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  1. #1
    pierods's Avatar
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    Leica lenses vs the best Nikons (for b/w)

    I usually shoot a Nikon FM with a 50 mm f/2 from the '60s.

    I like my results, but many people talk about the legendary Leica lenses and so forth.

    Problem is, I don't have the money to buy Leica, so to even try a Leica combo, I would have to save for a year at least.

    Since I only shoot 35mm, black and white, will I see a difference compared with the best Nikon lenses?

    thanks

  2. #2
    sdotkling's Avatar
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    Really---though this will undoubtedly annoy many Leicaphiles (full disclosure: I am one, too)---no, you probably won't. I think it's more important to be completely comfortable with the camera you know. The moment is more important than the lines-per-inch. A 5% improvement in some aspect of resolution or contrast does not make a difference in the quality of a photo, unless you're some kind of technical-optical dweeb. (Dweeb is said in the most positive sense, of course.)

  3. #3
    pierods's Avatar
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    Ok, I see.

    Actually I had thought of trying an Icarex with a Zeiss 50mm, wich should not cost me more than a 100 euros, or (much) less, but then again, how do Zeiss lenses compare to Leicas?

    As far as being comfortable with my camera, I can say that when they made the nikon FM, they made it just for me (even though I was not born yet...)

  4. #4
    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    Yes, you will see differences but not in terms of strictly technical quality. New Leica lenses can pretty out-resolve any film currently on the market so, in the technical sense, when it comes to resolution, sharpness, etc and when looking at MTF charts, etc, Leica lenses do outshine everything else. But that's for tech geeks and shooters don't or should care for the most part. The difference is in the way they render, especially wide open. Contrary to what some say, Leica lenses do have a certain signature, which doesn't mean that they are always better than Nikon or Zeiss but they are different. This is certainly noticeable for color work but also b&w. Also, there is a vast array of old lenses that can be used and give their unique look.
    The difference you are more likely to notice, besides a Leica lens way of rendering, is how your shooting approach would change from using an SLR to a rangefinder system, especially if you are a street shooter.

  5. #5
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    Why not try the Contax G system? Prices 1/10th that of Leica and outstanding for b&w. Just be quick, cause the digital snappers are beginning to see the potential of these lenses on their NEXes & MFTs.

    The Contax G1/G2 are about the only (beit electronic) rangefinders that you can use as though you were using an SLR- this might helpen soften the transition.

  6. #6

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    I would definitely try out some other classic Nikkors and also the Voigtlander SL lenses before falling for some forum induced GAS. Having shot either a Nikon FM,FM2n, or FE2 for the last 17 years (I still own/use all 3), I don't feel like I give up anything from using these cameras and not having a Leica or whatever else. For the cost of a M-series camera, you could round out your FM series kit including an additional body. Hope this helps.

  7. #7
    darkosaric's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I have Leica and Nikon system. My Summicron 50mm is great, but not better than nikkor 50mm - it gives different look, but up to 30x40cm print (max that I print) - I don't see that is sharper or better - only different. Only advantage of Summicron is when I must shoot handheld @f2 and shutter speed slower than 1/60 - it gives better results than F3 + 50/1.8 combo.

    regards,

  8. #8

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    If you are interested in a lens's bokeh you will notice a difference with vintage leica optics. Vintage nikon lenses have often bad bokeh.
    Mark
    Mark Layne
    Nova Scotia
    and Barbados

  9. #9
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    I'd worry more about the pictures I take with them, they are all good lenses.
    Ben

  10. #10
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    I have Leicas, Nikons, and Contax G and SLRs. Frankly the lenses for all are fantastic. Really depends what you're after. My favorite Leica lens is the 50/2 Summicron DR which is sharp but has the moderate contrast I like for many B&W portraits and such. At the same time my 85/1.4 Planar for my Contax SLRs is also fantastic for B&W portraits but is very different than the Summicron DR. Overall my favorite lens of all time is the 45/2 Planar for the Contax G system. In my book there simply is no better lens. The sharpness and character is so amazing (to me) that if somehow I had to give up all my cameras and lenses but one that would be the one set to keep. All this said I find the older Nikkkor lenses from the 60's (the Nikkor-P, H, S and so forth) to be awesome for B&W work so even though I sold my FM2 years ago when I went Contax RX and RTSII for my SLR system when I recently found a great bargain on an F3 I grabbed it. I then bought all those older Nikkor lenses for similar bargains and am having a huge resurgence in my B&W fun even though I do not think I would want to ever part with my Leica, my Contax G or my RTSII. Yes, sounds like I have loads of "unnecessary" cameras and lenses but I've been collecting since I was 16 which is now 32 years ago so much of this was all collected patiently as bargains arose through the years and darn it I have a great time with it all.

    Bottom line is you're not missing out on any pure mystical magic in your photography by not having Leica lenses. On the other hand patiently wait while using your current Nikons for decent bargains and expand into new systems and equipment as time and budget allows. Nothing will be better just different. And that's the fun of it all.
    Last edited by Richard Sintchak (rich815); 11-24-2011 at 03:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

    My Flickr River of photographs
    http://flickriver.com/photos/rich815...r-interesting/

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