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Got sick of my Ultron, sprung for a Biogon 35/2
Old 09-01-2018   #1
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Got sick of my Ultron, sprung for a Biogon 35/2

Now that I've got RFs back, its time to get back into shooting. The last couple years haven't been too great for me photographically—lent my X100 and most of my Nikon gear to a relative, dropped my one good Nikkor (a cheap 28mm but has a long story and sentimental value) while moving homes, had the RF go out on the Bessa and a shutter self-destruct on the M8. Left me with a duct-taped Bronica and little patience for medium format.

I've been doing some video work, using my RF lenses on a Panasonic AF100, a M43 camcorder, and my 35 LTM Ultron was the go-to. Picked it up used from a local shop at a great price and condition, and it's been a favorite, other than the infamous barrel wobble. I probably opened it up and re-tightened the front four times.

With the M8 back, I popped it on and every shot was smeary and blurry, like the lens had a dollop of Vaseline on it. After pulling it open again, I found every element loose, and tightening got things close, but still very soft at anything wider than f/8. I don't mean test-chart softness, but unusably soft. I probably never noticed it on HD video.

That was the proverbial last straw with this lens. It was fantastic optically and a great size and speed; while I like the Nokton's size (I've got the similarly sized 25/4) I fall into the camp of disliking the rendering.

While searching for the new M-mount Ultron, eBay found me a black Biogon 35/2, used, for a can't-ignore price. So far, from what I've seen, I'm a fan, much more so than other 35s on the market (at least that I can afford). I'm sure many share my sentiment that I don't care so much about lens correction, corner sharpness, etc so much as a pleasant image rendering. What I'd really love is a vintage Nikkor or Canon, but good luck finding a fast one.

I'm wondering if I'll miss the extra half-stop of speed, or if I'd be happy with the 7artisans lens I'm seeing raved about, but I think in the back of my head I'd still be pining for a Zeiss.

Now the question is what to do with the Ultron. I could have it repaired at a local tech who I know works on it, but I don't know if i can trust it; on the other hand, I'd feel it's a disservice to sell it as-is.

At any rate, should be getting the lens in next week
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Old 09-01-2018   #2
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I have a Biogon and I have been thinking of getting an Ultron. The opposite of what you are thinking of doing. It is not based on any optical performance or quality. I like to try out many lenses.
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Old 09-01-2018   #3
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I love the LTM 35mm aspherical Ultron, above all the black paint version. Optically it is extremely good. I've never had any mechanical issues with mine. I have the lens 15 years or so.

The lens is made of brass-colored aluminium that is painted black. After some time it looks like a brass lens painted black, a beautiful patina.

I understand that the lens is hard to get. No wonder if you ask me.

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Old 09-02-2018   #4
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I think I might have just had bad luck with mine, as I have with my cameras in general as of late. From online reports (which we all know are skewed towards complaints, generally), some specimens were hit and miss on how tightened down they were.
On the other hand, I totally agree on the brassing: it happened alarmingly quickly but looks lovely, especially with the patina of black chrome bodies.
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Old 09-02-2018   #5
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The black version of the CV lens is available for sale online.
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Old 09-02-2018   #6
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Sold the Biogon, bought the 28 Elmarit, never looked back.
The Biogon was optically a top performer, but the mechanics were not build up to Leica quality...
Anyways, have fun with the lens - it produces great pictures and is def. better build ghan your Voigtländer lens.
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Old 09-02-2018   #7
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I am more into using the pre-asph Summilux 35/1.4. It is a magical lens to me.
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Old 09-02-2018   #8
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Raid—want a trade? Kidding, of course.

Looking through images shot with the Ultron, I always found it a very nice, neutral-looking lens on the M8, and a good general wide-ish for film. A particular favorite example.

But now it's gone aggravatingly soft, at least enough for me to notice and be bothered: quick shot of my kitchen counter and crop of the focus point.


After this little trip through my archives and everyone's commentary, I'm starting to get nostalgic and maybe I'll just see what the cost on adjustment is. I don't need three 35's... but doesn't hurt!

One of these days I'll own non-Canadian Leitz glass. But the Zeiss, while still made by Cosina, seems a good all-round compromise. I want something fast and light, and with some character, for evening shots and the people photos I actually get paid for; I want good correction and contrast for cityscapes and landscapes I pack an RF for. Can't win them all.

As an aside, while at my parents' I dug out my father's old Contax RTS and Yashica-made Planar 50/1.4 and might shoot some rolls with it. Is the current Planar the same formula? Just curious.
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Old 09-02-2018   #9
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These shots of you are not soft, but unsharp.

The rear optical group can be easily turned out. I think this part has been loosened. You just have to tighten it again. Don't touch the glass with your fingers.

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Old 09-02-2018   #10
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Erik, can you clarify about soft vs unsharp? as I'm looking at that kitchen counter image, it does in fact look like that knocked-over bottle of vanilla extract is slightly better than the focus point, but that could be my eyes/staring at this at 100% for too long.

When I took this lens out of the bag for the first time an a while, that was true, the rear group was horribly loose (as were the internal elements of the front and rear on disassembly). I've since tightened them all up, and yet the problem persists. Perhaps something is decentered.

(Mods: since this thread is leaning toward discussing the Ultron and diagnosis, feel free to move the thread if necessary)
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Old 09-02-2018   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Takkun View Post
Erik, can you clarify about soft vs unsharp?
Your shots have normal contrast. "Soft" is when the light tones are too dark and the dark tones are too light, low contrast in other words.

"Unsharp" is when the pictures are blurred optically, as if you by accident have your wife's glasses on instead of your own.

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Old 09-02-2018   #12
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Looking at the sample photo, the bottle behind the laptop is quite sharp and in focus. This looks more like focus shift to me.


And I should know, I went through a couple of Nokton Classic 35's to find a keeper.
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Old 09-02-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maggieo View Post
I went through a couple of Nokton Classic 35's to find a keeper.
Yes, but Takkun's lens is an Ultron LTM 35mm Aspherical if I've got it right.

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Old 09-02-2018   #14
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What's wrong with the Biogon? I have one and I consider it my most perfect 35. At least among the 35's I own -- which would be a Nokton 35/1.4, various Summarons (2.8 and 3.5), and Skopar in M mount, and 35/2.8, in OM, and 35/2.8 Nikkor, and others I just can't recall right now. I don't have a summilux or summicron, but I suspect those are the only competitors to my Biogon. I do rather desire a v1, 2, 3, or 4 summicron only for the size of the lens. I don't think I gain optical performance over the Biogon with any of those.

Never used the Ultron. In fact I don't think I've even held one. So.....what do I know?
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Old 09-02-2018   #15
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I'm interested in this lens--the 35/2 Biogon--myself. I also am recently reading good things about the f/2.8 Biogon. I have several 35s, my favorite focal length, always seem to want more to try out!
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Old 09-02-2018   #16
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I bought a Biogon 35/2 a year ago or so. It seems to be an excellent lens. The images have a high contrast rendering. I also have several other 35mm lenses, including the Summicron V1 and Summilux V2 and Nikkor 35/1.8 and Canon 35/2.
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Old 09-02-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I love the LTM 35mm aspherical Ultron, above all the black paint version. Optically it is extremely good. I've never had any mechanical issues with mine. I have the lens 15 years or so.

The lens is made of brass-colored aluminium that is painted black. After some time it looks like a brass lens painted black, a beautiful patina.

I understand that the lens is hard to get. No wonder if you ask me.

Erik.

My LTM black Ultron became loose within few months, because it was the only one lens in use. Skopar 35 2.5 PII which was in same use mode lasted one year before it became loose, including focus tab.


I counted eight black LTM Ultrons today.
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Old 09-02-2018   #18
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Which Leica 35mm lens would the Zeiss Biogon 35/2 be most similar to in rendering? And the Biogon 35/2.8? How would the 2.8 compare to my 2.8 Summaron, for instance?
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Old 09-02-2018   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
My LTM black Ultron became loose within few months, because it was the only one lens in use. Skopar 35 2.5 PII which was in same use mode lasted one year before it became loose, including focus tab.


I counted eight black LTM Ultrons today.
WHat did you end up doing about the color skopar working itself loose? Fix yourself, send it back, just deal with it?
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Old 09-03-2018   #20
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Quote:
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Which Leica 35mm lens would the Zeiss Biogon 35/2 be most similar to in rendering? And the Biogon 35/2.8? How would the 2.8 compare to my 2.8 Summaron, for instance?
I don't think any Leica lens renders quite like a Biogon. It's idiosyncratic, with its big curved bits of glass. Very high contrast, sharp in the centre wide-open. The only thing in this shot that's sharp is my son's left eye, which is what I think makes it interesting.

Sony A7S ZM Biogon 35/2 at f2
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Old 09-03-2018   #21
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Maybe not as sharp as a Biogon, but this is at f/1.7. Extremely fast for an LTM lens. Beautiful rendering if you ask me.

Leica M2, Ultron 35mm f/1.7 aspherical LTM, Tmax400.

Erik.

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Old 09-03-2018   #22
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Quote:
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WHat did you end up doing about the color skopar working itself loose? Fix yourself, send it back, just deal with it?
I fix and service most of the lenses I have. And I'm not buying them new, except one 35 mm from Leica. This one has no loose and wooble.

I suggest to OP to get Leica made one.
Or at least check RFF thread about Zeiss wooble.
His situation seems to be similar to mine. He doesn't have lens collection to cycle through, but, I guess like me, one lens is mostly in use. And this is where some of the lenses starting to loose and wooble.
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Old 09-04-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Yes, but Takkun's lens is an Ultron LTM 35mm Aspherical if I've got it right.

Erik.
Erik, I'm just saying that it looks very much like focus shift to me, because I have experience with focus shift. So, it's easy for me to spot.

I have the Ultron LTM myself, and it's been nothing but a stellar performer for me.
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Old 09-05-2018   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Takkun View Post
Erik, can you clarify about soft vs unsharp? as I'm looking at that kitchen counter image, it does in fact look like that knocked-over bottle of vanilla extract is slightly better than the focus point, but that could be my eyes/staring at this at 100% for too long.

...
Perceived image sharpness is a complicated metric. I agree with Erik because soft light produces a soft image.
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Old 09-05-2018   #25
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Is the rangefinder in the M8 you're using actually properly calibrated?
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Old 09-06-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I fix and service most of the lenses I have. And I'm not buying them new, except one 35 mm from Leica. This one has no loose and wooble.

I suggest to OP to get Leica made one.
Or at least check RFF thread about Zeiss wooble.
His situation seems to be similar to mine. He doesn't have lens collection to cycle through, but, I guess like me, one lens is mostly in use. And this is where some of the lenses starting to loose and wooble.
I saw that V3 Summicron in the classifieds, but it's almost double what I paid for the Biogon, which is out for delivery. I'm souping some film while I impatiently wait. I do still have a CV 35 Skopar, which curiously is missing the ball detent.


Re: focus shift and image sharpness....it very well could be, but I don't ever recall it being an issue before. Everything still looks a bit smeary, as if there's a smudge on the lens (and I've checked, it's not).

As for the RF, its just calibrated from Leica and my other lenses, including Leitz, show no problems.

Once I get more time to do so I'll look through shots onscreen, but I've mostly been avoiding thinking about it for fear of tearing my hair out.
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Old 09-06-2018   #27
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Got the lens in my hot little hands just in time for a day trip. And I pulled it out of my bag a few moments ago and...it's a 50 f/2. Checked the ebay listing, and yes, it's my fault. I'm tempted to keep it but I really would have preferred the 2.5, if I'm getting another 50.

Ah, twists and turns. Anybody want to trade?
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Old 09-10-2018   #28
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And another update. Ultimately I did break down and get the 35 too, to complement. Got it for an equally nice price (well, not as nice as some of the specimens from Japan on eBay, but I'm less keen on waiting another month to get shooting) with hood and box included.

Already took it out for some night long-exposure shots. I'm blown away--this is a really stellar lens that really makes the M8's sharpness shine.
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Old 09-10-2018   #29
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I'm confused. You ended up with a Zeiss Planar 50/2 instead of a Biogon 35/2?

The Planar is supposed to be darn nice too. I don't have one though. I do have a Biogon 35/2 and I think I mentioned earlier that it is a near perfect lens. What's not to love? Well, I just wish it was a little more compact, like a v4 summicron, and I wish it had a real focus tab (the half-moon type, like my other lenses). In terms of performance, I have no complaints -- at all.
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Old 09-10-2018   #30
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It is confusing, but I did! I bid on and won what I thought was the Biogon at a ridiculously low price and a confusing item title. I didn't look too hard (or hard enough) st the pictures. I didn't realize my mistake until I received it and went out shooting. The title was one of those kitchen sink "[email protected]@K ZEISS BIOGON PLANAR MACRO SUMMICRon" attempts at SEO.
Wrote this thread in the interim. But I was so thrilled with it, I ended up keeping it--see my other thread--and got the Biogon anyway.
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