Re: Leica Finally Admits Their Summilux-R 50mm Lens Wasn't Better Than The Competition!

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Duncan Ross, Sep 5, 2003.

  1. Duncan Ross

    Duncan Ross Guest

    Specifically the spherical aberration and the
    Does this mean that the second and subsequent versions of this lens compensated
    these aberrations at the expense of other aberrations, or did the Leica
    engineers discover that they had made mistakes in the initial design..?
     
    Duncan Ross, Sep 5, 2003
    #1
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  2. You must remember Leica engineers are very self-critical.

    I own this lens, and this is my fourth sample. When I first got it in
    1971, and tested it against a brand-new Nikkor, it blew the Nikkor
    away. The new lens must be bloody spectacular.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 6, 2003
    #2
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  3. Its, Erwin Puts email: <
     
    William Graham, Sep 6, 2003
    #3
  4. I wish I had kept the test prints, but this was many moons ago (1972
    or so). I used a single roll of Panatomic-X film, and moved it from
    the Nikon body to the Leicaflex body. I focussed carefully and racked
    the lens slightly to vary the focus in case the focus was not perfect.
    Of course a trippod was used. I used the Paterson test chart, which
    has a variety of patterns that test for astigmatism, resolution, coma,
    contrast, etc. The Leicaflex lens had more contrast overall (about 1/2
    to 3/4 grade of paper) and less astigmatism and coma. The Nikon had
    noticeable astigmatism, and significantly softer contrast, but higher
    resolution in the direction that was not affected by the astigmatism.
    (The resolution was however not usable, because of the miserably low
    contrast the Nikon lens exhibited at this very tiny scale.) The
    Paterson test chart has concentric circles that make astigmatism
    glaringly obvious (you can see the astigmatism in your own eyes quite
    easily when you look at it at the right distance!). The Leicaflex lens
    had a small(!) amount of vignetting at the extreme(!) corners, but it
    would not be noticeable in ordinary pictures.

    If you held the pictures (8x10's) at arm's length it was glaringly
    obvious which was the better lens. I sold TONS of leicaflex equipment
    based on showing people this simple test.

    It's not just 'sharpness' but contrast and tonality that separate
    Leica lenses from others.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 6, 2003
    #4
  5. Making high-speed lenses is quite complicated. Erwin puts describes
    this at length in his discussion of the new version of this lens.

    See:

    http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/rseries/testr/r14-50.html

    The old version of this lens (I have owned 4 samples) was available
    for about 30 years, and during that time it had few challengers, and
    no betters.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 6, 2003
    #5
  6. Duncan Ross

    John Miller Guest

    Today, we can only wonder what the result might have been if you had done
    the Leicaflex shots and print, and I had done the Nikon.

    (Even for a scrupulously honest person, it's challenging not to bias the
    outcome when you're going in with a preconceived idea of it.)

    --
    John Miller

    It is a hard matter, my fellow citizens, to argue with the belly, since it
    has no ears.
    -Marcus Porcius Cato
     
    John Miller, Sep 6, 2003
    #6
  7. Who said I had a preconceived idea? The test was conducted with a
    single roll of film moved from camera to camera, and the focus was as
    perfect as I can get. The prints were made one right after another, on
    the same enlarger and paper. I had never seen the lens before I
    ordered it, and I had no knowledge of what its capabilities were.
    There's literally no way I could have biased the test.

    It was obvious what compromises the Leica designers made to get what
    they considered the most desirable qualities in a high-speed lens. The
    lens is clearly not perfect. It has a small amount of vignetting in
    the extreme corners, and noticeable softening in the VERY extreme
    corners (and from the article Puts wrote, this seems to be something
    that can help high-speed lens design). Take away the 4% of the image
    in the extreme corners, and this lens clobbered the Nikkor. We had a
    50mm 1.4 Nikkor at the Makio, used by Lee Jenkins, who did not have
    his own equipment. You could see the difference between my Leicaflex
    lens and the Nikkor on the contact sheets we got from the lab, it was
    that obvious.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 7, 2003
    #7
  8. There have been only two versions of the Summilux-R optically. The
    mount was changed in 1978, but the glass inside was identical. I
    confirmed this with Leica just last month. The first version of the
    lens was designed in 1969, and it employed rather new glass, which
    made its high level of performance possible. The fact that this lens
    went unchanged for nearly 30 years is a tribute to the original
    design. No other Leicaflex lens version has been in production longer,
    with the exception of the 60mm macro-Elmarit. The second-longest-lived
    lens is probably the 90mm Summicron-R, which was designed at the same
    time as the 50mm Summilux.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 7, 2003
    #8
  9. Sigh.

    What's wrong with offering sound advice? Do you really want people led
    by the ignorant and inexperienced, those who have only heard
    half-truths and biased opinions? Leica products are demonstrably,
    measurably superior in the essentials. They concentrate on the
    essentials, not frills or frippery. they make the best lenses and
    bodies on the planet, and if you are unaware of those technical
    details, you should refrain from opining that 'it's over-priced'. It's
    not over-priced. It's expensive to produce the level of quality that
    Leica strives for, just as it is for Mercedes.

    Take for instance the solidity of the lens mounts. If you squeeze an
    Olympus lens focussing ring, you cannot focus with it. It siezes up.
    That does not happen with Leica lenses. They use extremely strong
    materials and construction methods. The lenses are centered perfectly.
    Every one. Every time. That costs money. Big money. Take a typical 20
    year-old Leicaflex lens out of a used dealer's shop and send it in to
    Leica for evaluation. Odds are it will come back with no adjustments
    needed. IN-SPEC! How does that happen? It's because not only is the
    optical design first-class, the construction quality and materials
    chosen are the best too. That means that Leica lens will continue to
    perform at peak long after other companies' lenses are piles of junk.
    That's what you pay for with Leica.

    The Licaflex SL2 body I currently own was purchased by me in 1976. It
    functions perfectly. The Leica reflex body has a very hard metal lens
    mount too.

    So, quit whining about the prices. You get what you pay for. Are you
    familiar with the expression 'sour grapes'?
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 7, 2003
    #9
  10. From Photodo:
    21mm: Leica: ???, Contax: 4.3
    28mm: Leica: 4.1, Contax: 4.2
    35mm: Leica: 4.1, Contax: 4.2
    50/45mm: Leica: 4.6, Contax: 4.7
    90mm: Leica: 4.5, Contax: 4.4 (Canon 85/1.2: 4.6)

    Score: 3 to1, Contax with honorable mention to Canon for the over 1-kg
    monster.

    Looks to me that Leica is overrated and overpriced. Especially since you can
    get all five Contax G lenses (used in Tokyo) for substantially less than the
    price of any two of the Leica lenses (also used in Tokyo).

    Purchasing Leica is seriously dumb.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
     
    David J. Littleboy, Sep 7, 2003
    #10
  11. Duncan Ross

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Hi Mike:

    SNIPS
    Here I agree with you Mike, though the same could be said for Zeiss glass,
    Schneider glass, Canon L glass and some Zuiko/Olympus glass... It is that
    "larger format tonality/3D clarity look" which makes Leica glass (and at least
    some of the others mentioned above) so appealing.

    Regards,

    Lewis

    Check out my photos at "LEWISVISION":

    http://members.aol.com/Lewisvisn/home.htm

    Remove "nospam" to reply
     
    Lewis Lang, Sep 7, 2003
    #11
  12. Duncan Ross

    John Guest

    Purchasing Leica is seriously dumb.
    Do you actually believe your own statement?
    JJ
     
    John, Sep 7, 2003
    #12
  13. Duncan Ross

    Peter Chant Guest

    Has anyone carried out any double blind tests?

    I suspect that there may be a bit of personal bias in some quarters, whether
    intentional or unwitting.

    As a Pentax user I'd be interested how pentax faired.
     
    Peter Chant, Sep 7, 2003
    #13
  14. Duncan Ross

    Frank Pittel Guest

    : In article <l7C6b.9239$>,
    : > The Only 50mm I have really been impresed by was the Pentax SMC 50mm F1.4 I
    : > tested this years ago( and used) nikkor 50mm F1.8 (if i knew the net aws
    : > going to be invented i would have kept the results!).
    : > I would be intrested to know if Anyone else has conducted any tests of the
    : > pentax lens against the must talked about Leica lens.

    : Has anyone carried out any double blind tests?

    : I suspect that there may be a bit of personal bias in some quarters, whether
    : intentional or unwitting.

    : As a Pentax user I'd be interested how pentax faired.

    My first camera was a spotmatic with the legendary Takumar 50mm 1.4 lens. When
    I would test/try a leica I would compare my prints from the leica against what
    I got with my spotmatic and my little Takumar alway managed to do itself proud
    when compared to the leica. It even got to the point where the salespersons at
    Central Camera agreed that there was no quality advantage in going to leica.
    --




    Keep working millions on welfare depend on you
     
    Frank Pittel, Sep 7, 2003
    #14
  15. Duncan Ross

    Alan Browne Guest

    You weren't offering sound advice, you were making a Leica commercial.

    Michael, there is nothing wrong with Leica's. There is something
    seriously wrong with people who fairly shiver at the name and kneel at
    the alter.

    SLR systems are more general in nature. They are more flexible, they
    are easier to use, they offer a wider variety of lens and more
    competition which is a benefit to the buyers. They are more popular
    because they are more affordable and higher end SLR lenses are very
    sharp indeed ... more than is neccesary, desirable or observable in
    99.999% of photos taken. This last bit has caused more Leica shooters
    to waste more film on subjects that need high sharpness just so they can
    say "see! see! look, try that with your Nikon, boy!"

    M6 are mechanical beasts. That they are as good as they are is a
    reflection of the fine abilities of Leica mechanical and packaging
    engineers (of how many years ago?). The profession of engineering is
    about delivering to a specification and manufacturing budget (not navel
    gazing).

    Nikon, Canon, Minolta et al engineers have gone to newer technologies to
    deliver cameras that can be manufactured for a given cost and sold for a
    given price that is affordable to a market. That's what engineering is;
    it is not about navel gazing ... it is about delivering a specification
    according to the needs of a market.

    Frippery? Max9, Max 9xi, EOS-1nv, F4, F5 ... frippery? Are you totally
    daft, man?

    Over priced? No, Leica have to make a profit. Affordable? Nope. I
    get a hell of a lot more value and use out of my bodies and lenses for
    the buck than I could ever get out of a Leica-$.
    Olympus? For that matter Nikon, Canon, Minolta and Pentax make plastic
    bodies and low end lenses that nobody would trust seriously for very
    long. But these same manufacturers make bodies and lenses to
    professional standards as well. Where Leica has a very high end niche,
    these companies have a broader portfolio of products to offer.

    Try that squeeze gig with any of my lenses or bodies. There is nothing
    that will seize at all. But none of it, except my 50mm, is "consumer"
    grade.

    The lenses are centered perfectly.
    As it may be; is it needed? (See above). (And mathematically and
    manufacturing wise there is nothing perfectly centred; they *may* have a
    tighter spec, but cannot guarantee *perfect*).

    Odds are it will come back with no adjustments
    I had a 300mm f/2.8 Minolta lens, 9 years old, in for a cleaning and
    bench check. The tech said it was "perfect". What this means is that
    it is "in spec". This lens had been fairly beaten to death by the prev.
    owner. Still "in spec". So, your claim is nice, but hardly unique.
    My Max9 is all metal. My older Max7 is poly-c but the mounts are hard
    metal. What's your point?
    Very famillar, and the most sour people we hear around here are the
    Leica owners who gripe about the SLR owners saying bad things about
    them. There is nothing wrong with Leica equipment. But Leica owners
    have this sad need to justify their equipment which is only rarely
    justified by the work they show.

    Cheers
    Alan.
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 7, 2003
    #15
  16. Duncan Ross

    Frank Pittel Guest

    : Michael Scarpitti wrote:
    : >
    : >>Michael Scarpitti wrote:
    : >>
    : >>
    : >>>You must remember Leica engineers are very self-critical.
    : >>
    : >>Were you so afflicted we would have more peace around here.
    : >
    : >
    : > Sigh.
    : >
    : > What's wrong with offering sound advice? Do you really want people led
    : > by the ignorant and inexperienced, those who have only heard
    : > half-truths and biased opinions? Leica products are demonstrably,
    : > measurably superior in the essentials. They concentrate on the
    : > essentials, not frills or frippery. they make the best lenses and
    : > bodies on the planet, and if you are unaware of those technical
    : > details, you should refrain from opining that 'it's over-priced'. It's
    : > not over-priced. It's expensive to produce the level of quality that
    : > Leica strives for, just as it is for Mercedes.

    : You weren't offering sound advice, you were making a Leica commercial.

    : Michael, there is nothing wrong with Leica's. There is something
    : seriously wrong with people who fairly shiver at the name and kneel at
    : the alter.

    : SLR systems are more general in nature. They are more flexible, they
    : are easier to use, they offer a wider variety of lens and more
    : competition which is a benefit to the buyers. They are more popular
    : because they are more affordable and higher end SLR lenses are very
    : sharp indeed ... more than is neccesary, desirable or observable in
    : 99.999% of photos taken. This last bit has caused more Leica shooters
    : to waste more film on subjects that need high sharpness just so they can
    : say "see! see! look, try that with your Nikon, boy!"

    Even with those situations I could do better with my Mamiya. :)

    : M6 are mechanical beasts. That they are as good as they are is a
    : reflection of the fine abilities of Leica mechanical and packaging
    : engineers (of how many years ago?). The profession of engineering is
    : about delivering to a specification and manufacturing budget (not navel
    : gazing).

    : Nikon, Canon, Minolta et al engineers have gone to newer technologies to
    : deliver cameras that can be manufactured for a given cost and sold for a
    : given price that is affordable to a market. That's what engineering is;
    : it is not about navel gazing ... it is about delivering a specification
    : according to the needs of a market.

    There is a need being filled by leica though. How else are inferior photographers
    going to feel superior about their snapshots then other far superior photographers
    with a Canon, Nikon, etc? They also make good jewelry.

    : Frippery? Max9, Max 9xi, EOS-1nv, F4, F5 ... frippery? Are you totally
    : daft, man?

    Frippery??

    : Over priced? No, Leica have to make a profit. Affordable? Nope. I
    : get a hell of a lot more value and use out of my bodies and lenses for
    : the buck than I could ever get out of a Leica-$.

    The same is even more true with the pros. For a pro the value of a tool is
    how much of a return they can make from their investment. A pro doesn't care
    if a camera last 40+ years. They care about how much profit they can make with
    that tool. For the very most part photo journalists have gone digital and the studio
    photographers that need the high end quality use MF. The bottom line is that
    a leica doesn't pay off it's investment like Canon or Nikon.

    : >
    : > Take for instance the solidity of the lens mounts. If you squeeze an
    : > Olympus lens focussing ring, you cannot focus with it. It siezes up.
    : > That does not happen with Leica lenses. They use extremely strong
    : > materials and construction methods.

    : Olympus? For that matter Nikon, Canon, Minolta and Pentax make plastic
    : bodies and low end lenses that nobody would trust seriously for very
    : long. But these same manufacturers make bodies and lenses to
    : professional standards as well. Where Leica has a very high end niche,
    : these companies have a broader portfolio of products to offer.

    : Try that squeeze gig with any of my lenses or bodies. There is nothing
    : that will seize at all. But none of it, except my 50mm, is "consumer"
    : grade.

    I just tried the scarpitti squeeze test on a number of lenses for a number of
    cameras and none of them siezed up. Maybe we're supposed to put the lens in a
    vise.

    : The lenses are centered perfectly.
    : > Every one. Every time. That costs money. Big money. Take a typical 20
    : > year-old Leicaflex lens out of a used dealer's shop and send it in to
    : > Leica for evaluation.

    : As it may be; is it needed? (See above). (And mathematically and
    : manufacturing wise there is nothing perfectly centred; they *may* have a
    : tighter spec, but cannot guarantee *perfect*).

    : Odds are it will come back with no adjustments
    : > needed. IN-SPEC! How does that happen? It's because not only is the
    : > optical design first-class, the construction quality and materials
    : > chosen are the best too. That means that Leica lens will continue to
    : > perform at peak long after other companies' lenses are piles of junk.
    : > That's what you pay for with Leica.

    : I had a 300mm f/2.8 Minolta lens, 9 years old, in for a cleaning and
    : bench check. The tech said it was "perfect". What this means is that
    : it is "in spec". This lens had been fairly beaten to death by the prev.
    : owner. Still "in spec". So, your claim is nice, but hardly unique.

    I'm not sure what the in "spec". How does a lens go out of "spec"??

    : > The Licaflex SL2 body I currently own was purchased by me in 1976. It
    : > functions perfectly. The Leica reflex body has a very hard metal lens
    : > mount too.

    : My Max9 is all metal. My older Max7 is poly-c but the mounts are hard
    : metal. What's your point?
    : >
    : > So, quit whining about the prices. You get what you pay for. Are you
    : > familiar with the expression 'sour grapes'?

    : Very famillar, and the most sour people we hear around here are the
    : Leica owners who gripe about the SLR owners saying bad things about
    : them. There is nothing wrong with Leica equipment. But Leica owners
    : have this sad need to justify their equipment which is only rarely
    : justified by the work they show.

    I personally don't care. I've looked at leicas and couldn't find a reason to
    buy one. In my mind there isn't enough quality or functionality with leicas to
    make me want to buy one. You don't always get what you pay for. Sometimes you
    get ripped off.

    --




    Keep working millions on welfare depend on you
     
    Frank Pittel, Sep 7, 2003
    #16
  17. Duncan Ross

    Nick Zentena Guest

    You ever seen the Charmin test? That's how you tell a good lens. Yup just
    like toilet paper.


    Nick
     
    Nick Zentena, Sep 8, 2003
    #17


  18. This utter bullshit.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 8, 2003
    #18
  19. I don't. I use mine to make pictures, and those epictures are
    seriously good quality.
    I don't do that, and I use the Leica reflex system.
    Of course, and the new MP has some mechanical improvements.
    That's correct. I don't worship my Leicaflex. I use it.
    Of course. Leica'as market is the high end, people who are
    no-compromise individualists.
    Yes, I use a manual focus, manual exposure camera, and I would not
    even know what to do with an F5.

    How much does it cost PER YEAR when you own it for 30 years? It's
    actually cheaper!
    Leica's amortized cost over its useful life is LESS. That's bang for
    the buck if there ever was.
    This is true of even the best lenses from Olympus. I have not tried it
    with recent Nikon or Canon stuff, but I doubt there's been any
    substantial change in the manual focussing mechanisms of Nikon lenses.
    Canon is all autofocus now, so I guess we can't test them that way.
    Yes, it will.
    OK, so close it's not measurable.
    But that 'spec' is looser to start with...and I was talking about
    25-30 years, not 9...

    Construction ruggedness is best with Leica...

    I cannot help what other people do with their equipment...It's a free
    country..
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 8, 2003
    #19
  20. Duncan Ross

    Lisa Horton Guest

    On what basis do you make that statement? What, other than a poorly
    formed expletive, do you offer to refute the hard data provided by
    David?

    Lisa
     
    Lisa Horton, Sep 8, 2003
    #20
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