WULFF PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN  

Leica Rangefinders

 

Leica RF Equipment I have used (more or less); * means more. I have used multiple samples of most marked *. Some of the items marked * I have not owned, but used extensively. Other items not so marked I may have owned but not used very much.

Cameras

  • IIIf - a little bit dim in the finder compared to the other cameras here, but a great pocket camera with the 50/3.5.
  • *IIIg - the cream of the thread mount cameras. For a period I had trouble keeping the shutter working properly. Probably due to poor repair people.
  • *Ig - used mostly with a Visoflex I or the 35 Summaron. Early point and shoot.
  • M2 - very nice, but I had mine when the M4 was out already, so it never looked that good.
  • M3 - lack of 35mm frame got to me.
  • *M4 - one of the all-time greats. The Hologon lives on one.
  • *M4-2 - unfortunately, the gossip about this one was correct in my case. I had two, and both were the most problem prone Leicas I've had.
  • *M5 - worked well, but always felt too big. Shutter dial, and speed in viewfinder were great.
  • *M6 - M4 with meter - the best so far.

 

SM lenses

  • 28/6.3 Hektor - Leitz had to start with a 28 somewhere. The darkness in the corners was profound. Very tiny, both in size and aperture. Just a little sliver of glass in the middle.
  • *28/5.6 Summaron - the sharpest lens I have ever tested (but then, I don't test most lenses). This one seemed to resolve about 10% more than the theoretical maximum, as far as I could tell on the forerunner of TechPan (Kodak High Contrast Copy Film). Unfortunately, it was still a f/5.6 lens which obeyed the cos to the 4th law perfectly (ie, very dark corners due to optical, not physical vignetting). Not much use with color film, but a useable lens with B&W.
  • 35/3.5 Elmar - fine for its day (20's -40's).
  • *35/3.5 Summaron - a very fine lens.
  • *50/3.5 Elmar - basic photography; sharp and contrasty in the middle, falloff to the corners.
  • 50/2.5 Hektor - a great lens in the 30's. Rather soft.
  • 50/2 Summar - significantly better than the Hektor, but a lot poorer than the Summitar.
  • *50/2 Summitar - OK if you needed f/2 before the Summicron. Performance closer to the Summicron than to the Summar.
  • *50/2 Summicron - the standard from the 50's until today. Today there are many lenses which are as sharp, or as contrasty, or whatever, but Summicron pictures are still special.
  • 50/1.5 Xenon - for those desparate for f/1.5. The Summarit was a lot better, but I didn't enjoy either lens much.
  • 50/1.5 Summarit - quite decent performance for the 50's, but not the best. Nice out of focus areas.
  • 73/1.9 Hektor - very similar to the Summarex below, but does not sharpen up as well.
  • 85/1.5 Summarex - a bit soft and low contrast wide open, but sharpens up nicely. Could make an attractive portrait lens today. Focussing on the screw mount Leicas seemed to be a bit chancy, though.
  • *90/4 Elmar - always good, with excellent contrast.
  • *125/2.5 Hektor - soft focus for the Visoflex. Very nice out of focus areas. It would be great on a modern SLR. This one I liked a lot.
  • *135/4.5 Hektor - an underrated lens. I used to use mine on the Bellows I a lot; it was my favourite lens there, partly because it focussed to infinity. A nice macro combination in the 50's and 60's.
  • *200/4.5 Telyt - good performance, but the Visoflex made using it a chore.
  • *400/5 Telyt - quite good, but a handful. Today I get better performance with my 180 Nikkor with Vivitar macro TC.

 

M lenses

  • *15/8 Hologon - a focussing, tiny 15mm. My dream come true. No distortion, and optical performance to satisfy anyone (except those who insist on letting more light hit the film than t/16 can give them.
  • *21/4 Super Angulon - not as good as the 21/4.5 Biogon for the Contax, but easier to fit on the M.
  • *21/3.4 Super Angulon - the standard. Better optical performance in every way than the 21 Elmarit, let alone any other 20 or 21 made for 35mm, except for eveness of illumination. No distortion.
  • *21/2.8 Elmarit - not quite as good as the 21SA, but hadier on the M6. Mine takes the stupid 60mm filters. Some distortion (although not as much as any wideangle lens I know of for SLR's)
  • *28/2.8 Elmarit (first) - great performance in a focal length I don't care for.
  • 28/2.8 Elmarit (second) - metering convenience, otherwise as above with a slight bit of distortion.
  • 35/2.8 Summaron - improvement of a standard. The best until the Summicron shows up.
  • *35/2 Summicron (early 8 element)
  • *35/2 Summicron (six element)
  • *35/2 Summicron
  • *35/1.4 Summilux - fuzzy at f/1.4, with huge coma and astigmatism, but it still took great pictures.
  • 35/1.4 Summilux Asph. (first) - a very good lens, but leave it for the collectors.
  • 3*5/1.4 Summilux Asph. (current) - a better lens than the first for picture taking, and cheaper (a term rarely used on this page).
  • 50/3.5 Elmar - go for the f/2.8
  • *50/2.8 Elmar - a nice flat lens. Might not be as good as the Summicron, but not bad and it is flat.
  • *50/2 Summicron (many) - if you need a 50 during daylight hours.
  • 50/1.4 Summilux (early, chrome) - not as good as the later ones.
  • *50/1.4 Summilux (later, black) - better, but a lot of money for a 50/1.4.
  • *50/1.2 Noctilux - a great compromise, but I never liked the pictures as much as those shot with the f/1. This lens can be reasonably used stopped down, and is better than the 50/1 at apertures like f/2 and f2.8. Color balance and character of this lens matches the slower lenses better than those of the 50/1 do.
  • *50/1 Noctilux - if you need a 50 after hours. Don't bother with the diaphragm. Shoot wide open, or use a Summicron.
  • *65/3.5 Elmar (chrome) - a great macro lens.
  • *65/3.5 Elmar (black) - a better macro lens. I used to use this on my SLR. a bit of a pain with no auto-diaphragm, but beautiful results. Actually, with a Viso III this lens was quite easy to use.
  • 90/4 Elmar - fine, but get one of the newer lenses to shoot with. I had the collapsible version, but the Tele-Elmarits make more sense.
  • 90/2.8 Elmarit (early) - an improvement over the f/4, but rather big.
  • *90/2.8 Tele-Elmarit fat - sold my first, big Summicron to get this, and didn't regret it. Performance was about the same as the old Summicron.
  • *90/2.8 Tele-Elmarit late - sample variations seem to plague this lens more than most other Leica optics. Can be very good, and I always enjoyed the pictures more than those I took with the 85/1.8 Nikkor (first) even though the Nikkor was definitely a lot sharper.
  • 90/2.2 Thambar - had a chance to use one but only for a couple of weeks. Leave it for the collectors. My Tamron 70-150/2.8 SF SP for my Nikons is a better soft focus lens, and a lot more controllable. The Thambar seems to be the collector lens, so owning one for use is not economically the best move.
  • *90/2 Summicron (first) - nice but big.
  • *90/2 Summicron (second) -nicer and smaller. A lens for pictures you'll love.
  • 135/4 Elmar - another underrated lens, but then 135mm is not very popular.
  • *135/4 Tele-Elmar - a very high performance lens in a reasonably small package.
  • *135/2.8 Elmarit - a bit bulky with the eyes and all, and not quite as sharp as the Tele-Elmar at equivalent stops.
  • *200/4 Telyt - a lot better lens than the 4.5, but because it gets stopped down often, rather clumsy to use.
  • *280/4.8 Telyt - a very good lens, but rather heavy. Usually used wide open. I never formally tested them together, but I was always a lot happier with picture taken with this lens rather than the 300/4.5 Nikkor. With the long lenses and the 65 Elmar, the Viso III is good device, as the optics in it are optimized for longer focal lengths. Very easy to focus the Viso with long lenses.
  • *400/5.6 Telyt - Better than the f/5, but not as good as the 6.8 at its best. Rather long and heavy and hard to use hand held.
  • *400/6.8 Telyt - if you get a good one, it's a great lens to use on the Visoflex. One of the easiest long lenses to use this side of autofocus. Quite light, and the image is very contrasty, so easy to focus. I've got full frame pictues of seagulls feeding in mid-air. I usually shot K64 with this lens, as well as a lot of K25; all handheld. My lens had glass that changed over time and the lens developed severe field curvature (very noticeable at infinity) so I sold it. Others have reported the same problem, but many people have had this lens for 20 years or more and it still performs as new. Take it for a test drive.
  • 560/5.6 Telyt - big, and reasonably good performance for the money.
  • 560/6.8 Telyt - not as big, but still too big to handhold like the 400. Better performance than the 5.6, but the difference is not as great as in the 400's.

 

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