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Leica M 135mm tech comparison
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Leica M 135mm tech comparison

I stumbled across these while looking for a tech drawing of a Mandler 'Lux 35 so I could prove to a friend that the CV Nokton 35 has an extra element. These are taken from Puts' 2002 guide to M lenses. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the APO-Telyt bests the old Mandler designs, but given the decades between their designs, but I do think it's interesting, 1, how little the overall designs differ, and 2, how well the 50 year-old design stands up to its modern counterpart. I also included the published MTF's of the Batis Sonnar 135/2.8 from Zeiss' website as a comparison to very modern design. A better performer than all, yeah, but look at how complex the lens has to be to get there. Not to mention relatively huge.

If you're interested in the Puts PDF, it can be downloaded here... https://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/images/3/3a/Puts-2002-M-lenses.pdf

I didn't post the Zeiss distortion because it's measured with in camera correction on, according to the PDF. Cheating, but, whatever. Even with correction on, it's still not perfect. If you want to see for yourself, it's here...




Batis engineering drawing

Batis MTF

Sep 19, 2017 at 04:31 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Leica M 135mm tech comparison

I'd like to offer a different perspective; that is to say, that it's not a linear relationship on the MTF graphs: getting, say, a 10% increase in the 40lpm category isn't just a straight "it's 10% better". Think more like a logarithmic scale, like for measuring earthquakes.

Getting a new-gen (read: new glass types, heavily computer-aided design) lens that has a 10% increase in performance, especially microcontrast, is a far bigger accomplishment than it may sound, especially the closer you get to 100% transmission. You can see some of this, for example, with the Otus line of lenses, by watching the interviews with various Zeiss people, and talking about the design process and performance. Likewise, looking at the new SL lenses, especially the zooms; they're technological marvels, given the impressive performance across the range, when you consider the increased elements, autofocus, as well as lens-based OIS, which takes off a decent 2-5% performance off the top.

Sep 19, 2017 at 07:14 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Leica M 135mm tech comparison

@Sam_W, I don't disagree. I wasn't trying to downplay the significance of modern design or say there was an insignificant amount of improvement among the Leicas, but absolute resolution is only one measurement of a lens. What I find interesting is that by optimal aperture, you have three consistent and (mostly) well-behaved, aberration-free lenses. Vignetting's well-controlled, as is distortion, something that is practically uniform in the line. And all done with five elements each. It impresses me, but maybe I'm just easily impressed.

I can't say that I've followed the SL lenses closely. If I had an SL, I'd shoot exactly the same mix of lenses I use now. I do think the digital age has pushed manufacturers into producing lenses that peak at or very close to wide open. For lenses like the Batis, if you need the DoF of 5.6, it comes at a cost.

Sep 21, 2017 at 02:28 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Leica M 135mm tech comparison

Well, you've picked a set of lenses (well, focal length) that are easy(-ish) to design and have function at high performance.

I would recommend trying the same exercise with both 50mm lenses (as they're the vendors' 35mm focal length of choice to showcase their design and assembly prowess), and something wider, as they're considerably harder to improve upon as designs. It's quite interesting looking at, say, the 19mm/21mm lenses over the decades and the huge strides made in image quality each decade.

I feel that these 135mm designs are kind of a "sweet-spot" of sorts. Kind of like the optimizations done to the Double Gauss design paradigm; we've really reached the pinnacle of it, without going way into diminishing returns. Any substantive improvements have been via splitting the DB design and bolting on either additional elements, or entire lens groups. For example, the Apo-Summicron-M 2/50 has the front half of a standard DG design, and the back half of the Summilux-M 1.4/35.

Sep 21, 2017 at 05:59 AM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Leica M 135mm tech comparison

Interesting seeing the damping down of wide open curvature of each gen of Leica 135mm shown above.

The action has been at/near wide open in the recent emergence of the 'super portrait' lenses. See the Batis 135/2.8 charts above for confirmation - out to an image height of 15mm (close to the wide edges), the f2.8 chart is better than its 'best aperture' MTF of f5.6, and you know what that means. And as shown above, the Batis lens is stronger on axis wide open than the great 135/3.4 APO is at its best, at f5.6. See also its very tidy f2.8 lines, almost no separation and combined lines at wide edges/corners at f2.8 and f5.6.

Leica M lenses have traditionally trodden the path of 'few elements-higher quality glass-excellent matching-super fine tolerances' which set them apart from the rest. Their implementation of asphericals is a salutary lesson to the industry.

Older film era (the better ones too) lenses took the extra 1-2 stops to peak, and have other benefits (organic draw, interesting color, even frames, excellent near-infinity helicoil ratios) which, when helped along by high Mp sensors, make them arguably the best stopped down options for nature/landscapes.

'135mm designs are kind of a "sweet-spot" of sorts'. Like 28mm ('not wide enough'), the 135mm area ('too long/not long enough') was neglected for decades, Canon and Nikon still peddle fairly decent mid-90s designs at the 135mm FL, the Canon is a 10/8, the Nikon a 7/6.

In design terms, this maxim also applies somewhat to 85mm lenses out to 135mm, for slow-moderate lenses anyway. But the 85/100mm lot got more design attention due to the popularity of pseudo-macros and very fast portrait lenses, and fashion (in both senses of the word). Outsider lenses were different: Leica's 90AA was nevertheless 5/5, even their 75AA is 7/5. CZ's 'failed' Sonnar 85/2 ZM was 6/6, the new Loxia 85/2.4 is 7/7. Plus ca change, almost.

Sep 23, 2017 at 01:51 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Leica M 135mm tech comparison

I have tried the tele-elmar several times and I own both the telyt and the elmarit.

One bummer about the design of the A7r2, is you cannot get the Elmarit M on the body.

In terms of render I prefer Mandler's elmarit III to all the others. At 5.6 no one could tell what's what in terms of sharpness, between these three.

No doubt it beats them all at 2.8:

At River Run by unoh7, on M9

135/2.8 by unoh7, on Flickr

Election by unoh7, on Flickr

I could not find a decent copy of the Tele-Elmar, though I tried a number. You had to get the newer one, which is not cheap. These days the Telyt is under 2k.

The elmarit is easy to find under 400, and I would say for shooting humans and in many situations, it's better than them all. But you'll need the R version for your r2.

For landscape the Telyt is unbeatable, since it's not that big, and you can carry it.

Boulder Knob by unoh7, on Flickr

image by unoh7, on Flickr

Basically the biggest different TE vs Telyt is noise, which is less on Telyt at F/4.

Last nite I needed a 135 for the r2....

135/2.8 OM by unoh7, on Flickr

It was OK, but I should have taken the Telyt and higher ISOs.

Sep 25, 2017 at 06:06 PM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Leica M 135mm tech comparison

It would also be an interesting comparison with the Zeiss trinity of:

* C/Y Sonnar 2/135 (regular or the 60 Jahre version)
* Z* Apo-Sonnar 2/135 (same as the Milvus)
* Batis 2.8/135

I get that some are SLR and some are mirrorless, but curious about the evolution again.

Sep 25, 2017 at 07:18 PM

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