Posts Tagged ‘Leica’

Nikon introduced their new Z6 and Z7 full frame mirrorless bodies and Canon shortly after did likewise with the EOS R. These new cameras from the “classic” makers are designed to take a bite out of Sony’s dominance in the FF mirrorless market. Canon has already quietly become the number one seller in the Japanese mirrorless market without a FF body in the mix. Now armed with a FF body they are poised to make a move on the global stage. Meanwhile Nikon has entered the field with an opportunity as well since they no longer have to deal with the antiquated Nikon F mount. Things are about to get very real in the space and this bodes well for all of us that shoot regardless of the brand we choose to use.

What does all this modern camera mirrorless introductions really mean? Simple, with every new mirrorless user another person will discover the joy of using old school vintage glass on a modern digital body. Mirrorless cameras have a shallow flange distance that allows easy adaptation to older lenses. Camera events like PhotoFair bring dealers from all over the region to trade and sell classic glass. Now with multiple choices in the full frame mirrorless space, a lot more users are likely going to be in the market for Leica M lenses, classic Zeiss and a variety of other cool adapted lenses like Petzval barrel lenses and such.

Mirrorless cameras are not without faults. They tend to be much harder on batteries and despite amazing technology in the electronic viewfinders, many pros still prefer the optical viewfinders of a DSLR. That said, the mirrorless cameras are substantially more compact, offer superior flexibility in the application of older lenses and are beginning to challenge to DSLRs in focus speed as well.

I have yet to decide whether I will buy a Canon EOS R. It is the logical choice for me in the FF arena since I have an enormous vested interest in Canon glass. I own the EOS M5 the current flagship of the Canon APS/c mirrorless line. It is small and compact offering amazing versatility and a solid design. The EOS R is nowhere near as small so if I do buy one, I think I’ll still keep the little M5. If I buy the EOS R it will in fact be the defacto replacement for my aging EOS 5D Mark III. So for me it is a choice between the amazing proven performance of the EOS 5D Mark IV or this new kid EOS R. The R model is a thousand dollars less expensive and that seems attractive. Canon has launched several amazing lenses unique to the EOS R including the fastest FF zoom lens ever made a 28-70 f/2! They seem to be serious about this. Canon is taking some heat for not using an in body stablization system. Honestly if the EOS R had it, I would own one already. The advantage to in body stabilizers as they can stabilize older glass. That is a big deal to me and many people like me that shoot vintage lenses. Nikon and Sony have this feature in their FF mirrorless bodies. Come on Canon, get with the program 😉

I am very excited about the direction of photography and it seems the three biggest players in the hardware game are ready to rumble!


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Portrait Elmarit for R Mount

picture of bbq

Leica R 2.8/90 on EOS 5D Mk III wide open.

I recently came across a very clean example of a Leitz Elmarit R 90/2.8. Generally I am not inclined to shoot a 90mm lens with an opening that small, but the price and the legend were too good to pass up. Let me say first, if you have not handled R mount Leitz lenses, be prepared as they are much heavier than they look. The build quality is about as good as it gets for an SLR lens of any vintage. Leica R mount lenses can be adapted to any mirrorless body with appropriate adapters.

I shot the lens on my Canon EOS 5D Mk III and it was of course a sharp and crisp lens and all of that. But honestly, I can’t say for certain it is any sharper than my EF 85/1.8 USM and that lens offers full compatibility with my camera and Canon’s legendary USM AF that is fast and precise. So I get AF and an extra 1.4 stops of speed what gives? Two things, one Leica lenses are just so delicious. To get a lens from a maker like this for less than $400 is worth it just for the satisfaction of owning and shooting with a product that is universally accepted as the very best. Why not?

picture of woman

Leica R 2.8/90 on EOS M5 with focal reducer wide open

There is however a second reason, and it may or may not surprise you. I while back I wrote about focal reducers and you may have noticed I had a shot taken with this very lens and the cheap Chinese focal reducer. The shots were marvelous and I ended up with a 65/2.0 which works out to about a 100mm effective focal length on my little EOS M5. The lens is small enough to fit well with the size of the M5 but it is as heavy as the camera so it feels a little front loaded.

Some may ask, “Hey Rod, why don’t I just use the M mount 2.8 Elmarit instead, it is much smaller and lighter?” That is a good question friends. Here is a chart that might help:

The R lens is a little bigger and heavier than the M version but it focuses MUCH closer and fits both EOS SLRs and most Mirrorless bodies with an appropriate adapter. It is also less expensive. The R lens is simply more versatile and affordable.

Whether you choose and M mount or R mount lens you will get a well made instrument. Leica builds their gear to a standard, not a price point. One can genuinely appreciate that commitment to quality above all else that few equipment makers believe in anymore.

In today’s world of amazing computer designed lenses these old Leica lenses no longer have the definitive advantage in optical quality they once did. They still however win hands down against any and all modern comers in build quality. Sometimes some of the less “exciting” lenses like this Elmarit 90/2.8 can be found for very reasonable prices and camera swaps such as PhotoFair, at cool camera shops like Blue Moon in Portland, OR or Seawood in San Rafael, CA. Even online at Ebay and such.

Why not own one of these or another old Leica R lens. The R lenses are the value proposition for Leica. Summicron R 50mm, Elmarit 90 and 135mm are all priced rather well in the market place. Whether you shoot a DSLR, crop sensor mirrorless, or the full frame mirrorless bodies from Nikon, Canon along with the long standing Sony models, these older lenses continue to serve photographers many decades after they were built. That is just too cool.

I did a video on the lens as well for PhotoFair.

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