Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/11/11

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Subject: [Leica] "Proper" portrait lens.
From: afirkin at (afirkin at
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 00:05:02 -0500
References: <>

The other "truth" Leica came out with, but of course has not 'stuck' with
is that about 10 MP was "enough". I think this is true on an SLR, where
you can zoom and tightly crop the image accurately, though 12 to 14 for
the "luxury" of a really big blow up is nice. I was hoping for 14 on the
M9, because:

1. the 3/2 format is often cropped side to side and the 10 mp was the
equivalent of 8 mp on the Oly 4/3 system in terms of what you had to
"resolve" the major part of the image

2. with a rangefinder I want some "slack". I want to be able to crop a bit
because the framing is not perfect, and the fixed nature of the the lens
leaves zooming to your feet.

So I was delighted that the M9 was 18 MP, and so far, I've not felt the
sensor performs worse than the M8 (except that on the M8 any weakness of
my old lenses was "gone" with the cropping ;-) )

I've now been using my 'blad with the CFV 39 for several months. Its gone
to Cuba, where it was a big success and to Central Australia where it
shone as well. It was going hiking with me, but the more I practiced in
the bush the less useful it became. The SEVERE lack of DOF with MF one one
issue, but I thought I could live and learn from that. The other was that
there may be one image in the whole week that might need the 39 mp.

Its true that I can use my 110 lens as a 250 without suffering resolution
problems, but the 18 mp of the M9 has won out, and the M is tassie bound.

> When the Leica CL came out in the 1970's, Leica claimed that the 40 mm
> Summicron-C and the 90 mm Elmar-C would suffice for 90% of the pictures
> that
> the average photographer would take. This is one of Leica's few PR
> statements that I've found to be reasonably true.  I traveled the world
> with
> a very lightweight Leica CL kit and rarely felt the need for additional
> lenses. I even sold a number of the pictures. Of course this was in the
> era
> before the super wide angle fad. Now I might add a 28 mm lens and finder.
> Otherwise I would concur with Ted that the best portrait lens is the one
> you
> have on the camera when the opportunity presents itself. Actually, I never
> bought the 90 mm Elmar since I already had a superb and razor sharp 100 mm
> LTM Canon 3.5. Fitted with an adaptor flange it was lighter and matched
> the
> RF frame lines better than the Leica lens.
> Too bad that Leica (or Sony which now owns Minolta's camera business)
> never
> saw fit to adapt the CL for digital. A full frame digital CL would blow
> away
> the Olympus and Panasonic pretenders.
> Larry Z
> - - - - -
> The argument over the "proper" focal length for portraits on the 24x36
> format  has been going on in 35mm since the Zeiss Contax camera came
> out....
> 90mm ?  ( Leica RF)
> 85mm ? ( Contax RF)
> 105mm ? ( Nikon RF and later the Nikon F)
> 75mm ? (Leica RF)
> 80mm ? (Leica SLR)
> 100mm ? ( Leica SLR)
> And I probably have forgotten a bunch more portrait lens focal lengths....
> almost all of which are between 75 and 105mm
> Use what you have, what makes you happy, or what you can afford.....
> They all work.
> Frank Filippone
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

In reply to: Message from lrzeitlin at (Lawrence Zeitlin) ([Leica] "Proper" portrait lens.)