#1015. Leica Elmarit-R 90/2.8 on Hasselblad X1D: too gentle for its own good?

By pascaljappy | Review

Jun 13

This thing about testing old lenses on modern bodies is a very contrarian pursuit. Having been wowed by two lenses that shouldn’t have performed well, I’m now let down by an old favourite of mine.

Mandler-era Leica lenses have always made my knees tremble. With their nice level of fine detail but generally sift appearance, they could easily tame the brutality of harsh sunlight on my highlight-adverse Sony A7r2 and produce elegant, delicate renderings of landscapes that might have been over-etched with more modern designs.

With a high-dynamic range sensor followed by very conservative in-camera signal management, these laudable characteristics may well have turned a painterly masterpiece of a lens into a lazy slob.

Take this, for example, and weep with me πŸ˜‰

This may well have you scratching your head wondering how I could possibly have hoped to make something interesting out of it … Take a knife-edge lens with plenty of 3D to that little scene and the bright yellow leaf would pop out of the screen. Here, you wonder whether the wooden terrace is shedding some dead skin.

The photograph lacks readability, pop, colour, excitement … In this soft light, it’s just boring. Turn around though …

Here, the photograph is uninsteresting because the scene is, but it pops a lot more in the sun. It’s immediately readable and full of life. Thedelicate touch and 3D that made this lens a winner for me on the Sony is suddenly back again.

And that’s what kept repeating in my sample shots: not punchy enough (on this X1D camera) in low light, pretty good in strong light. Here are a few more examples of this.

This could have been a nice photograph and you can see how the pink flower is alive and joyful in the sun. But the bottlebrush flower in the shadow is buried and lifeless.

From a distance, and with some evening sun on it, it comes to life again. This is f/4. Rendering proved to be really nice here, but the camera really stuggled with white balance and so did I. The pool water is the right colour, the wood also, but the rest is too dark and green.

The broom flowers in the background should be a sparkling yellow, but turn to faded gold as if they’d given up the ghost, as they will in a couple of weeks, in the blistering summer sun.

I could make that look nicer with simple white balance adjustment, but don’t always want to have to. And the results are never really spot on. The first photograph on the page illustrates this. It is nicer but still feels heavy and slightly dull.

Mirror in mirror – Hasselblad X1D and Leica Elmarit-R 90/2.8

Here’s another example at f/4. In direct morning sunlight, the poker almost glows and the lens’s elegant signature, which appealed to me so much in the past, is evident here. We get the benefits of the vintage looks without the drawbacks.

And there’s no shortage of resolution on this sensor.

Click for 100%

But in softer light, the meaning of the photograph is lost in translation, unless PP is applied to liven things up, as below. It can be done. But adequate vitamin D in the form of sunlight seems to be a prerequisite that did not apply on the Sony.

It’s an identical story in black and white. Happy and so elegant in the sunlight:

A bit drowsy and lacklustre in the shadows (this one is acceptable and I could tweak it more in PP, but … ):

Putting words on rendering is no trivial pursuit, so metaphors come in handy as semantic enablers. In the previous post in the series, the Distagon 1.4/35 ZM was compared to light, airy Chantilly cream made with the most fragrant wild vanilla. And the slightly zestier Distagon 2/25 ZF.2 as a similar recipe with perhaps a touch of lemon added.

In this culinary register, the present Leica 90/2.8 is clearly custard. Thicker, stronger and possibly … disgusting in the wrong conditions πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ Oy, I said “in the wrong conditions”, don’t hate me.

Going back to the previous post, the audiophile metaphor had landed the Zeiss lenses firmly in the modern tube amp register and the Elmarit is clearly more vintage feeling here.

By which, I mean no harm. There’s body and elegance to those roses, in a “The remains of the day” style.

On the X1D, the Elmarit-R 90 certainly can be used to illuminate your screen in a very distinctive and beautiful fashion. The lens’ beautiful 3D and bokeh contribute to an impression of volume and texture. But for those in search of a more modern neutrality, this may not be the go to optical fomula.

Which is a shame because that generation of Leica lens is probably the best built of any lens I have ever owned. Without being as heavy as an old Hassy beast, it feels solid, smooth, chunky but efficient. In many ways, this feels like the exact oopposite to the little Nikkor 501/.8, with its cheap, clunky plastic body housing sprightly optics.

Compare this to the similar photograph (in different light) in the Nikkor review. Here, the air feels denser, the colour scheme leans towards the other end of the spectrum, and the plant takes on more 3D and heft, compared to the less detailed but more lively Nikkor (in duller light).

At this point, let me pop in a plug for the Hassy, drawing again from the arcane universe of audiophilia.

Tubes, triodes, in particular, can sound like nothing else in the audio world. For those who can live with 2 Watts, a univese of tone and delicacy unavailable to the silicon behemoths priced similarly to exotic sports cars. But the supporting circuit has often inflicted upon the listener a host of unwanted auditory parasites. Capacitor coupling with ugly time shifts, transformer coupling with rolled off spectrum edges, microphonic tube drivers, and combinations thereof, casting a veil on the star of the electronic show …

The protecting veil – Hasselblad X1D and Leica Elmarit-R 90/2.8

Designs would be brilliant in some conditions, such as Jazz and chamber music. But angry veins would inevitably start throbbing on owner foreheards when you unleashed a large orchestra on a Wagner hissy fit, for example.

It isn’t until recently that various designers have succesfully experimented with circuit topologies that (more or less, depending the recipe) do away with the unwanted guests, letting the triode perform its inimitable magic. As described beneath the Red Hot Poker photograph (above) “the benefits without the drawbacks”

And, beyond the findings about the lens themselves, the camera itself deserves accolades aplenty for paying a similar role in the electromagnetic spectrum. Just like those elite tube amps add or remove nothing from the flavour of the power triode, enabling the sampling (called rolling) of multiple brands to explore their respective sonic delights and pitfalls, so the Hassy highlights the personalities and differences between lenses, allowing users to sample them as the designer intended, with no unwanted signature form the camera. Plug over. Back to the lens.

These two photographs illustrate my point once again. With a little help from PP (added clarity and saturation) the top one displays an elegant depiction of this sunset. Nice colours, nice depth. But the morning shot, below it, clearly demonstrates the benefits of a good night’s sleep for 3D stamina and lifelike pop.

To unlevel the playing field, the second image is a 2 frame stitch (you can tell by the binocular effect created by the central vignetting πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ ), providing a resolution advantage to the panorama. But, if a bookie were to organise bets on the causes of this added zest, my money would be on lighting conditions rather than pixel count.

A validation shoot in Aubagne

A few shots round the garden are all good to test a few aspects of the lens’ drawing, but it deserves more attention than that. So, on the week-end, I braved the hords of people who swarmed around a market, clearly thinking the epidemic is behind us, hugging, bunching up, to give the Elmarit another playing ground.

And there’s good and there’s bad to report. Let’s start with the bad because the good is a lot gooder than expected.

On photographs such as this street scene, where earthy colours dominate and much of the photograph is in the shadows, it all feels a little sleepy to me. And, using clarity to liven up the area turns it angry before it vivifies it.

Here, in spite of some shadow lift and clarity, the dog – who has kindly left the puddle for us all to enjoy – is not as clearly identifiable as I’d like. But, already the marks on the wall are passing from a pleasant state of Wabi Sabi into the downright grubby. Striking a pleasing balance is often beyond delicate. What lovely 3D and what lovely colours, though …

This is a little more satisfying. Anyone who’s visited charming colorful villages in Germany will remember the blues, the pinks and the yellows. Could that cultural influence have oriented Her Mandler towards a pastel flavour rendering ?

I mean … wonderful, organic 3D and a real lust for pastel colours seem to describe this lens’s top priorities.

If pandemic lockdown has brought you down and a colour flush is what you need to bounce back up, do get one of these on your camera. Even photographing someone’s knickers will bring a smile to your face.

The more colour in a scene, the happier the Elmarit. Largely unbothered by the sort of summer light that would send most gear crying to mamma, the Leica rolls off the top end into a world of strawberry cake and mint jelly. I have to say, such images are systematically giggle worthy and bring a silly grin to my face every time. And that 3D, come on …

It really isn’t without it’s foibles, the Elmarit-R 90/2.8. Or, to be more accurate in my criticism, its shooting envelope is more restricted than the current marketing lie of do-it-all gear would have us desire. But what it does well, it really does better than others … I can’t really think of a lens that will out-Mandler it.

You couldn’t decently equip a war photographer with it. Back home, newspaper readers would inevitable think “well, it doesn’t look that bad, look how lovely those flame colours are, they seem to be having a jolly good time”. Send the same guy to the front lines with a 55 Sony Zeiss and the population would start donating organs on the spot.

I remember my first visit to Euro Disney. We cheaped out and bought an evening visit, from 6pm to closing time. Smaller queues, the shameful pleasure of going in when most were leaving and … the lighting up of the fake buildings.

I distinctly remember that time of day when natural lighting and artificial lighting blend perfectly and everything seems to glow with wonderful colours. Walking, 30 minutes away from Paris, in a Mexican village full of adobe walled cafes, heading out towards some equally mesmerising tropical island with a pirate ship, those few minutes of perfect lighting made real life go away. In case you’re wondering, I was almost 40, not 4 πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

The photograph above recreates that feeling. It’s far prettier than the original scene. The walls almost look like they were made to look a little grubby so as not to look too new and fake.

I’ve deliberately moved away from prettifying gear. It adds a flavour that cannot be taken away and locks me into a certain genre that doesn’t suit my tastes.

But boy is it fun to rediscover it, almost by accident. There, on demand, thanks to (once again) a cheap lens from the past. One that had given me much pleasure years ago but may be even more delightful today. Either because the Hassy wrings even more joie de vivre out of it, or by sheer contrast with my very stern and serious XCD lenses. Whatever the reason, I want to put shorts on and go buy candy.

What about black and white ?

It works, it can work, in black and white.

Your reception of b&w files made using the Elmarit-R 90 depend on what appeals to you in monocrhome photography in the first place.

Maybe I would get used to the lens but, up to now, it has taken me more effort to turn colour files into acceptable b&w images that with my other lenses. Photographs somehow lack the zest and edge that other lenses give me. This however brings a sort of glow to the table that makes shadows come alive a bit more (see the stone wall on the right, above, for instance).

But overall, this wouldn’t be my goto lens for monochrome work. I cannot make it delineated without being over contrasty, somehow. Maybe with a different PP workflow ?

Speaking of monocrhome, what feels more interesting is to seek monochromatic scenes and photograph them in colour. What the lens lacks in micro-contrast it makes up for in colour separation, bringing back a sense of aliveness along a different axis from usual.

You can even do natural duotones (silly grin)

But, really, this is what this lens is for : colourful colour πŸ™‚

And let me end this – kind of – review, with another neat trick this lens can pull. One that I absolutely didn’t find out purely by accident by fluffling a photograph πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

It, and many other older lenses tolerate squeezing of the diaphragm quite elegantly. I was going for a vertical pano at full aperture for a bit of 3D pop and was surprised to see the Hassy climb to ISO 3200 in full light … ahem. So, instead of f/2.8, this was f/22. I did the f/2.8 immediately afterwards and … really prefer the closed down version.

f/22. A perfect ten. The glow, the depth, the happy colours …
f/2.8 – nice in its own right, but not as nice. Probably a good candidate for b&w.

How many happy greens can you count ? πŸ˜‰

Will this lens add to the weight of the shelf I had promised myself to keep spartan and frugal? (“Always two there are, one camera and one lens”. In my dreams and in Sith lore, but not in my office … ).

Without the trip to Aubagne, I had written “No. This one must go.

It is no fault of the lens, which was a favourite on my previous photon converter from the East, but what this Mandler tour-de-force does best on my current camera, organic 3D and elegant rendering, is actually done even better by a native lens, the superb XCD 90, without getting stuck in the quicksands of shadows. So, there really is no point in keeping both. Which is ironic, as of all the adapted lenses tested so far, this is the one that spatters light over the sensor with the greatest ease. Ah well … “

But if you shoot in strong light, own a camera with strong contrast (lower dynamic range than the Hassy) and prize build quality, look no further than this gem of the 80s. Just go back to the photograph above and tell me you’re not impressed πŸ˜‰

VERDICT : The best sub 500€ feel good lens ?


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    After that, I think I’ll go and wash the dishes in the kitchen. It wasn’t until the final paragraph that I could see whether you were criticising or praising the Elmarit. My confusion was increased by the discovery that you are growing Australian wildflowers (bottlebrush) poolside in France – reminding me that I want one of those hawthorn bushes I see every time I’m in France (and NOT the “Indian hawthorn” they sell here in Oz!)

    As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I’ve pretty much given up on B&W in this digital age, because digi has at last given me the opportunity to make my own colour prints. And as you have noted in this post, that doesn’t rule out “monochromes” like your seated lion – quite the opposite, in fact – monochromes that exploit one single colour, instead of being EITHER black & white OR the vivid hues of Kodacolor have a special charm of their own.

    By the way, I didn’t notice any hordes of shoppers in your expedition to Aubagne – you must have left before the shops opened! πŸ™‚

    “f/22. A perfect ten.” intrigues me. In recent years I have been fed a constant stream of negative comment on extreme small f-stops, centred around diffraction. This shot certainly gives the lie to that, and I agree it is much more interesting than the accompanying f/2.8 version of the same scene. I must try it – not that I have an Elmarit, but it will be interesting to see what happens. As our Northern Territory Tourist Bureau keeps telling the world – “you’ll never never know, if you never never go!” (They are referring to their “Never Never Land” – having lived up that way for a couple of years, I picked up their idea and have extended it to experimenting with all sorts of ideas, in photography).

    Most of these shots have fairly soft lighting. You’ve been “down under” and seen the lighting here – you’d undoubtedly agree that in Perth WA we have rather “harsh” sunlight. But if you play with the resulting contrast – use it, instead of fighting against it – this stronger light often makes it far easier to capture an interesting image, than the softer (dare I say “flatter”?) lighting you are dealing with here. And as you suggest, the Elmarit contributes to that effect – leaving me asking “is it doubling up, with your softer lighting?” – and “would the Elmarit handle the harsher light in OZ, better than a more “factual” lens like the Otus?”

    • pascaljappy says:

      Good point, Jean-Pierre. I didn’t know whether to prasie or criticize the lens, myself, until quite late in the review. It is so unlike what my usual lenses produce and what I strive for today that initial impressions weren’t favourable. But, my final line sums it up. This is just a feel-good pill with no side effect.

      There were a few people around but I’m patient and wait for them to leave the scene πŸ™‚

      Diffraction … another interesting topic. The superb look of large format prints comes from diffracted optics (f/32, f/64 …) that cover such a large film that the image needs very little (or no) enlargement. That creates that sharp but soft look that you are seeing in the f/22 image. There is probably diffraction there to sften up the look, but the image is a stitch of 2 frames and doesn’t require much enlargement to display at this size. And it (kind of) captures that interesting look.

      And the lens creates the impression that the light is softer than it really is, which adds to the interest of that f/22 and helps with the summer light that are currently getting. Because the weather is unusually unsettled this year, there is a little bit of humidity in the air that is usually not there and that must add to the impression of softness, but it is really slight. I’m pretty sure you’de be happy with the lens in Perth πŸ˜‰


      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        LOL – you’re just trying to persuade us all to switch to the Hassy! So we don’t have to worry about diffraction any more and we can concentrate on photography instead!

        • pascaljappy says:

          Of course πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ I have an affiliate agreement with Hassy and don’t need to ever work again ! (I wish)

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            Just to make your day – I have re-marked one of the test results on the Elmarit and sent you the revised score card by email. I hope you have decided to keep the lens – it seems it’s still a very good lens, after all.

            • pascaljappy says:

              Ha ha, thanks (got it). I will probably keep it for a while. If it gets used, it stays, otherwise, it might as well be useful to someone else πŸ™‚

  • Jean-Claude Louis says:


    Nice image set! I love the subdued rendering of color and contrast.

    I had this lens on my film Leica Rs and wasn’t thrilled with it. I replaced it with the second generation Summicron-R 50/2, also a Mandler design; on Kodachrome64 its luminosity and 3D rendering were more consistent and pleasing, in my hands, than those of the Elmarit.

    As you indicate – and it’s important to stress that – you are not testing just a lens, but a lens/sensor/processor combination. A given lens will render differently on different digital cameras. With the high quality of the files produced by the sensor/processing of the XD1, there is ample room to bring in the desired level of color, contrast and luminosity in post-processing without taking away the subtlety of the original file (it is my opinion that the out-of-the-camera image is only a starting point, never the end result).

    B&W conversion is another story altogether. A “quick” path is to use the NIK SilverFx app – half-decent results. A better way is to convert the files in Photoshop using the Black-and-white Adjustment tool or the more powerful Calculations tool – better results, but a lot more work and skills involved. If you’re really serious about B&W digital photography, there is nothing that comes close to the Leica M Monochrome – a sensor without the color filter array and low-pass filters, avoiding the process of demosaicing by capturing the true luminance of each photoreceptor.

    Cheers πŸ™‚

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you Jean-Claude.

      Ah, the Summicron-50. One of my favourite lenses ever. I far prefer it to the Summilux. I bought mine used, sold it to a reader, regretted it and bought it of him again after a couple of years (it was not being used), then sold it again to another reader and … regret doing so. It’s a wonderful artist lens. With that lovely halo wide open on highlights and a much sterner look at f/8, but still with warmth to it.

      The Monochrom is a lovely camera. A participant in our Paris workshop let me use him for a while and it was instant love for the files. Not so for the M, I just don’t like those bodies … If only Hassy gave us a monochromatic X1D !! Now that would be something … In the meantime, Phocus does a very decent job of monochrome conversions. It doesn’t give as much freedom as PS, but it’s really quite capable. Most of mine are done in Phocus. It’s only when I want to have fun with something more extreme (Phocus is ever so well behaved πŸ˜‰ ) that LR or PS come into play.

      Cheers πŸ™‚

  • Dave says:

    Hello Pascal
    I enjoyed your article on the Elmarit. I agree that the construction of the R lens are in a class of their own. I have about a half a dozen R lens but nothing to use them on since my DMR back no longer works and can’t be repaired. Time to go to plan B what ever that might be.

  • Patrick says:

    Very interesting review, indeed ! Both inspiring and educational !

    Thanks for sharing, Pascal.

  • philberphoto says:

    So interesting! Of course, I don’t have a Hassy X1-D, nor will I ever, and I sold my R-Leica lenses. So there are two ways to read this post. Either as gear-specific, in which case it is such an unlikely pairing that a -discrete- yawn might be permitted. Or as an example of how to fine tune a system to one’s liking. Because, as you so rightly put it, what this Mandler lens does to the images is not something that could be acheived with other lenses cum PP. So, if it is your “thing”… and discovering one’s “thing”, and the gear to slake that lust is just so good in so many ways…. so, for that, a huge thumbs-up. And, by the way, your “protecting veil” turned my knees to jelly… awesome… and the one of which you said that “it takes you to a certain genre that is not you….;”, is also eminently lovable by yours truly…:-)

  • Frank Field says:

    Pascal —

    My only first-hand knowledge of lenses is the Nikon line. One lens that I have come to greatly appreciate for my everyday shooting is the Micro-Nikkor 55 mm f/2.8 AI-S lens. Shooting on a Nikon full-frame body with a 24 MPix sensor, this lens does everything I’d want it to. It’s sharp edge to edge without being glaringly so, little corner vignetting, all but zero chromatic aberration, good micro-contrast, little geometric distortion and corrected for flat-field. Construction is largely brass yet spec’d weight is around 290 gm. Like all Nikkor lenses from that era, transmission of longer wavelength light seems slightly attenuated so the rendition is a bit on the cool side.

    I purchased my copy new in 1985. The lens has a deserved reputation for running lubricant onto the iris-blades. I had my copy torn-down, cleaned and reassembled twice by the Nikon repair centers in the U.S.. Third incident and I found a very competent lens repair craftsman. He rebuilt the lens five or six years ago and it is still running strong.

    While I don’t know how well it would cover a larger sensor, the indications from little vignetting seem positive. If you get a chance, try shooting one on your X1D. I’d guess you’d be looking a field of view more like 35mm on full frame – but a useful FOV.

    If you happen to get enamored with one of these lenses, you can still purchase them new (!!!!) from B&H Photovideo and I imagine plenty of sources in the EU. The U.S. price is just USD 400. Given the cost of a competent rebuild, you might just as well go new.



  • Richard Stretto says:

    now that you mention it … i believe the Elmarit-M 90/2.8 is pretty much the same design as the R. i liked it on film Ms, and i (sometimes) like it on digital Ms. it’s compact, it’s light, it’s sharp, it has nice colors and it is a Mandler design. but since i hardly use more than 75 mm on my Ms these days, the 90 has gathered dust.

    after adding the A7RII, the A7III and later the A7RIII to my stable, i also tried the 90/2.8 with either the voigtlΓ€nder or the novoflex adapter. again, i liked the 90’s compact size, build quality, light weight, sharpness, color rendition … but i found the images somewhat nondescript, non involving. (like wrapping 10 db NFB around a 2A3 SET, to stay with your analogy.)

    so maybe Mandler’s 90/2.8 designs are best used on film?

    the 90/2.8 is the complete opposite of my favorite Mandler lens ever, the 75/1.4 lux – bought mine in the late 1980s when it was by far the most expensive M lens. it was (and still is) a HUGE lens that makes a M front-heavy, its focus travel is too long for my taste, and shooting portraits at 1 meter and f/1.4 is a frustrating experience in hit (rarely) and miss (mostly) in terms of focus. and images shot with 1.4 on film were soft and didn’t really have this 3d pop.

    but i just couldn’t bring myself to sell the lens.

    fast forward two decades until i bought my first digital M, a M9-P. all of a sudden, i started to like the 75Β lux. focusing was still the same hit and miss (with more hits because i finally bought a viewfinder magnifier), but the softness at 1.4 became a signature trait that could easily be steered to the desired direction in post production.

    it sounds weird, but it was like love at first sight after almost 30 years, when i mounted the 75 lux on the A7RII for the first time. finally, i could put the focus accurately exactely where i wanted it even at 1.4; finally, i noticed that the transition from jekill to hyde was not instantaneous between two f-stops but gradually from 1.4 to 2.8; finally i started to get an idea why the 75 lux was rumored to be one of Mandler’s favorite designs. (i admit that i never upgraded my M9 to a newer body. i love the signature of the CCD sensor; i tried to fall in love with a rented M240 (but just couldn’t); and later found the cost of a M10-P body too outrageous. maybe i’ll buy one if the M11 makes used M10-P more affordable.)

    i have not searched the 1000+ posts, but have you ever tried the summilux R 85/1.4 on a modern body? i have a hunch that you will like its character more than the 90/2.8…

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Richard, lots of interesting points in your comment, thanks. Let me see if I can answer them in order.

      Yes, the designs are similar. The R has to clear the mirror so they are not strictly identical. And the look from the two isn’t 100% the same (I have the M-mount and R-mount versions at home) but they are really close and differences may well have more to do with samples than design.

      I love the NFB analogy πŸ˜‰ That’s exactly it. Less freedom.

      It’s hard to explain and I have no theory to back this up but some lenses just get along more with some sensors than others. The Distagon 25/2 reviewed a few days ago was bland on my D801e, and more fun on the A7r2 and it now looks very different on the X1D. It’s strange …

      That 75/1.4 and the similar R85/1.4 … I’ve never had the opportunity to use those, unfortunately. Philippe, who writes a lot on DS, had the 85 and liked the drawing but found it very hard to focus, even on an EVF. So he sold it. But I would love to find someone nearby who would lend it to me for a couple of days for a review …

      The M10 is a lovely lovely camera!! I can unserstand your attraction, even using the glorious M9. Have fun πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • Adam Bonn says:

    I have the 90 summarit, and I have no clue how similar the design is (to the elmarit) but I do find it to be a dark lens (ie T-Stop) compared to my other M glass, needing a lot of light unless one wishes to raise the ISO…

    Oh and custard is disgusting

    • pascaljappy says:

      How dare, you, Sir ?
      No, actually, I agree: custard is disgusting πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

      Interesting point about the darker design. What’s strange is that, even when pushing exposure in PP, the images gets brighter but still looks like the shadows don’t open up. The lens probably has a different contrast transfer that others I’m more used too. Weird.

    • Jean-Claude Louis says:

      2.4 or 2.5? I have the 2.4 and it is, indeed, a dark lens, with about 70% light transmission and a resulting T-stop of about 3.
      In my experience, the shadows ‘seem’ to be rendered darker with the M8 CCD than with the M240 CMOS; they are also more retrievable in PP with the M240 files.
      Given that the amount of light that hits both sensors is the same, this suggests that the way the signal is processed in camera plays an important role in the final output.

      • Adam Bonn says:

        Mine’s the 2.5, but apparently both ranges of summarit are the same design, but different marketing (and the hood doesn’t cost extra on the 2.4s)

        Well the 240 enjoys considerably more dynamic range than the m8 and also the 240 uses some form of signal management to massage ISO performance, so if you’re exposing to preserve highlights the 240 will always give you more leeway in the shadows

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    This does make me interested!

    Does perhaps anyone here have any experience with the
    Elmar-C 90mm/4, or the
    Summicron-R 90mm/2,0 ?

    I’d very much appreciate any comment to point to either.

    ( To use on an APS-C mirrorless Canon M5. At the moment I have the Voigtlander 90mm/3.5 APO-Lanthar.)

    I’m curious, as both are just now available here at a brick & mortar store at, to me, reasonable prices – it’s 600km away, so I can’t go look.)
    ( It seems that prices are lower now, perhaps a lockdown effect?)

    Thanks in advance!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hello Kristian, those two lenses have never crossed my path, unfortunately. My usual reality check for vintage lens quality is Ken Rockwell’s website. He seems very appreciative of both, in particular the Elmar:
      Summicron 90/2 https://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/90mm-f2.htm
      Elmar-C 90/4 https://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/90mm-f4-macro.htm

      I’ve always been very highly drawn to the Elmar but never got a chance to test one (if the one in the shop is cheap and in good condition, go for it!). I think Philippe has used one of his friend’s. Maybe he can weigh in. Although that would be on Sony cameras. Is that what you’re after?

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Thanks, Pascal,
        yes, I checked Ken Rockwell’s site.
        ( Incidentially, your link points to another Elmar, which would interest me more…except that I’d have to check whether it hits the sensor collapsed – if I could afford it, sigh!)
        He gives the Elmar-C 90/4 good points, but it doesn’t seem to be his favourite.

        ( The prices are on the higher Ebay level, but bying from a store within the country seems safer; I’ll think about it and google some more. Perhaps I’ll wait for a chance on “your” version, K.R. says wide open corners are softer on previous versions.)

  • Ivan R Vernon says:

    How do the full-frame Leica lenses work on the medium format Hassy X1D with its much larger sensor? I am overcome by ignorance, so please enlighten me. (I am using my Leica-R lenses on the Pentax K-1 full-frame camera.)

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Ivan,

      the image covered by the lens is larger than strict full frame. So, some lenses project a large enough image circle to cover the X1D format. But vignetting and edge performance take a hit! Hope this helps. Pascal

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