Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/11/02

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Subject: Re: "Signature" Lens
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 1997 12:23:03 -0500 (EST)

 The term "signature" lens is one that I termed one day while trying to
explain the difference between M-lenses. My definition of it is very simple,
if I put down a bunch of films on my light table and start looking at them
and some of them stand out in contrast/clarity and "snap", thats a
"signature" lens in my terms. It is not very scientific but it works for me.
The 21/3,4 of course stands out, not only because its sharpness and contrast,
but also because of its fall-off at the edges. The 50 DR ( in the # 2,100 000
range) has a definite "look" to it. Very sharp, almost edgy negs and
contrasty. The 3rd signature lens is without a doubt the 100/2,8 APO-Macro.
Mine is a worn and beaten up one and it is mounted on an old Leicaflex SLMot
with some black paint still on it. In my experience it is probably one of the
best pieces of optic ever made, by anybody, anytime. I use it for close up
and also as a "landscape" lens and K-Chrome 25 or even Ektar 25 neg film
really brings out the best in that lens.
 As with any equipment, it is subjective valuation and it depends very much
on your style of shooting,subject matter etc. Advice from my wife" Using the
100/2,8 APO-Macro as a portrait lens might endanger your life!!!" Very few
people look THAT good.
 I keep an old 50/2,5 Hektor that I use on a M6 ( sm to bm adapter) for shots
of females over the age of 20. Nice glow and just enough diffusion to take
away any marks of passing age.
 Someone at Hasselblad in Sweden once described how to survive shooting
womens portrait with a 'blad. Below the age of 20, use lens without Softar,
between 20 and 30 use Softar 1, 30-40 use softar 2 and 40-50 use softar 3.
Over 50, use all three Softars and lightly shake the camera during exposure!.
The quest for ultimate sharpness has some pitfalls!
Tom A