Leica M Cameras – All I Need

Leica M Cameras  – All I Need…?

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2017

Camera Porn!

Keeping it Interesting

After returning from my Budapest model photography trip earlier this week I have been trying to think what other cameras I can take on my next overseas photo shoot to try to produce more interesting or different looking images to my recent photos.  I often shoot with a 35mm lens on my Leica M cameras whether the digital Leica M 240 or the Leica M film cameras.  (I write ‘Leica M’ camera / lenses as the Leica R camera is an SLR camera system rather than a rangefinder camera so different ‘rules’ apply).

Alternative Film Cameras

I often complain that I can’t focus as close as I would like to for my model portrait photos so I was thinking of cameras that can get nearer than the 0.7m Leica rangefinder standard minimal focal distance.  Other ways to create different photos to my usual view of the world might be to use a very shallow depth of field or perhaps use a longer lenses to get more compression in the photographs.  (I have done all of these things before but less and less over the last 12-18 months).

I still love my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera and in my mind it has captured some of my high quality film photos but it currently needs a little TLC so I don’t really want to take it overseas until it’s repaired. I then have various other very good cameras in their own right such as the Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 6, Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645, Hasselblad Xpan, Nikon F4, Mamiya 645 but when doing a quick comparison they all have some drawback vs. the Leica M camera system.  I then tried to think what each of these cameras offer compared to a Leica M camera setup and other than the film format (film size; 35mm vs. 645 vs. 6×6 vs. 6×7) the differences were minimal (in simplified terms*).

Different Lens Characteristics

I made a list of lens characteristics I see as positives from a camera/lens combination for my model photography and taste and then listed some potential Leica M mount lenses I use for each characteristic (non-scientific and my opinion only*)(I just listed the most obvious choice to me but many lenses could fit many lists*).  I use these lenses on any of my Leica M film camera such as a Leica M2, M3, M4-P, M6 etc.  (I state ‘film cameras’ as I want to compare Leica film to non-Leica film.  I am not too interested in digital photography but as I use a Leica M 240 digital camera the same list applies to my digital work).

Leica M Mount Lenses

  • Shallow depth of field

  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Leica M9 + Noctilux f1

  • Wide angle lens

  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica Street Portrait

 

Close focus ability (for tight headshots)(visually not in mm*)

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M (close focus goggles)
  • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR (Dual Range) + close focus goggles
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Summer Love

  • Sharpest image quality

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Portrait Photography Workshop, London

  • Crisp contrasty modern look

  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Summilux ASPH 50

  • Soft glow vintage look

  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica M8 B&W Portrait

  • Small compact lens size

  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5

Leica Fashion

  • Fast lens with wide aperture for low light

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Noctilux - After Dark

  • Unique lens characteristics

  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Street Portrait

  • Compressed image style

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • Low cost lens (In Leica M mount terms)

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Industar 26M 52mm f2.8
  • Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica M9 + Industar 26M 52mm f2.8

  •  Highest resolution images – Fine grain film stock

  • Ilford Pan F5o
  • Ilford Delta 100
  • Kodak Vision3 50D / Cinestill 50D

Leica M6 + Ilford Pan F 50

Image Resolution

For film cameras the equivalent of a high mega pixel digital sensor is fine grain films which play a huge part in the final look of a film photo no matter what lens is used.  As an example here is a half frame film scan from a Olympus Pen-F SLR camera.  Half frame means half the size of a normal 35mm Leica film negative.

Olympus Pen-F Fashion

As these photos are half the resolution of a Leica M camera photo (in terms of film negative size scanned) then with fine grain film and a sharp lens there is great potential to capture very detailed film photos without the need of a medium format camera.

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1954 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

1954 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 – Example images & follow up review
(Link to original review below)

1954 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

I have owned the Leica Summarit lens a few weeks now and have been using it for everything from Leica fashion beauty, portraiture, engagement shoots, landscapes, flowers and as a walk around lens. Here is a photo of my vintage silver Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 on my vintage 1958 Leica M2 35mm film camera (taken with a Leica Summicron 90mm f2 on my Leica M9).

Camera Porn!

Example images using my 1954 Summarit 50/1.5 on my Leica M9
Street Portrait
Stop!
Retro Leica
London Fashion
Leica Summarit 50mm
Leica Engagement Shoot
Leica Engagement Shoot
Leica Summarit
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Leica Summarit Bokeh
Leica Summarit 50/1.5
Vintage look landscape

How does the Leica Summarit compare to my other 50mm lenses?

I have 6+ 50mm lenses including Leica Summilux ASPH, Leica Summicron v5, Zeiss ZM Sonar and Zeiss ZM Planar. Despite owning all these ‘pedigree’ lenses I am finding myself chosing the vintage Leica Summarit first. Why? The Summarit has an amazing glow shot wide open at f1.5. It is sharp enough for female portraiture and I like the flare for my style of photography. The bokeh is like no other lens I own and together these traits give a photo a very unique and vintage look straight from the camera that I love.

Why does this lens have so many bad reviews?
This lens is prone to flare (as mentioned) due to the old lens coating applied when manufactured in the 1950s. The coating was soft so on many copies of this lens it is damaged. I was very lucky to buy my lens with the original Leica UV filter meaning the lens optics are in near mint condition. The lens is also known to suffer from focus shift and to be optimised at f2.8 rather than at f1.5. I have not noticed any problems shooting at f1.5 so I guess I got lucky here also. Lastly, older lenses can be prone to fogging but again my lens optics are clear so I have not experienced this problem.

One of my favourite lenses on my Nikon D800 is the 1970s manual focus Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s. This lens also has an amazing glow shot wide open at f1.2 yet is easily sharp enough for portraiture.

I am very happy to have discovered this amazing old lens and I loved the vintage Leica look so much that I then bought a 1951 Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5. Full review on the Summaron to follow.

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer

Related Posts
1954 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5https://matthewosbornephotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/leica-summarit-50mm-f1-5/
Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5https://matthewosbornephotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/leica-summaron-35mm-f3-5/