APO Lenses vs "Regular" Lenses?

I've yet to see a good photograph ruined by chromatic aberrations, astigmatism or spherical aberration.

And I've yet to see a bad photograph made better by the fact that it shows no signs of chromatic aberrations, astigmatism or spherical aberration.

I enjoy using my 2.0/75 apo 'cron but possibly another 2/75 would be similar. If you don't "see" the image, the shot won't be saved by the best lens ever designed.
I take it that in 90+% of images there are plenty of other limitations then the technical capabilities of the lens.

So +1 on Andrea's post ;)
A bottle of Ch. Petrus 2010 goes for US$3500
A bottle of Ch. Mouton 2010 sells for US$1000

Is the Petrus 3.5x better? Damned if I know but that's what the market will bear.

Another way of looking at it is that that it what some people will pay for it but until you know the people and ask them we've no way of knowing why they do it but millions and millions don't but fill plastic lined cardboard boxes from what looks like a petrol pump in France with wine. Millions of Frenchmen can't be wrong...

A few years ago I was talking to a young lady in France who turned out to be a corporate lawyer working for one of those French firms that make and market champagne under a variety of different names; what she told me made me wonder why I bother with the stuff. Later on I had a short sharp chat with a vineyard owner who has an opinion of champagne makers that is not fit for a forum sensitive people might see. Nowadays I drink Cava or Proseco...

Regards, David

PS But that stuff the Co-op sell is very nice, the vineyard owners wife thought it was her favourite until I told her how little it cost etc.
My favorite pictures are ones taken with a 1934 CZJ Sonnar. Probably the exact opposite design philosophy of the AP0-Lanthar. Choice is nice.
PS But that stuff the Co-op sell is very nice, the vineyard owners wife thought it was her favourite until I told her how little it cost etc.

My wife once worked for Le conglomérat français. Mark up was 85% on champagne. She also mentioned that most was dross. Only a handful made of any real quality grape.

Love Cava. Under-rated. Like Voigtländer lenses were for years.
Not to sidetrack the discussion but how do you like the C biogon 35mm on film? I also have the 35f1.2 Nokton ver 1 and have been looking for a small modern 35mm. I love the character of the nokton but sometimes I just want a smaller lens :)

The 35C Biogon was one of the best two lenses for 35mm format I've ever owned, the other being the 45mm Planar for the Contax G cameras. And the 35 is so compact!
The lens is recently serviced and cleaned.

In all producting runs of machines, there are ‘exceptional’, ‘good’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘reject*’ copies manufactured. What QA/QC is about is identifying which are which and setting the bar about what goes out the door. Erik’s black Summilux is clearly a stellar example. I had one in chrome which was very ordinary, and a black one that was marginally but not much better. I saw them both apart and except for the finish, they are the same optical design. Sometimes you have good luck.

Also, most places that service lenses don’t have equipment to very carefully (re-)collimate lenses. If the lens is serviced and is barely in spec from manufacture, servicing won’t fix it. I had a 90AA that came back twice from a Leica service centre clearly sharper in the middle of the field and softer at both edges (much softer than it should have been) so it is possible that they also rely on their own manufacturing QA/QC for some service operations.

Also note that the Italian flag colour pattern introduced to many lenses by the software in early M9 cameras indicated strongly that the calculations and software were made from measurements with a lens that was out of collimation.

Mistakes happen, and even ‘good’ comes in varying degrees.

Yes, I'm happy, but this is hard to check, only 400 are made 60 years ago. I've never seen another one (only on pictures). It seems that the black Summilux v1 was the favorite lens of Ernst Haas and Elliot Erwitt.

I had one which I bought broken and inexpensive. A now retired Australian technician fixed it (it just needed a new aperture blade) and it was recollimated at a university lab where I used to work. I sold it and spent six months travelling with what I got for it. The photos from the trip are still pretty good despite my lack of Summilux and apo correction on that trip.

Thank you, Marty, great story.

gelatine silver print (summilux 50mm f1.4 v1 black, full aperture) leica mp


My wife once worked for Le conglomérat français. Mark up was 85% on champagne. She also mentioned that most was dross. Only a handful made of any real quality grape.

Love Cava. Under-rated. Like Voigtländer lenses were for years.

I couldn't agree more; I think the same about a lot of things as I used to work in a bank and you'd be amazed what customers told you over the counter...

Regards, David
Marty and Erik,

Thanks for your discussions.

I had a bit of an epiphany because I own two Zeiss lenses, a 100/2.8 Planar, and a 53/4.0 Biogon, that are "Linhof Select."

Linhof basically cherry picked and culled through Zeiss lens production to select only the best ones for use on their cameras.

You guys made me keenly aware of how some lenses are stellar and are so special. I forgot why I found these lenses so special and remarkable.

I owned a 75 Summicron APO for a few years. No matter my technique, I could never get what I had expected from the lens for closer subjects. Didn’t matter whether it was used on a digital or film M. Even sent it to DAG for tweaking. His answer was that some lenses come to him within spec and may perform best closer in or at distance but not both. “Just the way it is”.
My lenses must be "Raid Select" :)
I am content with what I have and use.
I once sent DAG my old Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 (in Rollei QBM) to repair the broken aparture system in it. Don actually found the aperture blades had fallen inside the lens, so he fixed them in place. He was open to rebuild all blades from scratch, if needed. He told me then that he had not done such a repair in a long time, but it was not needed. He had with him my Rollei SL35 to match it with my lens. This lens worked well with the SL35 but the aperture blades do not open well with the M 4/3 cameras.It was not Don's fault. The lens works well with the SL35.
some posts here assume that such corerction is "new". It is worth noting that prof. Ernst Abbe at Zeiss defined apochromatic as corrected for 3 colours and free of spheric aberration well before the end of the 17th century and that his CarlZeiss factory had procured the necessary glassses from Schott and had an apochromatic objective for sale in 1886. Although a very short forcal lenght only for microcope use.

Ernst Abbe lived 1840-1905 i.e. 19th and 20th century. The 19th century Zeiss apochromats are nowhere near the performance of modern apochromatic lenses. The real test is not the correction at the 3 reference colours used to label a lens ‘apo’ - it is the variance away from or between those colours. Modern lenses are much better corrected. Digital sensors are very demanding, and viewing at 100% makes colour fringing very clear.

I have a set of apo-macro Switars made for the Alpa slrs, and they are very nice lenses. But they are much worse corrected than any of the Leica S lenses, and any of the Leica M lenses labelled ‘apo’.
17 was a regtrettable midsprint but the calculation and production of apo lenses certainly started in the late 1800ds. Current glass and computation opportunities is certainly very much better than in the past, (while advertising jargon also has caught up with science end technology) my point was that the concept was invented quite some time ago.

As for the full frame apo-Switars , they were recomputed with the 1,9 version following the earlier 1,8 but for closeups I prefer the longer subject distance offered by the Leica 100mm apo.

Digital sensors are very demanding.......
Its an interesting concept;).

Photographers have been debating photographic lenses since the 1850s as evidenced by articles and correspondence in the early photographic press. I use one or two current SOTA lenses but also lenses which date back as far as the 1860s. The 'real' test of their attributes is whether they deliver the images we require from them. Labels are all too often too poorly defined to make them as relevant as we might like. My undergraduate project involved a comparison of cascaded MTF data and actual prints from two different photographic systems. Despite one being from a highly prestigious maker, and having a somewhat higher final MTF curve, the print results were actually indistinguishable, even by image conscious viewers. Since then I have taken care to use decent equipment but rarely obsess over needing 'the latest and best'.