Leica Glass

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by waynecrider, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

    Messages:
    2,297
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    Floriduh
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Having again read an article on the attributes of Leica glass, this time in their SLR offerings, can anyone here comment on enlargements from Leica glass in the larger sizes such as 11x14 and the qualities that might set Leica apart from it's competition. Or maybe it's just all hype?
     
  2. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do not know, but would venture that prints from all top notch glass would be to all intents and purposes, 'all great'.

    I would hazard a guess and say that Zeiss, Leica, the best Japanese pro-glass will all be similar and the variation within a range will be more significant than between ranges. By this I mean, all ranges have their better and less good lenses and this might be more worth worrying about. I also get the impression that Leica quality control within batches is second to none.

    If you can afford it, great, but I would not sacrifice much by way of photographic opportunities to get the most expensive glass when you could get something to all intents and purposes just as good for less AND do a photo tour or three. This is esp the case if you are shooting mono.

    Zeiss glass for the Contax SLRs seems much cheaper than Leica for example, but just look at how much cheaper Japanese L glass is, esp at the wide end! Also consider utility. I was considering buying into a rangefinder system for work in afghanistan, but realised that a lot of the shots would be at the longer end and speed really mattered. The less time spent squinting thru a finder to get correct focus, the better! I therefore decided to expan my Canon system with some L glass. I will just have to deal with the greater size of it all. I really wanted an RF to be the answer and dont find I get a glow from owning my EOS syst, but being honest it was the right choice. If your work is handheld and would benefit from blistering focus, I would venure that Japanese AF ALR would be the way to go. I am sure that Leica primes would marginally better Canon L glass at wide apertures, but I am certain that I will get more perfectly focused frames from my Eos system, esp when it comes to the tele end and miss less fleeting opportunities. When I have only a few seconds to grab the shot (whilst trying to have eyes in the back of my head) speed is a more important factor.

    At a salgado exhibition, I was amazed by the prints. He uses Leica SLRs in the main, but (aside from his talent) it was the dynamic printing that really stood out from the technical standpoint, not the 'resolution' o 'microcontrast'. The odd image was a touch soft here and there and those from heavily enlarged TriX lost detail to grain, but WOW.........and it was not because of the glass but everything else.

    Tom
     
  3. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

    Messages:
    2,297
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    Floriduh
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Your right Tom in that it is the everything else that differentiates the print. Maybe I should have asked about slides instead?
     
  4. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

    Messages:
    1,607
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Please note: Leica glow is something that you can get from most older uncoated lenses. I have Russian optics that are very, very good lenses. I have a Canon lens that gives me incredible results. It really doesn't matter *who* makes the glass as long as its made well and, in the case of the Russian glass, adjusted well.

    Disclaimer: These are my opinions. I like Leica glass and look forward to owning some, so please don't take my words as Leica bashing or the like. Thanks.
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I can't say it is hype at all, but that said, I am of the firm belief that good glass makes good pictures, no matter the company that made it, Leica carries a bit of a mystic about it and has for ever, working in the photo shop, I had opportunity to shoot and see the results from alot of the top glass in the world, and in real world pictures, I didn't notice alot of difference in the top glass, but I did notice that if it was mentioned that it was a Leica, then the picture took an aura on that most everybody liked, whether that was because it was a Leica shot, I don't know...Don't get me wrong, offer me a M6 with a selection of lenses and I would jump at the chance, but I don't know that it would make my pictures any better..

    As I said, I have always felt that good glass makes good pictures.

    Just my .02

    Dave
     
  6. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My Zuikos eat Leicas for breakfast... :D :D :D

    (especially the 50mm f1.4)

    Lachlan
     
  7. mtnbkr

    mtnbkr Member

    Messages:
    104
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2005
    Location:
    Manassas, Vi
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've noticed that my older, single coated 50mm 1.4 renders a very pleasing image, especially for portraits. It's not too sharp (yes, there is such a thing as "too sharp") and has a "glow" that's hard to describe. I've come to prefer it to the 50mm Nikkor.

    Chris
     
  8. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    No, mine is one of the very late models and, as far as I can see, is almost as sharp wide open as it is stopped down with crisp, sharp rendering at all apertures and an almost total absence of flare. Oh, did I mention I got it secondhand for £70 from Jessops? :D Imight get one of the older 50mm f1.4s or I might save up my pennies and go for the 55mm f1.2...

    Lachlan
     
  9. Helen B

    Helen B Member

    Messages:
    1,557
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Hell's Kitch
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I guess that everyone has their own idea about 'Leica glow'. I've thought of it as shadow contrast coming from low-flare designs - not exactly the characteristic of old uncoated lenses.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  10. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    AFAIK it is the same as the R4 - it was the electronics etc that were different - though there is a story that Leitz bought Minolta zooms, rejected 85% of them, and completely stripped them down and rebuilt them in order that they could be badged 'Made in Germany'.

    Hope this helps,

    Lachlan
     
  11. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wayne

    If you have any specific questions about Leica stuff, feel free to PM me.
    I've used it to make a living for almost 40 years.

    Don
     
  12. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Shame on all of you.

    Leica and Minolta go way back.

    Leica used the chassis and shutter from the XD11, installed a new mirror box, and went from there.

    Some Leica zooms were made by Minolta to Leica specs... like Rollei making Zeiss designs, or Kyocera making Zeiss.
     
  13. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just out of interest was there ever any 'cross-pollination' between Leitz and Minolta with regard to enlarger lenses - I am specifically thinking of the 50mm f4.5?

    All help much appreciated,

    Lachlan
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Wayne,
    I believe you're talking about the article in Photo Techniques comparing the 16.7 megapixel Canon, the 10 MP Leica DMR and the Olympus 5 MP.
    For those who didn't read it, the Cannon and Leica were almost dead heat, with the Canon being slightly better. The Olympus, at 5MP, was an also ran.

    The best combination of all was the Canon mounted with Leica lenses. (does that mean the DMR was worse than it appeared, saved only by Leica lenses?). Comparison photos were posted showing a much sharper picture with the Canon used with Leica lens instead of the "L" Canon lens.

    Unfortunately, the authors don't mention specific lenses used, though they are pictured with zooms. All their testing seems geared toward resolution as determining the winner.

    I have no axes to grind here as I own some Canon, Leica and Zeiss lenses. The two sharpest lenses I own are a 35mm Summicron ASPH for my Leica M and a 135 f2 "L" lens for my Canon 7NE. They are breathtaking in terms of resolution and contrast.

    However, neither of these lenses have ever made me say "Oh, wow!" the way three of my "softer" lenses have... the 50mm Summilux for the Leica M, the 80mm Summilux for the Leica R, and the 80mm f2 for my Contax 645.

    I think digital photography evaluations over-emphasize resolution as the single most important criterion for picture quality. Anyone with a good portrait lens knows better.
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  16. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

    Messages:
    1,325
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Louisiana, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I currently use some older Leitz M-series lenses. They're excellent. I'm sure I never use them to their full potential.

    I think the "glow" thing is not specific to Leica although I've read that the design philosophy of Leitz was one of the reasons their lenses had a certain look. I have some photos done with old manual focus Nikkors that have that look. A lot of it has to do with the film, developer and printing as much as the lens involved.
     
  17. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

    Messages:
    2,297
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    Floriduh
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yes this is in kind of response to that article, which btw I posted a thread in the Gray Area Forum about. It is an interesting article to read.

    My question I guess is, if in capable hands does the Leica glass show improvements in prints, and I think that is answered in Helens repsonse when she noted shadow contrast, but I also believe it goes beyond that.
     
  18. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tom,

    In the epilogue (p. 46) where Dubovoy pays more specific attention to comparison of lens quality between the Canon L and Leica R lenses on the same Canon (digital) body, the author takes into account "sharpness", lens abberations, lens distortion, contrast, color saturation, color accuracy, bokeh, and what he calls an "appealing look" that includes a "brilliant, clean" "three dimensionality". So he's going on more than just resolution. He even numbers his points of comparison in the text, at seven.

    He did, however, leave out "a certain je ne sais quoi". :smile:

    Lee
     
  19. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern, Aus
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    g'day
    this all very interesting, but what does it benefit to have the 'best' if the photographer cannot 'see' or compose an interesting image
    these differences are so subtle it may be more advantageous to actually go and take images by utilising the available equipment to 'its' best rather than talk up its assets
     
  20. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree 100% Ray, the equipment don't matter if the eye ain't seeing! that was what I was trying to get at in my post..

    Dave
     
  21. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    There are many contributing factors that make up a good photograph.

    Wayne's question was specifically about a technical, rather than compositional, aspect of photography. I'm sure Wayne and I and everyone else understand the "seeing" part as the most important requirement. I'm also sure that the people contributing to this thread actually spend lots of time "utilising the available equipment".

    BTW, the differences we're discussing aren't very subtle, at all. They are easily discernable in a 5x7 print.

    Take care,
    Tom
     
  22. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tom,

    I would have to disagree a bit, I can almost bet you money, that at 5x7 you would have a hard time seeing much, if any difference between the top glass from the various manufactures, I know I was convinced many times when I worked in camera stores, that there just is not that much difference..

    Dave
     
  23. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

    Messages:
    2,297
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    Floriduh
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yes this is a technical question (thank you Tom) and not a hypothetical one as to whether a person can shoot a good composition. But Ray's response does bring to mind an old quote I heard apparently by Ansel Adams who said something along the line of, your not worth your salt if you haven't shot 10,000 bad images(?). I'm sure he appreciated good equipment, good technique and perseverance.
     
  24. Sportera

    Sportera Member

    Messages:
    933
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Location:
    New Orleans
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Ok I normally don't get involved with the Leica arguements, but I have a M6 with a summicron 50mm, 21mm, and 90mm. I also have a Nikon F100 with some top primes too. I can say here that with out a doubt my Leica images are almost always technically superior, at 6x9 or above. The Leica glass and the Leica camera is just a great tool that is easy to use and makes one think about the photograph before clicking the shutter.

    My f100 is used for situations where I don't want to or have time to think, and flash or color work. The leica IS an available light camera, it can be used in the studio but I have always preferred an SLR in the studio. It is simply the best 35mm black and white tool to use. Quiet, excellant optics, easy to focus, and easy to hand hold.

    It has some draw backs too, the viewfinder, while highly corrected and easy to focus in very low light, is not 100% accurate. That is to say what you see in the frame lines is not exactly what you get on the film. Its usually a bit wider. For instance the 90mm frame lines are accurate up close but at normal distances the 75mm frame lines are closer to what is acually captured on film. This is something to think about when choosing a camera. You need to decide what is your intended use.

    I would not give up my Leica ever! I realize the F100 and my Nikon primes and zooms are MUCH more versatile, but when I look back through my prints, most of my best work has been done with my Leica, I simply have a greater success rate with it than with any of my other 35mm cameras.

    I too thought the Leica "glow" talk was a bunch of crap and for the most part it is, I still have no glow but what I do have is a perfect little camera that can capture most everything that I would want it to.
     
  25. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

    Messages:
    467
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Leica glass is excellent (a concession as I shoot a Contax IIIa). Great cameras for low light work. But I shoot medium format whenever I can as the tonality on larger prints is much better. My Bronica RF645 isn't much larger than a Leica and the larger neg is an huge advantage. The only drawback is slower lenses - I need to use faster film in low light.
     
  26. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

    Messages:
    387
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Location:
    Old Europe
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    You talk about enlargements and so I assume you mean "sharpness" or resolving lpmm. At this point Leica lenses are surely NOT better then some other 35mm top products like Zeiss, Voigtländer or Nikon for example, some of them are rather sharper in a direct comparison.

    What makes the Leica lenses unique is the special "footprint" or look which is different tho for the several lens generations and for slow or fast lenses.
    A modern 1,4 M- Lux does not differ THAT much from a Zeiss or CV 1,5 Nokton,
    A 2/50 or 2/35 Cron does differ clearly . Though for certain purposes this Leica look is very nice (people) I never found it worth a price 3 or 5 time higher .

    If you want to make enlargemenst take a MF camera, it blows away even the very best 35mm lenses like a handful of dust :smile:

    bertram