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What's it about the Color Skopar 28mm 3,5 LTM?
Old 07-01-2017   #1
krötenblender
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What's it about the Color Skopar 28mm 3,5 LTM?

Recently I learned about this lens, because I'm searching a small and light 28mm. This lens seems to be really nice, but as common as Unicorns...

Here in Germany I'm simply not able to find one, except one for one from Italy for a completely ridiculous price tag in a not so good condition. - I could get a mint Zeiss 28mm/2,8 ZM for the price easily. - But they would be heavier and bigger.

How good is this lens and what would be a good alternative? Would it be good enough to resolve the full 24mpixels on a M10? There is a Canon Serenar 28mm 3,5, which one could get for nearly half the price...

I know, I loved Color Skopars, I had the 35mm LTM two times and now the new pancake M-version, also to 50mm Color Skopar. All of them feel great and give really good results.

So, how about the 28mm? Is it worth the effort to search for it, or are there other alternatives, which are a little bit more common and easy to get?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-01-2017   #2
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The Color Skopar 28mm f/3.5 may well be the best performing of the*modern Color Skopar lenses. It's not the best performer on a digital sensor, but IMO it outperforms other Cosina/Voigtländer 28mm lenses and even a few other makes and models of 28mm lens too.

The optical design of the CS28/3.5 produces some color shifting and light falloff on any digital sensor body. I find it acceptable for B&W work but too difficult to get clean results with for color.

A 28mm lens for a digital body like the M10...? I'd go with a Leica lens that has the six bit code. Any of those will work better.
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Old 07-01-2017   #3
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I think it is popular because it is small and renderers beautiful tonalities on black and white film. It is very dense, heavier than it appears. On my RD-1, it vignettes significantly, I am not certain how it might work on an M10.
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Old 07-01-2017   #4
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I have both the Color-Skopar and the Canon Serenar and they are very different lenses. The Serenar is a lovely old-school lens, released in the month I was born (Oct 1951), single coated and not very sharp until stopped down quite a bit, with low contrast by modern standards. The C-S is a modern lens that is contrasty and highly flare-resistant. It is, for me, sharp enough wide open but also improves a bit on stopping down and it handles better than the Serenar, which has a somewhat fiddly aperture ring as well as an infinity lock. One thing I do like about the Serenar is the way it 'draws'. The C-S seems to me to be quite clinical with a bit of pincushion distortion whereas the Serenar is more 'relaxed' and distortion free. I only shoot film but would imagine that the C-S is the one to go for if you shoot digital.
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Old 07-01-2017   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
A 28mm lens for a digital body like the M10...? I'd go with a Leica lens that has the six bit code. Any of those will work better.
Thank you, this was the kind of information, I was searching for.
Digital and color are important to me, so this lens is no good for me. Bummer...

I had a Leica 6bit Elmarit ASPH. with my M240, and sold it with that camera. I liked that lens very much, but was hoping for something even smaller and lighter on a digital body, since I use 28mm very seldom and only need it, when in very crowded and narrow places and then I use it more like P&S-style.

It looked so intriguing...
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Old 07-01-2017   #6
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Small and light 28mm lenses:

Avenon / Kobalux 28/3.5 - do note that there are generally two versions of lenses (each comprised of several minor revisions) with slightly different optical design and coating. Very small, thin, fine pancake lens.

Minolta M-Rokkor 28/2.8 - top performer when white spots free. Brings up 35mm frame line on a M, can be modified.

Canon Serenar 28/2.8 - Winogrand classic.

Rarities:

Ricoh GR 28/2.8 - limited production lens. Very high, modern performance, which I consider to be on par with the Leica 28/2.8 ASPH.

Minolta G-Rokkor 28/3.5 - limited production lens. High resolution in image center and heavy vignetting. A tasty one.

MS-Optical 28/2 - extremely thin, small, with vintage (=soft) signature wide open. I think it's on par with the Leica 28/5.6 summaron, as both are double gauss designs.

MS-Optical conversions - if you have means in Japan, these converted lenses often show up on Yahoo Auction. The Fujinon 28/3.5 from Fuji Tiara (aka DL Super Mini), the nikon lens from the Nikon AF600, and the more prominent Nikkor 28/2.8 fron the Nikon 28Ti are all very fine performance. All have very low profiles.

-

Despite having experience with many lenses in the class, I returned to and kept the Color-Skopar. It's modern enough, small but hefty enough and I don't have to worry about its potential resale value - a black one looks even nicer when worn.

My gripe is that it rattles and have uneven movement during the focus throw, due not to (the fine) craftsmanship and material but the less than optimal lens body design, as with many other Voigtlander lenses. It's fixable though.
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Old 07-01-2017   #7
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Nikkor LTM 28mm 3.5. Minute, 34.5mm filter. Low contrast, 1950s lens.

W-Komura LTM 28mm 3.5. Not small, 55mm filter thread. But very good, higher contrast than other 1960s lenses. I know one for sale from an online shop for eur 300.
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Old 07-02-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
W-Komura LTM 28mm 3.5. Not small, 55mm filter thread. But very good, higher contrast than other 1960s lenses. I know one for sale from an online shop for eur 300.
Well, small and light is a must. If it is not smaller and lighter than a Leica Elmarit ASPH., then it doesn't make sense for me. The lens has to be suitable for color and digital, too, since I'm more or less done with film.

The options from MS Optical... I had the 50mm 1,1 once, and although I really liked how small and light it was, I hated the handling and was less than impressed by it's image quality. More a nice oddity, than a good working lens.

OTOH, the Color Skopars I had, always impressed me (and still do).

I think, VC should bring an M-version of that lens, a little bit optimized for digital sensors.
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Old 07-02-2017   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archlich View Post
...
Minolta M-Rokkor 28/2.8 - top performer when white spots free. Brings up 35mm frame line on a M, can be modified.
I had one once. I loved the ergonomics, size and weight, but wasn't impressed with image quality. Not sure why, but the images never seemed to be as "alive" as those I shot with the Elmarit ASPH., the colors... I don't know.

The others I have no personal experience with. Maybe I should have a look at some of them.
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Old 07-02-2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krötenblender View Post
This lens seems to be really nice, but as common as Unicorns...
That's a little much, but it is no longer made and those that have it, love it.
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Old 07-02-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krötenblender View Post
Recently I learned about this lens, because I'm searching a small and light 28mm. This lens seems to be really nice, but as common as Unicorns...
The Skopar 28mm F3.5 is small. But the barrel is made of brass so its probably heavier than an Elmarit ASPH.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krötenblender View Post
I had a Leica 6bit Elmarit ASPH. with my M240, and sold it with that camera. I liked that lens very much, but was hoping for something even smaller and lighter on a digital body
The Elmarit ASPH is really hard to beat in terms of weight. All the classic 28mm lens (Canon etc) are probably heavier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krötenblender View Post
but the images never seemed to be as "alive" as those I shot with the Elmarit ASPH., the colors... I don't know.
I think your best bet is to get another Elmarit ASPH.
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Old 07-03-2017   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
The Skopar 28mm F3.5 is small. But the barrel is made of brass so its probably heavier than an Elmarit ASPH.
Nope, 163g vs. 211g (new version of Elmarit, #11677) with lens shade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
I think your best bet is to get another Elmarit ASPH.
Yes, maybe I will do that. It's just that the usage/price ratio is not really a good one, when I use that lens only a few times a year.
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Old 07-03-2017   #13
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i use the VC 28/3.5 exclusively on LTM bodies. paired to my If it makes for very compact and attractive bit of kit.
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Old 07-03-2017   #14
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I don't often shoot with a 28mm, but when I do I use the M-Hexanon 28mm/2.8.

(Yeah, I know... I watch too much TV.)
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Old 07-03-2017   #15
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don't forget the same optics are in the SC 28/3.5 for Nikon or Contax rangefinders
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Old 07-03-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest View Post
don't forget the same optics are in the SC 28/3.5 for Nikon or Contax rangefinders
Couldn't forget that, since I didn't even knew...

However, one of the first comments were the most important to me: that lens is probably not too good for color on a digital Leica. But that would be my only use for it.

I was just thinking, that this lens could make sense as an alternative, since Voigtländer has some really impressive and yet small and light lenses, even for digital. I love the other Color Skopars that I own(ed), even on my digital bodies.
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Old 07-03-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest View Post
don't forget the same optics are in the SC 28/3.5 for Nikon or Contax rangefinders
Well, that is a critical piece of info. NO wonder the people who own and love this lens are often shooting BW with it, particularly film, with impressive results. But I may speculate that the modern glass coatings give the 28/3.5 the IQ of a modern sharp lens.

I second or third the Canon Serena 28/2.8. I think mine is a late 60s model. It MIGHT be labeled as "low-medium contrast", but the sharpness of the lens creates an illusion of a bit more than medium contrast. Still, it's nothing like a modern sharp/contrasts lenses, which I generally don't like.
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Old 07-03-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krötenblender View Post
However, one of the first comments were the most important to me: that lens is probably not too good for color on a digital Leica. But that would be my only use for it.
This is nonsense... it works just fine for color. I've used it on a M8 and a M9. It was completely normal.
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Old 07-03-2017   #19
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I am always surprised that people think that there are two kinds of lenses: lenses for digital and lenses for film. A lens is a lens, gentlemen, no more, no less.

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Old 07-03-2017   #20
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Perhaps these can give you a better idea of how the Color Skopar 28mm f/3.5 performs on the current digital Leica bodies. I fitted mine to the Leica M-D typ 262. No lens profiles applied, minimal processing.

White wall test, exposure f/5.6 @ ISO 800, EV compensation +1:


Get to +3 EV comp and the effect is much less noticeable, but whether that translates to performance in average image situations is a question mark.

Here are two quick snaps of my dining table and patio through the living room windows:





You can see the color shifting at the edges, but it's reasonably subdued for these examples without a broad even-colored field.

G
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Old 07-03-2017   #21
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I love it on film with a .58 finder. Never used it digital. if you need absolute sharpness into the corners look elsewhere I would say. Not a limitation for me though.

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Old 07-03-2017   #22
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The CS is easily Cornerfix'ed in post.

If you dont want to use Cfix, i suggest a 28 Leica lens with code. Ive tried Canon 28/3.5 and Nikkor 28/3.5, but they vignette much more on digital than film. The 28/2.8 Rokkor is great, BTW.

Note that i had several Color Skopar samples. They were not all the same. My current copy is super sharp and nicely symmetric, ill never sell it. I love the built and the tones the lens produces.

Roland.
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Old 07-03-2017   #23
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No noticeable color shift on my M10
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Old 07-03-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I am always surprised that people think that there are two kinds of lenses: lenses for digital and lenses for film. A lens is a lens, gentlemen, no more, no less.

Erik.
Hi Erik, that's of course true, but some lenses are indeed more suited to digital than others. You can think of a digital sensor as millions of little buckets or wells lined up on a glass surface. If the incoming light from the lens is perpendicular to the sensor and directly hits the bottom of the wells, the light is recorded accurately. But if the incoming light is at an angle where it hits the sides of the wells instead of the bottoms, the light isn't recorded accurately resulting in color shifts. The steeper the angle of the incoming light, the worse it gets. That's why there's been a shift to telecentric "designed for digital" lens designs in recent years, and also why some digital cameras use micro lenses on the sensors. Film is not as sensitive to the angle of the incoming light. Any lens "designed for digital" will work equally as well on film.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
Note that i had several Color Skopar samples. They were not all the same. My current copy is super sharp and nicely symmetric, ill never sell it. I love the built and the tones the lens produces.
Is that the copy I used to own, Roland? Damn good lens, that one. I compared it with an Elmarit 28/2.8 ASPH and it held its own very well. Sharpness was on par except in the far corners at wider apertures.
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Old 07-03-2017   #25
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IMO, the Skopar 28/3.5 is a wonderful lens. Like Roland, I will never sell my copy.

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Old 07-03-2017   #26
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And I have no issues with how it performs with color film (never tried it w/ digital):

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Old 07-03-2017   #27
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It's a nice lens, but too expensive for what it is IMO. It was an economy lens of sorts when it came out years ago -- before Voigtlander moved to the high-end market. Lamentably, there are no inexpensive 28mm lenses in either Leica M or LTM. What is available is either expensive or very expensive, at least by the budget standards of working people. Too bad!
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Old 07-04-2017   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
Is that the copy I used to own, Roland? Damn good lens, that one. I compared it with an Elmarit 28/2.8 ASPH and it held its own very well. Sharpness was on par except in the far corners at wider apertures.
Yes, Sir Thanks again !

Today, on the 240:



Always loved that lens, in a way the CS 28/3.5 on a IIIc got me into RF photography.

This is now 10 years ago with a different sample of the lens on film:





and here at 100 km/h on my commute (my avatar):



Cheers,

Roland.
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Old 07-06-2017   #29
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Like others have said, this lens is a true gem and the more I shoot it the more it impresses me. If you go on my instagram @streetpatter all my wide angle shots were taken with the 28 CS

I've never shot it on a digital M, and I'm not sure I ever will, but if the day comes I'm sure it has enough character to warrant keeping it even if it's not as perfect as a modern Leica.
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Old 07-06-2017   #30
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... Do note that, although it has some issues on the digital sensor when it comes to color work (per my posts previously in this thread), it's the only 28mm lens I've kept.

I think I bought the last new black one that Photo Village in NYC had, somewhere around 2011.

G
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Old 07-06-2017   #31
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Also look at the cost of a 2nd hand Zeiss 28mm 2.8 Biogon. SC's are inflated in price IMO, where as the Biogon is sold too cheaply considering it's overall quality. You'll still spend more on the Zeiss, but less than you might think.
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Old 07-06-2017   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
It's a nice lens, but too expensive for what it is IMO. It was an economy lens of sorts when it came out years ago -- before Voigtlander moved to the high-end market.
Huh? Care to expand, because there is nothing wrong with the output from this lens in any way, shape, or form.
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Old 07-06-2017   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
Hi Erik, that's of course true, but some lenses are indeed more suited to digital than others. You can think of a digital sensor as millions of little buckets or wells lined up on a glass surface. If the incoming light from the lens is perpendicular to the sensor and directly hits the bottom of the wells, the light is recorded accurately. But if the incoming light is at an angle where it hits the sides of the wells instead of the bottoms, the light isn't recorded accurately resulting in color shifts. The steeper the angle of the incoming light, the worse it gets. That's why there's been a shift to telecentric "designed for digital" lens designs in recent years, and also why some digital cameras use micro lenses on the sensors. Film is not as sensitive to the angle of the incoming light. Any lens "designed for digital" will work equally as well on film.



Hi Jon, thank you for this very clear explanation, but I thought all this was passé since the M9 technology.

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Old 07-06-2017   #34
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Quote:
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Huh? Care to expand, because there is nothing wrong with the output from this lens in any way, shape, or form.
Yes, sure, I'm happy to expand. The Skopar 28/3.5 was easily purchased for around $200 or so used perhaps 15 or so years ago, and then at some point Voigtlander stopped making it (and most LTM lenses). I can't remember what the new price was back then, but I'm sure it was a lot less than the $500-600 it sells for used now.

Over time its price has inflated, not because it is such a great lens, but because it is now uncommon. Wide angle 28mm lenses in LTM are all expensive, and there are very few modern ones at any price. In my view the CV 28/3.5 is a very decent, but slow 28mm lens, but still very expensive for what it is: a slow 28mm lens. In the era when CV made LTM lenses, the CV 28mm F1.9 Ultron was considered the premier 28mm rangefinder lens in the CV line-up and more expensive. The CV 28/3.5 was a cheaper alternative. The only other competing modern 28mm LTM (that I know of) at that time was the Kobalux/Avenon 28/3.5, expensive and slow (but also a nice lens), and it also went out of production about the time the CV lenses appeared.

All modern Voigtlander lenses are excellent optically. Other factors primarily drive their monetary value (mostly availability, but also the availability of any competing products, lens speed, size, etc.).
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Old 07-06-2017   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
Y
Over time its price has inflated, not because it is such a great lens, but because it is now uncommon.
Also because it is the only modern lens, besides the 50mm f/2.5 Color-Skopar and some other extremely expensive Leica lenses, that is made in black paint on brass, in fact to match the Leica MP when that camera appeared in about 2002.

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Old 07-06-2017   #36
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The lens has acquired a reputation on this forum for its rendering in B&W. Our late Tom Abrahamsson remarked about it.

I have one and I am not selling it. It is a nice, compact lens for traveling.
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Old 07-06-2017   #37
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I am very happy with the performance of the Rokkor 28/2.8. It is my main 28mm lens now. I do have a Kobalux 28/3.5 for occasional use. It is also a fine lens. Someone mentioned the Zeiss G 28/2.8. I have it for the G1. I do have the Zeiss G 45/2 in M mount but not the 28/2.8.
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Old 07-06-2017   #38
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Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
Yes, sure, I'm happy to expand. The Skopar 28/3.5 was easily purchased for around $200 or so used perhaps 15 or so years ago, and then at some point Voigtlander stopped making it (and most LTM lenses). I can't remember what the new price was back then, but I'm sure it was a lot less than the $500-600 it sells for used now.
Sure, I used to buy them anywhere from $275-450 even 8 years ago. That doesn't make them too expensive. There just aren't any LTM / M lenses that are better for the money really. What alternatives does someone have at $500?
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Old 07-06-2017   #39
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Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Hi Jon, thank you for this very clear explanation, but I thought all this was passé since the M9 technology.

Erik.
Hi Erik, passé as in pre-digital lenses no longer have color shift problems on digital Leicas? Leica has certainly made improvements with each subsequent model, but I don't think they've quite reached that stage yet.
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Old 07-09-2017   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
Yes, sure, I'm happy to expand. The Skopar 28/3.5 was easily purchased for around $200 or so used perhaps 15 or so years ago, and then at some point Voigtlander stopped making it (and most LTM lenses). I can't remember what the new price was back then, but I'm sure it was a lot less than the $500-600 it sells for used now.

Over time its price has inflated, not because it is such a great lens, but because it is now uncommon.
I remember well that - for example - clean 2.8 Summaron lenses or rigid 5cm Summicrons were available for < US 300 at the same time. Yes, you might call the CS' price now inflated, but so are many other Leica lenses today. There really is no alternative for a modern compact 28, with exception of the Kobalux/Avenon lens maybe. But that carries a similar price today.

Roland.
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