Sep 232015


The Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron VM (Leica Mount) Lens Review

By Steve Huff

We are living in a GREAT  time for our hobby or our profession or our matter what you call is Photography. Today we have some pretty technologically advanced marvel cameras, simple basic cameras, amazing mid level cameras and even fantastic lower end cameras. Today we have more camera tech available at our disposal than at anytime in history. Even though the worlds #1 camera today is the iPhone, if you are reading this article then that must mean you are here because you appreciate quality and the process of photography, something you lose with an iPhone as you main camera.


Today I will be taking a look at the new Voigtlander 35 f/1.7 VM lens (Leica M Mount) but I will be shooting it on the Sony A7RII as that is now my #1 camera around here, and for me, the best full frame 35mm mirrorless camera made today. With the new backlit sensor tech, Sony has eliminated mostly all of the old issues when using wider angle Leica glass, at least the color issues ;) This lens works very well on the Sony A7RII, so every image in this review will have been shot with that camera and this lens (as well as the Zeiss ZM 35 1.4 Leica Mount for comparison).

One of my 1st shots with the lens which was indoors so not a ton of light. I opened up the lens, focused and shot. To me, the color is very good as is the OOF background rendering. Smooth rendering with a sharp subject. No issues.


When Stephen Gandy, head dude over at Cameraquest emailed me and said “The new 35 1.7’s are in, do you want to review one”? Of course I said YES YES YES! I have been curious about this lens but I wasn’t excited about it as I “assumed” it would be average. Not sure why I thought that when the Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton hit it out of the park with bang for the buck. That little 50 1.5 came so close to the Leica 50 Summilux at 1/4 the cost it was a no brainer for those who wanted that fast 50 rangefinder lens experience without spending $4000. You can see my review of that lens HERE, well worth a read and look if you missed it as that lens is a stunner for the money. Then again, Voigtlander has always been known to be big on “bang for the buck” but what I have noticed over the past 7 years is that each time Voigtlander releases a new lens, it seems to be notch up in quality from design, build, operation and image quality. Yep, in 2015 Voigtlander lenses are kicking some serious bootie, and the new 35 1.7 VM is no exception.

My dog Olive who is a total ham. She knows when I am taking her picture, and when I aim the camera she sits and looks, as if to pose. She also watches full TV shows, interacts with animals on TV and sleeps like a human, on her back. Odd ball dog, but here she is at f/1.7 with the new 35 VM. 2nd shot wide open again!



Over the years I have reviewed many Voigtlander lenses on these very pages. Usually on a Leica M, but these days the Sony A7 series has improved considerably since the beginning about 2 1/2 years ago. While the Leica M is a gorgeous body, camera and the ultimate in “pride of ownership”, it is expensive and many are buying the Sony’s as an alternate to the full frame M and many M owners have an A7 of some sort as a backup and extra camera to their M. Many ask me daily how these lenses do on the A7RII, so this is where I will be concentrating. Of all the Voigtlander lenses I have used, reviewed, and tested the 50 1.5 is my fave, followed by this one. While I loved many of the lenses these two recent additions are really showing what this company can do when they set their mind to it.

The Lens Arrives


When I received the lens and opened it up I saw I had been sent the CHROME version, and it looks quite a bit like the 50 1.5 I have been speaking about here. This is good as it is a retro but cool design and it is easy to focus and change your aperture. Smooth yet solid, and the lens is a joy to use. It is also thin and small which is nice. MUCH smaller than the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4, smaller than the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and while not as small as the Sony 35 2.8, it is a much different type of lens.

When I attached it to the camera and took my 1st shots I was happy to see the color performance was gorgeous and the lens was pretty damn sharp wide open. It offered that “Voigtlander Look” but to me, it seemed sharper, crisper, better bokeh and color than normal. I liked it. Maybe it was the Sony but what was coming out of the camera with this lens wide open made me happy :)

Both shots below were shot wide open at f/1.7. 1st one I had some natural light coming in, the 2nd image was different. It was much dimmer here than the 1st image but the fast aperture let me get as much light in as I could. 

CLICK them for larger



As I used the lens more and more over the 2 weeks I had it, I was liking it and decided that I wanted to see how it would stand up to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM that comes in at $2300. The Voigtlander comes in at under $900, so it is more than 2X less than the Zeiss. I would expect the Zeiss to come out ahead but had to see for myself what an extra $1300 would buy me ;)

Zeiss vs Voigtlander

The Voigtlander 35 1.7 next to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM


Below are some images comparing both the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and  the Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM, both Leica M mount and mounted to my A7RII with the Voigtlander close focus M adapter.

Click the images to see larger and full 100% crops. These are right from the camera with no tweaks at all. FROM RAW.

1st one is the Voigtlander, 2nd is the Zeiss. 



For this set the Zeiss is showing a tad more color pop and sharpness in the crop (click them for full crop)



At the end of the day, the Zeiss is a tad better for sharpness at 1.7 but I prefer the bokeh of the Voigtlander which also seems to be giving a more shallow DOF than the Zeiss wen using the same aperture. Very odd but I have seen this before with different lens brands. I love the Zeiss, and it’s about as good as it gets in a 35mm for Leica M mount (it has been compared favorably to the Leica 35 Summilux that comes in at $5500). The Voigtlander is really only a teeny but behind in sharpness wide open. Both are fantastic but one is $1300 less expensive and smaller. Hmmmm.

The Voigtlander also focuses closer than the Zeiss. 

Ultimately it is up to the user which one is preferred, if any. In the world of 35mm for Leica we have many choices from old to modern. For Sony FE we have a load of lenses as well that can be used, so they should be chosen like an artist would choose his brush or pencil. Choose the lens for the desired “look” or “character” of what you want to see in your final image. This lens will give you a creamy look with you subject popping from a 3D background when shot wide open. Just like a good fast 35 should do. It has a decent background blur (Bokeh) rendering and I find it quite pleasing, even better than the Zeiss. It is small, well made (feels leica-ish) and gorgeous in black or chrome. Can’t go wrong.

#1, mailbox at f/1.7. #2, Hula Hoopers at The Duce. #3, Mailbox up close (and the top is OOF due to the depth of field being so shallow, not a lens issue)




ONE MORE BIG COMPARISON – “Against all the others”

Left to right: Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon, Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2, Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM, Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM and the Sony/Zeiss 35 2.8


Many have asked me just this morning to add a quick comparison to the Sony 35 1.4, Loxia 35, and Sony 35 2.8 in addition to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM. Well, see the image above for the size differences, and see below for the image samples with each lens! Your wish is my command! (sometimes, lol).

I am using the Sony A7s for  this one and below are full size images from camera (RAW) without any modifications. What I am looking at  here is sharpness of the subject (face of the bottle) and the Bokeh (background blur quality) as well as the color performance. What do YOU think? Leave a comment and let me know! For me, the ultimate IQ comes from the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 but it is huge. The 2nd fave of mine is now the Voigtlander, then the Loxia, then the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and then the 2.8.






So there ya go ;) Let me know in the comments which rendering you prefer. 


No wide angle lens will be perfect on the Sony A7 series, even the RII. While the A7RII has improved considerably with M lenses, there is still one issue that seems to remain. SOFT edges with some lenses. Instead of magenta side we now will be left with soft sides on many occasions. THIS only comes into play if you are stopped down and wanting perfect corner to corner sharpness. ON the Leica M it will work well, on the Sony not so much.

If you shoot this lens wide open you will never see it. That is where the character lies in this lens anyway. Stopping it down to f/8 will give you no better quality than almost any other 35mm that will fit on the Sony. For me it is a non issue, but for many they want that stopped down corner to corner performance. If that is the case, and you shoot with a Sony A7 series camera, I highly recommend the Sony 35 1.4 which is STUNNING but HUGE. See that review HERE.

You will also see some slight vignetting with this lens when wide open on the Sony A7RII or A7s or A7II, but you will also get that with the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM on the Sony. You will also get the slight vignetting wide open when using it on the Leica M.

If you want perfection in 35mm, buy either a Leica M and a Leica 35 Summilux FLE or buy an A7RII and the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon. Both of those will offer you about the best 35mm performance you will see in full frame, no matter the type of camera. If you want a fun unique lens that also comes with a very cool and fun user experience of using an all manual lens all while getting massive character and IQ, take a look at the Voigtlander. I love it just as much as I do the 50 1.5 Nokton. I highly recommend it for Leica M or A7RII shooters!!! 




You can buy this lens at Cameraquest HERE. Best prices, and free filter and overnight shipping.  

They are the official USA distributor for Voigtlander and top notch all the way!! 




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May 052015

Leica cuts lenses by 12% – Save hundreds on Leica lenses now!

Leica is trying to boost sales so they cut lenses by 12% through May 31st 2015. B&H Photo has them all cut down HERE. Also, the other dealers that you can buy from that I highly recommend are Ken Hansen ([email protected]),, Pro Shop for Photographers and Leica Store Miami! The 50 APO is in stock at B&H for nearly $1000 off!

Noctilux? SAVE OVER $1300

SAVE 12% through May 31st!!!

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.33.18 AM

Apr 132015


The NEW Leica Summarit Lenses. 35, 50, 75 and 90 2.4. Part 1.

These lenses were sent to me to review by Leica Dealer Ken Hansen. He has these and many other Leica items in stock, so email him if interested at [email protected].

**This review will be in two parts. This part will mainly focus on the 35 and 50 with a few 75 samples thrown in. I will show many images and talk about the character of the lenses. Part 2 will feature more 75 and 90 and go over my final thoughts on the Summarit line as well as some comparisons. So my conclusion, comparisons, and more images will be in part 2 in about 1-2 weeks. Enjoy!**

1st, a video showing the Summarits with my new Safari Leica M-P 240 

Man, these brand new 2015 Summarit lenses from Leica REALLY surprised me, and these days it takes A LOT to Surprise me. The fit, the finish, the build, the design, the smoothness, the hood’s, the caps, the whole package with these little Summarit line has gotten better than ever before with the new improvements. Optically they are STUNNERS and IMO beat many of the classic Leica lenses. For example, I prefer the new 2.4 Summarit 50 to the older 50 Summicron f/2 (non APO). The 35 Summarit is TINY but STUNNINGLY sharp. The 75 is probably the coolest of the lot with its 2.4 aperture, close focusing distance of .7 and the slim slender profile. I loved the old summarit line (which are not really that old) that Leica introduced at the end of the M8.2’s life as they released them to create a more affordable lens for what would be the M9. They did a great thing with that lens line as they were Semi Affordable in Leica terms and they were fantastic performers. 

The new line is even better with a new design, new metal hood designs, new metal lens caps, new silver or black finish, improved optics, new closer focusing distances, and each lens comes with a real Leica leather case (the old line came with a bag). So the prices have went up from $2000-$2350 but they are still the least expensive REAL Leica lenses made today for the M and they give up nothing in performance to their more expensive siblings.

The 35, 50, 75 ad 90..look at the stunning silver finish. I am not a HUGE fan of the black focusing rings on the silver body but I would still choose Silver for my Safari M-P. 


After shooting with the 35, 50, 75 and 90 I can say that I would love to own the 50 and 75 AND 90, but may end up buying the 50 for now, and one of the other telephoto options later. I own a 35 Summicron so do not need another 35 but man oh man. The details and color..some of these have that old M9 pop that many look for IMO – all from Leica’s latest and most affordable lens line for the M.

Click this image for a larger 1800 pixel size to see the details, and depth. This was with the 50 f/2.4 and it is STUNNING at any price. If Leica packaged this as an all new special 50 with a new name, they could have priced it at $3000. It is crisper than a Summilux, sharper and has better color than the old 50 Summicron, along with a smoother Bokeh and it is smaller and sleeker and looks amazingly beautiful on the camera. Click the image of the Cowboy to see the depth, detail and character of his face. Amazing lens. 


When you view the above image, you will see that Leica pop and look from the contrast, sharpness, color and the WOW. It is in a class of it’s own. The gentle transitions from focus to out of focus is organic, the color is scrumptious and the glow is here as well. Take a look and click on the image below. From raw, wide open at f/2.4 on the new 50 Summarit.


But let us keep going as I think I want to make this review more image based as the images are what tell the tale.

Click on the image below for a larger sized version. Here, you can see Leica’s color signature, the glow, the detail (see the eyes) and the smooth transition from sharp to butter. :) This 50 2.4 is a smashing lens. Many will feel they need a Summicron or Lux and they will miss out. Today, there is no need to spend more for better. Each Leica lens, the Summarit, Summicron and Summilux each have a different character, but ALL are stellar and better than any DSLR 50 ;) 


The 35 Summarit inside at ISO 2000. Still crisp, still “leica” in the feeling. Nothing special about the image but it does show that even in dark indoor interiors the 35 Summarit and M 240 can pull it off.


Always love old doors and this one was taken in Tombstone, AZ at an old abandoned building. The 35 now has a .8 meter close focus distance, is made to a higher standard, has improved optics and again, comes with metal hood, leather case and the full Leica treatment. This 35 goes for $2250, much less than the 35 Summicron or 35 Summilux. This lens feels amazing on the M. Small, solid, smooth focus. Not much more you could ask for. Click images for larger. 


Another with the 35, right out of the camera (RAW)…


The 50 has its own unique mojo and character that sets it apart from the Summicron and Summilux. I know of one guy who has ALL of the Leica 50;s and chooses which one he wants to shoot depending on what he is going for in looks. For me, the 50 Summarit provides a crisp and “perfect” style of image while not being analytical or hard in any way. Look at the image below. The man WAS this red as he had a slight sunburn and he was HOT wearing his MARSHALL uniform. The Leica did color here better than my A7II did the same day and place. So Leica has finally got the old color issues settled. Now I see Leica color I remember. 


Another with the 50, which became the most used Summarit for me while having them all. I shot with the 90 the least as I never use 90 but it is beautiful none the less. Look again at the detail the Summarit gives as well as the overall character of the rendering. 


A quick grab shot this guy was a blast. He hung around all day dancing and playing his finger instruments. Never hounding anyone for money, just smiling for all who passed by. I used the 50 here again. 


These two were on the street in the harsh AZ sun and I thought there is no way this image would come out OK. Usually these harsh sun images lead to faces in shadow, uneven exposure, etc. When I arrived home I was able to easily pull out the shadows on the faces while retaining highlights. 


RICH reds here with the 50


Again, the 50 shooting a happy young man on the Trolley Tour. LOVE the way the 50 renders crisp and so colorful..with ACCURATE color. I think Leica enhanced these for use on the M 240 as the color that comes from these lenses is superb. 


The 75 is a lens I have a love hate relationship with. Not because it is a bad lens, because it is SO GOOD and SO gorgeous, I want it. Problem is, I rarely use anything above 50. Even so, I will own this lens one day. I loved the old version of the 75 Summarit and this one is even better. Retains the Summarit look of crispness, great color, smooth transitions and this time with the new 75 we get .7 meter close focus, which is AWESOME. 


Horse with the 75 in the direct sun. Look at how it handles the harsh light. Contrast is a but high but that is what gives these lenses the pop and 3D separation. 


The local high school band from Nogales Mexico in Tombstone. They sounded great! The 75, even from across the street gave me detail, snap and pop. Color is spot on and the M handled the harsh light VERY well.


I saw this lady having a BLAST watching the parade..she had her bubble machine and was getting the biggest kick out of it. She was enjoying life with a smile. I snapped this one with the 50..


One more with the the dog ;) 


Just a simple shot to show the detail and the Bokeh of the 75mm at 2.4


…and a shot with a 100% crop from the 75 inside my home, no special light. Wide open at f/2.4. 


It is safe to say that I am enjoying these Summarit lenses. I will be shooting over the next few days with the 75 and 90 more so my next report, which will be part 2, will go over these lenses more as well as a couple of comparison like the 35 Summarit vs the 35 Summicron vs the Zeiss 35 Loxia on the A7II.

REFERENCE: My old 35 Summarit review is HERE. My old 50 Summarit review is HERE. My old 90 Summarit review is HERE.

So that is all I have for now on these fantastic new lenses from Leica. ALL are stunning in their build, performance, styling and included accessories (Hood, caps, leather case, etc). The Summarits are now better than ever and are in no way handicapped by the more expensive line besides being a tad slower at f/2.4 vs f/2 or f/1.4.

If you want to save some cash and some weight, you will still get that Leica quality from the entire line of Summarit lenses. Watch for part 2 SOON which will have more on these beauties. Again, these came from Ken Hansen, email him and mention me for a GREAT buying experience ;) His email is [email protected].







Mar 242015



by Paul Bartholomew

Dear Steve

This is my second user report I’ve written for your great site but this one is quite different from my last one (An Englishman in New York).

I’ve been a Canon user for years having had a 5DMK II, a 7DMK I and the camera I shot for part of this review the excellent Canon 5D MKIII. I have a little Olympus E-PL 1 and a Canon G11 too but my pride and joy is my Leica M240. That camera is the second M I have owned having upgraded from an M9 about 18 months ago. And what an upgrade! I really can’t understand those who prefer the M9, the colours, the noise, the dynamic range – all much better on the M240 to my mind, with live view to boot with EVF support (this is important for this article).

I’m not exaggerating when I say the Leica M240 is the camera I had hoped the M9 would have been, but whenever I shot with the M9 I found the images a little muddy in their tones – like the files were missing some information – not so with the M240.

After bumping along happily with both the 5D MKIII and the Leica M240, I realised the Canon was mostly staying in its foam-lined drawer in my study, I preferred to shoot with the M240. This wasn’t something that had happened with the M9 – the 5D MKIII gave me better images, but not so when compared to the M240. So, I began to wonder whether I actually needed the 5D MKIII… Of course letting go of the body was one thing but letting go of the lenses was quite another. At this point in time I owned a 300mm f/2.8L (easy to get rid of, I seldom shoot long), a 24-105 f/4L – a nice enough lens but not one that I actually used that much, a 16-35mm f/2.8L II – a lens I was nervous to lose (the widest I had for the Leica was 28mm) and a 85mm f/1.2L II – a gem of a lens that I loved. These two lenses were the anchor of my Canon system – they were preventing me from moving on.

However, when I sat down and worked out how much I would get by selling the Canon kit new possibilities opened up, but first I needed to see whether I could fill the niches of my Canon anchor lenses with a couple of Leica compatible lenses. Here’s what I bought: For the wide end a Voigtlander 21mm f/1.9 and for the fast portrait niche a Leica 80mm f/1.4 Summilux R (with a Novoflex R to M adaptor) – my EVF for my little Olympus would be put to good use! These two lenses complemented my existing M lenses – a Zeiss 28mm f/2.8, a Jupiter 35mm f/2.8, a Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 (calibrated to f/1.5) and a Jupiter 85mm f/2. To be honest, I never really used the Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 that much – too long for street work and for portraits I found it to have too much contrast for my taste.

Once I’d secured the lenses I thought I would do a comparison shoot before I made a decision whether I could/should divest myself of the Canon kit (although by this point the 300mm had already gone). So, I booked a model that I’d worked with on previous occasions and set to work. Some notes first though… I’d never done a lens test before so apologies for any errors in the process I may have made, also – the M240 doesn’t record lens data from my non-coded lenses and estimates the aperture based on the exposure settings. In some of the pictures my model Holly is holding up fingers to help me record the aperture I was shooting at.

Long end first – the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L II @ f/2.8 at 21mm (TOP) vs the Voigtlander 21mm @ f/2.8 (Bottom) – click images for larger!



Of course with all of the camera and lens changes, I forgot to let Holly know that the Canon would collect its own data! Indeed the EXIF data let me know that I was actually at 22mm, not 21mm.

I don’t think there is that much in it in terms of sharpness but the Canon lens shows less divergence of vertical. Nonetheless I prefer the tones from the Leica. I also think more shadow detail is captured, look at the purple sofa and Holly’s dress in the Leica/Voigt. combination. Unsurprisingly, both lenses show some chromatic aberration in the window frame.

At f/5.6 both lenses now have the chromatic aberration broadly under control:

Top is Canon, bottom is Voigtlander. Click images for larger!



Differences in colour balance / colour rendering aside, the Leica/Voigt. combination seems to hold much more detail now and is much sharper at the edges of the frame, look at the green Tibetan chair-bed bottom left.

Peripheral sharpness picks up on the Canon at f/8 (TOP) but it is still outperformed by the Voigtlander (BOTTOM):



This was enough to convince me that despite the 16mm to 21mm wide end variance, the Leica and Voigtlander would look after me. And…. The Voigtlander could shoot at f/1.9:


I then went a little longer and compared the mid-range of the Canon with my Zeiss 28mm f/2.8. First, wide open. TOP is CANON, bottom is ZEISS, both at f/2.8:



Here, it’s a mixed picture, more chromatic aberration in the window frame with the Canon but it is giving better shadow detail (look at the front of the cabinet) and it is sharper in the peripheries of the frame. The Zeiss is sharper in the middle and could be said to have greater contrast (the flip side of the lower shadow detail). I prefer the colours with the Leica/Zeiss combo though.

At f/5.6, the Canon looks really good, the chromatic aberration is under control , central sharpness is higher too. Slight exposure differences aside, the Canon is still showing less contrast than the Zeiss – which is now showing sharpness to rival the Canon right across the frame.

At f/8, it’s really only the higher contrast of the Zeiss that is separating them:



So, after all that I felt I was OK at medium wide – especially give the relative sizes of the two setups!

Just for fun, I thought I’d compare the long end of the Canon 16-35mm with my diminutive vintage Soviet – the Jupiter 35mm f/2.8 – I was not expecting comparable images and the differences were clear at f/2.8. Canon on top, Jupiter and M on the bottom:



The Canon, even wide open at the long end of its zoom range, seems to control chromatic aberration well and is offering significantly more contrast than when zoomed out. It’s pretty sharp right across the frame too. The Jupiter is another story altogether, unable to control the bright window light, the veiling flare lowers the contrast significantly and although centre sharpness is at least as high as with the Canon, it drops off drastically as we move away from the centre. Look at the candle on the left and even Holly’s feet on the right. I do like that vintage look though, it’s why I bought the lens.



As shown above, at f/5.6 there’s little to complain about with the Canon and it is significantly sharper than the Jupiter everywhere, including in the centre of the frame. And although contrast and sharpness is better with the Jupiter than it was at f/2.8 it can’t keep up with the Canon. This is the same for f/8 too, as shown below. Canon is the 1st image, the Jupiter is the 2nd.



Of course, the Jupiter was never going to be the equivalent of the Canon, but it is a fun little lens to have nonetheless. However, I may need to get myself a higher fidelity M lens if I want to shoot with precision at that focal length.

Now for what I think is probably the main event of this head-to-head review – a comparison of portrait lenses. Mainly, it’s about comparing the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L II with the Leica 80mm f/1.4 Summilux R. But, I’m going to throw in the Soviet 85mm f/2 for good measure too.

First of all, at the widest common aperture of f/2, they really are quite different. The Canon is sharp and exhibits high contrast – it is crisp, as one might expect. But when you cast your eye from that image to the clearly softer and lower contrast Leica image, the Canon begins to look a little ‘crunchy’ – I wonder if others would agree? Then comes the Jupiter, like its 35mm cousin it is low in contrast, but nonetheless it does appear to be pretty sharp:

TOP: Canon 85 L at f/2, MIDDLE: Leica R 80mm at f/2, BOTTOM: Jupiter 85 at f/2




At f/2.8 things aren’t particularly changed – same differences, perhaps just a little less extreme:

Canon, then Leica, then Jupiter




Of course, one really buys these lenses to shoot wide open – we’ve seen the Jupiter wide open but what about the other two? Firstly, both at f/1.4:




I don’t believe the Canon is any sharper now – look at Holly’s eyes on both. The Canon still has more contrast, but I am struck by the sophistication of the Leica image – sharp and soft and the same time. Also, look at the decoration on the wall and the edge of the sunlight, the Canon is exhibiting some chromatic aberration. OK, let’s see the Canon at f/1.2 – that aperture is the reason for buying this lens after all:


To me, on the eyes – this looks a bit sharper that the f/1.4 shot. I was shooting from a tripod but perhaps this is just the difference between hitting the eyeball with the focus point rather than the eyelashes. I just don’t know – although Holly’s mouth is sharper too.

All this out of camera comparison is a bit artificial though isn’t it? I’m never going to shoot models (or any portraits for that matter) without editing – I pretty much edit everything. So, given that – if I had to work on the three wide open images from each lens (I pretty much always shoot portraits wide open), what do I get? I’ve deliberately over-edited a little – particularly the eyes (using a detail extractor) because I wanted to see what information was there to be had and to share it with you. They are all edited slightly differently but with the aim of them bringing the best out of the lenses while getting them to a fairly similar end point:

1st CANON, 2nd LEICA, 3rd JUPITER – all wide open




I found the results surprising. The ‘crunchiness’ of the Canon (something I’d have never attributed to it prior to putting it against the Leica) was difficult to overcome. Transitions between light and shade seemed to accentuate really easily in the edit and I found the highlights difficult to control too (perhaps related to the sensor rather than the lens). The Leica on the other hand is, I think, quite beautiful – I’ve been able to reveal the sharpness of the lens (look at the eyes) but the softness and smoothness puts the Canon to shame – at least in my view. Then there’s the Jupiter – a dark horse: with a careful edit, it performs really well. Given that it cost me less than 5% of either the Canon (new) or Leica (used) that’s remarkable. I should say I used the EVF for both the Jupiter and the Leica. The Leica isn’t coupled so that was a must, but my Jupiter was designed for another camera and can be a bit focus shifted on an M.

For me the quality of the Leica has surprised me and shows that sharpness on its own can leave you wanting. This test allowed me to be happy to let the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L II go, and with it the 5D III and the other lenses too. That’s allowed me to buy a Sony A7 II, a Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, a Voigtlander close focus M to E adaptor and a Canon 50mm f/0.95 rangefinder coupled lens, which I will get back in a few days when its conversion to M mount is done. I’ve also bought a dinky Nippon Kogaku (Nikkor) 5cm f/1.4 SC for a bit of fun after having let my Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar go too. I’m finding I’m preferring a more classic low contrast look nowadays. So with those bits of kit and some LTM to M adapter rings, I can use all but the Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8 on both cameras and I’ve kept some autofocus capability for shooting moving targets too. Additionally, I think the A7 II with its in-body stabilisation might be useful for some low light work when the need calls.

Altogether I feel I have gained flexibility from making the change.

A final word on the Leica 80mm f/1.4 though… It might not stay. I love how it looks, I’ve included a couple of real (non-test) shots below, but as an R lens it is a bit of a pain to use. Shooting it wide open requires precise focus and it doesn’t exhibit enough contrast for focus peaking to be effective so focusing through the EVF (it can’t be done any other way) needs to be done in zoom. Since there is no coupling, this requires the button on the front of the camera to be pressed, the eyes located, precise focus found (without peaking), the button pressed again to de-zoom, and the frame recomposed. By which time your subject is frustrated. As am I.

So there you have it, a long and rambling lens comparison posting that started out as an exercise for me to inform myself. I hope sharing it will be of interest to others too. I’m not sure how many comparisons between those particular portrait lenses are out there – I haven’t come across any.

At the moment then, I’m really looking forward to getting the 0.95 Canon back, something I wouldn’t have been able to justify buying without selling on the Canon SLR kit and I do feel broadly happy with the lenses I have. I may yet get a stronger 35mm and I may yet swap out the Leica R too.

So, thanks for reading and I’ll leave you with a couple of shots that I made with the 80mm f/1.4 Summilux R. After all, I may not be keeping it for long…



I hope this reads alright Steve. I’ll send the images on in following emails – it might take two or three.

I hope you will be able to let me know whether you think it is suitable – I hope it is!




From Steve: As always, for your Leica needs I recommend Ken Hanson, and

Nov 182014

Leica Sale: INSTANT Cash is the list..


With the holidays coming even Leica is in the giving mood (sort of) – with $750 off on the Leica M 240 and $250 off of most lenses, this is a chance to save a little more on your new Leica lens purchases. Below are direct links to B&H Photo and each lens that took me over an hour to using those links to purchase anything it will help this site move on and continue ;) So I thank anyone in advance that uses any of my links on this website.

You can also get these discounts at my other recommended Leica dealers – Ken Hansen ([email protected]),,, and the Pro Shop. 

THE LEICA M 240 – $750 OFF, NOW $6500 NEW

Here is a list of Leica lenses on sale:

18 3.4 Super Elmar – $250 off

The 21 Super Elmar f/3.4 – $250 Off

The 21 Summilux f/1.4 – $250 Off

The 24 Summilux f/1.4 – $250 Off

The 28 Elmarit f/2.8 – $250 Off

The 28 Summicron f/2 – $250 Off

The 35 f/2.5 Summarit – $250 Off

The 35 Summicron f/2 – $250 Off!

The 35 Summilux f/1.4 – $250 Off

The 50 f/2.5 Summarit – $250 off!

The 50 f/2 Summicron Original – $250 off!

The 50 1.4 Summilux ASPH – $250 Off

The 50 0.95 Noctilux – $250 off

The  75 2.5 Summarit – $250 off

The 75 f/2 Summicron – $250 Off

The 90 f/2.5 Summarit – $250 off

The 90 f/2 Summicron APO – $250 off

The 135 f/3.4 APO – $250 Off

The 90 f/4 Macro – $250 off

The Wide Angle Tri Elmar – $250 off

Sep 142013

What lenses should I buy for my Micro 4/3 Camera?


With the E-M1 out and the new E-M5II scheduled to hit the shops in about 2-3 weeks I have been getting asked repeatedly “what lenses should I buy with it”. Well, buying a lens is almost like buying underwear. It’s all personal preference, lol. But even so, there are some superb lenses for this system and in case you did not know it, yes, you can use Panasonic lenses made for Micro 4/3 on a Olympus Micro 4/3 body and vice versa.

In the mirrorless world some of my favorite lenses come from Micro 4/3. Below is a list (and some alternatives) of what I would buy if I were diving fresh into Micro 4/3.

The Camera

The Olympus E-M1 and new E-M5II  are a big deal in the Micro 4/3 world as they are quiet amazing bodies full of modern day tech. You can order the camera at Amazon or B&H Photo or

Wide Angle

My fave: The fast aperture of f/2 allows the Olympus 12mm f/2 to shoot in lower light while getting sharp and colorful images. The 12mm is a premium lens for the Micro 4/3 system giving you a 24mm equivalent.


There are a few GREAt wide-angle choices but depending on how wide and how fast you want to go will decide what to get.

**The best bang for the buck will be in blue bold text!**

**My favorite will be in RED text!**


Olympus 12mm f/2A beautiful little lens and a favorite of mine even though I find it a little on the pricey side today with so much competition. GORGEOUS in the all black edition (which is no longer sold) this lens offers AF speed that is FAST, focus accuracy and a fast f/2 aperture along with close focusing and nice manual focusing features. It is small, light and looks the part. The key word is SMALL. :) A 24mm equivalent t in focal length.

Panasonic 15 1.7 – A gorgeous and TINY lens made in collaboration with Leica this panasonic will give you a tad more contrast and color saturation that the Olympus 12mm, as well as give you a 30mm equivalent instead of a 24, so not as wide. It is a fantastic lens and while I prefer the 12, this comes in 2nd.

Panasonic 14 f/2.5 – Smaller and flatter than the 12mm and just about as good image quality wise. It is not as fast to AF (but still super fast) and it is not as slick as the 12mm but it is MUCH cheaper at $340 or so. Almost $400 less than the Olympus. You lose a half of a stop going from f/2 to f/2.5 as well as 2mm but you save cash while getting a fantastic lens. A 28mm equivalent. 

Olympus 9-18 Zoom – This is a wide-angle little jewel. I have not yet reviewed it (but will be VERY soon on the E-M1) but have tried it and if you want versatility with an effective focal range of 18-36 this is your guy. Sharp, great color and while slow in the aperture department many of us will not need a fast aperture for this focal length. This lens sells for $699.

Olympus 17 1.8 This is not really ‘wide” but is on the wider side of neutral. This will give you a 35mm equivalent and I LOVE this lens. It is one of my faves for everyday all around use and has given me astounding quality results. My review is HERE.

Standard Lenses

My Fave: The Voigtlander 25 f/0.95 is a large, heavy and powerful lens on Micro 4/3. If you love your shallow DOF but want sharpness and great color, this is it. Just be prepared for manual focus only! Should do very well on the E-M1 with the huge EVF. 


New Olympus 12-40 – The new super pro zoom by Olympus could end up being my new fave. No, I am not usually a zoom guy but this one is special. Superb quality, superfast AF and a semi fast f/2.8 aperture. Expensive but should be worth it to those who like zooms with a constant f/2.8 aperture. Weather proof as well and will kick the 12-50 to the curb. $999. Review is mixed in with my E-M10 review HERE.

Panasonic 20 1.7 IIA powerhouse pancake with a small design. Not the fastest to AF but it has become a legend for its size, price and output. You can not go wrong with this lens, period. Review is HERE.

Panasonic 25 1.4 – Another legendary favorite for Micro 4/3. This one is deliciously good but around $500 or so and it is larger and noisier to AF than the 20. Gives you a little more magic over the 20 so up to you if the expense and size is worth it. This is also a fave of mine but the “bang for the buck” goes to the 20 1.7II. My review is HERE.

Olympus 25 1.8 – This guy is small, fast and provides a 50mm Equivalent with a semi fast aperture. See my full review HERE to see just how good this lens is.

Voigtlander 17 or 25 0.95These are beasts. Heavy, Large and of HIGH quality build. All manual and much like shooting an old (or new) Leica lens in feel. Sharp at 0.95 and with a fantastic character and Bokeh. I love the 17.5 and 25 but if pressed with only owing one 25 (50mm equiv) I would go for the 25 f/0.95 or the 25 1.4 from Panasonic. These are around $1000 so they are the most expensive. When you hold one you will wonder why they are not $1500 :)


Want Some reach?

The Voigtlander 42.5 at f/0.95 is beautiful. :) 


Panasonic Nocticron 42.5 f/1.2THIS my friends is my all around favorite lens for the system in general. Modeled after a Leica Noctilux AND Summicron, this lens offers the performance of both of those Leica legends. Super sharp even at 1.2, creamy bokeh and a beautiful color rendering. If I could only have ONE lens for my E-M1, this would be it. See my review HERE. More shots with it in my E-M5 II review HERE.

Olympus 45 1.8This is almost a MUST own. A 90mm equivalent and coming it at around $349 this lens is so worth it that if you own a nice Micro 4/3 camera and do not own this lens you should really reconsider that thought. Fantastic in every way. For me, limited use as I am not a 90mm guy but for those who are, this one rocks. Priced right. My review of this lens is HERE.

Voigtlander 42.5Another Voigtlander masterpiece! The 42.5 gives us an 85mm f/0.95 equivalent. Amazing sharp lens and you can see my review HERE. Not cheap but fills out the Voigtlander trinity of lenses for Micro 4/3 which gives us a 35, 50 and now 85mm, all f/0.95! Top quality here guys. You can buy this from CameraQuest HERE.


More? How about a Telephoto!

The 75 1.8 will give you a 150mm equivalent so if you are shy, and want to keep some distance, this lens will let you do it.


Olympus 75 1.8 – Ahhhhhh, one of the best pieces of glass in the Micro 4/3 lineup, period. This lens is a masterpiece but long at 150mm (equivalent). Still, this is one of those special lenses and it feels, looks and performs like a million bucks. In black it is super sexy as well. Not very large or heavy but just right with fast AF as well. Bravo Olympus. My review is HERE.

Panasonic 35-100 – This is in the high quality premo line for Panasonic and it does not come cheap but from what I hear, it is a great high quality tele option. $1500!

Panasonic 100-300 – The budget telephoto with some serious power and high quality. Many swear by this guy, and if you want REACH…as in 600mm equivalent, this is the best $600 you can spend on your Micro 4/3 for a native lens. 

Olympus PRO 40-150 f/2.8 – WOW, this lens is a MASTERPIECE in build, function and performance. If you want a 80-300 equivalent in a pro made weather sealed lens, this is about as good as it gets. Puts most 70-200 Pro lenses to shame. Images in my E-M5 II review.


Specialty Lenses – Macro and Fisheye

The E-M5 and Panasonic 8mm Fisheye – GREAT special effect lens. But make sure to GET CLOSE!


Panasonic 8mm Fisheye – I have shot with the cheap manual focus Rokinon fisheye and the quality Panasonic 8mm fisheye and I LOVED the 8mm from Panasonic the most. It feels nice, build is superb as is performance. This is a great special effect lens for occasional up close use. I love it. You can see my review HERE. Amazon sells this beauty via PRIME.

The Olympus 60 Macro is AMAZING. Highly recommended for Macro lovers. 


The Olympus 60mm Macro Probably the best Macro lens I have personally used or tested. Superb lens. $499 at Amazon. My full review is HERE.


Mar 062013


COMING SOON: Leica M 240 review, Fuji X100s Review and more!


The new is coming

Hello to all! Happy Wednesday! I know many of you come here every day for something new so I just wanted to give you an update as to what is coming in the next 7-14 days as well as let you know of some cool rare items available for purchase.

The Leica M 240 has been in my hands since the moment it arrived. I have been shooting with it non stop, taking video, testing ISO, comparing it against the M9 and RX1 and having a good time in the process, It is always fun to shoot with a new Leica, even if it is a controversial new model! I have been shooting with a 35, 50 and 75 and each lens has delivered without issues. I have been testing the EVF (BTW, the Olympus VF-2 works exactly as the Leica EVF as they are the same but it says OLYMPUS instead of LEICA..yes, I have an Olympus and have shot it on the M without any issue) and even the add-on Microphone.

Each day after shooting I sit down for 2-3 hours and write down my thoughts which will then turn into my full real world review. Warning: It will be long. There will be many samples and full size downloads. There will be comparisons and of course all of  my ramblings and thoughts on the new M and wether it is an improvement or downgrade from the M9/M9-P/M-E. Stay tuned!

One thing is for certain, I am adoring the 50 Lux on the camera. That lens never seems to disappoint.


Fuji X100s!


I have a Fuji X100s on the way from Robert Jagitsch. He is a Fuji dealer and also sells Leica as well. He informed me he has a Monochrom in stock. I do not know of anyone else who has one right now so if you are looking for one, Robert is a great guy and you can message him here. He set me up with my original Fuji X100 and now the X100s. Thanks Robert!

The X100s should arrive to me in the next couple of days so when it arrives look for my 1st look video and snaps and then a full review will follow but it will come after the M 240 review. Shortly after. Then I will probably offer the X100s for sale as I already have an RX1 and new M so I really do not need the new Fuji..unless it gives me some super-duper magic that the others do not give me :) We shall see. At the price point of $1299 the X100s offers quite a bit. I am excited to see how much better it is over the X100s in operation and speed and even IQ.


Leica glass…Black Paint 35 Summicron anyone?


Dale Photo has a black paint 35 Summicron for sale in silver box and it looks brand new. My guess is a collector owned it at one time and never used it. I used to own this lens and I am an idiot for selling it. Was gorgeous and the best 35 cron I have owned. Black Paint lenses are now pretty rare to find and seem to fetch a pretty penny. You can see the one dale has HERE.


ALL Leica glass..

Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]) told me he has just about every and any Leica lens in stock. 90 Summicron, 50 Lux ASPH, Noctilux, you name it, he should have it RIGHT NOW. You can e-mail him at [email protected]  – get your desired lens before the new M mania hits :) Remember what the M9 did for Leica glass? I do.

The Pro Shop also has just about every lens in stock. You can call them at 561-253-2606. They are also now a Pro Nikon dealer. D4 in the house. has some crazy deals going on including a basically untouched Noctilux 0.95 for under $10k. A 75 Cron for $3397 and even a 35 Lux ASPH FLE for $4497. They also still have a few RED Artisan & Artist easy slider straps available. They sold out their 1st two shipments of the black one but still have some red HERE. The red is striking on an RX1, Fuji X100s and black M. :)


WIN a Moncochrom by entering the I-SHOT-It premium contest

Wow, I checked on the B&W photo contest over at I-SHOT-IT today and so far the cash prize is up to $5,230 and they are also giving an $8000 Leica monochrom to the winner. The contest has under 30 days to go and I bet the cash prize gets up to $6-$7k by the time it is over. Imagine winning a Monochrom and all of that cash just by entering a killer B&W photo. I love what they are doing over there. You can check them out here or see who has entered what in the B&W contest HERE.


Feb 122013


Amazing DEAL on Sigma NEX Lenses – $199 for BOTH the 19 and 30mm 2.8 together, $99 each!

The most amazing deal is still going in at B&H Photo and they have these IN STOCK. Both excellent Sigma lenses for the NEX Sony E Mount system – the 19 2.8 and the 30 2.8 (which you can see my review of HERE)  – both of them for $199 total, for both together! This is a STEAL. At $199 the 30 2.8 was already a deal. At $199 for BOTH it is a VERY crazy deal. These are good lenses and even come with cases. To be clear, you get BOTH lenses with cases for $199. Amazon has each lens for $149 which comes out to $100 more, so this is a great buy everyone!

Don’t miss out. If you want to take advantage of this deal, B&H Has them listed HERE. Last time they did this they sold out quick.



Dec 292012


Gorgeous new SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 and 35 T1.4 arrives for testing!

The “Noctlux” for your APS-C Mirrorless

The 35 T 0.95 Hyperprime ASP-H M mount Lens want a super fast, super sharp, super built, super bokeh 50mm equivalent cream machine for your Sony NEX, Fuji X or EOS-M camera? How about a 70mm equivalent for your Micro 4/3?  Want one for each system without having to buy three different lenses? I know I do..and such a lens has just arrived to the Huff Household. Yep,  UPS arrived yesterday with a huge box from SLR Magic and what the box held were two lenses I have been excited to review for a few weeks now. One of them is the premium 35mm APS-H Hyperprime (their premium quality line of lenses)  and I have to say that it is a BEAUTY.

It’s large, hefty, built like a solid brick and is a damn nice T0.95 lens, which in F stop land means about f/0.92! This is the 50mm equivalent 0.95 lens for APS-C mirrorless camera shooters! Almost Like having a Noctilux for your Fuji X or NEX, speed wise anyway :)



This is an all manual lens designed for ALL of the popular mirrorless systems. You can shoot this one lens  on the NEX system, Fuji X system, EOS-M or Micro 4/3 system. How so you ask? Well, when ordering you just choose which system you want to use it with but the beauty of it all is that if you own 2 or 3 or all of these systems you only need ONE lens and it will be compatible with all of your cameras using an adapter.

This lens is actually an M mount design but not to be used on an M camera. Instead SLR Magic made it in the M mount because so many adapters are made for this mount. So this one lens can be used on almost any mirrorless system with an adapter. This was a great move IMO. For example, if I have a Fuji X camera and an OM-D and a NEX-6 or 7, this one lens can be shot on all of them. Awesome.

One thing I found while doing test shots is that even with focus peaking set to on with the NEX-6 this lens is a beast to focus correctly when shooting wide open. It has a massively razor thin level of DOF at T0.95 so your focus has to be pinpoint precise or else the images will be slightly soft at the focus point if you miss.

A quick OOC JPEG at T 0.95 and the Sony NEX-6  – remember this is wide open at T0.95 


The particular lens that was sent to me was shipped with the Sony E Mount adapter so I will be testing it on the NEX-6 (see 1st three OOC JPEGS above) and then later the Fuji X system as soon as I get an adapter for it. It appears the Fuji adapter will not work correctly but there are some that will and SLR Magic will be shipping them with their own Fuji adapter that will work just fine.

Out of the box, this lens looks pretty bad ass but I can not speak enough about how large it is. IT IS LARGE. So if you are hoping for something small this is not your lens. If you want super quality Bokeh and image quality it just might be your lens. The packaging is solid this time around with the lens and adapter encased in solid foam so there is no chance of shipping damage (unless the UPS guys decide to play soccer with it). I am excited to review this one.

A couple of B&W JPEGS with the NEX-6 wide open at T0.95


debby feet

This 35mm T0.95 APS-H Hyperprime  lens will be selling for $1349 starting in February 2013 from SLR Magic and that is a decent price considering their 50 T0.95 for M mount was nearing the $5k mark (this was mainly due to the RF coupling and it being a full frame lens). In the same price range as this lens is the Voigtlander 35 1.4 in M mount. Many use that lens as their fast 35 on their mirrorless systems and love it but from what I have seen, this lens just may surpasses that one in Image Quality and Bokeh when used on mirrorless cameras. The only negative is that you can use the Voigtlander on an M camera as it is a full frame lens. Again, This SLR Magic is NOT full frame so while it has an M mount, it is not compatible with M cameras.

The soon to be released SLR Magic 35 T0.95 HYPERPRIME premium lens. (all product shots with Sony RX1)




For those of you who have seen my review on the previous SLR Magic hyper prime, the 50 T0.95 for Leica M mount you may remember that I loved it and declared it to be just about equal to the Leica Noctilux f0.95 in image quality (in real world use) and I preferred the Bokeh of the SLR Magic. The construction of the Leica Noctilux is better (as is the resale value) but for all out IQ the HyperPrime was amazing. I never had one issue with it on my Leica M9-P or the Monochrom. It was large and heavy but it packed some serious glass. Unfortunately, as far as I know this lens is no longer shipping in the USA (the 50 T0.95) so if you managed to snag one, you have a rare lens in your collection :)

This new 35 T/0.95 seems to have rock solid construction and design, is much less expensive with maybe even better build quality and is a T0.95 35mm which will be like a T0.95 50mm on APS-C mirror-less cameras. Finally a fast and exotic 50mm for your APS-C. BUT, can it deliver the goods? I am not sure yet as I just got it so I will be shooting it in Vegas next week to give it a workout.

I will not know anything until I thoroughly use it but from the looks and feel it is impressive. This lens will come in at $1349 and will be available from SLR Magic starting February 2013. They are also offering $100 off for early buyers so keep an eye out here for info.

The SLR Magic 35 T1.4 for APS-C


SLR Magic also sent me their new 35 T1.4 lens to test out on the Fuji X-E1 and this lens is coming in at only $349. It is a budget lens but it certainly does not look or feel like one. This lens is also available for all other mirrorless systems but will come in whatever mount you order it in. The one that I was sent is for Fuji X and for a $349 lens this is one hell of a well built lens. Metal construction with the weight of a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. This is no cheap toy lens in the construction department and the packaging is just as nice as the Hyperprime lens.

Andrew from SLR Magic told me they have tweaked their packaging and it shows.

This lens is not up to par with the T0.95 Hyperprime in the IQ department but it is not designed to be. This $349 lens is built for Bokeh it seems as it delivers a rich and creamy out of focus rendering with bit of softness to the images when shot at 1.4 wide open. The lens seems to sharpen up by 2.8 but even wide open will give you a soft etheral look.


What is nice about this lens is the build and the fact that you can order it NOW in any mount you want. This is what SLR Magic told me about the availability of this lens:

“The 35mm T1.4 is available now. We have it for X mount, E mount, EF-M mount, and mFT mount. It is not up on our website or eBay yet but people can already order by emailing us at [email protected] to get it before it is up on our website. We have already sold a bunch for the mFT version”.

So you can order  this lens now if you desire and what is even better is that if you bought one of their older 35 1.7 toy lenses you can trade it in for a $90 credit towards this new lens (which is a much nicer lens than the toy lens in build and IQ). Also, if you order by Feb 2013 you can take $70 off of the price:

“We have two programs

A) Owners of the SLR Magic 35mm f/1.7 can ship their lens back to Hong Kong for trade-in at $90 value to upgrade.

B) If bought by Feb 2012 from us we have a $70 promotional rebate program.”

So if you buy this lens by Feb 2013 it will come in at only $279. Great buy for any mirrorless camera system if you want great Bokeh and a unique quality. This lens is not a pin sharp lens when used at 1.4 or f/2. It sharpens up by F2.8. I will be reviewing this lens as well with the Fuji X-E1 so stay tuned!

A couple of OOC JPEGS to show Bokeh Quality and expected sharpness at 1.4

“Best Beer in the world Part 2”




 Remember that this is an all manual lens so you will have to manually focus and manually set Aperture on the lens barrel. Much like using a Leica M lens on your mirrorless camera. Both of these new lenses also have clickless aperture rings as they are “Cine” lenses which happen to be great for videos as well.

So if you want to order this 35 T 1.4 lens for your system you can e-mail SLR Magic for details at [email protected]. My full reviews will be coming soon on both of these.



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Aug 202012

MY THREE LEICA KINGS by Tuananh Nguyen

A shout out to Mr. Steve Huff for setting us up with the sweetest and most bitchin’ photography site to date! I also have to thank all of you folks that have written some of the most entertaining, knowledgeable, and opinionated “inspirations” that have not only inspired my photography, but I am sure also to the growing members on this site. Although I understand the need for numerous reviews on newer products, I’ve always enjoyed reading articles on the “classics”, if not just as much, but maybe event a tad more. So on this note, I wanted to share my knowledge on three of Leica’s classical lenses, or what I would call as “my three kings”.

After my initiation into the Leica clan many years ago, I’ve had a chance to use some of the best optics in the world in both the pre- and post-digital age. I started out this love affair with my beloved Leica M2 and 50mm Summicron Dual Range, which I believe is as perfect as a camera can be. Its classic lines, dependability, and “glowing” images matched my style of photography and it also gave validation for my abandonment of the SLR idea. I’ve since owned both the M8 and M9, which I feel are the epitome of the digital rangefinder. The M9’s pixel count, full-frame CCD image characteristics, and classical build were all that I would ever dream in a camera (even in light of the advent of the M10 release).

Over the years, I’ve had countless opportunities to lend and own a long list of Leica lenses. But after a lot of “soul searching” I’ve concluded that there are three lenses that I found to have earned the title of “My Three Kings”: 50mm Noctilux-M (f/1.0 attached hood), 35mm Summicron-M (Type IV), and 90mm Summicron (Generation II, red numbering). Below, I will briefly summarize why I believe that these lenses are my favorite, but I will also include drawbacks when it is necessary.


Leica 90mm Summicron (Generation II)

After trying out a diverse group of Leica-M 75mm, 85mm, 90mm, and 135mm lenses, I’ve concluded that the 90mm Summicron was the best for me. Although the lens is much larger than the later editions, especially with the built in tripod mount, and odd filter size, I felt that it gave the most character out of all of these longer focal length lenses. As a portrait lens, the 90mm Summicron is soft and gives a nice glowing rendition, which is even more pronounced in the B&W images that it produces. Although not the sharpest lens in the Leica lineage, its excellent DOF/”bokeh” is silky smooth and excellent as a pure portraiture lens.


Leica 35mm Summicron-M (Type IV)

In the 1990’s, Leica lenses were expensive but not to the extent as they are today, especially in the used market. I was able to collect several editions of the 35mm and give them a thorough “shootout” before I decided which one was the keeper. I also tested out some wider angle Leica lenses, but I realized that the additional viewfinder was often obtrusive and it just didn’t fit my style of street photography with the Leica M2. The Type IV, also renowned as “The King of Bokeh” was my choice, simply because it was very compact and light, the replaceable lens hood was very affordable and easily attainable, and the new concaved focusing tab was an excellent focusing tool for such a small lens. This lens is exceptionally sharp but maintains that Leica “glow” and signature, more so than the other generations at this focal length. I chose this lens above all other wide-angles and aperatures because I felt that it had great balance for price, image quality, and compactness.


Leica 50mm Noctilux-M

Many Leica users and experienced photographers collectively know that the Noctilux is a very prized optical monster. It doesn’t just quiver under low-light condition; it actually lives for it, as Dr. Mandler would agree. This is my unequivocal favorite lens of all time. You might read online and various literature about the Noctilux’s focusing issues with the digital-M, lack of sharpness, extreme vignettes, enormous size, and countless other complaints. What is my response to all of these issues? Yes, I would have to agree with all of them! But I guess this is what taming a beast like the Noct is all about. Yes it requires a little love from the elves to make it perfectly adapted to your digital-M body. Yes, it is not the sharpest lens, but that’s the reason for its magic glow and signature bokeh. Images shot with a Noctilux can only be described as watercolors to me; the background always gives a very distinct paintbrush flavor while the outline of the subject usually glows with a warm soft texture. Yes, vignettes are a part of this lens’ repertoire, some folks hate it, but many like myself love it. As for the size argument, although the Noctilux is one of the largest of the Leica lenses, it is by far much smaller than many other normal focal length lenses in production. I was tempted to swap my classic Noctilux for the newer f/0.95, but after several days of using it at the Leica Akademie last year, I decided that the older model’s characteristics was more preferable for my taste.

These three lenses have many different attributes, yet the unique characteristics that they showcase are unmistakably, Leica. Will I use other cameras and lenses in the future, I am sure I am not immune to the shutterbug nor am I too stubborn or ignorant to say that this brand or that brand is the best for everyone. What I can say is that I love the Leica M system, for its simplicity, signature images, and obedience to what the idea of photography truly is – an art form.

Aug 142012


Leica Lenses IN STOCK NOW! But probably not for long…

If you have been waiting for Leica glass to be in stock then your wait is over. As of today there is stock at a few dealers of many Leica lenses. 50 Lux? Yep. 35 Cron? yep. 28 Cron? Yep…plus many more including the classic 50 Cron (which I still adore). I think that these lenses are in stock now because the M9 firestorm and Leica fever has cooled down from 120 degrees to about 98 degrees. Once the Monochrom and M10 hit I think these lenses will once again be getting snagged up as shooters get the super hot “Leica Fever” once again.

1. Ken Hansen – Ken is a dealer who has been in business since the 1950’s and his personalized service, trust and old school customer service just make the shopping experience super pleasant. Ken Doesn’t have a web site but many here can tell you how great Ken is. I spoke with him yesterday and he has MANY Leica lenses in stock, new and ready to roll .Just send him an e-mail to [email protected] and he will get to you very quickly. He ships worldwide and I just received a new lens from him today. Thanks Ken! BTW, Ken has a pre-order Monochrom list as well if you want to add your name let him know. I think this camera is going to start shipping the 1st or 2nd week of Sep. BTW, Ken has the 50 Lux ASPH in Silver in stock and I think even the Noctilux.

2. PopFlash  – Tony Rose at pop flash is very well-known and has been a Leica dealer for a long time as well. He also sells Olympus, Ricoh, Zeiss and other cameras which you can find over at  I noticed he has some Leica glass and even super lightly used M9P’s in stock at deep discounts. Be sure to check out the website HERE. I remember buying my 1st Leica digital from PopFlash back when the Digilux 2 arrived. I bought TWO from him back then and loved that camera to death.  PopFlash also sells the really great Artisan & Artist products and they have big stock of those products right now as well.

3. Dale Photo – They have loads of Leica glass in as well. I was t old by David Farkas who is the main Leica guru there that they had a bug shipment in and to send anyone I know looking for glass their way. Dale has been a site sponsor for a while now and have always provided great service. I have shopped at Dale for Leica glass in the past and usually check to see what they have in stock. Dale also sells USED Leica cameras and they have a Titanium M9 kit in stock right now. Wow.

4. B&H Photo  – Just checked and B&H has a few Leica lenses in stock. They have the 35 cron in Black, the 28 cron, and a used 35 SUMMILLUX 1.4 ASPH

It seems Leica has pumped up their lens production so now os the time to get what you need!

Jul 082012

LOADS of used Leica Lenses and Cameras NOW available!

Just browsed over at B&H Photos used department and saw all of these USED Leica lenses and cameras. Here is what they have available now and there are MANY lenses here!

Noctilux F1 – latest F/1 design – $7895.00

LEICA 90 SUMMICRON ASPH APO, with case – $2799

Leica 35 Summicron PRE-ASPH – $1999

Leica 50 Summicron f/2  – latest pre APO version – $1499

Leica 28 Elmarit ASPH 2.8 – $1949

Leica 24 Elmar 3.8 – “10” in box as new – $2394

Leica 135 f/3.4 Telyt APO – $2449

Leica 28 Summicron ASPH – $3499

LEICA 21 ELMARIT ASPH f/2.8 – $3699

and now some cameras!

Leica M9-P Silver Chrome with hand grip and in the box, 9 condition – $7199


Leica M8 – $2499 – Black

LEICA M7 – BLACK – $2499

Leica X1 – Black – $1399

NOW THAT IS A LOAD OF USED GEAR! Hopefully some of you can find what you are looking for and get better pricing than new. Leica glass is always a good buy as they never really fall in value. Here are a few more I found at pop flash and Dale Photo!

Popflash also has a 50 Summilux 1.4 pre-asph for $2997

Leica 35 Summicron ASPH – $2797

Dale has a used Zeiss 50 Planar for Leica M – $900

Also a used 75 Summarit which is a GREAT lens!

Also, don’t forget Ken Hansen. He always has new and used Leica in stock. You can e-mail him with whatever you are looking for at [email protected]

Apr 162012

TONS of Leica used deals and buys!

It has been a while since I posted used deals and special, mostly because I have been too busy to do so! But tonight I have been browsing B&H Photo, and Dale Photo and found some used Leica deals some of you might enjoy :) Looks like many may be trading in their M9’s in anticipation of May 10th! At the time of this posting, ALL of these were IN STOCK from B&H, PopFlash or Dale Photo.


RARE FIND! LEICA 90 SUMMICRON F/2 ASPH!$3499 – Click HERE to see it as it is IN STOCK now!

Leica M9 – Black  – 9+ – IN BOX – $5899

Leica M9 – Black – 9 – In Box – $5799

Leica M9 – Black – 8+ – In Box – $5649

GREAT BUY! LEICA M7 – Black – 9+ – In box! $2749

Leica M8 Chrome  – 8+ – In Box – $2599

Leica 35 Summarit 2.5 – “10” – In Box as new – $1699

LEICA X1 – Grey – $1499

LEICA M6 TTL – .58 BODY – CHROME – 8+ and in the box! $1699

Leica M6 classic – chrome – $1699

Leica M7 SILVER CHROME – $2377

Leica Silver Chrome M9-P with less than 140 Actuations – $7297

Leica 21 Elmarit 2.8 – Used Deal

Black Leica M9-P with less than 120 Actuations – $7297

Black Paint Leica MP, almost new!

Used Leica Noctilux F1, latest and last version of the F1 – $7300

Summilux 35 ASPH (not FLE) – $4250

Leica 35 Summicron Black – $2900

Mar 282012

The Great 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout! UPDATED!

by Brad Husick March 27, 2012

Many of us have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and have amassed a generous collection of lenses for our rangefinder cameras. The problem with having a wide selection of lenses to choose from is that when we reach up to grab a lens for our next shoot it’s sometimes hard to decide what to take. At one point my collection was up to 22 lenses and at that point I had become a collector as much as a photographer. Well, over the past few years I have whittled that collection down to the lenses I like most just for their optical qualities. My collecting interest has been refocused on photographs – the ones I take.

Fortunately for this test I still own too many lenses and I have a close friend who owns many more, so I thought I’d begin a series of tests with 35mm rangefinder lenses. These are not laboratory controlled tests of carefully arranged objects but a typical outdoor scene from a local spot here on Lake Washington near Seattle – a subject more people are likely to shoot from day-to-day. The results are my subjective opinion of the optical quality of the photos, and I am including 100% crops for you to make your own conclusions. Here’s the full frame 35mm shot:

Test Setup:

The test was set up to control and keep constant as many of the variables as possible. Photos were taken on a Leica M9-P mounted on a tripod, set at ISO 160, shutter speed 1/750 sec., aperture f/4, lenses set to their infinity focus point. Not all the lenses had the same maximum aperture and the day was bright enough that trying to shoot wide-open would have required the use of ND filters. I did not want to introduce any glass in front of the lenses for this test. The shutter was tripped using the 2-second self timer to minimize any hand vibrations. RAW files were brought into Adobe Lightroom 4 and exported as JPEG files with no adjustments from default settings.

The weather here in Seattle was in the 50’s with complete overcast and light winds. We get this ideal overcast many days a year – great for photographs, not too great for sun tanning.

The Eight Contestants in the Shootout:

MS Super Triplet Perar f3.5 Mark II (Perar)

Leica Summarit-M f3.5, current version (Summarit)

Zeiss Biogon f2.0 T* ZM Silver (Zeiss)

Leica Summilux f1.4 ASPH FLE (FLE)

Leica Summicron-M f2.0 ASPH Chrome (Chrome ASPH)

Leica Summicron-M f2.0 ASPH Black (Black ASPH)

Voigtlander C Color Skopar Classic f2.5 (Skopar)

Leitz Summaron f2.8 LTM/M circa 1959 (Summaron)

Lens Results:

I examined 100% crops near the center of the frame and at the top left corner. I studied the files looking for overall sharpness and ability to resolve detail, micro-contrast, lack of chromatic aberration (fringing) and distortion.

Not surprisingly, the Leica Summilux ASPH FLE was the top performer at both the center and corner of the frame. Leica took an already excellent lens, the Summilux ASPH, and corrected the focus shift issue by incorporating a new floating element in the FLE. The price of the new lens climbed substantially, with some selling for nearly $8000 a few months after introduction when the initial supply ran dry. Prices have since settled around $6500.

Somewhat surprising is how well the Zeiss Biogon performed, especially at the center, scoring a second place for center performance. Sharpness and detail were excellent. Overall contrast was higher than the FLE perhaps due to different lens coatings. Ergonomics are superb with buttery smooth focus and f-stop. Some may not like the chrome ring around the front of the lens that functions as a bayonet for the optional hood, but I don’t think it detracts from the lens. The Zeiss is the performance-value winner here with new lenses available for around $1000.

I compared two seemingly identical Leica Summicron-ASPH lenses, one black and the other chrome. They were not optically identical. The chrome lens was marginally superior at both the center and corner. This could be due to some slight variation in infinity focus between the two lenses. The pair of Summicron-ASPH lenses scored well, coming in second and third at the corner and third and forth at the center. The Summicron has always been a staple of the Leica shooter and will probably remain there. Used prices range from $2500-$3000.

Leica’s modern Summarit-M is positioned as an entry level lens for the Leica shooter, and is a small and affordable package. Optically however, the Summarit came in fifth in the ranking for overall softness and a lack of micro contrast; a somewhat disappointing result for a modern lens design. The Summarit is list priced at $1895 with clean used lenses selling for $1400.

The Leitz Summaron from 1959 is a beautiful lens with sculpted sloping edges and an unusual focus tab that incorporates an infinity lock. Sharpness of the Summaron was soft, but lacked any chromatic aberration – a surprising result for such an old design and the state of lens coatings from that time period. The softness of the lens was pleasing, giving a somewhat nostalgic look to the photograph. Shooters looking for some of that classic old Leica glow won’t be disappointed with the Summaron. However, compared with modern optics the Summaron just can’t resolve the way the newer glass can perform. Clean used Summarons can be found for around $1000.

Last but not least in the shootout was a personal favorite – the unique MS Super Triplet Perar, often called simply the “Perar”. It’s been a favorite of mine because it is simply tiny. It’s smaller than any Leica collapsible lens in the collapsed state! The aperture is step-free and the focus is smooth with a focus “pin” to assist. Traveling with this lens is a joy since it barely sticks out from the front of the camera and it’s always in a ready-to- shoot position, unlike collapsible lenses. As good as the physical design and ergonomics are, the optical performance of the lens is not up to the standards set by the more complicated and expensive lenses in this test. Perar images are good at center but sharpness falls off at the edges. Perar lenses can be found on ebay and at the maker’s website

Vignetting is not a problem for any of these lenses and chromatic aberration is well handled by the entire group.

Here are my subjective rankings of the lenses:

Note: I’d like to thank my dear friend Ed (goes by the handle “fishandfowl” on many boards) for making available five of the lenses in this test. Ed introduced me to rangefinder photography and thus improved my life greatly.



In my initial test the Skopar performed quite poorly when set to the infinity focus setting on the lens. I re-ran the test, this time backing the focus off from infinity by the smallest amount I could turn the ring in the case where the infinity stop was overshooting slightly. Center sharpness improved substantially while edge distortion remained problematic. This is probably due in part to the Leica Thread Mount (LTM) – to – Leica M bayonet adapter being used.

Here are the new Skopar crops:

Based on these new results I have revised my rankings:

Some visitors posted comments about the overall quality of the images in comparison to other camera systems. To assist in evaluating these images, I have included two more cameras – the Leica D-Lux 5, a highly respected small-imager camera set to 35mm zoom, f/4 and base ISO, and the Apple iPhone 4S, an 8 megapixel imager with an approximate angle of view of 30mm. I think most readers will agree that neither measures up to the images produced with the Leica M9-P. The iPhone was surprisingly good for a phone and has the unique quality of always being at hand when a photo is required.

iPhone 4s

D-Lux 5

Sep 212011

ITS THE LENSES! – Don’t upgrade your camera just yet! By Steve Huff


It seems that every month or so there is some new and advanced camera being released and in some cases new models get replaced within a few months. Cameras like the Panasonic GF2 had a short 4 month life. I guess Panasonic knew it was a stinker when no one was buying it. They now have the tiny GF3 which I tried out for a day or two. Didn’t like it as much as the Oly E-P3. I still prefer the original GF1 which IMO had a better body style and layout. S0 much for advancing a camera model line. Sometimes these cameras can get TOO small which makes them uncomfortable to hold.

One thing I have indeed noticed is that every now and then a new camera that is replacing a well liked model can actually be a downgrade. This is why I did not review the Panasonic GF2. It was smaller, harder to handle, the control knobs were taken away and the camera used the same sensor. It became toy like. I DID shoot with it but did not care for it at all. I guess you can say I now reviewed it, and hey, it was a negative review, lol. Same for the GF3, though the 3 did take good quality photos, and I liked it better than the “2” the body is just too toy like for serious enthusiasts. Well, for this one at least.

The original GF1 was a breakthrough camera in the mirrorless market. Why Panny didn’t expand on that and create a GF2 with the same controls, better sensor, better video, and EVF is beyond me. It would have sold like mad!

The bottom line here is that if you are settled on a system…wether that system is Leica, Micro 4/3, Nikon, Canon or even Sigma or Sony, the one thing you should be spending your upgrade money on is LENSES. This is no secret as i bet 79.2% of  you know this already :) Sure we ALL want the latest and greatest but sometimes it is better to wait and skip a new model or two and spend that extra money we have that is burning a hole in our pocket on glass. Good glass is always a good buy. The lenses are the heart of ANY camera system, not the body!

A new camera will NOT make you a better photographer but some lenses can help you achieve the look you want in your photos which gives you more creative freedom.

For example, I know someone who still owns an Olympus E-P1, the first digital PEN that came out a couple of years ago. This person has bought and collected most of the great lenses like the Panasonic 20 1.7 and the new Olympus 12mm f/2. When comparing images taken with their E-P1 and the new E-P3, the image quality is about the same. Sure the new E-P3 has much faster AF and newer whiz bang features but for good old fashioned picture taking the little E-P1 is still capable of great results.

Because this person spent his money on cool new lenses for the little PEN instead of spending it on the E-P2 and E-P3 he had a much more versatile system. A fisheye, a fast lens, a great macro, a nice 75-300 and the new 12mm. Someone with limited funds like myself would spend the money on new bodies and miss out on many of the lenses. Looking at his fisheye shots made me want the fisheye, but nope! I was out of cash because I send it all on new bodies (well, I do so so I can review them too). Hmmmmm.

The same goes for the Leica M8. The M8 is still a fantastic photographic tool even though the M9 is the newer model. The M9 is full frame, and does a bit better at high ISO but the M8 has a certain look to the files that can not even be replicated with the M9! I actually feel like the M8 has a more film like image. It is “harder” where the M9 is more “smooth”. Throw something like a Zeiss 50 Sonnar on the M8 and you will get that magical classic look.

To many, the smart thing to do would be to keep an M8 and instead of spending the cash on an M9, spend it on a good Leica lens or two. This way, when you do upgrade your camera to something that is much better you will have the glass to get the most out of it.

I have been asked many times if a Leica M8 and 50 Summilux would be better than a Leica M9 and Voigtlander 50mm. A used M8 can be had for $2400 and a 50 Lux retails for $3700 or so. $6100. An M9 is $7000 so that is already more than the M8 with the best Leica lens in production today. So what is the better choice? I’d say the M8 and 50 Summilux as BEAUTIFUL results can be had with this combo. The M9 and Voigtlander will give you good results as well but buying good Leica glass is an INVESTMENT and buying bodies is NOT.

For those with an original E-P1 body, my suggestion would be to keep that body until a totally kick ass PEN comes out with a built in EVF instead of selling your E-P1 for $200 and spending $800 on the E-P3. Take that money and buy something like the 12mm f/2 or Panasonic 25 1.4. You will still get the benefit of the great glass with your current camera. If you absolutely want the faster AF or higher res video then go for it but I feel like there is nothing that can be done on an E-P3 that can’t be done on an E-P1 image quality wise.

Same goes for owners of the GF-1. It is still a GREAT little camera, one of the best Micro 4/3 STILL today! For years now the madness of new camera gear has kept us all wanting the best. The latest. The greatest. I am as guilty as anyone but I have always known that today’s camera bodies are all pretty damn good. The glass, that is where it’s at.

BUT just because I say buy glass and skip body upgrades does not mean you should not splurge on the body you want. Hell, if you have the cash go for it and buy the lenses while you are at it! On the flip side there are many of us who just have to own the latest because it is fun, it is cool and it is like a drug, lol. Cameras like the upcoming Sony NEX-7 have gotten me to plunk down my money but why is that? My real reason is the new Zeiss 24 1. lens that is being released right after the NEX-7. That lens will be welded to the body as it will give me a 35mm equivalent with a fast aperture. SO sometimes, a new body is in order but most of the time a new lens can transform your old body into something pretty exciting.

Another reason for buying a new body may be that you want to shoot film (which I admit, I have been getting the itch to JUST shoot film for 6 months) and if that is the case, Ken Hansen ([email protected]) has some film bodies available – MPs, M7, M6, M3… but make sure you have a good lens 1st as this is the HEART of any camera system, film or digital. By good lens I mean a lens that YOU enjoy and like the rendering of. That could be a $200 50 f/2 or a snazzy new Summilux.

How many of you reading this have been wanting a new lens for your body? Let us know what you shoot with and what lenses you like in the comments box below!




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