Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/01/19

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Long Telephoto lenses for M cameras
From: Henning Wulff <>
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2002 15:28:32 -0800
References: <> <>

At 6:51 PM -0800 1/18/02, Doug Herr wrote:
>Frank Filippone wrote:
>>  I would like to understand the Telyt lenses for the Visoflex.... They were
>>  made for a long time, and there seem to be many versions....  Which are the
>>  really great lenses in this mount?
>>  Frank Filippone
>A better question is which ones were NOT really great.  The ones 
>I've used that
>were available with Visoflex mount are the late 280 f/4.8, 400 
>f/6.8, 560 f/6.8
>and 400 f/5.6.  These are all excellent lenses.  The 560 f/5.6 and 400mm f/5.0
>are also very fine optics, as well as the gigantic and superb 800mm f/6.3,
>which was available as a Viso lens.
>The 400 f/5.0 is a very old lens made with thread mount in several variations.
>Optically it's quite good but I bet you'd get better contrast by stopping it
>down some.  It also has a fine-pitch focussing helix that makes quick focus
>impossible but fine focus easy.  Minimum focus is rather long.
>The 400 and 560 f/5.6 lenses were made for the Televit rapid-focus 
>mount, which
>was available either as R or Viso.  My experience with the 400 is that it can
>be focussed quickly and accurately but it's unwieldy as a hand-held 
>lens so the
>inclusion of a shoulder stock with the Televit is misleading.  I 
>like it better
>on a tripod.  I'm working on getting teh Televit set up with 
>shoulder stock and
>monopod for a good compromise between mobility and stability.  This 
>works GREAT with the f/6.8 Telyts and the late model 250-R (IMHO).
>The f/6.8 lenses are better hand-held or monopodded than on a tripod IMHO
>especially the 560 because it's so front-heavy.  Optically they're 
>great, aside
>from some field curvature.  I use mine at full aperture (numerous examples at
>URL below).
>I've only used the late version of the 280 f/4.8, 2 samples.  The detail
>rendition is excellent, b*k*h is very smooth and easy on the eyes, but it's
>more succeptible to flare than the late 250 R or f/6.8 Telyts.  Keep the front
>element shaded from direct sunlight and it's not a problem.  The standard
>focussing helix is slow and has a minimum focus distance of 11.5 feet or so
>which was a problem for me.  The one I have now is on the Televit, so I get
>quick, accurate focus and a minimum focus distance of just over 6'. 
>Gotta work
>out the monopod thang, though.
>I know nothing of the Viso lenses shorter than the 280.

Pretty much the same experiences as I've had. I had a couple examples 
of the 400/5 (both late) and the 400/5.6 and 6.8 were a lot better in 
every respect except field flatness; especially contrast was a lot 

The later 280 is definitely better than the earlier one, and Doug's 
recommendation of using the Televit is excellent. It makes it into a 
very handy package, even though it weighs quite a bit. An earlier 
solution, the Focorapid also works fairly well. I believe it was also 
usable some other lenses, but I only ever used it with a 280.

If you're going to shoot moving things, the best one is the 400/6.8. 
It is a great combination of reach and easy handling. The 5.6 lenses 
are a lot clumsier in use, as is the 560/6.8. The 800 is too rare and 
big to consider as a user.

As for shorter lenses, they are generally outclassed by modern SLR 
lenses. The 200/4 is noticeably better than the 200/4.5, but still a 
far cry from a 180/2.8 of recent vintage. The shorter lenses that 
could be used on a Visoflex are for the most lensheads from the 
rangefinder series such as the 135's and the 90's. Most of the older 
lenses' heads could be removed, except for such as the Tele-Elmarit 
90's and collapsible 90. In addition there was the 125/2.5 Hektor, a 
fine portrait lens but reasonably left to collectors now and the very 
decent 65/3.5 Elmars. The latter black one is noticeably better.

One problem with Visoflex lenses is that they are all manual or 
preset diaphragm, so using any of them stopped down is a bit of a 
nuisance. For the most I tended to use them at their shooting 
apertures even when focussing, which of course reduces the accuracy 
somewhat - unless you use them at maximum aperture. The 400+/5.6 and 
6.8 lenses are best used wide open; the other lenses often have to be 
stopped down for various reasons, so they become less handy.

- -- 
    *            Henning J. Wulff
   /|\      Wulff Photography & Design
  |[ ]|
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In reply to: Message from "Frank Filippone" <> ([Leica] Long Telephoto lenses for M cameras)
Message from Doug Herr <> (Re: [Leica] Long Telephoto lenses for M cameras)