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.
- 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
- *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
- *M6 - M4 with meter - the best so far.
- 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
- 35/3.5 Elmar - fine for its day (20'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.
- 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
- 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
- *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
- *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.
- *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
- *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
- *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
- 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
- *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
- *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.