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Battle of the 35mm//2.8 Lenses: Leica, Minox, Olympus, Nikon
Old 09-19-2017   #1
giganova
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Battle of the 35mm//2.8 Lenses: Leica, Minox, Olympus, Nikon

I thought I do a little (unscientific) shootout and comparison of four rangefinder 35mm f/2.8 lenses. One premium camera and three el cheapo point and shoot cameras. Below is a full-frame image. At the screen resolution, all images of the four cameras look identical, perfectly exposed and very sharp, so I only post one full-frame image below (shot with the Summaron) and some detailed crops.



1) Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8:
Much has been written about this lens. It is superb.

2) Olympus Mju II 35mm f/2.8:
I bought this camera for $20 at an estate sale last weekend. Came with the original sales receipt, in absolutely mint condition and loaded with a film and battery that expired in the 90s! ;-)
Plus: Absolutely brilliant camera with a superb lens! Here is the surprise kicker: this lens is just as sharp as the Leica Summaron! I actually think it is sharper. Plus, I took some photos against the sun and there was virtually no lens flare whatsoever. Amazing! The viewfinder is super bright and very sharp with a large eye relieve, so even if you wear glasses, you can see the full frame. Best viewfinder I have ever seen. Plus, the sliding door mechanism to open the lens and power the camera on is very convenient and offers great protection. While the flash is not very powerful, it has a flash fill-in setting.
Minus: the viewfinder has no frame lines, what you see inside the finder is (roughly) what you get on film. When the camera spools the film back, the film lead will disappear inside the film canister. Also, while it has a built-in flash, it is tiny and not very powerful. Unlike the Minox, there is not much to control here, you press the shutter button and hope for the best.

3) Minox 35 ML 35mm f/2.8:
This is the 4th Minox ML that I bought overt the past couple of weeks. All of them were advertised as in “Excellent condition and battery tested”. Well, turns out that none of them works properly: one was dead on arrival, on one the shutter didn’t fire, and on one the aperture was stuck. This forth one works, sort of, in program mode, but it is stuck in program mode and aperture priority doesn’t work. But if you can find one in working condition, it is a brilliant little camera:
Plus: I love the (tiny) form factor of that camera, that it has aperture priority and program mode, manual focus and manual film rewind. It also has a +2 exposure button. A real shooters camera! However:
Minus: The aperture and focus rings are tiny and very difficult to operate. Of the four lenses that I tested here, this is the softest, has significant barrel distortion, and the viewfinder lack sharpness and brightness. When shooting against the sun, you get tons of ugly lens flare. Overall, I am disappointed by this camera and the lens. I heard that people rip out the lenses of dead Minox 35 cameras and mount them on Leica M's. Given that this is the weakest of the lenses tested here, it doesn't make much sense to me.

4) Nikon One Touch 35mm f/2.8:
This is the cheapest of the bunch. Bought it on Ebay for $18 in mint condition. Yes, that’s right, $18 for a superb camera.
In other words, you could get one hundred of them for the price of one Leica M4 + Summaron lens!
Plus: Superb lens! Just as sharp as the Summaron and the Olympus Mju, maybe even a touch sharper. I also love that when the camera spools the film back, it leaves a bit of the film lead outside the film canister. It takes regular AA batteries that you can find anywhere (which is a bit of problem for the Minox and Olympus cameras). The flash is great, too, more powerful that that of the Olympus.
Minus: The camera is very plasticky and it is not nearly as small as the Minox or Olympus. Like the Olympus, this is a “point and shoot” camera with no controls whatsoever.

Bottom Line: To be honest, I expected the Summaron to blow the other three lenses out of the water, but it didn’t. Each of these four cameras and lenses are absolutely brilliant! To me, the Olympus Mju II is the surprise winner of the point-and-shoot cameras. Being so tiny and light, its the perfect camera to always have with you. I wanted to love the Minox for its controls and silent “stealth” operation (no loud automatic film winding!), but of the four Minox that I bought, none of them worked properly. That’s a 100% failure rate. I also like the Nikon: the images are superb and for that small amount of money, there is no reason to not bring it to the next party, wedding, or do some other photography where you don’t have to worry if the camera gets stolen and damaged.

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Old 09-19-2017   #2
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1) Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8:


2) Olympus Mju II 35mm f/2.8:


3) Minox 35 ML 35mm f/2.8:


4) Nikon One Touch 35mm f/2.8:
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Old 09-19-2017   #3
giganova
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1) Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8:


2) Olympus Mju II 35mm f/2.8:


3) Minox 35 ML 35mm f/2.8:


4) Nikon One Touch 35mm f/2.8:
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Old 09-19-2017   #4
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Fun to see! Thank you for taking the time to do this and share here. I guess as with comparisons I've done for myself in the past, when results are close as shown here overall, it comes down to factoring also rendering, and which camera I really feel most comfortable using. I really enjoy using my XA and find the rendering keeps it in play against so to speak "better" or faster glass.

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Old 09-19-2017   #5
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Yeah, that's the big surprise to me: I could go and take some really cool street photos, and nobody could tell the difference if it was shot with a $18 or a $1,800 camera!
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Old 09-19-2017   #6
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Official Olympus MJU II page:
http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_se...sp?id=291&fl=4

Four elements in four groups, probably a Unar/Tessar variation.
I read it elsewhere that there is at least one aspherical lens element in it. Can't find the page now.
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Old 09-19-2017   #7
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Giganova, You Crazy...Crazy Good Crazy Fun !!!
Now me wants an Olympus .
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Old 09-19-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
.....Now me wants an Olympus .
I had it's Digital Sister, Olympus D-100 many moons ago. LOVED the side, the slide and at the time, the quality.

The low cost of the Nikon has me thinking, while a lot bigger, I'm too much a Nikon-aholic to not.

B2 (;->
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Old 09-19-2017   #9
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BTW Giganova, THANK YOU for sharing your finds and fun!

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Old 09-19-2017   #10
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At what aperture (presumably same for all four cameras) were the test pics made? f:2.8?? And how did you control the aperture for the Olympus Mju or the Nikon One Touch? In case the apertures are different, the test does not prove much.
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Old 09-19-2017   #11
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Excellent test! I have the original Mju/Stylus and frankly hate it. I push the shutter button, delay, delay, delay, then it takes the pic Mine has the 3.5 lens, not the 2.8 on yours.
I performed a similar albeit unintentional test where I shot the same still life scene with an Argus Autronic C3 and Leica M3 with Summicron 50 DS. $20 vs $2000.
I shot at f8 and could not tell which came from which. Wide open I'm sure there would have been a difference.
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Old 09-19-2017   #12
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Well, among fancy small cameras with RF or scale focus like Rollei, AGFA, Olympus, the Minotar lens was most pleasing (to me). Sharp and with some not aggressive character.







But two Minotar cameras I have were prone to failure. Which is their common and well known issue.
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Old 09-19-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Excellent test! I have the original Mju/Stylus and frankly hate it. I push the shutter button, delay, delay, delay, then it takes the pic Mine has the 3.5 lens, not the 2.8 on yours.
I performed a similar albeit unintentional test where I shot the same still life scene with an Argus Autronic C3 and Leica M3 with Summicron 50 DS. $20 vs $2000.
I shot at f8 and could not tell which came from which. Wide open I'm sure there would have been a difference.
There must be something wrong with yours. I bought one off ebay and its faster than the 6 Hexar AF's I've had on and off. AF speed is very inpressive
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Old 09-19-2017   #14
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Always knew the Summaron sucks. Overpriced junk lens
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Old 09-19-2017   #15
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That Oly lens is pretty sweet.

Oddly enough I don't think too much of the OM Zuiko 35mm f 2.8 lens for my OM SLRS, I had better in other SLR systems with my favourite being the 1960s vintage Rokkor 35mm f2.8 lens for the SRT Minoltas.
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Old 09-19-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stompyq View Post
There must be something wrong with yours. I bought one off ebay and its faster than the 6 Hexar AF's I've had on and off. AF speed is very inpressive
Nope. Others I've tried are the same. As in this review:

https://www.casualphotophile.com/201...camera-review/
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Old 09-19-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Nope. Others I've tried are the same. As in this review:

https://www.casualphotophile.com/201...camera-review/
Weird. Well I'm genuinely impressed by mine. Beats the Hexar AF. Certainly no speed demon but very useful for the type of stuff I do
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Old 09-19-2017   #18
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Anyway, back to giganova's test. It would be cool if u could try it at larger lens apertures.
Pretty much any lens looks good at f8 etc
But the truth to the matter is these cameras do have good lenses. What leads to unsharp pics (and thus people thinking they don't have sharp lenses) are technique issues - mis-focus, camera shake etc. It is easy to mis-focus with my Mju as you don't really know exactly on what the camera has focused.
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Old 09-19-2017   #19
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I don't know if that particular version of the Nikon is equipped with the Sonnar-type lens (I can't find anything definitive in a quick search), but the original L35AF lens can produce some rather special photos among cameras in this class. It's good enough that I converted one to LTM so I could have some more control over it.
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Old 09-19-2017   #20
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Hummm The Minotar on my Minox MB was tack sharp.
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Old 09-19-2017   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
I recently was bit by the Nikon bug !
Love my Nikkor S2 and 50 f2 set up
And an waiting fir my 50 1.4 nikkor ltm
There is something about the S2/50 combo, it just feels perfect. 1:1 finder, smooth focusing, while I love some nikkors there is just something about that combo.

B2 (;->
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Old 09-19-2017   #22
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Taken with my Mju II. Yunnan, China. Dec. 2016.

There is no water in this photo.
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Old 09-19-2017   #23
giganova
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernardL View Post
At what aperture (presumably same for all four cameras) were the test pics made? f:2.8?? And how did you control the aperture for the Olympus Mju or the Nikon One Touch? In case the apertures are different, the test does not prove much.
The aperture was f/5.6 at 1/100sec on the Leica and Minox. Given the same light (the last rays of Sun at 7PM) and film speed (FP4), I guess the Nikon and Olympus had a similar aperture.
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Old 09-19-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
I have the original Mju/Stylus and frankly hate it. I push the shutter button, delay, delay, delay, then it takes the pic...
True, that's why I wanted the Minox 35, which has zero delay. But the reliability of the Minox is an issue.
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Old 09-19-2017   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Excellent test! I have the original Mju/Stylus and frankly hate it. I push the shutter button, delay, delay, delay, then it takes the pic Mine has the 3.5 lens, not the 2.8 on yours.
I performed a similar albeit unintentional test where I shot the same still life scene with an Argus Autronic C3 and Leica M3 with Summicron 50 DS. $20 vs $2000.
I shot at f8 and could not tell which came from which. Wide open I'm sure there would have been a difference.

Hi Huss
If your camera is f3.5 it's not an mju2 but rather an earlier/older Stylus.
The mju2 is a worthy upgrade. Faster to respond and sharper lens by a good margin.
It's become one of my favorites.

mju2
Recent one
Trouble rhymes with ____ by Adnan, on Flickr

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Mr. Moustache by Adnan, on Flickr


For whatever it's worth I still prefer the Hexar AF
Less so by Adnan, on Flickr
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Old 09-19-2017   #26
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The mju II is a killer little camera. I always regret selling mine.
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Old 09-19-2017   #27
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The MjuII is faster than the original. Noticeably so, but only side by side. The lens is slightly sharper as well, but the original 3.5 is pretty darn good itself.

Also, the Minox lens on my EL is impressively sharp. Sharp enough that if it had autofocus, it would be my choice over the Olympus, but that has more to do with tonality. To sum up the Minox 35 though- great lens, crap camera! I think DAG works on them if you want one that is 100%.

Overall, I would put my money on the MjuII unless you want to get into the premium ones. It is a very impressive little camera. To think that they sold for $100 when they were brand new is mindboggling now. If we only realized back then....

One thing to note about point and shoot cameras is they tend to be better at closer distances. Something I have noticed over the years. Taking landscapes with them always seems to be lacking. Photograph your friends and they look great. I imagine the lens designers did this on purpose, but that is only conjecture.
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Old 09-20-2017   #28
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DAG repaired a Minox 35ML for me. I have since acquired a second in case one malfunctions.
This model is one of my favorite pocket cameras, one that's no problem to carry at all times.

Chris
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Old 09-20-2017   #29
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My Minox GT has not failed me since I bought it (used) about 20 years ago. It has a sharp lens and its exposure system is good enough for slide film. Is the Olympus mju the same as the EPIC? The EPIC lens had an aspherical element in the lens.
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Old 09-20-2017   #30
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I'm astounded that I actually own two of these cameras, the Olympus Stylus Epic and the Minox 35 (though a now broken EL and a new to me GT, not an ML), and I own the Summaron 35mm with goggles for my M3. I've never done a comparison of the lenses, although I've shot many pictures with all three.

My last roll though the Epic was last May at my daughter's graduation from Navy basic training... unfortunately I had 800 speed film from a night photography session in the camera, and it turned out predictably grainy. It wasn't the best test of sharpness.

My only roll through the newer Minox 35GT hasn't been developed yet. I've got to take that in this weekend.

My Summaron 35 isn't bad, though I think I've only shot 400 color film with it, and some of that was badly expired (like expired in the mid-90's). I should put in my new Tmax in the Leica to see what the Summaron can really do.

Scott
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Old 09-20-2017   #31
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Theoretical sharpness of the lens is not the whole story.
Yes, the mju lens is really good.
but the point of focus is so uncontrollable that it makes it a moot point.
I have had a few Mju2, and I just gave the last one after it systematically misfocussed several times a roll, on really easy shots.
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Old 09-20-2017   #32
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Out of the 4 cameras tested here, i have only experience with the Olympus. Sample variation is important with these cameras, they were traveling in pockets, people more likely were sitting on them too, not all of them had an easily life.

I lost count how many Yashica T4's i had until i found one that was performing well. Statistically, i am not bothering with that camera.

Had two Olympus mju-II, first one was ok, nothing special. Sold it for crazy money.

Got another one a few months ago and took it with me as a backup camera on one of my trips. I was impressed with it's performance. A few pics below.





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Old 09-21-2017   #33
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I guess the point has to be made that they are all second-hand cameras and so the previous owners and not the makers have a lot to do with the quality nowadays.

My experience is that the Minox lens can be brilliant and the same goes for all the others but I've had some duds.

I once compared the Leica lens with the Olympus XA's carrying both around and using the XA's exposure settings. On 5 x 7's I thought they were both good, with nothing to chose between them.

As for the µ-I and µ-II argument, I'd say the same about the XA and XA2.

My guess is that most lenses from all the well known makers are all good and have caught up with the Summaron and the Summaron is pretty good too...

I even have a 40mm lens from a Cosmic Symbol in a well made LTM mount that perform far better than you'd expect on the M9.

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Old 09-21-2017   #34
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Interesting thread, Giganova! Thanks for starting it.
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Old 09-21-2017   #35
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Wow, that Nikon One Touch was my first camera when I was a kid in the 80's! I hadn't seen it for decades! Thank you!
That's the only camera or lens I ever owned that I don't keep: after years of happy teen use, it was robbed when I went to Medellín, Colombia, for the first time... Two guys put a huge knife to my throat. I asked them if I could take out the roll because it had photographs of my girlfriend, and they didn't allow me to...
Nice test... All lenses are better than we really need... But manual and fast controls are the real key!
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