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Leica Advise, opinions... Which lenses to take to Tokyo?

rflove

Veteran
Jul 13, 2014
240
I'm going to Tokyo for my first time in about six weeks. Naturally I'm taking the M240 and possibly the Leica Q as well. Now, obviously I don't want to carry too much gear... I wonder which lenses to take. I like to shoot architecture, landscapes and also street photography. Here are some options:
  • 50mm f1.4 'Lux
  • 50mm f1.1 by 7 artisans
  • 40mm f1.2 CV
  • 35mm f2.0 'Cron
  • 28mm f2.8 Elmarit
  • 21mm f1.8 CV
  • 15mm f4.5 CV ultra wide angle
I don't think I'll take any longer lenses and if I take the Leica Q, I guess that would take care of the 28mm focal length... What do you think? Also it's my first trip to Japan so any guidance about where and what to see and images to capture would be nice to know as well.
 

KillRamsey

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2012
4,288
Hood River, OR
I've recently gotten a 2nd body, so the "2 cameras on you at all times" dynamic is one I'm still sorting out. But ... given what you like to shoot, I think a 21 and a 50 are the logcal focal lengths to have. The 21 should be about a 90 degree field of view, which is the most you'd HAVE to have to get interiors and architecturals, without going so wide that you distort / make the subject too small. It's the most flexible "pretty wide" length to have, in other words. Similarly, the 50 is long enough to bring in some subject details from 20 feet away, to compress features, but wide enough to still be incredibly handy most of the time.

I just looked up the Q (I'm not all that familiar with LeicaLand). So you've got a fast 28 on a ff sensor. Thus, I would be walking around 90% of the time with that, and the 50 lux on the 240. And somewhere out of the way, I'd have either the 21 or the 15 stashed for special needs.
 

rayvonn

All-Pro
Jan 19, 2015
1,577
21, 35 and fast 50 are all small enough, can be carried around in one bag all day with the camera, can be used at night as well as day and can capture pretty much everything.
 

rflove

Veteran
Jul 13, 2014
240
I'd do the 21mm and a 50mm, based on what you have and want to take.
21, 35 and fast 50 are all small enough, can be carried around in one bag all day with the camera, can be used at night as well as day and can capture pretty much everything.
Which of the 50s ? Also, the 40 f1.2 is really a superb lens... I might go with the CV lenses, the only thing I don't like about them is that I need to manually set the lens selection...

I also have this 50mm 'Cron....


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Phoenix

Super Moderator
Dec 28, 2011
1,171
Melbourne, Australia
I’ve spent a good part of my life in Japan, the gear you’ll need will vary with what you want to shoot and where are you shooting and I’d apply this twice for Tokyo. In general I would consider Tokyo a crowded city (really crowded but not in a bad way), but there also some places that are deserted.

A rule of thumb I use in Tokyo is to shoot “one focal length wider”, e.g. If I’m used to shooting with a 50, I’d use a 35 instead, if I shoot 18 for wides, I’d use a 16 instead, etc..

Some of the challenges I found shooting in Tokyo is the crowd, it can get really crowded at times and the option of stepping back a couple of feet to get the subject in isn’t always an option, at the same time the expanse of some of the architecture (buildings, temples, shrines, colourful shop fronts, etc..) is just too much for anything above a 24mm. The general layout for streets and buildings are also fairly compact since space is at a premium, this extends to indoors as well.

Imho the wider the better.

If you’re used to shooting wide for street, then it should be fine, you can use the same lens for your landscapes and architectures.

Based on your line up, (personally of course, YMMV) I'd just take either the 28 or the 21.
 

rflove

Veteran
Jul 13, 2014
240
I’ve spent a good part of my life in Japan, the gear you’ll need will vary with what you want to shoot and where are you shooting and I’d apply this twice for Tokyo. In general I would consider Tokyo a crowded city (really crowded but not in a bad way), but there also some places that are deserted.

A rule of thumb I use in Tokyo is to shoot “one focal length wider”, e.g. If I’m used to shoot with a 50, I’d use a 35 instead, if I shoot 18 for wides, I’d use a 16 instead, etc..

Some of the challenges I found shooting in Tokyo is the crowd, it can get really crowded at times and the option of stepping back a couple of feet to get the subject in isn’t always an option, at the same time the expanse of some of the architecture (buildings, temples, shrines, colourful shop fronts, etc..) is just too much for anything above a 24mm. The general layout for streets and buildings are also fairly compact since space is at a premium, this extends to indoors as well.

Imho the wider the better.

If you’re used to shooting wide for street, then it should be fine, you can use the same lens for your landscapes and architectures.

Based on your line up, (personally of course, YMMV) I'd just take either the 28 or the 21.
Thank you, this is quite useful. I was thinking the 50mm lenses might be too long. The CV 21mm f1.8 is really good. Perhaps I should take the 3 Voigtlander lenses, 40mm f1.2, 21mm f1.8 and the 15mm f4.5. Probably throw the Q in there for the convenience of AF, IS, etc. Plus it's got a fast 28mm lens. Plus if you want, you can set the digital zoom to 35mm or 50mm with the crop lines showing in the VF
 
Last edited:
Nov 29, 2010
2,662
Melboune, Australia
I'm going to Tokyo
I am a 50mm photographer through and through. In my every day photography I don't see very well in 35mm or wider, I am very happy with my 50mm for almost everything.

A year ago I went to Japan for the first time for a whole month, I spent 2 weeks in Tokyo, at least one week in Nagano, and the final week all over the place via the bullet train (pretty much sleeping in a different city/prefecture every single night).

I took some great photos over this time but wasn't 100% happy with my compositions until the final week when I swapped over to my 35mm lens. And then it hit me that that's what I'd been missing. Japan was beautiful and there was so much to capture that, for the first time, I needed a wider lens to soak it all in.

I will go back to Japan probably this year and will definitely have my 35mm with me, and I am also now considering wider.
 
Apr 18, 2011
1,325
Northern New England
Mike - An aside from us making suggestions to "rflove" about lens selection -
Give this a look when you have a moment - Cosina - Wikipedia
As a big fan of Voigtlander lenses, I too have found myself using the term "CV" over the years probably based on my time on the rangefinder forum. I was always afraid over there that I'd get nipped for referring to some Voigtlander lens that, well, weren't really Voigtlander.
Regardless, the wiki article is an interesting overview of the Cosina company and their purchase of the Voigtlander marque.
. . . David
 
Last edited:
Aug 13, 2011
5,312
Sunny Frimley
Back in the years PD (Pre-Digital) I was a heavy Leica user (R and LTM but particularly M). I took my M7. 85 on many adventures. I learned a useful lesson the hard way, and I apply it to this day in my use of Fuji bodies and lenses.

1. Take a separate body.
2. Leave it in the hotel safe.
3. Take a wider lens than you think you need. There is no substitute for a wider FOV when you need it - you can't always step back.
4. Take a longer lens than you think you need. Remember that longer focal lengths also provide compression and subject isolation.
5. Take the fastest lens you have. If it is also your most used focal length so much the better.
6. Above all, take your most used lens (see 5. above) being somewhere unfamiliar does not change how you, personally, perceive the world.
 

Briar

All-Pro
Oct 27, 2010
1,395
Scotland
I’d recommend packing light for ease of travel.

Not helpful I know, but I found that when I came back from a three week in Japan in October/November last year I found myself wishing I took more video. We are going back later this year and might find myself throwing an DJI Osmo pocket light or something similar for unobstrusive but steady video shooting this year. The battery life is the only thing that makes me hesitate.

I mostly used the 12-32mm pan lens for stills and I was never left wanting while I was there.

Not sure what the weather is like when you are going, but it seems to rain A LOT there so think about weather proofing before you go.
 

donlaw

All-Pro
Sep 14, 2012
1,957
Texas
I travel with a Leica MP frequently and find the Zeiss 35/f2 my most used lens.
But for urban spaces I like to have the 21 SEM. Distortion is minimal even used close up.
I rarely use the 50mm unless going for people images.
Also, I find the 75mm really useful when walking around. Sometimes it is not possible to get closer without it.
So for me it would be 21,35,75
 

mpeterson

Regular
Mar 2, 2014
28
US Midwest
I travel a lot for business and have really slimmed down my travel kit in recent years. I don’t tend to be a wide shooter, and for travel a 50 Lux ASPH is my primary Leica lens on M10 or M240, with a 35 on a second body or in my pocket, and that’s all. I also spent 3 weeks in Italy recently with just a Nikon DF and a 50+24 AIS combo and was very happy with just those two lenses for architecture, scenics, narrow street shots, etc.

So if I had your gear and was planning this trip, I’d be perfectly content with the 50 Lux on the M240 and the Q for street/wider shots/backup body. But if I owned the 21 as you do, perhaps I’d add that for those wider architecture/scenic shots beyond 28.

I just recently passed through Tokyo airport with a layover, but alas didn’t feel I quite had time to go out and explore due to a tight schedule. Should have added a couple days there. Enjoy your trip!
 

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