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Thread: RF fast 75mm lens test

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    Moderator Cactus jACK's Avatar
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    Default RF fast 75mm lens test

    Voigtländer recently announced their latest lens to their line-up - the Heliar classic 75mm f/1.8. It complements their other fast M-mount lens offerings of the Nokton 35mm f/1.2 and Nokton 50mm f/1.1 - the f/1.2 is famed as the fastest rangefinder (RF) lens available at the 35mm focal length, whist the f/1.1 offers a readily available alternative to the USD10,495 Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH, at a tenth of the price.

    For those who have been awaiting for a fast and affordable RF 75mm lens, here it is - The new Heliar classic at f/1.8 comes in a third-stop faster than Leica's current APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2 ASPH and at about one-fifth the price.


    The new Voigtländer Heliar classic 75mm f/1.8
    The hood secures to a hood attachment which can then be screwed to the filter thread.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 17th May 2011 at 12:35 AM.

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    Default What is 75mm good for?

    Not specific to RF, the 75mm can be suited for almost any genre of photography - portrait, street, event, macro (with extension tubes), landscape, etc. All else being equal, the mid-range tele lenses (e.g. 75mm) will provide higher compression and more background blur (bokeh) vs. shorter focal lengths. For that reason, you will find the fast mid-range tele as the preferred portrait lens for many photographers.

    My personal preference of a mid-range tele is the Zeiss Marko-Planar T* 2/100 ZF on the Nikon D700 - I can juice up the camera iso setting to >1280, and not have to worry about artefacts of digital noise and still have plenty of speed to avoid any visible handshake in the shot. The key here being avoiding handshake - the mid-range teles, without any form of image stablization or support, can be rather unforgiving.


    D700 Zeiss Marko-Planar T* 2/100 ZF

    The mid-range tele will test your photography fundamentals of breathing techniques, camera holding techniques, and trigger techniques. On a RF camera, I have on occasion been able to get a clean shot at 1/8sec with a 50mm Summilux-M pre-asph. But my hit rate even at 1/30sec was pretty dismal with the longer 75mm, only achieving good results consistently at 1/60sec – the rule of thumb being (1 / focal length).
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 17th May 2011 at 12:36 AM.

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    Default 75mm in the RF line-up

    The RF 75mm lenses are handsome lenses (see next post), and when not used as a dedicated portrait lens, the 75mm is often found paired with a 35mm in a RFer's camera bag. While the 75mm will test your focusin accuracy, you can add a viewfinder magnifier (1.25x / 1.3x / 1.4x) to help increase your hit rate. Note that the Bessa R4a/m, Leica M3/2/4/5/4-2*, CLE, and the ZI do not have 75mm framelines available, but there are 75mm external viewfinders available, notably from Voigtländer.

    Introduced late in the game to fill the gap between the 50mm and the 90mm, there are only five 75mm RF lenses available -

    Leica Summilux-M 75mm f/1.4 (version 1 1980-1982, version 2 1982-2005)
    Voigtländer 75mm f/2.5 Color-Heliar [LTM] (1999-2010)
    Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2 ASPH (2005-current production)
    Leica Summarit-M 75mm f/2.5 (2007-current production)
    Voigtländer 75mm f/1.8 Heliar classic (2010-current production)

    * The 75mm frameline, as part of the 6-position finder, was first introduced with the 1981 M4-P, along with the 75mm Summilux-M.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 22nd November 2010 at 09:40 PM.

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    Default The 75mm Shoot-Out

    This is a quick shoot out among the new Voigtländer Heliar classic and the two other fast RF lenses at the 75mm focal length, the Summilux-M and Summicron-M. By and large, the specs of the Heliar classic fits somewhere in between the 'lux and the 'cron, but points worth highlighting are that the Heliar classic has the furthest min focusing distance (0.9m), doesn't have a built-in hood, but is the lightest of the three (427g), and is by far the most affordable!!




    Leica Summilux-M 75mm f/1.4, Voigtländer 75mm f1.8 Heliar-Classic, Leica Apo-Summicron-M 75mm F2 Asph


    Fully extended with hoods extended / attached
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 17th May 2011 at 12:37 AM.

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    Default The 75mm Shoot-Out...

    Contenders: Leica Summilux-M 75mm f/1.4, Voigtländer 75mm f1.8 Heliar-Classic, Leica Apo-Summicron-M 75mm F2 Asph
    Setup - Focus on the Zeiss logo. ZI 1m away from the film plane / sensor. IIIf 43cm behind the ZI.
    Light source - Florescent ceiling light, plus 100W constant light angled in from the left.
    Camera - Leica M8.2, iso160, DNG, AWB, no lens detection or UV/IR. Lens with no filter.
    PP - Colour temp adjusted to be constant for all lenses, Downsize to 1200x807, no sharpening.


    The setup, click to view wide-open and f/4 samples
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 17th May 2011 at 12:39 AM.

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    Default The 75mm Shoot-Out...


    Point of focus - "Zeiss", click to view larger image

    Sharpness and Contrast - I am not going to give too much of a commentary here, but the results are not surprising. The APO-Summicron-M ASPH emerges as the clear winner in terms of sharpness and contrast when shot wide open, while the Heliar classic appears to have a softer-glow to their rendering, similar to that of the Summilux-M. Even when stopped down to f/4, while the gap is closed, the Summicron still has the sharpness edge over the other two.


    Leica IIIf in the background, click to view larger image

    “Bokeh balls” - Well, your mileage may vary in viewing these... all I’d want to say here is that they reflect the shape of the iris diaphragm at the aperture stop. For instance, the above shots show the different characteristics of the various lenses shot wide open and at f/4.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 17th May 2011 at 12:44 AM.

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    Default The 75mm Shoot-Out...

    Light Fall-Off / Vignette - This is done on film (fullframe). Again, I'll let the thumbnails speak for themselves. There is heavy vignetting from the Summilux-M wide open, with more moderate falloff from the Heliar classic and Summicron-M, all of which is pretty much cleared up at f/2.8 and above. Pls note that while the wide open sample of the Heliar classic is in the same row as the f/1.4, the f/1.8 is actually much closer to the f/2. Only other thing to note is that, while this might not be the best test subject, there is little evidence of distortion from any of the lenses even at near focus.


    Zeiss Ikon color film (scanned in grayscale), focus at 1m
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 17th May 2011 at 12:45 AM.

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    Default The 75mm Shoot-Out...

    Focus Throw – This is another important characteristic of a lens which is often forgotten in this day and age of auto-focus lenses. The focus throw is the amount you have to turn the focusing ring from near focus to infinity focus.

    As with many things, there are two sides to this coin: on one-side, the longer the throw the finer the focusing available by the lens; on the flip side, the shorter the focus throw, the quicker you can get swing from near focus to infinity. The focus throw of the Leica Summilux-M 75mm f/1.4 is significantly longer than the other two, requiring approx a full half rotation of the focusing ring to go from near focus to infinity. The Voigtländer 75mm f1.8 Heliar classic is almost identical to the Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm F2 ASPH in terms of focus throw, taking about a third turn only.

    Given the thin DoF of the 75mm (wide open), the longer focus throw may be beneficial when focusing accuracy is important. However, if you’re using the lens for general photography and not spending a lot of time playing in close focus, the quickness of the short throw may be preferred.

    75mm in the viewfinder - The 75mm framelines in the viewfinder magnification of 0.72x will only take up about 40% of the view (in height and width, not area), while the 50mm framelines are about 55-60%. This can give a sense of "wasted" space, where many RFers find the 35 and 50 framelines already giving sufficient lead into or surrounding of the frame. But this is just a matter of perception, you can either get used to it, or adjust your viewfinder magnification with an viewfinder magnifier, I would recommend the latter.


    Simulated 50-75 framelines through viewfinder magnification 0.72x

    M9 vs M8 - While there might be little difference in the position in 75mm framelines in the viewfinder between the M9 (digital full-frame) and the M8 (1.3x crop), the field of view would be quite different - notably, the field of view of the M8 would be more narrow. In order to frame the same view as M9, you would have to take a couple of steps back. Key implication here would be on the increased working distance and the implied subtle change in depth of field. This would be similiar when comparing the R3a (film full-frame) with the R-D1 (1.5x crop).
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 17th May 2011 at 12:46 AM.

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    Default Conclusion

    Some people have questioned my doing this write-up saying that others may not see it as a credible review given that my surname is not Rockwell, Reid, or Putts. My reply is, well... "Sufferin' Succotash!!", I obviously do not claim to be a Reid or Putts (I don't think KRW should be mentioned in that company). The artical might not have lens design, MTF charts, nor real war experience, but I have tried to simply put forward facts, samples, and some personal thoughts in hopes for it to be a useful supplement in making your own decision on whether these lenses are for you.

    Q: Is the Heliar classic a better lens than the Leica APO-Summicron-M ASPH?
    A: Balancing sharpness, light fall off, price? Frankly, I don’t think that it is the right question in this case. Some photographers may say that the Heliar classic might have the exact characteristics they want in the shot, while others may say that Summicron-M has the characteristics they want. A similar discussion and dilemma can go on about the 75mm Summicron vs 75mm Summilux.

    I have read some people saying that the Heliar classic is like a Summilux in a Summicron package (paraphrasing a little), and I can certainly understand where that comment is coming from, given the similarity of the rending to the 'lux in a more compact size of the 'cron. So, among these three lenses, they each have their own characteristics quirks, and strengths. You would have to decide which is the lens that best suits your style, budget aside.

    Q: If you could only choose one, which would you get?
    A: As with the previous FAQ, it depends… personally, this is how I would break it down -
    If I wanted to have one always ready in my camera bag - Heliar classic
    If I’m a pixel peeper – APO-Summicron-M ASPH
    If I live for the Leica glow and huge "bokeh balls" – Summilux-M

    But before you even get there, I think that the bigger question is if you're comfortable with shooting with the 75mm on RF. My personal preference for RF lenses are in the 28-35-50 range, and the 75mm can just about fit at the end of that range without the need for many adjustments in shooting style or gear preparations.

    That been said, the 75mm will test your photography fundementals, more so than the 50mm, and I would recommend that you include a viewfinder magnifier in your camera bag. But once you have mastered or at least comfortable with the 75mm range, any of these lenses can reward you with excellent portrait shots.


    End notes:
    - 75 vs 50: While a few steps forward with the 50mm would provide a similar field of view as the 75mm, the higher compression of the 75mm would make the image quite different from the 50mm, all other parameters held constant.
    - 85mm: There are a number of 85mm (e.g. Canon, Nikon, Jupiter, Zeiss) M/LTM lenses, but they would be closer to the 90mm for a more reasonable head-to-head comparison.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 2nd June 2011 at 11:48 PM.

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    Default Sample Shots RF 75mm lenses


    75mm Summicron-M ASPH


    Voigtländer 75mm Heliar classic


    Voigtländer 75mm Heliar classic


    Voigtländer 75mm Heliar classic
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 2nd June 2011 at 11:43 PM.

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    Default Sample Shots Zeiss Ikon 75mm Heliar classic, Tri-X


    Voigtländer 75mm Heliar classic, 1.7m, 1/30sec handheld


    Voigtländer 75mm Heliar classic, 1m 1/25sec handheld

    More sample shots by the new Voigtländer Heliar classic can be found on here.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 2nd June 2011 at 11:47 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus jACK View Post
    Some people have questioned my doing this write-up saying that others may not see it as a credible review given that my surname is not Rockwell, Reid, or Putts. My reply is, well... "Sufferin' Succotash!!", I obviously do not claim to be a Reid or Putts (I don't think KRW should be mentioned in that company). The artical might not have lens design, MTF charts, nor real war experience, but I have tried to simply put forward facts, samples, and some personal thoughts in hopes for it to be a useful supplement in making your own decision on whether these lenses are for you.
    Some CSers can be soooo ungrateful!

    We might as well keep all this information to ourselves Jack, but other members might benefit from it, and for precisely that, we do this!

    MTF charts and lab tests were NEVER part of our reviews! IIRC, in fact, we discourage them simply because ours are PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON reviews in a local or regional context, sans lab and MTF tests! Lord knows there are tons of other sites which does that ... sooo sexily!

    Get REAL! And don't be like some academics or scholars that brays and whines for lab tests and such so as to appease their own sense of fanboyism or purchase-justification!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Some CSers can be soooo ungrateful!

    We might as well keep all this information to ourselves Jack, but other members might benefit from it, and for precisely that, we do this!

    MTF charts and lab tests were NEVER part of our reviews! IIRC, in fact, we discourage them simply because ours are PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON reviews in a local or regional context, sans lab and MTF tests! Lord knows there are tons of other sites which does that ... sooo sexily!

    Get REAL! And don't be like some academics or scholars that brays and whines for lab tests and such so as to appease their own sense of fanboyism or purchase-justification!
    Now, this is a statement! i like that! can't agree more! kudos to cactus jack and other reviewers!
    - troubled undergrad -
    Olympus XA/Canon QL17 GIII flickr

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    Moderator nightwolf75's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Some CSers can be soooo ungrateful!

    We might as well keep all this information to ourselves Jack, but other members might benefit from it, and for precisely that, we do this!

    MTF charts and lab tests were NEVER part of our reviews! IIRC, in fact, we discourage them simply because ours are PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON reviews in a local or regional context, sans lab and MTF tests! Lord knows there are tons of other sites which does that ... sooo sexily!

    Get REAL! And don't be like some academics or scholars that brays and whines for lab tests and such so as to appease their own sense of fanboyism or purchase-justification!
    typical ungratefulness...

    they want 'brand-name' reviews, simple. pay us and sponsor us the gears to do this full-time like dpreview lor... wth...
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed.” ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Some CSers can be soooo ungrateful!

    We might as well keep all this information to ourselves Jack, but other members might benefit from it, and for precisely that, we do this!

    MTF charts and lab tests were NEVER part of our reviews! IIRC, in fact, we discourage them simply because ours are PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON reviews in a local or regional context, sans lab and MTF tests! Lord knows there are tons of other sites which does that ... sooo sexily!

    Get REAL! And don't be like some academics or scholars that brays and whines for lab tests and such so as to appease their own sense of fanboyism or purchase-justification!
    I dont think this review is at any level below par then others big name. And the big name is not always accurate. From technical/QC and marketing point of view, MTF and others lab test is a must for product quality control, however from user side, I prefer a review like this, more feeling, more touch, more soul, where MTF and lab test can't present.

    So for TS

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus jACK View Post
    Some people have questioned my doing this write-up saying that others may not see it as a credible review given that my surname is not Rockwell, Reid, or Putts. My reply is, well... "Sufferin' Succotash!!", I obviously do not claim to be a Reid or Putts (I don't think KRW should be mentioned in that company). The artical might not have lens design, MTF charts, nor real war experience, but I have tried to simply put forward facts, samples, and some personal thoughts in hopes for it to be a useful supplement in making your own decision on whether these lenses are for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Some CSers can be soooo ungrateful!

    We might as well keep all this information to ourselves Jack, but other members might benefit from it, and for precisely that, we do this!

    MTF charts and lab tests were NEVER part of our reviews! IIRC, in fact, we discourage them simply because ours are PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON reviews in a local or regional context, sans lab and MTF tests! Lord knows there are tons of other sites which does that ... sooo sexily!

    Get REAL! And don't be like some academics or scholars that brays and whines for lab tests and such so as to appease their own sense of fanboyism or purchase-justification!
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Just like to share my point of view when I look at reviews.
    Even my favourite reputable review site has a tendency to be bias at times.
    If I'm really going to buy a certain lens, I will dig up as much info and review as possible. Summarise and see generally which direction does them all generally points to. Even the most reputable site out there has to be treated with a pinch of salt.

    I realised that a number of professional photographers prefer to test out the equipment themselves rather than fully rely on any review. This way is probably the best way to find out the ability and limit of the equipment at a personal level and see how well it suits the particular photographer. Be it workflow and or needs.
    Coolthought - 冷静思考 - クールだ http://xaa.xanga.com/0aba0666d143253.../t35917343.gif

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    Moderator Cactus jACK's Avatar
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    Default

    coolthought - i agree that if one can be justified, buy it and personally use it - then you would really know if it's really for you. short of which, we have to make our decisions / inferences based on whatever information we can find or elicit. for what it's worth, some shops do you try on the spot in making your decision.

    zoomp - thanks. yes, there are plenty of 75mm shots can be found on flickr. there are also different flickr groups for the lux, cron, and heliar classic.

    dm, nw, zk, bay - thanks for the affirmation. i just hope that some ppl find this article useful.

  18. #18

    Default Re: RF fast 75mm lens test

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwolf75 View Post
    typical ungratefulness...

    they want 'brand-name' reviews, simple. pay us and sponsor us the gears to do this full-time like dpreview lor... wth...
    just to add another thing, as long as the reviewer is not a fanboy and came up with own money to get the equipment. I would say the review certainly worth reading and take it in as part of the whole research. Tendency to be honest is there. I may stand corrected but at least for now this is how I view such review and it is good alternative with the "standard" ways the reputable sites review.
    Coolthought - 冷静思考 - クールだ http://xaa.xanga.com/0aba0666d143253.../t35917343.gif

  19. #19

    Default Re: RF fast 75mm lens test

    this is one of the most detailed review

    great effort TS! and thanks for sharing!
    though I'm not a RF user

  20. #20

    Default Re: RF fast 75mm lens test

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to write up this review. Its nice to see an honest review that is unbiased and truthful, rather than popular reviewers who are under the influence of their sponsors and advertisers.

    Looking forward to more of such reviews.

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