephoto or fast action. way the pros and the cons and depending on

what is more important to you vis a vis cost there are other alternatives if you are looking

strickly for sharpness and contrast.


...never used old leica lenses....


...never used voightlander...


...for product provia 100f for skin tones asita 100 however, must keep in mind it shoots

warm (increased reds or magentas at 5200 kelvin)


chung lee

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There used to be a distinct difference between Leitz lenses and other makes - I'm talking pre-war - and this was attributed by many as being due to what is now called bokeh. But it was more than that, as many prewar Leica pictures showed a sort of plasticity that made the subjects look more real. I am sure there was an optical reason. Nowadays the differences are much less, if at all, with some lenses. The opposition has caught up and technology has made it possible to produce lenses of the highest quality at competitive prices. Before the second world war Leitz were pre -eminent in the high standards they set and in the control of tolerances in camera production. I still believe they are the best but up to 12x16 it is very difficult to identify any real superiority.
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I saw the first leica image when I tested out the 50/2 latest cron from a shop. I did not own any leica gears then. I shot a few low light closeups with that lens and the images processed from the same lab I used were much better looking than say the contax50/1.4 in the same kind of light. Well so that's how I got into Leica.


I don't need to defend the gears I own just because they cost more and hence they should be better. They are IMO better, in low light wide opened. Your opinion may differ though. But let's not argue over it.


I still use my yashica fx3 with a $50 24mm lens for real wide angles...and they look great too.

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Brian Sweeny wrote: <I>I keep having the overwhelming desire

to load Kodachrome into my cameras

everytime I read one of Hans' posts. I can't figure it out.

Resistance is Futile



<A HREF="http://www.wildlightphoto.com" target="_blank">

<IMG SRC="http://www.wildlightphoto.com/birds/haha00.jpg">



<B>Harris' Hawk, captive</B> - Sacramento, California<BR>

<I>Leicaflex SL, 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R, Kodachrome 25</I>



IMHO Kodachrome behind Leica glass is unbeatable. This scan

was made with a Polaroid Sprintscan 4000, which did not record

all the shadow detail, using Vuescan, which clipped some

highlights. I'll have a drum scan of this photo some time this

coming weekend. There's FAR more in this slide than can

possibly be displayed on the web.

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<i>"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 wide-open,"</i>

<p>You are again showing your exceptional bias and religious fervor by comparing apples to chestnuts. No, I cannot see a difference in the Summicron 50 and Canon EF 50. However, I had both the 35/1.4-M ASPH and the Nikon 35/1.4 AIS, and the M is slightly better at the widest apertures. No surprise there, we're comparing a newly designed formulation vs a design that hasn't changed since the 70s. But even then, the difference wasn't as blow-up-in-my-face apparent as some Leica fanatics tried to convince me to believe, and subsequent testing showed much of the difference (in perceived corner sharpness wide open) to be due to field curvature in the Nikkor rather than a deficiency in resolution.

<p><i>"either you or the lab who makes your prints is doing something wrong."</i>

<p>I don't do lab prints, and that's why I can't take your "can see a difference in 4x6" posts seriously. I shoot slow, fine-grained slide films (Provia and Velvia 100F), and do 4000dpi scans and 4x6 <u>FOOT</u> projections.


<p><i>"For wide-open shooting, many Leica lenses are simply unbeatable."</i>

<p>As can be said for many lenses of other makes.

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<i>"Leica and Kodachrome is so much better than any other combination that it is just short of criminal. I really feel sorry for those who shoot Nikon and Velvia...really sorry..."</i>

<p>This deluge of religious hogwash is really nothing short of exceptional. So I guess you would know better than National Geographic photographers, the majority of whom shoot N/C SLRs with Provia and Velvia by choice? Funny, I don't see your name on the staff list. Maybe you should send your work to their Photo Dept so you can show them what they're missing!

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"Before the second world war Leitz were pre-eminent in the high standards they set and in the control of tolerances in camera production."


...is an opinion but not one that fits the facts, so far as I can see. From 1936 onwards Zeiss Ikon Contaxes were considered to be superior to Leicas both mechanically and optically. Indeed, many people had thought their glass was at least as good from 1932 onwards, although the Contax 1 had few friends.


Leica is a company that has very successfully marketed a myth about its products bolstered by ever higher and less realistic prices. I think this is in some ways a shame because I really like my Leica and wish more people could afford to play with one. The truth is that the Leica is a nice camera and the glass is as good as anyone else's but I have my doubts that it's any better.


Oh my god, once again I find myself on the same side of an argument as Al! This is becoming embarrasing...



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Al Feng:


National Geographic's photographers have used Kodachrome for decades.


As for their photographers, I once saw a NG TV program that showed one of them in action. He was photographic parrots flying around. To be blunt, I was unimpressed in the extreme with the 'intellectual equipment' this guy displayed, if one may judge of his speech. It was frankly embarassing. He used a Nikon F5 and Sensia film, from what I could see.


Leica and Kodachrome are unequalled....

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<i>To be blunt, I was unimpressed in the extreme with the 'intellectual equipment' this guy displayed, if one may judge of his speech. It was frankly embarassing."</i>


Why would a NG photographer's equipment choice embarass you? Is it because his choices didn't confirm yours? Well, what does he know -- he's only in NG, and you are published, um, where?

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Al, I don't have "religious fervor" here. I'm not trying to 'convert'

anyone to my 'religion.' It's you, and quite a few others, who feel

the need to pop in on the Leica forum from time to time to let us

all know we're fools and we're wasting our money.


If you were to say,'There's no difference between Leica and

Brand X <i>that justifies the price difference'</i>, then I would

agree with you. If you were to say, 'There's no difference

between Leica and Brand X <i>that will make up for the

photographer's lack of skill</i>,' I would agree with you still. But

you simply state that there's no difference between Leica and

Brand X, <i>Period,</i> and that's nonsense. 4x6 prints, 400

speed film, wide-open, I see it every time.


I am in no way claiming they posssess 'magical' qualities that

will transform a bad picture to a good one -although I grant you I

have heard some people make some pretty far-fetched claims of

that nature on this forum- merely that there is a visible difference

wide-open in many cases. If you don't see the difference, or it's

not imporant to you, that's fine. But don't tell me I can't see it,


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As stated here, Kodachrome (or better if available) is what is required to show the true performance of Leica glass. Doug Herr's reproductions here only "hint" at what Kodachrome is capable of when used with the best lenses.


Frankly, if they discontinue K64, I wonder what film (Velvia just doesn't cut it) I would use with my best Leica glass.


To answer the question David, The film you use is a big factor in evaluating lens performance results, don't expect to make any meaningful conclusions from shooting 400 colour neg. film printed 4x6.

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1. Some people - maybe most of us in one way or another - are perception deficient. To cite just one well known deficiency, seven percent of US males have some degree of <a herf="http://www.hhmi.org/senses/b130.html">colorblindness</a>. If one of these men should insist that all shades of red are the same, he is misinformed. If I believe him, despite evidence to the contrary from my own eyes, I am a fool.<p>No one would trumpet his own colorblindness as the standard of perceptual acuity, because colorblindness is a widely established, well documented fact. And yet some people don't hesitate to proudly advertise other, less well documented perceptual difficulties they may have, even to the extent of insisting that these constitute the norm! (And what if they did? Would that be something to aspire to?) <p>The wise man will in my view be circumspect, at least somewhat, with regard to his own acuity - lest he be fortunate enough to wake up one morning - and find in the mirror a large joke.<p>This applies to all of us of course. But has greatest immediacy for those who seem to not yet realize it - which they miss no opportunity to demonstrate, whether by rash statements about the equality of lenses, or the facile rating of photographs.<p>2. Kodachrome.
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Thanks for the detailed responses - and what a beautiful bird

from Doug Herr! "Resistance is futile" and a crime not to use

Kodachrome! Of course! I am glad someone mentioned

"plasticity"; a term often used to descrbe the "roundness"

inherent in older lenses. British author of Classic Cameras and

Amateur Photog contributor Ivan Matanle writes that

manufacturers deliberately used to leave aberations in place, in

order to create this effect! I don't know, but is absolute resolution

of tiny detail the only measure of a good lens?

With all due respect to Kodachrome fans out there (I loved K25)

it's now just too damn hard to get processed if you don't live

close to a lab. Any further ideas welcome. Cheers and happy


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