Replacing Leica R with Nikon or Canon? : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

Just what to ask for an opinion regarding Nikon and Canon optics performance.

If you were to replace a Leica R ( not M ), would you go for Nikon or Canon lens? Which lens will have better match with Leica optics?

For Camera body I actually would not care less, they definitely more advance than Leica R.

-- Marc (, April 06, 2002


Both Canon and Nikon have their professional series lenses that I find to be quite good optically, but the AF lenses are not built to the high mechanical standard of the R series lenses are. The viewing through the finders is different in Canon & Nikon, and I am personally more comfortable with the current Nikon bodies finders. Be sure to handle the cameras in person before purchasing one mail order.

-- Andrew Schank (, April 06, 2002.

I find the Canon EF lenses somewhat cooler in color than the Nikkors. I like the Nikkor color rendition/balance better, but prefer the Canon EOS bodies. I don't find the Canon EF lenses objectionablely cool, just slightly cooler.

Not being intimately familiar with the current Nikon lens lineup... I'll comment on the Canon instead. The L series lenses are just great. My first experience with L series lenses was my 300/4.0 which appears to be as sharp as, contrasty as, and has the great color rendition of any 50mm normal lens. The 35/1.4L is also great. Keep in mind though, that some "non-L" lenses are also pretty good. The 100/2.0 is one example (as also is the 85/1.8). The 100/2.8 USM macro is also one of those "L optical quality" lenses that just happens to not be marked "L". I've used, and will probably end up getting the 28/1.8 EF, another non "L" lens that is a good performer.

Most of the Canon zooms leave a lot to be desired. I've used the 28-70/2.8L and its not too bad. The 70-200/2.8L is the other one that is acceptable. I've tried a few of the other less expensive zooms and was always disappointed by the flare and distortion (barrel/pincushion).

I'll 2nd that the Nikon/Canon lenses are not Leica R quality. The Canon L lenses seem to be a cut above, but some of the non-L lenses are ok too. Thats ok, not great. You'll have to do some serious looking at EACH lens you want to get, in order to judge which are made decently. Most of the older non RING USM Canon lenses are really cheaply made indeed. My 28/2.8 Canon literally came apart in my hands after about 2 years of only occasional use. The optics weren't too bad, but the lens is esentially snap together and/or glued plastic parts.

One last thing, the viewfinder of the EOS body lineup is fairly dark, I've not looked into the newest Nikon bodies, so again, you will have to judge there.

Having bashed the color balance, and viewfinders of the Canon bodies, I will say that the AF system on the Canon seems to be the better as compared to Nikon, and the overall body functions (yes I like "eye control" for my bird photos!) are nicer too.

Best of luck

-- Charles (, April 06, 2002.

If you are already in possession of an R system you might want to just get a Canon body for the functionality and keep using your R lenses with an adaptor

-- Gregory Goh (, April 07, 2002.

If I can do it all over again i would stick to digital EOS for SLR to use with zooms and teles, and the M6 for 21mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm (the last three all Summilux). I wouldn't mind having a few of those EOS IS zooms and teles espeically the new 70- 200L IS and the 300/2.8 IS MKII. I have a few essential R lenses right now but the R8 is a very nice cow but a cow nevertheless.

-- ray tai (, April 07, 2002.

I agree with you Ray. I would like to keep the M from wide angle to 75 or 90mm. The rest would be on Canon or Nikon.

Looks like a lot of Leica member prefer Canon glass to Nikon. IMHO the Canon glass has a closer German character than Nikon glass. Want to hear what you experts feel.

-- Marc (, April 07, 2002.

the reason why you should choose Nikon over Canon: Nikkor 85/1.4 AF-D

-- Dexter Legaspi (, April 07, 2002.

I think Dexter makes a very good point about the Nikon 85 f1.4. Unfortunately it is just one lens... Myself, I have recently sold all of my Nikon gear, and decided to make the jump to Canon because of their IS technology and availability. I think the Nikon bodies are more intuitive and easier to use than the EOS, but Canon has more to offer in terms of lenses. As Ray said, leave the 21 - 90 range for the M, and then maybe some overlap with a 28-135 IS, 70-200L IS or 100-400L IS, and macro lenses on an EOS. Now, which EOS to get?


-- Jack Flesher (, April 07, 2002.

If I was keeping an M system, I would go with EOS only for ease of manual focus (the rings rotate the same way). I used to shoot the M and R professionally, then M alongside EOS because of R reliability problems. Recently, due to breakdowns with M, I dumped everything and went with Nikon because of my excellent pre-Leica experience with N90s and 28/2.8D and 80-200/2.8D, and also because I missed the viewfinder visibility and clarity of the Nikons. I currently have three F100s with two 28/1.4D and one 85/1.4D. I used to have 24/1.4L, 35/1.4L and 85/1.2L. The 28/1.4D replaces the 24 and 35, with less distortion than the former combined with greater coverage than the latter, and the 85/1.4D is sharper with faster autofocus than the 85/1.2L.

I haven't noticed any consistent differences in color casts from one line to another and I don't buy the "German" vs "Japanese" character stuff. What's important to me is that my body functions reliably and my lens gives enough performance to withstand 20"x30" blowups off Sensia 100 or Reala. In those areas my F100 is promising and the 28/1.4D and 85/1.4D are simply excellent.

-- Anon Terry (, April 07, 2002.

I should qualify my comments a bit more. I don't need anything other then the four lenses forementioned. And I don't need an SLR at all, especially a very expensive R system that duplicates my M system. I am very happy with the 19mm, 50mm, and 100mm APO I bought new for my R8 and there is no way any Nikon or Canon glass can touch those. So I am of the opinion that who care what glass it is if it isn't Leica. However as a long time user of Nikons and a current very happy user of an F3T I would go with EOS without question because of Image Stabilization technology and how that may possibly allow me to explore longer focal lengths HANDHELD. If I like the tripod and prefer the travel with it then the issue is moot because I would have the R8. But for me I prefer to go handheld and while Canon glass may or may not be as good as some of the other brands I like the technology.

-- ray tai (, April 07, 2002.

I recently sold all my Nikon AF equipment for Canon for the following reasons:

1. Image Stabilization. To me this is the best invention to hit photography since TTL metering. Nikon is way behind the curve and from experience re: AF I'm not holding out for them to ever catch up.

2. Lens performance. I'm not one to put blind faith in the absolute numbers of the Photodo tests but for trends and comparison value I have found them to be very useful. Overall looking at the EOS and Nikon AF tests the Canon lenses are frequently ahead (although not by a huge margin). But be advised that the consumer-grade lenses in both brands are probably not going to satisfy a former Leica user. With Canon it's easier to tell them apart: the pro-level lenses have an "L". Nikon has added the "ED" designation to a couple of very lackluster consumer lenses so watch out.

3. AF. No, I'm not talking about the USM vs driveshaft debate. USM's are quieter but not necessarily faster, the silence just makes them seem so. I'm talking about AF sensor placement. The 45-point AF grid in the EOS3, 1V and 1D is vastly superior to the 5 sensor Nikon system. Yes, I know there have been reports of the F5 still having the fastest AF. I owned a couple F5's and an F100. If the AF acquisition was a few milliseconds faster than the EOS the advantage was drowned by having to place one of the 5 sensors on the subject and then recompose. My ideal AF system would have sensors covering the entire screen, but at least the 45-point EOS array is further in that direction. After using the 1V, a 1N is frustrating. My lament is that the D30/D60 do not have the 45-point system...for that you need to spend $5000 on a 1D and get less resolution.

4. Leica R compatibility. With R-EOS adaptors I could maintain my cache of Leica R fast primes, and concentrate my EOS purchases on the IS zooms and a long telephoto.

-- Jay (, April 07, 2002.

Before answering in detail, let me say I'll trade you Canons' latest for your R stuff ( depending on what you have to trade ). I have selections from both Canon and Nikon systems which I moved to from an R system for AF. I no longer have any Nikon film cameras, just D1-Xs which are based in an F-100. The Canon Digitals are behind Nikon IMO, so for fast digital work I had to stay with Nikon. The 28/1.4 ASPH, 85/1.4, 105 &135/2 DCs, and 300/2,8 prime Nikkors are built like tanks and provide spectacular color tending to the warmer side. I suspect it's due to the coatings. The Canon lenses tend to the cooler and/or pastel side which I'm not fond of. So I use an EOS 1 V almost strictly for B&W AF work. Conversly, I do not like B&W from Nikon lenses. Canon optics to aspire to are the 24&35/1.4 Ls, 85/1.2, and 200/1.8 L. Canons' 14/2.8 is superior to Nikons' but so is the price. I don't care for the Canon lens construction which is plastic,. The Nikkors mentioned are all metal. In general the Canon equipment is heavier ( not to be confused with heavier duty). The Nikkors still provide an aperature ring which is a very important difference for me. Canon does not. Canon is ahead of Nikon in some electronic areas like flash control and slaving more than 1 flash. Only the newer 16-35/2.8 L and 70-200/2.8 L, IS should be considered for zooms ( the previous models were crappy). But they still are no mach for the Canon primes. The IS is worth every cent. AF speed depends on the lens being used. Nikon's AFS zooms are greasy quick, but non AFS lenses are just okay. Canons' 50/1.0 uses a USM, but is huge and therefore rusty slow in focusing. But for AF it's the only 2 ways to go. Yet when it comes to optics for both color and B&W from one lens, neither is the equal to selected R lenses.

-- Marc Williams (, April 07, 2002.

Interesting discussion. I'm just about to take the plunge into a SLR system since my M6 doesn't allow me to accomplish the realy tight head shots I want. Basically I'm going to let the lens line up make the decision rather than the bodies (since I'll not use half of the advanced featured on any modern SLR). I've tried the 85/1.4D nikkor lens, however, if I'm looking to do the shots I want, e.g. just the eyes and part of the face of a 5 months baby, which lens do I need to get? A 100 mm macro? Which of Nikon, Canon and Contax has the most suitable lens for what I want?


-- pat (, April 08, 2002.

Canon has an amazing 135mm f/2 USM lens.

-- Jay (, April 08, 2002.

Pat, Canon makes an excellent 100 mm 2.8 USM macro, which I use for headshots, tight or otherwise.

-- Preston Merchant (, April 08, 2002.

Why do you want to change - are you unhappy? I say this because unless you need a/f and "all singing and all dancing" bodies you might regret it from an optical point of view. As amazing as some Canon or other lenses may seem to be, you will have to buy them (and the amazing ones are not cheap) and then take a bath if you wish to sell them later on. Personally I doubt they are any better than Leica R in general, and I suspect they might even be not as good. So why do you want to change? Canon L lenses are not cheap by any means, so unless there is something you dislike compared to Leica R, why change?

-- Robin Smith (, April 08, 2002.

The above sounds like good old fashion commen sense to me,maybe you should take it onboard.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 08, 2002.

If I was to replace an R system, I'll choose Contax SLR although I don't have an R system. Both Canon and Nikon are good but the closest match will be Carl Zeiss's optics. Although the Zeiss's lenses are not German made and machnically may be a slight cut below Leica's, they are at least equal in terms of image qaulity. Also I think the Contax manual SLR's (especially the RSTIII) is even better designed than R8.

-- Fred Lee (, April 08, 2002.

Although the Zeiss's lenses are not German made and machnically may be a slight cut below Leica's, they are at least equal in terms of image qaulity.

If you like super contrast,in your face,poor tonal quality,this statement is true...the punters will love it,unless they look at a Leica photograph...oh dear just another J lense...all much the same.Why waste your money buy a Canon cheaper,get a zoom even cheaper still...Tam,Sig...pinhole.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 08, 2002.

Marc...dream happy.Love my dreams.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 08, 2002.

Yes my cheepo is just as good,so is a video image...keep dreaming.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 08, 2002.

For what you want to accomplish all you need is a reasonably reliable box (the body) and a couple of killer lenses. put the $ into the lenses. There ARE Contax lenses that will do the job, but they are the older German made manual 85/1.2 and 100/2. These cost more than Leica R lenses. So why not just stick with the 100 /2.8APO and 180/2.8 APO. If you want AF get a Nikon box and the 105/2 DC and 135/2 DC. The DC stands for Defocus Control, which provides a seperate ring to move DOF in front or back of the focused subject. These lenses are pro quality all metal optics with an aperature ring that the Canon equivilants do not provide.

-- Marc Williams (, April 10, 2002.

The Nikon bodies seem to be more durable, better constructed, more intuitive to use and, to me have a better feel. The lenses, { were talking primes}, are made far better than the plastic feeling Canon lenses. Nikon 105 or 135 DC compared to the Canon equal. NO CONTEST! The only lens that Nikon makes that falls short in build quality is the 50 1.4, so in that focal length I use the mf 50. IS is for those to lazy to use a monopod. Come on, how often are you going to take a handheld shot at 200mm @ 2.8 @ 1/15 with the mirror flapping around. M6's are far better handheld at such low speeds. Also, Canon does usually get a better MTF graph than Nikon, but, they also beat Leica quite a bit. DO YOU THINK CANON MAKES BETTER LENSES THAN LEICA???

-- Brian E. Harvey (, April 13, 2002.

Canon does usually get a better MTF graph than Nikon, but, they also beat Leica quite a bit.

You make this statement as a matter of fact.State your resource information.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 13, 2002.

Photodo. Check for yourself. Compare various lenses. According to Erwin Puts of 'The Leica Papers', a well designed lens will give a good MTF graph. But, a good MTF graph does not equal a good lens.

-- Brian E. Harvey (, April 13, 2002.

You make this statement as a matter of fact.State your resource information.

Still not giving a answer just making another general statement.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 13, 2002.

I did. That's it. If your blind maybe you should switch to Canon. Yes, it may be GENERAL INFORMATION, but it is indeed, information.

-- Brian E. Harvey (, April 13, 2002.

According to Erwin Puts of 'The Leica Papers', a well designed lens will give a good MTF graph. But, a good MTF graph does not equal a good lens.

You are trying to again imply that Leica lenses have poor MTF results.Stating that Erwin Putts says it does not matter.Again i ask you state your resource material.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 13, 2002.

Yes,your canon sureshot is just as good...look everybody.I am sure ,i am the only person on this Forum stupid enought to be involved in this thread.Sad or what.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 13, 2002.

Not at all. Just because Nikon and Canon have very good MTF graphs, everyone thinks that the lenses are just as good or better than Leica. If Leica glass were not superior, the millions of comparisons everyone does would not be done. Leica does make the finest 35 optics available. Any argument otherwise clearly indicates ignorance. Erwin Puts is God as far as I'm concerned. Anyone dumb enough to trade an R8 and said lenses for Canon clearly needs to kill themselves if they think they will not see a difference in image quality. It seems to me that you and I are far to stupid to be involved in this thread. But, I don't think you saw the sarcasm in my first post.

-- Brian E. Harvey (, April 13, 2002.

Not at all. Just because Nikon and Canon have very good MTF graphs

Only on their special lenses,their others are based on high contrast...which pleases the eye.Zeiss lenses take this to the extreme.

-- Allen Herbert (, April 13, 2002.

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