Leica R glass compared to Olympus Zuiko glass

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I have been a long time user of Olympus equipment. I was wondering if anyone could comment on the comparisons between Leica R glass to its Olympus counterparts.Are Leica lenses much better ?


Tony Salce

-- Tony Salce (NadinaTony@bigpond.com), September 21, 2001


Tony I personally feel that Olympus glass is among the best, second only to (in some instances) Leica. Two years ago I sold an Olympus kit consisting of 2 bodies and 11 lenses and switched to Leica. The reason was not dissatisfaction with the image capabilities, but more the fragile (perceived!!??) nature of the bodies (though in a 'family' argument I threw my OM4 at my brother-in-law, bruised his skull pretty good and only sustained $200.00 damage to the camera - don't ask, but even he admits he deserved it). But a couple of broken rewind levers and an exploded shutter caused me to switch. I had used Leica rangefinders for years and found them pretty well indestructable, and so far am pleased witht the SLR's. The Olympus 90 Macro is considered to be second only to the Leica 100 macro. Great company, but an Olympus 90mm can be had new for less the the used Leica. 50 F1.4 - superb, and their 300mm F4, tack sharp, is about the size of everyone elses 200mm. But that was the problem. Lens aperture levers that looked like they were cut from sheet metal. I had a number of lenses that had to have their aperture mechanisms rebuilt, which I've never needed with Leica or Nikon. In the end I just found that the scarcity of parts plus the fact that not a lot of repair shops work on them just made them to unreliable to use. But boy...the lenses were as sharp as any.

-- Bob Todrick (bobtodrick@yahoo.com), September 21, 2001.

a 'family' argument I threw my OM4 at my brother-in-law, bruised his skull pretty good

What state do you live in?

Just planning my next vacation...

-- Jeff Spirer (jeff@spirer.com), September 21, 2001.


I think there might be some good photo-ops at Bob's...

-- Dave Doyle (soilsouth@home.com), September 22, 2001.

Tony Whenever you decide to enter the Leica world, keep your Olympus gear! Leicagraphy is different for many aspects, but can never completely substitute SLRgraphy. I treasure my OM equipment (which has been my first love...) although it stays in the closet most of the time nowadays. But as Bob has described rightly, Leica can't be beat for sturdiness. And, in average, I find leica glass to be superior to average consumer Zuiko glass - I can't judge for the costlier Zuiko designs though. Anyway, as I have tried to describe in other threads, IMHO RF-photography is just different, no matter which brand you're switching to or from...


-- Lutz Konermann (lutz@konermann.net), September 22, 2001.

Dave, good point. I've always thought that if I could start my life over, I would choose to be a crime scene/evidence photographer. But for vacation, I was just looking for a safe spot :-)

Regarding the original question, "better" is a term that needs to be better defined. What are you shooting? Under what conditions? What is your final result? What are the characteristics that you value in a lens?

I used Olympus cameras for several years before I realized that I should never haver gotten SLRs, had excellent results, sold numerous photos to publications and record labels (I was shooting clubs at the time.) Only you can decide if, for your uses, something is "better."

-- Jeff Spirer (jeff@spirer.com), September 22, 2001.


About 10 years ago my 35mm kit was comprised of an OM4T and an OM3 along with 6 lenses. The lack of consistency between the lenses is what convinced me to upgrade to a Nikon system. One of the many photographic gear mistakes I have made. The OM3 & 4T have the best metering system ever designed, if you are into control, and are solid,small and very comfortable to use. I am using Leica M's exclusively now but would love to have the old OM kit back for SLR needs. Regards Steve

-- Steve Belden (otterpond@tds.net), September 22, 2001.

Well in my opinion the answer is that you would see an improvement compared to OM lenses. While I have never owned any, back in 1983 or thereabouts a friend who had the OM1 with (I think) 50mm, 85 and 135mm lenses) compared these directly with my older type 50mm Summicron-R, and 90mm Summicron-R. Leica was much better on edge and central resolution at wider apertures and on flare suppression, but on the other hand my friend was pleased with the performance of the OM lenses considering they were so inexpensive. Like everything else it is all a question of whether this improvement is worth the expense. Personally I liked the philosophy of the OM system very much and find it curious that the small, compact system ideal was pretty soon dropped once AF and integral winders came along for reasons I don't really understand. To some extent Leica has done this too with the larger size of the M-lenses and the size of the R8 - I don't really know why everyone wants huge cameras around their necks.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), September 24, 2001.

I have owned both OM and Leica R systems. Although I now mostly use Leica M, I still have some OM equipment. I always thought that the OM bodies were great, with metering second to none. Although small, I never have had a problem with the camera bodies. I have found the Olympus lenses to be somewhat inconsistent. The macro lenses are wonderful. Ditto for the fast, long glass. The Leica R lenses were more uniformly excellent; their build quality superior. Comparing camera systems is a difficult chore without getting into specifics. Is the Leica 100mm Apo Macro Elmarit / 60mm Macro Elmarit duo superior to the 50 f2 and 90 f2 Olympus macro lenses? I would say yes, but these OM lenses would rank ahead of other systems' macro lenses in my estimation. When I traded "up" to Leica R, I sold most of my Olympus equipment and have regretted doing so. In hindsight, I would have been happier keeping all of my OM SLR equipment, and adding Leica M. I really like the rangefinder, rarely using SLRs anymore. For the record, I bought and then sold an extensive Hasselblad system. I loved the images produced, but found that the smaller format was sufficient for most of what I want to do. Having spent a good amount of money on camera equipment over the last 30 years, I have decided that an M6 and a 50mm Summicron will satisfy the majority of my needs.

-- David (pagedt@attglobal.net), September 24, 2001.


I have used Olympus OM for 20 years. I currently have an OM-2n and OM- 2S, with Zuiko lenses 21/3.5 (SC), 28/2.8 (MC), 50/1.4 (SC), 50/3.5 macro (MC), 100/2.8 (SC) and 35-70/4 zoom (MC).

Last November I bought a Leica R7, which I replaced with an R8 3 months later. My Leica R lenses are 24/2.8, 35/2, 60/2.8 macro, 90/2.8, 180/4 and 180/3.4 Apo.

I've kept my Oly gear and I still use it. My wife is also keen on the OM-2S. Olympus gear is very light and portable and would constitute less of a financial loss if it got damaged or stolen. However, I prefer the Leica R when portability and security are not a concern.

Regarding optical quality, I find that the Leica R lenses give cleaner and brighter colours, better detail in shadows, less flare and much better resolution at full aperture. Excellent performance at maximum aperture is, to me, one of the things sets Leica lenses apart from most others. They are also mechanically superior and very sturdy but the penalty for this, of course, is that they are large and heavy.

The difference in optical performance is particularly noticeable when comparing Leica R with single-coated (SC) Zuikos. The Zuiko 50/1.4 SC lens is difficult to focus accurately because the resolution wide open is poor. I rarely use that lens. The Zuiko 50/3.5 macro MC lens, on the other hand, is excellent. I'm aware that my Zuiko lenses are not the best from that stable; Olympus has some world-class lenses, such as the 90/2 macro, 50/1.4 MC and 35-80/2.8 zoom.

To answer your question: yes, in general, Leica lenses are much better, IMHO.

-- Ray Moth (ray_moth@yahoo.com), September 24, 2001.

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