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Why are M-mount lenses so expensive?
Old 12-31-2016   #1
daveleo
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Why are M-mount lenses so expensive?

Please, guys . . . this thread is not meant to provoke another pi$$ing contest because "Leica" enters the picture.
It's a legitimate technical question.

Q: really.... are M-mount Hexanons and Rokkors optically better than AR (Konica) mount and SR (Minolta) mount lenses designed for SLRs ?

I like using Hexanons and Rokkors on my Fuji X-E1. I like the lens handling and generally love the results.
The SLR designs are $150. The same lens (FL & max aperture) in M-mount design is $450.

Putting the Leica brand mystique aside, can anyone rationalize this?
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Old 12-31-2016   #2
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Smaller volume production and far higher precision required to make rangefinder lenses focus correctly, especially fast ones.
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Old 12-31-2016   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante_Stella View Post
Smaller volume production and far higher precision required to make rangefinder lenses focus correctly, especially fast ones.
In addition Leica M lenses are designed to minimize rangefinder blockage. I think making a good small lens is more costly than making a good large lens.
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Old 12-31-2016   #4
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The same basic reason that drives prices for any goods,
supply and demand.

For instance, I just bought an I-61 52mm f2.8 FSU lens for my Leica. Huge supply and little demand, total price, $12 shipped from Latvia.

Oh, almost forgot, add another $10 for a LTM to M mount adapter (cheap knock off from HK)
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Old 12-31-2016   #5
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I believe the first answer says a lot. In the used market, M mount are highly praised and have great resale values, in case of Rokkors and Haxanons. You should search for their original selling prices in order to compare SLR and M-Mount.

On the other hand, if you look at Voitlaender lenses, compared to prime lenses from other brands such Canon or Nikon, you'll see that the prices are fine for new lenses.
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Old 12-31-2016   #6
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I think that the small rangefinder lenses are more difficult to produce and they require more precision. Add to this the fact that the market drives the prices, and you will see why rangefinder lenses cost more than same focal length SLR lenses by same manufacturer. I noticed the increased prices for M equipment 25 years ago when I would read Shutterbug magazine, looking for good deals on cameras and lenses. I would ask my self, why are these M lenses and cameras so expensive? Quality equipment that is hard to find costs more, even when "non-M". SLR Lenses in Rollei QBM (obsolete) mount can be very expensive today, depending on the type of lens and rarity.
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Old 12-31-2016   #7
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Here is no mistique on Leica, at least for me. It is called demand. And no same mistique on why some RF versions are more expensive. They are less manufactured. Yet, more desarable among many users of small digital cameras and remaining true RF users.

In general, SLR lenses are made cheap. If not, then price is similar. Modern Zeiss SLR lenses as solid as RF lenses and prices are similar if not more expensive on SLR.
But not always. Canon 50 L is more expensive comparing to similar Viohtlander lens, yet Canon lens build is laughable.
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Old 12-31-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
But not always. Canon 50 L is more expensive comparing to similar Viohtlander lens, yet Canon lens build is laughable.
Hm. If you think the Canon L lenses are cheaply built, then you have not handled the highly praised Fuji X lenses.
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Old 12-31-2016   #9
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The Canon FD 50/1.2L is very well built. I never got into the EF lenses. I went to Leica M instead.
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Old 12-31-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
But not always. Canon 50 L is more expensive comparing to similar Viohtlander lens, yet Canon lens build is laughable.

I only have one Canon lens .... a 70-200 ,2.8L.
Build quality is excellent.

Back to the question .... I would imagine its a volume issue as much as anything .
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Old 12-31-2016   #11
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watch this clip:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6bux2WBzx0

it will answer your question (partially...)
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Old 12-31-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante_Stella View Post
Smaller volume production and far higher precision required to make rangefinder lenses focus correctly, especially fast ones.
Can you explain the higher precision requirement? I wasn't aware of this and now it makes sense why, for example, a ZM lens costs more than a ZF lens, relatively speaking. Especially given the fact that ZF lenses have things like auto aperture stop down etc.

Also, given the higher precision required, am I mistaken to think that RF lenses suffer from focus shift more than SLR lenses?
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Old 12-31-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
But not always. Canon 50 L is more expensive comparing to similar Viohtlander lens, yet Canon lens build is laughable.
You are crazy. Canon L lens build is awesome.
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Old 12-31-2016   #14
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Thanks very much for the replies. I appreciate the input.

To clarify my question: I'm asking why M-mount lens designs, made by the same manufacturer, same FL, same or close max aperture, are much more expensive than their SLR counterparts.
I suppose underneath that is the question: are they really optically superior, or is it simply they are harder to make, or simply the supply & demand issue? I accept that maybe no one knows for certain and also there may be no one "correct" answer. But I do appreciate the replies.
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Old 12-31-2016   #15
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Why are Porsches, Ferraris and Rolls Royces so expensive?

They are well made items, made in smaller quantities and there is a customer base for them that want them and money is not a problem to them, they have plenty of money to buy the finer things in life.

Same with new or old Leica M lenses.
One does not necessarily need Leica M lenses to do great photography anymore than one needs a 1959 Les Paul sunburst guitar to strum 3 chords through their Peavey tube amp.
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Old 12-31-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
Please, guys . . . this thread is not meant to provoke another pi$$ing contest because "Leica" enters the picture.
It's a legitimate technical question.

Q: really.... are M-mount Hexanons and Rokkors optically better than AR (Konica) mount and SR (Minolta) mount lenses designed for SLRs ?

I like using Hexanons and Rokkors on my Fuji X-E1. I like the lens handling and generally love the results.
The SLR designs are $150. The same lens (FL & max aperture) in M-mount design is $450.

Putting the Leica brand mystique aside, can anyone rationalize this?
Small quantity production with lots of hand work compared to mass-produced lenses. Market forces too ... much more market for other mounts.

Generally speaking, SLR lens designs are better for adaptation to digital sensors unless the camera and its sensor has been designed for the shorter mount register and optical characteristics of M mount lenses. This means that, in general, your SLR lenses will simply work better on your Fuji X-E1 than M-mount lenses, at least once the focal length goes below about 40mm. Above that, the differences are minimal to none. While there are exceptions to this rule of thumb, it has been shown to be true time and time again. (Many of the more recent Leica M lenses were designed with the digital sensor first and foremost—notice if you look at the lens designs that they more closely resemble SLR lens designs optically, with retrofocus designs that keep the ray trace off axis more orthogonal to the sensor plane...)

Note that even Leica's SLR lenses (R-mount) tend to be quite a bit pricier than other SLR lenses. This is not just a 'brand premium' ... it's because Leica lenses, all of them, tend to have a much greater amount of hand work in them which costs a lot of time (== money), and the mounts are nearly always made of premium quality materials. There is certainly a bit of brand premium at work, no question, but it's not as much as just sheer cost of manufacture and limited production for a smaller market audience.

Only Leica (and Ricoh with the GXR's A12 Camera Mount camera unit) have designed cameras and sensors to work specifically with Leica M-mount lenses. That's why when all else is compared and held to be equal, Leica M-mount lenses tend to work best on Leica M (and SL) digital cameras (and on the Ricoh GXR with that camera unit in place).

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Old 12-31-2016   #17
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I don't know, but that's never stopped me from speculating before:

Focusing precision. The focusing cam, focus distance scale, and actual helicoid(s) need to be precisely aligned in a rangefinder lens. SLR lenses have quite a bit of slop -- even among my Leica SLR lenses -- but that doesn't matter because focusing is achieved via ground glass, not mechanical linkage.

Size. Elements in smaller lenses do more optical "heavy lifting" than in larger lenses. Consider two 35mm f/1.4 lenses, say the Zeiss SLR lens for Contax/Yashica and the Voigtlander rangefinder lens for M mount. Both nominally take the same amount of light and bend it to the same degree. However, the smaller lens must achieve this with fewer and smaller elements, meaning that each element is required to do more work. This leads to both material selection and assembly issues. To achieve the same quality with less glass means using less common, more expensive glass types and curvatures. Similarly, the misalignment of a single element in a 3-element lens is more likely to be visible than in a 30-element lens, because each element in a "simpler" design is asked to do more work. So, making a smaller lens is more difficult, even if everything else is the same.

Today's manufacturing technology favors autofocus lenses. In terms of structural materials, brass and plastic both allow for extremely precise and reliable lenses, but plastic molds only become cost viable with high volume production runs -- but yield very low per-unit costs with very high volumes. In terms of mechanicals, brass helicoids require expensive manufacturing and assembly to achieve reliable and precise focusing, especially with multiple simultaneous movements (e.g., zoom lenses or floating elements), while autofocus lenses with linear motors can achieve sub-micrometer precision using automatic calibration and nearly haphazard assembly. Moreover, while rangefinder lenses could be made using SLR technology in the 1970s, building them today enjoys fewer and fewer economies of scale, further increasing the cost disparity.

Finally, I'll offer the "there must be a difference -- economics says so" argument. The concept of supply and demand says that prices will be as high as buyers are willing to pay and also as low as sellers are able to sustain. If prices are unnaturally high because there's lots of demand but a vacuum of supply, then new suppliers will enter the market. If suppliers aren't entering the market, it is because potential entrants have considered doing so and found that it would cost too much to offer a product for sale. So, while we've seen a few new companies enter the SLR lens market (e.g., Samyang, Zhongyi, Yongnuo), we've also seen Zeiss leave the rangefinder market. All this tells me that there "must" be something that makes rangefinder lens production inherently more expensive. ;-)

But I don't know. All I'm really sure about is that using a rangefinder is a good fit for me, and I'm willing to pay a premium to continue using that method of seeing and focusing. I don't think it is coincidental that the high precision requirements of the rangefinder focusing mechanism seems to be correlated with high quality optics, but I'll continue enjoying that correlation even if it is purely random.

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Old 12-31-2016   #18
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Quote:
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You are crazy. Canon L lens build is awesome.
Was it another spark of sarcasm?

Canon L doesn't have metal hoods, they have plastic which is not only scratchable, but plastic mount worns out. Lenses have plastic fronts too which worns out as well.
My 50L crapped out simply because it is not only external plastick, but entire front is plastic and it is attached to the inner barrel by glue gascet.
I send it for Canon service, they took money, but focus ring was still lose after it: I was told it is within the spec.

I've had 17-40 F4 L it was terribly soft in the corners.

But thier modern cheap line, Rebel kit lens and pancakes are truly awesome. Aspherical elements, good coatings and price. Their new nifty-fifty would be my choice if I ever get 6D. No regrets on getting rid of 50L at all. Cheap build and lack of lens building skills.
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Old 12-31-2016   #19
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Simple, because of what digital Leica users are willing to pay. I very well remember m-hexanons (28, 50 or 90) go for below $300 around here.
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Old 12-31-2016   #20
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Simple, because of what digital Leica users are willing to pay. I very well remember m-hexanons (28, 50 or 90) go for below $300 around here.
Yep, that's it.

That was around the time I got my line-up of Hexanons, and sold them off once prices went up

Oh and can't say anything about EF mount Canon L glass but I lucked into a 50mm 1.2L in FD mount and it's built like a tank. No more Leica glass and sky-rocketing prices for me anymore thank you. A simple Sony A7 to go with it and I'm not even halfway a Summilux
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Old 12-31-2016   #21
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As stated earlier, supply/demand. This has nothing to do with the cost to produce these originally or the cams or precision; M-mount Rokkors and M-mount Hexanons have not been made in many years, it's strictly a used market.

SR and AR mounts are dead. There are a relative handful of film shooters still using cameras that support them. Then there are the hobbyist/tinkerers who like to adapt such lenses to mirrorless.

The M mount is alive and well. There are many film shooters still using M mount cameras, and many digital shooters using the M mount.
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Old 12-31-2016   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Was it another spark of sarcasm?

My 50L crapped out simply because it is not only external plastick, but entire front is plastic and it is attached to the inner barrel by glue gascet.

I've had 17-40 F4 L it was terribly soft in the corners.

But thier modern cheap line, Rebel kit lens and pancakes are truly awesome. Aspherical elements, good coatings and price. Their new nifty-fifty would be my choice if I ever get 6D. No regrets on getting rid of 50L at all. Cheap build and lack of lens building skills.
You have indeed pegged my sarcasm detector.
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Old 12-31-2016   #23
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Found this:


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Old 12-31-2016   #24
David Hughes
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Hi,

Can we compare the same lens in two different mounts, like RF and SLR.

RF's lenses have to be RF coupled, which is complicated compared to SLR ones that aren't.

And who is making both new RF and SLR lenses these days? Aren't the SLR versions mostly secondhand? So market forces for the SLR's and new prices for the RF's version. But I could be wrong as I've not bought anything current for years.

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Old 01-01-2017   #25
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I admit that I like your funny comments.

If you really had the 50L and could easily replace it with a modern 1.8/50 then your purchase initially was a mistake. The 50L is the only character lens in the Canon lens lineup. No one (meaning 95%) buys it because it's super sharp, but because of the special rendering and it's mainly used for people photography (not street if you know what i mean).

The 17-40 is quite cheap for a zoom lens in that range and the only reason for the L-status is the built quality and weather sealing. Optically it's an old design. Canon even excluded it from the list of recommended lenses for the 50MP Canon 5DS.

But I think you know all this, don't you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Was it another spark of sarcasm?

Canon L doesn't have metal hoods, they have plastic which is not only scratchable, but plastic mount worns out. Lenses have plastic fronts too which worns out as well.
My 50L crapped out simply because it is not only external plastick, but entire front is plastic and it is attached to the inner barrel by glue gascet.
I send it for Canon service, they took money, but focus ring was still lose after it: I was told it is within the spec.

I've had 17-40 F4 L it was terribly soft in the corners.

But thier modern cheap line, Rebel kit lens and pancakes are truly awesome. Aspherical elements, good coatings and price. Their new nifty-fifty would be my choice if I ever get 6D. No regrets on getting rid of 50L at all. Cheap build and lack of lens building skills.
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Old 01-01-2017   #26
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Quote:
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Can you explain the higher precision requirement? I wasn't aware of this and now it makes sense why, for example, a ZM lens costs more than a ZF lens, relatively speaking. Especially given the fact that ZF lenses have things like auto aperture stop down etc.

Also, given the higher precision required, am I mistaken to think that RF lenses suffer from focus shift more than SLR lenses?
It's not precision in a 'lack of focus shift' kind of way, but more of an absolute rather than relative calibration. When the RF lens is focused to 2m, the lens must move the RF cam an exact amount, whereas the SLR lens just has to turn, it's not absolutely calibrated. That cost time and time is money.
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Old 01-01-2017   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Can you explain the higher precision requirement? I wasn't aware of this and now it makes sense why, for example, a ZM lens costs more than a ZF lens, relatively speaking. Especially given the fact that ZF lenses have things like auto aperture stop down etc.

Also, given the higher precision required, am I mistaken to think that RF lenses suffer from focus shift more than SLR lenses?
The precision requirements relate to the pure mechanical function of a small lens whose focus helical for various focal lengths must be translated to a precise and constant axial movement of the brass rangefinder cam from 0.7m focus to infinity. This must be so for an f1.4 35 and and an f1.4 75. This is really a remarkable engineering feat and doesn't come cheap.

I am not an expert on focus shift but I would say that it relates to the lens design and is independent of whether the lens is a rangefinder purposed or other focus type. Except to say that the ease of tolerance in manufacturing afforded by the mechanisms of autofocus also see autofocus obliterate focus shift.
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Old 01-01-2017   #28
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Regarding this issue of helicoids, rangefinder alignment, required mechanical precision:
That is quite understandable and credible, w.r.t. higher manufacturing costs of RF lenses.
But that (correct me if this is wrong) does not result in a better optical image, when comparing the RF lens design with the "identical" SLR lens design. It's really a cost driven by mechanical requirements of the RF lens design. (??)

And again, thank you for the education I am getting here.
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Old 01-01-2017   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
Regarding this issue of helicoids, rangefinder alignment, required mechanical precision:
That is quite understandable and credible, w.r.t. higher manufacturing costs of RF lenses.
But that (correct me if this is wrong) does not result in a better optical image, when comparing the RF lens design with the "identical" SLR lens design. It's really a cost driven by mechanical requirements of the RF lens design. (??)

And again, thank you for the education I am getting here.
Don't think it is, the first batch of Voigtlander lenses didn't break the bank and some of them have proven to be excellent. Yet, the second production run of them was equally excellent but certainly less cheap... I'd say Cosina got a whiff of the market and smelled there was more in it. Now why would that be any different for other manufacturers.
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Old 01-01-2017   #30
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Don't think it is, the first batch of Voigtlander lenses didn't break the bank and some of them have proven to be excellent. Yet, the second production run of them was equally excellent but certainly less cheap... I'd say Cosina got a whiff of the market and smelled there was more in it. Now why would that be any different for other manufacturers
When you say first batch do you mean the first 15mm an such?

I don't think you are correct then. Look at the progress the 15mm made over the years. Finally you can use it on a digital body without regrets but you can see it from the outer shape and weight alone that the new ones have to be much more expensive.

There is a huge development progress from the old voigtländer to the latest voigtländer lenses that comes with higher prices.
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Old 01-01-2017   #31
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They are expensive because many of the parts are made of Unobtainium.
Some lightweight alloy parts are made with Upsidaisium, also very costly.

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Old 01-01-2017   #32
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The only company where we can try to compare things is Zeiss if I'm correct. They build the manual focus ZM lenses for Leica M-Mount and manual focus (D)SLR lenses. I think the only lens in their lineup that is somehow comparable is the 1.4/35.

Canon version: huge and 850g. M-Version: smaller but not tiny, 380g.
It costs 1500 EUR for Canon mount and 2000 EUR for M-Mount.
The availabilty for the SLR lens is always good. It's hard to find the ZM Distagon in photo shops in Germany.

Some thoughts:

It's sometimes easier and cheaper to build something if you don't have to optimize it for size and weight. The SLR lenses from Zeiss are huge so they saved money here. Probably even then, when you need more glass for the bigger size.

Amount of produced lenses for the SLR lens is much bigger so the add-on cost for the R&D per lens is smaller.
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Old 01-01-2017   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante_Stella View Post
Smaller volume production and far higher precision required to make rangefinder lenses focus correctly, especially fast ones.
This. The volume required for a niche market is not a trivial factor.

I would add the high level of glass quality increases materials cost.
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Old 01-01-2017   #34
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Hi,

Manually or automatically focussing a lens in any make of SLR is done so that you/it stops when the subject is in focus. So focus shift doesn't matter. It may not be where it's expected (mathematically speaking) but it's there (focused) all the same...

But a CRF needs the focus to stay where it's expected as the same helix is used throughout the focus range of the lens. It can't change pitch for the last few degrees of turning the lens.

Or rather it couldif it was like a zoom lens and moves several bits it different rates as the thing is twisted or turned but think how complex and large that would make it.

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Old 01-01-2017   #35
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Quote:
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Hi,

Manually or automatically focussing a lens in any make of SLR is done so that you/it stops when the subject is in focus. So focus shift doesn't matter. It may not be where it's expected (mathematically speaking) but it's there (focused) all the same...

But a CRF needs the focus to stay where it's expected as the same helix is used throughout the focus range of the lens. It can't change pitch for the last few degrees of turning the lens.

Or rather it couldif it was like a zoom lens and moves several bits it different rates as the thing is twisted or turned but think how complex and large that would make it.

Regards, David
(bolded) Sentence one ... sure. Sentence two ... huh?

SLR lenses in any SLR made since 1961 or so are focused wide open. They only stop down to taking aperture at the time of exposure. So focus shift is just as critical for a lens in an SLR as it is for a RF focusing system, there's no difference in normal operation. The one benefit that an SLR provides is that since you're able to see what the lens is doing with the TTL focusing system, you can manually stop down the lens, let your eye accommodate to the darker focusing screen, and make an adjustment if one is needed. You can't do this with an RF because you cannot see through the lens (Visoflex and other TTL add-ons excepted).

All this other talk about focusing helixes and zoom lenses is irrelevant.

SLR lenses are usually even more complex than M-mount RF lenses because:
  • they have the auto diaphragm mechanism
  • they have couplings to the TTL metering system
  • they have to clear the swinging mirror behind them
  • they mostly have autofocus mechanisms in them since the 1980s
  • they mostly have to be designed for zero focus shift because since you're focusing at the wide open setting and taking at the stopped down setting, and most people NEVER use the DoF preview properly to ascertain critical focus placement, if they didn't you'd have tons of blurry photos.

This makes SLR lenses bulky too. But most (excepting the guaranty of no-focus-shift) of these complexities are tolerant of high variance in manufacture, which makes them pretty inexpensive.

With RF lenses, you're focusing the lens through an external mechanism and most people tend to use only two or three apertures for the vast majority of their photos. You become accustomed over time to focusing the lens using the rangefinder and understanding how the focus shift affects sharpness, and compensating for it by adjusting the focus setting. The added cost in constructing an RF lens come from the precise mechanical-optical calibration and higher manufacturing tolerances needed to drive the focusing mechanism accurately ... this is essential to giving you a focusing baseline reference. You cannot check what the focusing mechanism is doing with a DOF preview at all, so you have to assume that it is giving you that correct baseline and you can compensate for the specific lens characteristics easily. If it didn't, you wouldn't be able to get sharp photos, regardless of whether the lens has focus shift or not.

Only the electronic TTL camera, the one that lets you see in real time the actual image on the capture media at the taking aperture with the benefit of amping up the display brightness to clearly visible levels, allows truly pinpoint critical focus capability without a lot of extra effort. With this class of cameras, focus shift is irrelevant to obtaining critically accurate focus because you can actually see where the lens is focused with ease. So eTTL cameras can theoretically reduce the cost of lens manufacture compared to both SLR and RF cameras ... if they weren't called upon to add a bazillion other features to both lenses and bodies that only they are capable of as well. :-\

G
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Old 01-01-2017   #36
SaveKodak
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Was it another spark of sarcasm?

Canon L doesn't have metal hoods, they have plastic which is not only scratchable, but plastic mount worns out. Lenses have plastic fronts too which worns out as well.
My 50L crapped out simply because it is not only external plastick, but entire front is plastic and it is attached to the inner barrel by glue gascet.
I send it for Canon service, they took money, but focus ring was still lose after it: I was told it is within the spec.

I've had 17-40 F4 L it was terribly soft in the corners.

But thier modern cheap line, Rebel kit lens and pancakes are truly awesome. Aspherical elements, good coatings and price. Their new nifty-fifty would be my choice if I ever get 6D. No regrets on getting rid of 50L at all. Cheap build and lack of lens building skills.

People throw this term "build quality" around like it means something. Especially when it comes to Leicas. It's heavy and hard so it must have good build! Personally I find this non-scientific approach nauseating. This completely ignores everything that is going on inside the lens and its intended purpose. The fact is Canon lenses probably fail at the same rate as Leica lenses, which is impressive considering they're much more complicated.
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Old 01-01-2017   #37
35photo
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Originally Posted by SaveKodak View Post
People throw this term "build quality" around like it means something. Especially when it comes to Leicas. It's heavy and hard so it must have good build! Personally I find this non-scientific approach nauseating. This completely ignores everything that is going on inside the lens and it's intended purpose. The fact is Canon lenses probably fail at the same rate as Leica lenses, which is impressive considering they're much more complicated.
I had a Nikon F5 once which was heavy dropped o like a couple feet and couldn't AF anymore... My M6 with my 35 f2 ASPH has flown off my shoulder a couple of times on to concrete sidewalks.. never flinched along with lens left a couple of marks but kept on shooting a fine. I've had one lens fail on me in my 30+ years of shooting and it was a Nikon 20mm 2.8 AFD lens the aperture wouldn't close.. I'm not sure what it says about Nikon or Leica... Cause I'm sure people have had film leicas jam and digital ones have the sensor go bad like my M9.. I have a Fuji X Pro2 which is a really light camera feels pretty solid though we shall see how it fairs over the years..
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Old 01-01-2017   #38
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A lot of it is supply and demand. Hex-M are not made any more, and they work on all M mount cameras, including the most valuable film camera, the M6.

Compare the size of your SLR lens on the fuji, to an M-rokkor? What's that worth?

Fuji certainly has some nice lenses for their cameras. They won't work on anything else.

Very small and very good. I have lots of SLR lenses. I hardly use them. For build, only my nikkor 300/2.8 EDIF and 500/p really compares to the tough little RF lenses.
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Old 01-01-2017   #39
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I had a Nikon F5 once which was heavy dropped o like a couple feet and couldn't AF anymore... My M6 with my 35 f2 ASPH has flown off my shoulder a couple of times on to concrete sidewalks.. never flinched along with lens left a couple of marks but kept on shooting a fine. I've had one lens fail on me in my 30+ years of shooting and it was a Nikon 20mm 2.8 AFD lens the aperture wouldn't close.. I'm not sure what it says about Nikon or Leica... Cause I'm sure people have had film leicas jam and digital ones have the sensor go bad like my M9.. I have a Fuji X Pro2 which is a really light camera feels pretty solid though we shall see how it fairs over the years..
IME the simpler the mechanism the better the "build". AF-D and early Canon EF stuff is built really well because they're so simple, same with my M4 in a lot of ways. It's strengths come from my ability to have it serviced anywhere pretty much forever. My D750 is not "built" as well as some other Nikons, OTOH, I expect it to last for +/- 3-4 years and then be replaced. On that level, it's built perfectly well assuming it doesn't have any failures along the way. None so far after it's first 1.5ish years of weddings with me.
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Old 01-01-2017   #40
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Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
(bolded) Sentence one ... sure. Sentence two ... huh?

SLR lenses in any SLR made since 1961 or so are focused wide open. They only stop down to taking aperture at the time of exposure. So focus shift is just as critical for a lens in an SLR as it is for a RF focusing system, there's no difference in normal operation. The one benefit that an SLR provides is that since you're able to see what the lens is doing with the TTL focusing system, you can manually stop down the lens, let your eye accommodate to the darker focusing screen, and make an adjustment if one is needed. You can't do this with an RF because you cannot see through the lens (Visoflex and other TTL add-ons excepted).

All this other talk about focusing helixes and zoom lenses is irrelevant.

SLR lenses are usually even more complex than M-mount RF lenses because:
  • they have the auto diaphragm mechanism
  • they have couplings to the TTL metering system
  • they have to clear the swinging mirror behind them
  • they mostly have autofocus mechanisms in them since the 1980s
  • they mostly have to be designed for zero focus shift because since you're focusing at the wide open setting and taking at the stopped down setting, and most people NEVER use the DoF preview properly to ascertain critical focus placement, if they didn't you'd have tons of blurry photos.
This makes SLR lenses bulky too. But most (excepting the guaranty of no-focus-shift) of these complexities are tolerant of high variance in manufacture, which makes them pretty inexpensive.

With RF lenses, you're focusing the lens through an external mechanism and most people tend to use only two or three apertures for the vast majority of their photos. You become accustomed over time to focusing the lens using the rangefinder and understanding how the focus shift affects sharpness, and compensating for it by adjusting the focus setting. The added cost in constructing an RF lens come from the precise mechanical-optical calibration and higher manufacturing tolerances needed to drive the focusing mechanism accurately ... this is essential to giving you a focusing baseline reference. You cannot check what the focusing mechanism is doing with a DOF preview at all, so you have to assume that it is giving you that correct baseline and you can compensate for the specific lens characteristics easily. If it didn't, you wouldn't be able to get sharp photos, regardless of whether the lens has focus shift or not.

Only the electronic TTL camera, the one that lets you see in real time the actual image on the capture media at the taking aperture with the benefit of amping up the display brightness to clearly visible levels, allows truly pinpoint critical focus capability without a lot of extra effort. With this class of cameras, focus shift is irrelevant to obtaining critically accurate focus because you can actually see where the lens is focused with ease. So eTTL cameras can theoretically reduce the cost of lens manufacture compared to both SLR and RF cameras ... if they weren't called upon to add a bazillion other features to both lenses and bodies that only they are capable of as well. :-\

G
Hi,

Well, yes and no.

If we know about focus shift when using a RF and adjust etc then we know about it in SLR's and focus stopped down...

I agree about the SLR's lenses being complicated in some cases and I'm sure you'll agree when I say they are very, very primitive in others cases. So we are probably both right.

Regards, David
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