PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Leica 90mm Summarit-M Review

The 90mm Summarit-M is the only reasonable “long” lens for the unreasonable M system, that is both its claim to fame and explains why it doesn’t appear to be very successful in the marketplace.  This Summarit also serves as the replacement for the venerable and universally loved 90mm Elmarit-M, a lens that is difficult to replace in the minds and hearts of longtime Leica photographers.  As a result the 90mm Summarit-M is a lens that is appreciated in relative silence vis-à-vis the Internet.


Floating Elements Are Required

When I tested the Leica 90mm Summarit-M (review) I experienced what I consider to be severe focus issues. The lens back-focused at long distances (10 meters or more) and front-focused at short distances (less than 1.5 meters). This caused me to suspect my rangefinder, which I confirmed had grown a small error, but the lack of a true solution after a round of tweaks forced me to research the subject of focus a bit more.

Now I understand the overarching principles just well enough to convince myself that the behavior I observed in the 90mm Summarit-M is by design.  It's not because it is desirable behavior, but because correcting it is an expensive affair. This is what ultimately is going to prevent me from recommending the 90mm Summarit-M to all but mirrorless camera users.


Summicron Examples at f/5.6

A friend of mine asked out of honest curiosity what the difference was between different pieces of high-end equipment. He asked from the point of view of a photography outsider.  More precisely, his real question is what does equipement worth $11K do that equipement worth $3.5K doesn't do?


A few from the 28mm Summicron


Carl Zeiss 2/50 Planar T* Review


The 50mm Planar ZM is one of the simplest lenses ever made, yet performs more robustly and consistently than almost any other lens. It is very closely related to the more-storied 50mm Summicron-M, of nearly identical size and capabilities, that it challenges in the marketplace. This Planar is a fundamentally boring lens with its lack of buzzwords to rave about and also substantive flaws to gripe about.


Leica 24mm Elmarit ASPH Meta-Review

The 24mm Elmarit-M ASPH is an elegant lens emblematic of the M system. It bridges the vast chasm between journalism and architecture, in a form factor that defies all conventional wisdom borne by a DSLR world. How can so small a thing be so sharp, everywhere?


Data for the Distagon 1.4/35mm ZF

Carl Zeiss recently posted the charts for the new fast 35mm Distagon.

You can view the other charts here on the Carl Zeiss website.

I had seen these charts before but now it just hit me: 40% contrast at 40lppm @ f/1.4 across the entire frame is pretty freaking great.  I also note that the peripheral brightness of the new lens wide-open is the same as my lens wide-open, but at one stop larger aperture.

This is going to be a very nice lens: sharpness, speed and Zeiss color and contrast in spades.  Expect a review from me later this spring.

- Olivier


Next up : Sigma 85

Summary: very very sharp, middling contrast, the first copy I received had a permanent focus jam.

Filed under: Photography, Sigma 16 Comments

Leica M9 Review

The Leica M9 is a controversial object in photography partly because it is a Leica, which implies some generic controversy, and partly because it is itself a messy blend of luxurious quality and lack of polish. It would be easy to dismiss the digital M camera as a collectible toy for the rich and eccentric if only it wasn’t so enjoyable for photographers to actually shoot with it. This is the reality of the M9: it is a second-rate digital camera that also supports a deeper connection with the act of making a photograph. If you actually enjoy making photographs then this should really appeal to you.


Carl Zeiss 2/28 Distagon T* Review

The 28mm Distagon ZF is the best kept secret of the ZF lens program. Overall it is a powerhouse of a lens, with particularly excellent treatment of color, but some issues at full aperture have kept it in the shadow of more consistent lenses in the series. This Distagon is an excellent choice for a normal lens on APS-C cameras and a demanding (but rewarding) high-speed wide-angle on full-frame cameras.