View Full Version : Just purchased a Leica 90mm APO-summicron-M lens
First off I have to say I love this lens for it's compactness, it's absolute vivid color rendition. But I think I have a focusing problem. I shoot tball games last Sat. and everything was out of focus when I shot at f/2. I was being the 1st base coach when shooting the players as they batted. Wonderful expressions, timing and color but all out of focus! I then did a test and I have noticed that the rf is focusing on the subject but the lens is set a little in front. For instance the picture below. I focused on the snapple label but the natural word on the Styrofoam cup is in focus. I checked in the rangefinder and the natural was not in focus but the right hand circle of the snapple label was. I have done several tests shots like theses this morning and they all came out the same. The other lenses 50, 35,28,21,15 seem not to have this problem. Is it only this lens with this camera?
Also why when I use Epson's camera raw I have to apply about 1 stop of more exposure when I convert photos but I do not have to do this when use RawDevewloper or Adobe Raw. Has anybody seen this also?
Focussing accurately at f/2 with a 90mm lens is not possible on the R-D1 otherwise than by chance... or genius i'm afraid.
You'd need something like a 60mm RF effective baselength for this purpose when the R-D1's is only 38.2mm.
So based on the rangefinder lengths or baselines what apertature should I be shooting at? also would a magnafier help or is it just not happening because of the base lenght?
So based on what LCT said what are the baselengths needed for various lenses?
According to the usual formula, f/ 3.5 should do it normally.
The widest aperture of 90mm lenses for Leica CL or Minolta CLE was f/4 due to the short baselength of their RFs as well.
I have found this web page which describes this topic and has tables.
Roughly, the widest apertures we can use accurately on the R-D1 are:
28mm: wider than f/ 1.0
35mm: wider than f/ 1.0
40mm: wider than f/ 1.0
50mm: f/ 1.0
75mm: f/ 2.4
80mm: f/ 2.8
90mm: f/ 3.5
Strange, Going by the tables on that page I shouldn't be able to use
my 135mm Elmar, but I can.....I admit I did get quite a few OOF
but percentage wise perhaps 15-20%...
Of course you'll get good results at the infinite at any aperture with your 135mm lens.
Otherwise, it will be difficult at wider apertures than f/8...
Which does not mean that it is impossible of course.
That pic has been shot at f/ 5.6 with an Elmar 135/4.0 for example.
BTW Cosina Voigtlander 75mm and 90mm lenses are opened at f/ 2.5 and 3.5 due to the short baselength of the Bessa's RF i guess.
See hear is a question. How does the Cosina Voightlander 90mm lens compare to the Leica 90mm f/2 shot at f/4? Is the quality of the color and sharpness the same. One thing I have noticed is that my Leica lenses blow the pants off of the CV lenses in terms of color and sharpness.
I was going to disagree with the postings here, because despite the physics involved, there is something about the R-D1's rangefinder (I have mentioned this before) that makes focusing more accurate, as images seem to pop into clarity rather than focus. Others have noted this too.
So I went of with my 90AA to prove my point. I took shots wide open at 1 meter, 2 meters, and 3 meters, focussed on the cookie box. The first 2 shots were pretty much right on, but the one at 3 meters was hard to get accurate focus the first time. Overall, there was more of a problem with camera shake than focus, though, at the closer range. I think that if the focus target had been larger, though, my 3 meter shot would have been easier.
If a 90AA does not focus right, it is likely to be RF adjustment rather than poor focusing, IMO. The R-D1's RF is a champ for focus, despite its short base, if all is set up right.
I blew it posting the 3 shots. Here they are.
I haven't got focusing problems with most of my M lenses so far but the R-D1 is much less accurate than any of my 0.72x, 0.85x or 0.91x M bodies to be honest...
I have no trouble accurately focusing my LTM 85mm Sonnar at f/2 on the R-D1. The Sonnar goes down to 85cm, and I can nail the focus at this distance consistently. This seems to defy the laws of optics--short RF baselength, long-ish focal length--but it works fine nonetheless. :cool:
It's an awesome lens- I really like mine, and I like the "nearly macro" feature of close focusing it- I get much more on film close than with the 35mm.
I suggest you check out if the front focus problem is not caused by a Cam compatibility problem. I can focus my Tele-Elmarit f/2.8 consistantly at full aperture (as long as I do it carefully), but my 35mm f/2 Cron front focuses as noted before.
Try the usual angled shots against a ruler or across a newspaper at full aperture preferably on a tripod. Repeat a few times (defocus and refocus each time) and if the front focus amount is consistant its probably the cam. If the sharpest point is more radom in each photo its down to the inability of the rangefinder base to achieve focus.
I have tried those tests and the focus point is in front of the point I focused at consistently at about the same spot. I have no problems in focusing my other lenses. Is there a special adjustment for this lens to be made to the camera or lens itself?
If its consistantly front focusing by the same amount then its almost certainly the compatibility between the Cam & the R-D1's Cam follower and it is a bit of a problem with no easy solution.
First I would try to check the lens on a Leica M body to see if the front focus problem occurs here as well. Should it be out by a similar amount a good repairer should be able to adjust the cam to work with both cameras, but it will probably be O.K., my 35mm Cron is fine on my M4.
If you only intend to use this lens on the R-D1 you could still have the lens cam shimed or reground to match the R-D1 BUT it then would probably not be accurate on other cameras and it would be unethical if you sold it on in future in this state. It might also be fairly expensive.
You could adjust the R-D1 rangefinder to give better focus with this lens but then the cameras rangefinder would not be accurate with your other lenses so this dosn't seem a good idea. One member here had already adjusted his R-D1 to match a front focus 35mm Cron like this before he realised the implications. So its a very limited solution.
If its not out by much and in most cases is covered by DOF you could live with it. This is what I do with my Cron remembering to back focus a little when in close at wide apertures. This of courses is easier with a 35mm lens than a 90mm so is probably not acceptable in your case.
Lastly and possibly the best solution if you purchased from a dealer is to try and exchange it for another example of the same lens with a different vintage (fairly big difference in serial numbers). The 35mm Crons are a bit problematic in this respect with all type 3 & 4 from Canada between 1975 & 1985 (and probably wider) I have seen having the problem. Later 35mm asph's seem O.K. but I can't afford the upgrade. Yours is the first focus problem I have heard of with the 90mm f/2 so you might be luckier.
Is your example Canadian (Midland, Ontario)? If so see if you can try a Wetzlar example.
A bit further information with helpful onward links from others in my post here: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5373
it referes to the 35mm Cron dates but some you should find info on the 90mm at the same sites.
Sorry, The following really has nothing to do with the Thred itself.
But will members please refrain from posting shots of food!!!! :(
As I am in Japan and you have no idea how these shots make me feel!!
Costs are high for a lot of things but western junk food!.
I have to basically fork out almost four times the price overhere.
Snapple = 5-6 US$ and a jar of marmite = over 5 pounds :eek:
What I'd do for a packet of Walkers Salt n Vinegar chrisps. :bang:
Sorry for that. I have to go take my medication now..... ;)
You can always start a "Western food for lens" trade economy going using the recent deadstock lenses you found! :D
Bob good Idea. It would be awsome I could get............
Naw knowing my luck it would be confiscated by the
mini Japanese customs gestapo. :( They seem to have a knack
for finding MY food parcels from home, 3 thusfar! :bang:
(I'm sure that the stuff is consumed by them!!)
Here is an update. I took the lens back to the photo store and received a new one. This one focuses a lot better. I will be able to do more tests tonight.
Well the lens is off still a little bit. I just received my Epson r-d1 from B&H today and tried it out. Same drunken frame lines but the focusing with the 90mm f/2 is now dead on. Much much better! Maybe my old R-D1 was not set correctly for the 90mm.
Chris, when I had the RD-1 on loan for a while I experienced a problem with the 90AA as well. It just would not focus at all at shorter distances (less than 3m or so) and not accurately at longer distances. I believe it was a problem with the 'arm' in the 90 that transmits the motion of the cam in the lens not mating correctly with the cam follower in the camera. The arm has a fairly short useable length to mate with the cam follower, and if it misses this slightly the cam follower will be on the 'slope' of the arm, and will produce a consistent focussing error in the direction you experienced. Mine just happened to be further off. My Tele-Elmarit was fine, as was my 135 Tele-Elmar, but the 75/1.4 was also a bit off consistently.
I think the geometry of the rangefinder cam follower is somewhat different than the Leica lenses expect, just like the issue with the CL and its lenses, and this causes problems with different lenses.
Hi guys, any further comments or experiences with longer lenses on the RD-1? I was thinking about the VC 75/2.5
Any user reports regarding this lens on the RD-1 ?
Vicenzo... I have a 75/2.5 and it front-focuses about 10cm at 2m. I'm going to try to get it adjusted, as my other lenses are fine. The previous owner had no trouble with it, so I guess it's down to QC variations in both body/lens.
Thanks Phil. I'll go and test it in my local store...
Note to Henning,
I used the same R-D1 loaner as you did last fall (from Tom A) and my 90 AA was spot-on.
I am now in a total quandry as to what to do after reading first Henning's report above and then Ed's.
I too have an R-D1 and a Leica 90mm APO-summicron-M lens.
When it is on my M6 ttl it works perfectly, razor sharp at 1m close focus, absolutely spot on.
However, on the R-D1 it is constantly focussing about 2 inches in front of the actual point that was focussed on.
The R-D1 is now with Epson UK being checked out.
After reading Henning's post it looks as though i will have to take the Leica 90mm APO-summicron-M lens back and get either a Leica 90mm NON-APO-summicron-M lens or a Leica 90mm Elmarit-M lens if i wish to use it on both the M6 ttl and the R-D1.
Then i read Ed's post and he appears to suggest that it is either an R-D1 problem or that adifferent Leica 90mm APO-summicron-M lens may work ok.
Can either Henning or Ed, or anyone else please help?
This is not a problem with the R-D1 in terms of defect, it is merely that focusing the 90 ASPH (I have one too that I use only with my M7 .85x) is requires greater precision than is possible on the R-D1. I have had good luck with the Voigtlander 75 at f2.5, but the 90 at f2 simply requires a longer rangefinder base like the .72x or .85x. At f2, it's actually even better to use a Leica body with the 1.25x magnifier just to be safe. Even with a high-mag finder, 90mm at f2 is best with a stationary subject.
Thanks for the response Brad.
I only started to think about it after reading the previous posts.
I have no problem focussing the 90 AA on my 0.72 M6, so long as they are static :) .
It was just that other Leica 90's appear to have no difficulties, only the 90 AA has the problem, apparently due to the fact that it has a plate that moves in and out instead of the usual continuous ring on the rear, and it would appear from Mr Schwartzreic's post that some 90 AA's will focus correctly and it is indeed the lens and not the R-D1 at fault.
I have already had a word with the dealer i bought the lens from, and when i get my R-D1 back from Epson UK i will re test it with the 90 AA and if i still have a problem, return to the dealer and try another 90 AA that he has in stock.
I'm an optimistic guy, but in reality, I know that the 37mm effective baselength of the R-D1's rangefinder means that focusing a 90mm at f2 (or even 2.8) is what Tom Abrahamsson might call "hope over experience", meaning that getting accurate focus at close range and wide open (without the 58mm precision of the .85 Leica finders or the 49mm accuracy of the .72 M finder) is really a matter of luck over the ability to repeat the task.
You should be able to do this with these two Leica finders, but with the 90 f2, 75 f1.4 or 50 Noctilux, it really will be next to impossible to do reliably. The tendency to miss focus is usually the user, not the rangefinder. When I am off, it's almost always focused slightly *past* the intended point of focus. Since DOF works as 1/3 front, 2/3 back of focus point (portrait shooters figure this one out the hard way), it's easy to blow focus even with precise finders at close range.
I use my 75mm Voigt with the Bessa R3A (same finder as the R-D1 at 1:1) and it will focus reasonably accurately at f2.5 or f2.8, but the focusing accuracy and consistency will increase SIGNIFICANTLY with the M finders, especially the .85x. Adding the 1.25x magnifier to that will give you a 1.06x finder, something that will not only give you the best accuracy possible, but also make the 90mm brightlines fill the frame nicely instead of the postage stamp in the center.
In other words, nothing is wrong with the R-D1 in terms of defect, it is just a byproduct of the shorter focusing accuracy, reliably out of the range of the requirements for the 90mm. I don't think it's an accident that there aren't brightlines for anything longer than a 50mm (75 FOV) in the R-D1 finder. Returning the camera or lens will not remedy the problem as they all have the same focusing accuracy. Fine with wide to normal, not enough for telephoto, especially at f2. You can see the DOF charts on Leica's site, also, which confirm that there is essentially zero latitude at f2.
If you look at the front of the camera (compared to the M6/M7/MP or Zeiss Ikon), you'll see that the two rangefinder windows are extremely close together. This is the physical baselength for the camera's rangefinder. The accuracy of this finder is improved slightly over the R2a in that the finder is a 1.0x magnification (or 1:1). Look at where the finder windows are for a Leica. They are significantly further apart. The magnfication on a Leica is lower, but the focusing accuracy is greater because the physical baselength that the focusing system uses for triangulation is much greater. You will not see 75/90/135 brightlines unless a forthcoming R-D2 uses a different physical rangefinder, like the one from Zeiss Ikon (also a Cosina made body). You can see this ambiguity when you focus with the R-D1, then rock back and forward slightly, seeing no change in the RF patch. When you do this on a high-mag finder, you'll instantly see the focusing error.
I love the R-D1 a lot, but if precision focus is required with long lenses, I reach for the .85 finder.
I can see where you are coming from with the rangefinder base length with regards to focussing accuracy, but for every test shot i did to be front focussed by the same ammount would indicate to me that it was either a lens or camera problem.
There may be nothing wrong with my R-D1, but Epson UK have sent it off to Epson France to check it over for me as apparently Epson UK do not have the expertise to check the R-D1's over.
That was the good news, the bad news is that i shall be without it for at least another week !!!!!!!!!!!
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