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Thread: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

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    Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    Ok, so that's a lot to compare, but I'm looking for a Leica 90mm for portraits with the Z7. I've been using the 50mm pre Lux with the Nikon Z and find it amazing in character and ease of MF. It's actually really inspired my use of M lenses for digital. The APO 90mm apparently has a bit more resolution and contrast, but is also better with color shifts. However, some will never part with there 90mm pre APO's Mandler designs for the character. I'm in to character and bokeh more than resolution. Has anyone here used both of these lenses on whatever camera, Sony, Leica SL, M, Q, etc.
    I'm aware that using a Leica would yield better results, but the thin sensor stack, very short flange distance and wide diameter mount really works nicely on the Nikon Z.

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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    I've used both strictly on a M digital body. I personally would not favor portraits with the 90 APO (commonly referred to as the AA version). Simply because it's not flattering and generally too sharp for portrait work in general. Of course there are always exceptions. I'm personally am not a big fan of the lens unless the attribute of sharpness is the goal.

    The Mandler version is in some ways like your 50 Lux pre asph, sharp but pleasantly sharp. Another favorite that sits inbetween the two is Leica's 90mm f2.8 Elmarit-M. It's the last 90mm f2.8 lens prior to its discontinuation, not to be confused with 90mm Elmar or other similar sounding names (versions), which are very very different. Simply the Elmarit-M. Wide open its sharp and lovely contrast but forgivingly sharp for portraits but stopped down it gets close to the 90 AA but ever so lightly more gentle. It's a favorite of many. Simply put, the 90 pre AA is most Mandler like, the 90 AA bitingly sharp and the 90 f2.8 Elmarit-M sort of sits in the middle with wide open performance having nice contrast and sharpness but toned down from the 90AA but once stopped down, gets progressively "very sharp" , without over doing it.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    I ve used both 90 s on M bodies as well as the pre asph 50/lux . They all three have beautiful color, bokeh etc . I favor the 90 asph over the other two as the ability to render fine detail is more apparent on the higher MP bodies .

    The two lenses I use most based on the beauty of their rendering would be the 90/2.8 Elmarit-M (last model ) on the M10 and the 80/1.4 R lens (which I previously used on the D810 and now the Leica SL) . The 80/1.4 Lux would be my choice for the Z7 as it most closely matches your 50/1.4 pre asph . Lower contrast wide open that reaches strong all around performance when stopped down to f 5.6 . So you can dial in the aesthetic that matches your vision .

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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    I plan on using the 90 Elmarit-M on my Z7 for what you propose. (Well, as soon as I acquire an adapter.) It will be interesting to see whether the higher mp of the Z7 is better for portraits than the mp of the M9-P. It's pretty damn good on the M9-P.
    I doubt anyone will make a Leica S to Z adapter, but if they did the 100S would be worth checking out. I wish I would have held on to mine as who knows what the future holds in the way of lens mounts?
    I had the 90 Summicron back when I shot an M4 and it was terrific. I remember it had great separation of the subject, bit of a beast though.

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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    I owned the 90 Pre-AA and tested it against the 90 Elmarit and the 90 AA... the 90 Pre-AA is in my top 5 list of portrait lenses regardless of system along with the Contax Yashica 100/2, Zeiss 110/2 for Hasselblad, and some others. Really the only downside to the 90 Pre-AA is the very long focus throw. If you want it to sharpen up then you can stop it Dow to around f/4 and the lens gets as sharp as more modern versions.

    Iíve used this lens on Leica M bodies and on Sony Mirrorless cameras.
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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    I realize I am in the minority here but I do like modern lenses for portraits as much as older ones. The 90AA is really wonderful. Remember details can be removed or blurred a bit, but not vice versa. I also do enjoy my 90/2.5 Summarit a lot. Very compact and short focus throw. Seems to be in the middle ground between old and new, from a rendering perspective.
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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    Quote Originally Posted by Photon42 View Post
    I realize I am in the minority here but I do like modern lenses for portraits as much as older ones. The 90AA is really wonderful. Remember details can be removed or blurred a bit, but not vice versa. I also do enjoy my 90/2.5 Summarit a lot. Very compact and short focus throw. Seems to be in the middle ground between old and new, from a rendering perspective.
    I am with you, though I suppose I am more concerned with landscape and cityscapes than with portraits. I used to use a 90mm Tele Elmarit and 90mm M Hexanon. Both good lenses with nice character. Last year I bought the 90mm AA and have not looked back...it is a fabulous lens. While it is far sharper than the other lenses, I found the biggest improvement versus the older lenses is the freedom from aberrations. Soft or sharp may not matter as much in a portrait, but I can't think of any situations where CA or bokeh fringing is desirable. A lens like the 90mm APO Aspherical means you do not have to worry about purple specular highlights or green/magenta foreground and background bokeh etc.

    By the way, if you are primarily interested in the Z7, you might also consider the R lenses. They are bigger, but they may well perform better on the Z7 since they do not have any issues with off angle light. 90mm is long enough that it is likely not a big deal, but it could possibly be an issue. I know that my 90mm APO ASPH is not as sharp on the A7RII as it is on the M10. The R lenses might also be cheaper...particularly for the older elmarits and pre-asph summicron. Another lens you might consider is the 100mm APO Macro. That is in my experience, as sharp if not sharper than the 90mm AA, and it has a lovely bokeh, full APO correction, and focuses to 1:2. It is a stunning lens, built like a tank, and a bargain at around 1500 dollars on ebay. It is one of the best lenses I have ever used, along with the 120mm APO Summarit S, which is its successor.
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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    I'm assuming the use of an adapter for the Z would negate any differences in regards to cams and ROM. Thanks for the great info.

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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    Quote Originally Posted by jdphoto View Post
    I'm assuming the use of an adapter for the Z would negate any differences in regards to cams and ROM. Thanks for the great info.
    As far as I remember from my R days (albeit, ten years ago), the cams only dictate the aperture ring. The older cameras used a different system to actuate the ring and meter. ROM just transmitted lens information electronically for cameras like the R8, R9 and DMR for metering and stuff regarding the flash, tele-converters and digital corrections for the DMR. One reason for the price premium is that they are more recent lenses. None of this is particularly relevant to you, other than to know that 3cam and ROM lenses are newer. Two cam lenses were made before the mid seventies. I believe some of the fancier lenses like the 180mm APO, 100mm APO Macro and so on are only available in R cam and ROM versions. None of this should matter for you, unless some adapter transmits ROM information, which I doubt.
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    Re: Leica 90mm APO Summicron vs Pre APO

    My experience with the Summarits is that they are the equal in sharpness with their siblings. But if you need f1.4 or f2 then you need f1.4 or f2. The bokeh of the Summarits is still extremely good wide open.
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