Summilux 80f1.4. Any long term user opinions. : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

I,m considering the purchase of an 80f1.4R for use with an R6.2 to use as part of a minimal travel shooters outfit along with an M6 + 35f2asph. Would appreciate any comments regarding the general use and performance characteristics of this lens specifically with colour transparency work.

-- gary yeowell (, April 29, 2001


I don't have the 80mm lens that you ask about, but let me say that I also used a similar outfit that you are considering, a Leica M6 with a 35mm lens and a Nikon FM2 with a 105mm lens, and after some time rethought the arrangement. On paper it seemed like the best of both worlds: The fast handling rangefinder with moderate wide angle, and the SLR with the medium tele lens. I found a couple of things that led me to go back to having complete systems for each type of camera, even if the "system" is the minimal two lens set up. I now carry both a 35 and 105 for the Nikon and a 35 and 90 for the Leica. I still start out with my 35 on the M6 and the 105 on the FM2, but now I have options. Below are some of my problems when I carried only the two lenses that could only be used on a specific body.

First I found that I was using the cameras at a dissimilar rate, depending on the subject, and was always running out of film on one camera before the other, rendering that lens unusable until I could change film. This might not be a big deal for static subjects, but I definitely missed shots of people in dynamic situations. It was frustrating having the correct lens on a "dead" camera hanging around the neck. With two lenses for each camera, I can still get the image by quickly changing lenses, which is many times faster than changing film.

Next, I had a camera fail, (I won't say which one), eliminating my use of the wide angle (hint). As much of my photography is on different continents than my cache of gear back home, I opted for redundancy over weight savings. Now if I lose or break a camera, I have effectively the same system, albeit not as fast handling, but better than no shots with the one lens on the broke camera.

Lastly, there are days when you just want to go light with one camera and a lens in a pocket. There are times and places when you don't want to stand out with two cameras, but wish not to be limited to one focal length. Being able to pick and choose, SLR or rangefinder, is on of those options allowed by having both lenses for each camera.

-- Al Smith (, April 29, 2001.

I love the 80 Summilux-R for it's shallow DOF, but it's a heavy lens and I would probably not consider it a "travel" lens. For travel I would opt for something lighter and a touch longer - the 90 Elmarit- R, or Summicron-R if the extra stop was that important. All of these lenses have very similar performance at f/2.8. As usual, when you open the fast lenses up, you pay a little bit of a price. Tough to say whether you'd ever notice it though.

-- Ken Shipman (, April 29, 2001.

I have to go along with Al, with the equipment you mention if any one piece becomes unusable en route you've got a real crimp in your style. I own Leica M, R and Nikon and Hasselblad systems and except for using an M4 + 21 S/A as my ultrawide with the Blad, I don't mix systems for travel. After many years of experience I can now pretty much decide which system is going to be the best for which location. IMO, the biggest advantage of 35mm SLRs for travel photography are today's superb-quality zoom lenses. For slightly more weight and about the cost of a used 80, the latest 80-200/4 is a great travel lens. That plus a 28 Elmarit and a 50/2 will get you covered for almost any travel other than a safari. You still need 2 bodies.

With the Leica M, to me the 35 is a great night lens (I use the Summilux ASPH) but for a minimalist day kit, I prefer the Tri-Elmar and a 135. Again, 2 bodies are minimum.

In either case, add an ultrawide if you really like to shoot them. The Cosina/Voigtlander 15 Heliar (for the M) and the Tamron 17/3.5 SP (Adaptall for the R) are top-notch low-price alternatives for anyone who has only occasional use for such a lens.

-- Jay (, April 29, 2001.


I, too, think that an M6/35mm and R with 80mm Summilux to be a less than ideal combination. The 80mm is heavy, and very good but I just don't see why you would want to take along an M6 with it. What about when you are out of film on the M and you want to take a 35mm shot? I agree with the others and think it is by far the best thing to take one system and make it work rather than give yourself mental anguish taking two incompatible systems. I just returned from Arizona where I took my Hasselblad system and my Leica CL with 40/90/135mm. I wish I had just taken one and left the other behind. Luckily the CL is small.

If I were you I would either consider getting the 35mm Summicron-R to complement the 80mm, and consider getting the 90mm Elmarit or Summicron instead unless you really want the 1.4. Or get a 75mm Summilux for the M6 in addition to the ASPH.

The general feeling about the medium teles for the R is that the performance is:

100mm APO>90mm Elmarit (newer type)>80mm Summilux>90mm Summicron. The first two are very heavy and that puts me off on the R6 - try it on the camera and you will see what I mean. The 80mm and 100mm work best on the R8 where they balance better. I like the Elmarit and Summicron the best myself.

-- Robin Smith (, April 30, 2001.

Gary, after reading the above responses, I wonder if the 75mm f/1.4 would meet your needs. I agree with the others that using long lenses on the reflex and short ones on the RF doesn't work out so great in practice, for the reasons given. MY R4 with its 50, 90, and 135, gets underused compared to the M6 and M2 with their wides and normals.

-- Bob Fleischman (, May 01, 2001.

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