Leica "look" real or myth?
/forum/topic/1154629/2

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Toothwalker
Registered: Jan 24, 2009
Total Posts: 1240
Country: Norway

wfrank wrote:
Lens quality talk is all fine, interesting and so on. But I'll add that the average Leica shot will be taken by a quite skilled photographer and to me that is at least as much part of the Leica look than anything else.


I don't think the average Leica shot bears evidence of more skill than the average Canon or Nikon shot. Sure, there are capable photographers who use Leica, but they are counterbalanced by a large number of collectors and people who just like expensive toys.




Edgars Kalnins
Registered: Mar 09, 2007
Total Posts: 708
Country: Latvia

I was hesitant to say this, but as Ron has mentioned it I feel a bit more secure to voice my opinion (I am more a collector than shooter ). When shooting Leica R lenses on Canon I noticed the rich blacks and generally quite saturated colours (especially with 50mm summicrons). Zeiss lenses (especially the modern ones) in general had more crispiness to them. Exception was the ZF 25mm f2.8, which never gave me the same apparent sharpness but had rich blacks similar to Leica.



FlyPenFly
Registered: Feb 14, 2011
Total Posts: 6130
Country: United States

The modern Leica look of sharp medium contrast wide open is easy to tell in reasonably sized files.



bobbytan
Registered: Feb 03, 2004
Total Posts: 7305
Country: United States

If I may rephrase your question ... are Leica users delusional? I believe the answer is No.



edwardkaraa
Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 6863
Country: Thailand

What I find curious is that the character of a lens is only visible when you study an entire collection of photos made with it, and after using it for a certain period of time. In many cases, one shot doesn't reveal the lens character. That's why I find myself unable to guess which is which in the blind tests that used to be common on this forum.



Makten
Registered: Jul 14, 2008
Total Posts: 4035
Country: Sweden

Having owned a bunch of Zeiss lenses and a few Leica ones, I'd say there's no "Leica look" or no "Zeiss look". What we are talking about is just lenses are so bloody good that they differ a bit from Canon, Nikon and the others. But individual Zeiss and Leica lenses don't have much in common except for being good, but in different ways.

But, there is one exception. I've had the Summicron 28/2 ASPH and the cheaper Summarit 35/2.5, and they share something that I haven't seen from Zeiss (nor older Leica). There is some sort of "color resolution" and "matteness" (like an inbuilt polarizer), especially with the 28, that is lovely. I can't really describe it and unfortunately much of it disappears when downsizing for the web.

I think these with the 28 might show some of it, despite the smallish size:


9662 by Martin Hertsius, on Flickr



War by Martin Hertsius, on Flickr



Arch by Martin Hertsius, on Flickr



allstarimaging
Registered: Mar 24, 2006
Total Posts: 1852
Country: United States

When I started this post I fully expected Leica owners to rave about M9 and Leica lens combinations. For example I thought I would be hearing that nothing compares to the look of an image from an M9 with a 50 1.4 summilux. Instead there seems to be more talk of Zeiss gear and post processing. Does this mean that Leica is all about the Rangefinder experience?"



thrice
Registered: Jul 10, 2008
Total Posts: 3354
Country: Australia

I think most dedicated Leica users are sick of defending their 'overpriced' shooting choices and are weary of falling into that argument via a roundabout premise.

That, and it's a very intangible characteristic that in my honest opinion doesn't really exist.



sebboh
Registered: Nov 02, 2009
Total Posts: 9677
Country: United States

thrice wrote:
I think most dedicated Leica users are sick of defending their 'overpriced' shooting choices and are weary of falling into that argument via a roundabout premise.

That, and it's a very intangible characteristic that in my honest opinion doesn't really exist.


also let's not forget that most of the forums denizens are zeiss users with a minority using leica lenses and an even smaller minority shooting leica cameras.



bobbytan
Registered: Feb 03, 2004
Total Posts: 7305
Country: United States

This pro photographer must be nuts to sell all his Leica equipment for the OM-D.

I certainly do not feel like an idiot about selling my FF Canon gear anymore!

http://giannigalassi.typepad.com/blog/2012/10/my-four-months-experience-with-the-olympus-om-d.html



edwardkaraa
Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 6863
Country: Thailand

sebboh wrote:
also let's not forget that most of the forums denizens are zeiss users with a minority using leica lenses and an even smaller minority shooting leica cameras.


Then I must be in the smallest of the smallest minorities who shoot Zeiss glass on Leica cameras!

In fact, if you visit RF forums, you will notice that a respectable percentage of leica M digital owners use Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses, probably because especially in the Zeiss case, the lenses are very good and more accessibly priced. I think everyone ultimately "upgrades" to Leica lenses, once the funds are available. But for me personally, I love the rendering of Zeiss in general, and my ZM lenses in particular. I have not had to worry about corner to corner sharpness like with DSLR glass. The rendering is also very classic Zeiss with all the goodies, micro contrast, threedee, colors... etc. But who knows maybe I will upgrade one day



redisburning
Registered: Jul 16, 2011
Total Posts: 1002
Country: United States

edwardkaraa wrote:
Then I must be in the smallest of the smallest minorities who shoot Zeiss glass on Leica cameras!


I think there are a few of us around.



millsart
Registered: Apr 29, 2009
Total Posts: 4263
Country: N/A

Are there collectors ? You bet, every bit as much as there are those who see the camera as nothing more than a fashion accessory. However, are those type of folks really hanging around enthusiast camera forums on the internet ? With the exception of Seal, no, no they are not.

Look at the images in the Leica thread on this forum, by and by, about 90% or more are quite good.

Take a look at the typical Canon or Nikon image thread though and its more like the inverse, maybe 10% are good and the other 90% are nothing special. Now that isn't to knock people's images, I'm sure to them they are nice, but I think there is a lot less attention to focal length, processing, composition etc in the average hobbyist DSLR shooters shooting style.

You see a mom walking around the zoo with 2 kids and a Canon Rebel around here neck, the images she post, if she post, are probably not going to be too special unless you know the kids.

See another parent with a M9 around their neck and I'd wager that said parent, while still capturing images of his children, is thinking about what he is doing far more, and when he comes home I'm sure he's opening up Silver EFX2 and editing on his calibrated monitor etc.

If you just want to take snapshots you probably don't buy a manual RF camera. You have to really love the process of photography, not just snapping pictures

Toothwalker wrote:
wfrank wrote:
Lens quality talk is all fine, interesting and so on. But I'll add that the average Leica shot will be taken by a quite skilled photographer and to me that is at least as much part of the Leica look than anything else.


I don't think the average Leica shot bears evidence of more skill than the average Canon or Nikon shot. Sure, there are capable photographers who use Leica, but they are counterbalanced by a large number of collectors and people who just like expensive toys.





sebboh
Registered: Nov 02, 2009
Total Posts: 9677
Country: United States

redisburning wrote:
edwardkaraa wrote:
Then I must be in the smallest of the smallest minorities who shoot Zeiss glass on Leica cameras!


I think there are a few of us around.


there's probably more people shooting zeiss on leica than new leica lenses on leica just because of the price.



dgenx24
Registered: Jan 30, 2008
Total Posts: 686
Country: United States

I've shot with canon digital past 10 years(film prior to that) and leica past one year.
I'm getting more 'artsy' shots from leica. hard to explain.
35L, 85LII was very good delivering very creamy and sharp images.
Leica on the other hand, they are bloody sharp thus have more pop at wide open with this artsy(?) background(although I don't really shoot wide open)
I've used 4 voigtlander lens, they have their own look which I like but they aren't as sharp as leica even stopped down. I eventually upgraded 3 of it for leica lens.
I realized I spend much less time in pp with leica too.
I use M8.2 (6 yrs old sensor). I sold 5D II, 7D. Only canon I have now is 1Div.
I'm saving up for the new M..



denoir
Registered: Feb 11, 2010
Total Posts: 4206
Country: Sweden

To the OP's question, my answer would be a definitive 'yes'. It is however more difficult to pinpoint exactly what the 'Leica look' is compared to for instance to what the 'Zeiss look' is. Modern Zeiss lenses are generally more uniform across the product range than Leica lenses are. So there are significant variations in overall look between different Leica lenses.

A classic example that has been discussed and demonstrated a bunch of times in the Leica thread is the 28 Cron ASPH vs 35 Lux ASPH. They're close in focal length but very different in look.

Initially when I started using Leica M glass, I had the sneaking suspicion that Leica was what Canon would be had they not had cost considerations when designing lenses. It however turned out to be one particular lens - the 75 Cron ASPH. The lenses I got later showed that my suspicion was unfounded. There is a distinct rendering characteristic to the Leica lenses (both individually and as a group) that isn't just a question of optical perfection. In fact when looking at MTF charts you can often see that Zeiss lenses have more optically ideal characteristics - especially when it comes to field curvature.



Bijltje
Registered: Jun 29, 2004
Total Posts: 759
Country: Netherlands

allstarimaging wrote:
When I started this post I fully expected Leica owners to rave about M9 and Leica lens combinations. For example I thought I would be hearing that nothing compares to the look of an image from an M9 with a 50 1.4 summilux. Instead there seems to be more talk of Zeiss gear and post processing. Does this mean that Leica is all about the Rangefinder experience?"



Saying leica has a own look, means there must be other looks. And to be able to define the look, u have to compare them.

Zeiss ZM's are used on the same camera so are easy to compare with. So I don't think its that odd zeiss is mentioned often.


But indeed, leica m is mainly about the rangefinder. At least for me it is.



David R.
Registered: Jun 10, 2011
Total Posts: 61
Country: Australia

does my Porshe corner better than my Ferrari...



eosfun
Registered: Dec 22, 2004
Total Posts: 2110
Country: Netherlands

The transfer is from reality -> light rendering -> Leica glass -> sensor -> digital storage and conversion -> software -> presentation medium (screen, print etc.) -> lighting conditions and profile conversions -> eyes of viewers and corrections (glasses, lenses etc.) -> nerves -> brains -> emotions.

Leica is a minimal, but to some connaisseurs subtly noticeable, factor. Therefor I would say, Leica is in the eye of the beholder



Seth Lord
Registered: Nov 16, 2010
Total Posts: 56
Country: Australia

Ron - thank you for a startlingly good post about the various lenses. I found it so well expressed and informative that I've copied it for future reference. Really appreciate the work that went into it.



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