Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/01/22

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Subject: Re: [Leica] 180 2.8 R-lens - any experiences?
From: Eric Welch <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 18:46:14 -0600

At 09:39 AM 1/22/98 -0800, you wrote:
>When you say "new design," do you have a serial number that marks
>the change to the new design?  Is it the 2.8 lens pictured in the Leica

No, the size and shape of the lens is the indicator. The old 180 2.8 is a
big bruiser of the lens, that looks very much like the old 250 f/4. The new
one has always looked the same, and has no changes optically or
mechanically since it was introduced in 1980.

>I also have heard that the 3.4 was a specialized lens and that it cannot
>focus closely very well.  I personally do not use filters at all, but I agree
>with you that the 2.8 is probably a better AP lens.  

The 180 3.4 Apo Telyt is an awesome lens. It's optimized to work wide open
at infinity and other long-away subjects. It was designed for the U.S. Navy
for long-range surveillance photography. That being said, it's a great lens
right down to minimum focus. You would have no complaints, other than many
it doesn't focus quite close enough. Compared to the other lenses, it's
just as good at smaller apertures as they are (except maybe the new Apo
Summicron which is awesome!). The difference is that the Elmarit is better
in the near-focusing range (and we're talking NEAR, not 15 feet!). 

Jim Stanfield, of National Geographic fame, who Bob Gilka (then director of
photography at N.G.) told me that he was probably the magazine's most
accomplished photographer technically, swore by the Apo Telyt. He loved it
and preferred it to the Elmarit because of it's wide-open performance.
(Jim, his wife and I spent a weekend together at an awards event for press
photographers). The lens has fewer lens elements than the Elmarit and
because of that, and because of the high refractive anomalous dispersion
glass used in the lens, it's more efficient with light, so 3.4 is more like
2.8 in T-Stop terms.

I have personally seen the U.S. Navy's on-film tests with the lens. Their
results were something like 425 lp/mm in the center and 375 in the corners.
That's just resolution. Seeing what it does on film, it's a true Leica lens. 

So get what you want. I chose the Elmarit because it focuses closer. And I
found a good one where I didn't find an Apo Telyt of similar quality for
the price that had the 60mm filter thread. Those two factors together,
added to the price of the Summicron being prohibitive, pushed me to the

Either way, you can't lose. They're both great lenses. Wide open, nothing
matches the Apo Telyt lenses. But stop down a bit, and the Elmarit is every
bit as good, and it focuses closer.

And the converter thing.

Eric Welch
St. Joseph, MO

There's no such thing as nonexistence.