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Leitz Canada Summicron 90mm f/2 - Why 'cheap'?
Old 01-10-2009   #1
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Leitz Canada Summicron 90mm f/2 - Why 'cheap'?

Hiya,

The next lens that I want to get soon for my M2 (pending on a couple of windfalls I'm due) is a fast 90mm lens for gigs. Certainly f/2.8 is the bare minimum with f/2 and faster preferred, as then I will be able to shoot ISO 400 at most gigs and so forth

I have been looking at the market and noticed that some fairly good 'new looking' lenses (i.e. they're not the older 1950/60s chrome Leica lenses that seem to fall into my budget!) either in black or silver which are the 90mm Summicrons notably fro Canada.

I believe the latter bit could be why they generally seem cheaper. The prices I have seen these go for has been from £300-450 or so fairly consistently over time whether it's on eBay or various shops.

From what little I know, I understand it's not the sharpest 90mm wide open but still pretty damn good, what I have seen on the 'net seems to be pretty good to me (although no substitute for taking my own shots and printing them to judge the result) so I'm quite keen to establish why relatively considering Leica prices these seem actually quite good value! (A contentious way of putting it but some Leica stuff seems astronomical!)


Basically I was wondering if this is a good lens (I've not found masses on it but I don't know the exact search terms to use to pull out the details on this lens, there seems to be more than one generation!) -- build quality and so forth. And finally why is it cheap, or at least the examples I have seen (and they've all been in pretty good condition, no optical blemishes and slight signs of use, Exc+ to Exc++ condition)

I would also want to use the lens outside of low light in which case f/2.8 and f/4 would become pretty standard, so it doesn't have to be the sharpest ever 90mm M mount lens wide open,

Vicky

(Just to add, these were definitely M mount Summicrons, not R mount)
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Old 01-10-2009   #2
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This doesn't answer your question, but also consider the 85, 100, and 105mm RF lenses in ltm (need an M adaptor) by Nikon and Canon.
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Old 01-10-2009   #3
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Vicky, these are great lenses and kind in portraiture -- often found in the $700-800 (us) range. I would not hesitate to get one if you like this focal length. the f/2.0 is valuable in avail light shooting.
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Old 01-10-2009   #4
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BTW all of the 90mm are relative low price except for the 90mm ASPH. However, even the 90mm ASPH can be had for $1400 (US) which is not alot for this quailty of glass.

If one says the f/2.0 pre-asph is not sharp enough think again. A RFF fellow shoots with a much much older 90mm and his work is fabulous [Micheal Belbeki (sp?)]. Abject sharpness is nice in certain scenarios but not in all scenarios IMHO.
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Old 01-10-2009   #5
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Don't forget there is also the 90mm Hexanon. People I know who use it find it excellent, and they can be found for a bit less money that the Leica 90mm.
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Old 01-10-2009   #6
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I have had the Canadian second version for 20+ years in chrome for my M3. Its a beautiful lens with the sliding lens hood. I also have the ASPH version. In test shots using K64 and power lines and structures well over a mile away, I can notice no difference under 5x magnification. The Canadian version does weigh a little more in chrome but it is great lens.-Dick
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Old 01-10-2009   #7
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I've had two 'crons 90mm and both were Canadian. Needless to say, both are great glass. I paid about $300 for the first (a second version, big and heavy), and around $768 for the second, which was the pre-APO version. Don't let the adjective "Canadian" fool you: those lenses ARE just as good as the German ones.

BTW, my Elmarits 28 and 135 are Canadian too. Buy with confidence!

Last note: I believe the Konica lens is an f2.8, not an f2.
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Old 01-10-2009   #8
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I have that lens too.
I like it.
The 90mm framelines on an m2 are pretty small to compose, though.
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Old 01-10-2009   #9
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I also highly recommend the 90/2. I have the last Canadian version, 55 mm. Any issues of sharpness will be caused by focusing or steadiness problems, not the glass. Why are they cheaper? Probably because they're just older models, and Canadian. They tend to be heavy as well. I like the bokeh so much that I bought back one after I had sold it--won't sell it again.
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Old 01-10-2009   #10
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I have been tempted to buy this lens a few times but the deal breaker for me has been its weight. I would end up leaving it at home as unlike you I do not have a specific use in mind. - I just love the look and heft of big glass... but too often tend not to use it in the field when I need to carry it around. This may be a reason for others too. I understand it may be slightly less sharp than more recent models but to me sharpness is over rated at least in a portrait lens. For me that's not a factor.

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Old 01-10-2009   #11
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I have used many of the Leica 90s; they are all good objectives. I had the 90 'cron ASPH, a wonderful lens, but better at the mid and far ranges than for portraiture in the close range. I currently use a 90 Elmarit V1 that is better in the near range. The 90 'cron pre-ASPH is a very fine lens. I doubt your will ever 2nd guess your purchase.
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Old 01-10-2009   #12
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I have a V2 Chrome 90mm F2, I bought here last year, for $200. Sent it to Sherry Krauter, she did a magnificent job, as usual. Yes it's big, but I like it, and won't be selling it. Bought all the Leitz E48 colored original filters for it, too.
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Old 01-10-2009   #13
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This also doesn't answer your question, but consider getting insulated windows to keep your energy bill costs low.


Oh oh oh, your question is about the 90mm Summicron. Well, the first version is rather heavy and the filter you need for it is Series VII, but its telescopic hood is very nice. The newer "pre-asph" version is lighter, more compact, and the hood isn't that great, but easier to focus, easier to carry, and uses easier-to-find 55mm filters.

It's the convenience that seems to drive some of the prices for these different versions.

Also, there's an urban Internet legend that the first version is "softer" wide open than the newer one. And also, any 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit is apparently "sharper" wide open than the Summicron pre-asph wide open (well, duh, at f/2.8 the DOF is a tad deeper).

The bokeh of the 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit (any version) is beautiful and far better than any of the 90mm Summicron versions (including the APO ASPH). im(vh)o, of course.
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Old 01-10-2009   #14
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Used a 90/2 for meeting coverage in the '70s. It was probably four or five years old then, whatever model that made it. Canadian Summicron, I think. Probably not an M-Summi.
Image quality, bokeh etc were fine and you could probably get more out of it now with modern films. Simply put, most Leica users now don't see them as must-haves (like a 35/2) so there are more good ones on the market than there are buyers.
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Old 01-10-2009   #15
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I have, love and use a lot the 90 cron pre-ASPH. A fantastic lens, great for portraiture, and definitely sharp enough wide open for most use. As someone said, you will have to get use to focus it on a .72 M body, but it can be done very easily IMO after a couple of rolls.
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Old 01-10-2009   #16
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The early 60's and 70's version of the 90f2 (also known as "Big Bertha") is a surprisingly good lens. Wide open it has a sharp center and edge fall off. It is big and heavy, BUT it does have a tripod socket on the lens and for some stuff (music, "speaker" shots etc) you put it on a monopod.
The first version of the "compact" Summicron 90f2 with the single piece collapsible hood was designed by someone who evidently never took pictures! The hood would collapse over the aperture ring (and did it frequently) and when you thought you were changing aperture - you were just twisting the hood! Later it was corrected and it is a good lens, better at f2 than the earlier version in the edges, but similar in the center.
The Apo Summicron 90 that I had for many years was a bit disappointing, considering what the price was. At f2 it was mediocre and it did not come into play until f5.6. Got rid of it and have been sticking to my 90f3.5 and a Canon 85f1.9 for what little "long" stuff I shoot. I do have a couple of 105f2.5 Nikkors for when I need the "perfect" long lens for RF;s.
As for Canadian versus German. The 90f2 was one of Dr Mandler's designs from Midland,Canada and they were almost all built there. When the Apo 90f2.0 came out - production was moved to Germany.
There is no qualitative difference between Canadian built and German built lenses - one of the Leica myth that persists. In fact, apart from the 50f1.4, most lenses were designed and built in Canada and they had the experience and experts to do it - more so than Germany!
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Old 01-10-2009   #17
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I have the last pre asph version. It's a great lens and goes well with the m3 vf. Lens performs good at wide open, has good bokeh, and for portraits I don't need ultimate sharpness. The 90's are relatively cheap, maybe due to being too long with the M8. I notice there's at least one for sale in classifieds.
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Old 01-10-2009   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ocean7 View Post
Don't forget there is also the 90mm Hexanon. People I know who use it find it excellent, and they can be found for a bit less money that the Leica 90mm.
this is easily one of the better lenses you can put on an M mount body. very modern look, almost too sharp wide open for female portraits and stupidly overbuilt quality construction. Ridiculous bargain for the price.
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Old 01-10-2009   #19
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I've got one of the fat 90 2.0 lenses that Tom A. spoke of and like it very much. I also have the new Aspherical 90 2.0 but use the old one more because of the tripod socket which has been useful. My old 35 1.4 is Canadian also and both lenses seem just as good as the German built. Get a Canadian 90, you'll like it. Good Luck, Joe
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Old 01-10-2009   #20
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I had the 90mm pre-asph with the sliding hood. DOF is so limited wide open it's easy to make foscusing mistakes. The lens is plenty sharp but in the end I found that longer focal lengths were not for me on the Leicas. I am very finicky about composing - the 90mm frame lines are really small in a .72 finder and it's really hard to frame accurately. Had trouble selling the lens too, in the end I had to let it got for $600
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Old 01-11-2009   #21
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It's cheap because it's very big and heavy, even has its own tripod mount, it's very heavy and bulky. Simple as that.

The last pre-asph version is a lot smaller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilserenity View Post
Hiya,

The next lens that I want to get soon for my M2 (pending on a couple of windfalls I'm due) is a fast 90mm lens for gigs. Certainly f/2.8 is the bare minimum with f/2 and faster preferred, as then I will be able to shoot ISO 400 at most gigs and so forth

I have been looking at the market and noticed that some fairly good 'new looking' lenses (i.e. they're not the older 1950/60s chrome Leica lenses that seem to fall into my budget!) either in black or silver which are the 90mm Summicrons notably fro Canada.

I believe the latter bit could be why they generally seem cheaper. The prices I have seen these go for has been from £300-450 or so fairly consistently over time whether it's on eBay or various shops.

From what little I know, I understand it's not the sharpest 90mm wide open but still pretty damn good, what I have seen on the 'net seems to be pretty good to me (although no substitute for taking my own shots and printing them to judge the result) so I'm quite keen to establish why relatively considering Leica prices these seem actually quite good value! (A contentious way of putting it but some Leica stuff seems astronomical!)


Basically I was wondering if this is a good lens (I've not found masses on it but I don't know the exact search terms to use to pull out the details on this lens, there seems to be more than one generation!) -- build quality and so forth. And finally why is it cheap, or at least the examples I have seen (and they've all been in pretty good condition, no optical blemishes and slight signs of use, Exc+ to Exc++ condition)

I would also want to use the lens outside of low light in which case f/2.8 and f/4 would become pretty standard, so it doesn't have to be the sharpest ever 90mm M mount lens wide open,

Vicky

(Just to add, these were definitely M mount Summicrons, not R mount)
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Old 01-11-2009   #22
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Wow this really is a phenomenal response, I can't thank you all enough.

First things first to clear up: I wouldn't mind if the lens was made in Kazakhstan if it had a good repuatation Canada/Germany makes no difference to me, I just wanted to see if it was something as irrational as that distinction seems to be could be a factor in that 'cheaper' equation. The fact I still continue to use my EF 50mm f/1.8 II which is widely derided by some shows I am not bothered really by perception and myth -- I go on results and that piece of plasticky lens does turn them out time and time again.

I guess this just goes to prove again -- don't listen too much to Internet myths and so forth. I could quite understand the Elmarit being sharper but then at f/2.8 it would be (greater DOF as pointed out) and my main reason for large aperture is low light capture, not to create nice Bokeh or anything else, it just affords me another stop or so and that can be the difference between using a moderate speed film and a high speed one. I like Neopan 1600 but sometimes I want to use a slightly less grainy emulsion like Delta 400 or a more traditional contrasty emulsion like HP5+ or Tri X. The majority of the time for portraits I will be shooting anywhere from f/2.8 to f/4 as I find f/2 and below too shallow for my liking in daylight - it really is about low light performance having the extra stop.

All these answers explain and answer my question, I guess the examples I have seen even down to around £300 recently are due to first: not mint condition but still quite good. Secondly they do appear to be large lenses for M mount and have the peculiar filter mount that has been mentioned. None of this bothers me because:

a.) The 90mm f/2 will not be attached to the camera all the time and will be carried in a bag if I do take it with me. After carrying lenses like the 70-200m L series glass and others, I'm not too worried about that.

b.) My main lens will as inferred be the 35mm Color Skopar.

Does anyone have any dimensions out of interest (length mostly) for this Canadian Summi 90mm -- the large one with tripod collar/mount? At a guess from what I recall it seems to be in the order of 4 1/2" - 5" long?

I'm definitely going to pick one of these up, and hope to before I go up to Birmingham in a fortnight to see Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" scroll for the first time and to take part in a creative writing day - coffee, photography and writing -- wonderful

Thank you ever so much for the insights. My EOS 3 is looking at me a little fallorn since the M2 arrived... There there...
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Old 01-11-2009   #23
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Get the pre asph 90 2.0 with sliding shade . It is way better than the Canadian lens. There is a small difference with the ASPH, but very small.

Get a Canadian only if you want to use the head on a viso or it is much cheaper.
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Old 01-11-2009   #24
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the canadian also has the sliding shade. It's very confusing to call it like that.
The filter mount is a normal 48mm not series-whatever. Probably the series-whatever was the very first version's filter mount.
It measures 11 cm from the mount till the end of the front cap, when shortest(i.e. focused to infinity and hood pushed back).That is, 4 2/8 inch.
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Here's my 90mm F2 V2 Summicron
Old 01-11-2009   #25
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Here's my 90mm F2 V2 Summicron

Shown with Leitz chrome Red E48 (48mm) Wetzlar filter. 11cm long, with filter attached and hood folded, this is the one with the two-part lenshood, looks like a foldup drinking cup. Great lens, bought mine for $200US and had it cleaned up.

Also very cool because it is one of the lenses originally offered by Leitz to go on the M2. Designed for Press Photography, according to my 1962 Leitz catalog.
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Old 01-11-2009   #26
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I had whichever version was current in 1984 - it was very sharp. Now I have an Elmar-C - it carries lighter! 90mm is not a lens I use very often.
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Old 01-11-2009   #27
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Vicky, have fun looking at Kerouacs "long scroll". We saw it in Santa Fe a couple of years ago. This was obviously "pre-spell check" as there are lots of annotations and notes on it.
As for the 90f2 - if you are going to be an "occasional" user of that focal length, go for the early version with the tripod mount on it. Avoid the chrome version as it is HEAVT ( and usually carry a "collectors" price tag). The anodized black version is optically the same and it is portable.
The pre asph version is good too and a bit smaller - but no tripod bushing - and I like the bushing as you can really balance the lens on a monopod. If you use the camera bushing it is unbalanced because of the offset on the baseplate.
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Old 01-11-2009   #28
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I have the chrome version of "Big Bertha", and I find the lens manageable weight wise. Optically, this is an excellent lens. I have the 90/2.8 Elmarit, but I find the 90/2 more "exotic" and a beautiful lens.

If the main purpose is photography, I would go with the Nikkor 105mm/2.5 or the Canon 100mm/2.0. Each of these two lenses costs less than a Summicon.
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Old 01-11-2009   #29
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Thanks Tom and again to everyone else. Maybe in a few years when I can splash the cash, I'll be able to afford a smaller version of the f/2 Summi, not a major consideration mind you.

I found example on Red Dot Camera's website of the lens I was on about:

http://www.reddotcameras.co.uk/produ...roducts_id=921

Notably it's the anodised black variant to match the Color Skopar I have.

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Old 01-11-2009   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilserenity View Post
Thanks Tom and again to everyone else. Maybe in a few years when I can splash the cash, I'll be able to afford a smaller version of the f/2 Summi, not a major consideration mind you.

I found example on Red Dot Camera's website of the lens I was on about:

http://www.reddotcameras.co.uk/produ...roducts_id=921

Notably it's the anodised black variant to match the Color Skopar I have.

Vicky
Go for it. This is a good deal.
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Old 01-11-2009   #31
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"Secondly they do appear to be large lenses for M mount and have the peculiar filter mount that has been mentioned."

The Canadian 90mm Summicron with intergral lens hood takes a screw in E48 standard filter as laready stated and I guess weight is in the eye of the beholder but my chrome version is not too heavy..-Dick

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Old 01-11-2009   #32
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Vicky, that looks very much like my own lens
I payed about 100 pounds more for it, that included a CLA.

Seems like a good deal.
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Old 01-11-2009   #33
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I had the same lens twentyfive years ago. That's a good deal, I paid nearly $600 in 1980, then the lens needed a warranty repair from Leitz Canada (don't ask) so it was gone nearly a -year-.

My chrome one is not any different, that I can detect so far. It's a "Big Bertha" but not as heavy as my Canon 85mm F1.5, so that is relative.
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Old 01-15-2009   #34
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I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their help on this again.

I almost pulled the trigger on this one yesterday and nearly bought it (I needed some cheering up this week, I'm horridly sick erghh ) but I thought I would just hold on a little because it's not immediately needed. But I shall be looking at acquiring such a 90mm by the end of the year.

However, a big reason for holding off was borne out of boredom and frustration of seeing daytime telly for the 3rd day on the trot I was looking at Robert White's website, very good dealer and found out about Lee's RF75 system. That was fatal

I must admit the filters I use are probably of dubious enough quality but they do chuck out decent enough results and seeing as I mostly do black and white, I have generally managed to get away with using Cokin ND Grads on my Mamiya C330F -- I know they're not perfect but they've done pretty well.

Anyway, long and short of it, I have decided seeing as I'm walking the North Downs Way (Farnham to Dover, SE England, a stroll of 132 miles... ) later this year at the end of April/start of May and that was a major reason to get a proper rangefinder, I'd be better off acquiring this RF75 system, with a couple of very decent Lee ND filters.

For more information on it you can check it out here: http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/products.asp?PT_ID=502

It does look superb. I'm even thinking about taking a stab at buying it and having not seen it reviewed in Black & White Photography Magazine, try my hand at some freelance submissions. (It was nearly 10 years ago I wrote my first paid article, and about the same amount of time since I last wrote anything 'professionally'!)
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Old 01-15-2009   #35
nikon_junkie
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Location: South Carolina
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I had a black one with retractable hood. Dated in the 80's. Heavy... yes, but not when compared to the Canon 85mm f/1.2

Great lens for portraits... yes.
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