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Thread: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

  1. #1
    ian_k
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    Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Hi all. This is my first post to introduce myself and ask you learn-ed types for one or two insightful recommendations.

    I'm just one more whose fallen for the legendary allure of the Leica and have recently decided to throw my wallet into the gaping jaws of ownership! As a long time 35mm filmy who adopted digital fairly early, I'm now fed up with the size and weight of the DSLR world. I now want to travel light without compromising on IQ - so an M8 will be winging its way to me soon once I've decided on glass.

    Unobtrusiveness and portability are high priorities, but my budget is presently limited so luxs and crons are out for now. The other main priority is a need for lowish light ability. I'm thinking I can manage with just 2 lenses, say 18 and 35. Also, I'm particularly interested in b&w and tend to favour a medium to contrasty quality. Street, internal and portraits are mostly my thing.

    More than a few hours reading here and elsewhere has educated me in what's available but some help from those with first hand experience will help blow away the cloudiness that has now settled in my head. I'm really lensed out!

    Someone please just tell tell me what to buy for pity's sake!! Many thanks, Ian.

  2. #2
    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    I would suggest you subscribe to Sean Reid s site Reid Reports. He tests virtually all the alternatives and highlights were in practical use you would see a difference. The alternatives(to the current leica glass) can be broken down into three groups ..(1).the VC lenses(you can see them all at cameraquest.com) generally less than $1000 ...frequently lower in contrast...several best buys ...new 28/2 looks promising (2) the zeiss zf lenses ..most around $1000..some slightly higher (look at Popflash.com) ...higher contrast than most Leica lenses ....well regarded (3) the preasph versions of the Leica lenses ....the 35/2 summicron and the 50 pre asph both around $1300-1400 used are preferred by many on the forum. You will find more alternatives if you start with a 21 /35 combination..as zeiss makes the only 18 (a superb lens IMHO) . Leica of course has the WATE 16-18-21 but its out of your stated price range. With one body ...you will normally have one lens on the camera 80% of the time ....which is why most start with a 21/24/25/28 ..and then add a 2nd lens. The most common 2 lens outfit is the 28 /50 combination . I prefer the 21 as my "lens cap'' but I use 2 bodies and I do a lot of street shooting where the slightly wider angle makes framing easier.

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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Me I would go 18 zeiss only choice the new voigt 28 f2 and the zeiss 50 f2 If you are talking m8 that is sorry it is 3 lnses but for protraits street shooting and a wide that would be the best way to go for low money. I saw really nice low light photos from the 28 f2 voigt the zeiss 50 I ahve owned great lens for portaits the 18 zeiss Guy did some nice things with. Good luck David

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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Welcome Ian,
    Not sure how limited your budget is but a great little lens is the 35mm Voigtlander color skopar. It is tiny, f2.5 not as fast but an amazing performer for the price and is an easy place to start until you figure out what else you really want. In the US the lens is $229 + $55 for the screw to M mount adapter (better for coding and make sure you get a type II adapter). Others have given you some good advice.

  5. #5
    spylaw4
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    As you are in the UK, you may want to look at Aperture Photographic for new and 2nd hand lenses and also Robert White for new Zeiss and CV lenses.
    Remember on the M8 there's a 1.33 crop factor.

    I use the CV28/1.9 quite a lot and can also recommend the CV35/2.5, which is amazing for its price. For a 50mm - look into the CV1.5 Nokton.

    Don't forget that 2nd hand Leica lenses can also prove very good buys.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    ian_k
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Thank you all for your invaluable suggestions at this difficult time! Some very useful pointers indeed. A little assisted focus goes a long way.

    I'm hurriedly looking into all the suggested possibilities as a decision is needed in order to acquire the kit before a trip to Morocco. Thanks again. Ian

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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Definitely buy used if possible -- there are tons of superb used lenses in Leica M mount -- since there are no electronics or af mechanisms to mess up, they tend to stay in perfect working order for decades. Even if you buy current lenses used, you will probably save thousands of dollars on Leica lenses and hundreds on Zeiss and Voigtlander.
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Hi Ian:

    I have a 6 bit coded excellent/mint 35mm Cron asph that I am planning to put on eBay soon. The going prices of this lens is quite low right now, about $1300 to $1500US. PM me if you are interested.

    Alan

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Quote Originally Posted by apsheng View Post
    Hi Ian:

    I have a 6 bit coded excellent/mint 35mm Cron asph that I am planning to put on eBay soon. The going prices of this lens is quite low right now, about $1300 to $1500US. PM me if you are interested.

    Alan
    That is an excellent offer as the cron asph is an outstanding lens. One thing I forgot to add is that you need to factor in the whole 6 bit coding and uv/ir filter costs . Neither the Zeiss nor the VC lenses come coded for the M8. Some of the VC lenses are screw mount so that the M adapter can be coded....you need to budget $150-200 per lens for coding because you often have to get a new mount. The UV/IR filters run $100-150 ...you can save some by buying B&W 486 filters used ...they are not quite the match for the M8 software that the Leica filters are. You can for a time get by with hand coding the lens with a sharpy. The best money you can spend now is the Reid Reviews..he covers all the lenses with examples are highlights the best approach for filters and coding. Coding is important on the lenses up thru 35mm after that its not as important. But they all require a uv/ir filter.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    My take on leica M8 glass and i have had many of them. Needless to say my pocket still squeezes up when i mention leica. LOL

    Seriously though you can read all you want on these but the end of the day there are some real players. I will just list some of the better ones i used extensively that I really liked a lot than on the 4 that made the most sense in the later term of having a M8. Some really nice non Leica glass the CV 12mm and the CV 15mm cheap and very good at the wide end. The 12mm was my favorite out of the 2. Zeiss 18mm is a gem extremely sharp but a little on the contrasty side. Wate Tri-elmar 16/21/21 very very good but very very expensive but maybe the best zoom type lens around in anything. leica 21mm and leica 28 cron. These two are my favorites they both have a great look to them and have great tonal ranges and smoothness you just can't beat. The 28 cron for me is a must have and if only one lens than this is it. The 35mm Cron version IV has a great look to it and really liked that out of all the 35mm .The 35 lux was also nice but somewhat a issue with focusing for somefolks. The 50mm asph and 50 mm pre-asph. Well nothing and i mean nothing will touch a 50mm asph lens . It is sharp wide open and just a amazing lens but the pre asph is a look lens and finally wound up with that for the great look it provided. The 75 lux is the dreamy lens , soft wide open but with a nice glow to it , stopped down a razor blabe a 2 for 1 lens. the 75 cron sharp right at F2 all the way down, hard to beat. 90 apo is another nice lens if you need something long. Some nice lenses i tested and those are the Summarits. The 35mm has a really nice look to it and the 75 and 90 mm ones are very nice and focus great. My five personal favorites are the 12mm,leica 21, 28 cron , 50 pre asph and the 75 cron for when you need really sharp. Mileage may vary with some but after having the M8 since day one this was what I wound up with and 15 lenses later. The Zeiss glass is very nice so do not overlook it , in general terms for Zeiss sharp but a little higher in contrast.

    Cv lenses they make a few that are very nice but a PITA to get setup for the M8 with mounts , coding and such but can be done if you want to deal with it. Same for Zeiss with coding, can be done. i do recommend coding and IR filters . i only shot the 12mm without the IR filter the rest had them but a user decision on that.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Quote Originally Posted by ian_k View Post
    I'm just one more whose fallen for the legendary allure of the Leica and have recently decided to throw my wallet into the gaping jaws of ownership!
    My suggestion is to start with a used Leica lens if your budget allows it. The Leica lenses will be better at dealing with the large contrasts you will run into in your Morocco trip.

    The 35mm Summicron ASPH offered in a post above is probably the perfect starter lens.

    Robert

  12. #12
    ian_k
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    My sincere thanks again for all the fantastic input.

    Used Leica lenses are certainly much more affordable than new, which opens up many more exciting possibilities. I'm now well on the way!

    Ian

  13. #13
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    HI Ian
    I've owned (and still own) too many Leica lenses! Still, there are 4 lenses which tend to go around with me these days:

    1. Voigtlander CV15 - it's so small, so cheap, and so good
    2. Zeiss 25 f2.8 - startlingly sharp, right to the corners
    3. Zeiss 50 f1.5 sonnar - the poor man's noctilux - this is very small, and from f1.5 to about f2.5 it's got that dreamy look of the nocti, from f2.8 onwards it's very Zeiss - sharp and splendid
    4. Leica 75 summicron - not so cheap, but it's a great 'all purpose' kind of a lens - focuses close, has a lovely bokeh, isn't too big (the 75 'lux is more mentioned, but it's a big beast).

    As a cheaper alternative, the 90 f2.8 elmarit is a nice small lens which focuses pretty close, and can be got hold of pretty cheaply (I've got one which I'll be selling when I get around to it).

    Robert White is your place in the UK (great company, if a little pricey), but also Aperture (see above).

    I've actually got a couple of lenses I might be willing to sell:

    voigtlander 28 f2 ultron (iq is great but it's a bit big)
    leica 90 f2.8 elmarit (lovely, but I use the bigger 75 'cron)
    leica 28 f2.8 elmarit (just seems to sit in the cupboard)

    pm me, or send me an email if you're interested in any of them.

    Just this guy you know

  14. #14
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Ian - Beware; there are people lurking in these forums with deep pockets and a tendency to squirrel away hordes of lenses. I think you could do far worse than invest a little money to save [possibly] a lot; subscribe to Sean Reid's site and catch up on some essential reading:

    http://www.reidreviews.com/reidreviews/

    You will learn about six bit coding on lenses, how some are coding-friendly [e.g. C.V. screw mount lenses], and some are not [e.g. C.V. 'M' mount lenses like their 28 f2.0 recommended above].......[EDIT] [Jono -that wasn't aimed at you in any way].

    This is my suggestion; forget about transferring DSLR lens choice habits and start with a clean-slate trial with only one lens for an extended length of time. My recommendation is a C.V. 28 mm Colour Skopar with LTM [Leica Thread Mount] - 205 + VAT:

    http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/product...-Colour-Skopar

    PLUS [and read Reid Reviews] a John Milich code-able Thread Mount for it, or your next lens if you choose to sell on the C.V.

    For what it's worth, the 28 Color Skopar is the only lens I have [and I have used lots of equipment over the years] and I find it truly liberating to be working with one lens. True, shooting commercially I would have more backup in my armoury, but the personal stuff is the important stuff and for that; one lens suits me fine.

    Good luck.

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

  15. #15
    ian_k
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Thanks Chris,

    All points well made, justifiable and understood. I'm learning fast and believe that my experience and the sound advice from you and others will keep me from sliding into the well documented medical condition of CLO syndrome (Compulsive Lens Ownership). l have several friends who've had to join Lensaholics Anonymous, poor souls. Wish me luck!

    (Camera arrived today!!) Ian.

  16. #16
    Mango
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    Re: Yet another one needs lens choice help.

    Quote Originally Posted by ian_k View Post
    I'm just one more whose fallen for the legendary allure of the Leica and have recently decided to throw my wallet into the gaping jaws of ownership!
    These words have been uttered so many times by those who took the first puff from the Leicrack pipe.

    The only thing I can say in your favor is that it's cheaper than going to a shrink. Other than that, strap on the seat belt firmly, as it's quite a ride, especially on this forum.

    To say you have no current need for a Summilux or a Summicron, that's what they all say, before gear lust takes over, and madness is their nirvana.

    In the East, they say there are two paths to the same end result. One is abstinence; the other is to succumb to all the temptations until you are exhausted. In the end you should achieve detachment to gear. Most Leicrack puffers choose the latter path. If I had to do it again, I would have chosen abstinence, it's much easier, but you only know that when it's too late.

    Best wishes in whatever you do!

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