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Zeiss lenses and focal length


Well-Known Member


I'm considering buying an M8 and I was wondering about the Zeiss ZM lenses. What are you experiences with them? I love the Zeiss quality I've come to know from my Hasselblad 503, but the price of the M mount Zeiss lenses seem to be very low compared to Leica lenses.

As I am sure a lot of you are die hard Leica fans, so I am pretty sure most people will tell me to get Leica glass, however I just wanted to know whether the Zeiss ones will live up to my expectations.
I was especially looking at the 15mm lens. For the 28, 35, 50 etc, I will probably go with Leica anyway.


The rangefinder focal lengths - are they equivalent to an SLR focal length or not?


Will I be happy selling my 1DN and all my lenses and purely have a rangefinder and my medium format? I basically only use my Canon on travels, and it seems like the M8 would be perfect for that. I have no real feelings towards the Canon like I do with my Blad, and, at distance, the Leica.

In closing, I have no experience at all with rangefinders.
Any help is much appreciated. Thanks!

> The M8 is an expensive intro to rangefinders. If you take to the RF > finder you will likely love it, if not -well then you won't. As for > the Zeiss lenses I also used them with MF film kit and thought I > might go all Zeiss with the M8. The signature of the lenses is > sharp across the frame with a very smooth transition to soft OOF > areas, performance is up to the Leica's at a much lower price. I > bought the 35 Biogon (about a 50 equivalent with the M8 crop > factor) and sold it in a week. The high contrast of the ZM lenses I > found made them virtually unusable in harsh lighting with the > digital sensor (they wouldn't be my choice for slide film either). > I'm using a Leica 35 Summilux ASPH instead -phenomenal lens on the > M8 -if you prefer a 35 equivalent the Leica 28/2 Summicron is also > excellent. Both of these lenses have a combo of modern ASPH > resolution but without the harshness and vibrating OOF areas of > some ASPH lenses. If I couldn't afford the Leica's I'd look at the > CV's much cheaper then the Leica or Zeiss and excellent as well.
> Hi Marcus,

I haven't tried the ZM lenses myself. Instead I own various Leica M lenses that I use on a MP and M8 cameras, along with 12mm/15mm Voigtlander Heliar screw-mounted lenses 12mm/15mm which uses a LTM-M adapter. The latter lenses are actually very good performers (and hence value), especially when used on the M8 which lessens the impact of corner vignetting due to the smaller camera sensor size.

On the ReidReview pages (subscription only, but well worth checking out prior to any Leica or rangefinder purchase), there are very elaborate, yet "real-life" comparison tests of wide-angle lenses of all three M-mount lens brands, where he tests and comments performance in terms of vignetting, distortion, center and corner sharpness (at all fstops!), chromatic aberration and general handling/ build quality of the lenses. Saves the user from a lot of testing and guess-work!

The Voigtlander lenses actually compare quite favourably in these tests, regardless of cost. The Zeiss lens (some $3800, compared to $350 for the Voigtlander Heliar) shows somewhat weak corner performance (but great sharpness in the center) in this test.

Also, Reid has a point that the screwmounted lenses (which require an adapter) can be hand-coded for M8 lens detection, something that would be very risky/expensive with a fixed M-bayonet ZM lens. I'm not sure that the Leica factory would do the encoding on a competitive brand lens.

Just some comments to help you along!


> I use an M6 TTL and bought a CV 35mm color Skopar. I am delighted with it in every respect: sharp, excellent tonal rendition, not too contrasty, not harsh, in fact very similar to the performance of my standard Summicron 50mm. It spends more time on the M6 body than the standard lens! There is a little vignetting at wider apertures, but the effect is quite acceptable, and even enhances sometimes. This lens represents excellent value for money, build quality is very good too. Celticeye.

I got my first RF M8 in Augest 2007, and have been shooting with Contax 645, ND, Canon etc...

Here is my short answer:

1. With the Zeiss ZM mount, generally, you need to change the mount in order to bring up the correct frame line in the M8. And you need to send the mount to someone say JM to mill the coding slots and hand code the mount yourself. M8 requires 6 bit coding for corrections. For details, pls check the leica forum:


Someone would just shoot the ZM lens without mount change, coding and IR-cut filter. It is up to you.

To me, get Leica lens if you buy Leica M8 and be done with it. you get what you pay for. I am for one that does not what to deal with any hassle. I have Leica 50/1.4 ASPH and 28/2 and loving them.

2. yes, and M8 has 1.3x crop factor, and the frameline for RF is not 100% accurate.

3. Depending on your needs. To me, Leica M8 will never replace with my Canon or other gears. Horse for course. Traveling with M8 is a plus though. It was my goal to have M8s to replace some of my dSLR, but not 100%.

The Zeiss 15mm is one of the newer lenses actually made by Zeiss in Germany, as opposed to the majority of other Zeiss Ikon lenses being made by Cosina in Japan.

Leica will not add the six bit coding to a non Leica lens, so you would either have to find an independant technician to do it or just use the Zeiss lens as is. It is rumored that Leica will soon have available a 14mm or 16mm wide angle lens with the six bit coding, so perhaps you could just wait until this new wide angle lens is released.

Thanks Dale,
I'll keep that in mind. Not too keen on all the work with the Zeiss lenses, but might go for the 15mm anyway and use as is.
Anyway, if I'm getting the M8, I will start by getting a 35mm, then 50 and then a 28 or 24.

Thanks a bunch for the link.

The M8 with a 35mm will be wider than my Canon, and this is no problem for me. I have only ever shot digitally, and I've "come to know" the lenses given the 1.6 crop factor.

I do purely amateur photography, meaning almost all portraits, landscapes or "projects" I use my Hassie. My DSLR is thus purely for event photography and travel - being too big for both. I think the M8 would fit much better.