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  1. #11

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    If you want a bump in quality over your Nikon gear, Contax would be the way to go. The price of good Contax bodies has come way down in the last few years. The lenses are starting to go up though. I have Leica gear and it is nice, but I prefer Zeiss optics. If you want something small like a Leica M then a Contax G would be a good option. I have been thinking about getting one myself for a beater camera. They have unfortunately been going up in price recently since those that use the puny crappy digital cameras have been buying the lenses. I wish I would have bought one a couple of years ago when a G1 and a 45mm went for a little over $200. You use to be able to get an entire black G2 system for about a grand too.

  2. #12

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    The best lens is the one you already have or can reasonably afford. Many other factors will affect resolution more than what lens brand you are using. Are you hand holding most shots? Can you focus accurately? These two factors alone will play havoc with lens resolution no matter what lens you use. Back in the day there was an old saying (that at least had some truth in it). 'The best lens is a tripod'. On many SLR's using mirror lock up, or mirror pre-release will even have a measurable effect on performance when used on a tripod. In the 1970's I sold cameras and remember one customer who had bought a Vivitar 400mm f5.6 that just was not producing sharp results at infinity. The problem turned out to be the 72mm Vivitar UVa filter sold to him as 'protection' for the lens. Simply removing the filter solved the problem. As an aside, we tried another Vivitar filter and the lens worked fine with it. So, the first filter was just bad. And....don't get me started on 'sample variation', that is another whole bag of worms.

  3. #13
    GregY's Avatar
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    P, As was mentioned all makers lenses have a signature look. If you're talking Leica rangefinders, some people find them a joy to use (I did) others prefer SLRs. Personally I couldn't live with the electronic rangefinders of the Contax. But no one has talked about the rest of the chain. For B/W I would absolutely dial my own film processing, and become the best silver gelatin printer I could be. If someone else is processing & printing your film, or if you are scanning & inkjet printing....Leica lenses would be...a poor use of good money.

  4. #14
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    If You want authentic vibe for Your B&W shots, then, there is one lens - the classical, uncoated Leitz Elmar f=5 cm 1:3,5. This is the lens that made Leica legendary.
    Types of glasses used for elements, position of the diaphragm after the 1st optical element, out of focus rendering, glow, compactness, style etc. etc..
    Summar and then Summitar are interesting refinements. All of those 3 (and many others) were designed by Max Berek and showcase his signature.
    Summicron is modern type of lens, based on Berek's last lens - the Summitar (1939).
    Essentially the Summicron is a Summitar, corrected for color shooting and with not as pleasing out of focus rendering and glow.

    If You are a painter, the brush wont matter much, since You usually might think that u have all the time, patience and fantasies.
    In Photography this is not always the case and especially in smaller formats as 135.

  5. #15
    pierods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregY View Post
    P, As was mentioned all makers lenses have a signature look. If you're talking Leica rangefinders, some people find them a joy to use (I did) others prefer SLRs. Personally I couldn't live with the electronic rangefinders of the Contax. But no one has talked about the rest of the chain. For B/W I would absolutely dial my own film processing, and become the best silver gelatin printer I could be. If someone else is processing & printing your film, or if you are scanning & inkjet printing....Leica lenses would be...a poor use of good money.
    Greg Y, why is that?

  6. #16
    eddie's Avatar
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    Whenever I see posts like this, I can't help thinking there's a subtext of, "will this make me a better photographer?"...
    The answer is no. The elusive magic bullet doesn't exist. What will make us better photographers is making photographs. Shooting, processing, and printing are the only ways to take our skills to another level. A new lens/system won't. For 99.9 percent of us, it is our technique which is lacking, and which needs more attention.

  7. #17
    darinwc's Avatar
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    All 50mm nikkors are great lenses. Learning to use it and your Fm will make you a better photographer.
    Getting a leica lens will not make you a better photographer.
    Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both yes and no.

  8. #18
    MattKing's Avatar
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    What I will say about the differences between Leica/Nikon/Olympus et al, is that if you refine your knowledge and experience to the point where you are able to discern those differences and learn when they can be used to your advantage, you may gain an advantage from using that knowledge and equipment.

    But it is the knowledge and experience that makes you a better photographer, not the lenses themselves.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  9. #19
    pierods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    What I will say about the differences between Leica/Nikon/Olympus et al, is that if you refine your knowledge and experience to the point where you are able to discern those differences and learn when they can be used to your advantage, you may gain an advantage from using that knowledge and equipment.

    But it is the knowledge and experience that makes you a better photographer, not the lenses themselves.
    How come nobody is spending a good word for Olympus?

  10. #20
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pierods View Post
    How come nobody is spending a good word for Olympus?
    Because you didn't ask

    Does 35+ years of shooting with Olympus lenses count?
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

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