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Thread: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

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    Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    I'm curious if the R lenses are as good as M lenses in terms of optics, build quality and performance, if adapted to mirrorless? Since both can be adapted, wouldn't the R lenses which don't have to "bend the light" as much yield better results in the corners? I'm shooting with a Z7 and am considering the R lenses over the M versions. What are the stand out R lenses for semi wide, portrait and mid tele?
    Last edited by jdphoto; 10th April 2019 at 06:12.

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    Senior Member JoelM's Avatar
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    There are some legendary R lenses just as M. 35-70 f4, 85 f1.4, and 180 3.4 APO to name a few. Also some macro and wide angle lenses were phenomenal as were the rare and ultra expensive long lenses. Very expensive and only worth it to people that enjoy shooting with those lenses and can appreciate the quality it imbues. Great build quality too.

    Joel
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    It's the 80/1.4 plus the APO 180/2.8 that are just superb in addition to the 100/2.8. The 19mm is also one of my favorites while using an M10.
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    Senior Member JoelM's Avatar
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    It's the 80/1.4 plus the APO 180/2.8 that are just superb in addition to the 100/2.8. The 19mm is also one of my favorites while using an M10.
    Thanks Algrove,

    Yes, my bad. It's been too long for me

    Also, here's a thread with some examples on FM:

    https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/895186

    Joel

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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    About 3 years ago I rebuilt a kit of R lenses to use with the Nikon D8XX bodies . The 19/2.8:28/2.8:35/1.4:50/1.4 60MM :80/1.4 /100/2.8 /180/2.8APO . Those were the very best R primes when Leica stopped making them . They were terrific on the D8XX bodies but I had to have DAG remount them with Leitax mounts . When the SL was introduced we remounted them to their native R mounts and used them on the SL .

    The R and M lenses are slightly different in how they render ...that is the aesthetic produced is different . I much prefer the R lenses but of course the M lenses are superb as well . The S lenses are better and the SL lenses the best .

    On the SL the R lenses are as good as gets for a manual lens . The size ,weight, balance is perfect on the SL sized body .

    Of course the Noctilux lenses are all better on the SL because of the EVF and ability to focus them wide open . There are also larger and balance nicely on an SL . Other than the Noctiluxes I have no need or desire to use my M lenses on the SL .

    The R and M lenses are both great on a SL ...the R has slightly better balance .
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    The R lenses are retrofocus lenses, which gives them an advantage re: corner color/sharpness. But the M Tri-Elmars - MATE and WATE - are also retrofocus and work beautifully on mirrorless (my experience is with A7r2).

    The other option to R lenses is the classic Zeiss C/Y glass made for Contax SLRs (also Yashica). According to urban legend, they excel in rendering ‘3D’ effects. Even Erwin Puts praised them and thought the 35-70 f3.4 was up to the standard of its Leica equivalent. And they cost a lot less!

    Kirk
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    A Leicaflex SL and a set of four R lenses was my long held desire, from 1970 onwards, but I could never afford them then or even into the '90s, new. I'd had the pleasure then of being loaned the Leicaflex SL and Summicron-R 50mm ... I had my first M at that time with the Summicron-M 50 ... and while the differences were quite small, the Summicron-R 50mm was simply better wide open and across the field ... particularly close up. And, of course, being an SLR lens it actually focused close up.

    Roll forward to 2011-2012: the R system was announced discontinued and the devastating affects of the Great Recession had flung the prices of these cameras and lenses into the toilet. A 1970 Leicaflex SL and three lenses were available at the local camera shop (now gone...) on consignment for $1300. I snapped them up ('Cron 50, 'Cron 90, 'rit 135). Dang, they're good! I ended up acquiring a nice kit from 15mm to 250mm lenses over time and used them extensively on the Leicaflex SL, Sony A7, Leica M-P, and now R6.2 and CL bodies. I'd rate nearly all of them as on par or better than similar focal lengths in the M line, modulo a couple in the more modern series of both.

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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    It's the 80/1.4 plus the APO 180/2.8 that are just superb in addition to the 100/2.8. The 19mm is also one of my favorites while using an M10.
    I picked up the 100mm 2.8 APO and am smitten with this lens on the Z7. I know the term "3D" gets used a lot, but I certainly can attest to this quality. This might be an excellent portrait lens too as the OOF areas are so smooth. The Leica colors and micro contrast are incredible. The R 28mm Elmarit doesn't seem to get as much love though, at least the earlier versions don't. I think for my ultra wide, I might seek out a Leica R 19mm. Thanks to all for great input.

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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by jdphoto View Post
    I picked up the 100mm 2.8 APO and am smitten with this lens on the Z7. I know the term "3D" gets used a lot, but I certainly can attest to this quality. This might be an excellent portrait lens too as the OOF areas are so smooth. The Leica colors and micro contrast are incredible. The R 28mm Elmarit doesn't seem to get as much love though, at least the earlier versions don't. I think for my ultra wide, I might seek out a Leica R 19mm. Thanks to all for great input.
    I have both the early version Elmarit-R 19mm and the Super-Elmar-R 15mm. While the later versions of these lenses are technically superior, I like Walter Mandler's rendering notions in the 19mm more, and of course the 15 is a Zeiss Distagon built and tuned to Leica specification and pretty amazing already. They're in my "never sell" box. Neither worked as well on the Sony A7 as they do on the Leica bodies.
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    This image was from the Leica R 100mm APO and Z7. Leica R lenses fit nicely with the Z7 ergonomics - not too small or big. IMO, the 100mm APO has the nicest build quality of any lens I've used. Although, I do shoot an AF lens (Nikon 85mm 1.4G) for certain clients, I'm very tempted by the 80mm 1.4 for portraits.
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    As you have discovered, the 100mm APO Macro is one of the greatest lenses I have ever used. It excels in nearly every area -- optics, handling, bokeh, build quality, versatility. The 120mm APO Macro for the S is even better, but very similar in spirit. It is also a lot bigger and heavier.

    Glenerrolrd has some very good information, and I can back up what he says. His choice of lenses for the R system is spot on, though not all will be like the 100mm in performance...perhaps only the 180mm 2.8 Elmarit, which is another stunning lens. The focus is strangely smooth...in fact, perhaps even a little too light for my own taste, but it is very quick to use for a lens of its focal length. Again, optically, it has few equals. I also very much like the 28-90 zoom, which I actually bought from Guy Mancuso. I mostly used it on the DMR though, so I am not sure how it stands up to modern bodies.

    Another thing to consider is that the R lenses, as SLR lenses, will inherently work better on mirrorless cameras than the M lenses. So while they are in a way stuck in time, they have the advantage of being more "native". The M system has its share of superb lenses, but they really seem to perform at their very best on M bodies. If you really want the best experience of Leica lenses on mirrorless cameras, it seems like the L mount lenses on the SL, S1 or S1R are where it's at. I just purchased an S1, and while I do not have any SL lenses yet, I tried the 75mm APO Summicron in the store and it felt and looked amazing. The focus was very quick, bokeh exceptional, and sharpness seemed outstanding as well. Of course, it is not going to work on your Nikon...

    So far I have been using M lenses, and while I have not had a chance to make a setup to compare to the M10, so far they seemed to be performing quite well...far better than on the Sony, where I found them unusable for most of my landscape work, apart from the longest M lenses (75mm and up).
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    Re: Leica R vs Leica M lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by jdphoto View Post
    I picked up the 100mm 2.8 APO and am smitten with this lens on the Z7. I know the term "3D" gets used a lot, but I certainly can attest to this quality. This might be an excellent portrait lens too as the OOF areas are so smooth. The Leica colors and micro contrast are incredible. The R 28mm Elmarit doesn't seem to get as much love though, at least the earlier versions don't. I think for my ultra wide, I might seek out a Leica R 19mm. Thanks to all for great input.
    I have a 19 if you are interested. I just never shoot that wide.
    Cheers,
    Jeff
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