Can I rent LTM lenses?
Old 5 Days Ago   #1
Steve Ruddy
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Can I rent LTM lenses?

I just got my IIIf back from service. None of my images on the first roll are sharp. It's not the rangefinder, as it was replaced and calibrated, and my shots clearly show the focus point which is where I intended. I would like to be able to rent a good lens to see what I should be expecting. Leica glass is way too expensive for me to purchase a lens just to try out and I'm not interested in non-Leica lenses right now.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #2
Chriscrawfordphoto
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Renting won't do you any good. The fact is that old lenses were handmade and had a lot of quality variation from one to another. You could rent an awesome lens, decide its worth buying a lens, then buying the exact same model of lens you rented and get a bad one.

Getting a lens that is across the board soft is rare, but a LOT of old lenses are decentered. That means the lens is sharp on one side of the image and soft on the other. Stopping down does not usually help. I've bought and returned a number of old lenses, even from Leica with that flaw, which can sometimes be a manufacturing defect and sometimes is the result of a lens being dropped or banged against something.

My advice is buy another lens from a dealer that accepts returns and try it. If its bad, return it and buy another to try. Repeat till you get a good one.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #3
charjohncarter
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I have three Leica lenses. All purchased at different times and two from Ebay which usually is a dumping ground for rotten lenses. But all these lenses are from around 1953, and none have had a soft problem. Even the notorious 135 Hektor:

Hektor 135mm f4.5 on Pentax K-01 by John Carter, on Flickr

Hektor 135mm f4.5 on Pentax K-01 by John Carter, on Flickr

It would be better to find someone to lend you a Bessa R and run a roll through it using your suppect lens. Or do the yard stick thing at 45 degrees and see if it has front or rear focusing error. Or do what I did above, you could do it with an adaptor to an SLR and not use any film.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #4
splitimageview
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I don't know of any company that rents LTM lenses but you might see if a local shop would help you out. Seawood Photo in San Rafael perhaps? I've bought hundreds of lenses for Leicas and have never received a decentered one, so I'd find that to be highly unlikely.

possibilities:

the camera rangefinder unit was not actually calibrated correctly
the camera's RF cam is out of whack
the lens RF cam/helical is out of spec or there is some other issue in the lens

If you can't find someone from whom to borrow a known, good LTM lens, I can send you one to help determine what's up.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #5
Beemermark
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I've never heard of anyone renting LTM lenses. In 50 years the only "bad" Leica lens I ever had (and I've had plenty) was a 50 Summar with a bad coating. Unless a Leica lens is obviously damaged I don't recall ever seeing one or hearing about an out of focus one besides the ones Chris must own.

Russian lenses are hit or miss depending on who assembled them but even they turn out to be pretty good lenses once properly adjusted. Canon and Nikon RF lenses are also pretty good. If you've spent the money on the body why not buy a decent 50mm. All the 50mm are decent (but the Summar is not the sharp and low on contrast until stopped down).
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Old 5 Days Ago   #6
hap
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Guerneville... I'm a third generation Californian and went college in Silicon Valley and never heard of it. Saw it now on the map. What a great place to live away from the City! Hope you don't have any fires. If you were close enough I'd be happy to lend you something to try. Alas, that is not the case. However, a reader in your neighborhood might be inclined.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #7
Chriscrawfordphoto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
I've never heard of anyone renting LTM lenses. In 50 years the only "bad" Leica lens I ever had (and I've had plenty) was a 50 Summar with a bad coating. Unless a Leica lens is obviously damaged I don't recall ever seeing one or hearing about an out of focus one besides the ones Chris must own.

Russian lenses are hit or miss depending on who assembled them but even they turn out to be pretty good lenses once properly adjusted. Canon and Nikon RF lenses are also pretty good. If you've spent the money on the body why not buy a decent 50mm. All the 50mm are decent (but the Summar is not the sharp and low on contrast until stopped down).
I've seen two Leica screwmount lenses that were decentered. A 50mm Summitar and a 35mm Elmar. I have also seen three Canon LTM lenses that were as well. Most people don't notice because they aren't as critical as I am. I regularly make and sell large prints; they have to be evenly sharp on both sides of the image.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #8
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Not uncommon for old gear to have been 'worked on' (I use that term loosely) by techs who have no idea what they are doing. It's very easy to improperly reassemble a lens, after opening it up for haze removal, for example. Wouldn't surprise me to see this with a lot of old Leica glass, and Canon LTM glass too, as those can be prone to haze.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #9
David Hughes
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Exactly, anything secondhand is iffy... But generally nothing to do with the makers.


Regards, David
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Old 4 Days Ago   #10
Bart Bart
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It's not unknown to buy two or more copies of a lens from a reputable dealer with the understanding that you will be testing them against each other and keeping the best. I'm sure the clerks know what's going on when Joe Famous Photo buys identical lenses.

Granted if I were buying a new $5k ASPH or even a $1000 Zeiss Milvus I wouldn't bother since I think QC and overall standards are much higher but it's still valid, perhaps even more so with 19 element zooms with engineered plastic helicoils.
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