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Canon Rangefinders - Peter Dechert and Peter Kitchingman Peter Dechert is best known for his Canon Rangefinder, Canon SLR, and Olympus Pen books, the latter two long out-of-print. He was a monthly columnist for many years for SHUTTERBUG magazine, and has contributed to many others. Most recently he has written about the pre-WW2 Zeiss 35mm cameras, but his interests in camera equipment and optics are many and varied. As a pro protographer and honorary life member of ASMP, Peter is also expert in using the gear! Peter Kitchingman - author of Canon Rangefinder Lens book Peter Kitchingman's 'Canon M39 Rangefinder Lenses 1939-71' book is the definitive source on these very interesting optics. His interests also go to the entire Canon Rangefinder system and beyond.

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Canon 135mm f3.5 vs Leitz 135mm f4
Old 01-17-2015   #1
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Canon 135mm f3.5 vs Leitz 135mm f4


does anyone have any experience of the Canon 135/3.5 they could share with me. I am particularly interested in how it compares to the Elmar 135/4.


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Old 01-17-2015   #2
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I have had two of the Canon lenses, and they have been excellent, lacking in no way. However, Canon RF lenses can sometimes be, uh, "tempermental" regarding how well the RF coupling is tuned, and both of mine have needed tampering to set them exactly right (as did my 85mm/1.5). Once that's settled, they're good. I don't have any experience with the Leica equivalents, though.

That's with the black ones. I also have a chrome one buried somewhere, but haven't been able to find it recently. Be warned that the chrome version is HEAVY!
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Old 01-17-2015   #3
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I had a chrome Canon 135. Excellent lens but the weight was enough for me to abandon it in favor of a Canon 100/3.5. I was watching for a well priced black Canon when a bargain 135 Tele-Elmar showed up.

I bought it and love the lens to be honest, I'm not sure if the results are all that much better than the Canon. I stuck with the TE since it was a good deal, clean and the ergonomics worked well for me.

I would have zero regrets going with a good clean Canon 135 if this lens hadn't come along when it did.
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Old 01-22-2015   #4
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I've had 3 Canon 135/3.5s. I had to give 1 away to my daughter, she liked it so much. They are the sharpest long LTM lens I've ever used. Good contrast and colors too. I've used several other 135s, including the Leicas, sold them.

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Old 11-10-2015   #5
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I've used both. I now have only the black Canon 135mm f/3.5. IMHO it's better than the Leitz 135mm f/4.
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Old 11-10-2015   #6
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No experience with the Canon, but the Tele-Elmar 4 is a wonderful lens.
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Old 12-16-2016   #7
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A lot's changed in a year and I now have a chrome Canon 135 f3.5, bought specifically to go with a Leica ltm camera. I've only used it a couple of times so far, but the results are outstanding. The weight does overwhelm my tiny IIIa, but the results are worth the weight.
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Old 12-16-2016   #8
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Very nice ... I have the black version of the Canon 135 mm f/3.5 which I use on a IIIf... paired with the Leitz 13.5 cm bright line finder... lovely results

As well I have the Canon 28 mm f/2.8 and 50 mm f/1.8 ... I need to use them more often.
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Old 12-16-2016   #9
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I have had both the chrome and the black versions. If it comes to that I also had the smaller Serenar version. Of these I preferred the black one overall due to its performance which is exceedingly good and it's relative lightness compared to the chrome version which is a monster. I recently took one with me to Bali as a lightweight long lens to be mounted on a Micro four thirds camera (giving 270mm equivalent). It performed flawlessly. I have a photo made with it of shot along the coast from Jimbaran Bay east towards the airport several kilometers away. I will see if I can post it here as it was surprisingly sharp given the distance, opportunities for haze etc. The short story us that it works well on smaller format cameras as an alternative to lugging huge full format lenses around when overseas. I also recall this lens working well on my M cameras if the rangefinder was calibrated properly - as another poster here says the Canon longer lenses can be out a bit and sometimes require recalibration for the M. I found this to be an issue with a few Canon long lenses but for some reason less so with the black version of the Canon 135mm. I have not had the Leica 135mm so cannot comment on how they compare, but can attest that the Canon 135mm is every bit as sharp as say Leica's 90mm Tele Elmarit which I do have.

Here is the shot referred to. It may not appear especially sharp in this version but given the extended distance and atmospheric conditions the lens did a fine job in my view. If you could see a large resolution version (sadly not available on the hosting site I used) there is an impressive amount of detail evident. At 100% the original image allows you to readily read the company logos on the planes' fuselages. The distance from Jimbaran where I was located, to the airport is approximately 6 kilometres. Not bad for a 60 year old lens.

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Old 12-16-2016   #10
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I have the black finish Canon RF 135mm lens. It is a good lens but in 25 years I only ever used it a few times because it is not a focal length I find useful and especially on RF cameras.

I also have a Zuiko 135mm f 2.8 lens for the OM system, it is a gem of a lens and a superior and faster lens to the Canon, but that is expected, as it is from a later generation, and I also use it very infrequently.
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Old 12-16-2016   #11
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I owned the 135 f4 Elmar ( not the Tele-Elmar). I assume you're asking about the vintage non telephone design. It was a good lens but nothing special. It's probably a touch better than the Hektor but I don't remember it being special. I'd say it's a typical lens of the 60's if that's the look you want. It is however fairly large.

I owned a couple of 135 Elmarit's, the ones with the goggles. They're good lenses and I'd say they're better than the Elmar but they're large, heave and the goggles are large and they tend to become misalligned easily. Both Elmarits I had needed the goggles aligned more than once.

I don't own a 135 for my Leicas right now and really don't think it's a good fit for an RF. When I want a 135 I go to my Nikon SLRs. The longest lens I own for my Leicas is a beautiful Nikkor 105 f2.5 LTM.
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Old 12-16-2016   #12
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I've got the Canon and a number of others.

The TE 135/4 is a benchmark lens, and really only beaten barely by the APO. So as noted, the 135/3.5 canon is quite good and better than pre-TE leitz, though the Nikkor 135/3.5 is extremely strong and may well beat the Canon. That was DDD's favorite.

The Elmarit 135/2.8 is outstanding, and if calibrated properly, nothing will focus as well on M body at 135 FL, including APO. The Elmarit is also very "Mandler", compared to all other options. I bought one on a whim and now use it all the time: more than the APO. You can nail WO focus all day long on M9:

At River Run by unoh7, on Flickr

Here is the Canon LTM 135/3.5 at F/8 on M9:

L1014496 by unoh7, on Flickr
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Old 12-16-2016   #13
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I agree that the 135 2.8 is a wonderful lens. I have one and use it regularly on M cameras. It is a lens I would not like to be without. But for the Barnacks, the Canon seems to be a good fit with the other ltm lenses I have - 85 2.8 Super Rocker and Canon 50 1.5.
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Old 12-16-2016   #14
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I have the black Canon 135/3.5 and all praise above is true. I got it for a steal as it was engraved on the barrel, the only flaw.
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