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Thread: Which 21mm for M9?

  1. #51
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Between the 21 and 25 I can see how it would be hard to say which is technically better. I can't speak for the 21 yet (probably my next lens) but every image has been jaw-dropping that I've seen. I can say the 25 is definitely awesome by any measure. Even Zeiss is proud of it, and it broke some records. It was my default lens on the M8 (because of the near 35mm equivalency).

    So if the consensus is that the 21 is as good as the 25... Good! That's quite a compliment.

  2. #52
    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    Here's one from today. A bit of work in Lightroom including my mild bleach pass...

    Very nice Jason, and my type of image as well. Currently have my eye on a pretty good deal with the CV21 and viewfinder...

    Mike

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    The 21mm Super Elmar is one of the best lenses that Leica has ever made and worth saving for if you want this focal length. I've now had a copy for about four days and have shot mainly familiarization images with it.

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  4. #54
    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Campbell View Post
    The 21mm Super Elmar is one of the best lenses that Leica has ever made and worth saving for if you want this focal length. I've now had a copy for about four days and have shot mainly familiarization images with it.
    Very nice Woody. If I had the money, I think this would probably be the lens I'd go for, but it simply won't get enough use to justify that kind of expense....although I remember saying something similar a couple of years ago when I started out with CV lenses and gradually upgraded!

    Mike

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I would fully agree with Woody's assesment of the Leica 21mm Super Elmar on being a superlative lens, but would also recommend for those who might not use a 21mm all that often or desire to throw some budgetary considerations into the mix, the Zeiss 21mm f2.8 's performance is a very close match to the Leica and worthy of serious consideration as a possible alternative. Lots of interesting choices in lenses with regards to the 21mm focal length for the Leica M mount.

    Dave (D&A)
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  6. #56
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    I would fully agree with Woody's assesment of the Leica 21mm Super Elmar on being a superlative lens, but would also recommend for those who might not use a 21mm all that often or desire to throw some budgetary considerations into the mix, the Zeiss 21mm f2.8 's performance is a very close match to the Leica and worthy of serious consideration as a possible alternative. Lots of interesting choices in lenses with regards to the 21mm focal length for the Leica M mount.

    Dave (D&A)
    Good point David. That said, bear in mind that the 21/2.8 biogon seems to not respond perfectly to the 21mm leica lens profiles for edge correction.

  7. #57
    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    I didn't

    However, I did a lot of research on this matter before committing to buy. Online paid reviews and sample shots, MTF comparisons (very valid since both Zeiss and Leica use the same testing machine)... etc.

    As for the ZM 25 vs Leica 21/3.4, since they are both stellar, and have different FL, but very similar performance across the frame, it's difficult to say, but still I believe the 25 has a slight edge. Btw, I haven't seen any CA with my copy.
    I guess there is no substitute for someone elses experience.
    FWIW I owned two copies of the 25zm (swapped when troubleshooting a light leak issue) which both performed identically, so yours must be a cherry if it is completely devoid of CA.

  8. #58
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by thrice View Post
    Good point David. That said, bear in mind that the 21/2.8 biogon seems to not respond perfectly to the 21mm leica lens profiles for edge correction.


    Daniel, excellent point! What I have found (as well as many others), is coding the Zeiss 21mm f2.8 as a Leica 21mm f2.8 pre asph as opposed to the asph version. This almost always results in near perfect edge correction.

    I will add though that it has been demonstrated by a few individuals that occasionally, the effectiveness of this coding for this lens as well as some others, seems to be dependent on individual M9 bodies resp[onse to conding. Why this is the case, I honestly don't know.

    Dave (D&A)
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  9. #59
    Senior Member Gary Clennan's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I highly recommend the 21SEM. It is the sharpest WA lens I have owned. I even think it slightly edges out my ZF21 which in itself is amazing.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I have (or had) most 21's available in Leica mount, and currently have the 21/2.8 ASPH, 21/1.4, 21/3.4 SA, 16-21TE amd 21/4 Cosina. I've also used the 21/2.8 and f/4.5 Zeiss for a while, and had the 21/1.8 Cosina for a week a couple of months ago. A local friend has good connections with Kobayashi-san and got serial no. 00001. So it might not be quite representative, but it shouldn't be far off either. Mechanically it felt very good; probably the best of any Cosina lens I've had or tried so far.

    On the basis of the sample I tried, however, it would be the one I would get at this point if I could have only one, unless it was really too big. It's getting close to, but not quite as big as the 21/1.4, and it's lighter. It is as sharp as the Summilux with no more optical problems, and it has noticeably less vignetting. I would definitely get it in preference to the 21/2.8 Zeiss or 21/2.8 ASPH, let alone the pre-ASPH. Currently the best 21 is the SE f/3.4, but it comes at the cost of the lack of speed... and relative cost. In use you'd likely not see the difference in quality between it and the 21/1.8 Cosina, though, just as most of the others are also at the same level. The most obvious and easily seen difference is in the level of distortion, where the faster lenses do somewhat (but not drastically) worse.

    If you want small, then there is really only one workable choice: the 21/4 Cosina M-mount.

    A number of years ago I did a fairly comprehensive test of four 21's for a magazine, which besides the 21/3.4 SA, 21/2.8 ASPH and 21/4 Cosina included the Ricoh 21/3.5 (not that great, and very rare) and the Cosina wasn't that far behind the 21/2.8 ASPH. I also tested some other 21's that are less common, but they didn't really rise above the Ricoh. The 21-35 Hexanon is interesting, but now it too is more valuable to collectors than shooters. If the price and availability had stayed reasonable it might have stayed an acceptable choice as the versatility and performance were quite decent.

    I'm not getting rid of the Summilux, because it is really 2/3 stop faster, and the pain of paying for it has been left behind. The TE stays for obvious reasons, the SA is my long time love for film and the Cosina is tiny. The 21/2.8 ASPH will have to go.

    Henning
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    With regard to viewfinders, my preference is the Leica plastic one. It is the lowest profile, fairly accurate, doesn't shatter when you drop it (ie, knock it off the camera) and is actually quite hard to dislodge. The current metal one is NOT the one to get. See below. It's also horrendously expensive.

    The Zeiss has the best view through the finder, but has a higher viewpoint, sticks up a lot, isn't as secure in the shoe and has sharp corners that snag on things. Angle of view in mine is smaller than the Leica, so isn't quite as accurate.

    If your budget is small, get the plastic Voigtlander one, as it doesn't catch on things as easily as the Zeiss and doesn't slip out of the shoe as easily. Angle of view similar to Zeiss'. If the framelines are askew (and it's happened on more than one) it's really easy to fix. The metal one isn't as nice in practice (it tends to slip out of the shoe more easily, and things catch on it more easily), and is more expensive as well as having two sets of framelines, which is distracting.

    I've had a number of the old metal housing Leica finders; probably about 6 or so since the mid 60's and most of them died trying to embed themselves in concrete after I knocked them off the camera. I've spent more on finders than on my Super Angulons. About 25 years ago I got wise and attached them via a 'cap keeper' arrangement, but that was a bit clumsy if effective. There are some other finders out there, but they all tend to be poorer in one aspect or another.

    The 21-24-28 Leica multifinder isn't particularly good. It's rather dim and unpleasant to look through. It's made by Cosina, but isn't one of their better efforts.

    One finder that is fairly decent in use is the Frankenfinder, with framelines for 16 through 28, with a bubble level and parallax compensation. It may be ugly and large, and can definitely catch on things, but for 21 you see well outside the frame and the view is quite good.

    The Cosina 15-35 multifinder is not as good. You can't see outside the frame and there is no bubble level, and it is, arguably, just as ugly and likely to catch on things.

    Henning
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  12. #62
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Very thorough comparison of four 21mm, including the new VC Ultron, M mount lenses by Ron Scheffler.
    Can be of help when making a decision. Also tested on the NEX-7 and Ricoh GXR. Only one missing is the Zeiss 21/4.5 C-Biogon.

    http://www.ronscheffler.com/techtalk/?page_id=130

    Michiel
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  13. #63
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Thanks Henning for your through comments regarding performance of these various 21mm lenses. I can fully appreciate the different lens performance charateristics both you and Ron Scheffler have outlined, especially when I compare it with my experience with most of the these lenses, except for the new VC 21mm f1.8. In my opinion, there really isn't a bad one in the bunch but is more a factor of which combination of attributes (optical, size, price etc.) suits one style of shooting. Thanks for posting...all a great "read".

    Dave (D&A)

  14. #64
    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Ron's reviews and comparisons are really great. I read the review thouroughly and it is very illuminating.

    However, as a self appointed Zeiss conoisseur, I would like to point out 2 different lens design groups in the lens stable. There is a false impression floating around that the biogon 21/2.8 is as good as the superlative distagon 21/2.8 for slr. That is completely wrong. The equivalent of the distagon 21 is the biogon 25/2.8. Zeiss will typically design 2 kinds of lenses, both with very high micro contrast and typical Zeiss rendering, except that one designed for perfection across the frame but with flat rendering, and the other with field curvature but incredible accentuated 3 dimensional rendition. Flat perfect rendering includes the ZM 85, 25, and 18. Field curvature but very lively 3 dimensional rendition from the ZM 35/2, 28 and 21. The planar 50 is somewhat in the middle.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Ron's reviews and comparisons are really great. I read the review thouroughly and it is very illuminating.

    However, as a self appointed Zeiss conoisseur, I would like to point out 2 different lens design groups in the lens stable. There is a false impression floating around that the biogon 21/2.8 is as good as the superlative distagon 21/2.8 for slr. That is completely wrong. The equivalent of the distagon 21 is the biogon 25/2.8. Zeiss will typically design 2 kinds of lenses, both with very high micro contrast and typical Zeiss rendering, except that one designed for perfection across the frame but with flat rendering, and the other with field curvature but incredible accentuated 3 dimensional rendition. Flat perfect rendering includes the ZM 85, 25, and 18. Field curvature but very lively 3 dimensional rendition from the ZM 35/2, 28 and 21. The planar 50 is somewhat in the middle.
    Very interesting! Thanks!
    I love my 25 Biogon for architectural and landscapes and I am on the hunt for that 85/4 to use on a upcoming trip. I have the VC 15 for wide.
    So, that's why you choose for the 18 instead of the 21 in your Zeiss lens line- up.

    Michiel
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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Michiel, exactly why I selected the 25 and 18 over the 21 and also the 28. For 3D, I think the 35/2 is excellent, and the FL is more suitable for subjects where lively 3D rendering is required.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Ron's reviews and comparisons are really great. I read the review thouroughly and it is very illuminating.

    However, as a self appointed Zeiss conoisseur, I would like to point out 2 different lens design groups in the lens stable. There is a false impression floating around that the biogon 21/2.8 is as good as the superlative distagon 21/2.8 for slr. That is completely wrong. The equivalent of the distagon 21 is the biogon 25/2.8. Zeiss will typically design 2 kinds of lenses, both with very high micro contrast and typical Zeiss rendering, except that one designed for perfection across the frame but with flat rendering, and the other with field curvature but incredible accentuated 3 dimensional rendition. Flat perfect rendering includes the ZM 85, 25, and 18. Field curvature but very lively 3 dimensional rendition from the ZM 35/2, 28 and 21. The planar 50 is somewhat in the middle.
    Agreed that the 50 Planar is very neutral. It has the visceral 3D pop if you desire or you can tone it down a lot in PP. Probably my favorite Zeiss lens and the fact I keep it along with the 50 Summilux says a lot. They're different in character for sure but there's room for both.
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  18. #68
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Michiel, exactly why I selected the 25 and 18 over the 21 and also the 28. For 3D, I think the 35/2 is excellent, and the FL is more suitable for subjects where lively 3D rendering is required.
    I very much can identify with your assessment of even flat field rendering vs.field curvature (and often 3D rendering) with some of the Zeiss lenses. It's one of the reason's I initially picked up the Zeiss Zm 18mm a superlative lens in this focal length and paired it with a Zm 25 as you did. As good as these lenses are, unfortunately 18mm and 24/25mm is generally not my favorite framing of choice for the subjects I shoot and reverted to a 21 and 28mm. Of course its all subjective and I'm still at odds with a 28mm, whether on a rangefinder or SLR.

    In some ways, the question for preference of flat field vs 3D rendering sort of reminds me (in certain ways) of whether one prefers a more technically perfect lens rendering or one with some aberations that's often described as "character".

    As related to this thread, there are certainly an abudence of choices in the 21mm focal length.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 14th January 2013 at 09:47.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michiel Schierbeek View Post
    Very interesting! Thanks!
    I love my 25 Biogon for architectural and landscapes and I am on the hunt for that 85/4 to use on a upcoming trip. I have the VC 15 for wide.
    So, that's why you choose for the 18 instead of the 21 in your Zeiss lens line- up.

    Michiel
    Michiel, Thanks for posting the link to Ron's excellent review of the 21s. I am very pleased with both the CV 21 1.8 and Zeiss 25 Biogon on the M9.
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  20. #70
    New Member rscheffler's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Yes Michiel, thanks for linking to my review! Funny, when I read Henning's post (#60), I thought, "wow, that's pretty much my conclusion" and also why I'll probably keep the 21 Lux.

    As an all-purpose lens for when you need speed or when you want to do landscapes, the 21/1.8 is looking to be very promising. If you want the Zeiss look, the 21/1.8 may not quite give it to you and the ZM21/2.8 or the 21 SEM will be better choices. For a Leica, and the performance it offers, the 21 SEM is almost a bargain!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Woods View Post
    Requirements:
    21mm (not 24 or 25)
    Cheap and used (probably not Leica) since it will be for occasional landscape use only
    Needs to play nicely with M9 - no red edges, no Cornerfix, etc.
    Not bothered about fast aperture (for a change!)

    Options:
    Zeiss 21 f2.8 - Have read lots of good reports. Most expensive of the options.
    Zeiss 21 f/4.5 - Can't find much on this in terms of use on the M9, although this comment appears within a current GetDPI for sale ad.....'It is well known that optically this lens out-performs its pricier cousin.....'
    CV21 f/4 - Cheapest option, but conflicting red edge reports. Solved by latest M9 firmware if manual coding selected within menu?

    That's it! Any advice/recommendations appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

    Mike
    Based on your criteria, if it's primarily landscape use and by that I assume you mean stopped down a bit as well, then the ZM21/2.8 is a great choice on a budget. Past around f/5.6 it's really difficult to tell the difference between it and the 21/3.4 Leica, in terms of across the frame sharpness. It was one of my first lenses for the M9 and I really liked it a lot. It did have some edge color shift issues until after firmware 1.176. I've coded it as the 21/2.8 non-ASPH (11134) and it seems to work fine.

    Regarding external viewfinders: Is your landscape work handheld? If not, and primarily on a tripod, then I wouldn't even bother with a viewfinder. All of them are going to be somewhat approximate for framing anyway, and the best solution before the M240 arrives will be to do test shots and recompose, based on what you see on the LCD, as necessary. It might sound tedious but really isn't all that bad. Where a viewfinder would be useful is if you're not habituated to shooting at that focal length and therefore might find it useful as a framing/composing guide to determine approximately how much of the scene will be in the frame.

    My 2¢
    Ron
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    While I was in the city today I stopped by B&H as they had the 21mm Ultron lens listed as in-stock (along with the 21/25 metal finder) and I was curious to check it out. Whaddya know... They both came home with me.

    First impressions; solid, typical CV lens. If you're familiar with the 35 Nokton, this is very much like it (except a fixed petal hood). I'd have preferred a removable, rectangular hood maybe but whatever. It's effective. And the lens cap - fiddly, like those darn ZMs when the hood's on. Otherwise - a solid, smoothly focusing lens with a deeply-detented aperture ring. Seems a bit "cleaner" in action than usual (more positive, less clack). It focuses down to .5m vs. .7m (also like the ZMs) so if you're using it on an adapter there's that. Otherwise, make a mark on your camera strap at .5m from the sensor plane mark.

    Image wise, the bokeh is quite nice and sharpness seems pretty good too. I'll know more tomorrow when I can get the pix on the computer.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Initial results from casual "real world" (if banal) shooting... It was manually coded in the MENU as an Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 (11134). No off-colored edges and only very slight (if any) vignetting wide open as a result.

    Distortion is remarkably low and well controlled. Impressive.

    Sharpness is good from wide open; not quite as good but surprisingly similar to f/4 in center. Even at MFD (.7m) wide open, it's quite nice and very usable. Perhaps not "wow" sharp like the ZM or SEM however.

    Fairly even purple fringing across the frame wide open on strong backlights/contrast transitions. Not unexpected and even the $11k Noctilux does this (if not more so). Cleans up by f/4. Some CA wide open (in the bokeh as well) but not bad.

    It's hard to get a handle on the bokeh since so little is actually OOF with a 21mm... But it's got some of that "Bokton mojo" going on. That is, nice - like the 35mm Nokton. Perhaps not quite as smooth... But most definitely unlike the 50mm Nokton... Which is unpredictable and generally kind of nasty (when it's bad).

    This should not be construed as even remotely scientific testing. In fact, it was quite half-assed. But the weather and lighting has been crap. Stay tuned.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Getting closer to "scientific testing" for the review, but took some time out for, you know, photography.

    Long and short? This lens is sweet, so far. Need to test more towards wide open...

    Stopped down, at least - this lens is nicely sharp. Sharp enough to excite the sensor in the M9 (aliasing and likely moire) to the corners. Distortion is extremely low and well controlled. Sun stars are well defined when stopped down and look great. Handling of the sun in and just out of the frame is similarly outstanding... Despite the number of lens elements (13 in 11 groups), flare was extremely rare despite pushing the lens. There is purple fringing evident, but cleans up when stopped down. This is to be expected.

    These images were taken with firmware v1.196, lens manually set in MENU as an Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8. Note lack of colored edges, vignetting, etc. Very happy about this. The 28 Cron setting should allow more of the natural vignetting to show through; must test.

    I used both the plastic and metal versions of the Voigtländer 21/25 finder. Both work, but the metal is better. Smaller, all metal, slightly brighter with slightly less distortion (though still some barrel). It also doesn't require your eye to be right up against it for an easier view - which is good because it sits deeper into the hotshoe.

    M9, ISO 160, 1/500s @ f/5.6:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/350s @ f/11:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/500s @ f/11:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/250s @ f/11:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/500s @ f/8:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/1000s @ f/8:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/500s @ f/8:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/500s @ f/4:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/350s @ f/5.6:


    M9, ISO 160, 1/750s @ f/5.6:
    Last edited by Double Negative; 11th February 2013 at 17:17. Reason: Added info
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Double Negative:
    How does this lens look without the coding? I have an m8 and am curious of the results.
    Also, any obvious issues shooting indoor in really low (candle) light at minimum distance (say dinner table)? Focus shift? flare?
    How is the handling? My reference is a very light weight (nokton 40mm f1.4) lens...does it feel front heavy?
    Thanks in advance

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by RS View Post
    Double Negative:
    How does this lens look without the coding? I have an m8 and am curious of the results.
    Also, any obvious issues shooting indoor in really low (candle) light at minimum distance (say dinner table)? Focus shift? flare?
    How is the handling? My reference is a very light weight (nokton 40mm f1.4) lens...does it feel front heavy?
    Thanks in advance
    That's a good question actually. I will check it out, along with the aforementioned 28 Cron coding (since I like some mild vignetting on wides). I did code the lens with a template and a Sharpie; easily done because of the groove and worked the first time.

    MFD is easy. My strap happens to be just right to measure .5m. Or, you can stick with RF-only focusing to .7m. Not sure about focus shift yet, but no flare. I think out of 200 shots over the weekend, I saw flare in ONE of them. And I easily shot quite a few into and close to the sun.

    Handling is very nice. It doesn't feel front-heavy at all. That lil' Nokton it's not, but it's pretty well balanced. It's closer to the 35mm f/1.2 Nokton than anything else. It looks big(ger) because of the integral (non-removable) hood.

  26. #76
    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    They look really good

    Still no decision here. No money actually, but that's another story

    Looking forward to your full review.

    Mike

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Lovely snowy suffolk shots (different suffolk I think)
    I'm late to this thread, but I'm completely happy with my WATE - it's fine at 21, but it's also fine at 16.
    good on the M with the EVF too.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Glad to hear that about the new M and the WATE. Especially about using the EVF. Must be similar with your R 28-90 too?

    I can see a nice travel kit developing 16-21, 28-90 and 80-200. And maybe one fast prime in the middle range or even the 80/1.4 R.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    If anyone needs a Zeiss 21 OVF, I just remembered I saw one yesterday the the Pro Shop, WPB, FL 561-253-2606 in their used case. Problem was this was not used! Brand new in box, they said it was a mis-order from a customer. $300 instead of the usual new price of $400 for what it's worth.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    Glad to hear that about the new M and the WATE. Especially about using the EVF. Must be similar with your R 28-90 too?

    I can see a nice travel kit developing 16-21, 28-90 and 80-200. And maybe one fast prime in the middle range or even the 80/1.4 R.
    hi there
    well, that sounds good - with a 50 'lux, 60 macro-elmarit and your sorted
    but the truth is that there are many ways to cut it.

    But my point really is that the WATE is a great 21 and a fine 16 and 18 into the bargain.
    all the best

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    By the timing of your reply you must be in the Western Hemisphere. Correct?

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    By the timing of your reply you must be in the Western Hemisphere. Correct?
    Hi There
    Right now I'm not sure which hemisphere I'm in (a day of meetings in Aberdeen and two flights does get you that way!).
    . . . but yes - UK

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