Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/05/02

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Which Ultra-Wide, Heliar 15mm or Heliar 12mm
Date: 2 May 2001 16:42:35 EDT

>At 11:12 AM -0400 5/2/01, JULIAN TOPLEY wrote:
>>Does anyone have an opinion or has anyone had experience in using these two
>>The 12mm Heliar gives me an extra 10 degrees of view, it has, dare I say it,
>>filter attachment option and is around double the price.
>>I noted from a recent edition of Leica Fotographie was that there is some
>>noticable vignetting and more chance of flare when compared with the 15mm
>>Heliar - is this true?
>>Information of image quality, usability, differences in the two finders,
>>barrelling and build quality would be greatly appreciated.
>>Julian Topley
>The 'vignetting' and flare are not noticeably different. Yes, there 
>is some fall-off away from center with both lenses, but it is fairly 
>minor considering the facts of their wide angles of view and almost 
>standard (non-retrofocus) construction. The 12 does give you the 
>option of adding a center filter, thereby nearly doubling the cost, 
>but I don't use it except for quite critical things.
>The 12 appears to have slightly higher build quality, but I'm not 
>sure that that is actually true. The 12 finder is a lot bigger, 
>heavier, and with a metal housing. Again, I'm not sure that it will 
>last longer over the years.
>Barrel distortion is unnoticeable unless you rigourously test for it 
>in either lens.

>Basically, the optical performance of these lenses is in line with 
>Leica lenses of 25 years ago. They are not as good as the latest, but 
>they don't disgrace themselves. OTOH, the real reason for getting 
>either is because they are the only practical game in town.
>As far as useability goes, the 15 is a lot easier to use. The 3mm 
>difference translates to the same difference as between a 28mm and a 
>35mm lens. Also, the area of the negative that easily shows the 
>distortion of 3-dimensional objects, in particular spherical objects 
>(like heads) is much greater. DO NOT place someones head in the 
>corner of a 12mm shot and show it to them unless they have a very 
>good sense of humour.
>If you haven't ever used anything wider than a 19 or 17, get the 15 
>first. Experientially, the jump from 20 to 15 feels the same as the 
>jump from 15 to 12.

What experience do you have between the view finders?  Are they both quite
barrelled - this has an obvious effect on usability.  Also does the spirit
level help much for either of these lenses.

I am looking for something to capture dramatic landscape and and to capture
what I can not, using my Nikon with 35mm and 28mm PC lenses hence the question
on the spirit level.

I use my Leica for portability most of all, an ultra wide lens will give me
what my Nikon can't - there have been many moments where I wanted to capture
an entire cityscape or the entire elevation of a building at very close range.
 The same applies to interiors, the 28mm often doesn't come close and I have
to keep the lens level.


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Replies: Reply from Henning Wulff <> (Re: [Leica] Which Ultra-Wide, Heliar 15mm or Heliar 12mm)
Reply from "Mark Pope" <> (Re: [Leica] Which Ultra-Wide, Heliar 15mm or Heliar 12mm)