View Full Version : Your Essential RD-1 Kit

04-25-2005, 04:51
Having had the pleasure of owning and RD-1 for 6 months and having tried out various lenses I'm now refining my kit down to a lightweight but versatile outfit for documentary work in low light.
My tiny Leica M continental bag contains the following:
21/2.8 Avenon
28/1.9 VC
50/1.5 VC
Thought about a 35mm - the Nokton 1.2 maybe but its not essential for me and when u consider the low noise 800 and 1600 ISO capability of the RD-1 an f1 or 1.2 is not of paramount importance.
If I had barrels of money I would probably take Leica versions but these VC lenses are v close behind & easily good enough for my work and cost so much less.
Although I'm sure I will continue to try out new lenses on the RD-1 from time to time, I feel that I'm more or less settled on this kit.
My final aquisition will be a finder for my 21mm and perhaps an ever-ready case for protection....
I'd just like to say thanks to Sean for his reviews which have certainly been a very valuable source of info in general and helped me make certain decisions regarding my choice of lenses.
What about all you chaps? Your essential RD-1 lenses are........?

Sean Reid
04-25-2005, 04:59
You're welcome. My kit is shaping up to be:

Commercial work and indoors:

CV 28/1.9
CV 35/1.7
CV 50/1.5

I'd rather have the Leica 35/1.4 Asph. but I can't spend that kind of money right now.

Sunny days outdoors:

Canon 28/2.8
Canon 35/2.8



04-25-2005, 06:13
I've been getting along fine so far with nothing more than the camera body, 35/1.7 Ultron, and a 50mm f/1.4 Canon, along with a couple of 512K Ultra II memory cards. This all fits easily into a small Tamrac belt bag. The two lenses are ones I already owned for use on my Canon and Bessa film cameras.

I've just acquired (thanks, Mike!) a 21/2.8 Avenon (Kobalux) and sometimes carry an 85/1.5 Canon or 100/2 Canon, along with the necessary auxiliary viewfinders (Voigtlander 21D for the Avenon and/or a Tewe zoom finder for the teles) but these are more special-purpose items than everyday kit.

Although I've been satisfied with my 50/1.4 Canon, based on Sean's samples I next plan to buy a 50/1.5 Nokton for indoor shooting, to get a bit more 'microcontrast' and fine detail rendering.

Eventually I'll probably add the 28/1.9 Voigtlander, to give me a little more spread between 'wide' and 'tele' than I have with the 35/50 combination. Since I wear glasses, though, it's a bit difficult for me to see the 28mm frameline, so I'll keep the 35 for more comfortable use when I don't need the extra width. I do have a Nikon diopter-correction lens so I can use the R-D 1 without glasses, but it's not always convenient to be taking the glasses off and then putting them back on between shots.

If cost were no object I'd buy the Leica or Carl Zeiss glass instead, since there do seem to be some visible image-quality benefits (based on the samples Sean has posted.) But currently I just can't rationalize the huge increase in cost relative to the modest increase in performance. Duplicating the set of lenses I need in the Leica brand would cost about the same as the downpayment on a new car, and considering the age of what I drive now, I'd be a lot better off spending that money (if I had it) on the car!

04-25-2005, 07:09
As a (thick) glasses-wearer (the adjective is for the glasses, not the wearer, although some might disagree), the 28 is a non-starter. I did not own any Leica or other 35mm lenses when I bought my R-D1, and have started with the:
VC 35mm 2.5 Pancake II
VC 50mm 1.5 Nokton

I am especially pleased with the Nokton. I have some, but no serious, regrets about not getting a faster 35mm, but may do so in time.

04-25-2005, 07:47
I'm finding that the perfect kit for me is the following:

VC 21mm f4 used with the VC 35mm finder (from my 35mm Ultron)
VC 28mm f1.9 Ultron
VC 50mm f1.5 Nokton

I find that I rarely use my 35mm, although I do love using the 12mm now and again (it's so small that I can easily put it and the 12D finder into my bag too). My 75mm that I got recently front focuses by about 6 inches, so I'm not currently using it.

I also wear glasses, but since I'm far-sighted, I usually take them off for shooting and only have to wear them for chimping!

04-25-2005, 07:58
I am using Tri-Elmar 28-35-50 on my R-D1


04-25-2005, 09:11
With the RD-1 I find my self using primarily 28 'cron and 50 'lux. I'll usually toss in a VC 12 or a Hexar 90 depending on how I feel. My usual favorite 35 'lux ASPH rarely gets used on the RD-1, but that means it gets to reside happily on the M6TTL (which I still use.... occasionally).


04-25-2005, 09:18
Summicrons 28, 40 and 50mm.

04-25-2005, 09:42
Won´t leave home without my Elmarit 21/2,8 mm...

04-25-2005, 10:05
I'm jealous of you guys with the 21 Elamarit. I'm happy with the CV's:
and a 50/2 Hexanon that is really nice.
I'm expecting a 75/2.5 in the mail any day now :)

I'm using the 21/2.8 Avenon, that Mike heroically rescued from obscurity in Tokyo. It's good in the middle, but I do miss a 21 with biting corners. <sigh>


04-25-2005, 12:46
Well, I have to add a lens! I just picked up a Leica 90mm f2.8 in great condition and I've just ordered a 135mm finder for it. This camera is such fun!

04-25-2005, 15:03
My essential kit:

R-D1, Two batteries, two 1 GB CF cards
Shoot RAW
CV 28 f/1.9 Ultron, 35 f/2.5 Pan II, 50 f/1.5 Nokton

Depending on what comes up, I pack:

15mm Super Wide Heliar
Tamrac auto flash (blue and yellow settings) (weighs almost nothing)
new: 90 mm f/4 Elmar (ancient, but has great low contrast color images)

The ENTIRE kit fits into a small Tamrac messenger.

If I want to really travel light, I pack the R-D1 and just the 35 f/2.5.

I've had mine for quite a while and love it. Before the warranty runs out I'll probably return it to get fixed up (the rangefinder is just slightly off), but I love this thing.

04-25-2005, 15:53
Current lineup:

VC 21/4 w 21D finder
VC 35/1.7
VC 40/1.4 SC

For the future, can't decide between:

VC 28/1.9 or
ZI 28/2.8


04-25-2005, 16:39
My essential kit on sunny days consists of:

Canon 28mm f2.8
Canon 35mm f2
Leica Summarit f2

It is fairly compact and would not break you wear even if you walk around with it for a whole day. However, when I foresee myself shooting in available darkness, I would use Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH and 50mm Noctilux instead.

Benjamin Marks
04-25-2005, 17:07
My 35/2 Apsh is more and more finding its way to the front of my R-D1. I have been experimenting with a slew of 50s and find that I rather like the 50 M-Hexanon and the new Zeiss-Ikon 50/2. I've had some problems with a Jupiter-8 up close and also a DR-Summicron. Hmmmm.

04-25-2005, 20:36
My kit for everyday is:
28mm f/2 Leica
50mm f/2 Leica
21mm CV
Nikon sb-30 flash.

Sometimes I bring along the:
90mm f/2 Leica. Latest.
15mm CV

I wish I had the 21mm Leica. I find the pixs from the leica lenses so much better in terms of color and contrast.


J. Borger
04-25-2005, 21:55
I bought the R-d1 to be able to use Leica lenses in the first place ... so that is what i bought.

35 Summicron asph
50 summicron
75 summilux

The 75mm is unfortunately difficult to focus wide open/ close-up.... for the looks it is my favourite lens though!

When i go out with mu R-D1 i just take 1 of the 3 lenses ... that;s what makes rangefindershooting so much fun for me. No bag ......no nothing .. just the camera, a spare battery in my pocket and me!

The need of an additional finder holds me back from the 21mm asph ....that and the fact i probably will not use it that much when a full frame rangefinder comes a lomg!

Last but not least .. i ordered some ND filters to be able to shoot the lenses wide open in daylight ... ....


04-26-2005, 04:53
For me, the basic kit is:

Avenon 21/2.8
CV 35/2.5 (Pancake, 1st version)

I also have several Konica M-mount lenses to use if I need, but I'm trying to keep my R-D1 set up as simple as possible.

Jim Watts
04-26-2005, 06:35
My Basic kit at the moment:
35mm f/2 Cron (even with a slight front focus problem).
50mm f/2 Cron
Spare battery.
Spare lens and battery in pocket so as to travel as light as possible.
In reserve:
21mm f/2.8 Avenon
25mm f/4 VC Skopar
90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit
Up & Coming:
28mm VC f/1.9 Ultron
40mm f/2 Cron or 40mm f/1.4 VC Nokton

04-26-2005, 09:05
I'm finding, like quite a few of us, that I like taking the RD-1 with just 1 lens a spare battery and a few cards, recently the lens seems to be one of the 50mms.

I seem to have amassed a few 50s in the last few years :eek: .
I currently have:
50mm f1 Noct, 50mm f1.4 Lux, 50mm f2 Cron, 50mm f1.2 Canon
and a 60mm f1.2 Hexanon.

Then the rest.
21mm f2.8 Avenon, 35mm f2 Cron ASPH, 90mm f4 Elmar, 135mm f4 Elmar
280mm f4.8 Telyt (Have to get visoflex)

Would like to get my hands on
15mm Hologon(Dreaming), 80mm f2.8 Planar, 43mm f1.9 Pentax.
and either a 24mm or 28mm.

I have a few other older lenses but they either dont fit,(Flange) or I don't think they are a good match with the RD-1.

04-26-2005, 10:52

CV 28 1.9
CV 35 1.7
CV 50 1.5
CV 75 2.5
Summarit 50 1.5

All fits in a smallish Billinham bag and no real problem weight wise. However, a lot of the time I just take the RD1 and one lens and frame with my feet. Don't feel the need for anything else although GAS needs a 21mm, all the Leica lenses that were ever made and a spare RD1 just in case.

04-26-2005, 11:36
Normal R-D1 Kit in Hadley Pro:
24 elmarit asph
35 lux asph
50 lux asph
3 batteries
2 extreme III 1gb
80 GB CompactDrive PD7X HD

currently testing 21 Avenon and 21 CV


Charles D. Orze
04-26-2005, 18:06
I'm heading off to southwest China (Sichuan and Yunnan) for several weeks and am taking the R D1, an M6, the Avenon 21mm, cv 28mm, cv 40mm, and cv 75mm. Also my trusty 1951 Jupiter 3 (50mm, which produces exquistely toned B&W on the R D1), a Nikon varifocal finder (for the cv 40) and a Russian Zeiss clone finder (for the 21mm Avenon.

04-26-2005, 19:42

CV 28 1.9
CV 35 1.7
CV 50 1.5
CV 75 2.5

What do you use as a finder for the 75? Just curious...

04-26-2005, 21:21
I don't have a finder for the 75. Just shoot inside the RD1's 50 frame - not the best solution, but seems to work OK for me.


Ed Schwartzreic
04-27-2005, 02:34
While I admit it is a rare bird, the Nikkor 105 brightline finder serves well here. The inner set of lines (for close focus) are perfect for a 75.


Sean Reid
04-27-2005, 08:54
Hi Ed,

I'm not sure if you received my last two e-mails. Please e-mail me at [email protected] when you get a chance.



rami G
04-27-2005, 11:58
I managed to travel a whole month with the Leica 28 cron asph and rearly the VC 15,
since I returned I am using (in about that order):
Leica 35 lux apsh
Leica 21 Elm asph
Leica 28 Elmarit (which I find to have significantly nicer colors on RD-1 than the 28 Cron asph)
Some evenings I am taking only the Leica 75 lux with great success in focus accuracy
I hardly use the 50 cron.... Never mounted the 135 apo Telyt
unfortunately, I am waiting now for my RD-1 to return from Epson for hot pixels and other issue

04-27-2005, 13:20
...Leica 28 Elmarit (which I find to have significantly nicer colors on RD-1 than the 28 Cron asph)...

I prefer the Summicron personally.

rami G
04-27-2005, 18:16
Don't get me wrong LCT, I love my summicron as well, but I think the cron does have some of this aspherical harsh to it while the Elmarit is really a great "old timer"
here is an Elmarit pic, but I am not sure any claims about color have any meaning in an online presentation, rather than looking directly to the slide:


04-28-2005, 00:57
Nice pic Rami :)
The Summicron is very sharp for sure but its bokeh is quite soft i feel.
It is the first asph lens giving me this feeling in fact (haven't use the 50mm asph yet) but it is a matter of personal taste of course.