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Handholding 180mm focal length



OK, here's an interesting one, thought I’d share it with all you Leicafiles.

I have just recently recieved a Leica-R 70-180 zoom and wanted to test the basic resolution and also see what sort of shutter speed I could use safely with the lens at 180mm. The usual idea is the reciprocal of the focal length for a lens, in this case 1/180sec, or more practically 1/250.

Incidentally, if anybody is wondering, the lens shows incredible performance at all focal lengths and all apertures, with the shorter end slightly better than the long end, but we already knew that, right!

Anyway, back to my test. So, I set up a newspaper on a brick wall and decided to use all shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1/125 hand held, and also one at 1/1000 with the beast tripod mounted, mirror locked, cable release, etc (i.e. the sharpest possible setup).

Got the results back, and without knowing what I used I put the pictures in order. To my amazement, the tripod shot was not the sharpest! This would indicate that the tripod was moving, yet I made sure the tripod – a Uniloc 1700, like a Benbo – was totally solid, and anyway, any possible shake would surely be removed by the 1/1000 shutter speed? Anyway, the sharpness order was (sharpest-least sharp) – 1/1000, 1/500, tripod, 1/125, 1/250. It was interesting to note that the sharpest picture showed no shake at all, and the least sharp picture had only very slight fuzziness – but this closeness could of course be due to the lens being stopped down – 1/1000 at f/2.8 is 1/125 at f/8, but then again the lens doesn’t really improve stopped down – it’s already razor sharp fully open!

I suppose it proves that I should be able to use the lens as slow as 1/125 in a crouch position; the test was done stood up, holding the lens as steadily as possible, so in the real world I should be able to get sharper pictures at this speed.
Doug, I use a Leica R-E slr with a Leitz 90mm Elmarit-R, F/2.8 lens, however I have been contemplating in getting a Leica 2x extender-r (not the APO) to make it a 180mm lens when needed. What is your opinion on this as far as quality vs. another brand like B+W or Schneider with a Leica mount. They seem very hard to come by and very expensive in some cases.
I have the x2 Extender you speak of. I don't think it's entirely satisfactory. I've noticed a fall off in quality round the edges when I enlarge above 8x10. If you want to shoot 180mm, I think you get best results with a prime.
Dear Mr. Ford,

Further to Dr. Ebury's remark, I bought the Extender-R 2X extender in 1981 and was very unimpressed. Leitz persuaded me to upgrade from my 180mm Elmarit-R to the 180mm Apo-Telyt, but this made no difference. Leitz then checked the 2X and said it met their standards, however I was still disappointed so Leitz replaced the Extender. I tried everything from two Linhof 4x5 tripods mounted front and rear to hand-holding, and in the end sold the Extender.

I have seen very good results with the Apo-Extender-R 2X but will not buy without trying, and the local agents, Adeal Pty Ltd, will not provided one for that purpose!