Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/14

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Subject: Re: [Leica] shall I compare thee to a Summilux? :)
From: apbc <>
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 11:12:02 +0800 (PRC)

Judah-"Ben" Hur-Holmes TecoBen MichaelJackson-Ben Napoleon Bonaparte

>The only L Canons that are heavier than Leicas are those that are faster
>in aperture. When you get to really big apertures (relative to focal
>length), even a 1/2 stop makes things a lot bigger.

that is true, of course, but it still does not provide me with a 
reasonably sized Canon 85 of professional build quality IMHO.

>Yes, you can't have it both ways, but given the choice of two heavy and
>strong/sturdy lenses, I will want the benefit of the wider aperture to
>make the bulk worth my while. Some of the Leicas are heavier than the
>Canon Ls and some of the Canons are heavier than the Leicas, but in all
>cases the Canon gives you a stop or two wider aperture.

>It's not clear why you have relagated many of the Canons to "special use
>only" category.

Because that is what they are designed for - I am sure it is within the 
abilities of Canon to produce less ambitiously wide apertured fixed 
focal length lenses with higher image quality and professional level 
construction but they don't see or want that market: for that matter if 
some of the non-L lenses were made tougher (i.e. to L standards) I 
would have less to complain about.

>What do you mean by out of alignment?
I mean they provide uneven coverage since the inner barrel is loose, 
particularly if they are tilted and/or have heavy filters on. When 
stopped down heavily the problem is less evident but wide open it is 

>Well, it's a bit hard to compare what you mean by fuzzy to what someone
>else considers sharp. Chasseurs says the corner sharpness is good at
>f5.6 and between good and very good by f8. That seems reasonable for
>such a wide lens. Chasseurs must have thought so too giving it ****.
Well CD'I is a jolly good magazine for amateurs but if you base your 
buying decisions and judgment of sharpness and build quality on what 
they say (or any other magazine for that matter) rather than actual 
photographs produced in the field comparable to your typical shooting 
environment you may very well be disappointed. A four star rating might 
tell you all you need to know about a lens or a hotel or a bottle of 
cognac but many of us - even most I would imagine - have more 
discriminating tastes.
>> As for the 135 (....) Construction
>is metal. What more can you say without doing a destruction test?
Well I can only base my assumption on the experience of my two dozen or 
so Canon lenses and 18 Leica lenses I have owned and the experience of 
the repair people I know: Canon do not build their lenses to last as 
long, they use far more polycarbonates, nylon gearing and electronic 
components with lower MTBF than brass and aluminum. What is more they 
do not support their products for very long after they go out of 
production - 5 to 10 years. E.g. try to get parts for the T90 - most 
Canon distributors repair shops won't even accept older eqpt for CLA. 
Leica still service everything they have made - at a price though!

>Very few lenses indeed perform "consistently" as you put it, at all
>apertures. Neither has Leica worked any special magic here. Chasseurs
>said regarding the Leica 50mm f/1.4 R "Sharpness is the best in the
>center of the field, especially wide open, but poor in the edges". - 
Well there is a good reason to go for a Summicron. What is your option 
in the Canon line - the 50/1.8?

>I've tried some of the Canon lenses you mention above. I don't normally
>have time to record exactly what aperture I've used, but I can say that
>they are capable of sharpness beyond what I can discern with an 8x
>loupe, even in the very corner.

Well if that satisfies you then fine. IMHO the crucial difference 
between Leica and Canon lenses - besides the mechanical ones - is in 
the colour quality and contrast and in the general consistency of image 
quality across the field - particularly the wideangles. I find Leica's 
balance to be preferable and to produce better looking photographs in a 
wider range of lighting conditions than Canon's. But you still have a 

I think that you will find that the vast majority of contented Leica 
users arrived at that point through experience with other brands- that 
is we have tried some or even all the alternatives on the market and 
found that we prefer Leica for whatever reason: and the image quality 
of the lenses would have to be the primary one. I know very well that 
there are some who base their decision to buy Leica on the basis of 
snob-value (in which case I think they would be generally better served 
by buying a more recognised brand) or on neo-racist anti-Japanese views 
or equally misguided pro-German prejudice. Likewise there are some who 
simply enjoy using rather retro and/or finely made machines of which 
the classic Leica rangefinder is a fine choice (the R series being 
neither state of the art electronic nor retro chic has less appeal for 
such people). These are, in probably rather offensive 
oversimplification, the people you are up against in the LUG so pick 
your arguments carefully. Chasseurs tests and spec sheet vs spec sheet 
won't cut any ice here.

As a pro user of Leica M and EOS equipment I would sum up my own 
position as loving Leicas but being glad of the capabilities of EOS 
equipment: the latter is not as pleasant to work with and is a mere bag 
of tools for me whereas the Leica is something I really love using and 
find a source of inspiration and joy in my work and my personal 
photography. If the R series was a bit more capable I would happily 
switch to it from EOS in the hope that this would bring a bit more of 
the Leica magic into my life.

And if any of the silent LUGGERs find all this unbearable nonsense 
please don't complain but start talking about something more 
interesting - it is the only practical way to keep the list the way you 
want it.

Now to work..


Adrian Bradshaw
Shanghai, China