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View Full Version : Leica 21mm. Grey vs. USA warranty


driggett
02-10-2005, 14:41
Hi,
I would like to get a Leica 21mm lens for my R-D1. I can get one for $1897.98 grey market out of New York or can pay $2695 from B&H. Is the USA warranty really worth $800? If I buy grey market will Leica USA still repair it or do I have to send it to Germany?

Thanks,
Chris

MP Guy
02-10-2005, 16:11
Accphoto has them listed for 1550.00 I have purchased most of my leica stuff from Anthony and never had a problem.

Huck Finn
02-10-2005, 16:15
My general rule of thumb is that it's worth it for a camera body, but not for a lens. Not much can go wrong with a lens. My understanding is that Leica-USA won't touch it, but check with B&H. They normally provide a store warranty for grey market items & even have an option to extend it. Best of luck.

rover
02-10-2005, 16:35
Accphoto has them listed for 1550.00 I have purchased most of my leica stuff from Anthony and never had a problem.


Jorge, how do you get Accphoto to actually respond to you? I have sent emails on a couple occations without response.

peter_n
02-10-2005, 20:25
Agree with Huck, USA warranty is probably not worth paying for a lens. Sending it to Solms is better anyway... ;) But also as Jorge points out you can get a gray 21 lens out of HK for $1550 (rover check out the new M6TTLs at $1575). You should also contact Dr. Joseph Yao at joseph(AT)yao(DOT)com. He's a collector and international dealer with a tremendous reputation.

You could also look for an Avenon/Bower/Kobalux/Pasoptik 21mm/f2.8 - around $350-400. In the British Journal of Photography [November 6, 1996]: "at least the equal of the 21/4.5 Biogon which is sometimes found converted for the Leica, and is considerably better than either of the [Leica] Super Angulons (f/4 and f/3.4)". Not bad for a lens that is less than a 1/4 of the price of the cheapest gray market Leica... ;)

Huck Finn
02-11-2005, 01:55
Chris, I just re-read your post & now realize that you a talking about "grey market out of New York" instead of B&H. Sorry. On my first quick read I was in a rush & thought B&H WAS the NYC grey market dealer.

There are some NYC dealers I would not go near - no matter how good the deal. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are some who just plain misrepresent their products, e.g. represent as grey when it's really used, refurbished, demo, etc. In other instances, they play bait & switch AFTER they have your money & you have to fight to get your money back. Or they tell you it's not in stock - again AFTER they have your money & again you have to fight like hell to get your money back or wait forever to get what you ordered. Furthermore, returns & service can be a nightmare. Get the picture?

B&H and Adorama are highly reputable. Many other small dealers are highly reputable as well - places like Tamarkin, Kurland, & Photo Village can't be beat. Somewhere on the internet there's a site that publishes customer feedback. I'll see if I can remember it & post it. Of course if this dealer sells on ebay, you can check their feedback there as well.

If money is an issue, there are options other than Leica, as Peter points out. In additions to the various issues of the Kobalux that Peter mentions & which, although superb, can be hard to find, Zeiss will be offering a 21/2.8 Biogon in M-mount in a few months (May/June). Judging by the data published on the Zeiss Ikon website it is the equal of the Elmarit for about half the price ($1300).

Good luck.

rover
02-11-2005, 02:00
(rover check out the new M6TTLs at $1575). You should also contact Dr. Joseph Yao at joseph(AT)yao(DOT)com. He's a collector and international dealer with a tremendous reputation.



I will send Dr Yao an email today. As for Accphoto, I would love to inquire about the M6TTLs they list, but nobody there replies to emails. I think dealing with them may be like chasing a ghost.

Sean Reid
02-11-2005, 04:13
A greymarket Leica 21 from the far east (through a reputable dealer or person) for $1550 is certainly worth considering. That is a great lens and I think one rarely regrets going with Leica for a lens (once the pain of the $$ is over). I'm going to contact Zeiss and see if I can get some examples of their new lenses to test on the R-D1, including their 21.

David K sent me a couple of full size JPEGs of the Kobalux on the R-D1 and the vignetting seems pretty mild but his copy of that lens looks a bit soft to me, especially next to a file made with the Leica 21. I don't know if that's general to the lens or specific to that copy. I've often heard people wonder if lens differences would be apparent on the R-D1 (as opposed to film). In fact, they may be more apparent because whatever weaknesses they might have are being magnified 1.5X by the sensor mag.

The Zeiss 21 is certainly worth testing.

Cheers,

Sean

driggett
02-11-2005, 06:51
Thanks for all the replies. I will check out the HK connection. I tried my local camera store first but they had already increased the price to $3000 because of the exchange rate. If I buy out of B&H (USA warranty) then the cost saving would allow me to get the variable viewfinder and the polarizer for free considering the extra $300 dollars for the devaluation of the dollar and the 8.25% tax. I always try to buy local but this would save me 15%!
Thanks,
Chris

peter_n
02-11-2005, 07:16
<snippety snip ;)>There are some NYC dealers I would not go near - no matter how good the deal.</snippety snip>He may have been talking about deltainternational.com, Huck. Very reputable gray-market dealer operating out of NYC.

David K sent me a couple of full size JPEGs of the Kobalux on the R-D1 and the vignetting seems pretty mild but his copy of that lens looks a bit soft to me, especially next to a file made with the Leica 21. I don't know if that's general to the lens or specific to that copy.Very interesting Sean. I wonder which version of the lens David has. There were three versions and I believe the second version is the one that got all the praise but I wouldn't be surprised if any 3rd party lens was softer than a Leica ASPH! :)

David Kieltyka
02-11-2005, 10:05
In mild defense of the Kobalux the examples I e-mailed to Sean were shot at f/11 for maximum DOF as I was often zone/hyperfocal focusing that day. I find the lens performs best in the f/5.68 range on film...I'm still experimenting with it on the R-D1. My copy is from the third generation.

The Kobalux, while a good lens, is no Zeiss Biogon (1950s version) or Leitz Super Angulon. In this respect I would take issue with the British Journal of Photography review mentioned below. The latter two lenses may not resolve as many lp/mm as the Kobalux at optimum aperture but they make lovely images. Rich color, crisp detail. On film at least...due to their symmetrical designs both may be unsuitable for digital. The Kobalux in comparison has a harder character, higher in contrast but weaker in color.

I'm looking forward to giving the new M mount 21mm Biogon a spin. I'm also hoping to try out the old f/4.5 version via an adapter made from a Kiev mount. (Some folks in the Leica forum on photo.net are working on the adapter project.)

-Dave-

Sean Reid
02-11-2005, 11:15
Hi Dave,

Thanks for sending those. If you get a chance to send me some made at F/8 (on a tripod so as to be fair to the lens) I'd love to see them.

Cheers,

Sean

Huck Finn
02-11-2005, 11:45
[QUOTE=Sean Reid I'm going to contact Zeiss and see if I can get some examples of their new lenses to test on the R-D1, including their 21. The Zeiss 21 is certainly worth testing.

Cheers,

Sean[/QUOTE]

Sean, I'm delighted to hear this! Ever since you did such a great job with your lens reviews on the RD-1, I was hoping that you might tackle the Zeiss lenses. I doubt that you'll be able to get the 21 Biogon until late spring, but the other four (25/28/35/50) should be available. Hopefully Hasselblad will jump at the opportunity for some free publicity.

Cheers to you ;)
Huck

Sean Reid
02-11-2005, 14:29
Thanks Huck. (I can't begin to tell you how fun it was to write that just now. I'm reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" to my daughter these days and writing "Thanks Huck" makes me immediately picture Jim's smilling face on a raft - on a warm summers night - on the mighty Mississippi...)

Yes, when things slow down a bit I'll talk to their PR firm and see what's up. I'm glad that you liked the other piece. It had such a specific focus that I imagine the audience was pretty small.

Cheers,

SEan

Jim Watts
02-12-2005, 03:57
If you get a chance to send me some made at F/8 (on a tripod so as to be fair to the lens) I'd love to see them.

Hi All,
Maybe f5.6 would be a better choice. I haven't done any controlled tests but my impression is that diffraction effects are greater with the R-D1's sensor than the same lenses with film. I think I am seeing better sharpness at f5.6 (less at f11) with my 35mm f2 Summicron and 25mm f4 VC than when used on my M4 with film. I havent shot enough with my other lenses to have a feel for how these are performing. I have seen a comparison on one of the review sites where a high quality zoom's (Canon L I think) shots of a resolution chart on a digital SLR body clearly gave a wortst performance at f11 than at f5.6.

Also is the Kobalux, Bower, Avenon, Pasoptik exactly the same lens? With the same level of quality control? The lens I have seen around at U.K. Camera Fairs is the Pasoptik which I have considered in the past for my M4 but did not know enough about. With the R-D1 its even more attractive as I feel the need on this for something a little wider and faster than the VC 25mm.

peter_n
02-12-2005, 07:34
Jim AFAIK Kobalux, Bower, Avenon, Pasoptik are all made by Y.K. Optical of Yokohama. I believe that Kobalux is Y.K.'s own brand, and they OEM'd the lens under the names of Avenon, Bower, and Pasoptik. Links to web pages about this lens below:

Kobalux M-Series 21mm f/2.8 (http://www.kobalux.com/k21-3.html)

Kobalux 21/2.8 (http://www.cameraquest.com/koba21.htm)

Kobalux lenses for Leica (http://www.dantestella.com/technical/kobalux.html)

Jim Watts
02-12-2005, 09:44
Peter,
Thanks for the info and useful links. Results on the danteslla site for Series 3 look pretty good to me and I note the reports of other who regard this lens highly. I can't remember what the going rate was in the U.K. when I last saw a secondhand one but I think they were about 750 new in 2002. Even if its not as low as the $350 - 400 S/H in the states they must be a lot lower than a good S/H Leica 21mm Asp. which are over $2,500 here.

Do you know how you tell the differences between each series? Is the series 3 substancially better than the previous run?

David Kieltyka
02-12-2005, 19:14
Here's another sample from the Kobalux 21mm, taken this afternoon. We're in the midst of a mid-winter thaw...nice day today. This time I put the R-D1 on a tripod and took a series of photos at different apertures of the same subject...from my driveway looking out across the street. Not exciting subject matter but plenty of fine detail for the camera & lens to deal with.

First a scaled-down version of the full scene, at f/11. I optimized this image via Levels, Curves, Saturation & USM:

http://home.twmi.rr.com/davesden/Graphics/21Kobalux_f11.jpg

The following images consist of unprocessed full-res crops. That is, unprocessed other than RAW conversion via Epson's plug-in and then JPEG conversion via Photoshop.

First we have crops from the center of the scene, also the point of focus, at f/5.6 thru f/16:

http://home.twmi.rr.com/davesden/Graphics/21Kobalux_compare01.jpg

Now crops from the right edge at the same apertures:

http://home.twmi.rr.com/davesden/Graphics/21Kobalux_compare02.jpg

Finally crops from a point left of center:

http://home.twmi.rr.com/davesden/Graphics/21Kobalux_compare03.jpg

The second & third comparisons mainly show the effects of varying DOF. I find the first comparison interesting in that it reveals little difference in the lens' center performance at the different apertures. The most noticeable change is between f/5.6 and f/8. Despite my comment earlier in this thread it appears f/11 is in fact the optimal aperture, at least for this scene.

-Dave-

peter_n
02-12-2005, 21:08
Do you know how you tell the differences between each series? Is the series 3 substancially better than the previous run?I think (but I can't be sure) that the 3rd series of the lens has more aperture diaphragm blades than the 2nd, and that the 3rd series has a nearer closest focus distance - maybe 0.7M to 0.9M - over the 2nd.

I'm afraid I have no idea whether one version of the lens was substantially better than another. I do know that these lenses were made in small numbers, and that production ceased in 2002.

Jim Watts
02-13-2005, 02:54
Here's The most noticeable change is between f/5.6 and f/8. Despite my comment earlier in this thread it appears f/11 is in fact the optimal aperture, at least for this scene.

-Dave-
Dave,

I agree f/11 seems optimal from your samples, so I guess I was wrong about greater diffraction effects with the R-D1 sensor, at least with this lens. There seems only a very little further loss of sharpness at the edges at f/16. I will have to try more controled tests with my own lenses.

Any chance of a couple of samples (plus your general impressions) of this lens at f/2.8 & f/4. I would probably be using these apertures quite a bit. The f/2.8 shot (via film) on the link Peter sent looked pretty good.

Sean Reid
02-13-2005, 04:29
Hi David,

Thanks for the taking the time to do those detailed samples. The lens still seems a little soft to me. What are your thoughts?

Cheers,

Sean

David Kieltyka
02-13-2005, 10:58
The lens does look a little soft. OTOH I have no other 21mm in M mount or LTM to directly compare it to. So I don't know if I'm seeing less snap from the lens than I'd like or simply the effect of the sensor's anti-aliasing filter. At any rate the Kobalux/R-D1 combo can resolve detail I can just see in an 8x12" print if I stick my nose against the paper. Since I rarely print larger this will do for now. We'll see how the new Zeiss 21mm performs once it's available. Or how the old Zeiss 21mm does if the converted-Kiev-mount project works out.

Here's another comparison, this time between the center crop at f/4 and f/11, unprocessed and processed with a USM action I often use for web-sized images. The action applies low radius, medium amount USM to image edges.

http://home.twmi.rr.com/davesden/Graphics/21Kobalux_compare04.jpg

The f/11 shot crispens up quite nicely. The individual bricks in the chimney are barely visible in an 8x12" print. I'll see how it looks at 12x18".

IMO to judge the lens' performance wide open and at f/4 I'll need to shoot something at closer range.

-Dave-

Sean Reid
02-13-2005, 12:00
Detail certainly comes in with USM but the softness isn't the AA filter. I was looking at so many lens samples doing that CV & Leica lens article that it became a little dizzying but some lenses were very distinctly sharper than others (suggesting that the AA filter is unlikely to be the culprit). The Leica 21 ASPH is extremely sharp, for example. Thanks again for the tests.

Cheers,

Sean

David Kieltyka
02-13-2005, 16:14
Sean, I'm certainly not questioning that some lenses are sharper than others. :) I just don't know, other than my experience with this one lens, how the 21mm focal length performs on the R-D1. I've used the Kobalux on Leica & Bessa bodies with very good results, better results than I've seen so far with the R-D1, so I'm not yet ready to fault it. We shall see...

-Dave-

Sean Reid
02-13-2005, 16:39
Hi David,

I didn't write my last reply very carefully - my apologies for stating the obvious (busy weekend - need more sleep). What I should have said more clearly is that the issue probably can't be the AA filter because some lenses on the R-D1 give very sharp files. I'm quite interested in the Kobalux but was hoping for it to be sharper. Of course, another example might be and I'd love to try one. I have a real soft spot for sleeper lenses. I put up some of those 100% Kobalux files in PS next to files made with the Leica 21 (at similar apertures) and the differences were pronounced. It's nice that the Kobalux doesn't vignette much though. The cost is very attractive as well.

Cheers,

Sean

Jim Watts
02-14-2005, 02:01
The lens does look a little soft. OTOH I have no other 21mm in M mount or LTM to directly compare it to. .....I can just see in an 8x12" print if I stick my nose against the paper. Since I rarely print larger this will do for now. We'll see how the new Zeiss 21mm performs once it's available.

Here's another comparison, this time between the center crop at f/4 and f/11, unprocessed and processed with a USM action I often use for web-sized images. The action applies low radius, medium amount USM to image edges.

IMO to judge the lens' performance wide open and at f/4 I'll need to shoot something at closer range.

-Dave-

Dave,
Thanks for your further samples. Yes without another 21mm (which is my case as well) its difficult to judge properly.

I had brought your original 100% samples into Photoshop and applied what looks like a similar amount of USM. f/11 certainly looks good enough as I tend to make prints of a similar size to you and its the printed results at the sizes I make that count for me. The f/4 result you just posted does look a little soft though, but then I wouldn't be photographing buildings across the street as a subject at this sort of aperture. As its difficult to post meaningful samples of things shot at a closer range whats your overall impression of results at f/2.8 & f/4 in the print sizes you make for closer subjects, mainly people.

I can see why Sean thinks the quality of the Leica 21mm asp is hard to beat, especially if you need/want to use the lens wide open, but I think it's hard for me to meet the price ticket even at 'Grey Import' prices in the U.K. so I need to find something cheaper. The Kobalux in its various versions may of course be hard to find here now.

The large 'Focus on Imaging' show takes place in the U.K. at the end of this month and hopefully there may be a sample of the new Zeiss 21mm that I can try.

David Kieltyka
02-15-2005, 16:33
Jim, I confess I haven't taken any people pics with the Kobalux. In the 35mm format I've always liked the 35 or 40mm focal length for out & about people shots. With the Canon APS-C format D-SLRs (10D, 20D) I've been using a 24mm, which gives coverage in the same range. On the R-D1 I've used a 28mm (the CV Ultron), which gives a slightly narrower view but one that still works well. And I've used the 40mm Summicron-C a lot too. It's my favorite lens on the R-D1. 21mm is a "tweener" focal length for me on the R-D1. I find the 15mm Heliar to be a more suitable wide companion for both the 28 & 40mm. I have my eye on the upcoming CV 18mm.

-Dave-

Jim Watts
02-16-2005, 01:39
Dave,
I would regard the 21mm too wide for this sort of subject matter myself in the 35mm format and thats why I have never really felt the need to get one. Most of my photographs on my M4 (probably about 80%) are taken with the 35mm Summicron. Over the years I have "got my eye in" for this frame and know exactly where the frame lines are going to fall before I raise the camera to my eye, so this is my ideal. On the R-D1 with the 1.53 factor this of course = 53mm and so I am having to think about framing a bit more. I have the CV 25mm (=38mm) but this is f/4 and zone focusing only, not a problem in good light where I prefer to use hyper/zone focusing, but not eaisily useable at lower light levels even with the 1600iso of the R-D1. I think I am going to get the CV Ultron that you have and Sean highly reccommends as this seems very good value. I am waiting for my dealer to get one in for me to try at the moment. This has the advantage that the R-D1 has the frame lines built in (although a little tight for me as an eyeglass wearer) but it still maybe a little long for me at 42mm equivalent. A 21mm (=32mm) is a little wider than my ideal but has the advantage of a little more depth of field.

I have a 20D although it has not seen much use since I brought the R-D1 and with the 17 - 85mm EFS I seem always to be between about 22 & 26mm. I suppose I should sell the CV 25mm and buy a 24mm Leica Asp? Descisions, Descisions.

Doug
02-16-2005, 13:26
Jim, the 24-25mm focal length would seem close to ideal for you... There's also another lens in that range coming along soon, the Zeiss Biogon 25mm f/2.8 in M-mount. See http://www.zeissikon.com/lens.25.htm