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Thread: Lens Selection and Insanity

  1. #1
    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Lens Selection and Insanity

    Since I've gone down that slippery slope of M goodness, I'm looking to build what I'll call an intermediate kit. Meaning, not best of the best, but something that I can work with.

    Needless to say, I actually really like my CV 40 1.4. I've gotten good results thus far, and I'm happy. Sometimes the bokeh is a bit nightmarish, other times, very pleasing. As long as you know what you're getting into , you're all good.

    I put together a little chart (math geek) that showed me that at when I'm looking at a horizontal FOV of 4 ft, 10ft and 20ft the differences between the 21, 24, 25 and 28 focal lengths. Rationale is 4' would be a portrait, 10ft a candid room scene, 20' a generic street scene. We are talking 6" to two steps back difference from the 21-28. While my heart lusts after a 24 lux, well, I love my wife and like being married and have no desire to

    I'm leaning towards the ZM 21. I LOVE that lens on my Nikon, but don't use it anymore for work. Am I insane to see if anyone wants to trade my ZF for someone's ZM? Also, do I need an external viewfinder with the 21?

    I figure a 21/40/75 would serve me pretty well until I... well... upgrade

    How insane am I?
    http://jasonedwardphoto.com http://jasonmuelver.tumblr.com
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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    I am sorry to say you are beyond help already. Once you start even thinking (or lusting) after a 24 Summilux, it's time to admit to yourself that you have a problem.

    My advice FWIW is, do not accept 2nd best. Buying cheaper alternative lenses whilst lusting after Leica or Zeiss ends up costing more in the long term as you trade your way up to the inevitable big ticket item.

    But you know this already
    A7II, FE 35, 55 C/Y 18, 28, 85, 100, 28-85

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    Subscriber Member KurtKamka's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Listen to Eoin ... he speaks the truth.

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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Jason:

    Cheers, Matt

    http://mdriscoll.zenfolio.com

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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Jason: I have a 21mm ZM (my only non-Leica lens). Great lens; but, you need a viewfinder with the M9(if you're particular). Haven't tried it on my M8.

    I would agree that you may end up with Leica glass ultimately; but, I don't see anything wrong with getting a quiver of fast ZM/CV lenses to start. You can buy 3-5 for the price of one Leica lens, and, you're only going to lose a few hundred bucks per lens when you trade up. This way, you could home in on the lenses that you really like to shoot.

    Lots of fabulous photos with Zeiss lenses posted in the M thread. You can also go to Leicaimages.com and do a "lens" search.

    Happy buying. Cheers, Matt

    http://mdriscoll.zenfolio.com

  6. #6
    01af
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    You can have too many lenses but never enough.

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    Senior Member Per Ofverbeck's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by 01af View Post
    You can have too many lenses but never enough.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by m_driscoll View Post
    Jason:

    Cheers, Matt

    http://mdriscoll.zenfolio.com
    Yeah, Yeah... It's not like you didn't warn me going into this..

    But I'm glad YOU'RE enjoying this!
    http://jasonedwardphoto.com http://jasonmuelver.tumblr.com
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by m_driscoll View Post
    Jason: I have a 21mm ZM (my only non-Leica lens). Great lens; but, you need a viewfinder with the M9(if you're particular). Haven't tried it on my M8.
    http://mdriscoll.zenfolio.com
    Would like to hear your thoughts if you could plunk that on your M8 sometime. The 25 looks like a great option as well.

    Then again, so does a 24 Elmarit or whatever it's called.

    All you guys are right. I DO have a problem. I've got MacCallan 25 taste on a Dewars budget.
    http://jasonedwardphoto.com http://jasonmuelver.tumblr.com
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  10. #10
    Super Duper
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Hi Jason,

    I just sent you a 2nd PM with some preliminary thoughts regarding the Leica Lux 21 & 24mm lenses vs. their slower counterparts, so I won't repeat most of what I wrote in the PM, here....(meaning I'll leave out commenting on the 21 & 24mm Luxes).

    Since you're using a M8, I know you realize you have the 1.3x crop factor to deal with. You mentioned that you love your Zeiss Zf 21mm on a DSLR. To achieve a similar field of view on the M8, you would need to use a 15mm or 16mm lens, which after the crop factor is taken into consideration,, results in a 20/21mm field of view. Your choices for 15/16mm is somewhat limited. There is the CV 15mm f4.5, which although is relatively inexpensive, does have some red edge issues when used on the M8. The Zeiss 15mm f2.8, which is superb but extremely expensive and not rangefinder coupled, meaning you have to zone focus or estimate camera to subject distance (although of course depth of field is great). Lastly there is the Leica WATE (16/18/21mm f4 lens). It too is expensive, optically superb and a bit of rigging is required to efficiently mount the required UVIR filter. Lastly there is the Zeiss 18mm f4 (and Leica's 18mm f3.8)...both exceptional and will yield a field of view of a 24mm lens. I prefer the Zeiss as many do, not only for it's relatively low cost compared to the Leica, but much lower distortion.

    I already discussed some thoughts on the wide angle Lux's you mentioned in the PM to you. On a M8, to get a field of view of a 28mm lens, you would use a 21mm lens. As others have mentioned, the Zeiss 21mm f2.8 is superb and from personal experience gives Leica's 21mm f2.8 Elmarit-M a run for its money...maybe even better in some respects (in the outer zones). Since the M8 has internal framelines as wide as for a 24mm lens....some do not use an external viewfinder when using a 21mm lens with the M8. They look at the whole frame and visualize a bit more. This works for some but not others...its a personal choice.

    Now for 24/25mm lenses on the M8 (resulting in a approx 32mm field of view, the Zeiss 25mm f2.8 and Leica 24mm f2.8 are extremely close in performance, both wide open and stopped down. Just a different look but I feel each are some of the best lenses in their respective focal lengths. So is the new Leica 24mm f3.8.

    In terms of 28mm lenses (resulting in a field of view of approx 37mm), there are many great ones. The older CV 35mm f1.9 is of low contrast wide open but a very good lens stopped down. The current CV 28mm f2 is also excellent but suffers from focus shifts. Both these CV lenses are softer in the corners that the Leica 28mm f2.8 asph (a very high contrast lens that's extremely sharp edge to edge) and then the legendary Leica 28mm f2 cron asph...almost without fault. The zeiss 28mm f2.8, I have little experience with, but from what I hear, it's good, sometimes soft in the corners and not everyone's favorite Zeiss among Zm lenses.

    When it comes to 35mm lenses on the M8 (resulting in a field of view of approx 47mm), there are dozens of great choice to fit every budget. Personally (and many will disagree with me), I am not a fan of the CV 40mm f1.4 but it does have many positive attributes. I'm not fond of its bokeh nor its focus shift. It is though a very sharp lens.
    I do favor the Leica 35mm f2 cron asph, its predecessor, the 35mm Cron Ver. IV, the incredible CV 35mm f1.2, a best buy in both it's speed and near perfect performance for the money....but its a very big lens close to SLR size. Then of course there is the Leica 35mm Lux asph Ver I and the new II. Both are tremendous but some Ver I's, depending how they are adjusted can exhibit varying degrees of focus shift.

    In 50mm lenses, there are almost too many too mention. For a budget, the CV 50mm f1.5 is astonishingly good and close in sharpness to something between the current Leica 50mm f1.4 Lux asph and it's predecessor, the great 50mm f1.4 Lux pre-asph. The Zeiss Plannar 50mm f2 is one of the best 50mm f2 lenses and a best buy and the Leica 50mm f2 Cron is a classic and almost neck and neck. The Zeiss 50mm f1.5 Sonnar, is more of a unique specialty lens in the way it draws and does have focus shifts.

    Lastly I'll mention 75mm, leaving out the Leica Lux f1.4 since its more of a portrait lens (a superb one at that). The Leica Cron 75mm f2 in terms of sharpness/speed, may get the nod for being the best...up there with the Leica 50mm f1.4 Lux asph. The Cv 75mm f2.5 is an all time best buy and is very close to the Cron in performance in many ways except it does often have a fair amount of CA when used wide open. The current summaraits like the 75mm f2.5 is also superb at a lower cost than the cron.

    I didn't mention the other Leica Summarit lenses (the 35, 50 and 90), but they are all very good to excellent and much has been written about their cost/performance ratio.

    I know I left out dozens and dozens of everyone's favorites. This was just meant as food for thought...or as for some of us, becomes our "only food", after we spend for some of these lenses. Have fun!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    ....All you guys are right. I DO have a problem. I've got MacCallan 25 taste on a Dewars budget.
    The best advice I can give is to buy 1 bottle of MacCallan 25 (insert absolute favorite focal length) and savor it, rather than a case of Dewars and become an alcoholic on mediocrity.

    During my time with an M8 I wasn't much of a wide angle shooter, that being said, I had a 21mm Elmarit which I used without an external finder. It was hard to fault optically. However given it's Fov & perspective, it was not what I'd consider a lens for many situations.

    My most used lens and perhaps my favorite on the M8 was the 28 Cron Asph. It had the most wonderful drawing ability, almost perfect amount of contrast in any situation and had the ability to hold detail in highlights and shadows like no other Leica lens I've owned.
    Perhaps sometimes the Fov was a little limiting on the wide side, but for everything else, even up close, it was perfect.

    A 2 lens 28/75 Summicron would be my choice with a CV 15 kicker for ultra wides.
    A7II, FE 35, 55 C/Y 18, 28, 85, 100, 28-85

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Eoin... totally with you. But as Borat would say

    "... he cannot afford..."

    My forray into Leica glass will probably be a 28 Elmarit or 35 Summarit. I think I can live w/ one stop for $2k savings, yes?
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    Super Duper
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    Eoin... totally with you. But as Borat would say

    "... he cannot afford..."

    My forray into Leica glass will probably be a 28 Elmarit or 35 Summarit. I think I can live w/ one stop for $2k savings, yes?
    on the M8 I would go 28mm

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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Jason Wrote---> "My foray into Leica glass will probably be a 28 Elmarit or 35 Summarit"<<<

    yes as t streng mentioned, I too would go with a 28mm lens if used on a M8. The 28mm on an M8 gives you an approx classic 35mm field of view, whereas a 35mm lens (on a M8) yields a normal 50mm field of view...so your decision for one or the other would probably be as to whether you want a 35 or 50mm field of view and of course dependent on the other focal length lenses you own or plan to purchase
    .
    If by 28mm, you meant the 28mm f2.8 asph (as opposed to the pre asph), it can be a very good lens, small light, but you just have to watch out for exposure for highlights due to its relatively high contrast leading to blown highlights in high contrasty scenes, as compared to other 28mm lenses. Sometimes it's an issue, sometimes not, depending if you're shooting in bright contrasty lighting.

    ADDITION ADDED---> I completely agree with Eoin & Guy (below this post). The 28mm Cron Asph is more than just a 1 stop faster lens. It's imaging characteristics are sublime, handles contrast extremely well yet is extremely sharp edge to edge, at virtually all f-stops. I too haven't shot with a 28mm rangefinder lens like the 28mm Cron asph, that comes close to all its positive characteristics as others have described. Of course all this comes at a cost. There are though a few less expensive alternatives to the 28mm Cron, but I found some aspects of imagery might have to be sacrificed with some of them.

    The 35mm Summarit is excellent but in its price range there are literally a dozen or more 35mm lens, one can make a very convincing arguement for (instead of the Summarait), when used with the M8. Jason as many have said, one doesn't need to go for broke to obtain phenomenal M lenses that often come extremely close to the best most expensive ones, and often times equals them except perhaps for the ultimate speed of the lens.

    In addition, more so than say with shooting with a high end DSLR system, the choice of using lenses with a rangefinder system, can also come down to the look or way a lens ""draws, which sometimes comes with a very small sacrifice of ultimate sharpness.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 11th December 2010 at 10:03.

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    Eoin... totally with you. But as Borat would say

    "... he cannot afford..."

    My forray into Leica glass will probably be a 28 Elmarit or 35 Summarit. I think I can live w/ one stop for $2k savings, yes?
    Well, I'd seriously re-consider your choice of a 28 Elmarit over a 28 Summicron.

    There is too much contrast with the elmarit IMO, where as the Summicron is sublime. Seriously, if your going to go with a 28 don't pass over the Summicron. Even if it means a month of beans on toast.

    It's not for the 1 stop advantage, the summicron is a different animal and in a different class altogether IMO.
    Last edited by Eoin; 11th December 2010 at 09:33.
    A7II, FE 35, 55 C/Y 18, 28, 85, 100, 28-85

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by Eoin View Post
    Well, I'd seriously re-consider your choice of a 28 Elmarit over a 28 Summicron.

    There is too much contrast with the elmarit IMO, where as the Summicron is sublime. Seriously, if your going to go with a 28 don't pass over the Summicron. Even if it means a month of beans on toast.
    Completely agree. I tested the Elmarit and it was nothing compared to the Cron. Don't waste your money. Had terrible color as well
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Completely agree. I tested the Elmarit and it was nothing compared to the Cron. Don't waste your money. Had terrible color as well
    +1. the Cron 28 has changed the way I see things.
    Bill

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Caulfeild-Browne View Post
    +1. the Cron 28 has changed the way I see things.
    Bill
    You guys are brutal!

    OK.. so if you know any to-be brides that are on the hunt for a photographer....

    Are there different versions of the 28 Cron? I know.. total newb question, but since there's like 4 versions of other lenses....
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  19. #19
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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    LOL...Jason. when I first quickly read your statement >>> "so if you know any to-be brides that are on the hunt for a photographer"<<< .... I thought you were asking if there are any woman who have a large "Dowrey" that also want to become a bride to be by their desire to marry a photographer now! I though that might be one way to purchase all the lenses you might desire Then I realized you're married! OK, hit me over the head, you meant "brides to be" that need to hire a fabulous photographer (namely you!).

    As for your question, if you're set on the 28mm Cron... just look for "the" 28mm Cron Asph. (I don't think there was ever a 28mm Cron non-asph, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this fact. Therefore only two ways this lens was released, non 6 bit coded, then later 6 bit coded.... otherwise they're the exact same lens.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: Lens Selection and Insanity

    I use a 40mm Summicron a lot, & own a 28 Summicron; but if you've settled on 40 for your 'normal' lens then I'd consider is the Zeiss 25. Some coded ones have been sold here & on RFF for reasonable prices (around $1K with coding) & IMO it would mate especially well with a 40.

    My experience is that 21 is too wide a field & introduces too much distortion with the slightest tip off-level. And if you go to 28 (OK with 40 but not as good as 25?), follow the advice above & don't get an Elmarit. They're awfully contrasty & will force you to buy a Summicron right away! (Or that was my expensive experience.)

    Kirk

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