Dec 30, 2010

Leica R5 + Leitz Elmarit 135mm - First Photographs, October 2010


Three decades ago, when I started getting involved with photography, the 135mm focal length was very popular among photographers. Following that trend, I also bought one such lens for my Minolta equipment, the fine Minolta Rokkor 2.8/135mm. If you visit this blog every now and then, you most likely saw some images shot with that lens.

As some of you also might recall, I later on traded my Minoltas for Leicas, so the Rokkor made place for the canadian built Leitz Elmarit 2.8/135mm in my bag (the model with view and rangefinder attachment, the so called goggles, that improves focusing and framing. Primarily made for the M Leica, I read that the most "recent" version - mine is from 1979! - serial no. 2 600 000 and up, is optically identical to the Leica R lens. While I can't claim that for sure, you should please take note of the missing M in its nomenclature...).

I already posted some images of that lens with goggles directly mounted on a Leica M, as well as with the lens head removed and attached to the focusing mount 16462, to allow the use with the Visoflex reflex housing. In case that you should be interested on this subject, please check my former post about it.

What I want to show today, are some photographs made with this same lens, but this time still done on a different way: I did them with a Leica Single Lens Reflex camera, and Leitz adapter 14167, to allow the use of Visoflex lenses on the Leica R. The combination keeps on needing, of course, the aforementioned focusing mount 16462 (the goggles can thankfully be left at home!).

Yes I know, lots of (very well made) Leitz adapters and focusing mounts, no automatic aperture, darkening viewfinder...
But believe me, if you already own such a lens, it is well worth the hassle.
I just love the combination!

But please, take a look for yourself...

Above photographs made in Faro, October 2010

Trends come and go, like anything else, and this kind of focal length seems to be out of fashion. The evolution and the public's widespread preference for the Zoom lens, have condemned the 135mm prime lens to a certain obscurity...
Lamentably so, as I believe that most photographic systems have produced outstanding 135mm lenses along the years. Just think about Carl Zeiss Sonnar, Carl Zeiss Tele-Tessar, Schneider Tele-Xenar, Pentax Takumar, Nikkor, Jupiter...
Moreover, the 135mm can be a true bargain these days...

For me, such a lens is a very fine balance between portability (all images were shot handheld) and pronounced telephoto effect. Besides, I don't need to be close to the nose of my model if I wish to do a head and shoulders portrait, as I don't need to go to the other side of the street yelling...

I enjoy the shallow depth of field, without too much loss of plasticity, what enables me to achieve a pleasant perspective without sacrificing the three-dimensional sensation!
I also find the 135mm lens to be a very interesting choice for close up photography, by just adding some extension tubes to it, between the lens and the body of the camera.

I suppose that I can honestly say: the 135mm is a true winner for my taste!

Photographs shot in Montemor-o-Novo, October 2010

This post should have its emphasis on the Leica R5...
I actually made this pictures while testing the camera, principally its exposure meter (fantastic!).

Now it is six in the morning and I am getting very tired, the rain is pouring outside, my legs are cold, my eyes are shutting, my brain is coming to a standstill...

Will you please excuse me, but I must be on my way... to bed...
Don't worry, I will come back to the subject... I promise!

Technical data:

Camera - Leica R5
Lens - Leitz Elmarit 135mm (Leica M/Visoflex type) + Leitz 14167
Film - Agfa APX 100
Developer - Rodinal, diluted 1+50
Location - Faro and Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal
Date - October 2010
Scanner - Epson 4990 Photo




  1. I share your appreciation of the 135 - I have and use the Elmarit 135/2.8 R and the Tele-Elmarit M. Both are superb lenses because of optical quality and compositional ease. I never cared much for my old Nikkor 135/2.8 - the 105/2.5 worked better for me.

    Happy New Year!

    Max Jenkins

  2. I cannot decide! Both the Minolta 100/2.5 and the 135 are superb. Carrying both for a day's walk is not feasible, both are similar and still both retain sensible differences that demand this debate.
    This aggressive angst is one of the joys of pre-visualizing the imprint that you care to contain within the amount of mass that you can tolerate around your neck.


  3. Thank you Max and Fernando,
    It is good to see that people read and see my blog, and care about commenting.
    Yes, the 105/2.5 is a superb lens, maybe the main reason why I still keep Nikon cameras around... Old Nikon cameras, that is (F and FM; I got rid of my F3 some years ago. Just traded it for a Kostiner printwasher...
    Fernando, I believe that at this moment, Minolta lenses are some of the best bargains around. They have excepcional quality for a really low price! That is, for me, the most crazy thing about the digital revolution: you see a lot of high quality equipment (much better built than most digi cameras) being despised and tossed away. Sad...
    Have a nice New Year both of you and your families, and thanks for commenting.

  4. Happy New Year, Rui !!

    As always a very informative and interesting read with great work in BW. Actually, I have two 105/2.5 Nikkor lenses, one in F-mount (bought ages ago new for my F3HP) and a S-mount version bought a couple of month ago used (bargain). Both these lenses are outstanding performer but I am keen to try something similar with my Leica M. The 90 Summicron-M is a good lens but a little to short sometimes.



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  6. Happy New Year, Rui :) I have missed your blog but I'm back. Wishing you and yours good health, prosperity and much happiness in 2011.

    My best always, Esther

  7. Hi Esther,
    Thank you very much. I wish you all the best too: loads of health, lots of sucess and happiness, etc, etc!
    Glad to see you back, taking a look at my little images. You are wellcome,
    P.S.: I Keep on being lazy, I didn't write yet a letter to Matt... I hope that he is allright too! And I hope that he knows that he is wellcomed too, no matter if I write soon or not...

  8. Maddoc,
    I also agree with you about the 105 Nikkor (I only have tried the F version), and I don't have the Summicron 90, as I opted (also for ages...) for the smaller Tele-Elmarit (mine is from 79). But the word Summicron surely is music for my ears! I will also try to get a 50 for the R5, as soon as I can...
    Cheers, and thank's for mentioning this blog in Rangefinderforum!