I bought my first Leica RF in 1953 and first SLR in 1963. Since then I've used whichever is most appropriate. Obviously the SLR excels for closeups and long lenses. For most other photography, I prefer the Leica rangefinder's handling and performance. If I could have only one system, it would have to be the SLR because of its versatility. There is little practical difference in optical performance between my Leica and Nikon systems. Both companies rarely produced prime lenses that were not excellent. I have attributed rare unsharpness to the SLR mirror. A rigid tripod or appropriate shutter speeds prevents this. My Leica M4 and its five lenses have given 41 years of reliable service. Nikon F1 and Nikkormat bodies have occasionally failed.
Originally Posted by georg16nik
As generalisations, most of what you say is true. I can point out some exceptions to you (like how all current Leica wide angles are, in fact, retrofocus just like their SLR brethren... like how an Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm f/2.0 is actually smaller and a whole stop faster than the Leica M 21mm f/2.8, that composing a 21mm image through a separate viewfinder is guesswork at best, etc. Rangefinder wide angles are simplistic because the cannot be used for the interesting compositional possibilities that SLR wides can. The do not have to be designed to perform well at a focus distance of 20cm, etc) But I don't think it'd matter to you... Point is, for every problem in SLR land, a rangefinder seems to offer a solution, and for every problem in rangefinder land, SLRs seem to offer a solution. I certainly don't limit myself to just one or the other - just use both!
The all-time highest-performing 50mm is a rangefinder lens, yes (the Heliar 50mm f/3.5 by all accounts) but it's like 2% better than the OM Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 Macro, and a heck of a lot less versatile. When you're shooting teeny 35mm negatives, how much do these differences really matter? If one really cares, shoot a compact medium format camera instead. Now there rangefinders really DO make sense. An M3 actually makes so little sense these days, but it's such a nice piece of engineering, I keep on using mine... :D
Many people automatically equate rangefinders with smallness.
Let us not forget that rangefinders come in different sizes.
Make note that as far as wide angle compactness and performance I was talking about KMZ Russar MR-2, thou You might never heard, seen, hold or used such lens, when screwed on camera its about 14mm or 0.55".
Originally Posted by philosomatographer
Leica M cameras or lenses are out of my point and totally out of my interest. They are OK made to some extend but You can not compare an almost entirely aluminum M (ok, brass covers) with Leica I or II all brass (only the shell is alu pipe).
In this regard, Zeiss cameras from 30's to late 50's beats the crap out of any Leica.
With Leicas You have painted or anodized alu parts internally while Zeiss used chromed brass or steel parts.
Heliar is good but its not even close to Elmar compactness and performance is about equal for B&W.
As far as optical performance, resolution, definition.. Leica (or any decent) RF lenses outperform medium format lenses and lets not even mention larger formats.
When You shoot 35mm negatives and more specifically high resolution films as Adox CMS 20 or Agfa Copex-Rapid, the advantage of RF is clearly seen. You have to experience it to believe it.
In larger formats You gain from the negative size not from the fact that You have optically better lens, in fact they are optically inferior in most regards.
Now, I agree that RF makes more sense in medium format, my all-time favorite camera, regardless format is Voigtländer Bessa I with Color-Skopar 1:3,5/105, Jeans jacket pocketable beast, parallax corrected, switchable frame lines for close distances.. made 1950 - Best of the Best!
Zeiss Super Ikonta 532/16 or Zeiss Ikonta M 524/16 are close second.
Leicas are last.
In large format my favorite is Sinar P but life is busy, so its once or twice a year thing, at most.
Over the past couple of years I've converted myself to shooting the OM system like it's a rangefinder camera. What I've learned is that so many of the advantages of an M style rangefinder camera can be applied to the OM system as well.
My favorite combination is the OM-3Ti and 35/2.8 right now for shooting within the one to two meter distance. The camera and lens combination is held and shot just like a rangefinder.
I've gone full circuit. From slrs to rangefinder back to slrs. I win!
(TBH I use both, but right now the slrs win most of the time)
Like several others on this thread I, too, began my photographic journey using 35mm (Nikon F2AS) cameras. Given the broad array of subject matter of interest (landscapes, sports, architecture and fine art), the 35mm slr format, and the extensive system Nikon offered, suited my needs. Later, as I became more seriously interested in black and white landscape work, I began shooting (PanF) with a Hasselblad 500c/m, later building an extensive system for that purpose.
About five years ago, I had the opportunity to borrow and put through the paces a friend's M4P and several little Leica lenses. Having schlepped either a Domke journalist's bag or, on longer excursions, a backpack full of bodies and lenses around, the Leica was something of a revelation. Imagine, being able to carry a camera, film and two lenses around in my jacket pocket! A year or so later, I picked up my first Leica (an M6 with a 50mm Summicron). A few months down the road I picked up a 35mm Summilux ASPH and a (90mm Summicron). This year past, on a whim (the individual needed $$), I picked up a second M6 body (a "spare?") and, later a 50mm Summilux ASPH. While the Blad continues to see wide use (PanF plus, E100G, and E100VS are my films of choice for my landscape work), and the Nikons come out when the situation calls for longer, or more special-purpose glass, my M6, generally equipped with the Summilux, and loaded with either HP5 or Tri-x, has become my constant companion. Quiet and unobtrusive, easy and intuitive to use, I often think back over the course of some 30 years' shooting and wonder how, if this marvelous camera had been part of my "arsenal" earlier, my choice of subject matter would have changed, and how my archive would look...
Sigh... more false blanket statements. Several medium and large format lenses perform as good as, or outperform, Leica 35mm rangefinder lenses, and for sure your Russar 20mm, in absolute terms. Of course, the whole point is that this is not generally necessary, with the larger film area. Also, for the kinds of photography I do most, an adjustable view camera works best - horses for courses... but the propagation of the myth that large format lenses somehow perform poorer than other lenses really bugs me. This has been demonstrated time and again to not be the case. And all good lenses become limited by diffraction pretty soon.
Originally Posted by georg16nik
philosomatographer, You need to wet print 35mm negatives for a few years with, at least Leitz Focomat V35 in order to "get it".
Originally Posted by philosomatographer
Years ago, Zeiss did very detailed scientific resoultion tests with different films and their Zeiss lenses. The results were published on their website in the camera lens news 17, 19, 20, 24 and 30.
250 lp/mm at f5,6 and 400 lp/mm at f4., Dr. H. Nasse, chief optical designer at Zeiss, has confirmed this on many occasions and in combination with the high res. films that I mentioned earlier such numbers are scientific facts.
Lens resolution is not the strongest side of the larger formats.
I think main reason for people who doesnt understand the reason of quality of Leica , is glass light spectrum transmittance ability of these lenses. I downloaded all the Leica patents , found the glass name with abbe and ref index and look to their spectrum ranges.
Leica glass especially Fluoride ones out performs the Canon BK7 Borax glass , 4 times wider range.
If we apply a analogy , if your oppenents playing ground 4 times larger at American Football , you can reach your target more easier.
Leica invests hundred times more expensive glasses and to make a better lens than canon is not harder but easier. Thats why , you will nver be able to buy better lens and cheaper price with Leica.