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M Lenses

Lesson 10 from: Leica M10 Fast Start

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

10. M Lenses

Lesson Info

M Lenses

Now, I don't wanna get distracted too much with Leica lenses, because there is a whole class on Leica lenses that should probably exist at some point in time. But let's kind of go over just the basics in here. There is a good collection. It's not an unlimited collection. But it is a very, very high quality collection of lenses. So, one of the things that's unique about Leica and these lenses in the modern era is that they are manual-focusing, and one of the things that is beautiful about the Leica lenses is that they have a lot of great information on them. If you know how to use it, it's a very, very valuable tool. And so let's take a look at the information that you'll see on a typical lens. And so we're using Leica 35 Summicron here. We're gonna have our aperture rating out in front with the dial light there. Next up, we're gonna have our focusing scale, which is in both feet in orange and meters in white, and then we're gonna have our focusing mark and depth of field scale closest ...

to the camera. So, let's look at some different options in here. So the focusing mark. This is where you're gonna be looking to focus the lens. If you wanna focus the lens to five feet or 1.5 meters, you will adjust the focusing on the lens so that it is right in line with the focusing mark. If you wanna focus to infinity, pretty simple. You put it on the infinity mark on the lens, and you're gonna be properly in focus. Now, the bottom half of this is also your depth of field scales, to give you an indication of how much is gonna be in focus at any given aperture that you've chosen. So let's just say you are at f/8. This is what I consider a generally a bad setup for shooting at f/8, because what this indicates is that you're getting focus from, let's say, let's work in meters here, roughly five meters to infinity, and then you get from infinity to beyond infinity in focus. And if you wanted to get as much in focus as possible at f/8, what you should do is you should turn the focusing ring so that the infinity sign on the right is in line with the f/8. In this case, at f/8, you get everything from just under three meters to infinity in focus. And so if you want a little bit more, this is where you would get the most by properly setting the focus ring. All right, let's say you're gonna be shooting a portrait with a relatively wide aperture like 2.8. You'll see the 2.8 lines are right in here. It's a little hard to see exactly what you're gonna get, but you're gonna get a little less than eight feet to a little bit more than eight feet. So you might get six or eight inches in focus. Now, if you change the aperture down to f/2, it's gonna be very, very shallow down here. It's hard to indicate exactly how much you're getting, so with shallow depth of field, it's a little less precise in reading how much you're going to get. Now, let's do a little landscape photography. Let's stop it down all the way to f/16. The mistake is to focus on the mountain in the background, which is essentially at an infinity distance. And so in this case, if you wanna get the most depth of field for a cityscape or landscape scene, you would move that infinity mark over to the right-hand 16 mark. In this case, you'll get everything from roughly about 1.2 meters to infinity in focus, and this is the hyperfocal distance that you'll hear about referred to as we're trying to get as much in focus as possible, all the way up through infinity. So everything from about four feet to infinity is at focus in this case. Let's do a little street photography at f/8. And so what you can do at f/8 is move the focusing so that the infinity mark is right next to the right-hand f/8, and you'll have everything from roughly about eight feet to infinity in focus. You can adjust it a little bit closer if you're working with subjects closer to you. Now, there is a, an important concept when it comes to what's in focus and not in focus. And using this technique is something that will get you things that are acceptable focus, which means they're pretty good. If you want critical focus, that's gonna be exactly where the focus mark is, and there are some people that have a little bit higher standard of things that are in focus. If you were to blow something up right here at infinity, it may not be as sharp as it could possibly be, but it's gonna be pretty good in most cases. And so what some people do, just to kind of hedge their bets a little bit, is with their aperture set at f/8, they will adjust focus a little bit, and they'll use the 5.6 marks on the lens, which have a little tighter tolerance standard for focus. They aren't gonna get as much quote-unquote in focus, but what they have in here is gonna be more sharply, more in critical focus here. And so you don't have to use the depth of field marks that you are actually using. if you use a slightly smaller number, you're gonna have a little bit higher quality of standard, a little bit sharper images, but you end up with less depth of field. So it's a little bit of the compromise. Encourage you to play around with that. One of the things you will notice about some of the different lenses with Leica is they have a lens tab. And so what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to show you what it looks like from the back of the camera, so the way it would feel to you as you are using the camera. So this lens tab hanging down in the middle right here is when you have your lens set to the middle of the range. As you rotate it to the right, the four o'clock position, as you are holding the camera, it's gonna be focused on infinity, and as you focus over to the left-hand side, that is going to be your minimum distance, which is roughly the eight o'clock position, and then as you focus back down to the six o'clock position, that is gonna be the mid-range. Now, I wanna do a little demo here to show you what this looks like. Now, the first thing I need to do is I need to change the lens because I have a 90-millimeter lens on my camera, and not all the lenses have that focusing tab. You'll see that the 50-millimeter lens that I have here has it, and the 28. I'm gonna go ahead and take off the 90-millimeter lens, and I'm gonna use the 28 in this case, 'cause it's a nice, little small lens. Let's go ahead and mount this up. I'm gonna take off the lens hood so that you can clearly see what's going on. And so the way that it's proper to hold the camera is, on traditional cameras, some people would hold their lens incorrectly like this for focusing, and you can't do this, 'cause it's gonna block the viewfinder and might even block the focusing. Now, with traditional focusing, some people will, you know, hold the focus ring and move it back and forth like this, and this lens doesn't even have a normal focusing ring. The 50 has a normal focusing ring and a focusing tab, which is kind of nice. But this one just uses the tab. And by holding it like this, it keeps your fingers away from the rangefinder windows and the viewfinder windows so that you're not blocking it. So when it's all the way over to my four o'clock position, my right over here, the lens is at infinity. And right here is kind of your mid position, and this is your closeup. And by doing this, you can develop a very good feel, and there are a lot of people who use Leicas on a regular basis, and they can just go to this position, and they know, like, let's, let me set it to a very specific place that we can talk about here. And so right here is three meters. And so, with the reference of your finger down here and where it is on the back, I can come back and I can just close my eyes and say, that's probably about three meters right here. I'm a little bit off. It needs to be right there. I don't have it totally memorized yet. And so by working with this system, it's very, very quick. And so as fast Leica shooters do, they will decide what their subject is, they'll start estimating the distance. Now, some of 'em, a very common thing is to leave it in the infinity position all the time, so that when you grab it, you know exactly where to grab it, and as you come up, bringing the camera up to your eye, they're adjusting their focus, and by the time it's up to their eye, it's nearly perfect. They make a fine-tune adjustment perhaps at the last minute by looking through the viewfinder, and then they take the photo. And so from going from infinity, it can be just very, very quick getting your shots like that. And so it's a very quick system, but it does require a little bit of practice, and it is definitely different than most other camera systems on the market. All right, let's take a look at some of the lenses that are available. Their lens lineup is broken up by focal length, and we can also break it up by their maximum aperture range. And so they do have a somewhat limited collection, because the rangefinders just don't work real well with the longer telephoto lenses. And so the Noctilux lenses, there's only been a few of 'em in history, and they recently had a new 75 1.25 that came out. So if you want the brightest lenses and you don't mind paying a little over 10 grand for a lens, these are some amazing lenses that are very, very unique in the industry. The Summilux lenses are a great series. These are very fast lenses ranging from 21 to 50 millimeters, and they get to be a little bit more expensive as you get further away from 50. They get a little bit more difficult to make in that regard. A long-time favorite of a lot of the Leica users are the Summicrons. Usually an f/2 lens is fast enough in most cases, and they can make these lenses pretty small as well for most of the focal lengths. The Elmarit series is kind of special. I'm gonna talk more about that in a moment, but they're a little bit less money, and also lighter in weight. For some of the more specialty lenses, they've had to go down to f/4 in order to make those in a proper way. And so they're not exactly f/4. They're gonna be in the 3.4-3.6 range, but they're generally in that general category, and this is what they also do for their macro and their longer 135 telephoto lens. Right now, there's only one Summaron lens. It's kind of a special classic lens that has a unique style to it. It's a little bit different, and so there are different types of users that claim, I'm a Summicron user, I'm a Summilux. Personally, I don't matter. It's just whatever lens fits the needs out there. So, the Summarit series is kind of the entry-level series. They are a little bit more moderately priced when it comes to Leica standards. These are gonna be selling generally about in the $2,000 price range, at least right now. And so there's a variety of basic focal lengths that can be very, very useful for a lot of things. A lot of people, most people don't have these, because if they can afford a Leica, they're gonna afford the really good lenses, but if you do wanna get into Leica, yep, these are true Leica lenses, and they are very sharp. They are very, very good quality lenses. They do also make these in silver as well as black, because they make the bodies in silver as well as black. And you might wanna have a matching lens for that. The standard 50-millimeter lens has been a favorite of Leica users for a long time. They have a lot of different lenses in here with different maximum apertures. The 50 f/2 Aspherical is kind of a unique lens. They went all-out on that lens to make just the highest quality lens they could make. I would love to go into the in-depth nuances of the micro contrast and the special of the Nikon lenses, but we're just trying to hit the highlights in this class, which is actually on the camera. They did recently come out with a classic edition, and one of the things you'll know about Leicas, if you don't know about it right now, you'll know about it very soon, is that they like to do special editions. So they like to do custom, special unique models and variations on a theme. And so they have a 50 1.4 black chrome edition that is available. The standard 35 is probably the best lens for a Leica camera. Now, what I mean by that is it may or may not be technically the sharpest lens. It may be. But it just works really well with the viewfinder. The 28-millimeter lens, you really gotta hold that up close to your eyes, and that framing is very, very close to the edges. The 35 can be seen very closely. You can see a bit outside the frame lines, but not too much. But the 50, you get to see a lot of extra space, and your actual composition area gets to be a little bit smaller. So with this rangefinder design, the 35 just works really well. Now, one of the favorite uses of Leicas is of course street photography, and that's where a 35 also works really well. And so a lot of people will be totally happy any time they just have a 35 on their lens. If you wanna go out with a single lens, the 35 is a very popular choice. And so of course, they're gonna have a few different options in here, according to what maximum aperture you wanna have. 28 is the widest lens that you'll be able to compose and use the frame lines in the camera, so I think this is another nice standard for anyone who wants a wide-angle lens who doesn't wanna deal with accessory viewfinders, but they still wanna compose properly. And so here once again we have a variety of different maximum apertures, depending on your application. If you wanna use the wider lenses, you're gonna need to use some of the additional viewfinders that are available. They have a couple options when it comes to the 24, a very fast Summilux option and then a slower Elmar version in there. And so, variety of options including down to 18. When it comes to telephoto lenses, we'll have the and the 90, which have viewfinder lines in the viewfinder. Can be very easy to work with. It gets a little bit more difficult with the larger telephoto lenses, because the size of the area that you are focusing, the size of the area that you are composing is just gonna be a little bit smaller in there. And so working with those is a little bit challenging, especially with the longer 135 lens. There are a few other lenses that kind of fall into specialty categories. It is not a zoom lens. It is a 16-18 21-millimeter lens that you can set to three different focal lengths. And so if you do want something ultra-wide that gives you a little bit of versatility, they do have a micro lens and a new Thambar lens, which is a special soft-focus lens, which has a story unto itself that we're not going to get into right now. So those are the Leica lenses, and if that's not enough for you, you can adapt lenses from the Leica R series. They do make an adapter, the R to M adapter. I do have one here, so let me go over and grab that with a lens. So if you do wanna use longer lenses, you can do that. Let me show you what the adapter looks like and put it on the camera. So it actually comes with this tripod adapter, which can be easily taken off with the Allen screws down here so you don't always have to have it. But if you do have a bigger lens, you probably don't want to mount a big, heavy lens where it's basically on the camera. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna mount an R lens, and so what I have is I have a 180 3.4. I thought this would make a nice next step, 'cause I have a 90-millimeter lens, and 90 times two is 180, and that's kind of a good increment to have the next step lens. And so I'm gonna go ahead and mount this up. Right there. And then I'm gonna take this and take off my little 28, and add on my big ol' telephoto lens. And so this is, you know, not what most people think of when they're thinking of a Leica M camera. Now, at this point in time, this is not very useful, because I can't look through here and tell the framing and composition of the lens. I can't see focusing. And so what I need to do is I'm gonna need to pull off my little thumb grip here, and I'm gonna need to add on my little Visoflex. And so now I can look through the viewfinder. And so what I'm gonna do real quickly is I'm gonna mount this back on the tripod and point it over at my light stand. Give me a second. Okay. So, now, I have a much more powerful system. Let's go ahead and put this into live view. And so now, we are much closer on our subject. And so we can focus of course by doing our standard focus here. If we want to zoom in, I'm gonna hit my magnify button, and I can be in at either five times, and you can see it down here in the lower left, or 10 times magnification, and I can adjust my focus very easily with this. And if I was to look up through the viewfinder, it shows me all of that up in the viewfinder and can make it very easy to work with. And so it's, as I say, not the most traditional looking Leica, but it is a way to get a longer lens and do things that you haven't been able to do with previous rangefinder Leicas, and I love having options. And so having these options I think is fantastic for a use when you need it. One of the things you'll notice about Leica is that they have a lot of their own terminology. All the manufacturers do. And so here's a quick key code, you might say, to some of the most common names, letters that they will be using. I'm not gonna go through all of these. We talked about their little Noctilux, Summilux name series, and we have all the other different letters and designations they have on their lenses. And so there's a lot of information out there on the lenses, and feel free to check it out if you wanna find out more information about lenses that you are interested in. All right, let's, let's answer a question that we have coming in. This is from Dasa Wharton. I have a Leica M9. I'm assuming a lot of the functions are very similar. In general, yes. The Leica M8, 8.2, and 9 were on the CCD type sensor, and so they did not use live view. And so anything that dealt with live view is gonna be very different, because those cameras just didn't have it. The menu system has changed quite a bit, so when we get into the menu section on this camera, there will be some similar topics, but it's gonna be quite different. I would actually recommend watching the Leica M type 240 class. The menu system will be a lot similar. The button layout will be more similar to it. So this class is gonna get you maybe 60% of the way there, and the M240 class will probably get you about 80 or 90% of the way there. So if you have those older Leicas, I would look at the M240 camera class for that. So, that brings this section to a close. We're going through the camera controls on the camera. Lot more to come in the next section, because we're gonna dive into the menu system, where we get control and can customize the camera to our own needs.

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Leica M10 Recommended Settings

Ratings and Reviews

Guy Neal

I am migrating from the Leica Q to the Leica M10. Though I know my way around a Leica digital camera, the Leica M10 is my first rangefinder. I wanted someone to quickly walk me through the front/back/top/bottom of the M10. John Greengo was the perfect guide. This class is "as advertised - a "fast start" for those who prefer not to page through a fairly dense owner's manual. I especially appreciated that the lessons were broken into small chunks - so I could skip the lesson on the wifi setup, for example. And kudos to the person who prepares the amazing slide decks. While there are two dozen free Youtube videos that review the M10, they do not convey the helpful information you get in this excellent class.

Simon Johnson

John does a great job of going through every aspect of using the M10. There's not a dial, stitch button or menu item that isn't comprehensively covered. He uses simple, but effective graphics to explain what's happening. He also touches on the fundamentals of photography and throws in some tips and secrets. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than John. I'm a Leica Q owner, that's just about to upgrade to an M10 so this course has been very useful indeed.

Sylvia Hoke

John is an excellent teacher. I am so amazed how thoroghly he goes through everything in the menu, about the various lenses, how best to use them and so much more. I am keeping my fingers crossed John gives a class on the Leica SL2-S as there is not much out there at all about the camera and is very much needed. I would be the first to buy the class.

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