Older Leica lenses better?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Alexander, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. Alexander

    Alexander Guest

    I bought a used Leica M a few years ago. Over the years I bought both new
    and used lenses at varying prices. The thing that I have noticed is that the
    best looking images come from the oldest, least expensive lens, a 135mm. Is
    there any consensus or opinion that the older lenses were superior? Thanks.
     
    Alexander, Aug 27, 2003
    #1
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  2. Alexander

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes
    Well, here is what Erwin Puts, a well-known Leica expert, has to say about
    this:

    http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/technics/faq.html#Anchor-Are-21683
     
    Jeremy, Aug 27, 2003
    #2
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  3. Alexander

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Tony Spadaro, Aug 27, 2003
    #3
  4. Alexander

    Colyn Guest

    I too prefer the older 40's - 60's vintage Leica glass..

    A few of my favorites are the (screwmount) Elmar, Summitar, and
    Summicron and for my M3's Summicron and Elmar..



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    Colyn, Aug 27, 2003
    #4
  5. Alexander

    Mxsmanic Guest

    In other words, better optical quality. The better the lens, the higher
    the contrast. An ideal lens has infinite contrast.
     
    Mxsmanic, Aug 28, 2003
    #5
  6. Alexander

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Sure, and you can see some of that in the way Leica discusses aberration
    correction, and other technical details, of newer lens designs. However, a certain
    amount of "flaws", such as aberration, can actually make for a different look in
    defocus areas, which some photographers find more to there liking.

    A better example of this is large format lenses. Quite a few of the Rodenstock and
    Schneider designs are highly corrected. While they produce great results in
    architectural images, trying to use them wide open, up close, like for portrait
    work, may produce results that the photographer and subject find to be
    unflattering.

    Contrast can also be juggled a bit through film choices. This is more apparent
    with B/W films, though you can see it easily enough in colour films, especially
    when push processing. Not everyone wants higher contrast, and sometimes just high
    resolution, or a bias to defocus areas are more desirable traits. I tend to agree
    with Cindy Sherman that the camera lies, and I am not merely trying to record
    history, or be hyper realistic with most of my image choices.

    I have seen from your images that you enjoy architecture and cityscape styles of
    images. These would tend to work better on newer higher contrast lens choices, and
    sometimes more stopped down, than wide open apertures. However, be aware that
    apochromatic and aspheric lenses are not the answer to every photography
    situation.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    <http://www.allgstudio.com>
     
    Gordon Moat, Aug 28, 2003
    #6
  7. It's a matter of wht you become accustomed to. Invariably the newer
    generations of Leica lenses have better properties for most
    photographic purposes. That does not mean, however, 'all'.

    Erwin Puts dicusses many of these issues.

    See:

    http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/leicahome.html
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 29, 2003
    #7
  8. It's a matter of what you become accustomed to. Invariably the newer
    generations of Leica lenses have better properties for most
    photographic purposes. That does not mean, however, 'all'.

    Erwin Puts dicusses many of these issues.

    See:

    http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/leicahome.html

    Especially:
    http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/mseries/testm/scronhist.html
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 29, 2003
    #8
  9. Alexander

    Mark M Guest

     
    Mark M, Aug 29, 2003
    #9
  10. Alexander

    Gordon Moat Guest

    It occurs to me that you might really enjoy large format photography. I
    remember you got the Hasselblad for medium format, so perhaps large format
    would be a nice direction for you. It really is a great way to get every
    last bit of detail in an image.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    <http://www.allgstudio.com>
     
    Gordon Moat, Aug 29, 2003
    #10
  11. Alexander

    Mxsmanic Guest

    I might indeed, but it is so awkward and expensive that I have not tried
    it. I also fear that I might become addicted to the superior image
    quality, and then not be able to afford to obtain it routinely.
    I agree, but see above.

    Also, my concurrent interest in street photography and other forms of ad
    hoc photography conflicts with my interest in image quality, so I
    usually have to compromise.
     
    Mxsmanic, Aug 30, 2003
    #11
  12. Alexander

    Mxsmanic Guest

    100% of what is coming through the lens means that infinitely high
    contrast is the limit on the film plane, since subjects photographed
    through the lens can have any amount of contrast.

    An ideal lens, in other words, will always transmit 100% of the original
    contrast, but the original contrast is unconstrained (it could be a
    trillion to one, at least in theory). The contrast of a lens may vary
    with the contrast of an original scene; it might be 99% of a
    low-contrast scene, but only 20% of a high-contrast scene.
     
    Mxsmanic, Aug 30, 2003
    #12
  13. Alexander

    brian Guest

    An ideal lens has a Strehl ratio of 1.0, and such a lens *will not*
    have an MTF of 100% for all spatial frequencies unless it has an
    infinitely large aperture.
    The MTF of a lens depends on spatial frequency, not scene contrast.

    Brian
    www.caldwellphotographic.com
     
    brian, Aug 31, 2003
    #13
  14. Alexander

    Mxsmanic Guest

    There's more to a lens than MTF, and aiming a lens towards a scene
    strongly backlit by sunlight produces images of low contrast.
     
    Mxsmanic, Aug 31, 2003
    #14
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