View Poll Results: Do you think Leica lenses outperform the top end lenses from Nikon/Canon/Minolta?

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  • Yes, they are the best lenses around.

    165 36.34%
  • No, I think the Nikon/Canon/Minolta ones are better

    29 6.39%
  • No, don't think there is a difference. The non-Leicas are just as good

    79 17.40%
  • They might be, but I probably can't tell the difference anyway.

    181 39.87%
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Thread: Do you think Leica lenses outperform the top end lenses from Nikon/Canon?

  1. #1
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    Default Do you think Leica lenses outperform the top end lenses from Nikon/Canon?

    Do you think Leica lenses outperform the top end lenses from Nikon/Canon?

    Or Minolta for that matter.

    Or is it just a fad that they are sharper, more contrasty, etc?

    Regards
    CK

  2. #2

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    Can we have a fourth option?
    "They might be, but I probably can't tell the difference anyway."

  3. #3
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    I think I will put it this way, Leica's prime lenses are sharper, more contrasty etc. than the top end zoom lenses from Canon & Nikon.

    On the other hand, I don't believe Leica can produce top end zoom lenses that are sharper than Canon's or Nikon's consumer prime lens series.

    And I believe the prime lenses from Leica may be more superior than Canon or Nikon only in terms of built but not obvious lens quality.
    Last edited by jasonpgc; 11th March 2002 at 01:20 AM.

  4. #4
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    Hello Jason,

    Some good points!

    Originally posted by jasonpgc
    I think I will put it this way, Leica's prime lenses are sharper, more contrasty etc. than the top end zoom lenses from Canon & Nikon.
    And Nikon's prime lenses are sharper, more contrasty etc than top end Nikon zoom lenses. And Canon's prime lenses are sharper, more contrasty...

    On the other hand, I don't believe Leica can produce top end zoom lenses that are sharper than Canon's or Nikon's consumer prime lens series.
    Yeah well, neither do Canon or Nikon of their own zoom lenses. This is a basic tenant of lens design.

    And I believe the prime lenses from Leica may be more superior than Canon or Nikon only in terms of built but not obvious lens quality.
    Depends a lot. For the equivalent price, you can buy pro level lenses from Canon or Nikon that are built as heavily as the Leicas.

  5. #5

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    Most of the people I've seen shooting Leicas use it for specific purposes - off the hip shooting, low light with Delta 3200, street photog, etc. Whatever difference there is between Leica lenses and good N/C/M/P primes doesn't show - at least not in their pics.

    I managed to get my hands on a 50/1.4 Summilux last week to do a test. I couldn't see any difference between this lens and my Canon 100/2.8 macro USM. For that matter, the Canon lens seemed to deliver better colour.

  6. #6
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    Default actually Sriram....

    ....if you were to filter out the collectors' market and certain much desired collectors' lenses and bodies, Leica is not that much more expensive than a top end system with equivalent lenses (on the short end). 'User' condition (a couple of rub marks but otherwise perfectly working etc. etc.) Leica equiptment are really not that expensive (or cheaper) or even cheaper when set side by side next to say a Nikon F5 or EOS 1n body.

    if you want, a friend of mine is selling an M6 with 50 and 90mm lenses for about S$3000, not mint but really clean which a non-Leicamaniac will find hard pressed to nitpick (of course, Leicamaniacs will find that tiny little tick here and there and scoff it off as a 'user' rather than a collectible. Dont email me just yet, I'm considering his offer.

    And if you follow the Leica auctions and their group discussions, high values are placed not on ALL things Leica but rather commemorative releases and other significants (like certain serial numbers, black paint/enamel models, Leica vs Leitz engravings or short production runs).

    Look PAST these and Leica pricing plunges to human levels. For that matter, the M6 has actually dropped in price over the last couple of years. You can pick up a new M6 TTL for US$1500 (chrome or black, your choice) these days compared to US$1800-2000 when it first came out. I think an F5 costs more than that but of course it will blow the Leica out of the sky with much more features and electronics.

    Although a Contax G user, I think some facts better be set straight about the Leica myths.

    Now the G2,.... if you want to talk value for money and bang for the bucks in a quality rangefinder system.....

    ed
    Last edited by ed9119; 12th March 2002 at 03:15 PM.
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  7. #7

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    COSINA VOIGTLANDER!!!

  8. #8
    BenJR
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    Hi guys


    I think the difference in such brands like LEICA or CONTAX, which uses GERMAN DESIGNED OPTICS over the JAPANESE ONES like NIKON, CANON, MINOLTA & OLYMPUS are more on the "intangible" factors.

    If you think about it, the german camera makers do not launch a new model every year or so, unlike the japanese who cater to both the large consumer market and the professional markets. Thus, they have to sell their cameras and lenses under a different marketing stragtegy :

    QUALITY AND EXCLUSIVITY

    It is true that most LEICA optics use RARE EARTH materials on their glasses, are painstakingly put together BY HAND. Manpower costs money especially considering they are made in europe or canada.

    They build their cameras to last a "lifetime". Some LEICA R BODIES are built so solid I saw a photo of a man standing on the camera, just to demonstrate its durability, would you dare do that to a composite bodied japanese SLR?

    For the price you have to pay for the LEICA and CONTAX's, their LENSES better damn perform well!, and indeed most generally do.
    They have very HIGH-RESOLVING power, thus enabling you to enlarge your pictures way past 16x20 inches and still get brilliant wonderful prints.

    Another difference is, not until lately have the major japanese lens makers considered "BOKEH" into the design of their lenses. Ironically it was the JAPANESE themselves that coined the term. The german lenses already had GOOD BOKEH on them. Pick up a LEICA M lens the next time you have a chance, and look at the number of aperture blades they use on the lens, notice how they design it such that at most apertures the opening is nearly circular, thus giving near perfect rounded OUT-OF-FOCUS effects and pleasant natural looking bokeh.

    Minolta and Canon were ahead of Nikon in recognising the signifance of Bokeh. One can only tell this difference when you compare pictures taken from different lenses. Nowadays you see Nikon touting the number of aperture blades which "makes out-of-focus elements appear more natural".

    I have taken pictures with the CONTAX T2 with a 38mm sonnar zeiss lens, and I can tell you there is a dicernable difference in the quality of the pictures.

    I am very happy with the Nikon lenses I use, and they represent a good value of price,durability,optical performance and technology.

    Maybe, and I say maybe, when I get older and all the LEICA and CONTAX camera's can match the JAPANESE in the technology, I may trade up to either one of their systems.

    But for now, the differences are subtle, more "poetic", something which , like wine-tasting, only the few can discern. I will stick with my NIKKORS


    P.S - Hope I did not bore you :P

  9. #9
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    Sigh...

    Ed, unless Sriram edited his post, I can't see anywhere where he said that Leica was more expensive than Japanese glass.

    Now I've just popped over to B&H, and had a look at the R-lenses (SLR with SLR to add a bit of similarity to the comparison rather than M-lenses).

    At US$895, the Summicron 50mm f2 is the cheapest lens around.
    The 1.4 model kicks in at the very competitive price of US$1995.
    Or take the 180/2.8 which kicks in at US$3295.

    A Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens will set you back all of US$119. About 7-8 times cheaper.
    The 1.4 model kicks it at US$289, almost the same again.
    You can even get a 1.2 model for US$549 if you can afford it.
    The 180/2.8 comes in at US$729. There was a second hand piece of Leitz glass that was going for three times this amount on the B&H website.

    The F5 costs US$1929 (official, not import) while an R8 costs US$1750. An M6 kicks in at US$1950. I'll not deny you could probably get the same for US$1500 as you say, but I'm lifting the prices off the same website so they should be comparable.

    I have also just done a comparison for Nikon stuff for convenience, anyone who takes the Canon prices into comparison will find they are much closer to the Nikon set than the Leica set.

    As you kindly point out, an F5 will blow the lights out of an M6 or an R8 technology wise. And as far as I'm concerned, it's equally well made. So why the difference in price (in the sense that you're paying the same to receive a lot less)? With glass, I might buy all that stuff about rare earth and such. But I think it's an undeniable fact that the F5 does a lot more than the R8, and is built at least as well. Take for instance, manual film advance versus 8fps (there is an optional winder or motor drive but that costs extra and doesn't reach 8fps), autofocus that keeps up with 8fps and even 6 years down the road is still top of the line versus manual focus...

    It is clear there is a premium on the R8 compared to the F5. People are paying for the Leica name, and maybe because it's hand crafted or whatever. But does that really make a difference other than for collecting? Maybe the same premium in the cameras translates to the lenses. So maybe all you're really getting are similar lenses that cost more because of the name and/or the fact that they are hand made.

    Ben,

    Manpower costs money especially considering they are made in europe or canada.

    As above, why should it make a difference whether something is put together by hand or not? For the camera user that is, and not the camera collector? In fact in this day and age of high precision machining, I'd probably prefer to have something that's machine manufactured.

    They build their cameras to last a "lifetime". Some LEICA R BODIES are built so solid I saw a photo of a man standing on the camera, just to demonstrate its durability, would you dare do that to a composite bodied japanese SLR?

    Yeah well, so do Nikon and Canon et al with their professional cameras. Don't take a S$800 polycarbonate Japanese SLR to compare it to a US$1800 approx camera.

    For the price you have to pay for the LEICA and CONTAX's, their LENSES better damn perform well!, and indeed most generally do.
    They have very HIGH-RESOLVING power, thus enabling you to enlarge your pictures way past 16x20 inches and still get brilliant wonderful prints.


    Really? About 7 to 8 times as well? Or just maybe 10% more? Or is there actually any difference at all? Do you know this for a fact, or is there an implicit notion in society today that if you pay top billing for something it is necessarily better. I'm not saying you've fallen into the trap, I'm asking.

    Another difference is, not until lately have the major japanese lens makers considered "BOKEH" into the design of their lenses.

    Not until lately. But by that I suppose you mean that they have now? In which case, why have the prices of the lenses also not gone up tremendously with the Japanese manufacturers claiming that their lenses now feature much better bokeh? It [1] doesn't cost that much more to manufacture [2] doesn't make that much of a difference and [3] people won't pay exorbitant amounts to get better bokeh.

    Pick up a LEICA M lens the next time you have a chance, and look at the number of aperture blades they use on the lens, notice how they design it such that at most apertures the opening is nearly circular, thus giving near perfect rounded OUT-OF-FOCUS effects and pleasant natural looking bokeh.

    Actually, the jury is still out on what influences bokeh. The aperture blades are only the tip of the iceberg, and only affect the out of focus highlights of an image. There is a lot more in lens design that affects true bokeh, not just the out of focus highlights.

    Minolta and Canon were ahead of Nikon in recognising the signifance of Bokeh. One can only tell this difference when you compare pictures taken from different lenses.

    Oh really? You can get differences even between different Nikon lenses, so how you manage to draw the distinction between the three manufacturers I have no idea.

    I have taken pictures with the CONTAX T2 with a 38mm sonnar zeiss lens, and I can tell you there is a dicernable difference in the quality of the pictures.

    Okay. But I challenge anyone to tell me under controlled circumstances which pictures were taken with Zeiss, Schneider, Nikon, Canon or Minolta glass. Whether on the light table or with 8x10 prints. The thing is these days, film tends to be more of a limiting factor than lens design.

    But for now, the differences are subtle, more "poetic", something which , like wine-tasting, only the few can discern.

    That's a good argument, I like it - seriously there's no sarcasm here. It's the, if I can't see it then I must be an uncultured barbarian. Very nice. Without meaning to degenerate this thread even further, I suppose this is like that now-infamous-on-clubsnap sheet of blue canvas. The art there is subtle, poetic and only a few can discern. Well, I for one couldn't see that and wouldn't pay 6500 for it, and frankly, I'm happy I can't discern. But as I said, I do like your argument, very cunning. I agree and I lose the argument, I disagree and I'm an uncultured barbarian...

    And before anyone considers it, we are not here to discuss blue pieces of canvas so no more replies on that point anyway please.

  10. #10
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    While it's true that some leica lenses can actually resolve more than Nikon or Canon lenses of the same aperture and focal length there's one critical point most folks seem to miss out on.

    Film resolution!

    Even the best film emulsions such as Agfa Ortho 25 and Tech Pan only manage to resolve around 125 lpm in the real world with average contrast scenes of around 6:1 which is very different to the 350 lpm these films will show when shooting 1000:1 high contrast scenes like test targets.

    Compare this to around 80 lpm for Velvia and you'll see what I'm getting at.

    In reality any consumer grade lens will give about 50-70 lpm in the real world and a good professional lens will kick in around 100-120 lpm on average when not shooting high contrast test targets.

    One other point is worth mentioning: To achieve these levels of resolution on film requires impeccable technique in handling the camera and lens and so on eg: heavy tripod mounts with sandbagging etc to reduce any movement of the camera body or lens.

    In the end it comes down to other factors than sharpness of the lens. Factors that really come in to play are developing chemistry, enlarging lenses and print paper. Also there's the mysterious factor X that I call 'wankerism' that is having to pay over the top prices for gear that doesn't work any better when taking real subjects in the belief that you'll make better photos.

    This is one of the great secrets of professional photography and accounts for why 90% of the worlds pro's use Japanese gear in 35mm format.
    The Ang Moh from Hell
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  11. #11

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    Hmmm. Good body, wonderful bokeh, with a hint of blackcurrant. Oops, I mean bouquet. Bleah.

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    Hi,

    Just to add on something similar. I had the opportunity to try out the new Schneider 4x and 10x magnifiers today.

    As some of you know, Schneider makes one of the best loupes around. (Actually, the best before all the others such as Rodenstock started making as well). So I am naturally interested to see how they perform.

    The Schneider 4x looks not a lot different from the Rodenstock 4x. Centre sharpness looks the same to me, edge sharpness and distortion is only marginally better.

    Now, build quality. The old Schneiders are supposedly quite well built (though I have not seen them), but the new ones feels plasticky (though they look quite high tech in silver).

    The Schneider 4x costs $185. The Rodenstock 4x, $190. And it comes with a Cabin CL5000P 4x5" Lightpanel. Which do you think is a better deal?

    Let's draw a parallel between this, and the Leica and Voigtlander.

    Voigtlander Bessa R with 50/1.5 : $1500
    Leica M6 with a Summicron 50/2 : Probably close to $5k.

    Again, which is a better deal? So, it's probably just the brand again, which draws people to it.

    Regards
    CK

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by ckiang
    Hi,

    Voigtlander Bessa R with 50/1.5 : $1500
    Leica M6 with a Summicron 50/2 : Probably close to $5k.

    Again, which is a better deal? So, it's probably just the brand again, which draws people to it.
    Actually, i think the Summicron 50/2 is not $5 yet.

    I was shopping around today - oops i mean looking around , and i discovered the price of a Summicron 35/1.4 is a cool $5500 - USED

    that, plus the near $3k price tag for a black Leica M6, makes the whole package close to $10k......u can get an EOS 1D for that
    David Teo
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    Originally posted by BenJR
    Hi guys
    But for now, the differences are subtle, more "poetic", something which , like wine-tasting, only the few can discern. I will stick with my NIKKORS

    P.S - Hope I did not bore you :P
    i like the "poetic" reference and the analogy to wine tasting.

    not that i ever seriously tasted wine, but i would think 2 pple would have different opinions about a "branded" wine, and usually the "more cultured" party would have a better opinion.....
    David Teo
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    Originally posted by Red Dawn


    i like the "poetic" reference and the analogy to wine tasting.

    not that i ever seriously tasted wine, but i would think 2 pple would have different opinions about a "branded" wine, and usually the "more cultured" party would have a better opinion.....
    Actually, people have done surveys over here... removing labels from different wines and getting people to put them in order of price. The cheapest one a lot of people can get right, but even so called experts get mixed up with the middle to expensive ones.

  16. #16

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    Actually, wasn't there a post on Offstone about this?

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    If you're talking about my making that point, there was one in clubsnap as well by me. In one of those long lengthy threads somewhere.

  18. #18
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    Originally posted by Red Dawn


    Actually, i think the Summicron 50/2 is not $5 yet.

    I was shopping around today - oops i mean looking around , and i discovered the price of a Summicron 35/1.4 is a cool $5500 - USED

    that, plus the near $3k price tag for a black Leica M6, makes the whole package close to $10k......u can get an EOS 1D for that
    Hey, didn't I say M6 with the Sumi 50/2? Should be around $5K.

    Regards
    CK

  19. #19
    BenJR
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    Guys! Guys! Guys!

    Seems most of us are too free with all these opnions.
    Stop comparing! Go out and take pictures! Even the most wonderful camera and lens will be of no use to those who do not practice enough.

    SEE! COMPOSE! SHOOT! SHOW!

    Ben

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    Eh Ben, relax lah Your long post before mine what hehe

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