Telyt 400-6.8 : first experience : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

When in january I bought my first long tele, a Telyt 400 : 6.8 to use on my Leicaflex SL2 I said I would comment on the lens and its use.

The lens I would rate as mint. It is an early number 23799xx (this dates it to 1969), with the series 7 filter slot, and there are some slight marks only where the shoulder stock is normally fitted (no scratch just the silver showing under the black chrome at the sharp edges). The lens surface is completely clear, unscratched, and well cemented. I found the lens without the shoulder stock, but with both caps. Most litterature, including Lager, says the lens was available only starting 1970. So it must be an early example.

I have now run one film through it, a Kodak Royal 400. I went to lake Geneva on a cloudy winter day with the lens, to try to catch some ducks, swans, herons and seagulls.

The good news : all 25 photos were correctly exposed. The use of the selective metering of the SL2 makes this easy, even when you are exposing against sun lit water. Also, closing the diaphragm does not noticeably darken the visor (up to 11). The non automatic diaphragm is non important, as you mostly use 6.8 anyway.

Regarding sharpness, all the photos were sharp, that is there was no shake : I was careful to use high speeds, mostly 1/500, the lowest I used was 1/250, and I tried to support the lens. Doug Herr uses 1/60 : this for me would need a lot of training !

On focus, 4 frames were out of focus. The distance of the motive was between 4 meters and 50 meters. Depth of field is of course very small. Focusing is easy, but to get instinctive focusing, you must use the lens a lot.

And how many photos were interesting ? I would say 3 from that first roll. I would rate another 6 as passable, and the rest, well, it was just to get to know the lens. The low flying heron was perfect, I got him also in his start phase. The seagulls aligned on a rail showed me the curved field effect. The black water fowl taken from 5 meters away really filled the frame.

How about the handling ? With the lens fitted, the SL2 is heavy, but everything works as it should. However I would restrict the use of such a lens to very specific situations : animals at the zoo or at the lake, safari, and sports events. In any case, this is not anymore unobtrusive photography : your trip and your activity revolve around your camera.

So what is the conclusion ? This lens has opened for me another domain : the small animal photo. This could not be done with my longest lens up to now, the Elmar 180. It puts my SL2 body to good use (that body has seen low use since I got into the M-System). The lens is certainly worth much more than the 300 USD I paid for it. However it is a very specialized lens. In view of the limited photography I do I would not be willing to pay for the cost of the new Leica modular teles :no way!

Thank you to all who advised me on the purchase, especially Eliot Rosen, and of course Doug Herr !

-- Sebastien Simon (, March 11, 2002


The lens is certainly worth much more than the 300 USD I paid for it. However it is a very specialized lens. In view of the limited photography I do I would not be willing to pay for the cost of the new Leica modular teles :no way!

In view of it's very inexpensive cost and the potential for first- rate photos this lens is a great bargain and for those who are not sure if wildlife photos are what they want to do, it's a great lens for "testing the waters" and can be used to good effect by experienced wildlife photographers too.

-- Douglas Herr (, March 11, 2002.

I also recently purchased the same lens based on doug herr's advice. i have a trip coming up to montery california and i am going to put it through it's test. i have followed this forum for awhile and i know from previous posts, doug's advice is as respected as his photos.

if you get a chance pick up the shoulder stock. the lens handles very well with it.

-- greg mason (, March 11, 2002.

i have a trip coming up to montery california and i am going to put it through it's test.

Be sure to visit Asilomar Beach and if you get to Point Lobos, Weston Beach.

Heermann's Gull, Monterey, California
Leicaflex SL, 400mm f/6.8 Telyt

-- Douglas Herr (, March 11, 2002.

Great photos Douglas. That first one is incredible. It just shows you the capabilities of the 400/6.8 Telyt in the hands of an expert photographer.

-- Eliot (, March 11, 2002.


i live just outside san franscisco. between san francisco, carmel to the south, the sierras to the east, yosemite to the south east, and the north coast including mendocino to the north. i lack for nothing but time as far as photographic opportunities. i am currently gearing up for my next self assignment which is to get out my old leica glass and do some black and white of some of the old missions.

-- greg mason (, March 11, 2002.

Perhaps this is a stupid question, but would you even consider using the 6.8/400 with a Visoflex?

-- Mitch Alland/Paris (, March 12, 2002.

Mitch. Of course I would (and do) use a Visoflex (viso III) with various Leica viso teles. Basically, you have three options for Viso lenses: 1) use on Visflex with appropriate adapter, if needed; 2) use on Leica R with appropriate adapter; and 3) use on another SLR (eg., Canon T90) with one of the adapters offered by Stephen Gandy (see website).

The visoflex unit is cumbersome and somewhat bulky, definitely slower than an SLR since you have to meter and focus separately, but it works quite well. Although the camera/visoflex/lens combo can be handheld, this rig is best used on a sturdy tripod, because of its bulk. The visoflex also allows you to use the lensheads of older generation M or SM lenses, which unscrew for use with the appropriate Leitz adapter on visoflex, allowing ground glass focussing. These lenses include 90/4 Elmar, 90/2.8 Elmarit (older Wetzlar version), 90/2 Summicron (6-element), 135/4 Elmar, 135/4.5 Hektor, and 135/4.0 Tele-Elmar (except the most recent one).

That is not to mention the 65/3.5 Elmar, which is itself an outstanding quality macro lens. Also this plus the Telyt range, which extends from 200 mm to 560 mm can be used on a visoflex. It's not a bad deal if you can stand slower operation than with an SLR.

-- Mitch (, March 12, 2002.

Sorry. I just had a senior moment. The name should say "Eliot" not "Mitch"

-- Eliot (, March 12, 2002.

Hello Sebastian. As an alternative to the shoulder stock, I have used a monopod with 400mm. Telyt for good results. Regards.

-- Sheridan Zantis (, March 13, 2002.

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