Leica M3 vs Leica M2 Review (YouTube) – Camera Specs Comparison

Leica M3 vs Leica M2 Review (YouTube) – Camera Specs Comparison (Pros&Cons)

As part of my YouTube Leica M film camera Mini Series here is a Leica M3 vs Leica M2 review. The video covers the main features of each camera and should help you decide which of these Leica film cameras may suit you best, depending on your own personal preferences.

Which is better? – Leica M3 vs M2

The answer depends on how you shoot, what focal length you prefer and what type of light you shoot with. It maybe that neither of these cameras will suit your needs. If that is the case my Leica M4-P vs Leica M6 video might be of interest (coming soon!). The M4-P and M6 cameras are more modern versions of the Leica M2 and M3 and so cater for some of the ‘limitations’ of the earlier cameras.

Existing Leica Reviews

If you prefer to read text and look at images than watch a video here are my existing Leica camera articles –

There is also my one big blog post that is the basis for these new YouTube videos –

Leica M2 vs M3 – Specs Sheet (Cheat Sheet!)

This cheat sheet I put together should hopefully tell you all you need to know when comparing the Leica M2 to the M3.

YouTube: Leica M3 vs Leica M2 Review

YouTube: Leica M2 / Leica M3 Film Loading + Unloading

YouTube: Best Leica Film Camera (Series Intro)

If you missed it –

More Leica related articles



You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE


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Hasselblad 500 vs Hasselblad SWC Review (YouTube)

Hasselblad 500 vs Hasselblad SWC Review (YouTube)

Hasselblad 500 vs Hasselblad SWC Review on YouTube to compare the two cameras. Short and simple video to accompany existing detailed reviews for the Hasselblad 501c and Hasselblad Super Wide camera (SWC/M)(Linked below).

Hasselblad Camera Reviews

MrLeica.Com YouTube Video

More Hasselblad Specific Blog Posts

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared (x11) +Leica Lens Guide!

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared (x11) + Leica Lens Guide! (Best 50mm Leica Lens)

Leica Camera Blog: Are you looking to buy the best 50mm Leica M mount lens but not sure what to get? Considering Zeiss vs Leica M lenses? Do you find names like Summilux and Summicron confusing? I was in the same position when I bought my Leica M9! In this 2 part article I try to help from my own purchasing process (UPDATE – NOW INCLUDES YOUTUBE VIDEO REVIEW!)

(1) Here I compare 11 different 50mm lenses I use on my Leica M cameras; facts, pros & cons, sample images to help you decide what is right for you.  Comparison includes:

  1. Zeiss 50mm Planar 50mm f/2 ZM
  2. Zeiss 50mm C Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 ZM + (vs Leica)
  3. Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (Lux 50)
  4. Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2 v5 (Cron 50)
  5. Leica 50mm Summarit f/1.5 (1950s)
  6. Leica 50mm Summarit-M f/2.5
  7. Leica 50mm f/2.8 Elmar (Collapsible)
  8. Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 DR (Dual Range)
  9. Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH
  10. Leica Noctilux f/1.0 50mm v2 (1981)
  11. Russian Jupiter 3 50f1.5 (Zeiss Sonnar Clone)

(2) In part 2 I provide a Leica Lens Guide to help you understand the Leica Lens Terminology.  I then compare similar Leica lenses to again help with the decision when you are stuck between 2 lenses to buy.  I provide example comparisons and a Best Leica Lens for you section.

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared
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PART 1: LEICA M 50MM LENSES COMPARED (x11)

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared

As a Leica photographer I have now collected quite a few 50mm Leica M mount lenses. I am always interested how one lens performs against another and until I can decide my favourites I am not selling any. I thought it might be useful to do a quick comparison of 8 50mm lenses, 7 of which I own and 1 I was able to use for a day to try (Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95). I explain my thoughts, pros and cons of each lens based on my own experience and taste and using the lens copies I own. My findings may differ from your own or from comprehensive technical reviews that have been performed for each. I have included a sample photo from each lens to give you a real example. There are specific reviews for each lens too under the Leica tab at the top of the site homepage.

Camera Porn!

50mm Lenses – Pros and Cons of Each:

1. Zeiss 50mm Planar 50mm f/2 ZM:

Pros – Very sharp and contrasty. Focuses at 0.9m
Cons – Too sharp for some subjects! No built in hood.
Thoughts – Apparent clinical sharpness/ high contrast and unflattered for anything other than baby like skin


• Example Photo using a Digital Leica M9

Leica M9 - B&W Film Look
2. Zeiss 50mm C Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 ZM:

Pros – Sharp in the centre and contrasty at f1.4. Nice rendering of OOF areas/ bokeh
Cons – Closest focus 1m. No built in hood.
Thoughts – Good apparent sharpness (high contrast) shot wide open with nice rendering. Fine for most portraits.
• Example Photo, Digital Leica M9

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50/1.5 Portrait
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3. Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (Lux 50):

Pros – Edge to edge clinical sharpness at f1.4. Focus at 0.7m. Built in hood.
Cons – Bigger than the Cron and ZM lenses. Modern look.
Thoughts – Sharpest 50 but lower contrast vs Zeiss. Best 50mm up close.


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M9

Leica Engagement Photography
  • Example Photo 2, Leica M3 film camera
Leica M3 Film Portrait
4. Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2 v5 (Cron 50):

Pros – 39mm filter thread and built in hood. Focus at 0.7m. It does nothing badly
Cons – It has no one character to lift it above other 50s.
Thoughts – Great all rounder. It does nothing particularly well (vs. other 50s that each have a strong point) yet does nothing badly either. My least used 50 (excluding Jupiter 3 – has some focus shift to account for so not used much)


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M9

Leica Summicron 50
5. Leica 50mm Summarit f/1.5 (1950s):

Pros – Vintage look from the camera giving photos with that Leica glow. Cheap
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Soft, low contrast and prone to flare
Thoughts – Creates beautiful glowing portraits if used to its ‘strengths’ (Cons).


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M9

Street Portrait
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6. Leica 50mm Summarit-M f/2.5:

Pros – Smaller than Cron & Zeiss lenses, Sharp modern look, 0.8 focus
Cons – No built in hood, slower than Cron, Lux and Zeiss lenses
Thoughts – Small and sharp. Great lens to use on Leica film cameras


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M240

Leica Shoot Out

• Example Photo 2, Leica M3 film camera

Leica M3 Film Camera
7. Leica 50mm f/2.8 Elmar (Collapsible)

Pros – My smallest M lens  (when mounted) + can use SOMKY-M
Pros 2 – *Works with SOOKY-M (SOMKY) close focus goggles
Cons – Flares easily, softer wide open, no hood, 1m close-focus*
Thoughts – Small and sharp stopped down, good for digital Leica


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M8

Leica Elmar 50mm

• Example Photo 2, Digital Leica M240

Leica SOOKY-M adapter
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8. Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 DR (Dual Range)

Pros – Sharp lens wide open, can use with SOOKY-M
Pros 2 – *Works with SOOKY-M close focus goggles
Cons – Heavy, can flare, no hood, 1m close-focus*
Thoughts – If nail focus it gives great results up close at f2


• Example Photo, Leica M3 film camera

Summer Love

• Example Photo 2, Leica M3 film camera

Leica M3 Selfie

Example Photo 3, Leica M6 film camera

Leica Summicron 50mm DR
9. Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH:

Pros – Edge to edge clinical sharpness at f0.95. Good subject background separation
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Very expensive. Heavy. 60mm filter thread. Modern look
Thoughts – very similar to Lux ASPH 50 in all respects but cannot focus at 0.7m.


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M9

Leica Noctilux f0.95
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10. Leica Noctilux f/1.0 50mm v2 (1981):

Pros – Unique look images created – can resemble medium format/ large format film
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Expensive. Heavy. 60mm filter thread, Soft, Low contrast
Thoughts – Softer and lower contrast than all lenses list except Summarit 50f1.5. Nicest bokeh and rendering IMO.


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M9

Leica vs Mamiya RZ!

• Example Photo, Digital Leica M240

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 Portrait

• Example Photo 3, Leica M4P film camera

Kodak Vision3 200T
11. Russian Jupiter 3 50f1.5 (Zeiss Sonnar Clone):

Pros – Cheapest and great value for money. Contrasty giving apparent sharpness
Cons – Closest focus 1m, soft focus and prone to some flare
Thoughts – Similar to Leica Summarit in all respects but more contrasty


• Example Photo, Digital Leica M9

M9 + Jupiter 3

Conclusion

What is the best Leica 50mm lens?

It depends on personal taste and the task but for me –

Summilux ASPH: close up portraits wide open (most used any lens/50mm)
Noctilux 50 f1.0: to create ‘better’ than reality photos & less digital look
Summarit f1.5: for a more vintage look – use flare for effect
Summarit f2.5: for a small sharp lens (especially on film Leica cameras)
Summicron DR: for super closeup headshots (with close up adapter)
ZM Sonnar: for sharp environmental portraits (*sold it and regret it)
ZM Planar: for the sharpest possible image (*I later sold this lens)

Leica M240 Noctilux Portrait
One camera one lens – which 50mm would I use?

• Noctilux 50 f1 – It unique look wide open yet sharp when stopped down

52mm Lens

I didn’t include the 52mm Industar 26m f2.8 lens here as it is not strictly 50mm! (link below)

Findings

I hope you found it useful even if you do not agree with some of my findings. (I know the Leica Cron 50 is a very popular lens).

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PART 2 – A GUIDE TO LEICA LENSES!

A: LEICA LENSES TERMINOLOGY

All Leica lenses are commonly broken down into different named groups depending on the widest/ fastest aperture of the lens.  This is true whether a Leica 50mm lens, 35mm lens or other focal length.  Here are some of the more common Leica lenses, new and old.

*Please note this is not a complete list and is just a guide

  • Noctilux = f0.95-f1.25 lenses (“Nocti”) – 50mm / 75mm
  • Summilux = f1.4 lenses (“Lux”) – 50mm / 35mm / 21mm
  • Summicron = f2 lenses (“Cron”) – 28mm /35mm /40mm /50mm /90mm
  • Summarit = f2.4-f2.5 lenses (Ignoring the vintage 50mm f1.5 Summarit!)
  • Elmarit = f2.8 lenses (28mm / 50mm / 90mm)
  • Elmar = f4 lenses (Commonly 90mm / 135mm Ignoring the 50mm f2.8!)
  • Summaron = f5.6 lenses (Ignoring the vintage 35mm f3.5 Summaron!)
Leica Summilux ASPH Bokeh

B: WHAT IS THE BEST LEICA LENS? (FOR YOU)

When looking to buy a new Leica lens (brand new or used) there are a few factors that you might consider –

Leica Lens Wish List
  1. Chose your lens focal lens? – ie. 50mm
  2. Do you need a small lens? (perhaps for travel)
  3. Do you need a fast lens? (ie. wide aperture of f1.4-f2)(low light or portraits)
  4. What is your budget? (used lenses are cheaper than new!)
Examples Scenarios When Buying a Leica Lens

Once you have answers question 1-4 on the Leica lens wish list above you may have one of the following decisions to make.  You may be stuck in deciding between 2 Leica lenses but you are not sure which lens to buy.  Assuming you are comparing the same focal length lenses, ie. 2x 50mm lenses, here are 3 simple examples that might help you decide.  (There are many possible combinations so I selected just 3 examples that might be realistic).

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B1. Summilux vs Summicron (f1.4 vs f2)

1.1 – 4 Reasons to Buy a Summilux rather than a Summicron
  1. Aperture f1.4 vs f2 gives 1 stop more light for low light photography
  2. An f stop of f1.4 gives better bokeh than f2
  3. A Summilux lens will give better background separation than a Summicron
  4. For portraits the Summilux lens will give more pleasing photos (soft focus skin and nice transition from sharp in focus to soft out of focus areas)
1.2 – 3 Reasons to Buy a Summicron rather than a Summilux
  1. Summicron f2 lenses are smaller than a Summilux f1.4 lens as they contain less glass elements
  2. Summicron lenses are therefore also lighter than a Summilux lens
  3. Perhaps the deal breaker for many photographers – the Summicron costs less than a Summilux (Great if you don’t need the extra 1 stop of light)(f1.4 vs f2)
Leica M4P + Flash

B2. Summicron vs Summarit (f2 vs f2.4-2.5)

2.1 – 4 Reasons to Buy a Summicron rather than a Summarit
  1. Aperture f2 vs f2.4-2.5 gives slightly more light for low light photography (marginal gains)
  2. An f stop of f2 gives slightly better bokeh than f2.4-f2.5 (slight)
  3. A Summicron lens  will give better background separation than a Summarit (there is not a huge difference)(I use both lenses)
  4. For portraits the Summicron will give more pleasing photos than a Summarit (but there is not a huge difference)(I use both lenses)
2.2 – 3 Reasons to Buy a Summait rather than a Summicron
  1. Summarit f2.4-f2.5 lenses are smaller than a Summicron f2
  2. Summarit lenses are therefore also lighter than a Summicron lens
  3. Perhaps the deal breaker for many photographers – the Summarit costs less than a Summicron and is often seen as the budget Leica lens lineup.
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B3. Summicron vs Elmarit (f2 vs f2.8)

3.1 – 4 Reasons to Buy a Summicron rather than a Elmarit
  1. Aperture f2 vs f2.8 gives 1 stop more light for low light photography
  2. An f stop of f2 gives better bokeh than f2.8
  3. A Summicron will give better background separation than an Elmarit
  4. For portraits the Summicron lens will give more pleasing pictures. (Most 50mm portrait lenses are f1.4-f2).  For longer lenses such as a 90mm or 135mm an f2.8 or f4 lens can still produce nice portraits as the longer focal length accentuates the background separation, compression and bokeh.
3.2 – 3 Reasons to Buy a Elmarit rather than a Summicron
  1. Elmarit f2.8 lenses are smaller than a Summicron f2 lens
  2. Elmarit lenses are therefore also lighter than a Summicron lens
  3. Perhaps the deal breaker for many photographers – the Elmarit costs less than a Summicron
Portrait Lighting

YouTube Video for this Leica 50mm Review

Summary

There is no fixed rule that says you can’t use a f2.8-f4 lens for portraits (I use any lens for portraits).  It is just a over simplified guide.  Ideally for portraits I would use my 50mm f1.4 Summilux lens not my 50mm f2.8 lens but I will use my 90mm f4 lens and 135mm f4 lens for portraits.

If you are new to Leica I hope this was of some use to you.  If you are a Leica nut please excuse this simple guide.  I tried to find a happy medium to provide some value to the majority of readers.

Happy Shooting.. with whatever lens you chose! Matt

More Leica Camera Blog Posts
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • My portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • My portrait photography equipment kit – HERE

Leica Lightroom Presets – DOWNLOADS!

Lumix GH5 vs Leica CL Photoshoot & BTS Video

Lumix GH5 vs Leica CL Photoshoot & BTS Video

After buying a Panasonic Lumix GH5 digital camera for YouTube vlogging (see Lumix GH5 Vlogging Camera) I thought I would try the GH5 for photos too. Below are a series of comparison photos using the new Lumix GH5 vs Leica CL during a photo shoot with Harriett. (See the BTS YouTube video linked below to see how I made the images).

Lumix GH5 Video

Unplanned non-scientific comparison test

My photoshoot with Harriett had been planned long before I bought the Lumix GH5 camera. I was keen to try out the new camera for some Lumix GH5 portraits and also to see how it compared to the Leica CL. The Leica CL is my current most used digital camera which I now use more than my Leica M240.

Crop sensor digital cameras

Both the Leica CL and Lumix GH5 are crop sensor digital cameras. The Leica CL has a 1.5x crop APS-C sensor. The Lumix GH5 has the micro four thirds 2x crop sensor. This makes it quite difficult to do an exact comparison at a specific focal length. What I mean by this is a 50mm lens on the Leica CL equates to 50mm x1.5 = 75mm. A 50mm lens on the Lumix GH5 equals 50mm x2 = 100mm.

Enjoyable photoshoot not a lab experiment

As the photoshoot had my usual goal of have fun and make the best possible photos I didn’t restrict myself with specifics. By this I mean if it was a true camera test of say photographing a test chart I would have the camera on the tripod, use one lens, take a photo, switch to second camera on same tripod, same lens, take photo. When I use multiple cameras during a photo session I use them side by side with different lenses in different positions and angles.

So what’s the point?

So what a pointless comparison test you say. Well to me the test is regardless of the lens used, the angle or the lighting. If I like the final photos then the new camera passed the test. If I struggle to tell the difference between the Leica CL images and the Lumix GH5 photos in this scenario then again the GH5 camera passed.

The Lumix GH5 did pass!

I edited the batches of RAW file images from both cameras independently in Adobe Lightroom. Why separately? I needed to develop a new Lumix GH5 Lightroom preset first to apply a look I desired to the GH5 images. For the Leica CL I already have Leic Lightroom Presets that I could apply to these photos.

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Panasonic Lumix GH5 Portrait

Lumix GH5 can match the more expensive Leica CL

While editing the photos I struggled to tell which pictures were from what camera. This is a great sign for the Lumix as potentially you may expect ‘better’ results from a more expensive Leica camera.

In the past I tried a Lumix G3 camera (and a Lumix G1) and although it was fun for a while the photos we drastically different to those from a digital Leica camera. At the time I was using a Leica M9 as my main camera. Some digital cameras produce very digital looking images to my eyes. As a film photographer I probably dislike this aspect of an image more than most hence I stick with cameras I know I like. The older Lumix G3 created more digital looking images but the Lumix GH5 less so which is good for me.

Leica M mount lens fair test

To come clean, I was not comparing the Lumix GH5 camera with a £100 Lumix kit lens against a Leica CL camera with a £1000+ lens. That wouldn’t really be fair. As such I used both cameras as I would normally shoot them and mounted Leica M mount lenses to both the GH5 and CL (via the respective adapters).

Fast prime lenses for crop sensor cameras

To get the best from these crop sensor digital cameras I was using fast prime lenses. I rotated the lenses I was using between the two cameras. As the Lumix GH5 has a 2x crop sensor I used the wider Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens on that camera body the most. For the Leica CL I used the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens (and a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens ). (I also had a Leica M6 out to get some film photos so if the Summilux 50mm ASPH was on that then the Summicron was on the CL).

Lenses shot wide open

All photos were taken with the lenses shot wide open at their widest aperture, either f1.2, f1.4 or f2. The more expensive Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH is sharper wide open from my experience of using it on different Leica cameras, film and digital. The Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 is a good lens too and noticeably sharper than it’s smaller cheaper siblings, the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens and Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens.

Lumix GH5 + Voigtlander 35mm f1.2

Shallow depth of field portrait lenses

I chose to use fast prime lenses on the crop sensor Lumix GH5 and Leica CL to help create the shallow depth of field. It is a constant debate online about bigger sensors are best and bigger sensors give a greater shallow depth of field. For me if i’m working at the same distance from a model with full frame cameras and crop sensor cameras (and medium format film/ large format film) and the same focal length lenses (often 50mm) I chose the wide aperture lenses over slower lenses for portraits.

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Distance from subject does matter

Leica M mount lenses limitations

One disadvantage of using Leica Lenses on a micro four thirds camera is the focus ring on most Leica lenses only goes as close as 0.7m and older lenses at 1m. The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens is not an ideal lens on the Lumix GH5 as it has a 1m minimum focus distance. The Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH will focus to 0.7m so a little better. The perhaps over overlooked fact about the Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 lens is it will focus to 0.5m. This is a game changer on the Leica CL and now the Lumix GH5. Getting close with a f1.2 lens gives nice shallow depth portraits which I like.

Nikon mount lenses or M42 mount lenses

Unlike the Leica mount lenses, with Nikon Mount lenses you can often focus as close as 0.3-0.5m on some lenses. This is the same for M42 mount lenses. For this reason if you plan to do close up photography it is worth considering what lens brand is best for the job.

It is still early days for me testing my Lumix GH5 so I have not used the camera with other brand lenses yet (via micro four third lens adapters). I will share results of this in the future.

Lumix GH5 vs Leica CL – First impressions?

When comparing the Lumix GH5 vs Leica CL during this photo shoot I was pleasantly impressed at the photos from the GH5. I will certainly do more model shoots with the Panasonic Lumix and share the results. The GH5 wont replace the simplicity and quality of a Leica camera but it’s good to know that I will be happy to use the Lumix GH5 for both video and photos.

Lumix GH5 portraits

Here are a selection of Lumix GH5 portraits from the photo shoot. All photos are Lightroom batch edited images with a Lumix LR preset applied –

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Leica CL portraits (as a comparison to GH5)

To give something to compare to here are a series of similar photos shot during the same photoshoot with the Leica CL camera. All photos are Lightroom batch edited images with a Leica preset applied –

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YouTube BTS Video – Lumix GH5 vs Leica CL

Lumix-Leica camera related posts

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • My portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • My portrait photography equipment kit – HERE