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Thread: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

  1. #1
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    What would be your choice in the current crop of systems? I blow hot and cold with my Pentax K20d - I do love my 77ltd prime, and have done some great shots with the other handful of lenses I have for it. But my recent acquisition of my DLux4 has me wanting a bit more from the dSLR end of things. I am totally impressed with the DL4 in low light and they colors.

    I have my biases - I tend to shoot a lot of low light situations, avoid flash like the plague, am more on the art side of things, and often will shoot fairly auto (program mode where i can do quick tweaks). I can get a lot of what I "see" with the DL4, but sometimes I want really crisp, high contrast, good dynamic range stuff, often in low light.

    I know that many here have multiple systems. I briefly tried an M8 but didn't really "get" the rangefinder thing. I could reconsider that, but given my desires for great low light performance a D700 might be the ticket along with a few good primes. The 5D Mk2 is interesting especially with the video capability as I do shoot video as well, usually with a Canon XH-A1. But my gut feeling is that the video implementation is somewhat klunky...kind of forcing the beast to do something it wasn't really made for.

    Or just buy a new ltd prime for the Pentax and focus more on tweaking the shot when I'm taking it instead of just snapping away and dealing with it in post. I'm just trying to stimulate the economy

  2. #2
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    You posted this in the Leica forum --- since it seems a general request for gear suggestions it might get more traffic in the Gear Garage. Happy to move it for you if you want.

    Given what you said, I would choose either the D700, D700X (if the noise works out for it) or 5D2 and a fast 50, a fast 85 and a fast 28 to start. With the 5D2, you can additionally mount a third-party manual zoom (I'd get a good 28-90 or maybe even a relatively poor 28-200 would be fine for video) and gain back a lot of control for movie mode.
    Jack
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  3. #3
    asabet
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I bought the D700 before the 5D II and A900 were available. If I had to choose again, my decision would be much harder, but I think I'd choose the D700 again.

    I've come to greatly appreciate the D700 as a manual focus camera. It's a much more satisfying experience for manual focus than my 5D (original) was, mainly because what was in focus in the 5D viewfinder was not in focus in the picture. I also appreciate the way the "digital rangefinder" arrows jump if my manual focus moves a hair. I don't look at those indicators often, because the screen gives an accurate impression of focus, but they are a nice "comfort" feature, basically functioning as an intermediate between focusing by eye and focusing with Live View.

    Then there's the lenses. I like having access to the whole catalogue of AI/AIS Nikkors. There are some inexpensive gems in there. I particularly enjoy being able to control aperture via a dial on the lens. Even after years of shooting Canon DSLR, I never felt as good controlling aperture with a button and a dial. I like the availability of a wide range of Cosina Zeiss and Voigtlander primes. These will come for Canon also, but the best ones (IMO) aren't available yet.

    The other feature I really appreciate with the D700 is the Nikon implementation of auto ISO. With the quality of sensors these days, ISO is something I don't want to even bother with any more. I want to determine framing, perspective, DOF, exposure, and shutter speed; but I'll be the first to concede that a computer is better than I am at choosing the appropriate ISO in 99% of circumstances. The Canon implementation of auto ISO doesn't cover my needs as well.

    That's just some of what appeals to me personally. The difference in low light performance, if there is one between the 5D II and D700, doesn't matter to me. The difference in AF systems isn't so important to me either, although I do appreciate being able to use a high precision cross-type off-center AF sensor when focusing a fast tele like the Nikon 85/1.4.

    My choice, therefore, would be D700, Zeiss ZF 35/2 Distagon, and a fast tele lens (several good choices) to start.

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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    m8 and start the collection

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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Jack, I actually posted here because this forum seems to have the most eclectic group of system owners (and perhaps the most passionate) but feel free to move if you prefer. Also, though my DLux4 perhaps isn't a "real" Leica, I am constantly struck by how good the photos look and how it renders colors. Supposedly there is different firmware in the Leica version that accounts for this, and it just speaks to me. I know I can likely fix it in post, but the less of that I have to do the better. Also I'm shooting jpeg by default now until Aperture gets updated to deal with the DLux4 raw files.

    I can't help but wonder if doing video on the 5Dmk2 is a paradigm shift or just stupid pet tricks. I suppose if you had a ton of Canon glass it might make sense and cost less than getting a video camera, but I have had great results from my XH-A1.

    As for M8, isn't low light performance kind of a sore spot?

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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    not for me

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    If I had been shorting stocks during the finance crisis: Leica S autofocus lenses on a Leica S2

    Since I have been in long stock positions: Zeiss ZA autofocus lenses on a Sony A900

    If I ever recover from the finance crisis and have the patience: Leica R autofocus lenses on an R10 - talk about patience
    Last edited by Steen; 12th December 2008 at 13:04.

  8. #8
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Quote Originally Posted by nostatic View Post
    As for M8, isn't low light performance kind of a sore spot?

    As for M8 and low light, the simple answer is it's a different shooting paradigm:

    1) DSLR + Mega ISO = probably better technical, but more static low-light images.

    2) M8 (DRF) + intermediate ISO = probably less correct technically, but more realism for the light value.

    I don't believe option 1 can convey the "atmosphere" of dimly lit situations as well as option 2. Obviously one can use the DSLR in the same fashion as the DRF cam, but the lack of mirror slapping around inside the DRF lends itself to being more stable when handheld at slow shutter speeds.
    Jack
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    Option 3

    Get a Pana G1, EVF for low light situation or live view screen, you'll save a lot cash to get any brand of lens to fix on it by next year.

  10. #10
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    The G1 is interested (I looked hard at Oly before getting the Pentax, largely based on the rep of the available glass), but frankly I like the look of what I get from the small sensor on the DL4. What I'm looking for in a "bigger" camera is filling the other end of the spectrum wrt sharpness and beautiful files that I can print at 24x36 or so. (inches, not feet. Though a guy can dream..)

    Jack, your comments about atmosphere are interesting. That is one thing I like about the way the DL4 draws low light situations...it just looks "right" to me. I'd just like an option that gives me more room to play with. Hmm, maybe I need to revisit the DRF thing.

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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    jack, that's it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    As for M8 and low light, the simple answer is it's a different shooting paradigm:

    1) DSLR + Mega ISO = probably better technical, but more static low-light images.

    2) M8 (DRF) + intermediate ISO = probably less correct technically, but more realism for the light value.

    I don't believe option 1 can convey the "atmosphere" of dimly lit situations as well as option 2. Obviously one can use the DSLR in the same fashion as the DRF cam, but the lack of mirror slapping around inside the DRF lends itself to being more stable when handheld at slow shutter speeds.

  12. #12
    Deceased, but remembered fondly here... johnastovall's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    For low light Canon 5D (now the MkII) and the Canon 50/1.0.

    Here are two folios of examples, 1 and 2.

    But the Noctilux and Canon 50/0.95 do fine on the M8.

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
    Mike Johnston


  13. #13
    Mango
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    "if you had no glass and were starting fresh... "

    This is similar to the problem of having too much, and faced with the anguish of paring down.

    In Eastern paths there are two methods (amongst others) of reaching the same goal. One is complete abstinence, and the other is total immersion, or giving in to all your lusts. In the end, you both reach nirvana.

    Best of luck in your quest.

  14. #14
    Super Duper
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I've been hovering on the sidelines
    Quote Originally Posted by nostatic View Post
    The G1 is interested (I looked hard at Oly before getting the Pentax, largely based on the rep of the available glass), but frankly I like the look of what I get from the small sensor on the DL4. What I'm looking for in a "bigger" camera is filling the other end of the spectrum wrt sharpness and beautiful files that I can print at 24x36 or so. (inches, not feet. Though a guy can dream..)
    But if that's what you want .

    Get a Sony A900 and some zeiss lenses (principally the 24-70). It's a joy to use and the files are lovely - and can easily be printed to 24X36 and beyond.

    I've been having fun with a panasonic G1, and I love my E3 and lenses in bad weather, but if I were to start again, it would be with an M8 and some lenses AND an A900 and some lenses . . . without question.

    Just this guy you know

  15. #15
    Super Duper
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I would probably go for the Sony A900 and Zeiss lenses.
    However if available light is your thing the D3 or D700 should serve you better.
    I own M8 system and D3 and while I love the M8 up to 640 ISO, I have to say that the D3 is just better in low light.
    And while I have the range finder focusing under control , still the AF of the D3 is more precise.

    So my answer would be:
    if you like to shoot above 640 ISO go D700 or D3,
    otherwise go A900 if you like SLR or M8 if you like rangefinder.

    Overall I would say keep your Pentax system. I switched systems several times and in the end the all work. I find some of the Pentax lenses very interesting.

    Cheers, Tom

  16. #16
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I'd buy whatever makes the best use of any lens with a name that includes both "Leica" and "APO". Yes I have drunk the Kool-aid and its name is APO.

  17. #17
    Mango
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    One thing you didn't specify was your budget for the solicited opinions.

    Some would say, get a M8.2 and a 35mm Summilux Asph. That and another fast lens, such as a 50mm f1.0, and a 21mm f1.4.

    Others, get a D700 or D3x and a few superfast primes, such as the Zeiss 100mm f2.0 and 50mm f2.0, Nikon 85mmf1.5 and 28mm f2.0.

    Even others, the Canon 1Ds MkIII and a bunch of superfast L lenses, such as the 50mm f1.2, 24mm f1.4 and the 85mm f2.0. The Canon L lenses seem to have the SLR lead at the moment, but some say their rendition is plasticky.

    Of the three systems above, the Leica is the least heavy to lug around for hours.

    As you can see, it's an expensive mess already. It's easy to spend other people's money (and I don't live in DC). Best of luck with your choice.

  18. #18
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Interesting thoughts. Always cheaper to stick with the devil you have, and another variable is ergonomics along with "vibe" of the company. I do appreciate that Pentax is a bit quirky and not fully mainstream. I'm also sensitive to the concept of the glass being a place to start. That is one reason I originally went with Pentax. My 77/1.8 ltd is magic portrait lens. Yesterday I got a wild hair and went and picked up a 43/1.9 ltd as well, wanting a little faster lens than my other prime, a 35/2.8 macro. Awesome lens. I still lust after any number of Leica lenses, but for the money...

    Budget is always a concern, but I've spent far More over the years trying to go "budget" only to end up selling at a loss and buying what I really wanted in the first place. That being said I don't make money from my camera (though it does figure into some work projects so it isn't clear cut). A little hard to justify dropping $10k on a basic m8 setup or close to that for the Sony, etc. But it is cheaper than racing cars (which I gave up this year).
    Last edited by nostatic; 14th December 2008 at 20:13.

  19. #19
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Leica M8.2 and 28/2 or 35/2 with 75/2 for the joy of photography.

    Nikon D3 or D700 and a bag of Zeiss ZF glass for a similar look from a DSLR in ANY light conditions you can possibly imagine. (14-24, 24-70, 70-200VR & 105 VR if you want flexibility)

    My totally biased $0.02 ...

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Leica M 2 ($650.00) OR M 4 ($795.00)
    No batteries YEA!! Great viewfinder & rf patch
    Don't mind loading Film ....
    nor waiting to see the whole roll developed

    Lenses:
    A 1962 50/1.4 Lux /$795.00
    A 1958 50/2 DR Cron /$595.00
    A 1928 uncoated 35/3.5 Elmar /$299.00 a Great Sunny Day Lens
    All Equipment Purchased from: Igors Camera Exchange & Tamarkin

    and A pocketable Digital.... waiting for the DP2 / the Foeven Sensor / 40mm f2

    THATS ALL I NEED ....Life is GOOD
    helen

    and as I mentioned before Nostatic: Love Your Avatar
    Last edited by helenhill; 16th December 2008 at 15:12.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Hacker's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I got the D700 to supplement the M8.2 in the Macro, tele and super wide area. I used the Canon 5D before with all the L lenses, but did not like the plastic look and while the primes were good, they tend to exhibit CA.

    The D700 would come in handy as the Leica primes will be what I use mainly, and Nikon has some really outstanding zooms if I need convenience and flexibility. And the D700 now takes Leica R lenses too (www.leitax.com).

  22. #22
    Super Duper
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I converted a 50/2 Summicron-R for my D700...very happy with the quality of the bayonet and easy to do the swap.

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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    My thoughts:

    Leica M8 (M8.2 whatever!) and CV 12, Leica 35 IV cron, Leica 50 1.4 Pre-Asph, Konica Hexanon 50 1.2, or if you have the big bucks the Noctilux, and the 75 Lux. By now you have probably figured out that I love the looks of the older and faster lenses. I appreciate the super sharp aspheres but it just doesn't jiggle me the way the pre-asphs do.

    Woody

  24. #24
    Senior Member Hacker's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Quote Originally Posted by monza View Post
    I converted a 50/2 Summicron-R for my D700...very happy with the quality of the bayonet and easy to do the swap.
    I've ordered two mounts, one for the 80mm and the other for the 100mm APO. I was still considering the Canon 5D Mark II because of the ability to use third-party lenses. *phew*

  25. #25
    Cancelledreality
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I would go for the M8, 28/2, 50/1.4 asph, 90/2 apo. I like sharp

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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    as long as we are dreaming: 21summilux,24elmar,35summicron,50noctilux.

  27. #27
    meilicke
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    What about a u43 plus K mount adaptor so you can use your 77 and 43 ltds? Best of all worlds - small u43 plus auto focus on the k20d. The price is relatively low so you can change your mind later without much guilt.

    It seems the u43 can get you into all kinds of trouble with groovy lenses to try.

    I am in a similar boat, but would likely need to sell my 31 and 77 ltds to fund the G1, converters, lenses, etc. Not sure I want to go there - I just love those limiteds...

  28. #28
    K3N
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hacker View Post
    I got the D700 to supplement the M8.2 in the Macro, tele and super wide area. I used the Canon 5D before with all the L lenses, but did not like the plastic look and while the primes were good, they tend to exhibit CA.

    The D700 would come in handy as the Leica primes will be what I use mainly, and Nikon has some really outstanding zooms if I need convenience and flexibility. And the D700 now takes Leica R lenses too (www.leitax.com).
    Thanks, new information for me. Any idea if the Leica 28-90mm Vario-Elmarit can be converted to work on the Nikon D700 ?

  29. #29
    Super Duper
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    The 28-90 isn't listed on the leitax site, but if you email them, David is very responsive.

  30. #30
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Quote Originally Posted by meilicke View Post
    What about a u43 plus K mount adaptor so you can use your 77 and 43 ltds? Best of all worlds - small u43 plus auto focus on the k20d. The price is relatively low so you can change your mind later without much guilt.

    It seems the u43 can get you into all kinds of trouble with groovy lenses to try.

    I am in a similar boat, but would likely need to sell my 31 and 77 ltds to fund the G1, converters, lenses, etc. Not sure I want to go there - I just love those limiteds...
    Yeah, the ltds are sweet. Kind of a poor man's Leica. Revisiting this thread after a month or so I've cycled through a couple of options and am back where I started. I have grown to love the 43/1.9ltd I picked up as well, but actually didn't bond with the 31ltd. I also tried a 21ltd but didn't really "feel" that FOV. And while a 55-300 zoom was fun, it just isn't what I see.

    I did get the g/f a G1 with both zooms. It is an amazing little camera and she loves it. I might consider a G2, but I'm not quite feeling it. I did pull the DL4 back out and was amazed yet again by what I get and that sends me back down into a Leica shame spiral

    The Sony was nice as well, but with the 24-70 is not a small setup. Much larger than the K20d with 43/1.9 mounted. I still keep coming back to these damn M8 combinations, especially now with the used prices. I blame that beautiful German glass and this forum....

  31. #31
    Senior Member ecliffordsmith's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    Hi All,

    If I were starting again I would get an M8 or M8.2 and 35 Summicron ASPH. When I first got this camera I also ordered a CV15 and 75 Summicron APO ASPH which are remarkable lenses but I never use them.

  32. #32
    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I've gone with the A900 and the Zeiss', plus a hasselblad lens to Sony mount adapter. As Jono has said before, this thing feels like a camera more than a computer, and the Zeiss' are wonderful. The viewfinder is a sight to behold. I couldn't be happier.

  33. #33
    jeff stevens
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    Re: if you had no glass and were starting fresh...

    I would have to say the A900 or M8. I don't even have any Zeiss glass for the A900, but I'm blown away by it. It's only real short coming imho, is the auto ISO, or just the fact that I can't use it in manual exposure.

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