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Your question is about cosmetics and your personal sense of aesthetic tastes than any thing else. So it is not an easy one to answer.
Personally I prefer chome finished cameras and lenses, but have to have settle black for some, because they don't come in chrome. The black ones look pretty good on the chrome/black cameras. And the chrome lenses look quite funky on my old black M5.
The difference between the black and chrome versions is not purely cosmetic: according to the Leica lens book, the Summicron 50 mm f/2, for ex&le, weighs 240 grams in black, and 335 grams in chrome, a whopping 40% increase. The difference is due to the aluminum outer lens mount for the black version, and brass for the chrome version.
Does anyone have any practical experiences as to durability etc. differences between the black and chrome versions of the various M lenses?
> I don't know about 90mm to 90mm, but my most used lens (Summilux 1.4, purchased around 1970 still looks and functions as new, whereas my black lenses show more wear and one has a little slop during focus.
The weight difference between chrome & black, as others have pointed out, can be substantial & affect the balance of the camera. The weight of my chorme ASPH 35 1.4 tips the camera forward; I much prefer using the black version & this is the lens permanently on my M2. I've had the black one from new for about 6 years & so far it hasn't picked up any abrasion marks. I would not consider myself to be particularly careful about protecting the camera. Cheers, David
Thanks for the feedback on the black v chrome finish. I was, however, also interested in finding out whether anyone had any experience with respect to mechanical durability and other effects of aluminum v brass in the lens.
If you want black, sell your camera and get everything black, that's what I would do.
If I liked chrome I would stick with chrome.
Just DO what You REALLY want to do.
I wonder how much money is wasted with this capitalistic obsession...and how many beautiful photographs could have resulted from the same amount of psychic energy.
> You mean we are supposed to take pictures??? My wife will be so relieved--now where can I buy some film? This could be a whole new concept!!! For the record my lenses are mixed some black, some chrome--although I will allow that a Chrome lens looks a little strange on a titanium body. Best of luck, Jack Actually take some pictures--wow!!!
I agree with you that personal taste is very important. If the color difference between black and chrome was the only difference, I would agree with you that personal taste should rule. However, it seems to me, a lens made out of different material (brass instead of aluminum) weighing 40% more (the brass version being heavier) in one supposedly identical version becomes an issue potentially transcending personal taste. I was simply trying to find out if there were were any issues other than personal taste as a result of these major differences, which are rather unusual (as far as I know, the only instance of such major differences, the Contax G2 and its lenses, for ex&le, being identical, as far as I know, between the titanium and black versions).
As long as the construction is identical and the elements are held at exactly the same distance, what difference other than wheight is there? I have the black pre-asph myself, from the balance and wheight of that, I would go for black because I would not want the added wheight.
I feel better not mixing chrome and black, but that's me. If you like the mix, the lighter lens would not be a regret.
Sorry for getting your name wrong the last time. Yes, the construction is identical, and the elements are held at exactly the same distance when the lens is new, on paper, but would brass hold up better than aluminum in the long run, or vice versa, after a lot of hard knocks in real life, actually taking pictures? If there is a difference in strength, after a couple of years of hard use, the elements might be knocked out of alignment easier with one than the other. Maybe so, or maybe not. But this is question I was asking, based on someone's real life experience of actually taking pictures. Does anyone have any experiences like this? US$ 2,500 is still a lot of money to dish out, and I'd like to think that the lens mount was durable.
Ronnie you ask a good question. I'm not so sure there is the comparative experience out there that you are looking for. I am a Leica owner for 8 months and I've spent a lot of time in these last 8 months learning about the Leica system.
I have not seen any comparative information on the use durability of brass vs. aluminum. That would lead me to beleive that there's not much difference. Here's a typical thread FWIW:
The only brass/aluminum differences that have replicated reports on the internet are for filter rings, and the difference is not durability. B+W use brass which is considered superior (no binding under temperature variation).
I originally started out with a chrome/brass lens but quickly changed over to black/aluminum. I have a new Kobilux 21mm/f2.8 that is chrome but they didn't make this lens in black anyway.
In the long term, I don't think it makes any difference. The build quality of Leica is very good, the build quality of Voigtlander less so. Whatever you get, you need to inspect it and test it thoroughly whether it is new or used, because you can get a bad s&le from any manufacturer. I have had bad luck with Leica manufactured lenses, their QC seems to be poor. This IMO is more of an issue than the relative merits of brass/aluminum.
Which has about as much information on M lenses as I've ever seen and nothing is said about your concern. I would email Leica directly and/or talk to their repair section since they would deal with lens trauma more than anyone I could imagine. I did email Leica in New Jersey with a question re: the 35 pre asph and they responded well with information consistent with what I later found in the above link.
Ronnie, Venicio, >>>>>>>>>>>>>would brass hold up better than > aluminum in the long run, or vice versa, after a lot of hard knocks > in real life, actually taking pictures?
Leica says in their R-lens brochure, 1992 that "their shock resistance is so high that evne blows of up to 100x the earth's acceleration does no harm to their solid construction". They claim that their lenses meet MIL-spec (military specs) also, in categories such as fungus, exposure to climate, etc.
Yes Ronnie, it may be that brass has better stability in varying temperatures, and I can see that would be a plus in a low mass object like a filter that has to physically interface with another metal.
But in a lens we are talking about much greater masses that will not expand and contract to the same degree. And in any case, the mounting flange is made of steel.
One person who could speak to this with some authority is John Van Stelten of Focal Point Lens. I wrote to him last week with a question about my new Kobalux and he replied very quickly, and I am not a customer (yet).
If you do send him an email, please post his reply here. I would be interested in reading his considered opinion on this durability issue. His web page is
This discussion about black vs chrome seems to have gone on for a long time, and I think it became a little silly when yesterday the talk involved the relative expansion of chrome vs steel (I think - I've deleted that one!). Surely Leica knows what it is doing, no lens becomes unusable when the temperature changes a few degrees, and one lens of the same optical design is unlikely to degrade so much that the difference was even noticeable. In normal photographic conditions is it likely to be relevant? Maybe that photographer should be thinking about large format instead? Incidentally, have Leica ever made a bad lens? Surely the only issue about black vs chrome is the weight, which to my mind IS an issue. I think my Leica M7 and its three black lenses is fantastic - I love everything about it, including the process of loading film, and the results are great - they do have a special undefinable quality I prefer the look of chrome lenses, but surely when you look at the photograph the actual lens isn't even considered. I'm sure that no one today would even look at a lens of the type used by Ansel Adams on large format, or Cartier-Bresson on an old Leica. Would their images have been any better if the lens barrel hadn't expanded a couple of microns? >
Andrew I think if Ronnie is going to blow USD 2.5K on a lens he is entitled to ask all the questions he wants. He's just trying to be an informed consumer and surely there's nothing wrong with that?
Have Leica ever made a bad lens? You bet your life they have. As I posted above, I had two Summicrons in quick succession that had to be returned, and I am not an isolated case. The QC in Leica has slipped badly, they could learn a lot from companies, and countries, where quality is still important.
Compare the recently discontinued Konica Hexanon-M lenses to their Leica equivalents, and you will be surprised. The Hexanon build quality is superior, and optics are equal except in one case where the Hexanon is considered better than the Leica equivalent. Leica could learn a lot from Konica.
Don't assume that just because a product says "Leica" on it that its perfect. That may have been true 30 years ago, but sadly no more.