Old and new :Leica M vs Leica R Lens comparison on the SL
by Jean-Marc Bottazzi
Hi Steve, love your site.
Here what I was thinking with the SL being more SLR like in the leica world I got interested to look a bit at R glass on the SL and do some not so serious comparisons. Those lenses also are a popular choices for duclos cinemod. That is way cheaper than the new leica cine offering (which I am sure is better but well…). Anyway I bought the novoflex R adapter since I cannot find the leica one yet and bought a few old R lenses and decided to compare a bit with the 50 apo and the new vario elmar I own. I shot the same scene from the same spot with all lenses with the intention to compare crops.
-the 80mm summilux R f1.4
-the apo macro emarit 100mm f2.8
-the old vario elmarit 35-70mm f3.5
The scene is the following:
I used a lightbox making sure the speed is always at least 1/250s. I focused on the same flower in the shaded rectangle and here are the crops of that flower.
First two pictures are the 50 apo at f2 and f4 respectively… great as expected.
Next come 3 pictures with the 80mm summilux R @f1.4 2.8 and 4 respectively. A bit soft by comparison … if you step down to f4 the summilux gets sharper but there is room for more sharpness. At f1.4 you can get as much isolation of subject as the 50 APO at f2 but you pay with less sharpness on your subject. If you step down you lose isolation as more of the picture gets sharp and busy. The 80 summilux R overall is no match for the 50 APO.
The next two pictures are taken with the elmarit apo macro 100mm at f2.8 and f4 respectively. Now that is sharp! Especially at f4, but so should it be, it is a macro lens after all and a good one at that. But note that the 50mm apo is keeping up quite even when scaling up. In spite of the different focal length the APO manages to isolate its subject with micro contrast highest sharply around focus plane only — in other words the picture is less busy more on its subject — for the macro and the 50 apo more than the other lenses in this batch we have this nice combination of incredible sharpness in focus combined with strong isolation ability.
Next something very interesting : the new vario elmar 24-90 @50/f4 80/f4 and 90/f4 respectively now that is sharp as well at all focal lengths. Zoom will have more depth of field than the primes previously introduced but the new zoom looks extremely sharp.
Finally the last two picts are the old vario elmar R at 50mm/f4 and 70/mm f4. Not too bad especially given that the old vario elmar is much more compact than the new one. It makes it an interesting lens for travel in my opinion even without autofocus it almost keeps up with the new vario elmar in terms of sharpness. Now at same aperture it looks to me that the new vario elmar is better at being sharp only around the focal plane only (while the old vario elmar is more zero to infinity sharpness). This shows when you compare the 2 shots 70mm f4 between old and new vario elmar. Of course prime are more isolating that the zooms but the new vario elmar is showing an interesting behavior especially compared with its ancestor.
Again this is not meant to be serious but it helps me having a bit of intuition on how to compare those lenses.