Leica New Leica M-E (Typ 240)

rayvonn

All-Pro
Jan 19, 2015
124
It's just so subjective, one has to be so careful when choosing a lens with "character". And it's lenses which can really get you deep in. So many issues arise. Differentiating "dreamy" and "not very good" has been a bit of a challenge for me, ie pre asph Summilux 35mm which, used, still commands the price of a couple of FF cameras. Anyone heard of 'Mandler' lenses? If not, that's probably a good thing for your wallet. I have one of 'em and slowly but surely will add to it over the coming years. It's bit ridiculous when you have a camera and Zeiss lenses are not 'the one'.
 
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MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
It's just so subjective, one has to be so careful when choosing a lens with "character". And it's lenses which can really get you deep in. So many issues arise. Differentiating "dreamy" and "not very good" has been a bit of a challenge for me, ie pre asph Summilux 35mm which, used, still commands the price of a couple of FF cameras. Anyone heard of 'Mandler' lenses? If not, that's probably a good thing for your wallet. I have one of 'em and slowly but surely will add to it over the coming years. It's bit ridiculous when you have a camera and Zeiss lenses are not 'the one'.
Well, it's super easy to find lenses with great "character" these days - if you're ready to experiment a bit and forego prejudice. The Voigtländer 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic (especially the first version that I own) has tons of what goes for "character" - it has glow, it has focus shift, it has swirly bokeh, it has harsh bokeh, it has all abberations in spades ... and it's still a lens you can take very appealing images with! And the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 is an astonishingly good lens with just minor weaknesses at half the price of the Nokton Classic - it's almost on par with the current offerings from the established boys, Leica (Summicron ASPH - ten times the price), Zeiss (Biogon - three times the price) and Voigtländer (Ultron Classic - twice the price), and it sure renders beautifully. Bottomline, as long as you crave the big names, let alone the legends (that are sometimes just vintage - i.e. technically less advanced than modern designs), you pay the price.

Unfortunately, if you want a modern RF body, Leica is your only choice, but I think we've discussed this extensively ...

However, not so with lenses! You just have to experiment and be cautious not to fall for any kind of hype. A couple of my favourite lenses are made by Zeiss (35mm Biogon C and Distagon - both smashing performers in their own right!) and Voigtländer (the new 50mm f/1.2 Nokton, my most rewarding 50mm lens - notice that I don't say "best" ...). Admittedly, neither of these lenses is what you'd call cheap in today's market. Leica? Fantastically reliable lenses, all of them, but none of them makes me want to shoot them constantly the way the aforementioned lenses do. The Biogon C is so good that I actually hesitate before taking it off the camera - and the Distagon is even better, though its size and weight prevent it from being the "one and only".

Of course, true Mandler designs will perform better than the Voigtländer Nokton Classic, but they come at ludicrous prices nowadays, especially the early ones - $14,000 for a 35mm f/2, anyone? Yes, that's fourteen thousand - and that's after a $1,000 price drop! You'd have to pay that much for a Summicron 35mm f/2 version 1, the "true Mandler", around here.

On the other hand, the lens I have the most fun with at the moment is the 7Artisans 35mm f/1.2 for APS-C (on a lowly Sony A6000 in my case) - it's a bit more expensive in Europe than it is in the States, but it's still very cheap, and it's really quite a solid lens with, yes, lots of "character". Objectively speaking, this throw-away lens is no worse than the venerated (by some) Voigtländer 35mm Nokton Classic (except for the huge flare), which in turn is only marginally worse (the focus shift ...) than the first and second versions of the Leica Summilux - Mandlers design you pay top dollar for, as @rayvonn said. Would you take a $14'000 lens out to shoot? What about a <$150 lens (new!)?

When it comes to lenses, there's more myth and hype around than is good for your health. The sensible thing to do would be to find something that satisfies your needs and stick with it. Buy used if you're uncertain. Even so, if you love collecting and have the resources, by all means, go ahead.

For my part, I'll freely admit that I now prefer experimenting over "holy grail" purchases. My own obsession with 35mm lenses has landed me with six for M mount: three by Voigtländer, two by Zeiss, one by 7Artisans. Still, I didn't pay as much as one single Summilux 35mm FLE would cost new (or even used, come to think of it!) for the lot. And I'm pretty sure that at least the Distagon is at least on par when it comes to optical performance ... so, it may well be that I got a "holy grail" lens in the process, anyway.

But you know what: The lowly 7Artisans 35mm f/2 is even more fun to shoot with on the M10 than *either* of my two "big gun" Zeiss lenses. Food for thought.

M.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
It's just so subjective, one has to be so careful when choosing a lens with "character". And it's lenses which can really get you deep in. So many issues arise. Differentiating "dreamy" and "not very good" has been a bit of a challenge for me, ie pre asph Summilux 35mm which, used, still commands the price of a couple of FF cameras. Anyone heard of 'Mandler' lenses? If not, that's probably a good thing for your wallet. I have one of 'em and slowly but surely will add to it over the coming years. It's bit ridiculous when you have a camera and Zeiss lenses are not 'the one'.
The character thing is a very careful balance anyway. What flaws you find attractive, may be dealbreakers for others.

The main flaw that I would like of my lenses, is the irregular/funky bokeh reproduction. Double shadows, perhaps swirlyness? If the bokeh is too perfect, I very quickly begin to treat the lens rendering as clinical. The bokeh quality is the thing that immediately attracted me into Leica glass.

And yet again, coma and spherical aberration are things I abhor so I'm very limited with my characters.

And totally agree with you about the whole "Zeiss phenomenon". :D They make the best lenses, Planars, Biogons, but yet most of us gravitate towards the 2-3 times more expensive Leica counterparts that have astigmatism and other issues, just for that extra bit of character.
 

rayvonn

All-Pro
Jan 19, 2015
124
$14,000 for a 35mm f/2, anyone? Yes, that's fourteen thousand - and that's after a $1,000 price drop! You'd have to pay that much for a Summicron 35mm f/2 version 1, the "true Mandler", around here.
I have a version 4 and can promise you it wasn't that!
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
Not to contradict anyone, but the Biogon C *has* character - just not "smoothness"; "crispness" would be pretty accurate (you also see "pop" to describe it).

I'm actually in two minds about "character" - if a lens tends to act unpredicatably (the Voigtländer 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic!!!), it's just that little bit less enjoyable in use. On the other hand, the Nokton Classic is a feel-good lens in many ways, and I love it on the M4-P with b&w film, in spite of the fact that I can bin about a quarter of the shots. I just wouldn't want it as my *only* 35mm lens. The Biogon C, the Distagon and, something that may or may not come as a surprise for some, the older f/1.7 Ultron II would fit that specific bill - and since I'm a sucker for small and light gear (if I can get away with it), the Biogon C is my most used lens.

However, the 7Artisans and the new tiny Ultron f/2 Classic are both quite well behaved and, what's more, enormously rewarding and fun to shoot with; they're both pretty consistent, yet do have their own distinctive (and pleasing, to my eye!) rendering.

In fact, had my last purchase, the Ultron Classic, existed when my quest for a 35mm lens that suited my needs started, it might have ended it then and there. In my view, it's *the* sleeper lens in today's market. The Biogon C is still better - but not as much as one might think.

Just in case someone wonders why I keep all those lenses, especially both the big boys, the Distagon and the Ultron II, around: Fantastic though the Distagon is most ways, I wouldn't want to use it for portraiture; it's just a bit too precise and accurate for that. The Ultron II is just a tad more generous and considerably less biting in its rendering.

So, I have my all-purpose walkaround lens (Biogon C), my super-tiny companion (Ultron Classic), my high-performance behemoth (Distagon), my people lens (Ultron II), my vintage cookie (Nokton Classic) and my capable toy (7Artisans).

Back on topic (somewhat - sorry for sort of hi-jacking the thread!): The Ultron Classic and the M 262 (the M-E 240's predecessor in many ways) make a wonderful walkaround pair! I don't think you'll find another "mirrorless" (thanks for the statement, @drd1135 - you're so right!) that's this compact and renders this nicely, and all this at f/2. For anyone looking for a super-compact FF setup, I'd really recommend taking a very good look at that lens!

That's something most people don't appreciate appropriately: Leica equipment is sublimely compact, and that's true to this day. I have two small bags - ONA Bowery - packed with *everything* I really need on my usual travels and outings (though dedicated nature and landscape photography might be a slightly different matter). I usually only take one of them with me, even though it wouldn't be a problem to carry both. In one, I opt for flexibility (28-35-50-90 - I swap one of the lenses for the 21mm occasionally, though never the 35mm), in the other one, for max'd-out performance and street (triple 35mm, one strictly for fun and "pocketability", and 50mm - sometimes, for people and documentary, I rotate in the 75mm and switch to a different single 35mm). It may be possible to do something similar with a different system - but as far as I have been able to try that, the results can't touch what I get from my Leicas.

M.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
If you are battling GAS and want an M, Overgaard's pages are the very last place where you want to be. :D
Ain't that the truth. For me it was Steve Huff ten years ago. He got me good on this Leica thing.


- Not the best support for "nonstandard focal lengths". Something like Voigtländer 40/1.2 could be perfect, or the Nikon(?) 58/1.2 but you have to say good bye to accurate framing.
- The EVF/LV experience is not topnotch with M240. Too laggy and slow to be smoothly usable. I'm not sure what M11 brings us, hopefully something good.
- No TTL composing. I like rangefinders as a tool of manual focusing, ain't nothing like RF. But the parallax error is nasty at close distances. This bugs me surprisingly often. (I guess I should learn to press that LV button more often.)
I don't really see the "slight" lack of pixel-peeping accuracy in framing to be a big deal. Yes it's not pixel-to-pixel accurate but it's well and truly close enough. I know that if the "slight" lack of accurate framing is completely ruining my photography, then framing probably isn't the core issue of my photography. Same goes for parallax, - I've never felt it to be a big deal.

I mentioned above (and MoonMind too) that if anyone is using LV on a rangefinder, then the rangefinder isn't for them, period. A Fujifilm would be a more compatible choice.

The only thing I might agree with is the 0.7m minimum focusing distance. But then again, I've gotten used to it - I found that I've never really needed to get any closer than 0.7m to my subject. If I needed to get closer, it's likely to be a macro shot or some other kind of unusual shot. I bought an LX10 for that and don't use it that much.

Here are some shots I took at 0.7m minimum distance (more or less, which is coincidentally the exact distance from my shoulder to my fingertips, hence I knew exactly where the focus point was). Parallax wasn't an issue in these shots for a long mile. However, I must declare that I cropped some of these photos, but it was because I didn't own the right lens for these shots at the time.

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TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Some misc shots since I shot these with the M240 which is still relevant in showing off what the M240 or the ME(240) can do.

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mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
I mentioned above (and MoonMind too) that if anyone is using LV on a rangefinder, then the rangefinder isn't for them, period. A Fujifilm would be a more compatible choice.
Agreed, but my take is that it's ok to use LV for framing. It's very slow to focus using LV but if you first focus via RF and then frame via LV, it's perfectly fine and you'd still fall under "potential rangefinder lover".

Second consideration: somebody who loves to adapt foreign glass (Leica R, Olympus, Pentax, younameit) to a compact and beautiful full-frame body, there's the LV just for you.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Agreed, but my take is that it's ok to use LV for framing. It's very slow to focus using LV but if you first focus via RF and then frame via LV, it's perfectly fine and you'd still fall under "potential rangefinder lover".

Second consideration: somebody who loves to adapt foreign glass (Leica R, Olympus, Pentax, younameit) to a compact and beautiful full-frame body, there's the LV just for you.
Using the LV is fine. I have some R lenses which I occasionally use with an EVF.

But if the LV is a dominating element of your needs, then the M probably isn't the right camera.

It's like buying a really expensive 500 year old fine wine and using it to cook your Tuesday night pasta. I suppose you could do that but there are other cheaper wines that could do just as well. You'd lose that fine 500 year old aroma in the heat anyway.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Try this for size:

You drive a boring and reliable automatic to work and back. Not much else. You're nearing midlife crisis and start to look around for a fancier car. Every motorhead around you says how the stick shift cars are so fun and responsive at the track and the curvy roads. So you buy into the hype and get a manual transmission sportscar and while you agree that this is fun and there's an element of satisfaction to changing your gears, you only ever commute to work and back, it's a straight line of a freeway and you either spend the time at max gear 95 % of the time, the other 5% is that miserable waiting for the line to move, where an automatic is at its best.

Wait, this isn't that great either :/
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Try this for size:

You drive a boring and reliable automatic to work and back. Not much else. You're nearing midlife crisis and start to look around for a fancier car. Every motorhead around you says how the stick shift cars are so fun and responsive at the track and the curvy roads. So you buy into the hype and get a manual transmission sportscar and while you agree that this is fun and there's an element of satisfaction to changing your gears, you only ever commute to work and back, it's a straight line of a freeway and you either spend the time at max gear 95 % of the time, the other 5% is that miserable waiting for the line to move, where an automatic is at its best.

Wait, this isn't that great either :/

I'm pretty sure I described a very similar analogy on reddit, also in relation to photography. It was a far more suitable one for the circumstances from OP there.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Ok I think the real analogy emerges:

Operating the M on EVF/LV only is like driving a stick shift like an automatic.

You like to drive. You love automatics as you stay focused on the road and the rules of the road. But you get the fever, want to upgrade your vehicle. You browse the internets and decide on a stick shift. "Ok this is nice but the changing of gears is a bit cumbersome", you think. So the neat solution: keep it at 3rd at all times. Sure your top speed is now capped at 37 mph and the engine makes a terrible noise, also it's pure pain to get moving but damn if you give your small luxuries away.

At least this is how I regard the poor LV/EVF experience on the M240. M10 shooters may get a smoother experience.
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
124
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
I use my EVF the same way I use my external optical finders: as a framing tool once I have focused with the rangefinder, and only with the 18mm and 24mm lenses (and occasionally with the 90mm). It is certainly much more accurate than my optical finders. It pales in comparison with the EVF in my Nikon Z6, but it does the job.
 

christilou

Legend
Jul 13, 2010
164
Sunny Frimley
I do the same thing, focus with the rangefinder and check framing with the evf if I'm not sure about it. Funnily enough, the ability to have a better evf in the M10 was one of the reasons I upgraded from the 240. In fact I find the Olympus evf on my 240 much better ...... the Leica made evf for the M10 is very dark and the colours are off, in fact I'm always tempted to just turn to b & w so that I don't get put off by it.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
If you keep arguing with yourself the mods may have to intervene.
Only if he reports himself to me...

Remember : You have to take the lenses apart and adjust the shim yourself get absolute agreement.
The Rangefinder camera is the perfect choice for an OCD photographer.

Okay - I'll try.

Using a P&S is like writing code in JAVA. Using a Rangefinder camera is like writing all of your code in assembly language. Any mistake made is all on you. After adjusting the lenses, of course.

I do my best work when confused about something.
 

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