I have owned the Nikon 200/2 VR I for some time now, and it is an absolutely fantastic lens. Sharp, unbelievably fast AF, VR, boke to die for, and so on. On the other hand, the Leica 180mm f/2 Apo-Summicron-R has been a long-time dream lens for me, and I have been wondering recently if the greater size and extra 0.5kg of the Nikon are really offset by its AF and VR. I have found myself using it mostly on my tripod, i.e. with manual focus and no VR.
I recently sold a Leica M lens, so by stretching a little, I was able to pick up the Leica, with the intention of comparing the two, and selling the one I like less. In this thread, I will attempt to compare the two lenses fairly in two areas:
- Image quality
I presume that the Nikon 200/2 VR is roughly comparable to the 200/2 VR II, as well as the Canon 200/1.8 and 200/2 IS, so this thread could also be potentially useful/interesting to Canon owners. There are sure to be small differences, but these lenses are all superlative, and so the commonality will be greater than the differences.
To start off, let me list the practical advantages of the two lenses, as I see them at this time. This may change as I spend more time comparing them.
- Hood coverage
Leica pros (with Leitax adapter and Dandelion chip):
- Compact size
- Focuses to 1.5m instead of 2m
- Better shape for hand-holding
- Lower weight (2.5kg vs. 3kg)
- Proper lens cap (the Nikon baglet is hard to get off quickly)
- Built-in hood
- Better for manual focus
- Better balance on a Nikon D3
- Quick to get ready to shoot (mount lens, take cap off, pull hood out)
- I hesitate to list this, but the Leica can take 100mm filters. I have never seen one, and they must be horrendously expensive, but there it is. It also takes Series-6 filters internally.
There are some other differences which could be seen as an advantage for either, such as the fact that the Nikon is carried on the lens strap, with a lens-cap-bag around the reversed hood, meaning that when the bag is removed and the hood mounted, it is easy to pack the hood in a camera bag, leaving nothing else to carry. The Leica has a separate pouch which protects the lens better, but which then needs to be carried over the shoulder when the lens is in use.
Before I get into photo posts, I would like to encourage anyone who has owned any of these 5 lenses (Leica, 2 Nikon, 2 Canon) or other similar-spec lenses (180-200mm, f/2 or less) such as the Zeiss 200mm f/2, to please join in and post any images they have which they feel show off some characteristics of that lens.