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06-20-2019, 09:18 AM   #1
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Leica R lenses vs K series lenses on film

Howdy,

I have an opportunity to acquire a Leicaflex SL and R summicron 50mm f2 at a decent price. Iím wondering if anyone has experience with the R lenses in general and how they compare to the original K series lenses.

06-20-2019, 10:57 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I only have brief experience with an original Leicaflex with 35, 50 and 90?mm lenses and would bite your arm off to use them again. That said, the 'flex is a big, heavy camera, but built like a Swiss watch - a very heavy Swiss watch! I still remember the rolling whirr as each shot was taken, unlike the kerchung of other cameras.
06-20-2019, 02:13 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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My experience: Leica vs Pentax

Added: This experience satisfied my Nikon lust.

Last edited by cpk; 06-20-2019 at 02:20 PM.
06-20-2019, 03:02 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by cpk Quote
My experience: Leica vs Pentax

Added: This experience satisfied my Nikon lust.

Your article said you were using Leica M cameras at the time. Do you feel there is a difference between the Leica SLR lenses and those for the M cameras? I'm asking because I was in a workshop many years ago where we had a person shooting with a Leica R series SLR and another person shooting with an M5. I never saw much difference between the images produced by the Leica SLR and those of the rest of the class, but when the guy shooting with the Leica M5 nailed things, those slides jumped off the screen. Now, having said this, if I were in the OP's position of being able to pick up a Leicaflex for a good price, I'd probably do it.

06-20-2019, 03:26 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
if I were in the OP's position of being able to pick up a Leicaflex for a good price, I'd probably do it.
I would too if I did not have my Pentax SLRs and wanted a film camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
when the guy shooting with the Leica M5 nailed things, those slides jumped off the screen.
I was using my Leica Ms only for black and white, nightclub photography with films like Kodak Recording 2475 film and pushed Tri-X and eventually T-Max 3200, and street photography, not colour; so I can't really comment as to the effect of jumping off the screen. I was never averse to grain in my photographs; a good photograph of a flamenco dancer was all I wanted. At that time nothing could beat the Ms for that type of photography. I went to colour originally with a Pentax K1000 only because an artist friend wanted slides of his paintings.

Added: I went "cheap" to do the colour slides for my friend. When I upgraded to the LX because mirror lockup and a more accurate viewfinder with interchangeable focusing screens were better for my copy work, I realized I could have purchased a Nikon F3 and the equivalent lenses for a few hundred dollars more; and I kicked myself for not taking that path. That was my Nikon lust.

Last edited by cpk; 06-20-2019 at 03:36 PM.
06-21-2019, 02:54 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
when the guy shooting with the Leica M5 nailed things, those slides jumped off the screen.
You'd better be careful praising mirrorless like that,
all the SLR zealots will be on you like a swarm of hornets!
06-21-2019, 04:00 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by cpk Quote
I realized I could have purchased a Nikon F3 and the equivalent lenses for a few hundred dollars more; and I kicked myself for not taking that path. That was my Nikon lust.
So ironic. I bought an MX with a cheapo Sigma 39-80 zoom lens. with my first summer job back in 1980. It was stolen less than a year later. A "pro" photographer friend of mine was bugging me about getting a real camera, a Nikon. So when my Pentax was gone, I bought myself a Nikon FM2 camera and the rest is history. I ended up buying an FE2 and eventually an F3T with a motor drive. At the time I was into multiple projector slide shows. My favorite slide film was the Velvia. I did a few show opening with my Nikon 16mm fisheye lens. The results were stunning to say the least. I used to drop a yellow filter in the back of the 16mm lens and give the images the extra punch and "special effect" look.

When digital came around, I started with a Fuji S1, then onto Canon for 12 years and full circle back to Pentax with a K5IIs , K3 and now a K1. I never forgot my MX and it was nostalgic getting back to the Pentax brand after 30+ years. I have recently bought a few Fuji cameras as I wanted to do 4K video (client request). It is funny that with all these untold dollars spent on camera gear over the years, some of my most memorable work was done with my MX and the "cheapo" Sigma lens. I miss my MX, Tri-X and Velvia.

It is funny, after getting the Fuji, I started using their Acros B&W film simulation. I never shot that film but I am loving the digital version. It has brought back the love of B&W photography. My wife who could care less about B&W images has become a big fan of "colorless" images to a point that she made me print a bunch of images from a recent trip to New York to be framed and hung in our house!

BTW, I checked out your site and your galleries. I really liked the magical look of the black & white images. I also liked the body of work done in Michael's studio. His portraits are classics.
06-21-2019, 04:12 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Asking whether Leica lenses are better than Pentax lenses or Nikon lenses is like asking if Fords are better than GMs. In multiple tests, Pentax 50mm f1.4 lenses have generally matched or out performed Leica 50mm f1.4 lenses, but that doesn't mean that a Leica 560mm is better than a Pentax 500mm f4.5 or 560mm, nor that a Leica 60mm macro is better than a Pentax 100mm much less the 200mm macro. With respect specifically to a Leica 50mm f2 Sumicron, I think there is general agreement that it is one of the best 50mm lenses ever made, maybe or maybe not THE best. Indeed, I vaguely remember a lens test back in the 60's in which two 50mm f1.4 lenses (Nikon & Pentax) outperformed the Sumicron based purely on resolution (aberrations, contrast, color rendition, etc not considered in that test). And BTW, the 50mm f1.4 Planar for the Contarex, their supposed best normal lens for that big heavy camera, was in fact a clunker, inferior to both their 50mm f2 and 50mm f2.8 Tessar. Compare lens-to-lens, not all lenses to all lenses. Example: which is "better," the 90mm f2 Sumicron or the Pentax 85mm f1.4? I think I know the answer.

06-21-2019, 04:54 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
which is "better," the 90mm f2 Sumicron or the Pentax 85mm f1.4
I don't know about the Sumicron 90 but my friend owns the A85mm f1.4. On a trip to Gloucester, MA a few years ago. We shot his lens side by side with my FA 77 1.8. I was amazed as to how the colors matched between two lenses made some 20 or so years apart. Shot at F2.8, their sharpness matched perfectly. The 85 f1.4 is indeed a magical lens. No wonder the asking prices have gone through the roof. As to 50mm lenses. I own a bunch of manual legacy lenses. The surprise lens for me was the Sears 50mm f1.7 K-mount. It is as sharp as my FA43.
06-21-2019, 05:18 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
I don't know about the Sumicron 90 but my friend owns the A85mm f1.4. On a trip to Gloucester, MA a few years ago. We shot his lens side by side with my FA 77 1.8. I was amazed as to how the colors matched between two lenses made some 20 or so years apart. Shot at F2.8, their sharpness matched perfectly. The 85 f1.4 is indeed a magical lens. No wonder the asking prices have gone through the roof. As to 50mm lenses. I own a bunch of manual legacy lenses. The surprise lens for me was the Sears 50mm f1.7 K-mount. It is as sharp as my FA43.
Yup. Must look at individual lenses, not the entire set from a manufacturer. The 85mm f1.4 Pentax is an outstanding lens, but what about the APO Sumicron 90mm f2? Well, a used Pentax 85mm goes for about $800, the APO Sumicron for around $3000. How much better could it be to justify that price?

Last edited by WPRESTO; 06-21-2019 at 07:51 AM.
06-21-2019, 05:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
BTW, I checked out your site and your galleries. I really liked the magical look of the black & white images. I also liked the body of work done in Michael's studio. His portraits are classics.
Thank you very much for your comments.

Another story: Back in the eighties at one of the photographic magazines, Modern or Popular, I can't remember which, one of their staff asked the others to identify which cameras were used to take a variety of different slides. The only way they could identify the different cameras and lenses used was the colour each brand of camera and lens imparted to the slides taken with that brand. Sharpness and other factors were not helpful.

I had a similar experience when I compared the results of using a non-Pentax brand of lens to an equivalent Pentax lens in a camera store. I bought the Pentax lens. The difference in the colour rendition of the two lenses was very noticeable, and I expected the Pentax lenses to be relatively consistent in this regard between themselves.

Last edited by cpk; 06-21-2019 at 11:06 AM. Reason: Clarification of last paragraph.
06-21-2019, 06:05 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Asking whether Leica lenses are better than Pentax lenses or Nikon lenses is like asking if Fords are better than GMs. In multiple tests, Pentax 50mm f1.4 lenses have generally matched or out performed Leica 50mm f1.4 lenses, but that doesn't mean that a Leica 560mm is better than a Pentax 500mm f4.5 or 560mm, nor that a Leica 60mm macro is better than a Pentax 100mm much less the 200mm macro. With respect specifically to a Leica 50mm f2 Sumicron, I think there is general agreement that it is one of the best 50mm lenses ever made, maybe or maybe not THE best. Indeed, I vaguely remember a lens test back in the 60's in which two 50mm f1.4 lenses (Nikon & Pentax) outperformed the Sumicron based purely on resolution (aberrations, contrast, color rendition, etc not considered in that test). And BTW, the 50mm f1.4 Planar for the Contarex, their supposed best normal lens for that big heavy camera, was in fact a clunker, inferior to both their 50mm f2 and 50mm f2.8 Tessar. Compare lens-to-lens, not all lenses to all lenses. Example: which is "better," the 90mm f2 Sumicron or the Pentax 85mm f1.4? I think I know the answer.
That was certainly not the spirit of my question

However, to provide more detail, My K 35mm f3.5 and my K 55mm 1.8 would be my baselines here. They are simply wonderful lenses.
06-21-2019, 07:16 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
At the time I was into multiple projector slide shows. My favorite slide film was the Velvia.
I did a multi-projector show in 1986 with a Super Program and an off-brand 35-75 zoom (and occasionally a 50 f2.0 or Toyo Optics 70-210) on Ektachrome.

It was spectacular, with any lens or film issues covered up by viewing distance. We filled up a high school gym. Nobody said a word about film grain, either.

One of my proudest moments as a photographer, but it was all about content and really not at all about technical quality...

-Eric
06-21-2019, 01:09 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ediz7531 Quote
Howdy,

I have an opportunity to acquire a Leicaflex SL and R summicron 50mm f2 at a decent price. Iím wondering if anyone has experience with the R lenses in general and how they compare to the original K series lenses.
For the past month, I have been using a Leicaflex SL and Summicron R 50/2. I have also been using my Pentax Z-1p and a K series 50/1.4.
If you look at my Flickr stream, most of my recent photos are from either system.
My advice would be, don't hesitate and by the Leicaflex, but not because I believe it or the Summicron will make better photos, but because the Leicaflex SL and Summicron are just gorgeous and superbly made photographic tools.
As far as image quality differences between the Summicron and the Pentax 50, the only real noticeable difference is the Pentax has some barrel distortion whereas the Summicron has basically no distortion. Most other differences become very subjective and situation dependant.
06-21-2019, 01:34 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Example: which is "better," the 90mm f2 Sumicron or the Pentax 85mm f1.4? I think I know the answer.
Which is better...Pentax-M 50mm f/2.0 or Summicron-M 50mm f/2.0 (type 4) FWIW, the Pentax-M 50/1.7 was close competition back in the day.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 06-21-2019 at 01:43 PM.
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