View Full Version : SA 21/3.4 M questions

01-05-2009, 14:46
I have been reading about the SA 21/3.4 M lately and a few questions come up. Would appreciate any input.
1. What's the difference between the early silver chrome and later black chrome version?
2. It seems like the silver one was selling almost twice as expensive as the black one a couple of years ago, but the price is basically identical today. What happened?
3. Is one better than the other? or it is just cosmetic change?
4. How much would be a reasonable price for silver or the black one with original hood?


Tom A
01-05-2009, 15:14
The early LTM 21f4.0 used to carry a premium price as it could be used on a screw-mount body. It was also made in lesser quantity. Performance of that version was so-so. Not great lens and once the VC 21f4 became available. the price plummeted.
The 21f3.4 in silver or black used to be pretty evenly priced. the early #2000 000 + was more frequent in silver and the black version tended to get beaten up and show scars on the black finish more easily. It was also a lens that attracted a lot of professionals - which also accounted for the "worn" condition.
There was a change in the coating in the mid 70's - nothing dramatic, just a bit more contrast. The later versions (#2600 000+) where almost all done in black. My current one is one of the last ones they made (#2900 000 something) and I cant really see any difference between that one and my last "mid range" one (2600 000 something).
Be sure to get the correct hood for it - it is getting difficult to find and expensive. Also check that the rear element "pack" is on solid. It had a tendency to rattle loose with time. Not a big thing to fix, but often the job is botched by using the wrong screw drivers and too much LocTite or nail polish and it can "degauss" onto the elements.
As for pricing, I dont follow that as I already have one. Check E-bay and RFf classified's for past prices.
Great lens and truly outstanding center resolution even at f3.4. You will also get to like vignetting a bit. If you shoot bl/w - you will never have to edgeburn another print!

01-05-2009, 15:31
Thanks a lot Tom. So the black one wears more easily than the silver one but performance-wise they are identical ? I want a silver one to go with my m4 but the decent priced silver 21/3.4 is nowhere to be found :(

01-05-2009, 16:06
I'm sure they're out there, it only depends on your definition of a decent price. Great lens in it's day and even by current standards it's quite good but it's a more difficult beast to handle with slide film in that exposure is best by bracketing your shots to balance the degree of falloff against possible compensatory overexposure in the center. Corner falloff and lack of TTL metering makes it less desirable to me than say, the current ZM 21/4.5 Biogon. Although 2/3 stop slower, falloff isn't nearly as bad and it can be used with TTL bodies, even an M5.