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Saturday, 04 August 2007


This google translation does give a price point:


1000 Euro for the 50mm, and 1250 Euro for the rest.

Yeah, so I wouldn't think Leica would soil themselves by sitting in the the $300 range, but 1250 Euro is hardly "price conscious."

I don't know if this is official, but prices are being given here as €1250 for the 35, 75 and 90 and €1000 for the 50:


You can't help but love Leica's idea of what constitutes a "budget" lens.

If only Pentax would put M mount Limiteds into full production (yes, I know about the limited edition 43). They would be cheaper than these, faster, and likely better too.


God bless competition.
Leica has its work cut out for it, though.
I own the M8, and have a combination of Cosina-Voigtlander (2), Konica Hexanon (1) and Canon lenses (1). Sum total of Leica glass = zero. Regrets so far, also zero.
For all of the vaunted quality, there is no price argument to buy Leica lenses along most of the line. Next purchase will be a 35mm. I'll take a cold hard look at how the new lenses stack up price/quality wise against new glass from the competition, and against 2d hand Leica glass.

This is laughable. Price conscious primes at $1300+ for the 50 and $1650+ for the others! Excellent Nikon or Canon 50s costs less than $300.

The prices for the 35mm and 50mm aren't really "that" bad when you compare them to Leica's biggest competitor--themselves, on the used marketplace. KEH is selling used 35mm and 50mm Summicrons in the same price range with older models and those in less than "excellent" shape for somewhat less. When compared to their Voigtlander/Cosina counterparts, however, these prices are pretty expensive. I doubt these lenses will have much of an impact on Leica sales. Of course, if honest test results find them to be outstanding performers for the price...?

I think that the M8 is having consequences that Leica did not necessarily expect. Newcomers to the M, many already reeling from that purchase, are stunned by the prices the Leica charges for their own lenses. Leica, in its keenly-honed style of snob marketing, makes sure that a small core of acolytes keeps stoking the "Leica's are best" flames on the Internet chatter boards. That worked pretty effectively for a number of years and it's still working, to a degree, today.

But Solms, we have a problem.

Leica has apparently been forced to to send all hands on deck to deal with the M8's chaos cloud. This has left the pipeline of Leica M lenses empty for quite some time. Nobody has the most popular lenses and nobody really knows when they will ever have them again.

So with all of those new M8 owners unable find new Leica lenses anywhere they're turning to the used market (which is always busy). But increasingly they're also turning to other brands such as Zeiss and Voigtlander. Hey, guess what, those lenses cost a small fraction of Leica's lenses and they're generally just as fast and just as good optically! True, they're not 6-bit coded for M8 identification but so what?

I have three Leica lenses (mostly from my M7 days) and they're each excellent. But they also cost an average of nearly three grand each. I recently picked up two Zeiss lenses (mainly because the Leica versions indefinitely were out of stock everywhere) and guess what: They're just as excellent! I don't expect to ever need another M lens but I have considered putting my Leicas up for sale, replacing them with other brands, and spending the rest of the cash on a new 1D Mark III and a Bentley.

Meanwhile the acolytes are working the forums hard. But Leica is very slowly losing its lens market attention. As this is probably the most profitable segment and the real reason for creating the M8 at all this is cause for real distress in Germany.

So here is Leica making a vaporware pre announcement of the new 'Rits, something they never normally do. It's a very old and very dirty defensive tactic that Leica is desperately deploying to keep lens buyers' eyes from straying.

But I don't think it will be very effective. Partly because, as others have noted, Leica just does not have the ability to print a price that doesn't have at least four digits. But also because, given Leica's limited manufacturing capacity and swollen backlog, there's little chance of seeing any of these lenses in store inventories before summer, 2008. Yes, the acolytes will have their copies to "review" for the Internet crowd much sooner. (Why wait? They could probably get a head start writing those reviews right now.) But the rest of us probably won't be able to hold one for at least a year.

By then, of course, who will really need one?

p.s. Michael Reichmann makes a good point about these new lenses that the focal lengths are the same ol' same ol', hardly optimum for the new M8 crowd. (http://luminous-landscape.com/whatsnew/)

Re that last point, Ken, don't forget that they're kind of constrained by the framelines the cameras have. It doesn't do much good to stray from accepted focal lengths if it creates instant incompatibility with half a century's worth of camera bodies.


Yes, Mike, but there are also 24mm and 28mm framelines, and these focal lengths would be welcome given the 1.33x crop factor of the M8

To compensate.......... the cost of a M8 and other items rise..................

I've never owned a Leica and most likely won't (although I'd like an M2 if I had the funds) that being said it's kinda sad whats happening to them right now. It just does not feel right for an old camera maker with a long history to suffer such decline. I feel the same way about Minolta-Konica leaving the camera biz after so long a history. Change is inevitable but a bit melancholy none the less.

"Leica is very slowly losing its lens market attention." Leica is selling everything it can make. Acolytes on forums driving sales? only a tiny percentage of buyers participate in online forums. In any case for every Leica cheerleader online there are a dozen naysayers so I would imagine they cancel each other out. Every week for the last year there have been no shortage of people that have been predicting in 'another month once the orders to the Leica groupies are filled sales will fall off a cliff'.

It must be voodoo because Leica has even managed to dupe you into buying an M8 Ken. Whatever it is it seems to be working.

"Leica is selling everything it can make."

I think this canard has officially risen to the level of urban myth or folk propaganda or something. I've heard it repeated a hundred times. What does it mean? It means nothing as far as I can tell. Companies sometimes have demand for a product that causes shortages, but how is it possible for anything but a grossly incompetent company to *permanently* "sell all it can make"? I have a classmate who sculpts birds out of wood--and he can only make twenty or so a year, working full time. *HE* sells all he can make. If Leica were "selling all it can make" of anything, it doesn't take a genius to realize it would MAKE MORE.

I don't mean to pick on you, Hank, although how would you know such a thing? Nobody knows this. It's a meaningless phrase, and endless repetition doesn't make it more true, eh?


A company like Leica can not flip a switch to ramp up production. Especially when caught off guard by demand. It happens to much bigger companies when a new product meets unexpected success. So it is no canard. It is what it is. A couple of quarters does not constitute a permanent condition and it remains to be seen how the new management will handle this new found success long term. But considering the company had one foot in the grave a year ago, so far, so good.

I thought that DIN stood for "Deutsche Industrie Normen".

DIN does stand for Deutsches Institut für Normung, their website is at http://www.din.de

As for the new lenses, would it not have been more obvious to create a set matching the M8 framelines and incorporating an IR filter--or will the next digital Leica somehow avoid the IR problem?

The Leica myth sure is powerful, I will never be able to afford one and for the time being have given up rangefinders so why am I even thinking about this, let alone writing about it? Must be that part of the mind reserved for what if? following a lottery win. The part of my mind that's already decided on a Maserati rather than a Bentley or Aston Martin.

When I was using (secondhand) Voigtlander RF's my lens decisions were over the choice between secondhand Voigtlander or new old stock Russian glass. I'd rather spend money on another trip to a photogenic destination than buy a Leitz lens!

Cheers, Robin

Leica puts into production a new line of lenses and how they are advertised? "Perfect optics"? "Superb build quality"? Nooooo!
Leica says "Please, buy the our back-line lens for premium price because of...engravings font and red button!" Come on! I will never, ever buy ANY photographic accessory for such a reason!

Tom M,
The history of the DIN typeface:
If you google a little, you'll find lots of info about it...

"The acronym DIN is often wrongly expanded as Deutsche Industrienorm (German industry standard). This is largely due to the historic origin of the DIN as NADI. The NADI indeed published their standards as DI-Norm (Deutsche Industrienorm, German industry standard). E.g. the first published standard in 1918 was 'DI-Norm 1' (about taper pins). Many people still wrongly associate DIN as an abbreviation for the old DI-Norm naming of standards."

I have owned and used many camera brands including Leica, Hasselblad, Arca Swiss and numerous 35mmk SLR brands. I can state from my experience that The leica brand is certainly the most over-rated equipment available.

Wait, what can it matter, we are talking about camera equipment that is meant for 135 film, the stuff that really can't enlarge better than a A4 or slightly larger.

My point is that there is only so many lines per millimeter that a lens has to have to be a good lens for this format, & I have found that you can buy equipment that pushes the limits of that film & costs a fraction of the cost of these new lenses.

There is no point of going beyond the limit of the prints, & I'm guessing they figure that too, 'cause they're using a typeface to sell their new lenses.

Dear Myx,

Huh??? Ya gotta be kiddin'!

We'll put aside the extremely important fact that resolution is only one of many qualities that characterize a good lens and just focus on that.

Whatever gave you the idea that high resolution wasn't important in high-quality 35mm lens design? That's just plain wrong. As is the notion that designs are somehow limited to what's good for a circa 8x11 enlargement. Nobody in the 35mm design business thinks that way.

Sure, there are 35mm kit lenses out there that really are designed with the idea that the buyer won't be getting prints larger than machine-made 8x10's, and even that will be very rare. The same sorts of lenses are bundled with the digital cameras. But those lenses don't hold a candle to all the others that are designed for the serious photographer.

Here's some numbers to absorb. Your typical 35mm film can resolve about 150 lp/mm (some do better, some do worse-- these days only a few films clock in under 100 or substantially over 200). So, that means you only need lenses that resolve 150 lp/mm, right? Wrong. Couple a 150 lp/mm lens with 150 lp/mm film and you're talking about 105 lp/mm in the actual photo.

Now, 105 lp/mm in a 35mm photo is really, really good! If that were all that mattered, we'd be done and happy. But it ain't. In the real world, you get resolution loss primarily from film, lens, focus error and camera shake (plus a handful of lesser factors). It all adds up. Let's say you've got a film and lens that both will deliver 150 lp/mm. Now restrict your focus error to 150 lp/mm (which is pretty demanding-- that's 4-5 times closer than the depth-of-field marks on the lens). And hold your camera shake down to the same (quite hard to do except at the highest shutter speeds).

What does that put in your photo? 75 lp/mm. Which is a decently sharp 35mm frame, but nothing anyone's about to write home about.

Put the camera on a tripod and you kick up to 85 lp/mm. That's a modest but perceivable difference. Now slap a diffraction limited lens, running at optimum aperture, on the camera. You're up over 100 lp/mm. You'll notice.

Well, if you're a duffer, you won't care or notice. But if you're serious about this stuff, and you put 11x14's (no bigger needed to see the difference) made with both lenses next to each other, you'll be able to pick the sharper lens every time. That print will be visibly better.

Pros do this. Manufacturers know they do this. They design accordingly. There are 35mm primes out there that deliver diffraction-limited resolution at f/5.6. You can't ever see anything like that resolution in the photos you make, but it markedly improves the resolution you can get.

35 mm imaging is most demanding of high-resolution optics, more so than any other format. So is digital imaging. It's no surprise that really good 35mm lenses do very well on digital cameras; the main improvements digital lenses afford are in qualities other than raw resolution.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://www.ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

I'm with Ctein on this. When I did a survey of hobbyist-oriented technical literature from the 1930s to the 1960s, one thing I detected was that the "cult" of lens sharpness (also that of fine-grain developers) appears to have proceeded in lockstep with the diminishing size of negatives. In the early days of 35mm (of its widening acceptance, I mean, not of its existence) the problems of lens resolution and film grain really reached a boiling point, and photographers, hobby tech writers, and manufacturers all became preoccupied with it. By the 1970s the best 35mm lenses had pulled far in front of lenses for medium and large formats in terms of resolving power, and it took until the '80s and '90s for advances in lens technology to "trickle up" to larger-format lenses. Only recently (10-15 years or so) have we reached the era of effective parity among 35mm lenses, when most competent lenses perform so well that large differences in resolution from lens to lens and brand to brand are no longer easily evident, and technique matters more in creating noticeable resolution differences than what lens was used. But all along, what drove those developments was 35mm's really enormous demands on the resolving power of lenses.

You certainly still see resolution differences in medium and large format lenses, but the variation is less critical, chiefly because of degree of enlargement. More people tend to find medium and large format prints to be adequately sharp even when they're nowhere close to optimum. (I have to add that comparisons are somewhat complicated by the use of flash, which goes high shutter speeds one better, and the fact that view cameras are almost always used on tripods. But I think the general observations hold.)


Dear Mike,

The cult of lens sharpness meant lots of other things got neglected. Not just other lens qualities, but the quality of the camera itself. I got so tired of hearing people say that the camera body didn't matter, that it was just a box you hung the lens on.

Nothing was further from the truth. Camera design and build quality were at least as important as lens quality. In all the small and medium format cameras I tested, save one, the camera body contributed more sharpness degradation than the lens or film did.

Problems in small and medium format cameras include failure to hold film flat (minor problem in 35mm, serious in medium format), mismatch between the film 'plane' and plane of focus in the viewfinder in SLRs, the universal failure of mechanical rangefinders to focus accurately (yes, that includes the Leica M's), and the tendency of properly aligned components to drift out of place with camera use. In large format cameras, it's the inability to hold the film flat, the mismatch between the ground glass and the film holder plane and the limited ability of humans to focus accurately on ground glass.

These are not trivial errors. In an 8x10 view, you can expect a runout of at least a mm. That limits your on-film sharpness to 35 lp/mm, best situation. Now, that's totally great in and of itself! Not complaining! But it's way below the resolutions of either the film or the lens.

This does bear on digital imaging. Most naifs trying to compare film and digital resolution fail to consider that medium and large format cameras don't hit anywhere close to theoretical capabilities. If you go by film and lens capabilities, you'd conclude that it takes over a gigapixel to match 8x10 detail. Truth is that less than 1/10th that number of pixels beats 8x10. Why? No film flatness problems, absolutely repeatable sensor plane placement and no focusing errors (if you're using the 'electronic viewfinder'). The lens gets to perform at full quality.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://www.ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

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