Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/05/31

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Subject: Re: opinions solicited -- telephotos for the R cameras
From: Bill Christensen <>
Date: Fri, 31 May 1996 10:46:24 -0500
References: <>

Patrick Sobalvarro wrote:
> I have a 135mm/2.8 Elmarit-R, but I have recently been feeling the
> need of something in the way of a longer telephoto.  Looking around,
> it seems to me that I have only a couple of choices, because I don't
> want to spend more than about $1K for this (used, of course).  This
> eliminates the APO lenses and leaves me with the 250/4, the 350/4.8
> and the 400/6.8 Telyt-R's.
> Does anyone have any experience with any of these lenses that they can
> share with me to guide me in making a choice?  I'm mostly interested
> in them for daylight photography of distant landscape details and
> (more rarely) nature photography.
> -Patrick Sobalvarro
> P.S. I haven't actually seen a 350/4.8 for sale -- in fact, some of my
>      books don't even mention it.  Did this lens have a particularly
>      short production run, or is it so well-loved that no one wants to
>      sell one?

I second the comments that the 400mm f6.8 lens is a superb optic.  
Several additional comments for your reference:  One, with its "tombone" 
style focus mechanism, one can achieve a sharp focus much more rapidly 
than the conventional twist focus system we have on our other lenses.  
Two, Leitz purposely designed the 400 and 560 optics to have a slight 
curvature in the field.  In practice, if one is shooting an animal etc., 
the foreground is easier to render in focus.  The only downside is if 
one photographs a flat object.  Then, simple close the lens down some.
Three, focusing, particularly with the 560mm head, will be facilitated 
if you place the index finger of your left hand beneath the head and 
apply a slight upward pressure.  Finally, the 400 lens is well balanced 
on a tripod.  The 560 is front heavy and accordingly an off center 
adapter plate should be employed.  If one has an Arca Swiss style mount, 
Really Right Stuff has the best plates.  (see Outdoor Photographer for 
an address).

The 250 R lens is also a fine optic (sharpness, color transmission etc) 
but it seems to be a slight notch below the APO lenses as well as the 
400 and 560 optics.

To me, the answer to your focal length question should rest not with the 
optical quality of a particular lens (they are all good) but with the 
subject matter you wish to pursue.  In my case, my 250 lens sees more 
than double the amount of use than the 400 and 560 combined.  

Good luck!

Bill Christensen

In reply to: Message from (Patrick Sobalvarro) (opinions solicited -- telephotos for the R cameras)