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Thread: What is the Leica 'glow'??

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    What is the Leica 'glow'??

    I've read about the Leica 'glow' so often and don't really know what 'it' is and which lens in particular has it or has it the most. Please enlighten me

    Thanks

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    A little German pixie dust applied to every exposure ... ;-)

    Actually, it's a subtle rendering quality that Leica strives to achieve with their lenses with high resolution, lots of micro contrast gradient, and a small amount of coma along with smooth and pleasing bokeh. They do a lot of subtle tuning to achieve the look and it is indeed quite subtle. Leica lenses are sometimes not quite as technically perfect as the best Zeiss lenses but usually have this pseudo-magical extra something in the rendering department.

    That's the best I can describe it. I hope others can do better.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Do all Leica lenses have this or some more than others?
    Which lens according to you has the maximum 'glow'?

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Here's an article, by our own Ashwin Rao!

    article

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    ... lots of micro contrast gradient ...
    That's probably the key - but I for one do not know what that phrase means.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    35mm lux preasph is a good example

    lens stopped down.. good micro contrast



    wide open, you get the 'glow'



    100% crop


    another 35mm preash lux wide open


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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??




    100% crop

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Jim, is that 'glow' working for you?
    IMO I dont want a lens like that... it's personal I guess.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by isuperfish View Post
    Jim, is that 'glow' working for you?
    IMO I dont want a lens like that... it's personal I guess.
    works very well for me (most of my lenses are pre 1910... petzvals and portraits for 4x5 & 8x10 that make this one look absolutely sharp.

    .. and if i want tack sharp, razor crisp edges... i can stop this lens down to f2.0 and get that

    it's all about personal preferences... i probably feel the same way about the new glass' look as you do about this. 25 years ago, my personal aesthetic was closer to yours... give me another 25 and i'll probably be back (course by then *everything* will probably look soft to me

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by JimCollum View Post
    works very well for me (most of my lenses are pre 1910... petzvals and portraits for 4x5 & 8x10 that make this one look absolutely sharp.

    .. and if i want tack sharp, razor crisp edges... i can stop this lens down to f2.0 and get that

    it's all about personal preferences... i probably feel the same way about the new glass' look as you do about this. 25 years ago, my personal aesthetic was closer to yours... give me another 25 and i'll probably be back (course by then *everything* will probably look soft to me
    Sadly I have "glow" all the time especially at night
    -bob

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Two words. "Veiling flare."

    Or... "Pixie dust."

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by Moonshine View Post
    Do all Leica lenses have this or some more than others?
    Which lens according to you has the maximum 'glow'?
    Some Leica lenses exhibit this "effect" more than others, all have it to some degree. It's not just a "wide open" imaging phenomenon.

    Which lens has the "maximum glow" ... I couldn't answer. I've had quite a few Leica lenses over the years but never categorized them in terms of how strong their particular "glow" was.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Another with the pre-asph Lux 35 wide open. My copy behaves like JimCollum's above: sharp stopped down and glow wide open. I have mixed emotions about the glow. It works for me in some situations but not others.


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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    I think it is essentially about the well controlled micro contrast of Leica lenses. Compared to say a Zeiss lens (and assuming that both are as sharp as each other) a Leica lens will show smoother transitions of tone at the micro level (the tiny details). The Zeiss on the other hand will show knock your socks off definition of tone, a real punchy hyper real look that also makes the lens look sharper. Anybody who has used a Contax G2 and a Leica M at the same time may recognise the effect.

    So when the lens is open wide and it inherently gets a bit softer this smoother micro contrast causes a melding of tone which causes the glow. This smoother tonal information has always been a feature of Leica lenses and they haven't been tempted to go for the higher contrast Zeiss type look, until that is, they introduced the Summarit range which I think has lost the glow.

    Steve

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    I think this is not a very useful term, because it means different things to different people. Somebody probably said it once, "Those Leica lenses really glow!!", and someone repeated it etc. Someone like Jim will use it to describe the soft-luminance of an older lens wide open -- like the 35/1.4 or the 75/1.4...but another person will say that it is the very high microcontrast the contributes to a 3D effect. These are all real properties for real Leica lenses, but I would not say they are tied together by any "glow philosophy" at Leica. Leica has just been trying to make the best lenses they can make for decades, and in doing so they have made a lot of great lenses! People are looking of ways to describe why they like those Leica lenses better than other lenses from other manufacturers, and "the Leica glow" is an easy stock phrase to repeat when they don't have the words or the ability to articulate a clearer reason as to why they like them better (which is totally fine! I am in this exact same ship of fools and loving every minute of it!).
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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Well said Stuart...

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    The early collapsible Summicrons used Thorium glass, the only that I know of that used it for the front element. Put it over a Phosphorous screen and it will glow.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Brian S:

    Yes, tough to explain, kinda like a sheen over a contrasty shot or a little underexposed look. But it's there.
    Here is few shots showing some "glow".
    It is like the 75 Lux is a black hole, sucking all the light up (or maybe I should pull the hood out even in dim light!).

    M9/75 Lux




    Last edited by edtan; 26th August 2011 at 08:34. Reason: Wrong user

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    I think this is not a very useful term, because it means different things to different people. Somebody probably said it once, "Those Leica lenses really glow!!", and someone repeated it etc. Someone like Jim will use it to describe the soft-luminance of an older lens wide open -- like the 35/1.4 or the 75/1.4...but another person will say that it is the very high microcontrast the contributes to a 3D effect. These are all real properties for real Leica lenses, but I would not say they are tied together by any "glow philosophy" at Leica. Leica has just been trying to make the best lenses they can make for decades, and in doing so they have made a lot of great lenses! People are looking of ways to describe why they like those Leica lenses better than other lenses from other manufacturers, and "the Leica glow" is an easy stock phrase to repeat when they don't have the words or the ability to articulate a clearer reason as to why they like them better (which is totally fine! I am in this exact same ship of fools and loving every minute of it!).
    totally agree.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Summarit 5cm F1.5, wide-open on the M3. The Summarit is low-contrast, a Nikkor would have blown the highlights on this shot.



    Another wide-open with the Summarit.



    "My Interpretation" of Leica glow: Lower contrast lens with veiling flare that preserves shadow detail and maintains highlights. Perfect for Digital.

    And a 5cm f1.4 Nikkor-SC, Sonnar formula, on the Nikon SP.


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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Glow or NoGlow...



    Jupiter-3 5cm F1.5, at F1.5 on the Leica M8. This lens is made from parts of three J-3's from 1955 to 1986, went through three front elements to get this look. Lower contrast than a Nikkor 5cm F1.4, but sharp. Optimized for F1.5.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian S View Post
    Glow or NoGlow...

    Jupiter-3 5cm F1.5, at F1.5 on the Leica M8. This lens is made from parts of three J-3's from 1955 to 1986, went through three front elements to get this look. Lower contrast than a Nikkor 5cm F1.4, but sharp. Optimized for F1.5.
    yea.. there are some really nice non-leica lenses that have a 'glow' to them as well (not counting the numerous portrait lenses from large format cameras)

    a recent acquisition Zeiss 8.5cm 2.0 Jena Sonnar (from 1930 according to the serial #)
    (wide open at the same Pet Cemetery)



    btw.. some excellent examples of different lens renderings in this thread (falling within the 'glow' heading)

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    My 1936 (uncoated) 5cm F1.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar, converted to Leica mount using a J-3 focus mount.



    Wide-open on the Leica M8.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    I get a glowing feeling smetimes when I use my Leica gear- but it requires assistance..



    Photoshop has a glow filter - older uncoated lenses spread light in random fashion into a camera housing and over your film which some see as glow...

    really it is a nonsense word - and attempts to define this are embarrassing to write and to read.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    i guess that wraps up the thread

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    ...attempts to define this are embarrassing to write and to read.
    That's what my friends and I used to call a "conversational door slammer"... and it's very good one

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    I get a glowing feeling smetimes when I use my Leica gear- but it requires assistance..

    Wow! That's a beautiful MP!

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??



    no offence meant to anyone...

    Pete

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post


    no offence meant to anyone...

    Pete
    none taken at all... it brought a smile to my face

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    and attempts to define this are embarrassing to write and to read.
    You didn't even attempt the first thing and nobody forced you to do the second, but thats whats counts, getting stuck in and having an opinion...

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    My definition of Leica Glow is indisputable.

    And I'm careful not to bring the Two radioactive Summicrons close together.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Uncorrected spherical aberration?

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremyk View Post
    Uncorrected spherical aberration?
    Better yet, partially corrected spherical aberation! It's often responsible for what is described as a lens's "character" and/or "glow". Problem is, balancing out the other good performance characteristics of a lens vs. how much spherical aberation one would hope it would have, is often quite subjective. A lot depends on having some of this "good thing" vs. having too much of "it".

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 28th August 2011 at 19:54.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Objectively, the "glow" is an halo around lighlights produced by legacy lenses like Summilux 35/1.4 pre-asph (below).

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    How much do those 35mm's go for these days? I've never seen that look on so wide a lens before? Isn't one of the fast Canon LTM lenses famous for this look as well?
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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Quote Originally Posted by LCT View Post
    Objectively, the "glow" is an halo around lighlights produced by legacy lenses.......
    "What is the Leica 'glow'??"

    ............ but to my eyes, it always look ghastly, which is why I'd prefer it not to be called 'glow', or 'character'; but a design aberration, or lens fault.

    ............ Chris

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    I doubt it is either of the above having been designed like that from all accounts for those who do appreciate the look. In any case an individuals predjudice against the look is hardly grounds for the inability to use a phrase which is based on a large groups appreciation of said effect is it?
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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    I'd like to post something as good as Stuart's excellent post . . . but he's already done that!

    One thing I'm sure of is that there is no definition of it . . .is it the odd effect of an f1 Noctilux wide open? . . . or the splendid concentration of detail and bokeh of a modern 75 'cron asph? . . . the rather jittery out of focus of the 35 cron IV? or the perfection of the modern 50 'lux asph?

    I think that the point is that many of the leica lenses have notable characteristics which are there for us (as photographers) to take advantage of: some of them aren't to everybody's taste (see Chris C above), and perhaps some of them are just an example of the emperor's new clothes . . . But it's hard to resist the draw of a well made shot with a good leica lens.

    We recently scanned a lot of pictures from a family photo album from the 30's to the 60's for a wedding anniversary . . . . it was obvious that lots of them had a real presence, and a little thought showed that these had all been shot with a Leica and a 5cm lens.

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    +1

    Whatever you have to work with, learn how to exploit its advantages and work around its flaws. :-)

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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Thanks Jono! I think it is clear that the Leica glow is like a mirage or trying to find shapes in the clouds or stars -- we see what we want to see. But here's some Leica glow taken using a coke bottle Canon 35/1.8 RF lens.
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    Re: What is the Leica 'glow'??

    Lovely photo, Stuart, but I see a Canon Glow there ... Japanese pixie dust, not German.

    ]'-)

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