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Observation Comparison


Dear all,

As I mentioned in another thread I am a fresh user (btw, now still more owner than user
of 501CM.

When shooting for the first time with Hass I used my Leica MP as an exposure meter. ... and do you know what? The pictures from Hass (20 x 20 cm prints) are far more beautiful and colour rendition more accurate than that made with Leica (15 x 21 cm prints) under the same conditons. The only difference was in used film. Hass was fed with Kodak Portra 400NC, and Leica was loaded with Kodak Portra 400VC.

Hass is a great agreeable surprise
, and Leica a slight disillusion.

" ...and colour rendition more accurate."

Portra NC ( Neutral Color ... AKA: Not Contrasy), is a highly preferred neg. film for wedding and portrait work because of it's exposure latitude and accurate color rendition. Portra VC (Vibrant Color ... AKA: Very Contrasy), is a completely different film experience.

It's an Apples and Oranges comparison ... at least where the film is concerned.

I'm sure the Hasselblad results would have outperformed the 35mm Leica even if the same film had been used. It better have, since one is Medium Format and the other a 35mm camera you can put in your pocket.

It's an Apples to Watermelons comparison : -)

What lens did you use on each camera?
[What lens did you use on each camera?]

Hass - Planar 2.8/80 CFE
MP - Summicron 2/50
I took the pictures indoor using ambient light.

Try to use both system with the same film. You will also noticed the color differences. Zeiss optics are known for color fedelity and Leica color is known for pastel looks and red. Some of my most best works has been with the Hasselblad 205 FCC/110 FE and also the 503 CW/80 CFE.
Sorry to disagree, but the general difference between Ziess and Leica color rendition is quite subtile with Zeiss perhaps a touch cooler than Leica.

Pastel is the last term I'd use for Leica images which are known for their snappy contrast and excellent rich blacks. There are some older Leica M lenses which are uncoated, and occassionally flare can cut the contrast, but that's true for any uncoated, or sometimes even single coated lenses.

This from a user of both for over 30 years. I currently shoot a LHSA MP3 using both Zeiss M mount optics and Leica M glass ... so I am comparing apples to apples.

Arguing the relative merits of two of the premiere optic makers in the world is futile. One is famous for MF and the other for 35mm. For pure image comparisons, MF will win every time.
A 4X5 Camera loaded with fine film and sporting top Rodenstock or Schneider view camera optics will beat both of the smaller formats when using that restricted comparison.
> [Marc, Lurker Brad here. I just spent a week with a Zeiss Ikon and 21mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50 sonnar. The camera body wasn't anything special, but at the end of the week I had a hard time giving the lenses, especially the 35, back to the dealer(Pictureline in Salt Lake City sent them home with me for a test drive) I'd love to hear your thoughts about the zm lenses, especially as they compare with leica glass. Professionally I shoot 70% 1dsmkII, the rest hasselblad or 4x5 film. For personal work I shoot equally with a Rollei 2.8D and a Blad. I got a contax G1 with 28 and 45 for the shots I'm missing with the less agile medium formats, but I hate the noise and lag of the autofocus (and build quality). Love the optics. I've been toying with the idea of getting a Leica, But those zm lenses really turned my head. I know how they compare with Canon, but wondered how they compare with Leica.

thanks Brad Slade > ]
Hi Brad.

When it comes to comparing two world class optic systems it gets really subjective ... so keep that in mind as you read my reply.

My general feeling is that the Leica chrome lenses offer better built quality. I've not lived with the ZM glass long enough to comment on the durability ... but can speak to having used 40 year old M lenses that were as silky smooth as my newer ones.

I also favor the Leica M glass for their consistant slightly warm "human" feel compared to the slightly more anticeptic rendering of my Zeiss ZM glass.

Finally, I'm a speed freak when it comes to available light work with a rangefinder ... so I favor the Leica M glass for the faster aperture glass ... like the 28/2, 35/1.4 ASPH, 75/1.4 and 90/2 AA.

However, I do like the pricing of the Zeiss offerings a lot more than Leica M ( except for the ones made in Germany : -)
Hi Marc,

> My general feeling is that the Leica chrome lenses offer
> better built quality.

Why, specifically, did you say "chrome"? Is there some difference in your eyes between the Leica chrome lenses and black annozided lenses and black paint lenses and any other colors that may crop up?


> [Marc, thanks for taking time to reply. Low light is a real consideration, as a 35mm rangefinder would mostly be pressed into service when the light is too low for the Rollei and Blad, though I do shoot with those in quite low light. Also love the atmosphere created by wide aperture wide open. Warm and Human are words that speak to me. As this would be for personal work(pictures of my family, mostly black and white, which are the pictures I'm most passionate about) the cost is an issue, but something that could be overcome if I felt strongly that it was the right step. I tried using the Canon, but it draws too much attention to itself. Also not excited about the way the images shot with Canon glass resonated with those shot with Zeiss.

Brad Slade > ]
In my most humble opinion ... Hand made Carl Zeiss optics are close to absolute perfection

Best Regards,
Hi, all - as a former Leica owner/shooter, I would like to add that while the Zeiss glass may be tops, Leica lenses had nicer physical construction, IMHO. This included real engraved scales for f stops and DOF/distance. I'm not a fan of painted-on scales at this price level.
I am not sure what this tread is about anymore, but I am glad as I would like to air my grave disappointment with Zeiss.

I have been loyal as many of you have and I have purchased new lenses from them including lenses for Contax SLR's and Rangefinders. Today, they are making lenses for M mounts, Nikon, Cannon, Sony, and Pentax, perhaps Holga is next. But nothing for Contax! That reminds me of the old saying, "don't forget who brought you to the dance." If it weren't for Contax and Hasselblad users I wonder just where their acceptance in the photographic world would be today.


Go and wash thou mouth... Don't you mention Pentax and Holga in one sentence please ;-)

Whats wrong with Zeiss making their optics available in multiple mounts? Contax went the way of the dodo, Imablad went to bed with Fuji. Not too surprising Zeiss wants to stay in business by widening their target markets.

"Why, specifically, did you say "chrome"? Is there some difference in your eyes between the Leica chrome lenses and black anodized lenses and black paint lenses and any other colors that may crop up?

Color aesthetics has little to do with it Austin. As I understand it, the chrome (silver-chrome is actually the term Leica uses) require brass barrels and fittings due to the finishing process. The black anodized lenses use aluminum barrels. Subsequently, a chrome lens weights more than the same lens in black.

It's been my experience that over the years the chrome lenses hold up better against vigorous use, even punishment. For some reason the black paint lenses are all brass also, so it may have to do with the heavy paint finishing process required. Likewise, all the previous Titanium lenses where made of brass.

Sadly, Leica has seen fit to discontinue many silver-chrome lens offerings.

Gilbert, Contax (under the command of Kyocera) is the one that abandoned Zeiss, not the other way around. IMHO, Zeiss is wise to sell their excellence elsewhere to keep the Zeiss name alive and well.
my black 35/f2 V3 is as smooth today as when I bought it nearly 20 years ago. It was already 10 years old then. having said that my 50 summicron DR is nearly 50 years old and smooth as silk.......the 35 is my most used lens.
Gilbert, Contax (under the command of Kyocera) is the one that abandoned Zeiss, not the other way around. IMHO, Zeiss is wise to sell their excellence elsewhere to keep the Zeiss name alive and well.>

Yes, I know, and Zeiss still owns the name Contax. I wrote Mr. Mueller after Kyocera ended production and at the time they were still under contract with Zeiss, (and I believe still paying Zeiss). He stated that Kyocera owned the rights to the ultrasonic lens motors, so I am sure that if they wanted to they could obtain the rights or license and produce what ever they want to: including producing Contax under the Zeiss Ikon name as they did in the past.

BTW-I think Kyocera stopped production just to save face after the N1D failure.

My original beef was that most people that purchased Cannon or Nikon never wanted to pay the price for Zeiss glass. It was Contax owners that have been abandoned.

Don't you mention Pentax and Holga in one sentence please ;-) >

Sorry Wilco

Thanks for the vent!


Aren't there many lenses for the Contax cameras still?
Zeiss stopped making Hasselblad C lenses decades ago, and the bulk of what you can get in Hasselblad lenses are C types.


What's wrong with mentioning Holga and Pentax in one breath?
As a 501cm / 503cw user and Leica M7 user I have to agree with Marc, who said:
[[One is famous for MF and the other for 35mm.]]

Personally while Zeiss and Leica have some difference in their optical deign / performance philosophies / approaches (Leica striving for optimal performance wide open), I find more of a consistency among their collective lenses than I do say compared to my Japanese Canon L glass and the Leica or Zeiss.

In fact to some extent I find a similar rendition attributes among the Leica and Zeiss optics as well as with Schneider and Rodenstock 4x5 lenses.

But, I have never seen an image I made with the current Leica-M lenses I have that I could call "pastel" rather than call snappy. Sure designs like the 35mm Summicron-M ASPH are more razor like than say the 50mm Summicron-M (one of my all-time favourite lenses) which is based on a much more traditional optical design.

I hear that the new 50mm Summilux-M ASPH has super performance making it the equal or even superior "brother" of the Summicron-M even wide open at f1.4. The images I have seen are certainly snappy.

But all said and done, if I look at prints of 6"x6" from the Zeiss/Hasselblad lens and a 5"x7" from the Leica, the Hassy image appeals to my eyes more - same film used. In the end it comes down to the benefits of MF over 35mm. We really should not try to compare them since they are different horses for different courses.

Zdenek, enjoy that 501CM and ANY of the glass you can add to it!
Simon, thank you for your comments. Of course, both brands are very good, if not ecellent. You are right that "the Hassy image appeals to my eyes more".