Leica R 80mm Sumilux and 135mm Elmarit

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I am planning to get one of the two lenses: Leica R 80mm f1.4 and 135mm f2.8 and would appeciate information from Leica users. How good are they wide opened?

-- John Hoang (johnjhng@hotmail.com), July 05, 2000



Have you looked at the existing threads? There is a discussion of the 80mm Summilux under a question I asked comparing it to the 90mm Summicron. To answer your question the 135mm design dates from the original lens set for the original Leicaflex in 1965, whereas the Summilux appeared in 1980 or thereabouts. This tells you something. The 135mm apparently has very pleasing qualities and is meant to be an excellent portrait lens (whatever that means - I suspect it has nice bokeh and to be a little soft at wide apertures) but in terms of raw resolutiuon the Summilux is much better. I bet you the Summilux outperforms the Elmarit at f2.8 by quite a margin. The 135mm is in need of a redesign in my opinion - I bet Leica think this too, but the 135mm focal length seems to be somewhat out of favor these days compared to the 90mm and 180mm. Of course the best lens in terms of performance is the 100m Apo Macro which will beat both the Summilux and the Elmarit in terms of performance at f2.8 with performance to spare. You can pick up a secondhand 135mm Elmarit pretty cheap, so if I was you I would buy one and see whether you like it, if it does not work out you have not spent a great deal of money. The Apo-Macro and the Summilux would be expensive mistakes....

-- Robin Smith (rsmith@springer-ny.com), July 05, 2000.

John, If your looking for a portrait lens, you can't do any better than the 90mm f2.8 Elmarit. That lens is the reason I bought a Leica R camera. It was picked as one of the 10 best lenses made recently by a European Magazine, and was the only lens on the list that didn't cost a fortune. Mine is tack sharp at f2.8 ( I tested it at over 80 LPMM at 2.8) and has the most beautiful color reproduction. It focus very close (under 28 inches), is compact, has a built in hood, and a 55mm filter size. F2.8 is about the minuimum aperture for getting most of a face in focus, so I never use anything faster for portraits anyway.

-- Andrew Schank (aschank@flash.net), July 08, 2000.

Hi John, I have the 135 Elmarit and use it extensively for portrait and short telephoto work. It is not a 'blow-your-mind-away-sharp' kind of lens, but it has the most beautiful rendition of colours I have seen and give very smooth and pleasant skin tones and still is sharp enough to bring out details without being hash. I like this length better than the 80 or 90 which I find a little too short. I hate to stick a lens in front of people. Conversely the 180 is too long for portrait. I never seem to find enought working room with 180mm lens. Even though the 80 lux is 2 stops faster I think to get faces in focus you can't go much lower than 2.8. If I remember correctly the 80 lux doesn't allow you to use converter wherease the 135 works very well with the 2x if you stop down a bit. May not have any relevance to your choice of photography. I also use the 135 with an extension tube which gives me a nice 1:3 for most flower shorts. In this mode, stop down to f11 it is very sharp. Hope you find this helpful.

-- Steven Fong (steven@ima.org.sg), July 10, 2000.


Actually, I correct myself, the Elmarit has been redesigned once in the late 60s (I think), still what I say still holds I believe.

-- wombat (rsmith@springer-ny.com), July 10, 2000.

Thanks to all of you for very helpfull responds. I will try the Elmarit because with your recomendation, and the price so low, compare to the Summilux, it is worth a try. Thanks again.

-- John Hoang (johnjhng@hotmail.com), July 10, 2000.

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