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Thread: Monochrom Lens Preferences

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    Subscriber Member KurtKamka's Avatar
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    Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Now that some photographers have been shooting with the Monochrom for a few months and others are slowly joining the ranks, I thought that I'd start a separate thread to inquire about which lenses people are enjoying most on their MM.

    I know that it's a subjective discussion, but I thought that I'd ask if the MM has changed what users are shooting with compared to their experiences with the M8, M9 or film M ... especially as people begin to think more in terms of a black and white only output.

    So here are a couple of questions:

    1) What lens do you find you are using the most with the MM? Is it different from the main lens you've used with other M cameras? If so, why?

    2) Is there a lens that you've used with the Monochrom that has surprised you for the better? For the worse?

    3) With the detail that the MM sensor provides, do you have any initial impressions as to which lenses you like best with the Monochrom (Noctilux, lux, cron, summarit, old, new)?

    4) Are you using filters?

    While I'm not looking to generalize any standard perceptions, I think it's interesting to hear what others are finding/seeing/feeling as it might help others shape their lens choices should they be thinking about acquiring an MM.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Kurt, this is a nice (and helpful) thread that I'll be following. I can't really give my input on this as I only have the 50mm summilux asph, which have been great btw... I have had some success using the Hoya R72 IR filter.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Since getting the MM I have used the 28/2.0asph a lot, and also the 75/2.0

    I use yellow filter allmost allways.
    Specially the 28 Summicron asph seems to fit the MM very good. its not super contrasty but with very good resolution.
    Also I find the little wider FOV of 28mm fits my understanding of b/w quite good. (I cant tell you what I exactly mean).
    In low light I like the Nocti without filter.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Good questions Kurt. I think it really depends what you are looking for in your final images. It also really depends on the subject. What I have experienced and what Ashwin nicely written down here is that the "not that perfect", soft lenses have the most character. But I guess this is a very subjective thing. I love to shoot with the f/1 Nocti and I'm currently grabbing some older glass and will give it a try. But sometimes, when shooting technical stuff I like the sharpness of the f/2 Summicron. So it all depends. (I know that does not help)

    Fact is that some of the lenses on the Monochrom have a different character as on the M9.

    Before buying I would loan some lenses and give them a try.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Kurt,
    #1, 50 Lux ASPH or 50 Lux Pre-ASPH, same as M6/M9

    #2, The old 50mm collapsable Elmar-M, it's stunning with a real classic rendering. I think the many more aperture blades and old coating lets more wonderful things happen.

    An E58 f1 noctilux which does wonderful things but makes you a bit nauseous in the end. Some fellow LF devotees suggested they should give up their 10x8's when they saw it. Like the 50 Elmar-M, some stuff goes on that you don't see on the M9.
    (yeah I seem to have a 50mm fetish going on)

    #3 The latest glass is just amazing if you're after insane detail. 90 Cron ASPH, 50 Lux ASPH, 28 Cron all are fantastic.

    I have yet to try the Zeiss glass like a ZM 28/2.8, I can only imagine it will blow your socks off.

    The MM gives you so much, that the above is far too general a summary. There are many many subtle and not so subtle things going on that you probably don't see on digital anywhere. Likewise there's a ton of stuff that just doesn't happen in B&W, which would otherwise cause terrible problems (like shooting portraits under sodium vapour street lamps at 1000ISO is virtually noiseless) so you tend to use lenses in different scenarios to film/M9. You'll also be able to stop down a lot more in low light and keep a high shutter speed, so again you get a different look. Just too much to summarise, at least for now.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    How about the 180/3.4 APO-Telyt-R?

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by KurtKamka View Post

    So here are a couple of questions:

    1) What lens do you find you are using the most with the MM? Is it different from the main lens you've used with other M cameras? If so, why?

    2) Is there a lens that you've used with the Monochrom that has surprised you for the better? For the worse?

    3) With the detail that the MM sensor provides, do you have any initial impressions as to which lenses you like best with the Monochrom (Noctilux, lux, cron, summarit, old, new)?

    4) Are you using filters?
    1. Let me chime in with my opinion. First off, I find myself having most enjoyed more classic lenses (or lenses that render classically) on the MM, compared to more modern asph glass on the M9. I find that I have most enjoyed 2 lenses on the MM, the rigid 50 mm f/2 Summicron (version 2 of the Summicron lineage) and the 90 mm f/2 APO cron. Both were "long left behind" lenses on the M9, but have been reborn on the M. I find the asph glass to be hypercontrasty and brittle sharp at times with regards to images produced by modern glass. The older glass seems to render gentler contrast fall offs, pleasing OOF, and a rendering that takes better advantage of the MM's tonal landscape (at the sacrifice of critical sharpness, which has rarely been necessary for BW street work, where lens character adds a bunch instead)

    2. For me, the biggest surprise as been the 50 mm f/2 rigid cron and 90 mm v2 cron. Both are fine on the M9, but both blow my mind on the MM. Both are reasonably priced on the used market as well, and neither an arm nor a leg needs to be spent to pick these lenses up. IN particular, the 90 'cron v2 (E48) becomes a instant fav portrait lens. The other lens that I have really enjoyed on the MM is the 50 C-Sonnar, and I can't disregard that th 35 Summarit shines as well...

    3. Generally, older, lower contrast lenses with high microcontrast have appealed to me most: hence, 50 rigid cron...Also, the summarit line seems to do quite well, and I have enjoyed my use of the 35 summarit on the lens. Of note, these slower lenses gain new use due to the MM's impressive high ISO noise performance.

    4. I have a set of 39 mm and 46 mm filters (R, G, O, Y). I also have a few soft focus (softar filters) to play with to tone down modern glasses, while keeping sharpness.

    Hope that helps, Kurt!
    Ashwin Rao
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Gotta agree with wentbackward that the modern lenses offer insane detail. I think that the 28 cron strikes a great balance between rendering and amazing sharpness....

    50 lux asph is mindblowing. The 35 FLE is almost too sharp and contrasty for my taste, at least on this sensor, but there are moments, particular with closest focus, where it shines as well.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    So far I'm loving the 50 Lux ASPH, and when I grab one lens it is that one 95% of the time. It is a bit odd because it is a different experience using the 50/1.4 on this camera compared to my M9P ... I can't put my finger on it quite yet ... maybe it's the tonal roll off, or maybe that I never could use ISO 2,000 before ... which I use often on this camera like I do ISO 640 or 800 on the M9P

    I think we are exploring new realms of light ... often unfamiliar realms where no M has gone before.

    So, for me, these high ISOs are all new territory for my stable of M lenses. You start seeing into the dark like this and it's a whole new ball game. At ISO 5,000 to 8,000, the 21/1.4 ASPH @ f/1.4 and a shutter of 1/15th boldly goes where I've never been before.

    The 35/1.4 ASPH v1 I own is well calibrated by Leica and for the way I shoot and doesn't exhibit focus shift very often, if at all ... so it is my second most used lens on the MM, especially indoors. On the MM my 28/2 ASPH sees less use compared to the M9P. The 90/2.8 even less ... however, it can now be used where it never could before.

    I think if I paired down all my gear I'd go to the S2 for color to ISO 640, and then to this MM. I rarely shoot for ambient color beyond ISO 400 to 640 anyway, and use lighting beyond that threshold.

    -Marc
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Agreed with Marc that the 35 Lux Asph V1 works very well on the MM as well...
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Mandler, Mandler, Mandler
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Have you got one, Cam?

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Have you got one, Cam?
    shhhhhh!!! just... a visit in the future?
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Is anyone venturing into using older screw mount lenses with the Monochrom, given it's character?
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Is anyone venturing into using older screw mount lenses with the Monochrom, given it's character?
    I asked exactly this earlier in the images thread. I think Leica put everyone in the wrong path early on with the AA and all such fancy/pricey lens line up. We could already see (from the MM images thread) that the humble C-V lenses do a fantastic job in monochrome (not surprising to me at all since I have had great captures with them on B&W films in the past).

    I have a nice line up, the MM is on order at the right place....
    Last edited by Vivek; 15th December 2012 at 03:24.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Is anyone venturing into using older screw mount lenses with the Monochrom, given it's character?
    Old lenses on the Monochrom. POST EXAMPLES HERE! - Leica User Forum

    I have tried a Summarit 50/1.5 with excellent results, my 1959 Canon 2.8/35 is more or less the standard lens on my MM.
    Telyts-V 280 and 400/5.6 perform amazingly well. I have bought a Canon 35/1.8 a few minutes ago.

    Somehow the Monochrom gives these old lenses a new lease on life. If you use a color filter you remove all chromatic aberrations with very sharp results.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Agreed entirely with Jaap. While I haven't delved much past 1960's era lenses (Rigid 'cron, Canon 35 mm f/2.8 LTM, 90 'cron v2), I can say that Mandler era lenses and the prior generation do very very well....I find that the MM's tonal rendering bonds well with old glass, as much is rescued in the midtones that may have been flattened out in colors or BW color conversions... THe same lenses that frustrated me on the M9 now are re-claimed on the MM, IMHO that is... modern lenses render richly, but at times, critcally and clincially on the MM....maybe because the sensor resolves so much detail
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    I'm looking forward to using some wonderful vintage glass on my monochrom. Basically, after the realization that I'm back to a Ramen noodle diet to pay for it, that's all I can afford to put on mine!
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 16th December 2012 at 00:36.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Hi Graham, Ramen aside, I don't think that you'll be disappointed
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Jaap,

    I hadn't really been checking LUF for a while but I have to say that I am so impressed with the thread over there. My original plan of avoiding putting myself in the poor house again with modern M glass seems vindicated by the wonderful rendering that I see there. (I do appreciate that it's not the gear but the talent behind it but I see nothing but great classic Leica rendering. I don't need optical perfection - I want character!)
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by ashwinrao1 View Post
    Agreed entirely with Jaap. While I haven't delved much past 1960's era lenses (Rigid 'cron, Canon 35 mm f/2.8 LTM, 90 'cron v2), I can say that Mandler era lenses and the prior generation do very very well....I find that the MM's tonal rendering bonds well with old glass, as much is rescued in the midtones that may have been flattened out in colors or BW color conversions... THe same lenses that frustrated me on the M9 now are re-claimed on the MM, IMHO that is... modern lenses render richly, but at times, critcally and clincially on the MM....maybe because the sensor resolves so much detail
    Ashwin, THANK YOU! I thought my eyesight was going when I started having trouble getting a pleasing photo from my '51 Summaron on my M9-P. The old glass and the M9 really do react differently than they did on the M8 and it's not just me.

    Obviously, I gotta get a MM now.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    I'm looking forward to using some wonderful vintage glass on my monochrom. Basically, after the realization that I'm back to a Ramen noodle diet to pay for it, that's all I can afford to put on mine!
    I do hope you would have enough cash to buy various filters to use on those old lenses. The filters are cheap but having to deal with odd sized filter threads is a different matter!

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie O View Post
    Ashwin, THANK YOU! I thought my eyesight was going when I started having trouble getting a pleasing photo from my '51 Summaron on my M9-P. The old glass and the M9 really do react differently than they did on the M8 and it's not just me.

    Obviously, I gotta get a MM now.
    I own an M8, but have played with a friend's M9. I felt the same thing--the M8 is a better B&W camera. The M9's different color rendition and the built-in noise filtering of the RAW files do things that take away a bit of B&W's "it" factor. The M8 is noisier, but both sharper and better tonally in B&W. And you're right, with the older lenses, the M8 seems to do better and the M9 seems to do worse.

    I too would love an MM, but it's kind of out of my socio-economic bracket...
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Klein View Post
    I own an M8, but have played with a friend's M9. I felt the same thing--the M8 is a better B&W camera. The M9's different color rendition and the built-in noise filtering of the RAW files do things that take away a bit of B&W's "it" factor. The M8 is noisier, but both sharper and better tonally in B&W. And you're right, with the older lenses, the M8 seems to do better and the M9 seems to do worse.

    I too would love an MM, but it's kind of out of my socio-economic bracket...
    the M9 is maligned somewhat, but... for true lovers of b/w and/or old lenses, the Monochrom is definitely the next step.

    honestly, before the the Monochrom, i would give the nod to the Epson R-D1 but that is obviously my bias.

    still, i think the Monochrom is something to keep an eye out for (all the people that may have bought it, but miss colour) when people jump on the M... the Monochrom is the closest you can get to film -- and then some.

    just brilliant!

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Hi Cam!

    Oh, lordy. How I want a Monochrom now.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post
    honestly, before the the Monochrom, i would give the nod to the Epson R-D1 but that is obviously my bias.
    Very interesting. I was a big fan of the R-D1 and owned two of them at various times. I always thought that Epson got a lot right with that camera (and ironically also were the first DRF with the IR issue, although most of us didn't necessarily realize it at the time until the M8 came out and we were suddenly IR bleed aware).
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    I think the Fujifilm X100 really spoiled me; it makes the most glorious B&W images. Next to a MM, that is.

    Sigh. Lust.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    I do hope you would have enough cash to buy various filters to use on those old lenses. The filters are cheap but having to deal with odd sized filter threads is a different matter!
    Luckily I have a local dealer who excels at finding, selling at a reasonable price, and sourcing the various vintage filters required for truly excellent B&W imagery with vintage lenses. Well, at least until I actually need them myself that is!
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    1. 28/2.0 whereas on the M9 the 35 FLE
    2. 90/2.0 AA
    3. Lux's 35 and 50
    4. Yes, yellow, but mostly orange for landscapes.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Just bringing up this thread again.
    I have a new favorite lens for the MM: at the moment it is the 50 Summicron.
    I grabbed a used M6 with a 50mm chrome Summicron (the price was just too good) and for some reason I now allmost allways bring the 50Cron (together with the 28 Cron) with the MM.
    The images do look very balanced, smooth, subtile. Anybody wants a Noctilux or Summilux 50mm?

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    as long as this thread is revived, would just like to reiterate my love of all things Mandler!

    just came back on a whale watch tour with the 75 Lux and my jaw is dropping down to the tops of my little sun-burned feet.

    (my only quibble is the pathetic framelines for 75mm when shot close, pfffft!)
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    My revised list only based on a 9 lens test and some usage of 50/40mm lenses.

    1. APO 50

    2. 50 f1.0 Mandler

    3. 40/2.0

    If interested, I will reveal all 50 lenses used.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    My revised list only based on a 9 lens test and some usage of 50/40mm lenses.

    1. APO 50

    2. 50 f1.0 Mandler

    3. 40/2.0

    If interested, I will reveal all 50 lenses used.
    So what makes the APO 50 to jump on #1.
    I am sure it is excellent, but how and in what way would you see that in the images. And how much better is it?
    Would you mind sharing some images form the 50AA?

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    My revised list only based on a 9 lens test and some usage of 50/40mm lenses.

    1. APO 50

    2. 50 f1.0 Mandler

    3. 40/2.0

    If interested, I will reveal all 50 lenses used.
    I would like to see some (any) pictures from those and all the other recommended lenses, "mandler", pre-war, Barnack, "run of the mill", whatever,....

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Truth is every damn lens I own demands to be put in front of the monochrome sensor. The 35luxFLE kicks serious A*** The only filters I use are ND - 3X and 6X for daylight required for all. You have to shoot to believe how much detail you pull from blacks and shadows...

    which is the whole point of the mono really so of course you make great B&W from an M8 or M9 - if you want to shoot at night/low light - these cant deliver the file the mono does..

    daylight shots are easier to convert to B&W - night shots...Mono kills the colour boxes.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    For me its the 35 LUX FLE. 35mm F/L is the way I see.
    Last edited by airfrogusmc; 25th February 2013 at 20:06.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Mine favorite is the Canon 0.95 50mm. creamy and soft when wide open. The rendering is beautiful.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Personally, as a 40+ year M B&W shooter, I'm thrilled by the MM. If I had to cut it all down to one camera, this would be it.

    My personal preference for lenses tends to favor those more modern designs because the MM files are so even in tonal spread that you can PP almost any look/feel you desire. Of course, there is no PP technique that will deliver that Mandler character, like the Nocti 1.0 and 75/1.4 provide ... however, in my experience, those lenses require flawless technique (especially considering the acuity of the MM sensor), and one must be conscience of focus shift and correct for it ... which I am lousy at doing in the heat of shooting. Get it right, and the unique signature sings. Also wish I had my old 35/1.4 with its delicious glow.

    After getting my peepers fixed, I promptly returned to the M50/0.95. I tickles me that the MM and this lens can see what I cannot.

    The new mantra: f/0.95 @ ISO 10,000 and be there ...

    After trading my 50/1.4 ASPH for a 75/2 AA, my new "two lens" favorite kit is 35/1.4 ASPH and this 75/2.

    So, most used are 50, 35, and now 75 because I shoot mostly people in candid situations ... weddings, street, and corporate workings.

    Peripheral lenses I use are a 21/1.4 ASPH, 28/2 ASPH, and a good old 90/2.8 portrait.

    I will add a smaller 50/2 eventually ... although this mid-west boy balks at the prospect of a $7,000 f/2 lens

    I'm stuck indoors as I heal from a total knee replacement (at this rate, I'll soon be more bionic than human ) ... so forgive the pet shots taken while testing the 75/2 @ f/2 processed a couple of slightly different ways:

    -Marc
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    It is better to have a bionic you kicking around!

    Hope you recover well.
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    It is better to have a bionic you kicking around!

    Hope you recover well.
    My "Like" button doesn't work ... so here's a thank you

    -Marc

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    My "Like" button doesn't work ... so here's a thank you

    -Marc
    OT:
    Marc, same here. What I do is click on a previous page, then the "like" button works again.
    Kindest,
    Dave

    http://www.xdayv.com

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    My Monochrom arrives today! Looking forward to using my 50mm pre-asph Lux which hasn't gotten much love on the M9. Think iit's creaminess wide open on the Mono should be nice. Also some f4 lenses like the 18mm super elmar and 90mm macro-elmar will be interesting to test at higher iso's in available light situations. Both are close to the chopping block to be able to afford other things (umm, like paying off the Mono itself) so we'll see. Really looking forward to this camera. Wish it had some of the body improvements of the M (couldn't Leica have incorporated at least a few - like more silent shutter and bigger display - considering the price?).
    http://charlespeterson.net
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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Glad to contribute to your MM by purchasing your nikon 135/2 DC Charles! I just might try and sell it back when my MM comes available. ;>)

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Hey Inner,

    Thanks! I also had to sell my beautiful SWC, and a number of Leica lenses are going to have to come up on the chopping block. With two young kids I promised myself that from now on it's gear in/gear out.

    If you are waiting on an MM, I would recommend trying Europe, esp the various Leica stores. I git my MM from Maison du Leica in Paris for $5300 euro (it's a refurb of some sort but with full two year warranty). With UPS (outrageous cost but not much choice) it was $7200. More importantly it was available. I've also seen them available at Robert White new for $7300. For some reason Leica's just not getting goods to the US.

    Anyway, it didn't come yesterday (got out too late on Thursday) so Monday it will be.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Now that I have the MM a few days here's some experiences-
    1. 50 lux asph is fabulous. Hard to imagine better IQ
    2. 35 cron pre-asph V4 is looking really good, right from 2.0 where contrast is lower but resolution is superb with great tonailty. It may jump past the 35/1.4 asph pre FLE for me on the MM, whereas the lux has been my most used on the M9.
    3. Zeiss 21/2.8 is just fabulous, with amazing edge to edge detail and punch.

    PS for Charles- I am thinking of selling that 135/2 DC now, actually might sell all my nikon equipment. I just want to learn to use the MM fully including getting into piezograhy based printing. I don't see shooting the DSLR much going forward.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    My observations are as follows:
    21 2.8 Biogon - excellent
    28 Summicron - excellent
    35 Summicron V4 - excellent
    50 Summicron 4/5 - excellent
    90 Summicron (49mm Filterthread) - excellent

    50 Sonnar-C looks very nice as well

    24 Lux/ 35 Lux FLE look a bit booring....

    Excellents means for me details, tones, treatment of highlights....
    Booring means.... well technically perfect but booring on the long run.

    I think with the Summicrons I am rather set now.... I will see what I will do with my 75 Lux :-)

    All the best

    JP

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    On the M9 I preferred both the 35 Cron and the 35 FLE. The 50 lux just didn't do it for me. In fact I thought maybe my copy had a focus issue and was about to send it in for recalibration.

    Once I got the MM, I found the 50 lux asph was simply stunning and has become my go to lens. When I want a more classic rendering, I go with my old Nikkor 50 1.4 which is different but equally stunning. I also intend to really look at my 90 Elmarit which is now on its way back from Leica.

    Woody

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by JPL View Post
    I think with the Summicrons I am rather set now.... I will see what I will do with my 75 Lux :-)

    All the best

    JP
    The 75mm Lux renders in a very beautiful way, especially if its calibrated precisely. I haven't tested it yet on a MM yet, although have ued it for B&W imagery on a M8.2 and M9. Knowing and experiencing the rendering of this lens well and from hearing from others who have used the combination of the MM and 75mm Lux, it's an exceptional pairing. Of course not as compact and light as the cron's

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 18th March 2013 at 13:55.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    50mm comparisons at f2.0. Double click to enlarge. This a wooden "Old Man of the Sea" carved out of a dead tree by a chain saw artist here.

    Attachment 70546
    Last edited by algrove; 28th March 2015 at 16:00.

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    Re: Monochrom Lens Preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    The 75mm Lux renders in a very beautiful way, especially if its calibrated precisely. I haven't tested it yet on a MM yet, although have ued it for B&W imagery on a M8.2 and M9. Knowing and experiencing the rendering of this lens well and from hearing from others who have used the combination of the MM and 75mm Lux, it's an exceptional pairing. Of course not as compact and light as the cron's

    Dave (D&A)
    Did I hear 75 lux? My absolute favorite for film, here's one of the 1st shots on the MM. Holy smokes.


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