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Looking for a one-lens solution for my M5, which is a better choice?
Old 1 Week Ago   #1
bduong
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Looking for a one-lens solution for my M5, which is a better choice?

Hello friends,

I'm looking for single compact lens for travel/street/landscape purposes. I've narrowed it down two, which do you think would be better one-lens solution for these applications?
  • Zeiss C Biogon 35mm f/2.8
  • Minolta Rokkor 40mm f/2

The small size/weight of the Rokkor would make for a sleek package on the M5, which of course is on the larger side. I also enjoy working with 40mm, I think it's a very pleasing focal length. And estimating with the 50mm framelines isn't so bad.

But matching framelines with the Biogon is definitely a plus. And I'm wondering if it might win out on image quality and versatility. Would like to hold off the GAS as long as possible.

I will be traveling to SE Asia as well as some national parks in the US throughout the next year.

I'd appreciate any thoughts from people who have owned and used these lenses. Curious too about more subjective experiences like character/rendering. Anything you got. Thanks!

Last edited by bduong : 1 Week Ago at 08:26. Reason: formatting
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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
CharlesDAMorgan
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I have the Biogon 35mm f2.8 and have had the Leica 40mm C Summicron, which by all repute is no different to the Rokkor. While I normally prefer the 40mm focal length, I would always choose the Zeiss in this instance. Superb sharp lens, gorgeous colour rendition, IQ and bokeh so much nicer.

The Biogon f2.8 is a pretty compact lens but looks just a bit more balanced on the M5.

The only reason I can think of for the Rokkor is that extra stop but if that is vital I'd get the Biogon f2.

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Apart from that have a Rolleiflex 3.5F, the odd Minolta XD7, Hasselblad 500cm, a Topcon Super D and an Intrepid 5x4 large format (not the half of it but I am clearing them out, honest).

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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
CharlesDAMorgan
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Shot recently in BW

Biogon



Summicron C 40mm



Colour (didn't shoot much on the Summicron before it got sold)

Biogon

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Film amateur with a few rangefinders - Leica III, M2/M3, Werra 3 and Zeiss Super Ikonta 534/16 medium format.

Apart from that have a Rolleiflex 3.5F, the odd Minolta XD7, Hasselblad 500cm, a Topcon Super D and an Intrepid 5x4 large format (not the half of it but I am clearing them out, honest).

I do all my own black and white developing at home.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
Ko.Fe.
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I had 40/2, it worked on M-E crappy 35 frames, but on camera with accurate 35, 50 frames it sucked.

Need slick lens on big body, get CV CS 35 2.5 II.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
Rayt
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I bought a CL for my 40mm. With either 35mm and 50mm framelines you are left guessing what is actually being covered. Go for the Biogon.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
shorelineae
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There's also the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 pancake, very nice lens. On my M5, heavier lens are no issue _because_ the camera is ever so slightly larger than the other Ms. I find that they balance well.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
Spicy
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Having all 3 things in question, I felt obliged to log in for once and give my $0.02 (a rarity when everyone’s always picking between a 3k Leica lens or a $5k one.

I just got a C Biogon (had been lusting for one for probably 4-5 years) about 3 weeks ago. Have taken a roll or two with it, but have yet the get anything developed. The optical differences I’m sure you’re well aware, so I’ll just stick to haptics.

The M5 is a bit bigger, and I’d agree with the balance aspect Charles mentioned above. The M Rokkor is absolutely tiny, very lightweight, and quick to focus, with characterful images. It’s a fabulous lightweight, punching well above its weight and price. The C Biogon I’ve read is actually closer to 38mm in terms of actual viewing angle, so that’s a bit of a wash. You can also modify (or buy an already modified) one that’ll bring up the 35mm framelines — mine was already modified when I bought it.

It’s tough to beat the M Rokkor on a “traditional” M body (ie: all but the M5). The M5 seems to feel more at home with chunkier lenses — probably higher speed, slightly heavier/bigger lenses.

You really can’t go wrong with either. The 40 is tiny relatively cheap and for its max aperture of f/2 is a wonderful all-arounder. The C Biogon probably has “better” optical qualities overall, just in terms of it being well-corrected and having as many lens elements as it does.

Both will be great. If you want a single walkabout lens, I’d say it’s as simple as the following.

If you do:
Lower light/night photography (like dimly lit bar) → M Rokkor.
Speedy street photography → M Rokkor
Are price-sensitive → M Rokkor
Mostly daylight photography→ C Biogon
Want technically more optically perfect lens → C Biogon
Want to shoot into the sun/contra jour → C Biogon (basically impossible to flare)
Are likely to want tiny/lightweight on a non-M5 M body → M Rokkor
Are more slow and steady → C Biogon
Want to chase bokeh → M Rokkor (faster aperture)
Care about balance at the cost of slightly heavier weight → C Biogon
More color/slide → C Biogon
More B&W → either one

Hope that’s (at least a little) helpful.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
j.scooter
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I vote for the Zm 35 2.8 for no other reason than I want one to go with my M5. It will pair with my Voigtlander 35 1.2.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
Tony Whitney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shorelineae View Post
There's also the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 pancake, very nice lens. On my M5, heavier lens are no issue _because_ the camera is ever so slightly larger than the other Ms. I find that they balance well.
My vote goes to the CV 35mm pancake too. Wonderfully compact and just about as sharp as any equivalent Summicron I've owned. The CV has an almost permanent home on my M5 - a great combination. Why pay more? TW
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
Erik van Straten
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Yes, small lenses are great on the M5.


Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
Ronald M
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35 has frame line in camera. The 2.8 has a little distortion. 2.0 does not, but is bigger.

Looked at 40 once and 50 lines were decent close up,35 better for distance. You could buy a 40 mm bright line.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
Shab
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I have a CV 35mm 1.7 VM Ultron and I love it. It balances really well in my M5.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
ktmrider
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Another vote for the 35f2.8 C-Biogon. It has become my favorite 35 and is possibly the sharpest one made. It is great on my M5 although if I think I might use the M5 for self defense, it wears a 35f1.2.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
jsrockit
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The Zeiss 35mm 2.8 is special. The one lens I miss from not using an M anymore.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
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Don't just get the lens that performs above its price point. Ironically it's seems most lenses do that except for the bad ones nobody cares about. If you're only getting one lens I'd recommend getting a Leica lens. Purchasing anything Leica M is a sound investment. My favorite lens of all time on any system is the 35mm Summicron V4.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
jsrockit
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Quote:
If you're only getting one lens I'd recommend getting a Leica lens. Purchasing anything Leica M is a sound investment. My favorite lens of all time on any system is the 35mm Summicron V4.
This could true above a certain price point, but at the price point he’s at...I’d say the c-biogon is great.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
Rob-F
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I have both lenses. It would never occur to me to put my 40mm Rokkor on my M5. I would use it on my M6 or MP for a good match to the framelines. But for the very accurate M5 framelines, I use the c Biogon. I didn't know about it being 38mm, though. That might make the frameline-matching issue less important.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
aizan
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The 40mm Rokkor has a good reputation for "clarity," but it comes at the cost of harsh bokeh wide open and close-up. Stopping down helps. If that's not a problem for you, then it's a good choice with a little adjustment for the framelines.

The 35mm C Biogon is another special lens, which would be a good choice if one stop less is not an issue for you.

Other lenses I would consider:

35mm f/1.4 Nokton II
35mm f/2.5 Color Skopar
The 35mm f/2 8-element Summicron replica that's being developed right now.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
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I used to own the 40mm Rokkor (the CLE version). I loved it--the images it made were really good and full of character--but I *hated* the fact it brought up the 50 framelines. I didn't want to do the irreversible surgery to modify it to bring up the slightly more accurate 35 framelines. Also, it doesn't take the same 39mm filters as my other Leica lenses. (But in your case, the Biogon won't either.)

Eventually, when a Version 2 Summicron came available at a reasonable price, I traded the Rokkor in toward the purchase. I hated to part with it, and one day I'll likely try to get another--but with a CLE to use it on, where it would be perfect.

I just think that, overall, you'll be happier using a 35mm lens on your M5. And it appears that the Biogons, either the F2.8 or F2.0, are fantastically good lenses which would in no way cause you to miss the 40mm Rokkor.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
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When the M5 came out, Leitz promoted it with the 50mm Summilux, rather than the Summicron. They felt that the larger lens made more sense, and just plain looked right, on the larger body. I put my 40mm Rokkor on my M5 to see how it looked. It does seem too small, out of scale. After all, you are not going to put your M5 in your hip pocket.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #21
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My suggestion...the Zeiss Biogon 2.8/28mm. Better than the Leica Elmarit equivalent and at a lower price. Get it in silver or black. Cheers,
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Old 1 Week Ago   #22
jsrockit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesDAMorgan View Post
The Biogon f2.8 is a pretty compact lens but looks just a bit more balanced on the M5.

That's just sexy... how could the OP pass that up?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #23
bduong
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Thanks all for sharing your input and photos! Some convincing arguments for going the 35 route, and it'll be great to have one less thing to think about while shooting. Now it's just a matter of keeping an eye out for a discounted used biogon.

I appreciate the the alternative recommendations of the color skopar as well. I didn't realize what a great performer it was! It also led me to reading up on the nokton 35 1.4 as well and thinking about whether I'd miss the speed. With so many great choices, perhaps renting and trying is the way to go...

In any case, I'll post here what I eventually end up with.
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