View Full Version : Lens advice

05-05-2010, 11:50
After receiving an old Leica III as a gift from my Godfather, I started shooting film again after being on the DSLR side for many years. Enjoyed so much that I ended up buying a Zeiss Ikon with a 35mm 2.0 lens. Having lot of fun and enjoying the rangefinder style of photography. My plan is to eventually get an M9, likely by the end of the year.

My question is regarding recommendation for my next lens. I have seen and heard about the Leica 50mm 1.4 quality and bokeh. Indeed an amazing lens, but due to its scarcity and price, I will wait a bit longer, likely after buying the M9.

I want to eventually have a trio of 28, 35 and 50mm lens. I am between two lens: The Leica 28mm 2.8 and the Zeiss 50mm Sonnar. I know they are completely different and have their pros and cons. The Sonnar is fast lens, has amazing color rendering but has the known focus shift propriety. The Leica one is a very compact, relatively fast lens and affordable for Leica standards.

I would like to hear your opinion and advice regarding those lens and any other suggestion would be very welcomed.



Steve Bellayr
05-05-2010, 11:56
With the Zeiss Sonnar f1.5 never had a problem with the "focus shift". The Zeiss 28mm is less than the Leica and probably as good except for the new version. If you are definitely planning to go for an M9 consider the 6 bit coding that may be necessary. There is a lot of discussion on previous threads concerning these issues.

05-05-2010, 13:26
I've had a Zeiss 50/1.5 sonnar. And I did find the focus shift to be an issue that bothered me - at least with the version optimized for focus at 2.8.
I liked it a lot more after sending it to Zeiss for an adjustment to focus at 1.5. But then, I'm a user who tends to shoot wide-open quite a bit.

I ended up selling mine. A nice lens, though. If I had to pick between two options you offered, that's probably the way I would go.

05-05-2010, 13:37
I've never been fond of the 28mm focal length so it's an easy call for me.

I do have the C-Sonnar optimized for f1.5. Yes, the focus shift is evident when shooting up close, but like anything else, you just need to be aware of it and shoot accordingly.

The focus shift has never really bothered me, but more often than not, I will try to shoot my C-Sonnar wide open (slower film, use ND filter, etc...), where that "sonnar look" is most evident.

OTOH, if you think you'll stop down for most shots, then you might as well get the Planar for its sharpness.

05-05-2010, 13:38
If you want a fast 50, there are many options - all good:
Canon 50/1.5 and 1.4 LTM, Nikkor 5cm/1.4 ltm, CV 50/1.5 ASPH LTM. They are all good and offer different things.
But if you want a solid performance and good all around 50 - I'd get either M-Hexanon 50/2, ZM Planar 50/2 or 50/2 Current Summicron.
Personally I prefer Hexanons to all others, but it really is a personal thing - I have tried all but Canon 50/1.4 of listed above and still have all LTM ones I listed and Hexanon in M mount. (And thats not even all the 50mm lenses I own ;) )
Another compromise could be a CV 40/1.4 - good, small, fast "almost" 50mm lens.

05-05-2010, 13:45
As a 50mm I would suggest the pre asph Summilux. No focus shift, beautiful rendering and bokeh, half way between the Sonnar and Summicron. The C Sonnar is a wonderful lens, but it takes some exoerience in handling. For the 28mm, you will probably be fine with the Elmarit ASPH - it is tiny and sharp, even if I am not terribly fond of its character. The top lens in this FL is the Summicron.

05-05-2010, 21:38
Thank you very much for the replies. As mfogiel mentioned, it seems that the Sonnar takes some experience and practice to get used to but it is a wonderful glass. I think this will be a perfect companion to a M9 since I would not be burning so much film on the process of learning. Once familiarized with it, will use for film as well. It seems that there are plenty of options on the 50mmm side.

Back to the Leica 28mm 2.8 Elmarit, what really attracted me was the small and compact size. The ZM appears to be bigger and I am not familiar with the other options on this focal length. Would love to hear impression about this lens. The only review I found was from Steve Huffs (his first lens review), links are welcome.

Thanks again


05-05-2010, 22:29
IIt is a sharp lens from wide open, with high contrast, good flare resistance and almost no distortion. I have tested it against the Biogon 28/2.8 ZM and the Ultron 28/2. It is sharper than the Ultron, both in the center and in the corners, it is slightly less sharp than the Biogon in the center, but sharper in the corners. It is a no brainer lens in my opinion, and its quality is inthe ratio of overall performance to size.


This was shot wide open





note the somewhat edgy bokeh of the rim of the rooftops here