APO Telyt 280 Reviews + applications??

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I have only ever seen and played with the Telyt lenses at the Leica showroom in Solms. They were impressive in their build quality and materials, but absolutely outrageous in price. Occassionally, I will see used 280mm lenses and modules for sale at prices that suggest that these items 1. do not hold their value too well and that 2. people try and unload them often.

At circa $7000USD for a 280mm+module, what exactly is the application and who is buying them? Even at the longer end, I don't believe that profis are! (Peterson, Lanting etc all are autofocus at 400mm+...) Then, as I am intrigued, I cannot find very many good reviews. Can somebody explain and set me straight?

-- Reto (redcave@schweiz.com), March 05, 2002


http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0012/feature2/in dex.html

-- Anon Terry (anonht@yahoo.com), March 05, 2002.


I am not sure you can really get that amount of information from a casual reading of the web. The fact is that these are rare lenses and I personally have not noticed many modular systems for sale at all. It is a pretty rare item. One does see the older 280/f2.8 non-modular system for sale more frequently, but this is the older (although excellent) lens - now replaced by the modular system. One sees a good deal of long Canon and Nikon glass around s/h: does this say anything about their quality? In short I think the dataset is not large enough for one to come to these conclusions.

I have not looked at their prices recently, but I think that to buy one lens is expensive but with the modular system buying another head (and therefore another focal length) is not so bad. Super teles are always expensive whoever makes them! The advantage is that you save space and bulk. All of the lenses have APO correction, which in my Leica experience, is certainly something special. We do not have any current modular lens system users here in this forum (Doug Herr uses long lenses, but the older Telyts) so I am not sure you will get a definitive answer. One thing I do think is that probably those who do own them are out in the field using them (a la Norbert Rosing) and not spending time here on our forum. Personally I would love to hear more about them too!

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), March 05, 2002.

Check out this thread


Lawrence Beck is a very enthusiastic admirer of the older Telyts by the way.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), March 05, 2002.

The market for long, fast lenses such as the modular APO Telyts are sports pros and wildlife shooters, both pro and amateur. Far and away the largest segment is the sports pros. Since almost all pro sports photography is for commercial/journalistic use and that market has almost totally gone digital--even ignoring that they also want AF, that cuts off a huge portion of the already tiny market Leica has for those lenses. Moreover, the way those lenses are designed, with huge carrying handles sticking on top, they are quite unweildy to carry through the wilds where they snag tree branches persistently. That, and the fact that 1)the most mimicked pro wildlife shooters have been touting AF for years, and 2)the R8 lacked a motor-drive for 3 years after production and then it only makes 4.5fps and only takes a NiCad battery pack, makes for a very microscopic number of eccentric individuals still willing to shell out the megabucks for the Telyts. And Canon pulled ahead even of Nikon with the introduction of Image Stabilization in their long L lenses, which is now being touted as the best thing ever to hit telephotography. I would be very surprised if the Modular system is still in regular production, as opposed to a special-order assembly (unless there are a bunch of them in inventory). Personally I have a tack-sharp Tamron 300/2.8 Adaptall which is my if-I-really-need-it long/fast lens for the R system. Otherwise I use the Canon IS.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), March 05, 2002.

"Moreover, the way those lenses are designed, with huge carrying handles sticking on top, they are quite unweildy to carry through the wilds where they snag tree branches persistently."

Jay - is this based on your experience? They have one handle and I assume the idea is that you take the camera off the tripod(s) and carry it by this handle when moving on. I suppose it might catch if you kept the tripod lens and camera combo and walked with it a long way, but what about all those times when you are not in trees? Carrying any 400mm lens/camera/tripod combo over your shoulder is likely to cause a snarl up in any serious vegetation whether it is Leica or not, surely?

Also of course we are still none the wiser as whether the optics are superior to the more common Canon and Nikon counterpoints, which is surely a major issue here. My experience of Leica in general is that usually they are. The IS is something else, but I understood on a properly secured tripod one is not meant to have the IS on anyway?

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), March 05, 2002.

Most of the time when moving short distances the lens stays on the tripod and yes, I had the opportunity to use a Modular Telyt courtesy of a Leica rep on a short stay who wanted to go shooting some Florida birds with someone who knew the territory. The carry handle is a liability, which is not missed by anyone using any other lenses including the older Leicas.

Optically I can't make a sound statement because I had only the one experience with the Modular APO. I have extensive experience with the Nikon 300/2.8AF-S and currently Canon 300/2.8L-IS, as well as the pre-Modular 280/2.8 APO-Telyt-R and the 280/4 APO. Especially in the near range at f/2.8 and f/4 the Nikon and Canon are visibly sharper in the corners than the older Leica 280/2.8 and neck-and-neck with the 280/4 at f/4. With teleconverters and a slower shutter speeds the Canon IS pulls way ahead of the pack. I've been using it with two 2x's and a 1.4x and still getting sharp images.

Yes, Canon says to turn the IS off when the lens is on a tripod. But all the "names" shooting them disregard that advice. Especially when stretched to double, triple and quadruple their focal lengths, the IS quells vibration present even on the sturdiest tripod with the sturdiest head and best technique.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), March 05, 2002.


Interesting. I have to say though that I myself cannot imagine myself ever using three converters together and being happy with the sharpness, even if it was all Leica.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), March 06, 2002.

Jay wrote:"With teleconverters and a slower shutter speeds the Canon IS pulls way ahead of the pack. I've been using it with two 2x's and a 1.4x and still getting sharp images."


Can you post some images taken with multiple converters? I am curious because I have never had the chance to use a Canon 300/f2.8L IS lens. It is beyond my budget at present! :-) Thanks!

-- Muhammad Chishty (applemac97@aol.com), March 07, 2002.

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