I need an R lesson...

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I am in need of a high quality macro lens. Since I already own a Nikon, I could turn to their 100 macro, or perhaps even Tamron's 90mm macro, which is purported to be quite excellent. However, since autofocus and motorized advance in this application are not priorities for me - and high-quality optics are - I am curious as to how much superior Leica's 100 apo macro might be in rel-life optical performance... Is it as good as Erwin claims? Is it as good the majority of my M lenses (which seem to me to be leaps ahead of the comparable optics in my Nikon system)? Any personal experience any of you could share with respects to the relative quality of the above lens(es) would be appreciated.

Second, to the lesson... Can somebody explain 3-cam vs ROM lenses, and pros/cons of R8 vs R6.2 vs R6.0 bodies? (I think the R6.2 would be more than adequate - perhaps even preferable - but it appears that it is about the same price used as the R8, with R6's being cheaper.)

Thank you in advance!

-- Jack Flesher (jbflesher@msn.com), September 16, 2001



Here is a site featuring the Leica R. A bit difficult to read on the opening page, but good information.


Mark J.

-- Mark A. Johnson (logic@gci.net), September 16, 2001.

I have used the Nikon macro, an exceptional old manual focus Kiron 105 f2.8 macro (my favorite)and several others including the Tamron. If the Leica macro is better, I can't see how it could be by much. The Nikon and other ones mentioned are so good, I can't see changing to a whole different SLR system.

-- Andrew Schank (aschank@flash.net), September 16, 2001.

Jack, I own the 60 Macro-Elmarit-R and it is actually a better lens IMO than the 50 Summicron except where f/2 is essential, and I use it a lot instead of the 50 especially considering their sizes aren't terribly different. The 100APO-Macro is everything they say it is optically, but it is also quite heavy and has a long focusing helicoid. As such it does not make a simple substitute for a 90/2.8 and so for me at least would be strictly for macro use. To get 1:1 you also need the dedicated Elpro, another costly addition. Since my wildlife outfit is still Nikon, I use the 100/2.8 AF-D which I find quite satisfactory. As to the pros-cons of R6 and R6.2 bodies, right now is perhaps not a good time for me to answer that, as I currently have my R6 making a second trip to NJ for repairs, and tomorrow one of my R6.2's which developed a meter fault on my recent European trip (ironically, it was supposed to be the backup body!) will be heading there as well. I really do like the R7 best of all R bodies, but for strictly macro I believe an R5 or RE might do just as well for less investment. The R8 does have one real advantage for macro, which is the ability to meter TTL non-dedicated multiple flash lighting using the "F" setting.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), September 16, 2001.


I have both the Leica 60mm/f2.8 macro and 100/f2.8 APO macro lenses. They are outstanding lenses, and significantly better than comparable lenses from Nikon and Canon. You can check out some user comments at www.photographyreview.com. The 100 APO lens is simply stunning. I have six other Leica R lenses, and the slides from the 100 APO lens always look better with cleaner colors. The difference is hard to describe, but it is there! I also own six Leica M lenses, but not the 90/f2 APO-M which is probably a match for the 100 APO lens. BTW Erwin Puts' reviews are reliable!

ROM lenses can be used only on Leica R SLR cameras. The 3-cam lenses can be used on any R camera as well as older Leicaflex SL and SL2 cameras. This is an issue for me because I enjoy using the older SL and SL2s (I have 3 of them). All but one of R lenses are 3-cam lenses.

The R8 has a different TTL flash system compared to the R6/6.2/7 cameras. The R8 also has a unique built in flash meter that can be used with any flash in manual mode. Without exposing any film, you can trigger the flash. The R8 will then tell you by how many f stops the exposure has to be adjusted in order to get correct exposure. This is very helpful in macro photography!

If you are willing to buy a grey market Leica, check out www.deltainternational.com. They sell R8 bodies for around $1350 with a 3-year USA warranty from MACK Corp.

Feel free to email me directly if you have more questions!...........

-- Muhammad Chishty (applemac97@aol.com), September 16, 2001.


See the following URL for Doug Herr's reviews of R cameras and lenses:


Regarding 3-cam vs. ROM, the latest R lenses have ROM contacts and only the 3rd cam. This makes them compatible with all R cameras but incompatible with the earlier Leicaflex SL and SL2 cameras. 3-cam lenses are compatible with all Leica SLR cameras.

ROM is not a necessity with the R8 but, if it is present, its main function is to signal the lens's focal length to SCA 3000 compatible flashguns with auto-zooming heads. This helps to match the flash to a zoom lens. I think ROM is also used in the R8 to "fine tune" the exposure to take account of the actual lens aperture, as opposed to the selected aperture, but in which exposure modes it does this I haven't a clue. I've seen very little information on this.

-- Ray Moth (ray_moth@yahoo.com), September 17, 2001.

CORRECTION: In my earlier post, I meant to say that all but one of MY Leica R lenses are 3-cam lenses......................

-- Muhammad Chishty (applemac97@aol.com), September 17, 2001.

I have been particularly interested in macro both in 35mm and in medium format. In 35mm I have made exhibition prints from the following lenses, Contax 60mm macro-planar, vivitar series 1 90mm f2.5 and vivitar series 1 90-180 macro zoom. I have also used a nikon 55mm f3.5 macro lens. Last week I bought an SL2 with the 60mm macro elmarit and should have some results by the end of the week. Let me know if you want a detailed view on these lenses. They really have to be graded according to the circumstances in which you want to use them e.g. longer is better for portrait; 1:1 is heavier than 1:2; for copying bokeh is less important etc etc. Of the ones that I have used, the 60mm and the zoom are of equivalent sharpness with the zoom being incredibly convenient (if rather heavy) for a variety of shots. I bought the elmarit for a more "walking around" style of lens.

-- Mark Eban (markeban@compuserve.com), September 17, 2001.

Jack, if I was about to buy a Leica SLR, which i'm not, I'd go for the R7. Having used the R6 for a while, I found myself a bit out of love with the mechanical shutter myth (so why do I use M6's now, you may well ask). The R7 looks like a very fine camera and you can find them virtually new for not as great an outlay as the 6.2 or 8.

-- rob (rob@robertappleby.com), September 17, 2001.

Jack, there is some helpful information about R-Leicas, its shutters and that the 6.2's shutter is better than the 6's one at


-- Victor Randin (ved@enran.com.ua), September 17, 2001.


I am confident that you would notice the 100mm Apo is superior than the Nikon and Tamron equivalent - although I am sure they are absolutely fine. In Leica comparisons are everything. In general Leica optics are better, but often you can see it only by comparison. My experience with the Leica APO R lenses is that they are particularly superb (the only one I have is the 180mm APO telyt) but I have shot with the 100mm APO and the new 180mm APO. The only reason I do not have the 100mm APO is that, as Jay says, it is rather large and heavy and yet still only f2.8. For more critical work I use my 90mm Elmarit-R which is a close second to the 100mm APO for work at infinity. My heavy lens in this length is the 80mm Summilux, which is by no means a macro lens.

The 60mm is a good lens by all accounts, although I doubt it is superior than the 50mm Summicron at infinity. If I was you I would go for the 100mm as it is universally acclaimed - but it is twice the price of the 60mm.

In your shoes as you are Nikon user, I would suggest you look at the R8. It has pretty well the same features of the Nikon bodies you are used to (excepting the motor drive) and since you will be on a tripod the extra weight will not worry you. In my opinion it is an ergonomic dream. The R6.2 will indeed work too, but perhaps the niche for a manual camera in your world is taken up by the M6. The R7 is excellent, but approaches both the R6.2 and the R8 in price and the R8 is, in some ways, more a real homegrown Leica design (this is good or bad depending on your viewpoint) and it also has a number of useful features such as 1/250th flash sync, matrix metering, flash premetering, prerelease, electronic shutter etc. which would be useful for macro and general use.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), September 17, 2001.

Thank you all for your input -- which was excellent as usual :-)

It seems we have a little more diversity of opinion here than we do in the M circle. It sounds like if I want a dedicated macro outfit (price no concern) the R8/100APO+elpro would be hard to beat. Given the cost differential, and the fact the 100 APO R does not sound like it makes an ideal general purpose 100, it probably makes more sense to me to obtain a quality macro (or two!) for my Nikon.

-- Jack Flesher (jbflesher@msn.com), September 17, 2001.

Hi Jack

I use an R8 and I would recommend it very highly. It is heavier than other R bodies but then it has its unique advantages: heavier mass for greater stability (don't worry about the terrible mirror damping as the shutter would have shut by the time the mirror comes down); very accurate metering system (I have tested the selective metering and average metering against 2 top light meters: 100% accuracy) which is critical with macro; light reactive shutter speed which is critical if you are taking macros outdoors (something which the R6s cannot do and only the R7 has 1/2 stop variation in the shutter speed range); very bright and easy to use viewfinder - the images simply pop in and out of focus so you can really play around with the depth of field. And I would certainly go for the grey market R8 - I bought mine for $1200, far cheaper than buying second hand R7 and R6.2 bodies.

As for the 100mm Elmarit APO Macro, its an amazing lens even when compared with other Leica lenses whether they are R or M lenses. The photos bear that characteristic Leica signature of resolution, contrast and special differentiation of colour gradation. Rather than wax lyrical about the lens, have a look at the 2 mushroom shots I took recently with the 100mm APO (it's the last 2 on the right in the top row). All photos were taken using f/2.8


The photos were taken on my dining table with nothing more than an overhead halogen spotlight and a handheld torch to soften shadows (I couldn't use daylight as it was overcast that day and I had only 2 hours to produce the photos for a friend who was doing a "Mad about Mushrooms" cooking promotion...!) It was taken using Fuji 400 Superia (4th Colour) and on a Gitzo tripod, cable release, mirror lock-up. Unfortunately for the web, I had to reduce the resolution to 10% of normal so that it could be web accessible - so you can imagine what the original resolution and colour contrast are like. I did not use a colour adjustment filter because I wanted the tungsten hue to make things warmer and more "food-ey".

Good luck with your selection. You can't go wrong with a Leica (but then again I am a dyed in the wool Lugger!)

-- David Yeo (yeo_d@hotmail.com), September 19, 2001.

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