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Thread: Which 21mm for M9?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Which 21mm for M9?

    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

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Hi Mike,

    Out of the three lenses you mentioned, I can only speak for the Zeiss ZM 21mm f2.8. In a word, spectaular and in my direct comparision with the fairly new and current Leica 21mm f3.4, I would say it was ever so close, that for all intent and purposes, they performed nearly identical, except for the somewhat warmer of character of the Leica (the Zeiss being more neutral) and slightly higher contrast of the Zeiss....as the primary differences. As a best buy, the Zeiss wins hands down although it's not the least expensive 21mm available.

    There are a few other older 21mm rangefinder lenses that were made a number of years ago that fall into a much lower price catagory, but I'll leave it to others who have had actual experieces with them...such as the Kobalux (Avenon) 21mm lenses for example.

    Dave (D&A)
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I own neither of your choice but the Leica 21/2.8.
    I believe f2.8 is really nice if you shoot indoor or low light so if you can afford the Zeiss/2.8 I would choose that option.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    For me since I never remember to manually code lenses when changing them, get a lens that is 6 bit coded.

    I own the 21/3.4-wow. Smaller and better. Try to find a used one.

    I also own the 21/2.8 nice, but filters are 60mm. Mine is 6 bit coded.

    Summary-smaller is good especially if it is a newer design and better than the rest.

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

    Forget about the ZM 21/4.5. It has such a severe color shift, that even Cornerfix can't deal with it. As for the ZM 21/2.8, it is very similar in performance to the Leica 21/3.4 as mentioned above. Spectacular performance. But if you want the best wide angle ever made for the M mount, look no further than the ZM 25/2.8, absolute perfection.
    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
    Forget about the ZM 21/4.5. It has such a severe color shift, that even Cornerfix can't deal with it. As for the ZM 21/2.8, it is very similar in performance to the Leica 21/3.4 as mentioned above. Spectacular performance. But if you want the best wide angle ever made for the M mount, look no further than the ZM 25/2.8, absolute perfection.
    I'd have to agree with all of this. Especially the 2.8/25 ZM.

    The 4/21 Color Skopar works great with the v1.162+ M9 firmware. Before that, not so much. Unfortunately it didn't help the 4.5/21 ZM.

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    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Great replies so far - thank you!

    Ok, so I've dropped the idea of the 21/4.5.

    I've had the ZM 25 but got rid of it, as we never really bonded - albeit that was with the M8....

    My preference at the moment is the CV 21, purely on cost grounds for something that won't see regular use, but I'm sorely tempted by the ZM 2.8.

    By the way, any thoughts on viewfinder? I'm reading that the Zeiss, although nice and bright, has an offset issue when mounted, so I'm currently looking at the plastic Leica 21. Also wondering how many used ones will start to appear and drive down prices when the M arrives and gives us live view.....

    Mike

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

    I have the Leica bright line for the 18, and the Zeiss for the 18 and 25. The Zeiss is much better (brightness, contrast, distortion, frame visibility, large image) and I am not noticing any offset issue. In fact, the Leica is on sale now on the B&S forum.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I had the zeiss 25 and while it was a stellar performer, it was not as durable as the leica lenses, I had it for a year more or less and it showed bright clear brassing on the focus knurl. As in right down to the metal. Also the focus developed play in the movement. It was never dropped or mishandled.

    None of my far older leica lenses have any sort of wear this obvious. So you get what pay for.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I occasionally use the CV 21/4 (with the Voigtländer 21/25 brightline finder) on the M9. It does a good job.

    I haven't really checked the color shift, etc, very much ... that usually says "it's good enough for me."" ;-)

    G

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    The pre-asph Leica 21 f2.8 is not necessarily that expensive, and it plays very well on the M9 . . . very very well.
    I might even know someone who has one to sell!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Just shot the M9/Color Skopar combo a couple of weeks ago (though I'm at 1.192 firmware now):

    M9, ISO 160, CV 4/21, 1/250s @ f/5.6:

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

    Quote Originally Posted by robertwright View Post
    I had the zeiss 25 and while it was a stellar performer, it was not as durable as the leica lenses, I had it for a year more or less and it showed bright clear brassing on the focus knurl. As in right down to the metal. Also the focus developed play in the movement. It was never dropped or mishandled.

    None of my far older leica lenses have any sort of wear this obvious. So you get what pay for.
    I believe this was an issue with Cosina factory that was gradually and silently resolved. My lenses were ordered from fresh batches and I have been using them for like a year and a half with absolutely no signs of wear. Of course, I don't expect the ZM to last as long as Leica lenses, but I expect them to optically perform flawlessly, and they do.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I took a chance and ordered the new Voigtlander 21/1.8 Ultron on a whim because of how much I like the Nokton 35/1.2 II... Unfortunately nothing to report yet but when I can I will let you know if you're still looking for a 21 then.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    I took a chance and ordered the new Voigtlander 21/1.8 Ultron on a whim because of how much I like the Nokton 35/1.2 II... Unfortunately nothing to report yet but when I can I will let you know if you're still looking for a 21 then.
    Hope to hear from your experience of the lens. I am also thinking about purchasing the VC 21/1,8. Thanks!

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Will do... Hoping it works out on the M9 with the coding but if not then there's always the chance it could become an exclusive MM lens... Once I get one.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    An interesting lens, no doubt - and it does work with the M9. Just keep in mind the size and weight...

    Let's hope it leans more towards the 35 than the 50 in terms of "feel."

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I've used the CV Color Skopar on my M9-P and not had a problem with it. One example:


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    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    A couple of nice examples of the CV on here. My wallet is breathing a little easier at the moment....but no decision made

    Mike

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    I should probably mention that was a DNG processed in Aperture.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Here's a thread of 4/21 Color Skopar samples if you're interested.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Re the 21/4.5 and the M9. Don't give up on it yet. Marvelously sharp lens, great color rendering. Here are three admittedly lame shots from a walkabout the neighborhood showing the benefits of the DNG Flat Field correction plug-in for LR4 from Adobe. Completely removes the color shift issue for me in using this lens with the M9...
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Ahh, nice. Basically a "CornerFix plug-in" for LR. To be fair, CornerFix can do this too, albeit as a separate process. It's nice to see this integrated.

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    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Negative View Post
    Ahh, nice. Basically a "CornerFix plug-in" for LR. To be fair, CornerFix can do this too, albeit as a separate process. It's nice to see this integrated.
    Well you learn something every day! Presumably though this involves taking some form of calibration shots?

    Mike

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    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Negative View Post
    Here's a thread of 4/21 Color Skopar samples if you're interested.
    Thank you. They look much better than I expected.

    Mike

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Really looking forward to seeing something from that 21 Ulteron
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Woods View Post
    Well you learn something every day! Presumably though this involves taking some form of calibration shots?
    Not sure about the Flat Field Correction plug-in for LR, but with CornerFix yes. It's really a very simple process, works with any workflow (albeit an extra step) and is free. More info:

    Using CornerFix to Correct Images

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Woods View Post
    Thank you. They look much better than I expected.
    Quite welcome! The first images in that thread were shot using an older pre-1.162 (forgot version) firmware and both with/without CornerFix. CF handles it nicely, but as said - v1.162+ firmware should resolve things.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Woods View Post
    Well you learn something every day! Presumably though this involves taking some form of calibration shots?

    Mike
    Yes - shooting through an expodisk or white handkerchief gives me manual white balance and a reference image for the Correction tool all in one go...

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Negative View Post
    An interesting lens, no doubt - and it does work with the M9. Just keep in mind the size and weight...

    Let's hope it leans more towards the 35 than the 50 in terms of "feel."
    I agree. I like the Nokton 50/1.5 for B&W... The contrast was just a little too low for my tastes for color shots (can be fixed in PP and with presets) but the Zeiss Planar had rendering I preferred so it stayed. I liked the rendering of the 28 Ultron but I wasn't in love with the focal length (If I want wide I prefer to go really wide and if I barely want wide I prefer 35.) The 35 Nokton II knocked my socks off. Way better than I expected and honestly Cosina could marketed it as a Zeiss (although the rendering is more Leica than Zeiss) and sold it for twice the price easily. That being said the test shots I saw from Photokina are similar to the 35 Nokton II - it's just a matter of will it play nice with the M without having to resort to Cornerfix. I really hope so or else it will have permanent MM duty and maybe that's not a bad thing either (once I buy one.)

    Unfortunately I have to wait a bit until I'm back stateside to play with it but hopefully I can post something up sooner rather than later.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Avenon 21mm f2.8 good small japanese lens, reasonably priced

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    I agree. I like the Nokton 50/1.5 for B&W... The contrast was just a little too low for my tastes for color shots (can be fixed in PP and with presets) but the Zeiss Planar had rendering I preferred so it stayed. I liked the rendering of the 28 Ultron but I wasn't in love with the focal length (If I want wide I prefer to go really wide and if I barely want wide I prefer 35.) The 35 Nokton II knocked my socks off. Way better than I expected and honestly Cosina could marketed it as a Zeiss (although the rendering is more Leica than Zeiss) and sold it for twice the price easily. That being said the test shots I saw from Photokina are similar to the 35 Nokton II - it's just a matter of will it play nice with the M without having to resort to Cornerfix. I really hope so or else it will have permanent MM duty and maybe that's not a bad thing either (once I buy one.)

    Unfortunately I have to wait a bit until I'm back stateside to play with it but hopefully I can post something up sooner rather than later.
    That makes sense; the (older) 50 Nokton is more of a "classic" rendering and the Planar more "modern." I can see why you like it for B&W. The older 28 Ultron is closer to it than the newer, which I was looking into as well. I ended up going with the 28 Cron, and have been in love with it. I wasn't sure about the focal length either, but it really gelled with me (as I liked the 25 on the M8). Something about the entire VF being used, not needed an external, etc. and of course, the performance and character.

    I would agree about the 35 Nokton. It's such a sleeper lens. It renders absolutely wonderfully. I've been waffling over replacing it with a Lux or Cron but I like the 28/50 combo more than I expected. So we'll see what happens. I might just stick with the Nokton. I just wish it were a bit smaller, lighter and had a finger tab... I've grown to really like them, LOL.

    From what I've seen of the 21 on the M9, I don't think CornerFix will be needed. Just coding it as an Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 (ASPH?) should do the trick. Very sharp, lovely saturation and color. Hard to comment on the bokeh for a couple of reasons right now...

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    I took a chance and ordered the new Voigtlander 21/1.8 Ultron on a whim because of how much I like the Nokton 35/1.2 II... Unfortunately nothing to report yet but when I can I will let you know if you're still looking for a 21 then.
    I did the same and my lens arrived today. So far looks very good, based on a few quick snaps around the house. No corner or edge smearing, low distortion, and very sharp across the frame. There is a little CA and some purple fringing, but both easily removed in LR. No cyan vignetting and no red edges. No need for CF or FF profiling. I'll post some shots from the field later today.

    Here is the lens on the M-E with the CV metal 21/25 finder (quite nice). I'm not crazy about the Zeiss style pinch lens cap, but I'm used to that problem. Lens is heavy, but feels solid with smooth focusing and positive aperture click stops.

    Carl
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by scho View Post
    I did the same and my lens arrived today. So far looks very good, based on a few quick snaps around the house. No corner or edge smearing, low distortion, and very sharp across the frame. There is a little CA and some purple fringing, but both easily removed in LR. No cyan vignetting and no red edges. No need for CF or FF profiling. I'll post some shots from the field later today.

    Here is the lens on the M-E with the CV metal 21/25 finder (quite nice). I'm not crazy about the Zeiss style pinch lens cap, but I'm used to that problem. Lens is heavy, but feels solid with smooth focusing and positive aperture click stops.

    Looks great, Carl, and from your description it sounds great too. I look forward to seeing some photos made with it.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    That certainly does look nice. Very similar to the 35 and 50, externally. I look forward to seeing (hopefully many) more shots from these lenses in the near future.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    A few walkabout shots with the Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8 Ultron on the M-E. I manually coded the lens as an Elmarit 2.8 ASPH (no menu item for the 21 1.4 Lux). All handheld and minimally processed in LR4. Click image for full size original.









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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Those look pretty darn good! No odd colors, sharp even into the corners. What apertures did you use primarily? I'd say f/8 going by EXIF, more or less.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by scho View Post
    I did the same and my lens arrived today. So far looks very good, based on a few quick snaps around the house. No corner or edge smearing, low distortion, and very sharp across the frame. There is a little CA and some purple fringing, but both easily removed in LR. No cyan vignetting and no red edges. No need for CF or FF profiling. I'll post some shots from the field later today.

    Here is the lens on the M-E with the CV metal 21/25 finder (quite nice). I'm not crazy about the Zeiss style pinch lens cap, but I'm used to that problem. Lens is heavy, but feels solid with smooth focusing and positive aperture click stops.

    Sounds good. Great to hear and I'm even more excited now.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by scho View Post
    A few walkabout shots with the Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8 Ultron on the M-E. I manually coded the lens as an Elmarit 2.8 ASPH (no menu item for the 21 1.4 Lux). All handheld and minimally processed in LR4. Click image for full size original.
    Looks good. And more impressive to me, looks like there is minimal distortion.

    Ordered one yesterday
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Negative View Post
    Those look pretty darn good! No odd colors, sharp even into the corners. What apertures did you use primarily? I'd say f/8 going by EXIF, more or less.
    Yes, mostly shooting at f/8. Here is one at f/2.8. Not very revealing, but I'll run through the apertures with more appropriate subject matter later.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    Sounds good. Great to hear and I'm even more excited now.
    I don't think that you will be disappointed and I'm looking forward to seeing your images with the 21 1.8.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by scho View Post
    I don't think that you will be disappointed and I'm looking forward to seeing your images with the 21 1.8.
    Thanks for the heads up/ report and that is good assurance that it was a god purchase on a whim. BTW I really dig that M-E with the black dot. It beats the red dot to me and really tones down an otherwise attractive color combination.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    It looks like a great lens... Looking forward to more photos/samples of the 21 f/1.8.... Thanks for sharing

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Negative View Post
    That makes sense; the (older) 50 Nokton is more of a "classic" rendering and the Planar more "modern." I can see why you like it for B&W. The older 28 Ultron is closer to it than the newer, which I was looking into as well. I ended up going with the 28 Cron, and have been in love with it. I wasn't sure about the focal length either, but it really gelled with me (as I liked the 25 on the M8). Something about the entire VF being used, not needed an external, etc. and of course, the performance and character.

    I would agree about the 35 Nokton. It's such a sleeper lens. It renders absolutely wonderfully. I've been waffling over replacing it with a Lux or Cron but I like the 28/50 combo more than I expected. So we'll see what happens. I might just stick with the Nokton. I just wish it were a bit smaller, lighter and had a finger tab... I've grown to really like them, LOL.

    From what I've seen of the 21 on the M9, I don't think CornerFix will be needed. Just coding it as an Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 (ASPH?) should do the trick. Very sharp, lovely saturation and color. Hard to comment on the bokeh for a couple of reasons right now...
    I have a 35 Cron ASPH that I got before the Nokton II. I will say that they compliment each other in the sense that the 35 Cron ASPH is an "everything/ everyday" lens and the Nokton is a true one lens solution type lens. It's good stopped down or wide open but because of the Size I rather have the 35 Cron ASPH most of the time. I haven't tried a 35 FLE but I did try the 35 LUX ASPH (Non-FLE.) From shots I'd give them a slight edge - they are better lenses overall. Are they 4X better? Well that's a very personal decision but for me they weren't. Maybe my answer would've changed if I was willing to give up my 35 Cron ASPH, my Nokton II, and if the 35 FLE was readily available when I wanted to buy it.

    As for the 28 Ultron - again it's a really good lens with really good rendering stopped down or wide open. Again just not the focal length for me and it was easier for me (in my mind) to buy a $500 CV lens and sell for close to the same money then take a chance on a then $4000 lens (new) and force myself to like it or sell it.

    I really like 35 and I really like 50. For wide though I really like 24 or wider.. even with a 50. For long I like 75 and 90... So naturally a 75 AA Cron is next in my collection (The 90 Cron Pre-AA is a portrait mainstay.)
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  44. #44
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Boy, if it says "Ultron" it's gonna be a great lens, IMO.
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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Just one additional shot with the 21 1.8 wide open at close range.

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    If money is an object, has anyone tried the russian mir 20mm f3.5 and zone focus?
    or old nikon/canon lens?
    Am tempted with the 21 f1.8 though...anything pictures indoor shoot with candle light in the middle of winter? or pictures of cats?

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Your first results with the CV 21/1.8 look very good, Carl. I look forward to seeing more.

    And much as that damn Magpie is tweeting at me, no: I'm sticking with my Color Skopar 21/4. It's fine for the amount that I use a 21mm lens, and it's a lot smaller, and I own it already... !!!

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Here's one from today. A bit of work in Lightroom including my mild bleach pass...

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Forget about the ZM 21/4.5. It has such a severe color shift, that even Cornerfix can't deal with it. As for the ZM 21/2.8, it is very similar in performance to the Leica 21/3.4 as mentioned above. Spectacular performance. But if you want the best wide angle ever made for the M mount, look no further than the ZM 25/2.8, absolute perfection.
    I didn't know you'd shot with so many ultrawides Ed. I had the 25 ZM and it was very sharp. The 21/3.4 is sharper though, and better colour corrected especially with regard to CA. Maybe something was wrong with yours?

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    Re: Which 21mm for M9?

    Quote Originally Posted by thrice View Post
    I didn't know you'd shot with so many ultrawides Ed. I had the 25 ZM and it was very sharp. The 21/3.4 is sharper though, and better colour corrected especially with regard to CA. Maybe something was wrong with yours?
    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.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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