Another rangefinder camera quandary, Leica M vs whatever

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Troy Ammons, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    I have settled into LF 4x5 and 8x10 comfortably, but now find myself in a 35mm vs MF quandary once again.

    I have owned quite a few 35mm and MF cameras including a Mamiya 7, Pentax 67 II, Kowa 66, Fuji 690 etc and others.

    I am interested in shooting at or around the 30-40mm equiv lens length mostly with B+W efke 25 or a technical film like Copex.

    I have several options and I now have a 2x3 crown graphic with a 6x9 roll film back that I like a lot and plan to keep

    I have several options that I am interested in.
    Also considering mostly enlargement size and ignoring grain for now.
    This is figuring a film like copex resolves 100-125lp/mm in average contrast.
    Also all this would be considering perfect shooting conditions on a tripod. etc.

    1. I could add a 75-80mm LF lens (like a nikon) in the 50 lp/mm range to my 2x3 graphic and shoot 6x9. Its bulky, very manual and slow. Heaviest of the bunch, but I have movements and I can shoot this lens on my 4x5 camera too. I figure a max enlargement would be 10-12X to roughly 20x30.

    2. I could go for a Fuji GA645ZI and have a zippy auto camera with a step zoom lens etc, although the lens is a tad slow.

    3. I could also go for a Fuji GA645I with a 60mm fixed lens. sort of like the ZI above but a fixed lens.

    Both 2 and 3 above, I would guess have lenses around 80 lp/mm so I would think a 14X enlargement would be in order or to roughly a 20x30.

    4. I could also go for a Leica M with a 35mm F2 lens or a Minolta CL with a 40mm lens. The sharpest lenses of the bunch, but interchangeable. Also the most expensive system. Considering Leica lenses resolve around 100 lp/mm, that would work out to a system rez of about 75 lp/mm. I could do a 18x enlargement or roughly a 18x24 print.

    My questions are, shooting a technical film like copex, These print sizes are looking very similar per my calcs. Of course there are format advantages, the leica is the lightest, 6x9 the biggest negative etc, but after noodling through this, I just cant see much benefit in shooting a 50lp/mm 6x9 over a super sharp 35mm Leica except that for scanning I could scan the 6x9 lower.

    BTW I do have a drum scanner.

    Also shooting copex or Efke, everything will be shot on a tripod.

    I do think that with 400 film, 6x9 would be better due to grain.

    Does any of this make any sense ???

    How big are you leica guys enlarging and still holding a lot of print detail ???

    How does the Minolta CL and 40mm lens compare to a M and a 35mm F2 for sharpness and contrast.

    Thanks
     
  2. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I'm not sure you need a Leica M body to get the lens performance. Why not a Bessa R2a and a Summicron 35mm? Also, don't forget about the Fuji GS645 as an option. But, since you seem to have the dollars, what is wrong with the Mamiya 7?
     
  3. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    Nothing wrong with the M7. I guess I am just interested in something differnet like a leica.
     
  4. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Considering the resolutions and enlargement sizes you are considering, I wouldn’t use anything less than 6x9. Considering also the speed of use, I’d go with the Fuji 690 you mentioned.
     
  5. Louis Nargi

    Louis Nargi Member

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    I'm not aLeica expert by no means but i'v been using a 111a and a 111f for a number of years and I would not use anything else in 35mm the cameras are small enough to put in your pocket there silent and the lenses are wonderful.There more then just sharp, they have a quality that is hard to explain. I'm going to say 3 dimentional. I use tri-x dev. in hc-110 and most of my prints are on 11x14 with no problem with detail. I almost forgot to mention the lenes I use,a50mm summitar f2 not the sharpest 50mm lens Leica makes but sharp enough for me.A 21mm super-angulon f4 and a 90mm elmar. the 21mm is very sharp and the 90 is ok, but as I said before there is somthing else going on with these lenes. Hope this helps.
     
  6. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    leica on a tripod? medium format is so cheap now it really doesn't make sense to use 35mm for anything except handheld photography. No matter how nice of a leica you get the prints won't be as good as MF.
     
  7. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    I've never used a Leica or a Fuji690, but I do understand the advantages of film real estate. I don't see how a Leica neg could come close to producing the same quality large print as a 6x9 neg, especially if you use a modern lens for the 6x9.
     
  8. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    I was just curious and it is a question that I have pondered for a while since I have never used a Leica either, but I have heard of people doing outstanding 16x20 and even 20x30 B+W prints from a leica.

    That curiosity and this article is what got me going.

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/enough-already.shtml

    I am not asking if the quality would be the same as 6x9 in all cases, but I am really wondering if a leica can keep up with MF (probably more 645) with a film like copex or Efke 25. With a soft 690 lens I am sure it could.

    My 2x3 crown graphic is decent and i do have a good lens, but I normally see rez at about 40-50 lp/mm at the film plane. Probably film flatness. Its a pretty cool retro camera, but not even close to a Mamiya 7.

    I guess one area of MF advantage, is you dont have to ring every last ounce of rez out of it to do a 16x20 print.
     
  9. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    So with a camera you have, you get half the resolution on film that you could get with a camera you don't have, with a film that's half the (linear) size???

    I've compared a Bronica ETRS with 35mm back with a top-of-the range (1992) Nikon with a top-of-the range lens. The Zenzanon 75mm was a clear winner in sharpness and detail rendition - even over the same film size.
    Leica lenses will perhaps be sharper, particularly in the wider focal lengths since they don't need the retrofocus compromises. But there are MF rangefinders too, not to mention LF cameras where no retrofocus is necessary and the film is even larger.

    Try EFKE 25 in 5x7"...
     
  10. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    I have shot Efke 25 in 4x5 and 8x10. I am just curious about leica lenses.

    I think I might rent one sometime, just to try out.
     
  11. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Troy,

    I've shot with a CL + 40mm Summicron, roll film backs with a 4x5, and a Fuji GW690II with a 90mm f:3.5 for a couple of decades.

    I've shot a lot of Panatomic-X, Agfa 25, and Pan-F(+) souped 1+100 in Rodinal with the 40 Summicron. Those are potent combinations, and I've been happy with the results up to 11x14, the furthest I've pushed them. Haven't felt the need for 16x20. Experienced MF and LF photographers have stared at the 11x14's from slow films and Rodinal shot with the 40 Summicron and puzzled over how well it does. There is grain visible if you look for it, but accutance and apparent sharpness in the print is great, especially considering negative size. However, the Fuji GW690II lens is in the same league for resolution on the film, but with the larger negative. Mostly I've shot Velvia with that, and gotten great results.

    FWIW, I've seen an independent assessment of the new CV 40mm Nokton M-mount lens that compares very favorably head-to-head with the 40 Summicron and the Minolta version of the 40 Summicron. For me the hallmark of a Leica lens is the ability to carry separable detail further into the shadows and highlights without compressing the overall scale. The comparison I saw of the CV 40mm didn't cover that aspect of performance.

    I'm not really a big tester, so I can't give you resolution to the LPM and that kind of info. But I am careful enough, and care about sharpness enough that I shoot even with the CL on a tripod, monopod, or chestpod much of the time. I'd choose for myself on the basis of what works well for me in the field. The Fuji 690II is bulky, and takes up a small bag by itself, so it doesn't get out a lot even though I love the results. These days I'm more likely to carry an Agfa Record III folder with a 105 Solinar for 6x9, and it does beautifully at the print sizes I currently make. It's slim and light enough that I can stick it in a small compartment of my 35mm rangefinder bag or the 4x5 field camera bag. The Record III and an Isolette I 6x6 combined take up about the same space as my spot meter.

    There's a group of people who shoot the 40 Summicron on their M's (as opposed to the CL) because of its focal length and optical performance, especially for the price, and it was considered a real sleeper when it came out. Comparing it to a 35 Summicron would vary depending on the vintage of the 35, but it's in the same league as concurrent 35mm Summicron production. Leica has tended towards higher contrast in later designs.

    This isn't really a complete answer, but I hope it helps some. Let me know if you have questions. If you want to send me a roll of the film you're interested in, I can run a roll in any of the cameras I have and mail it to you for processing and assessment. If you send me 120 and 35mm, I can do a same-subject comparison of the 40 Summicron and the Fuji 90mm f:3.5 on the GW690II.

    Lee
     
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  12. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I'm not sure why I understand the reason for wanting a 35mm/MF camera. If you are shooting on a tripod and you already have 4x5 and 8x10 cameras, why don't you just use the LF instead? Is it in the ease of setup?
     
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  13. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Leica lenses are good but everybody makes good lenses. Lots of people wax sublime over Leitz/Leica glass but I use Leica rangefinders for the M bodies, not the lens quality.

    I don't print big, so I never use lenses to their full potential anyway. Up to a cropped 11x14, my Pentax 645 lenses and Mamiya TLR lenses will beat the pants off any 35mm.
     
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  15. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Just buy them all, it's the only way to get people on the net to stop telling you that you made the wrong decision :smile:
     
  16. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    bjorke, Good answer. I guess I should have phrased this as more a hypothetical question.


    Lee L. Thanks for the informative answer.
     
  17. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The difficulty with forming a relevent answer is that the criteria is both contradictory, and incomplete.

    What do you want to shoot ? What are the conditions ?

    What is the final product ?

    .
     
  18. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    As you might guess from my avatar, Troy, my Leica M and my 8x10 are pals. Anytime the 8x10 gets an outing, the M tags along. But, the M's role in the relationship is to be the small, light, convenient companion, recording peripheral details the 8x10 doesn't want to be bothered with (she's a snob).

    When comparing format sizes and resulting resolution, I've come to the conclusion that negative size tends to trump theoretical lens resolution. But, that is also a shallow basis for practical comparison. There are numerous other factors that are appropriate to consider, as with other tools.

    If the prime objective is to make big prints of reasonably static subjects, I say go for the largest format in which the camera's features are both pleasing and convenient for the task - especially if a tripod will always be used. On the other hand, I know I can get shots of more fleeting subjects in low light with the M, hand-held at 1 sec and f/1.0, and get good prints up to 11x17.
     
  19. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    I have a Bronica RF645 - solid build, quiet, compact, and superb lenses. Plus almost 3x the area of a 35mm neg. And you can get a new body with both 45mm and 65mm lenses for about $1,100 from Robert White. Otherwise, look at a Mamiya 7 for a lot more $$$.

    Robert
     
  20. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Good luck.

    .
     
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  21. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    If you really need a sharp 35mm lens, why not look into a Nikon or Canon "L" . It seems that in terms of resolution, most of the top end versions seem to be at least equal to if not better than Leica M's and substantially less money as well. In all reality though, a 35mm lens that resolves 100 lpm will be lucky to get half of that due to issues of film size and other degrading factors. Medium format seems to be the best ticket in terms of matching lens resolution to that of the film area. Oddly enough, LF isn't the resolution king many think it ought to be. Issues of film flatness and diffraction caused by excessively small apertures necessary to attain depth of field often degrade resolution to levels below what a good MF system is capable of. Unless an LF shooter wants to live with very small depth of field, it is impossible to realize the resolution that the larger film surface area is capable of. I found that this link does a pretty good job of explaining this interesting topic.
    http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/resolution.html
     
  22. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    If you wish to get into 100lpm teritory the Leica will do it. It is highly unlikely that you will get anywhere near it wirh asa 25 film and a hand held camera. I hope that you are planning to use the mother of all tripods.
     
  23. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I hope I don't come across like a smart ass, but here is what I sense:

    You want a new camera. You probably (most likely) want a Leica. You DON'T want to look like a snob who bought it because of the name/cache - mainly in your own eyes. So, you want a very good reason to buy one.

    Here is my thought on that, based on my perception of your dillema (which may of course, be totally wrong):

    Buy the Leica you obviously want - life is too short to over-analyze things to death. One thing is for certain, many things may, arguably, be as good as a Leica RF - but you can be sure your Leica will NOT be any worse than the best of them, and perhaps better. If economy is not the object here, buy the camera that will probably just make you feel good to handle, use and even look at. Why not? Would I? Who cares - I am not you!:smile:

    Peter.
     
  24. gchpaco

    gchpaco Member

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    My Fuji GL690 has a thirty year old lens on it. The idea that a Leica lens could be sharper is to laugh. I simply do not possess equipment that can demonstrate optical defects in that glass wide open and handheld. It is sharp right down to the grain.

    It is, however, a gigantic heavy beast, which is an issue, and at 8 shots a roll and with an f/3.5 lens there's a lot of shooting that it's simply inappropriate for; these dovetail well with Leica strengths in that there are a lot of very fast, very good M mount lenses, and the rangefinder is a useful tool in low light. However, you're talking about bolting it to a tripod at all times, making this strength actually irrelevant. As a result, I suggest the Fuji 645. They are reasonably compact, get a reasonable number of shots to a roll of 120, and with three times the film area will crush a Leica effortlessly for quality. The major downsides--they are loud and the zoom is somewhat limited (and slow)--is actually a nonissue for you because of the tripod.
     
  25. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    I owned a Fuji GL690 and it was a heavy beast so I know what you mean, but honestly I dont think my 4x5 super graphic is that much heavier.

    I had the fuji 65mm F5.6 lens and a 100mm lens and they were both decent, but honestly I have other MF and LF lenses that I think are just as sharp.

    I should have asked my question differrently. Can a leica with the best lens and something like copex or gigabit film equal a fuji 645 with the same film.

    I guess what I am saying is, Are Leica lenses sharp enough to make the format shift nil.
     
  26. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Let's say a good MF lens can give 80 lpmm. Since a 645 film window is 1.5 times as long as a 35mm window, the 35mm lens (Leica or whatever) would have to give 1.5 * 80 lpmm to give the same resolution on a same-size print. That's 120 lpmm.

    Assuming ideal condtions and the same film type in both cameras, I think 80 lpmm in MF is far more realistic than 120 lpmm - even in a Leica.