I currently own Zeiss ZE glass - 28 (2.0), 50 and 80 (both 1.4s)
I've been on the fence about getting the Zeiss 35 / 21 ... Or what has recently caught my eye are the Leica R's. I'm heavily leaning towards unloading my 3 Zeiss lenses and getting 4 Leica-Rs (eventually 6 I'm sure.. heh)
Any insight / thoughts? I'm renting a set of 6 Leica Rs later this week to properly do a side-by-side and see how I like them. I know they are certainly older and more prone to flaring than my current Zeiss.... curious if anyone else has experience with this!
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04-17-2017 03:46 PM
04-17-2017 09:08 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
- Chicago, IL
I used to own both. 50 and 85 in Zeiss EOS mount and Leica R Elmarit in 28, 60 Macro and 90.
Even though the Zeiss was faster I though the Leica's were far superior in terms of looking "filmic."
I'm not sure there are good deals on clean copies of Leica R's anymore. Everyone knows how awesome they are.Chris Bernard
04-18-2017 04:22 AM
I haven't used the ZE lenses, but my main lens set is Leica-R: 24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 60mm f/2.8 macro, 90mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8, 180mm f/2.8. They are awesome, but make sure you know what you're getting into, because at current prices it's not an easy choice.
First: they are sharp, but probably not as much as your ZE ones. What they do have is absolutely gorgeous bokeh. My 50 and my 90 in particular are just works of art in this sense. Then again, the 90mm is just f/2.8 (I didn't go for the summicron f/2.0 because I think it's softer and more expensive than the elmarit f/2.8; same with the 35mm).
Second: not all of them are THAT great. In particular, I only have the 24mm and 180mm because I wanted those focal lengths and thought they would match the image of the others, but they are clearly softer than the rest (particularly the 24mm, and my guess is that wider ones will have even more of this problem). And the 60mm macro is nice but I hardly ever use it, it's the last one I bought and I did so because I found a good deal and well, collection madness.
Third: vintage glass is a lottery. Several of these lenses came wrongly assembled: they would not focus at infinity and bokeh was not so great. I sent one back to leicashop for them to repair it, and it came back better but still not good enough; I fixed it myself and it looks great now, but in the process I broke a couple of hopefully-not-so-important mechanical protection parts.
Fourth: try-before-you-buy is cheap with vintage glass. I tried the Summicron-C 40mm f/2.0 for Leica-M, and found it was absolutely horrible. Sold it on ebay. Whole operation cost me $50 I think.
So: the good ones are the 35mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, and 90mm f/2.8, and it's a good thing you're testing before buying because they all have their drawbacks.
04-18-2017 07:05 AM
Thanks for the feedback -> and nice tests Samuel, appreciate you sharing those!
You're right Chris -> They certainly aren't cheap. If I sell my 3 Zeiss it'll likely still cost me more to get 3 Leica Rs.
I'll probably go for the 3 'good ones' you suggested Samuel, likely with one wider as well. There is a 19mm available nearby, but will run $1500! Will definitely be having a good look / test before buying any of them thats for sure.
04-19-2017 02:40 AM
The only reason for buying leica-R glass wider than 28mm is to complete a set, and I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense because, being softer, they may give you a different-enough look that it doesn't look like a set anyway. At least the colors should match to some extent (and they have different colors from modern glass).
What camera will you be using?
04-19-2017 08:36 AM
Good to know!
My main camera is the FS7
04-20-2017 01:23 AM
Then I'll add that I would only go Leica-R either using a speedbooster, or sticking to just the summilux-R 50mm f/1.4. You'll be severely limited on the wide end, with 24mm and wider being soft, slow and expensive. When I was shooting APS-C with no speedbooster, I felt the 35mm f/2.8 was great but too slow, and same for the 90mm f/2.8. The 50mm f/1.4, though, is still awesome and fast enough on APS-C (actually it's still my go-to portrait lens for APS-C).
04-20-2017 08:09 AM
I'll definitely be taking a look - Thanks for the advice! Appreciate it
I'll have Leica-R 19mm f2.8, 28mm f2.8, 35mm f2.0, 50mm 1.4, 90mm f2.0, 135mm f2.8 (Elmarit, Elmarit, Summicron, Summilux, Summicron and Elmarit if I'm not mistaken) Friday -> Monday - with full day shoots Sat and Sun. I'll post some side-by-sides during some tests against my current Zeiss ZE to see they stack up!