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Zeiss V Leica R Lenses appreciate user comments


Well-Known Member
Hi all,

Sorry about this well trodden ground, but I am starting to use a small Leica R system alongside my Contax C/Y and would appreciate any users of both (hopefully Marc Williams & others) to give their opinions of the merits and de-merits of the lenses below, particularly how the CZ differ to the R ones...sorry to Marc for this, but you are just so damn sensible in your postings!

CZ 18/4 & 21/2.8 V Leica R 21/4 & 19/2.8
CZ 25/2.8 V Leica R 24/2.8
CZ 28/2 & 28/2.8 V leica R 28/2.8 ROM
CZ 35/1.4 & 35/2.8 V Leica R 35/2 ROM & 35/1.4
CZ 50/1.4 V Leica R 50/1.4 (older 3cam) & 50/1.4 ROM
CZ 85/1.4 V Leica R 80/1.4
CZ 85/2.8 & 100/3.5 V leica R 90/2.8 (later version)
CZ 135/2.8 V leica R 135/2.8

Any help very welcome...thanks guys (& gals?)

Cheers Steve.M.


Well-Known Member
That's okay Steve, what good is experienced opinion unless it's shared : -)

C/Y 18/4: experience was so long ago I don't recall. Too slow for me. W/A lenses are hard enough to focus without a f/4 darkened viewfinder.

C/Y 21/2.8 - Perhaps the best corrected W/A of all. Horrifyingly expensive. Not worth it unless you are making money with it hand over fist ... or can easily afford it.

Leica 21/4: never used one. Have to lock up the mirror on some cameras to use it.

Leica 19/2.8 (current second version) Also an incredible W/A and incredibly expensive.
Not quite as good as the C/Y 21 but half the price.

C/Y 28/2: Wonderful lens with incredible close focusing ability for dramatic close-ups.

C/Y 28/2.8: Never used one.

Leica 28/2.8: excellent lens but I'd rather have the C/Y 28/2

C/Y 35/1.4: could be better, (I prefer the Leica 35/1.4R for it's pictorial qualities).

C/Y 35/2.8: Never used one.

Leica 35/2.8: Older version (SL era) is unmatched to this day.

Leica 35/2R: Never used one.

Leica 35/1.4R: My favorite fast SLR 35mm of all I've used.

C/Y 50/1.4: Never used one. If it's anything like the N 50/1.4 don't like it, harsh Bokeh.

Leica 50/1.4: beautiful Bokeh, Newer 60mm thread ROM version is even better, but too expensive for a reflex 50mm IMO. (this from the guy that dropped $2,000. on a Leica M 50/1.4 ASPH ... but that's a different matter).

Leica 50/2: Every version is superb. Older (SL era) version is the one to get.

C/Y 85/1.4: I like this lens, but like the Leica 80/1.4 more for the same pictorial reasons I like the R 35/1.4.

Leica 80/1.4R: favorite f/1.4 lens in this focal length. Perfect companion to the Leica 35/1.4 IMO. The 2 SLR lenses I'd carry if I could only carry 2.

C/Y 85/2.8: Never used one. To slow for me anyway.

C/Y 100/3.5: why, when there is the C/Y 100/2?

Leica 90/2.8: Never used one. Have been told certain Leica 90/2.8s are very good.
Current 90/2R AA is THE 90mm to own.

C/Y 135/2.8: Never used one. Again, why, when there is the C/Y 135/2

Leica 135/2.8: have an older version which is excellent and inexpensive ... a sleeper lens.

I am preparing to sell many C/Y items to fund an Imacon digital back. e-mail me if interested.


Well-Known Member
Just to add some more comments.

CZ 28/2 is another star, sharp and contrasty at f2.

CZ 35 1,4 is not very exciting, not surprisingly its performance is not as good as CY 35 2,8. R35 2.8 is better than R35 2. The stars of 35 are C-Y PC 35 2,8 , Zeiss M35 2.0, Leica M35 2.0 ASPH

C-Y 50 1.7 is better than C-Y 50 1.4, same as N50 1.4 all these lenses have harsh bokeh. Zeiss did pay attention to these problems so the new ZF 50 1.4 has very good bokeh and better resolution of fine details and contrast.

Both C-Y 60 2.8 and Leica R60 2.8 ARE good

Leica M75 2 is better than R80 1.4

C-Y 85 1.4 has a useable in f4 but not the other apertures. C-Y 85 2.8 is very good at 2.8 much better than C-Y 85 1.4 at 2.8

Both C-Y 85 2,8 and R90 2.8 are very good.

APO M90 2 ASPH and APO R90 2 ASPH are optically identical, only that the R version is able to focus close. These lenses are sharp and contrasty at f2.

R135 2,8 is very good.


Well-Known Member

Thanks to you both for the comments..

Marc..what are the qualities you like so much in the R 35/1.4 & R 80/1.4 ?? and what are the best apertures? how are they wide open for instance?

I shoot for my own enjoyment both 'fine art' and 'abstract' on slow tranny film and do not want too much weight on my shoulders hence I prefer some of the slower & lighter lenses, but do not mind a heavy one or two!!

Cheers Steve.M.


Well-Known Member
Steve, I evaluate lenses on results obtained over time and in differing lighting conditions.

I'm not all that analytical about it in terms of sharpness and other criteria other people use. Not that there is a single thing wrong with doing that ... it gives you some sort of base knowledge to select lenses from if you don't have access to them for a trial period.

My primary subject is people. And story telling is the methodology most used in that context. I favor lenses that have fast apertures and exhibit "pictorial" qualities that appeal to my eye when rendering light.

This is a highly subjective criteria, and one that is difficult to quantify scientifically. I just know it when I see it. In other words, it's highly personal.

As an artist, turned photographer, IMO that will always be my primary criteria ... unless I am documenting something, and it has to be a faithful to the thing being documented as possible. A view camera and APO lenses come to mind for that sort of work.

Of all the SLR lenses I've owned and used, the Leica R 35/1.4 and 80/1.4 are my favorite. And they've never have been dislodged from that favored position by any other SLR lenses in that focal length.


Well-Known Member
Hi Marc, Thanks for that. I used to be a pro studio photographer shooting mainly large format and some medium format. I gave it up years ago and went into sales & management. Lately due to illness I find myself turning to I seem to be the polar opposite to yourself. I just got back into photography about 6 years ago with 35mm to shoot 'art' work for my own amusement and moved to Contax about 5 years back, the trouble is I love the cameras & lenses but have become less happy with the Contax viewfinders, so I tried Leica R and was shocked how better their viewfinders were, both the magnification and brightness seem much better for me...hence I try to find some informed info about the lenses and most web comparisons are usually biased nonsense, quite often written by idiots who are only concerned with sharpness and nothing else. I wouldn't let any of them within a mile of any pro studio. Even the apparently well thought of Leica lens man..Erwin Puts is I find somewhat dubious; If you read differing publications of his work you find I find some sense instead here on this forum.... Cheers Steve.M.