2 cam compared to 3 cam lenses

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I am wondering abut the differences in the optical and build quality between 2 cam and 3 cam R lenses. The 3 cam lenses appear to be a bit lighter than their 2 cam counterparts. Were they built inferiorly to the 2 cam lenses ?


Tony Salce

-- Tony Salce (NadinaTony@bigpond.com), October 02, 2001


The 2-cam/3-cam designation's relation to lens versions is strictly coincidental. Many lenses carried over unchanged into the 3-cam era. Also many 2-cam lenses have had the 3rd cam added over the years. Redesigns of Leica lenses spur great debates. Sometimes certain characteristics were improved to the detriment of others; such are the compromises lens designers face. Most manufacturers have sought to reduce the weight and bulk of their product, as this is something photographers want. Unlike other manufacturers, however, I can't think of a single example where Leica sacrificed precision for lower weight. In buying Leica lenses it has been my experience that personal trial and preference, condition and cost are the factors that play the key roles in my choices. I tend to look with a jaundiced eye at analyses of Leica lenses that smack of a clear bias for either earlier or later versions.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), October 02, 2001.


The older 1 and 2 cam lenses are indeed much heavier and show perhaps more beautiful finish than the newer lenses. This is pretty common with all Leica lenses though (and many other camera types). The dual range Summicron is a piece of jewelry compared to the current Summicron, for example. On the other hand, the lighter, current R versions are less arduous to carry for long periods, which is why I use them. Another reason is the built in lenshoods and the standard filter sizes - many of the older lenses require series filters which are a pain. Interestingly some lenses seem to be more durable than others. My 50mm Summicron-R, for example, has worn terribly, whereas my 180 APo-Telyt seems to have a more durable finish. It is partly due to the fact that the 'cron gets used a lot more, but not entirely. Of course the optics are still first class.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), October 02, 2001.

To clarify: the only lenses where this really applies are for the original set for the Leicaflex Mark I - the earlier 35 Elmarit, 50 Summicron and 90 Elmarit. These lenses are particularly superb mechanically. The other lenses, whether 2 or 3 cam are much the same - some date from 2 cam days and are available in both configurations. I feel that the Solms lenses are perhaps a little nicer than the old Wetzlar 70-80s days, but this may simply be because they are newer and therefore less worn. I agree with Jay though that in terms of optical precision (and results) the new are quite a match for the original Leicaflex set.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), October 02, 2001.

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