Why not to trust flat chart comparisons all the time and Leica slow service center (Elmar C 90mm vs 80-200mm vs 85mm vs Lux 50mm)

I have been shooting Leica for less than a year, so I am considering three formats as of now. They are Olympus Micro 4/3, Nikon F mount and Leica M. I only have a few lenses for the Leica system compared to the other two systems. So I have been doing comparisons on sharpness of the lenses I have access to. So far, I have been impressed with lenses I owned, not sure why they have a new soul with the Leica camera, they appear sharper than ever and this could be to the non low pass filter and micro lenses on the Leica sensor. I like the Micro 4/3 system but in low light it doesn’t shine, also in good lighting it looks great but I feel it has certain digital look that I have to work harder into removing it in lightroom.  So, I enjoy my Nikon gear, specially its speed on moving subjects and the fact that it focuses automatically so I can concentrate on the subject more but this is where the confusion comes in, because with the Leica I also feel more in control of the camera and this also helps me concentrate on my subject because I know what the camera will do. For some reason the Nikon system is more variable when it comes to exposure, this has made me change the Matrix system on the Nikon to Center Weighted and I feel is more constant. I know some people say Leica is just a toy and overpriced, and while I feel that Customer Service is way way slow for the working professional, I believe the system is extremely good. They should have a Professional Department where you can expedite your service or maybe have more service centers that can keep up. I do not have the time to travel to Germany just to fix a camera quickly. Also, if you are a professional you should have more than one single camera but waiting months just to get a camera fixed? that is absurd.

Anyway, I just wanted to show you why you need to be careful when reading sharpness reviews on lenses around the net. Many individuals make comparisons on flat charts, where they can miss the focus point and blame it on the lens or system while some of the truth lies in the ineptitude on focusing flat.

You should always make comparisons on three dimensional objects, take a look at the following:

Elmar C 90mm at f/4 + Summilux 50mm Asph at f/4 + Nikon 80-200mm ED AF-D at f/4 + Nikon 85mm AF-D at f/4
Elmar C 90mm at f/4 + Summilux 50mm Asph at f/4 + Nikon 80-200mm ED AF-D at f/4 + Nikon 85mm AF-D at f/4
I tried to nail the focus on all, took many photos with a carbon fiber tripod, using the Olympus VF2 and still got different focusing points with all lenses. So, if the chart was flat on a wall, imagine that all would be blurry because I did not achieve perfect focus on a flat field.

What impressed me on the test I did was that the 80-200mm looks as sharp as the Summilux M 50mm Asph. Again, impressive.

What didn’t impress me was how poor the Elmar C 90mm is, I read from many people that this lens was very sharp. The only positive to me is its size and weight, but is very very poor in sharpness.

I will not keep the Elmar C 90mm. I will try the Elmarit 90mm 2.8 or just go with a new 6bit  Summicron eventually.

Update #1:  the version of the Elmar 90mm C I got has haze inside the elements. This could be causing a soft image. I will try to get another copy and compare later. 

Update #2: I’m testing the Elmarit M 90mm 6 bit for now, it’s not as sharp as I would label something sharp. The Nikon 80-200mm at 5.6 is still sharper. 

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