90mm or 100mm lens? (Leica question) and/or do you like one over the other and why?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Barney, May 24, 2004.

  1. Barney

    Barney Guest

    90mm f/2 APO-SUMMICRON-R ASPH or 100mm f/2.8 APO-MACRO-ELMARIT-R?

    According to http://www.wildlightphoto.com/leica/main.html both are
    really great. However with all of the reading I've been doing, it seems
    that most if not all of the newest and/or updated versions surpass the
    quality of the older. I understand that the 90mm f/2 ASPH is a much newer
    design than the 100mm APO and has some better qualities. With that sort
    of thinking, I would lean towards the 90mm f/2 ASPH except it has a small
    amount of distortion and has "soft?" focus from 1.5 meters and closer
    (with lens wide open).. So now I'm thinking of going with the 100mm

    All of the qualities of the 100mm f 2.8 sounds right for me such as
    getting in close with high quality at all openings, however the 90mm
    f/2.0 ASPH is listed as having really nice "imaging properties at full
    aperture" and is better in all other areas due to it's newer design...
    I'm not sure if I would really that difference when my slides are
    projected on my 70 screen (with a leica projector and lens) when
    compaired with the 100 Elmarit. I would think so if there really is a
    difference in lens quality.

    The 100mm would probably be easier to get in close to small animals such
    as a kitten and face/sholder face shots of my friends when compaired to
    the 90mm.

    Has anyone worked with both a 90mm and a 100mm? Why would you like one
    over the other?

    Thank you,

    Barney, May 24, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  2. Barney

    TP Guest

    I think you rather missed the point.

    The 90mm f/2 is a general purpose telephoto lens that is optimised for
    portraiture. It not only has excellent sharpness, but outstanding
    bokeh, that is an exceptionally smooth rendition of out-of-focus
    elements of the shot, especially highlights. This helps produce
    flattering portraits.

    The 100mm f/2.8 is a special purpose macro lens that is optimised for
    extreme sharpness at short focusing distances. While Leica lenses
    have good bokeh, all macro lenses - regardless of brand - have to
    sacrifice *some* smoothness in the out-of-focus areas to obtain the
    ultimate in sharpness at close focusing distances. That makes them
    less suitable for portraiture.

    If you choose the 90mm, you will find it capable of producing superb
    portraits, but don't expect the ultimate in macro performance. If you
    choose the 100mm, you will get optimum sharpness in macro mode but
    don't expect your portraits to be as flattering as they would be with
    the 90mm. Neither will the f/2.8 maximum aperture of the 100mm lens
    allow you to defocus portrait backgrounds to the same extent as the
    f/2 of the 90mm, and that's important for many portraits.

    Therefore, you are going to have to decide what is your priority for
    this lens: portraiture or macro.

    If portraiture, choose the 90mm f/2.

    If macro, choose the 100mm f/2.8.

    Simple, isn't it?

    TP, May 24, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  3. Barney

    John J Guest

    I agree, you must decide the primary application.

    I don't have either the R 90 or R 100 however I use an R 80 1.4 with my R8
    and I use a 100mm f2.8 USM with my Canon 1V. Both lenses are fantastic but
    if I had to pick one I would choose the 100 macro simply because you can
    shoot a portrait with the 100 macro but not the other way around. That is
    you can't shoot macro with the 90 2.0 (at least not without the addition of
    extension tubes).

    John J, May 24, 2004
  4. Barney

    TP Guest

    Maybe you can *shoot* a portrait with the 100 macro, but it will
    inevitably be unflattering because of the optical design of the lens.
    Specialist macro lenses almost all make bad portrait lenses because
    their optical design results in unflattering portraits.

    On the other hand, depending how close you want to go (say up to 1:2),
    the 90mm f/2 ASPH can give some very acceptable results. The same
    *cannot* be said of a macro lens used for portraits, unless you are
    blind to the adverse qualities of the results.

    Of course one answer may be to buy the doyen of multi-purpose 90mm
    lenses, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro, which is *both* a superb macro
    lens *and* a superb portrait lens. I have 90mm f/4 and f/2 Leica M
    lenses, yet I still prefer my trusty Tamron 90mm on a Pentax LX or MX
    body for the shots that really matter!
    TP, May 24, 2004
  5. Barney

    Janos Bauer Guest

    Could you please include some example pictures to understand the
    difference. So far I'm happy to use 135mm and 180mm nikkor for portrait
    but sometimes (especially indoor, short distance&low light) it would be
    better to get a 85mm/1.4.

    Janos Bauer, May 24, 2004
  6. Barney

    TP Guest

    This issue (portrait vs. macro lenses) has been discussed here many
    times. Possibly the best examples of bad portraits taken with an
    excellent macro lens and discussed here were those made with a Sigma
    180mm f/2.8 macro. That is a fine macro lens but it makes a very bad
    portrait lens.

    You should try a Google Groups search with that lens in the subject
    TP, May 24, 2004
  7. Barney

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: 90mm or 100mm lens? (Leica question) and/or do you like one
    Hi Tony:

    Why do you prefer the Tamron 90 over your 2 Leica M lenses? Better bokeh and
    sharpness (hard to believe as Leica is one of the kings of good bokeh and
    sharpness and microcrontrast)? The fact that its an SLR lens so you can both
    close focus, have no parallax and see exactly how far out of focus/how well the
    oof works with the subject? Other reasons?

    Lewis Lang, May 24, 2004
  8. Simple. Buy both.
    Michael Scarpitti, May 24, 2004
  9. Barney

    John J Guest

    Maybe you can *shoot* a portrait with the 100 macro, but it will
    I think you're just making it up as you go along now.
    Are you talking about using extension tubes to get to 1:2 as the 90 will
    only focus down to 0.7m on it's own?

    And, is "Acceptable" the standard you strive for?
    Well then I am clearly BLIND to the apparently abhorent qualities you refer
    to as I've been using my (Canon) 100 2.8 macro for portraits for the last
    few months I've had it and have been very pleased with the results. As the
    lens is razor sharp wide open I think I can accurately say that I've never
    stopped it down for a portrait, at least not that I can recall. Prior to
    using the Canon I was using a R 180/2.0 and R 80/1.4 for portraits, both of
    which were superb in this role. The Canon macro seems to be a good middle
    ground although I miss the speed of the summilux.

    John J, May 24, 2004
  10. Barney

    TP Guest

    Hi Lewis,

    I should really have anticipated your response. ;-)

    I prefer my Tamron 90mm over the Leica 90mm f/2 Summicron ASPH because
    the ASPH design aims for maximising MTF. Unfortunately, this is
    slightly at the expense of bokeh. The same could not be said of the
    pre-ASPH Summicron because that design never fell victim to the
    current fashion for high MTF numbers at the expense of good all-round
    optical performance - for which we can blame Photodo, lens
    manufacturers who publish MTF curves and people who read more into
    them than they should <g>.

    I prefer my Tamron 90mm f/2.5 over the Leica 90mm f/4 Elmar-C because
    it has a much wider maximum aperture (by 1.3 stops) allowing working
    in available light and defocusing of all but the closest backgrounds.
    It also has (in my opinion) superior bokeh and resistance to flare and
    does not give anything to the Elmar in terms of sharpness.

    Yes, the fact it is an SLR lens helps in terms of evaluating OOF.
    However, I find I can predict to a good level of accuracy what OOF
    effects my rangefinder lenses will give, simply through experience.
    The same is true of the Tamron lens; I don't always check DOF through
    the lens, and I even have a Pentax K to Leica M adapter so I can use
    it and other Pentax K lenses on my Leica/Minolta bodies.

    Parallax really isn't a major issue with a 90mm lens used at normal
    focusing distances on a parallax-corrected rangefinder camera. It is
    much more of an issue when working close up with wide angle lenses,
    especially my 15mm which I use with a non-parallax-corrected

    The Tamron 90mm macro is an outstanding optic. Even to be able to
    compare such a modest optic (modesty based on price) with Leica and
    Zeiss glass is a miracle, given its humble roots as a macro lens with
    interchangeable mounts.

    Of course it did once have its independent competitors, notably the
    Tokina, Sigma and Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 macro lenses, and the sublime
    Kiron 105mm f/2.5, but they have all fallen by the wayside while the
    Tamron goes from strength to strength.

    Neither Nikon or Canon ever made lenses this good.


    TP, May 24, 2004
  11. Barney

    TP Guest

    Sorry, blahblah.

    TP, May 24, 2004
  12. IMO it is a highly subjective thing- not everyone notices the relevance of
    the quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photo, even though it is the main
    thing that defines the legendary status of manufacturers like Zeiss and
    Leica (and individual lenses, like the Tamron 90mm and similar) over
    excellent optics from others like Canon, Nikon and so on. Anyone can make a
    sharp fixed focal length lens- Sigma do it, hell even Cosina do it- that can
    give good results in the right hands. Zeiss lenses and Leica lenses don't
    necessarily have better sharpness, definition or what have you, than good
    Nikon or Pentax or Canon or Minolta glass. But sharpness doesn not
    (necessarily) a good portrait make...

    Besides, if you shoot wide open, chances are the out of focus elements look
    okay anyway- and if you shoot portraits with a relatively uniform
    background, chances are you won't see the benefits of smooth "bokeh" at all.
    Martin Francis, May 24, 2004
  13. Barney

    Neil Gould Guest

    Are you really evaluating the Leica 100 f/2.8 APO? I find it very hard to
    believe that you've ever used one. I own one, and find it to be an
    excellent portrait lens, as well as a handy macro lense. Apparently, my
    opinon is not unique:


    Neil Gould, May 25, 2004
  14. Barney

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: 90mm or 100mm lens? (Leica question) and/or do you like one
    Hi John:

    Why did you switch to Canon from Leica R or do you sitll own/use both systems
    but tend to use the same/similar lenses in different systems for different

    Lewis Lang, May 25, 2004
  15. Barney

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: 90mm or 100mm lens? (Leica question) and/or do you like one
    Thanks. Yes, very satisfied... but only for now... ;-)

    By the way, as a sife note, the current? 90mm f/2.8 R, supposeldy based on the
    same design as the M version (or at least it was when I shot with one in the
    early nineties) is a superb lens for both its sharpness and its bokeh (perhaps
    a little too sharp, though not an ASPH). The 100/2.8 Leica macro I aslo had the
    opportunity to shoot with and it is a superbly sharp lens but when I
    photographed humans with it I got a bit too close (to test out the macro
    function) and photographed nostrils and mini parts of faces, way too close to
    get an idea of the bokeh at head shot distances, however I do remember being
    pleased with the bokeh on other subjects such as trees shot up close, etc.
    Unfortunately I haven't seen these test slides in years and I don't even know
    if I still have them :-(.
    Lewis Lang, May 25, 2004
  16. Barney

    John J Guest

    Hi John:
    Hi Lewis

    I swapped (jumped ship) for several reasons all revolving around the
    practicalities af getting the job done "faster" but I still have all my R
    gear, just don't get many chances to use it any more. I miss the image
    quality of the R lenses although the flare control in the Canon zooms is
    better than the flare control in some of the leica primes I own. The 24-70
    is fantastic by the way.

    There are several main reasons for swapping;
    - Canon zooms such as 17-40, 24-70 and 70-200, and AF to boot. I only ever
    use the AF for action work.
    - 9-10 fps with 1V and nicad pack (good for the action work which I do on a
    regular basis)
    - I doubled up on eos 1V's so if one breaks I'd still have a spare (I had
    too many problems with my single R8)
    - auto bracketing and 100% viewfinder on the 1v are important to me, these
    are lacking on the R8
    - digital upgrade path

    John J, May 25, 2004
  17. Barney

    TP Guest

    Yes, but not at macro focusing distances.

    That's where the Tamron really scores; it is one of a very rare group
    of 90mm - 105mm macro lenses that have the optical qualities needed to
    produce outstanding portraits as well as superbly sharp macro shots.

    And it is the only one that is still manufactured in 2004.
    TP, May 26, 2004
  18. Barney

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: 90mm or 100mm lens? (Leica question) and/or do you like one
    Thanks, John.

    Did you know that with an adapter you can still use those Leica R lenses with
    stop down metering (and aperture priority and manual exposure I believe and
    manual focus, of course) on your EOS 1vs?

    The R9 (and R8?) has a digital back available for it (but probably very
    expensive as you know).

    What type of (action) work do you do? The 28-70/2.8L is/was a great lens - only
    downsides are its size and weight, the 24-70 seems like more of the same
    excellence, but people (except those at events) would probably get alittle wary
    from always having one of those big boar lenses pointed at them as if you/I
    were Rambo and they were our "prey" - in other words, its not exactly an
    inconspicuous lens ;-).

    Why did you choose the 17-40 over the 16-35?

    Thanks and TIA
    Lewis Lang, May 26, 2004
  19. Barney

    John J Guest

    Thanks, John.
    Yeah I did know but I'm not sure it's worth the hasle when I can just use a
    Leica body instead!
    I'm sure it will be very expensive. I wonder how it will compare with the
    1Ds in terms of image quality, colour accuracy etc?
    I shoot cars for a bunch of Australian magazines and often need to shoot
    action shots of the cars, eg pan shots, cornering, etc. Aside from that, I'm
    often at Drag Racing or circuit racing events where AF really does help. I
    always got by with my R lenses for these jobs but there's no denying that
    using a zoom with AF is easier, faster, more reliable and practical than a
    prime which is maunual focus. I've used the Leica 80-200 2.8, which is a
    fine lens, but I could basically purchase 2x 1Vs and an EOS 80-200 2.8 IS
    for about the same price, so I did. There were many other minor reasons I
    decided to make the change but it came down to spending a lot of money to
    upgrade some of my Leica gear, eg a couple of zooms, another R8/9, a motor
    drive or I could spend a similar amount on the EOS gear and still have more
    functionality ie AF and higher motor drive speeds.

    The 28-70/2.8L is/was a great lens - only
    Because it is lighter and this is a real factor with the type of work I do,
    see www.jjphoto.com.au for some examples. Most of the movement/action shots
    on the web site were shot with an R 24 2.8 and an R8 (except the stationary
    shots which are all with an RZ). I have used a 16-35 for a job prior to
    buying the 17-40 and found the 16-35 a bit heavier than I liked. I had also
    read that the 17-40 performed slightly better at the wide end, which
    appealed to me. The 17-40 also allows for gels at the rear element, which
    the 16-35 does not. The 17-40 is not a terribly good lens and I find I need
    to stop it down to 8 or smaller to get good results, but this suits my
    applications so it's not a problem. The lens does vignette quite alot untill
    about f8, more than the 16-35.

    John J, May 26, 2004
  20. Barney

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: 90mm or 100mm lens? (Leica question) and/or do you like one
    All true, Tony. But Iwas mentioning this lens for portrait work, not macro. The
    Tamron is definitely excelent in both arenas, though...
    Lewis Lang, May 26, 2004
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.