Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Enjoying Photography and Notes on Lenses with Leica M9 and Sony A7S

So I have been enjoying photography of late [appreciate a follow on instagram LINK #followforfollow ] and it's a better outlet for me personally as i don't spend so much $$$ [all my photography gear for less than a used AP for eg] and I get to create something, which is great. i enjoy the process of getting the image and am happy when others like them too of course :)

I did also want to share my (wholly non-professional super non-technical) view on some Leica M mount and other lenses through use of them (either owned or rented for sufficient time to do versus tests) on the Leica M9, M6 film and Sony A7S. Do note that for the Sonys, these lenses will perform differently for the different A7 types so my comments are purely for the A7S. 

No test charts but many weird and boring un-postable shots taken from certain perspectives in my room and also of my wife watching the telly, helped in drawing the below findings i have made along the way. Most of them tie with what other reviewers have noted of these lenses and this post serves as a reference for me to hopefully help me not to stray and get more gear I don't need. My M9 lens settings also noted down in case i forget or ever have to reset them. 

'Princess kept the view' 
shot with Leica M9 and Voigtlander 21mm f1.8 ultron


Opinions of these lenses will be only relevant for Sony A7S and Leica M9 / M6. how i've coded the non-Leica lenses is noted below in purple as well. 

Leica Summicron 35mm f2.0 ASPH (ASPH = aspherical) 
[Prices i have seen it range from S$2.3-2.5k]
  • This may be the perfect lens for many on the Leicas. Sharp, contrasty, good (not great) bokeh to my eyes but that is totally acceptable for f2. wonderful on film and digital leicas and on Sony A7S for the typical modern lens look.
  • Has very good 3d pop in my opinion 
  • Price: New in Singapore it's over $4k for the latest version of it. Second hand you can get earlier ASPH incarnations from about $2.3-2.5k or more depending on condition.  


Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2.0 [most people say to code it as the non-asph summicron but i find that putting it as the asph is better so 11879/11882 for me, just my opinion[Prices i have seen it range from S$800-1k]
  • So so performance on the Sony A7S due to it's unique Biogon design and the fact that the rear end of it extends a fair bit into body. 
  • I have now owned this twice as although not stellar on the A7S, it is a very good performer on the Leica bodies and i have it on my M9 a lot of the time. 
  • Excellent in my opinion on the M9 and M6 which means it would do well on rangefinder bodies. No focus shift issues and sharp enough wide open for me in real world shooting

focus was on the eye and uhm not the booty of course ;)

street portrait shot as i was walking... i like this shot alot

Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH:
  • if you need faster than f2.0 of the summicron, have the cash and are happy with the weight and size of it, then just go for it. it is probably the best there is for a fast rangefinder 35mm. from f1.4 it's good but it gets better when stopped down of course.  


Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 v1 (or v2) [Prices i have seen it range from S$650-750]: 
  • Fastest 35mm rf lens out there and while their 50mm f1.1 is not a recommended fast lens, this is actually pretty decent on the mirrorless body. the sad thing is that it is a bit soft on the Leica M9. seems to be alright on the M6 from probably f1.8 on. 
  • has great separation for a 35mm which isn't common and can't be achieved by most others because of the speed and has good 3d pop on the sony
  • for v1, it's soft wide open and has a bit of vignetting going on but nothing that can't be fixed up easily. (v1 vs v2, i read that v2 is slightly sharper and contrastier and that may be true but i wouldn't know as i have not used it before. what is a fact though is that the v2 is a smidgen lighter)
  • heavy and fair bit of rangefinder (RF) blockage which is why some have two 35mms, one faster (eg this or summilux) and one slower (Leica summaron, summarit, voigtlander f2.5 or Zeiss Biogon C 35/2.8)
Leica Summarit 35mm f2.5 [Prices i have seen it range from S$1k-1.3k]
  • A great lens but f2.5 is sometimes not good enough. Not built as well as it's more pricey brethen with sad rubber bits (assessing it from the ones i have owned before, both the 35mm and the 75mm) 
  • About half the price (or less) of the summicron in the used market but a very decent performer IF you can live with f2.5. 
  • Note many many many folks out there say the Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 is a very capable performer too so if you don't want to shell out for this, try the Voigtlander to see if it meets your needs. [i personally have not tried it as i decided f2.5 is just not fast enough]
Zeiss Planar 50mm f2.0 [coded for me as 50 f/2 11819/11825 etc] [Prices i have seen it range from S$600-800]
  • Wonderful sharp, contrasty lens, with nice 3d pop. It renders in a modern, coldish way  which means it always has a place on one of my camera bodies. Sure an old Summicron may not be a lot more $ but it may suffer issues that older lenses might have (cleaning marks, haze, aperture blade issues etc etc). 
  • Can be shot wide open all day long. sharp from f2.0
  • Newer Summicrons probably cost two to four times more depending on how much u can get these in the market for (depending on age, condition etc) and this Zeiss I think can hold it's own against them which is very cool.
great on the M6 too as the next 2 pix show


Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH: 
  • Much like the 35mm summilux asph, a very capable performer. A money no object lens as I would take this over the noctilux. 
Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95: 
  • What an amazing lens! it can see in the dark :) and it's an art type lens because of what it can do with it's razor thin depth of field. 
  • And to the negatives... it's sooooo big and heavy and makes your camera point down all the time and makes your neck hurt after long usage. i wouldn't want to leave the house with it most times coz of weight of it. 
  • it's razor thin dof makes it hard to hit critical focus for what you want sharp in a picture for rangefinder focusing at f0.95. focus and recompose won't help that too... hmm.
  • for me, it's a rangefinder lens that you can only squeeze max performance out of by using an EVF and magnification to focus [eg Leica SL / Sony A7Rii / A7S (i or ii)]
Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 Nokton [Prices i have seen it range from S$700-850]
  • Very decent performer wide open. i hated the focusing ring with the bulgy bits. 
  • when not shot wide open, not too nice sharp edged bokeh balls. 
Zeiss 50mm Sonnar f1.5 [Prices i have seen it range from S$900-1.1k]:
  • a lens with quirks. it was made in an earlier time when coatings weren't what they are now and has some curvature thing going on (other more technical mumbo jumbo which i can't speak to), what it means is can be sharp in the centre and smooth bokehliciousness for the rest of it. 
  • it has focus shift so the calibration of it matters. you will have to move backward and forwards  to hit focus at f stops and distances it is not in most focus for.
  • it has a signature rendering which folks might want so it's a whether you want that look. I do at times which is why I am looking for one that is sharp at f1.5 now 
Canon 50mm f1.4 (Japan Summilux... Not):
  • Doesn't perform anywhere near the Leica of course and nicknamed as such because it has the same focal length and aperture speed. 
  • as it's an old lens, will be hard to find one in good condition without haze or other old lens' issues. 
Now the 35 and 50 are the common focal lengths that most people will need and spend most of the time shooting. but folks will invariably want to use other focal lengths below and above this. for that i think a lot depends on how much you might want to shell out for a lens you might not use a lot of. 

Some folks with loadsamoney will just buy the best, which are the Leica's but for me, knowing i won't use these focal lengths a lot, i have the following voigtlanders which are capable lenses to me BUT their build quality is not so hot. 

to note, cosina makes both voigtlanders and zeiss lenses and they know how to make lenses.. yuh you know that uber expensive top of the line zeiss lenses? it is made by them in Japan. so it really comes down to the lens you want to shell out from them. [Per Zeiss: Though no longer physically manufactured in Germany, the current offerings from Zeiss are manufactured in Japan under the supervision of Zeiss technicians whose job it is maintain a century old reputation of building the finest optics.]

15mm f4.5 nokton 
[Prices i have seen it range from S$400-500]
A fun lens to create super wide shots. Only major negative is that it works horribly with the M9 (vignetting and weird color casts, magenta cyan corners) so this will only get used on the sony a7s body. oh but it does perform on the A7s!



21mm f1.8 ultron [coded for me as 21 f/2.8 11134] [Prices i have seen it range from S$800-900]
This is a great great 21mm lens for me. Sharp and minimal distortion which is amazing for a 21mm. if you need a 21mm on a leica digital body and can accept non-Leica glass, this is a wonderful wide angle that is pretty fast. Can be had for a good price compared to other m mount wides and is a bit on the big and heavier side but it's f1.8 man and it's called ultron (cool innit?) 



75mm f1.8 heliar classic [coded for me as 75 f/1.4 11814 etc] [Prices i have seen it range from S$500-750]
So some say it's softer due to the classic reference and it may lack the contrast and bite of modern look lenses... and they are right. it is just about just about sharp enough for me at f2 and i did not find it too lacking for contrast so am happy with it. bokeh is decent for me.  

Leica 75mm f2.5 summarit [Prices i have seen it range from S$1k-1.3k]
a good 75mm lens but f2.5... faster would be better but faster for Leica would cost a lot, lot more. 

for longer than 75mm and more bokeh-liciousness, i will go with 85mm f1.4 samyang [Prices i have seen it range from S$250-350]. cheap and good and the only negatives are size and weight. easier to manual focus with sony evf than a 90mm on rangefinder and i did some comparos with the sony g-master 85mm and uhm, well the differences aren't anywhere near 6-8 times and more like 10-20% better on the outer bits ands some other aspects and a smidgen more contrast and sharpness. oh and one autofocuses too which is of use. 

85mm g-master


85mm samyang


and that's all for now. i hope there was something useful here for others using M lenses on Leicas and the Sony A7S. cheers, raph

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...