Are the Panasonic-Leica lenses as good as 'real' Leica lenses??

ralf-11

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I had someone tell me no recently, and am curious.

I've never owned a Leica camera and the guy was not able to point to any optical bench lens tests or side by side comparisons?

Anybody know for sure?
 

Holoholo55

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I think it would be hard to compare them, since the "real" Leica lenses are in a completely different mount (M or L). You'd be looking at comparisons that have them mounted on different bodies, which affects the performance. I was going to say that maybe one could compare the L mount lenses from Panasonic to their Leica brand counterparts, but it turns out that Panasonic does not label their L mount lenses Leicas. They're called S Pro. Undoubtedly required by their L-mount license with Leica.
 

Wisertime

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I don't really see how they could get any better than what M43 offers, other than wanting them on a FF mount. They are sharp, nice contrast/bokeh. What more could one need? :drama::mu43:
 

MadMarco

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This question kind of assumes that "real" Leica lenses are all they are cracked up to be. Before someone goes on the attack; I'm not suggesting that they aren't, I just don't know.

At one time it seems that a Leica lens was head and shoulders above the crowd (no idea, never owned one). It's likely that as time passes and competitors, the difference between "the best" and "the rest" will get smaller and smaller. This happens is most industries as modern technology and manufacturing processes gradually homogenise.

I can tell you that the Pana-Leica 50-200 is extremely pleasing to own and use. Whether this is because of Leica magic or care and attention from Panasonic is impossible to say.
 

KBeezie

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I think for the question to be more accurately compared, it helps to specify which series or generation of Leica lens you refer to.

Like trying to ask if something is as good or better than Hasselblad, when there could be a comparative impression consumers had of pre-H system lens versus what they later dubbed lens made for the older V-system (namely say some of the Carl Zeiss T* lens)

For a while particularly in their fixed lens cameras, I pretty much saw the name used as marketing/branding more so than an actual indicator of quality, much in the same way of Sony slapping Carl Zeiss on a lens. It may meet a particular standard, but who can really say if it compares to what people associated them with in the past at their peak?

At least the newer stuff in regards to Panasonic/Leica labeling, comparable to say Olympus "Pro" designation, they're at least pushing and keeping that standard optically and not just construction. And unlike adapting a Leica M or R mount lens, the native ones are actually tuned for the camera, as opposed to wondering if the adapted lens will fall onto the sensor in quite the same effect as they were designed to fall on film emulsions (some lens did pretty funky stuff which didn't matter as much on film, but digital sensors were much more picky about light direction, like a Jupiter-12 Biogon copy that had a huge protruding rear lens element).
 

fader

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I went through this mental exercise myself not too long ago. Which period of Leica? ... Pixel peeping has marred the reputation of all the classic 35mm lenses. Lenses made before ~ 1990 that were once highly sought after for sharpness or speed or contrast have been overshadowed by modern performance. That doesn't mean that you can't still get spectacular photographs with classic glass at a literally pennies on the dollar, but there are a lot of other performance characteristics that the old Leica / Leitz lenses can't match.

Reason being, digital formats and digital post-processing have forced manufacturers to heavily tweak their lens designs in the modern era. Amateurs have become much more demanding, and if a lens is bad for amateurs on the internet that doesn't fair too well for the company's reputation among working professionals. "Corner-to-corner" sharpness, vignetting, chromatic aberration, flare resistance, build quality, "micro contrast" (whatever that means - seriously), bokeh quality, and even the amount of resistance keyed into zoom and focus rings are all just as equally important now as center sharpness. Classic Leica/Leitz and Carl-Zeiss lenses aren't as good as their modern equivalents in the same brand, and the enormous price difference in their top lenses reflects this.

As far as overall performance goes I think micro 4/3's mount lenses are as good as anything else being made while remaining significantly less expensive. When you consider that we have a much smaller sensor area to satisfy a full range of good optical characteristics, maybe the manufacturers don't have to work as hard as filling out a full 35mm sized sensor with no vignetting at f2. But who cares besides the measurebators, really? For its intended format, m43 lens performance is as good as it gets.

From what I have seen of the Zeiss branded lenses on Sony's system, it's the same story as for Panasonic and Leica. Optical designs are shared between brands and the ultimate manufacturer. For Zeiss that's Cosina of Japan. They're all very good, and all very expensive. Just pick one.

Another old classic - the Voigtlander Bessa rangefinders (and the Heliar glass folders before that) are legend. Who owns Voigtlander? Cosina of Japan! From what I've read of various reviews and lens data, the m43 voigtlander lenses are the closest you can buy with classic glass characteristics - insanely sharp in the center, not much distortion, but heavy falloff in the corners, both in vignetting and sharpness between 0.95 and f4. The testing at lensrentals puts them on par with Olympus Pro in terms of sharpness. I'm in love with the Voigtlander galleries here on the forum - they have a unique rendering about them I think.

</musings>
 

ToxicTabasco

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I agree with most above. Seems they are both different formats and different lens mounts. The only comparable Leica cameras and Lumix would be the Type 109 which is a Leica LX100, and a couple of other point and shoots. And with these comparable cameras, there really is no difference in performance and lens quality.
 
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I had someone tell me no recently, and am curious.

I've never owned a Leica camera and the guy was not able to point to any optical bench lens tests or side by side comparisons?

Anybody know for sure?

Does it matter? Leica glass is high priced. The quality of the Panasonic Leica lenses and the Olympus Pro lenses are superb.
 

speedy

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Don't know, don't care. I buy lenses based on what physical properties they have. If I want an Ultrawide zoom, faster than f/4, then what options do I have? The one that suits me best, for what I want it to do, is the PL 8-18. Because I have a Panasonic camera. If I had an Olympus, I'd probably choose the Oly 7-14 Pro.
The same with a 100-400 equivalent. What lens can I buy, faster than f/4, other than the PL 50-200? The name has no bearing on it. If the PL 50-200 was named Lumix G X vario 50-200, I'd still buy it.
 

fader

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I realized I didn't write a more direct answer to your simple question @ralf-11 (it doesn't help that I type all day for a living so my posts get too long quickly) - which was all meant to say:

a) as the others are saying here, it's all apples and oranges, anyway. If you look at the resolution MFT charts on lensrentals, they only test the m43 glass up to 10mm of "image height", while full-frame glass is tested up to 20mm. On these tests the Oly 1.8 primes and PL primes are easily pacing the best that Zeiss and Nikon have to offer ... up to 10mm. Center sharpness is crazy sharp on m43 glass, and lens astigmatism seem very good as well ... up to 10mm. That distance covers the format and is really all that matters.

b) you'll never convince Leica owners that anything else is as good or better. Buying Leica isn't about numbers, and it's rude to talk about money when one has a lot of it. :p

I think a more interesting question to ask is what the ultimate resolution targets are in the design for M43 lens mount and how much room they have left before tapping out.

The 40+ MP sensors in Sony and Nikon bodies have made a lot of older glass that was once acceptable suddenly look very mediocre when pixel peeping. Sony's current range of Zeiss branded glass look fantastic, but these are all updated designs. I suspect that Canon's refusal to go whole-hog on the megapickles race is an effort to keep bilking the market for their current range of glass. If they start pushing 75MP sensors tomorrow then the system average relative to Nikon or Sony might start to fall down for the pixel peepers. I think that Canon do a better job at tweaking their hardware to do more with less. Sony/Nikon are about extremes. Canon seem to get as good results with less numbers - while many enthusiasts / amateurs say they're "dead" or clueless, there's still an awful lot of people taking beautiful photographs with their equipment. I think m43 is closer to Canon in this regard.

Nikon has deftly used mirrorless as an excuse to justify a new lens mount and all new glass with significantly updated design parameters. In my online forum research I didn't hear people loving anything but the very best lenses on "Z 7" when using the FTZ adapter. Like the Sony bodies, more doesn't always add up to better.

Currently the best m43 lenses look great at 20MP and lenses like the 75 1.8, 12-100, the Pro series primes, and the Panasonic Nocticrons are all seemingly out-resolving what the camera is capable of capturing. If they go ahead and increase the pixel density upwards of 32 or 36 megapixels will this system fall apart? I have noticed that EM1.2, PenF, and GH5/G9 users aren't shooting at all with many of the bottom end lenses, but that a few mid-range lenses are still performing great - Panasonic's 12-32 and 35-100 zooms stand out, as does Oly's evergreen 12-40 pro, which is due for a build-quality update IMO.

Looking at easier targets, the Oly 12-50 or 17mm 2.8, once considered "good" if not just acceptable on the 12MP and 16MP cameras look pretty "bad" at 20MP on the latest bodies. I have to wonder if Panasonic didn't see the writing on the wall when they signed up for the L mount alliance.
 

b_rubenstein

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Most hobbyist photographers are visually tone deaf, and are oblivious to any lens characteristic besides sharpness. Most Leica users use that brand because the lenses produce a look that other lenses don't.

FWIW, everything I've read about the Panasonic - Leica lenses, is that Leica has little, or nothing, to do with the design.
 

fader

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Most hobbyist photographers are visually tone deaf, and are oblivious to any lens characteristic besides sharpness. Most Leica users use that brand because the lenses produce a look that other lenses don't.

FWIW, everything I've read about the Panasonic - Leica lenses, is that Leica has little, or nothing, to do with the design.
I don't think Panasonic's Leica branded glass is any less Leica than the Leica X type, X Vario, or Leica T native glass, or the lenses for the Q bodies - all of which is made in Japan. Even Leica isn't "Leica". :p
 
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I shot extensively with Leica M and R systems, along with the Contax system back in the 80's and 90's. At that time, the Leica and Zeiss lenses were much better than everything that Nikon made, and far more consistent in performance than Canon. Canon made some exceptional lenses, but not all were good.

When the Canon EOS system came out and they finally introduced the EOS 1 and a bunch of L zooms, I was blown away at how competitive the new AF zoom lenses were with my Leica primes. So I traded all of my Leica gear and got into EOS and never looked back. Not all of the EOS glass was good though, so consistency was still an issue.

That said, all of my experience is in the pre-aspherical days. After that, Leica glass and cameras became completely unaffordable to a working stiff. However based on images I've seen, the Leica aspherical glass continued to raise the bar.

Panasonic's arrangement with Leica has made for some very good lenses. One thing they all share is a very smooth bokeh compared to the G and GX Panasonic lenses, and also the Olympus offerings. Especially in comparison with the Olympus lenses, the Leica lenses are less crunchy and clinical in their sharpness. Although just as much detail but delivered in a more subtle way that reminds me of a more film like rendering.

The Voigtlander set also have similar rendering. I only wish they would chip them so the camera knew what was on the body for IS purposes. But they are astonishingly sharp, even wide open, but devilishly hard to use for many people. I had very good luck with them. Aside from the lack of chip, their weight was considerable.

The 12-60 and 50-200 lenses are far more to my liking in terms of image rendering than the Olympus Pro zooms that I had, the 12-40, 40-150 and 12-100. The Olympus lenses were not bad or deficient in any way, just different. And the weight differential between the 50-200 and 40-150 is substantial. I found carrying the 40-150 almost as onerous as my last Canon 70-200 2.8

Finally, I think that the regular old 20, 25, 42.5 f1.7 primes, and the 12-35 and 35-100 zoom lenses are also pretty amazing optically. I don't miss the departed 25 Summilux or 42.5 Nocticron lenses that I had.
 

fader

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Leica job losses as company faces the second digital revolution - Macfilos

"In the future, Harsch says (Leica's CEO), software and cloud services will become more important to Leica.

He told Handelsblatt that his model is Apple. That company has built an ecosystem around its devices from iCloud to Apple Music, to Apple Pay. “Leica wants to shape the digital ecosystem of photography,” says Harsch. “Software and services will become more important."



There's also a good article on the same site about the mystery of the Japanese partner that makes the lenses. The pics of the SL lenses could be mistaken for Panasonics with the yellow lettering and red alignment dot.

Who makes lenses for Leica in Japan? - Macfilos
 

fader

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The true Leicaphiles will probably tell you that only Leica lenses made in Germany count. :)
ah - The Leica Man!

https://kenrockwell.com/leica/leica-man.htm

Ironically, this quote from the satire:

"The Leica man doesn't care, or even know, the trifling price of his cameras. This is not relevant. Just like a Porsche, no one buys a Leica because he needs it. He acquires the Leica because he is who he is."

matches perfectly with Leica CEO's quote about the Q and the 911 in the article I posted earlier:

"Leica’s CEO says the Q is like a 911 sports car. Assistance systems mean that you no longer need to be a pro to make good photographs, just as the tamed 911 now appeals to a wider market of average drivers."

edit2: in full disclosure - mine was guards red. and it was a turbo. LOL
 
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ralf-11

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Huh - Porsche has always been priced well below an Fcar (and beat them badly on the track too).


Can a Leica do this?

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