75mm or 90mm?
Old 12-13-2008   #1
tom_uk
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75mm or 90mm?

I'm curious as to which of these focal lengths other forum members would choose. I currently have an M6TTL, 50mm Summarit & (new today!) 35mm Summarit. The next step is a longer focal length lens, but the question is: which one? My personal preference would be for the 90mm. However, there must be some demand for the 75mm lenses or Leica wouldn't make them.

So which of these two focal lengths do you prefer, and why? Let's assume it's on a film body, and let's also assume that I'm not assuming any particular 75 or 90 (i.e Summarit, Summicron or whatever): let's just think about the focal length as such.
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Old 12-13-2008   #2
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Partly a matter of personal working style, I guess. I noticed that I almost never use a 90, and never use anything longer on a RF camera. When it gets up into that neighborhood, I'd rather use my Nikon F2 and 105/2.5.

And so I've ended up with a 75 Summarit and a 35 Summicron. Those two account for maybe 80--85% of the shots I take; the rest are almost entirely with a 25mm lens. I don't even own a 50mm lens at the moment.

Other folks also seem to have settled on 35/75 for the bulk of their shooting. But,if you've got and use a 35 and a 50, you might be happier with a 90 than with a 75.
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Classic Trio-35,50,90
Old 12-13-2008   #3
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Classic Trio-35,50,90

The classic photojournlism trio is 35/50/90 and you are two thirds of the way there. I have tried every equipment combo possible over the last 40 years and have settled on those 3 for my Leica. If I need longer, I go to an SLR which has not happened in a couple years. And wider I tuck a 15 into a pocket.

I find the 35/90 combo about perfect and leave the 50 at home a lot. 35/75 would work but I think adding a 75 to a 35/50 combo would be too close.

Since photography is just a hobby these days I find I am resisting adding or carrying more equipment. If I did I would add a second M and a 24 but honestly the 35/90 takes care of 95 percent of what I photograph now days. And it gives you lots more versatility then just carrying the 50 and not much heavier.
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Old 12-13-2008   #4
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35 and 90 covers about 95% of my needs on assignments. The 50 sits unused. A 21 is useful, and for my everyday fun stuff I mostly use my 15. I have an M3 body and a 135/2.8 with the goggles when I need longer, but rarely carry it. I can easily crop the negative to get the view of a 180mm lens. I sold all my SLR stuff.
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Old 12-13-2008   #5
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Thanks for the quick responses!

I do see the 35/75 argument; in fact if I didn't have the 50, I now think that would be the best combination.

I've become aware of something interesting, and that is that I seem to be using the 50mm differently on the Leica than on SLRs (or a 35 on an APS-C DSLR). I used EOS film cameras for years, and always had a 50mm (the good ole' plastic 1.8 EF) for it; when I went Nikon for digital I bought a 35mm f2 as an equivalent, and I do use that a lot. So when I bought the M6 earlier this year I instinctively bought the 50mm as well, as a first lens. It didn't take long to realise that I would have been better to get the 35mm. Perhaps I'm instinctively composing using the whole VF image - the M6 is.85, so the 35mm lines are pretty much full-frame. Whatever the reason, I've felt constrained by the 50mm on the M6 in a way I never did with the SLRs. I can see how I would use the longer focal lengths, but in practice the 50mm seems neither fish nor fowl.

Still leaves the dilemna - 35 + 70, or 35 + 90? Not to worry, I won't be buying until later in the year. And of course there are a lot more s/h, cheap(er) 90s than there are 75s.....
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Old 12-13-2008   #6
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90 for me, tom. for portraits, it's more flattering (more feature "compression"). the 75 is pretty close to a 50, to my eye. 85 to 105 (even 135) is a very nice range to frame faces. and like you say, more choices at 90mm.
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Old 12-13-2008   #7
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I was going to say that you answered your own question when you said your preference was for the 90. But your thinking seems to be changing as you read these responses, so I will offer the following:

I shot with a 35/90 combo for several years. I find there is a "hole in the middle" with such a wide gap between focal lengths. 35/75 is more workable as a 2-lens kit. For a 3-lens kit, I would add a 24 or 25mm. I have also found a 28/40/75 kit to be very good.
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Old 12-13-2008   #8
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I only have 35/75 combo for my .85x M. To me it's the perfect, most compact kit...
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Old 12-13-2008   #9
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Either way really, in practice it makes little difference. The M6 framelines make this counter-intuitive, but 75 is much closer to 90 than to 50.

I recommend to pick the lens you like, independent of whether it's 75 or 90, more dependent on price, speed, signature and size, and which framelines on your camera you prefer.

If you think of ever getting an M2/M3/M4, 90 might be the better choice.

The biggest bang for the buck are probably the CV 75/2.5, the v1 Elmarit, the late tele elmarit, the latest pre-asph 90/2, or the Nikkor 85/2.

Cheers,

Roland.

Last edited by ferider : 12-13-2008 at 08:46.
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Old 12-13-2008   #10
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I recently acquired a 75mm lens after using the 90mm as my "go-to" tele for some time. The relative differences between the focal lengths has been well covered already, but the difference in the frame lines is another consideration and has been a pleasant surprise for me.

I've never fully gotten along with the 90mm lines for the M: one side always seems to be washed out while composing (perhaps upgrading my M6's finder would help with this). The 75mm lines get a bad rap on the fora, but I find them to be quite nice. The corner frames really aid in composition, and serve as a reminder that I'm not shooting a 50.


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Old 12-13-2008   #11
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I own a 75mm Summilux and a 90mm Elmarit-M. The 75mm lens sees more use mainly because of the Summilux's unique signature when used wide-open (or close to it). I love the 90mm's compact size and the superb image quality but, because I find it somewhat hard to focus and compose (too small in the viewfinder), it sits more than the 75mm. This may change once I buy the the Leica 1.40X viewfinder.

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Old 12-13-2008   #12
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I'm a big 35/75 fan and have been using this combination for a few years. However, as a gut check I'm carrying a 35/90 for a few weeks. My experience so far is that I prefer the 75, but I'm willing to give the 90 a fair trial.

Now, 40/90 - that combination works for me. Odd, since there's not that much difference between a 35 and a 40 (64° vs. 57°).
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Old 12-13-2008   #13
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I'm also a 35/75 guy. Since I got the 75 I've hardly used my 90s and sold the ASPH. I'd consider selling the 50 and trying the 35 & 75 together. A lot of people here seem to like that combo.
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Old 12-13-2008   #14
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if you have a 50mm, then the next would be the 90mm. If you only had a 35mm, then I would say get the 75mm.

(congrats on your new lenses).
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Old 12-13-2008   #15
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A lot of people, myself included, will often use an 85mm lens instead of a 90mm using the finder's 90mm frame lines when the light is low. Canon made several good 85's in the f/1.8 to f/2 range and the 85/2 Nikkor (which I have) is fantastic and legendary. Leitz joins that pair of Japanese companies in offering an 85/1.5, but they're big heavy things, no fun to carry around.
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Old 12-13-2008   #16
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A very personal choice indeed. I've long had an M2 and a 90 Tele-Elmarit I use rarely. It's just too long for me. The framelines are large enough to make it usable, barely. I find more use for the used 75 Voigtlander, but I still use 40 and wider by preference. I may come to like 50mm though, surprised and pleased with my first one after all these years. The M2's 50mm framelines are very nice to use...

Is 35mm "too close" to 50mm? Some would say so, but I disagree, and similarly I'd say 75 isn't too close to 50 either. All three can have broad use, and if you're like me you won't carry three or more lenses around with you, so it's a matter of what's picked for the event (with maybe a second choice in a pocket).

A used 4/90mm can be had economically, and my CV 75 was about $200 used, so you might it possible to try BOTH and then see which finds most favor in use.
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Old 12-13-2008   #17
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I ONLY HAVE 2 LEICA LENSES FOR MY M6TITAN: 21MM ASPH & 75 LUX.next lense will be a 35 or 50mm lux.greetings
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Old 12-14-2008   #18
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when i had an R3A, i really liked the ultron/heliar 35/75 2 lens kit. light, compact, good performers. when i moved to an M6 and started using a 50 regularly, my composition sense for the 75 was that it began to feel like a slightly cropped 50 (working with scans and printing). i tried a 90 and, voila, negatives showed the tighter portrait framing that i like. some say rightly that the numeric FOV difference b/w the 75 and 90 isn't much (5 deg), but it somehow seems significant to me practically.

focal length preferences are always personal, so maybe it'd be best to enjoy trying out some of the used, inexpensive 75's and 90's to see how you really feel. as noted, the CV 75 is around $200-250 used, and the tele-elmarit 90 is around $300-350, i think.
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Old 12-14-2008   #19
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Because the 50 and 75mm framelines are shown together, the 50mm framelines are calculated for .7m min distance, and the 75mm appear to be calculated for 1m min distance (early Leica 75 lenses), I always found the M6 framelines to be somehow misleading.

FWIW, here is a diagram that shows how close 75 and 90 are:



At inifinity. Things get more mixed up if you consider that modern 75 Leica lenses have .7m min distance,
while 90s stay around 1m.

Best,

Roland.
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Old 12-14-2008   #20
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The 90mm frame, for me, is just too small in the finder. 75mm is about the longest lens I can use on the Leica.
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Thanks for the responses
Old 12-14-2008   #21
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Thanks for the responses

Many thanks for all the excellent and thoughtful responses. Given that so many of you came up with good reasons for having either of them, the answer to my original question seems to be: Both!

Here's another factor to toss into the argument: use on a digital camera, which at the moment means the M8. In this scenario the 75 is acting like, what, 100mm? while the 90 is out at 120mm? That latter is a bit long, and (given the M8's VF magnification) will be harder to use anyway. So if future compatibility is an issue (leaving aside for the minute the prospect of an M or M-compatible with a full-frame sensor), then the 75mm would be the better buy; a 90 would have less utility. (This is where I get flooded with responses from people who are happily using a 90mm on their M8...) in the long-term.

Sorted, then - I'll have a new 75mm Summicron and s/h 90mm Elmarit!
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Old 12-14-2008   #22
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helpful diagram, roland. i usually print portraits at 8x10 and now i realize why 90 framelines correspond a bit more to what i like on the negative than the 75 framelines (single subject).

the 75 FL is really nice for groups of 2-3 at a comfortable distance. in one of the 75 cron threads, there were some really fine small group shots that displayed what the 75FL can do in good hands at weddings, events, etc.

pablito, have you given it an extensive trial or were the 90 lines just too cramped for you to bother?
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Old 12-14-2008   #23
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Old 12-14-2008   #24
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I have had a 90mm Summicron for a long time, first one is a chrome one from the M3 era and I also have an ASPH. When I purchaed my 75 ASPH, I noticed that for head shots I got a much better DOF and incidence of correctly focused pictures on the eye which is what I use as an aim point. So now I use the 75 for portraits and the 90 only when I need the reach for non-head shots.-Dick
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Old 12-14-2008   #25
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I think the floating element in the 75 makes a big difference in close-up focusing. I sold my 90 ASPH because I was unhappy with the performance at close range.
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Old 12-14-2008   #26
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My M6 has the 0.72 finder and honestly I can't think of the last time I used it with anything other than a 50mm or 35mm lens. I had a 90mm Elmarit for a year but never warmed to it - on the 0.72 M6 it feels like the 90 framelines are barely bigger than the RF patch, which I found distracting. For me the 75mm Summilux is OK on the M6 with a magnifier, but I find this lens more satisfying to use on the ZI (also with magnifier).

Tom (OP) - I think you have it right: go for a 75mm AND a 90mm. I see nothing at all wrong with a 4-lens kit, especially if the lenses have different signatures. A year from now you will know which of the group spends too much time off the camera, and sell it/them.
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Old 12-14-2008   #27
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I use my 75 Summilux more than my 90 Elmarit V1, and I always carry my 50 Summilux ASPH. For me, the 75 'lux is completely different than my 50 and 90. Some will substitute one focal length for another, but the truth is they are different animals and within focal lengths the various lenses available have unique attributes. Only you can decide which focal lengths and choices within those focal lengths suit your photography.
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Old 12-14-2008   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmkelly View Post
My M6 has the 0.72 finder and honestly I can't think of the last time I used it with anything other than a 50mm or 35mm lens. I had a 90mm Elmarit for a year but never warmed to it - on the 0.72 M6 it feels like the 90 framelines are barely bigger than the RF patch, which I found distracting. For me the 75mm Summilux is OK on the M6 with a magnifier, but I find this lens more satisfying to use on the ZI (also with magnifier).

Tom (OP) - I think you have it right: go for a 75mm AND a 90mm. I see nothing at all wrong with a 4-lens kit, especially if the lenses have different signatures. A year from now you will know which of the group spends too much time off the camera, and sell it/them.
You reminded me of something. I'm barely comfortable using the 75 on my .72 M6 without the 1.25 magnifier, but I find the 90 to be almost unusable without it. Somehow I think a .85 body is in my future for 75 and/or 90 usage.
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Old 12-14-2008   #29
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My first M system was a 21/35/90 and I loved it. While the 21 not so much, the 35 and 90 were the bees knees. While I have a 50 on my Nikon RF, I never much used that focal length on any of my Bessas or Leicas. I think you could do very well with a good 28 and a 75 as a two lens kit. Making it a three lens kit by adding a 15/4.5 and you are done. 35 to 90 is a perfect jump where as 28 to 75 is equally good.

YMMV.

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Old 12-14-2008   #30
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IIRC the 0.85 M6 doesn't have framelines for 28mm. Is 28mm equivalent to the whole finder window? Will a 28mm lens bring up the 90mm frameline on this body?
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Old 12-14-2008   #31
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For me the choice would be the 90, simply because I have an M3, so no framelines for the 75... (although right now I just have a 50 and 135...which is very usable w/ the M3)

However my travel kit for a long time was my contax G2 with 21, 35, 90. It worked like a charm, and I never really felt much of a hole between the 35 and 90.
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Old 12-15-2008   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Ford View Post
You reminded me of something. I'm barely comfortable using the 75 on my .72 M6 without the 1.25 magnifier, but I find the 90 to be almost unusable without it. Somehow I think a .85 body is in my future for 75 and/or 90 usage.

You need to add in the price of a magnifier with either lense IMHO. I have a 75 Lux and the new 1.40X magnifier for use with a 0.72 M6. This with a 35/2.0 Cron is a great two lense setup for every day carry.

The 1.40X with your 0.85 M6 TTL is kinda ideal for a 90. A 1.25X is optimal for a 75.

Saturday, shot handheld inside a crowded gallery opening. A jazz trio that included my friend on guitar played on a balcony. The crowd was big. The 75/1.4 fully open was the best lense. What was said about using a 75mm for small groups in an earlier post applied. A 90mm would not have been practical.

If I could ever add a second Leica body it would be one with a 0.85 finder. (I wear glasses and for me the 0.72 is need for use with my 35/2.0) Consider keeping the 35; getting a 75 with a 1.25X; and then eventually adding a 90 with a 1.40X. Still one body, but three lenses, and not too heavy a kit. A Domke J-803 satchel that is like a book bag makes a nice package.

Cal
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Old 12-15-2008   #33
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I have 35, 50, and 90 lenses in M mount. Never had a use for 75mm in either RF or SLR usage. The 35+90 combo works for me, although the v1 Elmarit 90 is too heavy (I carry the Elmar).
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Old 12-15-2008   #34
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I think this decision is easier on the M8 because 75mm vs 90mm translates basically in 50mm (67mm) vs 75mm (100mm). The larger spread (33mm vs 15mm on film) here justifies owning both IMO.
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