Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1992/04/09

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

To: leica-users (Leica List)
Subject: misc. optics
From: w <polari!bullis@uunet.UU.NET>
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 92 20:55:23 PDT
Cc: kimbro!larryb@uunet.UU.NET

>   I'll stand up for Canon rangefinder lenses as being among the best
> performers for the price in Leica screwmount.  The late, black lenses,
> such as 35/1.5, 50/1.4, 85/1.8, and 100/2.0 are particularly good, and
> will cost you about $200/piece in excellent condition.  The dirt-cheap
> 50/1.8's of all vintages seem to be very respectable as well.  There
> are also exotics like the 19/3.5, 50/0.95, and 85/1.5, but these seem
> to be climbing up to the $600 range.
>         -- Richard

Over the last 15 years or so, I have shot many jobs using the Canon 85mm
f/1.9 on a bayonet adapter in the M2 or M4 body.  It has been a wonderful
optic for general purposes, but especially I like it for night photography.
While it is heavy(!) it is a great lens for working on the run because it 
automatically allows the art director just a little more room.  I'm not 
doing much of that kind of work anymore; have sold the M2 and M4 but still
kept the Canon and the IIIf.  

For me, good does not necessarily mean sharp, although I must say that the 
50mm DR Summicron produced a number of images that nearly made a believer
of me.  Truly awesome.  I find optics which have interesting defects kind 
of exciting.  I mean, I just can't get much into test charts as an aes-
thetic.  I am much more interested in the expressive or macro-informational
qualities of the image itself, on the whole.  Sometimes, sure, the wonder-
ful textural features that Leitz lenses can render are an important part
of the image, but by themselves they are not enough for me.  I guess I think
photographs are made by photographers first, and cameras second.

So I tend to value the optic for what it enables me to DO.  The Summicron I
had, for example, had no infrared focusing mark.  I doubt that Leitz forgot
to put one on, so I just used it without shifting the focus, and never had
a problem; it seems to have been corrected for infrared.  Since I didn't 
need to look through the filter, I could use a very dark filter and shoot
infrared casually.  This is what I miss the most about the M leicas.

My Canon 50mm f/1.2 produces a kind of softness that can be quite magical.  
I guess it would depend on what you want.  Sometimes I would choose to use
it just for that feature.  I still have that, and the 3.5 Elmar.  

Another wonderful lens that I consider myself lucky to have is an 18.5mm
retrofocus Angenieux, in Leica screw mount, an f/2.2.  I believe it is ac-
tually a motion picture lens; I got it at Boeing Surplus (and 2 others just
like it) for $5 each.  Since I was having work done on my cameras by a 
moonlighting Boeing technician (who is a good Leica repairman), I took the 
lens to him to have the weird gear contraption removed from the aperture 
ring.  He told me that Boeing had mounted movie cameras in the wings of 
airplanes, equiped with these lenses, and had filmed the approaches to 
every major airfield in the world with them for use in their flight simu-
lators.  The lens covers the width of the 35mm frame but not the length; 
so the image is a cropped circle.  I love this, and use it a lot.  It makes
a very convenient pocket package; I am reasonably comfortable with it on 
the subways in Manhatten.  On the IIIf, it hardly takes up any space and 
hardly calls attention to itself at all.  And I don't use a finder with
it, since its vision is rather global.  Of course, focus is nearly ir-
relevent.  Now that, if you like sharp and contrasty, just about gets 
the prize.

Also, I have a body cap in which I have installed a pinhole.