Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/03/11

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Subject: Re: Leitz 35mm f1.4 vs. Nikkor 35mm f1.4 (kinda..;-) - #42240
From: Wolfgang Sachse <>
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 1996 22:01:39 -0500

In article <4i27ah$>, (Bob Neuman) writes:
|> In article <4hvg3i$>, 
|> says...
|> >Bob Neuman ( wrote:
|> >: I recently had a chance to check out a Leitz Rangefinder 
|> >: Double Aspheric Horribly Expensive ($3800 when new) 35mm f1.4 
|> >: lens, courtesy of Nick Silva (who kindly shot the tests to order 
|> >: and supplied the film to me). I shot similar test film (B & W and
|> >: color) using a Nikkor 35mm f1.4 to attempt a comparison. Though the 
|> >: Leitz lens remained in California and my 35mm f1.4 Nikkor remained 
|> >: in New York, I have reasonable confidence that the results of this 
|> >: long-distance comparison are reasonably valid. So, here is what I 
|> >: found:
|> >SNIP
|> >Thanks, these test results were interesting!  However, it seems worth 
|> >noting that B+H advertises the current 35 1.4 ASPH at $2 900, not 
|> >$3 800. Perhaps that makes it only very expensive and thus a Double 
|> >Aspheric Very Expensive or DAVE lens. (The current Nikon AIS lens is 
|> >$700).
|> Hmmm, mebbe ;-) The lens I compared with the Nikkor is different from
|> the current Leitz aspheric, and it may be better, the same, or worse
|> in performance than the current lens - I don't know.
|> >Also, it would help us all to know how your testing was carried 
|> >out.  What kind of magnification did you use when viewing your 
|> >pictures?  People will sometimes pay a lot of money for a lens 
|> >that is only visibly better when you enlarge it 16 or even 20 times.  
|> I consider enlargement size mostly irrelevant after there is enough
|> to see the differences you are looking for. A lens that will make a
|> sharp 8x10 will also make a sharp 16x20, since the viewing distance
|> for the larger print is also increased. Also, many lenses do not
|> perform uniformly well in all parts of the frame, and even low 
|> magnification will reveal the problems of both the Nikkor and the 
|> Leitz 35mm f1.4's in the corners - neither is really sharp in the far 
|> corners wider than about f5.6 (though neither is really terrible over 
|> most of the frame even at f1.4). To answer your question specifically, 
|> a 10X magnifier was used directly on B & W and color negatives, and 6x9 
|> prints were made from some of the B & W negatives.
|> >More importantly,  did you simply shoot test charts or did you also 
|> >photograph 3 dimensional objects?  Leica claims that it engineers its 
|> >lenses with the latter in mind and there certainly can be a signficant 
|> >different between the way that a lens reproduces a test chart and the 
|> >way that it reproduces a 3 dimensional object.
|> That never made sense to me, much as I dislike the chart method of
|> lens checking. (ONE of these days, I will finish that article on simple 
|> methods of lens checking!) I used 3-D subjects, at infinity (I use 2
|> or 3 additional distances in a thorough lens check, but this 
|> long-distance comparison of two lenses was only really practical using 
|> infinity subjects.
|> >The results that you obtained were interesting and the posting was very 
|> >useful:  its value would increase if we knew more about how you got the 
|> >results.
|> >Gary Toop
|> To tell you a bit more, the comparisons are made with the assumption 
|> that most good lenses perform well, and about equally, in the center
|> at f5.6. That reference level can then be used to judge the relative
|> quality of other parts of the frame, and the relative quality of other
|> lenses, without needing the "go-between" of chart numbers, especially
|> if the subject chosen is the same, or at least similar, for different
|> lenses. Also, since I am only looking for relative sharpness, 
|> identifying the source of problems (other than construction 
|> misalignment, which can often be spotted using my methods), such as
|> astigmatism, coma, etc.) is not necessary - I am looking to answer
|> the question, "Is the lens useably sharp at the apertures I am 
|> interested in using, at the distances I will use the lens at, and 
|> in the parts of the frame of interest for the purpose I have for the 
|> lens?" In 25 years or so of asking that question, I have become fairly
|> proficient at lens checking.  
|> Hope This Helps