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Thread: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

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    Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Greetings and Happy Holidays!!

    I have an M9, which enjoy using generally for travel photographs. My question here is which which lenses, and what focal lengths, would you recommend for portraits.

    Here are some lenses I have tried:

    75mm Summicron ASPH, which my subject (wife) thinks is too sharp. I think she is right.

    90mm chrome Summicron pre-ASPH made in the early sixties, which, while softer, doesn't pick up the "mood", if that makes sense.

    100mm Canon, which I purchased from a Forum member, that of the these three seems to do the best.

    Now, anticipating the new M, I have been picking up longer R lenses. I purchased a 100mm APO 2.8, which could work well. I would be curious for opinions of that one.

    Also, I have read where the 80mm Summilux-R offers a nice rendering. With the new M and LiveView, that could be a candidate, too. Opinions on this candidate would be appreciate.

    Other candidates?

    Any other recommended focal lengths outside the 80mm-100mm focal lengths I have tried?

    Again, thank you for all the help Forum contributors have been.

    -- dmabry2010

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by dmabry2010 View Post
    ....
    Here are some lenses I have tried:

    75mm Summicron ASPH, which my subject (wife) thinks is too sharp. I think she is right.

    .... I purchased a 100mm APO 2.8, which could work well. I would be curious for opinions of that one.

    ...
    Having owned both of these, IŽd say: If the 75 is Žtoo sharpŽ, then the 100 Apo Makro Elmarit will just about cut her ears off...

    It is a great lens; IŽd even say a unique one...but VERY detailed, sharp and contrasty. Also, a big beast for its f.l. and speed. If you bought it, do keep it and enjoy (I still kick myself for selling mine some years ago), but look elsewhere for a nice portrait lens. If I were you, IŽd look for a good copy of the `thinŽ Tele Elmarit 90/2.8: small, RF coupled, and very nice drawing.
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I'll second the Tele-Elmarit 90/2.8. I like the lens quite a bit, even if it's a wee bit prone to veiling flare.

    It looks like this:


    M8 With Leica Tele-Elmarit 90 mm f2.8 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr

    Performs like this on M9-P:


    Flowers, December 13, 2012 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


    Michael, December 04, 2012 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr

    And on the M8:


    Dad, September, 2009 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


    The Flying Dutchman, March 30, 2011 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    My two favorite portrait lenses are the 75mm Summilux and 50mm Noctilux ASPH. I've noticed that these two lenses help generate pictures that people have been pleased with, in terms of their portraits, as well as having nice bokeh and narrow DOF.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by JWW View Post
    My two favorite portrait lenses are the 75mm Summilux and 50mm Noctilux ASPH. I've noticed that these two lenses help generate pictures that people have been pleased with, in terms of their portraits, as well as having nice bokeh and narrow DOF.
    +1! I can wholeheartedly agree with both these recommendations for a wide variety of portrait uses, having had considerable experience with both. This doesn't exclude some other older classic rangefinder lenses that also are very appealing for this use. Out of the these two mentioned, in my opinion, the f1.0 Noct often fits a narrower range of portrait uses and renders with a very noticable fingerprint, which can make it unique among portrait lenses but narrows its more universal use for this purpose. It's other obvious uses are well known and documented and when used effectively, makes for some interesting imagery.

    The 75mm Lux has the distinction of rendering in a very appealing way for portraits when shot wide open or slightly stopped down, but with a wider range of portrait uses than the Noct. (again my opinion) and records details extremely well without overdoing it. The way it draws an image is one of its notable strengths. When stopped down further, it is an exceptional general use 75mm and can stand with the best of them in terms of optical performance.

    There is of course no one perfect portrait lens and everyone has their favorite and a good case can be made for many of them.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 25th December 2012 at 18:05.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I own a 90 Summicron Pre-ASPH (the one just before the current one so version 4 I believe) that I think is great for portraits but is on the largish size of M lenses. I has a lot of sharpness stopped down to f/4 and beyond but is great for portraits wide open IMO. There's details but it's forgiving and most people like that aspect of it which is why I won't upgrade to the AA version of it. The focus throw is on the long side of M lenses but nothing ridiculous when to use the scale to estimate to get you in the right area.

    I've tried a 75 Summilux and I kick myself still for not buying one 2 years ago when I had the chance for a very good price. It's probably best used and most known for being a "portrait lens." I hear the Zeiss 85/2 Sonnar ZM is great as well if you can find one.
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    HiredArm mentions another supern portarit lens which I used for years both in the film and digital era before I eventually sold it to fund some unrelated equipment. Specifically it was the 90mm Cron Pre AA, the exact version he mentioned, which was the one just prior to the current 90mm AA lens. I had tried early versions of the 90mm Cron prior to the one just before the AA, but although they are supposed to be optically the same, I felt the images they produced looked different. Maybe Leica changed the coatings but whatever it was, the last pre AA version was one of my favorites. Perfectly described, excellent portrait lens from wide to f4 and when stopped down further an excellent and sharp performing lens.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 25th December 2012 at 18:04.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Puts considers the performance of the R 1.4/80 and the M 1.4/75 on equal footing. Mandler lenses are great!

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I have used and owned pretty well all of them. As you have already noticed, the 75mm APO Summicron is too sharp. I could never get along with the 75mm Summilux or the APO Summicron. I found with the M, I had too many miss-framed shots because of the odd way 50mm and 75mm frame lines both show at the same time. Having said that, with the new M and the electronic viewfinder, you might be able to get along well with a 75mm Summilux. I have my doubts if it will be easy to focus accurately with an electronic finder. At f1.4, the 75mm Summilux is actually harder to get in focus shots with than the Noctilux.

    You may also want to try the 90mm Summicron ASPH. It has a very smooth transition to the out of focus areas. The older 90mm Summicron-M that you have would be soft and glowing wide open and up close. Though many years apart, here are a couple pictures of my son with the 90mm Summicron-R at f2, which would be equivalent to your lens, maybe a bit better. The second photo is just recently with a 90mm APO Summicron I have, but it is an Elcan version and may be different than the regular 90mm APO Summicrons.







    My eldest son, about five years ago, we were on a beach down south, 90mm APO ASPH Summicron.

    Last edited by robsteve; 25th December 2012 at 16:21.
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    Puts considers the performance of the R 1.4/80 and the M 1.4/75 on equal footing. Mandler lenses are great!
    I wouldn't buy the R lens unless you wanted to use it on a SLR as well. The 80mm Summilux is bigger than the 75mm Summilux and the focus mounts on the 80mm Summilux are not as smooth and can be a bit stiff. You might as well get the M lens and also have the benefit of the rangefinder for focusing.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Not a Leitz lens, but I like the 50mm Zeiss Sonnar.



    beautiful brynn by mike thomas, on Flickr

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    As soon as someone says portrait I think Sonnar.
    If you can find a copy of the 105/2.5 Nikkor-P.C. in screw mount I find mine very pleasing (it is a Sonnar design).
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    lots of good suggestions on lenses!

    i'd suggest, though, it's not just the glass that makes the difference, but also how you shoot, where the light is, and where you point your focus.

    one of my best portraits of a lady of a certain age was done with the 35 Summilux, in the fall sun of Amsterdam, wide open, focused on the hands in her lap.

    with practice, i think you can make any lens you already have work quite beautifully... then again, i'm all for any excuse in acquiring new lenses too

    (and you can put me as a plus three for the 75 Summilux and the 50/1 as favourites)

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by dmabry2010 View Post
    Greetings and Happy Holidays!!

    I have an M9, which enjoy using generally for travel photographs. My question here is which which lenses, and what focal lengths, would you recommend for portraits.

    Here are some lenses I have tried:

    75mm Summicron ASPH, which my subject (wife) thinks is too sharp. I think she is right.

    90mm chrome Summicron pre-ASPH made in the early sixties, which, while softer, doesn't pick up the "mood", if that makes sense.

    100mm Canon, which I purchased from a Forum member, that of the these three seems to do the best.

    Now, anticipating the new M, I have been picking up longer R lenses. I purchased a 100mm APO 2.8, which could work well. I would be curious for opinions of that one.

    Also, I have read where the 80mm Summilux-R offers a nice rendering. With the new M and LiveView, that could be a candidate, too. Opinions on this candidate would be appreciate.

    Other candidates?

    Any other recommended focal lengths outside the 80mm-100mm focal lengths I have tried?

    Again, thank you for all the help Forum contributors have been.

    -- dmabry2010
    1) I dont find the Summicron 75 too sharp and I like it quite a lot. But yes, it is sharp and if you dont like sharp its not your lens
    2) Very balanced lens I find the 90/2.8 Leica and also the 85/2.0 Zeiss (I think this would be my favorite besides its big size)
    3) if you like 75mm and think the Summicron is too sharp then evtl. the 75 Summarit

    Personally -even if I would get the new M-I would try to stay with rangefinder lenses as much as I can because I like the size and I like the OVF.
    My most used lens in this range is the 75 Summicron though. small, sharp, powerful, close focusing if you need it, and I like the shorter distance to subject compared to 90mm

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Thank you all for such great advice!

    You have certainly given me options to consider.

    -- dmabry2010

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Good luck finding what you're after!

    I like my Sonnar 50mm 1.5, It gives a real warm rounded glow in my eyes. But I'm still not perfect at compensating the focus at f1.5. The Nokton 1.1 50mm also creates some interesting results!
    I guess these lenses may mean you have to get closer than the 75/90s you were speaking about though.

    Hope everyone had a good Xmas/Holiday break ;-)

    Rich

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I love the C Sonnar 50/1,5, also. Mine must have come optimized, because I've had nary a problem with focus at any aperture.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    If you are using this in the streets when traveling, I would say a 50mm lens will be the ideal portrait lens. The portrait focal length used in a studio I find too long, both in a practical sense as well as aesthetic.

    There really is not such thing as a portrait lens. What I would do is look at your work and other work you admire and find the portraits that seem the most powerful for you. Then figure out what focal lengths they were taken with. I found a lens around normal has always given me what I find the most captivating results. This is purely personal. I find the longer "traditional" focal lengths dull. Naturally, you cannot hang back to take a portrait with a 50mm, but that engagement is also why the 50mm makes for more interesting portraits in my view.

    I am not sure the answer for you will come down to a simply number. I think you need to start with what a good portrait is for you.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Much depends on how you frame, as stated above. The longer the lens, the less the overall distortion, but the less surroundings that you'd capture. But additionally, the longer the lens, the more likely you'd have to stop down to capture the whole face in focus...

    In general, 75 mm-90 mm lenses are through to be ideal portrait lenses. Leica offers many options in this field, and I have tried a bunch out.... here are some options

    1. 50 mm-- C-50 Sonnar: Great for portraits, sharp enough but forgiving, with a lovely OOF rendering. I have never tried the Zeiss Planar, but have heard it's solid as well.
    -- 50 Summilux asph: Clinincal, but fantastic...Nice bokeh....
    -- Any 50 Summicron is good: I favor the Rigid Summicron V2 for a more classic look, but you lose close focus, which is important for portraiture.

    2. 75 mm
    -- 75 Summilux asph: Costly, but one of the best reputations out there. Hard to nail focus, due to focal lengh, at max DOF, particularly close up. Great for emotive, glam style portraiture (more glowy, more character)
    -- 75 Summicron: Fantastic clarity. Clinical and modern in its rendering. Great for modern studio-style portriature.
    -- 75 Summarit or CV Heliar: f/2.5 so a bit slower, but great performers at relative bargains

    3. 90 mm-- Summicron V2: Beautiful for BW portraits, with a nice fall off. Can be had for <$1000. Renders similarly to the 75 lux, which is much more expensive, but creates a beautiful image which is gentle and forgiving
    -- Summicron APO: Clinical, sharp, great for short tele work as well. Great all around performer, but a bit harsh for portraits
    -- 90 elmarit E46: Last of this line...great lens, undervalued for many years, but recent times have seen costs rise. Great overall performer, and more compact than the above options. It has more of a modern and clinical look
    -- 90 mm f/4 Macro-Elmar: a bit slower, but the most compact of the bunch, and fantastic for travel....Clinical look.



    Other lenses to consider-- Canon 85 mm f/1.8 LTM or 100 mm f/2 LTM: Adapted on M bodies, these are fantastic performers with beautifully smooth OOF. I am on the look out for one of these, as I have been borrowing the 100 f/2 and find it marvelous
    -- Zeiss 85 mm f/2 C-Sonnar: Possibly the best M portrait lens, period. A bit of a 1 trick pony, as chromatic aberration limits its use in landscape and higher contrast settings
    -- Zeiss 85 mm f/4 tele-tessar, CV 90 mm f/3.5: Both a bit more affordable and fantastic
    -- Leitz Tele-elmarit 90's: Great, compact lenses. OOF wide open can be hit or miss, but these lenses shine when stopped down even a bit...
    -- 135 tele-elmar: An oddball focal lengh on M cameras, but worth checking out for a more classic, affordable option...
    Ashwin Rao
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I suppose it depends on your idea of a "portrait", I've seen some wonderful "Portraits" taken with the 35 'Cron or 'Lux, but if you're looking for something in the classic "portrait length", I'll second the recommendations of the 90 Elmarit. Pretty sharp, but not as clinical as the APO, and certainly not as much as the 75 Cron. I agree with Ashwin on the CV 75/2.5 Heliar, which is a steal of a lens, much underrated, and cheap. It's a wonderful "portrait" lens.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I like using the 35 Cron IV for environmental portraits, and the 90/2.8 tele-elmarit for tighter portraits...although I pretty much like those two lenses for everything.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Agree with Ashwin's assessment of the Zeiss 85/2 ZM being a bit of a one trick pony. The rareness of this lens has over-hyped its actual performance. Given $3k'ish price tag, it grossly over priced. Ashwin has been giving my Canon 100/2 a spin. These lenses can be found in good condition for $400-500. It is easily as sharp at F2 as the 85/2 ZM was, and the Canon has better bokeh. The catch-22 with Canon 100/2 is framing with 90mm or 135mm framelines, and "nailing" focus at F2 can be tricky (though, I've had very good luck with it). Upcoming M-240 will help resolve, or at least mitigate those challenges. Both pictures were taken on overcast days, so the bokeh would have "popped" more if there was a sunny, contrasty background.




    A tightly framed shot @ F2 showing the bokeh; taken with the M9.




    A 3/4 portrait taken at F2 or F2.8 with the Leica M9.
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Something tells me this would be a nice performer on a Monochrom.

    90/4 Elmar in collapsed position.


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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I considered the collapsible Elmar (the chrome one is much heavier though) but bought a 3 element 90/4, expressly for the (anticipated) MM.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    some samples:
    1) 85/2.0 Zeiss


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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Wow... That ZM 85/2 really sings on portraits.
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I'll put in a plug for the pre-ASPH Lux 50 E46 and the Noctilux f/1. I prefer both at f/1.4 - f/2 depending on the DOF needed. As others have said though, a lot depends on your style of shooting and the degree of sharpness you prefer. I think that the Summicron 90AA takes great portraits if you are a little further away from the subject.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Interesting to read different people's take on doing portraits.

    Personally, I select the focal length and character of a lens based on the person I am shooting ... what is the shape or geometry of their face, how symmetrical are their features, what is their most interesting feature, where are we shooting, is it an environmental portrait, what light are we working in, it is a revealing portrait, or one intended to flatter?

    Example: for a heavier set woman you often see their own attention to their eyes, so it often means a bit wider lens shot a bit more down on the face which slims the face and emphasizes their eyes. For a narrow face it may mean a longer lens to compact the perspective. A weak chin, or larger nose do not need to be more revealed by choice of focal length, etc.

    While I have done many "casual" portraits with an M camera, for the above reasons, a rangefinder isn't my first choice for portraits because I cannot see the actual effect that a focal length has on the subject. The very strength of a traditional rangefinder for eliminating lens effects and concentrating on what the image is about, is its weakness here.

    I'd also caution regarding the fast aperture, "creamy dreamy" M lenses as being potential "soft nose", "one eye in, one eye just barely out" optics ... or the second person in a photo being "almost" in focus ... as I have instructed my second shooters at weddings, "That fast lens of yours actually stops down, and should be for some images." As I often see demonstrated in M portraits, again, you cannot see that plane of focus.

    It seems the new M will elevate use of a rangefinder for portrait work ... the EVF/LCD will work to show what you are getting real time, rather than after the fact, and focus peaking will help reveal the whole plane of focus ... or you could just use a decent DSLR and save $8,000+

    -Marc
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    While I have done many "casual" portraits with an M camera, for the above reasons, a rangefinder isn't my first choice for portraits because I cannot see the actual effect that a focal length has on the subject. The very strength of a traditional rangefinder for eliminating lens effects and concentrating on what the image is about, is its weakness here.
    I think the OP's question concerns only the "casual portraits". The "effect" comes as a surprise when the film is developed or the image is seen on the LCD. "Delayed gratification" that "Horsermage" referred to, is in play.

    The new M might be quite disappointing in that respect. Though, it also creates new opportunities for a Noctilux 90mm lens.
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Further ZM 85 f2 portrait shots. On a NEX 7 though not a Leica. Please excuse the finger in the second shot. He's a very uncooperative subject!



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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Interesting to read different people's take on doing portraits.

    Personally, I select the focal length and character of a lens based on the person I am shooting ... what is the shape or geometry of their face, how symmetrical are their features, what is their most interesting feature, where are we shooting, is it an environmental portrait, what light are we working in, it is a revealing portrait, or one intended to flatter?

    Example: for a heavier set woman you often see their own attention to their eyes, so it often means a bit wider lens shot a bit more down on the face which slims the face and emphasizes their eyes. For a narrow face it may mean a longer lens to compact the perspective. A weak chin, or larger nose do not need to be more revealed by choice of focal length, etc.

    While I have done many "casual" portraits with an M camera, for the above reasons, a rangefinder isn't my first choice for portraits because I cannot see the actual effect that a focal length has on the subject. The very strength of a traditional rangefinder for eliminating lens effects and concentrating on what the image is about, is its weakness here.

    I'd also caution regarding the fast aperture, "creamy dreamy" M lenses as being potential "soft nose", "one eye in, one eye just barely out" optics ... or the second person in a photo being "almost" in focus ... as I have instructed my second shooters at weddings, "That fast lens of yours actually stops down, and should be for some images." As I often see demonstrated in M portraits, again, you cannot see that plane of focus.

    It seems the new M will elevate use of a rangefinder for portrait work ... the EVF/LCD will work to show what you are getting real time, rather than after the fact, and focus peaking will help reveal the whole plane of focus ... or you could just use a decent DSLR and save $8,000+

    -Marc
    Marc,
    I guess it is also a bit about the preference. Is the goal to produce a more composed image most pleasing for the customer or is it more about intuively catching the moment. Even though the first doesnt neccesarly mean that it is not intuitive.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Marc Wrote>>>"I'd also caution regarding the fast aperture, "creamy dreamy" M lenses as being potential "soft nose", "one eye in, one eye just barely out" optics ... or the second person in a photo being "almost" in focus ... as I have instructed my second shooters at weddings, "That fast lens of yours actually stops down, and should be for some images."<<<

    The only thing I'd comment on with regards to your excellent post is for myself, it's not so much that the often touted "portrait" lenses such as the 75mm Lux, 90mm Pre AA, Noct f1 (and many others not mentioned) are sort of gentler, softer and for some dreamy wide open...but when stopped down a couple stops as Marc aptly suggested, they retain their many of their desirable characteristcs especially for portraits, without becoming bitingly sharp which for some subjects would become unflattering and even possibly over the top. Many of these same lenses though when stopped down further can often stand with the best of them in terms of resolution.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 30th December 2012 at 08:10.
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  33. #33
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I've been happy with what I've got: 50'Lux ASPH for intimate settings, and 90mm Elmarit E46 with a longer reach. I find F/4 is good enough for 90mm to easily get the subject in focus and still maintain nice separations.
    David Young
    My journey into Leica: LeicaLux.com

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Paratom View Post
    Marc,
    I guess it is also a bit about the preference. Is the goal to produce a more composed image most pleasing for the customer or is it more about intuively catching the moment. Even though the first doesnt neccesarly mean that it is not intuitive.
    You are right, shooting to get an image with some basic portrait elements intact doesn't mean it is forced, posed or anything of the sort. The subject looking at the camera doesn't always mean it was formally posed.

    The only point I was trying to share is that there isn't one "portrait" focal length, f-stop or set of optical characteristics ... only a good one for the subject at hand ... one that captures the character of that subject, or some other subjective/creative pictorial aspect or something that reveals something about the subject and/or the place/time you were shooting.

    It seems to me that if there isn't some intent going in, even if suddenly recognized at the moment, it is a snap-shot and a $8,000 camera with $15,000 set of lenses is a tad overkill. However, I guess you are right, it's all about preference.

    Here is a cross section of "casual" portraits ... some candid, some more aware, all were spontaneous.

    The B&W shot of my wife and doggie was with the M9 and Nocti 0.95 @ f/8 which preserved some sense of where we were. The painted faced girl was a 90/2.8 on a M8. The Santa as engineer was film and 50/1.4. The woman with her baby was a Canon 85/1.2 wide open ... but I stepped back until both faces were in focus and cropped afterwards.

    In contrast, the B&W of the elegant flea market lady searching for treasures was film and a M21/2.8 ASPH using hyper-focal distance focusing.

    -Marc
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  35. #35
    New Member Dr Owl's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    May I emerge from the shadows and bump this thread back up to the top? ... since I too want to buy a portrait lens.

    I'm a long-standing Nikon user in the process of becoming a Leica user as well ... because I want to digitize my picture taking ... preferably to taking three types of picture on one camera. At present, I use an F3 for walkabout; a Rolleiflex TLR for portraits; and an F5 for close-ups. What I have been seeking is a digital camera that is as solidly built as these ... but no heavier than the F3.

    The Nikon D800 ticks many of the boxes; but it is more than 200g too heavy for my comfort on walkabout. So I visited Red Dot Cameras, where I found I loved the handling of M-system Leicas, and placed an order for an M240. I haven't received the camera yet, of course ... at the present rate, I sha'n't receive it until December!

    I therefore have a last summer of film photography during which I shall buy an initial Leica kit of just two lenses: one for walkabout, one for portraits. For nearly the last 15 years, my primary walkabout lens has been an AI-Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, so it wasn't difficult to decide to buy a secondhand 50mm Summilux; which I have done.

    The need to choose a portrait lens brings me here.

    By portrait lens, I mean the traditional 75mm to 90mm range. The Summilux will do nicely for pictures of people in context, as will a future wide-angle once I've got the hang of the first two lenses. I've searched the last year of the forum (particularly this thread) for positive recommendations of specific lenses, and there are two leading recommendations, with 7 supporters each:

    * the 90mm Elmarit-M, used wide open at f/2.8 for softness, and
    * the Zeiss ZM 85mm f/2.

    In third place, with 4 supporters, comes

    * the 75mm Summilux.

    Not the APO-Summicron-M ASPH. That surprised me a bit: it has an excellent reputation ... is it just too clinical for portrait work?

    75mm seems rather close to 50mm for my second lens of two. And I was thinking of sticking with a Leica lens while I am learning the handling of a new camera. So I am minded to search for a secondhand 90mm Elmarit-M.

    Is that a sensible way forward?

    Later,

    Dr Owl
    John Owlett

    Leica M6 & M240; Nikon F3; Rolleiflex 2.8GX.

  36. #36
    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    75mm is very close to 50mm. The 75mm APO-Summicron was disliked (very vocally) by Luka on FM forums which might have led to an internet stigma that it is boring or clinical.
    I sold mine because it is so close to 50mm, not because it wasn't exemplary. It also focuses to 0.7m.
    My Tumblr
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    On the M I find the 75 s too difficult to frame properly at close distances . I typically use the 90/2.8 EM (46e) and one of the 50 s for environmental /casual portraits .

    With the new M I might go with the 75 summilux and use the EVF ..but haven t tried it yet .
    While the M provides great IQ ..I much prefer a DSLR because you can see so much better ..and I am fine with some softness if I can get the eyes sharp .

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I'm reading "Portrait" in this thread to mean a head and shoulders view with background elements largely out of focus. The combination that has worked best for me for this kind of shot is the old Nikon 105/2.5 (on a Nikon F, long gone now). The 75 APO Summicron on an M8 produced similar pleasing results. Recently, while waiting for my 2014 M240 to arrive some lucky day, I've been playing with an Olympus M43 Pen-lite E-PL5, with 45/1.8 and a 75/1.8 of very high quality and modest cost. The 75 (effectively 150), in particular, allows everything from isolating a subject plane from both foreground and background elements to combining elements over a moderate depth range. Since the 240 will permit using moderate teles from Leica R and other places, why not purchase a 90 Summarit, planning to sell it for your dream lens when all the options are opened? The 75 and 90 Summiluxes are rare now, and they are beasts, heavy, stiff, and likely to be left at home...

    scott

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    The 75 lux has always been my favorite portrait lens. I like that working distance, intimate enough and distant enough. For whatever reason I have no problems focusing at any aperture, with a better focus hit rate than the f1 noctilux at 1.4 on the 75. Having said that, I generally shoot at F2-4. The 75 lux is two different lenses. At 1.4 it has that glow while maintaining enough sharpness within the scant DOF, at 2 it's getting more like the 75 cron, and definitely by f4 it's contrast and sharpness is superb. It has a more gentle tonal gradation than the 75cron in my experience. It's bokeh is to die for.

  40. #40
    Senior Member CharlesK's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    For portraits my favorite lenses are 75 Lux and 50 Nocti f/1.0, followed closely behind by 50 Lux Asph. I also have the 75 Cron Apo, which is as suggested is too sharp, and the 90 Cron Apo, which I find excellent, but the framing and nailing focus is harder IMO.

    50 Nocti f/1.0 @ f/1.0



    75 Lux

    Charles Kalnins
    Tallai, Queensland Australia.

    http://kalnins.zenfolio.com
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    [QUOTE=CharlesK;501610]For portraits my favorite lenses are 75 Lux and 50 Nocti f/1.0, followed closely behind by 50 Lux Asph. I also have the 75 Cron Apo, which is as suggested is too sharp, and the 90 Cron Apo, which I find excellent, but the framing and nailing focus is harder IMO.QUOTE]

    For portrait work, those are my exact two favorites too. I no longer have the 50mm f1 regretably and have been keeping an essentually brand new 75 Lux carefully away till the day I might be able to obtain a MM, where I believe it's rendering will be quite lovely. I used a older 75mm Lux for quite a few years and I found it has a signature thats both different and multifaceted. Unfortunately (and paradoxically) it's the one lens that it appears I will have to let go of, in order to get that MM...LOL!

    My feeling is the chopice of lenses for portraituse, used in any format becomes a very personal/subjective decision, since it all depends on what kind of portrait is being taken ie: the person, the nature and purpose of the portrait and the enviorment it's being taken in. This is in contrast of lens selection in landscapes (putting aside focal length choice for the moment). Generally in photographing a landscape, the primary purpose of the lens in most situations (of course not all) could arguably be to achieve the sharpest possible image from edge to edge (possibly with as little distortion). In contrast (and as a play on words, sometimes less of it is better)... the lens used in portrait work depends on many of the factors just outlined and I'm sure many here could add to this list.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 27th March 2013 at 08:23.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    +1 for 75mm 1.4 (which is similar to 80mm 1.4 R) and Noct 0.95. I have no problems focusing these 2 lenses WO though it took a bit of practice.

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I own the 1.4/75 since many years and I already loved it on film Leicas. It is even better on digital M's!

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    As mentioned above, I have a few recent favs, with the benefit that all are relatively affordable:

    Canon 85 mm f/1.8 LTM
    Canon 100 mm f/2 LMT
    Nikkor 8.5 cm f/2 LTM
    Nikkor 10.5 cm f/2 LTm
    Leitz Summicron 90 mm f/2 (version 2, pre-asph)

    All work wonders for portraiture, both sharp and forgiving, not at all clinical, with very organic and warm signatures. The 75 lux is great too, and I have it...more contrast, and probably a better choice for color (hard to say for sure)....but much more expensive.
    Ashwin Rao
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesK View Post
    For portraits my favorite lenses are 75 Lux and 50 Nocti f/1.0, followed closely behind by 50 Lux Asph. I also have the 75 Cron Apo, which is as suggested is too sharp, and the 90 Cron Apo, which I find excellent, but the framing and nailing focus is harder IMO.



    75 Lux
    Very nice, Charles! Nice light and the sharpness is in the right areas (not hair and such from edge sharpness).

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Charles-Do you remember where you focused on the f1.0 shot?

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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    I agree with Charles, 50 Noct F/1 and 75 Summilux! The modern lenses are too sharp....

  48. #48
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Thank you Vivek, and for the likes
    Algrove, I always where possible focus on the near eye for street portraits, and then recompose, being careful to be relaxed, and not move!!
    Charles Kalnins
    Tallai, Queensland Australia.

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  49. #49
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Thank you everyone. Very helpful.

    It's quite interesting that no voice has been raised in support of using a soft-focus filter on a more clinical lens. Nor has any voice been raised in support of the current 90mm Summarit ... it's its predecessor, the Elmarit-M, that has captured people's affections.

    What I have discovered in the last day or so is that there is more support for the 75mm Summilux than I previously thought, presented in several different ways. (I thought Charles's photo made the case well.)

    Now, this is not exactly what I wanted to hear! I had hoped to cover the entire rangefinder spectrum with just five lenses: 50mm & 90mm now; then 28mm, 21mm & macro over the next few years. Now I learn that I must plan for a 75mm some day!

    I shall consciously try to avoid being impressed by Noctilux pictures!

    The Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 is famous in Nikon history, and I've used a Nikkor 105mm (not an f/2.5) often on my F3. Is there an adapter that will attach my AI Nikkors to a Leica M ... with rangefinder coupling?

    Later,

    Dr Owl
    John Owlett

    Leica M6 & M240; Nikon F3; Rolleiflex 2.8GX.
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  50. #50
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    Re: Looking for Leica lenses for portraits recommendations

    Another vote for the 90mm Elmarit-M (although the EXIF says 50mm):

    Frits
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