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Thread: Leica Glass

  1. #1

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    Leica Glass

    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?

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    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

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    Your right Tom in that it is the everything else that differentiates the print. Maybe I should have asked about slides instead?

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    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    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.

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    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynecrider
    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?
    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

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    Lachlan Young's Avatar
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    My Zuikos eat Leicas for breakfast...

    (especially the 50mm f1.4)

    Lachlan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan Young
    (especially the 50mm f1.4)
    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

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    Lachlan Young's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkr
    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
    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? Imight get one of the older 50mm f1.4s or I might save up my pennies and go for the 55mm f1.2...

    Lachlan

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    Helen B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie Brim
    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.
    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

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    Lachlan Young's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdef
    I've read that the XD-11 chassis is similar to some of the Leica SLRs
    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

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