Leica Inexpensive 28?

William Lewis

Veteran
Location
Hayward WI
Real Name
William Lewis
So is there any such thing as an inexpensive 28 that is worth the money?

Voigtlander 28/2 Ultron can be found for ~$500 The old slower 28/3.5 is getting silly money :(
Canon LTM 28/3.5 can be found for $350 It's the newer silver/black and I don't see too much haze.
There's a Minolta 28/2.8 that's at $270 but with lots of the usual white spots. Is that something that really is a problem? If it is, how expensive is it to fix?
Are there others I'm not familiar with?
 

albertk

Veteran
I have several 28s.
  1. First, best is Zess ZM 28mm Biogon. It is excellent. On my M8 it was superb. [Like all lenses were superb on the M8, the M240 has a thinner stack, gives impression of detail and sharpness but M8 gave impression of a slide film.] I bought it because I thought the Leica 28 was too clinical and it costed 40% more. Wide open it is softer, good at F4.
  2. Then I have the Minolta M-Rokkor 28. I like it. There is no purple haze / fringing and that is good - you cannot 'code' it as 28mm; because you cannot get the 28mm frameline, it gives the 35. Mine was evidently cleaned, because there is a slight residue of a small series of lines in a corner from not correct wiping - so I infer it was cleaned. How does white come? Maybe from interaction of moist with the glass surface on inner lens. In my copy it is hardly visible. In practice I have no problems, in churches or dark cafes for instance with a strong backlight I get that nice mist along contours of windows that the large Zeiss lenses on the studio video camera's and Hasselblad are famous for. Pictorially, it is very interesting. While modern lenses want to sell a graph - the trick they use to get good MTF is the focal plane moving outwards to the edges; - this lens has the opposite and CORRECT structure, the plane is concave towards you. Very nice compositions, great. And details are almost as good as the ZM. I can use it to full aperture.
  3. Finally I bought a Russian 28mm, Orion-15. Crazy lens. No flare. Superb detail. Nice colours even. But my copy has not been placed correctly so the plane of focus shifts from one corner to the opposite. But at F11 generally no problem. With a red filter on the M9M I see it more. At F11 it is of course as clinically sharp as anything Leica makes, but that is hardly a feat at that small aperture...
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Location
London
From what I know and given the criteria I’d say Canon LTM 28mm F2.8 or Voigt 28mm F1.9, they are both small compared to conventional SLR lenses of course but the Canon especially so. Taking a step up in price there’s the Biogon of course and you can’t go wrong with a Zeiss, they’re nowhere near as costly as a native Leica lens. The cheapest though would be the Chinese made lenses, I have no experience with them but understand their overall quality has improved lately, they’re very fast too.
 

serhan

Hall of Famer
Location
NYC
I like the Avenon (Kobalux) 28mm f3.5 ltm better than Voigt 28mm f1.9 and Minolta 28mm f2.8 with Sigma FP. Avenon is good with the digital sensors including Sony esp when you stopped down to f8. It is very small and has high vignetting wide open. I learned it from a Japanese photographer. The prices went up since I bought it as it is not in production any more.

170357119.XOwAML2W.wSDIM05441.jpg
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Review: Kobalux Wide 28mm F/3.5 LTM Lens Review - Casual Photophile
Canon vs Avenon: Canon vs. Kobalux — 28 millimeter Battle.
History: Y.K. Optical

CV 28mm f2 has better contrast and coatings compared to f1.9, but the corners are worse on Sony sensors so I didn't try. Now CV is also releasing a ver II in June though it is more expensive but it will be smaller than the current f2.

There is also 7artisans 28mm 1.4 if you don't mind the size:
 
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agfa100

Rookie
Location
Fairfax, VA
The 7Artisans may be large but I am very happy with mine, but then I also have a 28 Elmarit when I want small. This was shot wide open at min focus distance of .7 meter on a Sigma fp straight jpg out of the camera I just cropped a little off the bottom that was empty space.
 

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Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
While I myself opted for an older, bigger and non-ASPH Elmarit (I just love the rendering), I find the Elmarit in any form not exactly "inexpensive" ;) But they're nice lenses, and the tiny Elmarit ASPH always impresses.

However, there's a new kid on the block worth considering - the Voigtländer Ultron 28mm f/2 II Aspherical. While I'm one of those people who actually love the non-aspherical first VM version (especially on the M8), the new lens gets rave reviews, and it's also very compact.

While I'm not really planning on adding the Ultron II, I'd be interested in first-hand accounts ...

M.
 

William Lewis

Veteran
Location
Hayward WI
Real Name
William Lewis
Considering how good I've found the 35/1.7 Aspherical Ultron is, either would be interesting I am sure, Alas, both are creeping up there on the price scale for me.

The old Canon's are still looking like the best split the difference between price and quality.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
The old Canon's are still looking like the best split the difference between price and quality.
You know, I'm inclined to agree - but those are super-hard to find, at least over here. So, in terms of availability as well as affordability, I'd still give the nod to the Voigtländers.

I know I'm really pleased by my original Ultron 28mm f/2 - granted, it's not a killer lens wide open, but it renders in a very pleasing way and seems to have no major downsides. I also have to admit that I usually use it on the M8, where it's more like a 38mm equivalent, but well ... It certainly didn't suck on the M 262, either.

M.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Location
London
I’d narrow it down to the Canon LTM/Voigtlander/Elmarit choices and see what price you can get. Once you have a lens which you get familiar with through rendering and muscle memory you tend to stick with it. For me that’s at 35mm which I’m stuck on, so for me, 28mm is too similar. But if I was looking for a 28mm I’d have a hard time choosing.
 

William Lewis

Veteran
Location
Hayward WI
Real Name
William Lewis
I’d narrow it down to the Canon LTM/Voigtlander/Elmarit choices and see what price you can get. Once you have a lens which you get familiar with through rendering and muscle memory you tend to stick with it. For me that’s at 35mm which I’m stuck on, so for me, 28mm is too similar. But if I was looking for a 28mm I’d have a hard time choosing.
In my previous Leica kit I had a Leica CL & later a IIIf with a 28/50/90 set and the 28 was a Canon 28/3.5 and I found it quite good. So when I got the M 240 I was thinking of a 28 again.

Now I do have an exquisite 35 in the 35/1.7 Ultron Aspherical LTM that, really, simply fell into my lap. And then there is your point - do I need a 28 now? I don't like to go wider and I've been getting into the 35 FOV of late.

I currently have a 35/50/90 kit and for what I shoot, it's really doing me quite well. I've been pondering the 28 for some time now and the VC 75/2.5 Color Helliar too for that matter for the same problem with the 90 FOV. Stuff to ponder.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
I own 21/24/28/35/50/75/90/135mm for Leica M - but my usual picks are:
  • 35mm, most often, the unsurpassable Zeiss Biogon C, but also the new Voigtländer Ultron f/2 and the Nokton f/1.4 II - i.e. compact lenses; I like the Ultron f/1.7, but find it a tad bigger than I prefer my RF lenses to be - of course, YMMV. Yes, I do own lots of RF 35mm lenses ... I haven't listed them all here.
  • 50mm, most often, the Voigtländer 50mm f/1.5 "1" and the Summicron-M 50mm f/2, but also the quite wonderful Elmar-M 50mm f/2.8. Again, I like my RF lenses compact.
  • 75mm - the Summarit-M 75mm f/2.4; it's all I'll ever need at this focal length.
More to the point, I've travelled with 28/35/50/90mm: the Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 (pre-ASPH), the original Nokton 35mm f/1.4, the Summicron-M 50mm f/2 and the Elmarit-M 90mm f/2.8. The combo worked out pretty well, but I actually struggled a bit with the 28mm (on the M10) - I'll opt for 24mm next time (I am privileged to have acquired a quite wonderful Elmarit-M 24mm f/2.8 ASPH in the meantime) and take two 35mm lenses: my Biogon C that I sorely missed last time and something faster, most probably the Nokton f/1.4 II this time (because it's slightly less capricious than its predecessor). There's even a slight possibility I'd swap the 90mm for the Elmar-M 135mm f/4 - because I really dig that lens, but of course, it's even harder to work with than the 90mm, and a bit bigger ...

Back on topic: The Voigtländer Ultron 28mm f/2 lives on the M8 - I've used it on the M 262 as well and quite liked the results, but I have to admit I struggled a bit with seeing the frame lines on the 262 (I wear glasses, after all). 28mm works better on the M10, but not exactly comfortably so. For anything wider, I use an external viewfinder anyway; I own a somewhat bulky Leica 12013 viewfinder: 21/24/28mm switchable, big, but gorgeous to look through, and it actually works quite well for framing.

Anyhow, the Ultron is nice lens to work with, small enough, good enough - not stellar, but reliable. This isn't a Summicron, nor is it an Elmarit - but it's still a solid lens. And on the M8, I clearly prefer it over the other option I use regularily, the original Nokton 35mm f/1.4 (both with IR/UV cut filters) - in spite of the latter's vintage rendering. The Ultron is just modern enough to rarely surprise you, but classic enough as to not be too much "in your face".

The takeaway? You have to want and like the 28mm focal length - but even if you do, the market isn't that rich, especially compared to 35mm options. The difference in the FoV is tangible, but only you can say whether it's important to you. To me, it's kind of an in-between - I usually prefer 35mm or else, an even wider view (24mm works very well for me, and I've found 21mm and 20mm to be good choices for me, too).

That said, 28mm lenses with smooth transition rendering are wonderfully versatile tools, and I know the my Elmarit-M and my Ultron both work well that way; both aren't the smallest, and while the Elmarit-M is pleasingly sharp wide open (not bitingly so, but certainly good enough), the Ultron is slightly soft on 24MP FF sensors; both are at their best at f/5.6 or f/8. So, for street and documentary, specifically people-centric shooting, both are great options, and I'm sure the sharper, smaller, yet a bit more capricious (vignetting, falloff, bokeh) Elmarit-M ASPH will be great for this, too. I'd be a bit wary about using any 28mm lens as my only wide option for landscape and architecture, though - the Elmarit-M 24mm f/2.8 ASPH is a better choice for that, even if I have to also carry the additional finder. But good 24mm RF lenses are even rarer than 28mm ones ...

M.
 
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