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Thread: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

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    A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    After a lot of brain time wondering whether I should actually get this (exchanged it for the 70 CS ), I thought that a few thoughts penned in the interests of helping out those who are considering this lens would go a long way.
    I have had the good fortune to use this lens on a recent 2 day trip to Bright, Australia.

    Pros:

    • Stunning sharpness at ranges 35-85 or so.
    • Versatility of the zoom. Trust me, we all need it !!
    • Solid built, as goes with most Leica lenses (M or S)
    • Very very well controlled CA for a zoom at all FLs
    • Very very good corner sharpness for a zoom at all FLs
    • Weather resistant. I used it continuously for 45 mins in mod-heavy rain

    (Sometimes, I do these kind of things !! )


    Cons:

    • Aperture limitation (can handhold at 1/45 at the 30 end, 1/125 or higher required at the long end ) can mean it is pretty much useless indoors in low light cloudy days or in the evenings. Unless of course you use flash.
    • Large and weighty - I got used to it very well, although I struggled when my daughter wanted me to pick her up as well - Not possible to shoot single handed.
    • Looks large and impressive. But hey, everyone and his dog carries a DSLR these days.
    • Some reduction in edge sharpness is possible - but not noticeable during real world usage - especially at the shorter edges. How much this matters depends on your image content / cropping buffer etc.
    • Cost: Duh. Obviously.


    Further thoughts

    One of the maxims of my practice has been: “see it no matter what”.
    Given this, most of the times I have realised that what equipment I carry has little bearing on my level of satisfaction with the final image. That is not to say that the image quality does not differ though. In this case however, I have been hard-pressed to find any difference between the 70cs and 30-90 lenses at proof sizes using full res jpegs (I haven’t printed any images yet). Over about 150 images that I shot over 2 days, I found not-a-single-one where I found that the edge / corner IQ was lacking (but perhaps it does on comparative sample). In real world use, I doubt it will. Anything away from the edges / corners and the IQ is superlative. My conclusion was that the Leica MTFs are far too conservative when compared to real-world usage.

    (One note: I am not a pro at lens reviews, in fact this is the first one I have EVER done!! I would beg some pardon if you find any points unpalatable and a constructive feedback as well as any counter-arguments would be highly welcome. Any further images from fellow users would be welcome too. I know GMB et al have been helpful and posted a few pics themselves on another thread)

    All in all, those considering it, go for it. You WILL NOT regret buying this one.
    Some images to sniffle at:























    As usual, web compression does not do justice to the IQ.
    Thanks for looking.
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    Senior Member Joe Colson's Avatar
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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    From my experience with the S and the 30-90mm, it's a lens you'll want to keep in your bag. Versatile, sharp, highly corrected, and better than most primes in that focal length range. Here's one for sale on the GetDPI 'Gear FS or WTB' forum.

    Joe
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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    I agree in most of the praise. It makes the S a walk-aroud, albeit a bit heavy. I used in in Havana for a week without problems. But it is also the first Leica lens I have had that visibly improves by stopping down 1-2 stops. Clarity and sharpness in post-processing can compensate to some degree. For landscape and architecture edge sharpness is critical, not necessarily for urban/walk-around, so for practical use I agree with the OP.

    Digilloyd, who is a very critical reviewer, tested the lens on his (paywall) site not long ago. He was critical to some aspects ("creeping", that the zoom slid out when pointed down, which I assume can be adjusted), but concluded:
    " The sensor in the Leica S Typ 006 is lovely.
    This is a very good performance for a 3X zoom, but the edges and corners don't seem to deliver to potential of the sensor.... But given the 3X zoom range and the relatively compact size, it might well become a favorite of the Leica S users looking for an all-arounder.
    The 30-90mm is a very fine lens for a zoom, but to your author's eye, it doesn't come to the level of the primes in the Leica S lineup, particularly when the entire frame is considered, but also in peak micro contrast levels..."

    Again, whether this has visible impact for the type of photograpy that this zoom invites to, may be debatable. I certainly enjoy it (and have also sold my 30 and 70)
    Last edited by erlingmm; 27th April 2015 at 10:26. Reason: typo
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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    different users, different points of view.
    I find this lens 'almost' a nonsense.
    It's a walk around lens but is too limited in aperture.
    With the S007 the iso will compensate for speed problem although subject isolation issue will remain.
    I find lenses until 1kg well balanced on the S2 body, this one is too heavy, most certainly for a 'walkaround' lens.
    Also, using the 100mm f2.0 for a short while, I appreciate the bright viewfinder the f2 max aperture offers. the OVF is one of the strong pro of the S2 and the zoom will darken it. Too bad.
    I'll get better served with a D810 and a 24-70 (f2.8...) if i want a zoom lens.
    Just my personal opinion.
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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    On my monitor I see quite a lot of red fringing / CA in the first shot. Has that been a problem in any other images?

    Kirk

    PS, I'm glad the 30-90 for sale here on DPI has found a new home. I'd looked up the cost of bodies for it!
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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    anGy, there is a surprisingly strong subject isolation even at f/5,6, although not Noctilux-style, I guess this is an MF effect. I did not have any problems with the viewfinder in daylight.
    Last edited by erlingmm; 28th April 2015 at 12:27. Reason: typo
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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    Neither do I. for some reason, there is the pink fringing on that shot.... There is none on the full res 100% jpg (or dng in c1). Also, no issues with subject isolation- I used the 70cs at F4 mostly, especially for portraits... YMMV

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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    I did not say that it's an issue for the OVF to have an f5.6 lens.
    I said that an f5.6 lens darkens the OVF and that the one of the S2 is a beauty.
    Having it as bright as possible to enjoy it the most is important to me, this is one of the key strength of the S body.
    Subject isolation with an MF system and a fast lens at f2.5 or f2 gives a look you won't get @ f5.6 no matter how hard you'll try. Of course some level of subject isolation at f5.6 is possible, certainly don't want to contest this evidence.
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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    How does the Hasselblad HCD 35-90 compare to it (on a S2 or S 006)?

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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas73 View Post
    How does the Hasselblad HCD 35-90 compare to it (on a S2 or S 006)?
    The Hasselblad lens is actually quite good, but depends on the DAC correction profiles. Hasselblad provided those profiles to Adobe for inclusion in LR.

    The HCD zoom is larger than the Leica version. As a walk around in decent light, the Leica zoom is more convenient.

    The chief advantage of the Hasselblad zoom is that it is a CS lens and the Leica one is not. On the S2 sync speeds up to 1/750 are available when working with strobes rather than 1/125. I believe that with the S(006) the max sync is 1/800. Unlike on the Hasselblad H cameras, the Hassey zoom can be used on the S cameras in FP mode providing shutter speeds to 1/4000 … including HSS use of the SF58 speed-light for fill in high contrast light.

    To use the HC or HCD lenses the S cameras requires the Leica H to S adapter which can be had used for around $1,000 to $1,200.

    - Marc

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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    I use to own the HDC zoom for the H3D-39II and I really disliked it, mainly because it was to heavy, and I found it defeated the purpose of medium format for me (at the time). Not to mention storing the lens when not in use improperly over time caused the front elements to shift. Having had it fixed once, and being told to store it upright by hassy made me annoyed and I sold it off, especially because they charged me a pretty penny to fix it.. Shortly after I sold off the system, so it wasn't a complete loss.

    Just to note, I mainly used it in the studio, rarely as a walk around lens.

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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Colson View Post
    From my experience with the S and the 30-90mm, it's a lens you'll want to keep in your bag. Versatile, sharp, highly corrected, and better than most primes in that focal length range. Here's one for sale on the GetDPI 'Gear FS or WTB' forum.

    Joe
    Better than the S 30/2.8, S 35/2.5 & S 45/2.8 ?

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    Re: A short Leica-S 30-90mm lens review

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas73 View Post
    Better than the S 30/2.8, S 35/2.5 & S 45/2.8 ?
    I preferred the S 30-90mm to the S 35mm and S 70mm, both of which I owned. I can't speak to the comparison to the 30mm or 45mm. I shoot mostly landscapes and didn't shoot any of these lenses wide open.

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