Home Lenses Leica R Mount Lenses for the Canon HDSLR’s

Leica R Mount Lenses for the Canon HDSLR’s

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC


I started giving a Leica list out to individual colleagues and the request kept coming, so we decided to share it with everyone on the blog.  These lenses are only R-Mount, they are the cream of the crop and through variest test we have found them to be excellent.


  • Slightly warm in color, I alter my color temp. 200 degrees colder to counteract
  • Wonderful Contrast and color reproduction
  • Creamy
  • Lenses do not breathe while racking focus
  • Better cinema style  focus rack then other still lenses


  • Flare easily,  will need to have lens hoods, matte boxes and french flags to help combat losing contrast
  • After we de-clicked the lenses the blades on the f-stop ring close while shooting.  Be sure to tape your f-stop every time you shoot so  your exposure doesn’t drift
  • Older lens technology, not up to date coating
  • Out of focus highlights will give you a stop sign effect because of not having as many iris blades

This lens set was put together with love and commitment to excellence by my good friend David Marconi and Eva Jay http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0545861/.  He is a writer/director and has fallen in love with this technology.   David is directing a movie in the fall of 2010, where we will be taking the Leica’s and our Canon 5D’s to the Moroccan desert to shoot a thriller.

In early June David asked me to take this group of lenses and put them to the test. We used them on a Medal of Honor commercial with Bandito Brothers and a Nike commercial that Robert Elswit, ASC photograghed http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005696/

Fotodiox lens adapters are the tightest fitting and will focus at infinity.

Here are the best websites according to David and Eva for factual info. about the Leica’s.



Leica Lenses MIN. F-STOP MAX. F-Stop
15 mm Elmarit -R ASPH ROM Leica 2.8 22
19 mm Elmarit -R Leica 2.8 22
21 mm Super-Angulon-R Leica 4 22
28 mm Elmarit-R Leica 2.8 22
35 mm Sumilux-R Leica 1.4 16
50 mm Summilux-R Leica 1.4 16
80 mm Summilux-R Leica 1.4 16
90 mm APO- Summicron-R Leica 2 16
35 mm Leica 2 16
60 mm Macro Leica 2.8 22
100 mm Macro Leica 2.8 22
280 mm Apo-Telyt-R Leica 2.8 22
280 extender Apo Extender-R 1.4 x
180 mm Telephoto-Apo-Summicron-R Leica 2
Apo-Telyt-R Modular Leica lens system
280/400/560 mm Lens Head Telephoto-Leica-R
400/560/800 mm Lens Head Telephoto-Leica-R
1x 280/400 – Focus Module 2.8
1.4x 400/560- Focus Module 4

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Mark Tomalty July 4, 2010 at 3:46 AM


Just an FYI.
The image of the lens used to illustrate this post is an ‘M’ 50 1.4 and not an ‘R’ series 50 1.4


Shane July 4, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Mark Tomalty, Thanks so much for helping me out, I will change that.

Cort Fey July 5, 2010 at 1:10 AM

Thanks for this. How do you feel they compare to the more modern Zeiss ZF lenses? I think I read (maybe here?) that Panavision primo lenses are made with Leica glass – do you see any familial similarities?

Shane July 6, 2010 at 11:01 PM

Cort Fey, You are very welcome, The Zeiss are very contrasty lenses. The Canon’s are creamier. The Leica’s have similar characteristics to the Panavision Primo but lack the technically advanced lens coating and cinema focus throw. The Leica still lenses flare easy.

Patrick July 5, 2010 at 11:26 AM


thanks for an awesome blog and some truly inspiring work!!
I was wondering if you could give some recommendation on a small set of focal lengths to invest in.
I’m thinking mostly Leica R series and a maximum of three lenses.

Hope this isn’t a really stupid question.

Thanks again!

Shane July 5, 2010 at 7:58 PM

Patrick, You are very welcome. I would invest in at 21,35, 50, 90 and a 180mm Leica R mount.

Eric Diosay July 5, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Hi Shane – I was waiting for a blurb from you regarding Leica R lenses. I prefer alt lenses such as Leica R and Zeiss ZF over Canon’s offerings. The cine-like focus, solid all metal bodies and amazing images are a huge draw.

I use fotodiox adapters for my Zeiss primes and while I can focus to infinity, there is a little bit of play at the mount. As for the Leica Rs, have you looked into Leitax adapters (http://leitax.com/Leica-lens-for-Canon-cameras.html)? David’s work is impeccable and the adapters feel a lot more solid than most others.

Thanks again for your continued support of the community and your evangelism of HDSLRs.


@ericdiosay on twitter

Shane July 6, 2010 at 10:56 PM

Eric Diosay, I checked out those Leitax adapters and they look awesome. I am going to look at those. Thank you so much for the research and you are very welcome.

Paul S July 5, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Shane, after hearing about the Leica R’s on your blog a while back, I decided to check them out. I now have a Leica addiction, with you to thank.

You had mentioned in a previous post that you were adding a touch of blue in the custom WB to counter the warmer yellow tones. Do you still do that, or is the -200 in color temp all you do now?

Also, have you had a chance to try out the Leitax mounts? I actually prefer them over the Fotodiox adapters and have them on all my Leicas.

Shane July 6, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Paul S, Yes, I just alter the color temp. on the Leica’s. I found 200 degrees to about right. No I haven’t had a chance to try the Leitax mount. Tell me more about it. Thanks so much.

Mark Tomalty July 5, 2010 at 11:55 PM

Hey Shane,

If you don’t mind I’d like to add some more detail to your list of suggestions and Leica R glass on Canon
DSLR’s in general.
As a still photog for over 30 years I’ve bounced back and forth between Nikon,Canon, and Leica and…pi$$ed
away far too much money in the process.
Anyways, back on point.

Those considering Leica R should note that some lenses (from wides to some normals) have an issue where the
rear of the lens obstructs the path of the mirror in the camera and will need to be adapted.
The following link explains better than I can: http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/Leica_db_Specific_Lenses.html

Officially, all Leica R lenses are no longer in production so everything has to be purchased from used
channels or dealers with existing inventory.

Of the 50’s the most current (E60 filter size) and f 1.4 aspherical is the most desirable but are not too common and a bit pricy-but then what Leica lens isn’t.
The older 50 f 2.0 is very nice and much more compact and affordable than the asph 1.4

90mm’s come in a couple of flavors,an older 2.0 and 2.8 as well as a more recent 2.0 APO design which is
fantastic. The APO design is internal focus and maintains its physical dimension while the other have the
barrel lengthen as one focuses closer.

There are also a few iterations of the 180. The most current versions, both APO, are among the best in their
class. There is a 2.8 apo which is compact, internal focus, and deadly sharp as well as an incredible 2.0 apo
that has a unique and beautiful out-of-focus optical signature-huge but the internal focus with this lens
is about the best on the planet and can easily be tracked with one or two fingers.
There is an older 2.8 and 3.4 version of this focal length but I would avoid them considering the options
either from Leica or Canon.

The 21 is an extremely old design and I have heard mixed reviews-some in love with it and others the
polar opposite so it might come down to variance between individual lenses.

The most current 19mm (though it needs the camera mirror to be shaved a bit) is a killer lens with
silky smooth internal focus. Sharp is an understatement

Hope this helps,

Shane July 6, 2010 at 11:34 AM

Mark Tomalty, WOW!!!, thank you so much for your help on this. I really appreciate all of this info. to all of our colleagues. This is very important information to pass on. I don’t remember the 90mm breathing. We specifically tested that. Yes we had all of our lenses modified by Duclos Lenses http://www.ducloslenses.com/Duclos_Lenses/Main.html so that we did not have to shave the mirror. Thanks again.

Mark Tomalty July 6, 2010 at 12:05 AM

I’m actually having second thoughts,now, as to whether the older 90mm’s actually do change as
one focuses closer. As I haven’t used them in a few years, I’ll have to confirm with someone who has one.


Paul S July 6, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Thanks for the quick response, Shane, I’ll give the -200 WB a shot.

Leitax mounts aren’t adapters, but instead they’re a replacement mount that installs right on top of the original R mount. It essentially turns a Leica lens into a native EOS lens, with all the benefits that entails – no play, infinity focus, etc. I’ve found it to be the most elegant solution for adapting any lens to Canon. Here’s the link –


Shane July 6, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Paul S, that sounds kick ass. I will get that crackin’. Thank you so much again.

Paul S July 6, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Mark, I have the original 90/2 (v1 with the 2-piece drinking cup lens hood) – it does breathe slightly as you rack focus, and the barrel extends as well. Not sure if the v2 pre-APO does the same.

maureen ganley July 7, 2010 at 7:08 AM

Shane, Your generosity in sharing is reaching so many people…unique & special within such a difficult professional landscape…making the world a better place! If I could beg a question..I’m getting started on building an online video library. Interviews will be shot in MD offices, restaurant kitchens,fitness centers..focus is food, fitness&preventative health. Feeding/educating the little people of the world with a strong/creative message…any simple suggestions in how to equip novice video makers?

Shane July 7, 2010 at 10:17 PM

maureen ganley, Thank you so much for those wonderful kind words and support. I would get a lightweight tripod, your 5D, so handheld support from Red Rock, manual follow focus, little clamp-on matte-box with an eyebrow. Extra batteries, UDMA Extreme CF cards, and a Zacuto Z-Finder is absolutely essential. A small Kino Flo lighting kits, maybe the Diva’s. Lite Panel Kit with some 3″x6″ bricks and a couple 12″ x 12″ Lite panels. I would get a lighting monitor, that HP Dreamcolor is pretty cheap, some HDMI cables. If you want to do some moves maybe a cine slider or cam rail system. 30″ flex fills in bounce and diffusion, some c-stands, grip clips, roll of color correction gels and diffusions. These are some things that come to mind.

Mark Tomalty July 8, 2010 at 12:08 AM

Shane, to build on Maureen’s question.

As a still photographer making my entire income for the last 20 years from stock imagery I’m looking towards
motion stock as a way to diversify my still imagery and buy a little more life in the biz.
As such, I envision myself working in 30-60 sec clips and, once I get a handle on the basics of motion shooting and
post I will be generating content at a pretty decent pace.

My question is what software should I be looking at to manage and input metadata info such as caption
and keywords so that I’ll, obviously, be able to retrieve specific clips on demand?


Toby Angwin July 10, 2010 at 8:15 AM

Hi Shane,

A question about your camera mount. I’ve just shot a clip with a friend’s Redrock dslr baseplate and kit and had to drop some shots due to the follow focus wobbling the camera too much. You said on a previous post you had a custom baseplate made and a plate from Really Right Stuff on the camera. I am feeling that this might work on the kit I’m putting together was wondering if you are custom mounting the RRS plate direct onto your baseplate or are you using one of their quick releases too?



Shane July 13, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Toby Angwin, Unfortunately we are not going to be selling those. It is what makes are Moviemaker so strong, how fast you can move from one conversion to the other. The baseplate is our design and then we intergrate the RRS L-bracket and quick release.

Stuart Allman July 16, 2010 at 9:43 AM


You have had quite a few posts about optimizing lens selection. I would be really grateful if you could capture a still frame of video of the exact same scene with each of these lenses (Nikon, Canon, Leica, Zeiss, Panavision) using the same camera settings. I’d like to see the difference since that’s what really matters. Not doubting you, but I have no clue as to the magnitude of the differences.


Shane July 16, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Stuart Allman, what a great idea for a blog post. We will do this very soon. I can do that no problem. Thank you for the idea and your support.

Artur Mazur July 17, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Hi Shane,

You said somewhere that fast lenses are not so good for dslrs because of problems with accurate focusing. Is it possible to shoot in low-light situations with 2.8 lens and still achieve good results with high iso settings on canon 5D? I’m asking because I’m torn between 1.4 and 2.8 contax lens and the price difference is quite big.


Shane July 17, 2010 at 5:17 PM

Artur Mazur, My advice to you would be to spend the money on the 1.4 Contax. What I said was when shooting action, or with a lot of camera movement being down below a 2.8 is very challenging for a focus puller. But having the ability to go way down to a 1.4 for lock off shots, or one’s with subtle movement is HUGE!!!

Sadaiel July 19, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Hi Shane,
the best as ever !
I use quite always leica lenses: I personally own summicron 35,50,90 and 60, 135. I also have 100 apo and 180 apo 3.4.
I love these lenses. But in some cases I don’t have infinity focus. I have several adapters, Fotodiox too, but using 21 super angulon, 28 2.8, 35 summicron, 60 macro, and 100 APO, I don’t achieve infinity focus: in fact I didn’t buy 21 and 28 for this. Some lenses are closer to infinity focusing, some others are far.
Is this just my problem ?

Shane July 20, 2010 at 2:38 AM

Sadaiel, here is the link to the ultimate lens adapter that will deliver infinity focus. http://leitax.com/Leica-lens-for-Canon-cameras.html Check it out. All reports are that is the best.

Sadaiel July 21, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Shane, thank you very much !

Shane July 22, 2010 at 12:16 AM

Sadaiel, You are very welcome!!!

Steve July 28, 2010 at 12:10 PM

Hi Shane,

I’m curious if the newer and older versions of Leica lenses are similar in color and contrast. Is it wise move to mix them together or is it better to buy only the newer ones to have consistency in look?
BTW Can’t wait for the Zeiss vs Leica vs Primos comparision, fantastic idea!


Shane July 28, 2010 at 3:18 PM

Steve, They look very consistent in color and contrast, the only thing that I noticed that the older lenses flare a little easier because their lens coating is not as advanced. Working on that lens comparison blog, will be a bit. We are going to be doing that at the bootcamp in August.

Darren August 9, 2010 at 2:52 AM

Hey Shane i really appreciate all you are doing on this site! it really has helped me as a budding cinematographer.

I would like to know where i could get these leica lenses from your list.

I cant seem to find them on ebay…well the types speicified in the list. i find others.

I cant offrod those right now and actually am gearing up to get some old russian primes for now. But i;d still like to know where to source these leica’s when i’m ready.

Shane August 9, 2010 at 4:51 AM

Darren, Thank you so much for you kind words and support. I will get some leads for you and get back to you.

Darren August 9, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Wow…such a fast response…I look forward to ur reply. Greetings from Jamaica (caribbean)…if you are ever in this neck of the woods it would be kool to talk over a good meal of jerk chicken 🙂

Shane August 9, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Darren, Jerk chicken sounds amazing. I will take you up on that, and I will have Julien track these primes down. They seem very interesting.

Darren August 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Also…you should try these russian primes and tell me what u think if u have the time

Supertakumar 50mm 1.4
Helios 40 (85mm)
Mir 24 (35mm)

There are others like the zenitar 16mm
Helios 44
And others in the supertakumar series.

Darren August 9, 2010 at 2:11 PM

My mistake…the supertakumars are japanese vintage…not russian.
Also the helios 44 is a 58mm.

I was turned onto those lenes by my collegues at dvxuser.com.

I used the supertakumar 50 with my 7d to shoot this…http://www.vimeo.com/13410432

( That’s 7d audio that won’t be used 🙂 ) Don’t mind if u don’t understand what’s being said 🙂

guillermo garza August 9, 2010 at 11:09 PM

hi every one, hello shane.. first of all, thanks for all the valuable info that is being shared through your site I have found it extremely helpful.

I have a question for shane and every one else… I am about to shoot a detective television series which is going into its second season here in mexico, the thing is I shot the first season with the sony EX1+letus adapter and the arri zeiss high speed 1.3 MKIII primes. I was left with a very limiting light sensitivity of 125 iso. Ive convinced the producers to bet on the canon 5D system.. but now come the lens choices. I have not been able to test any of the PL mount options for the 5d and ive been reading that it does not take every PL lens due to issues with the mirror and that some lenses don’t cover the full frame of the 5D. ive been looking to invest in some lenses myself and ive read the great info in this site on both zeiss ZE and leica-r. now the question.. and I am asking for a personal opinion.. which of the two (ZE , LEICA) lens kits would you choose and why? for a moody, suspenseful type of story.. in a high speed, two camera, 6 pages of script a day type of shoot? I can not test all of the possibilities myself because of budget issues and there is nowhere to have access to this gear in my city so your opinion is very valuable to me.

thanks to Shane and everyone for sharing your hard work. it is very much appreciated. as soon as I start this project I hope I can contribute as well..

if anyone is interested, you can catch some scenes of the 1st season of the show here.


Shane August 10, 2010 at 4:15 AM

guillermo garza, You are very welcome and thank you for those kind words. The 5D is the best for what you are doing. The PL mount is limiting. If you can find a set of the Dalsa 4K primes then they will be perfect for your shoot. You can go with a 24mm all the way to a 180mm lens. They are going to be geared for wireless follow focus, they will have iris gears, they will be much more user friendly for your focus pullers. Your next best bet is the Arri Ultra Primes. You can use form a 32mm up to a 180mm. In the still lens department I would see if you can get your hands on the Leica’s. They will be far superior to the Zeiss. The reason being is if you are shooting that fast. You are not going to have that much time to light. The Zeiss are very contrasty and slow, where the Leica’s will see into the shadows a little better and most of them are a 2.0 or a 1.4. Now finding these Leica’s is a very difficult feet. They are hard to find and you will have to surf all the Leica sites to try and put this set together. I do not know what your time frame is, so if your time frame is tight and you want to go the still lens route, that I personally don’t advise. Then Zeiss would be your only option. I hope this helps.

guillermo garza August 10, 2010 at 10:58 AM

that helped a lot, thanks for the fast response, And for pointing me in the right direction. I will look into the leicas. the dalsa (being rehoused leicas *brilliant idea) seem awesome but just out of my price range, the ARRI ultra primes ive used and loved for commercials and more decently budgeted projects.. I think ill try my luck at finding the leicas and have them cine-mod at duclos. im grateful for your detailed advise..

Another question, what about zooms from the still world? which have you tried? Im after a long telephoto zoom for use as a variable prime not so much for zooming in the actual shot, just for quick reframing of specific long distance shots (we steal a few of our street scenes in tough neighborhoods)..

fader/variable ND? has anyone here used it? does it maintain color and sharpnes? what about IR pollution?

thanks shane and everyone posting for the very valuable information..

Shane August 10, 2010 at 9:10 PM

guillermo garza, The Lecia’s seem like your best option. The 70-200mm Canon Zoom is not bad. All the other ones suck. Fader ND’s are the worst thing you can do for your image. I have designed Water White ND filtration specifically for the Canon 5D. You can get them at a discount rate at my Bootcamp, or buy them at Filmtools in L.A. They keep it totally clean without the magenta shift that all the other filters give you. You can also get an WW IR ND version of this from 3,6,9,1.2. They give you a slight more golden tone. You are very welcome.

Darren August 10, 2010 at 11:31 AM


You don’t want to get the fader nd. I use one currently because I don’t have anything else. However..many tests over at dvxuser have shown the fader nd to degrade image quality making images softer especially anything beyond 50mm. It also has a green shift in colour. The fader is also plastic. What they have been doing however is a DIY variable filter solution by getting 2 high qulaity B+W filters, one circular and one linear and stack them. The linear being on the outermost…and then turn it to dial in correct exposure. I haven’t personally tried it but many of them have and they report there is no image degradation. I’m going to go that route.


Darren August 10, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Oh and to clarify…its circular and linear polarizers.

Shane posted a topic about tiffen water whites IR nd’s and those seem to be worth looking into.

For me though I need a more variable type for quick changes in exposure.

Darren August 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM

on 2nd thought i think i will go with the Tiffen and stack 🙂

Eric Diosay August 12, 2010 at 12:39 PM

I had heard many things about the Fader ND being soft but LCW recently released their Version II which is supposed to correct this issue. It does not. And now, I am currently relegated to shooting with a matte box and filters. I would like to maintain the small, light footprint of my rig so I will definitely look into Darren’s and your solution.

As for Leica-R lenses, there are a several of various sizes on eBay, but you have to be careful. Some of the lenses are really old with typical issues. I currently have a set of Duclos/Leitax modded Leica’s in 19mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and a 90mm sourced through eBay but this took almost six months to acquire.

Thanks, again, Shane.

Shane August 16, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Eric Diosay, It is not only the softness, it is the fact that you are using a polarizing filter. So all the beautiful reflection off of someones face that makes them feel alive is gone. All the reflection off of the ground, ocean, basically any reflective surface is compromised. I use polarizing filters to see through car windows to help deepen a sky, and when I shot “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” I chose to take the reflection off of their faces for the period look I was going for. But unless you are going for those types of things. The fader ND’s suck.

guillermo garza August 12, 2010 at 3:55 PM

I imagined that the fader nd should have some nasty issues, too good to be true I think. thanks for the heads up everyone.. im going to try for the water whites and will check out the 70-200 thanks Shane..

I have till mid January to put my leica set together. If anyone is selling I’m interested. Eric, is the coating and flare issue with the leicas something that gives you too much trouble or is it manageable? what about lights in the frame how does that work? also, do they cut well with other brands of glass?

Darren August 13, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Yeh Eric I do see leica’s on ebay, but just not the specific ones on Shane’s list. I’m not familiar with the differences in the types of leica’s but I do see a number of summicron (I believe). If those are also good I’d probably invest in them as an alternative. The ones I found aren’t that fast though averaging at about 2.8 if I remember ( I could be wrong).

I have a question for you guys…shane also…I’m a fan of the old glass hence my supertakumar and the russians I’m gonna get, but how about Zeiss contax/yashica’s. Anybody using these? They can be had for reasonable prices. I imagine since they are zeiss they would be good.

Marcelo Trotta August 17, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Hi, I use a set of Leicas and love the results. Excellent color rendition, resolution and by far the most beautiful bokeh. They’re also very robust and much more apropriated for cinema use than the autofocus lenses. In my set I have:
21mm Angulon
28mm Elmarit
35mm Summicron
50mm Summicron
90mm Elmarit ( a bit slow but incredible quality )
135mm Elmarit
180mm Elmar
and the great 105-280mm Vario ( as the 5D is still full frame, the longer end of the 70-200mm in video, for example, is not enough so Ive started to research the 100-300mm zoom range and found this wonder ). As for the adapters I use the Novoflex. They are quite expensive at US$ 290 each but they keep focus to infinity and also hold up the lenses collimation ( when you set the focus by eye, if you meter the distance, the scale confirms the same focus ).

Shane August 17, 2010 at 2:55 PM

Marcelo Trotta, I am so happy with what I have been shooting on the Leica’s. They are a pain in the ass to find, but well worth it.

Marcelo Trotta August 18, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Yeah, Theres lots of models and they’re getting difficult to find. Yesterday I was checking this store’s site here in Brazil and there was a 100mm Macro-apo. Ive tried to jump on it but it was sold in a couple of hours…My 90mm Elmarit is a bit slow but its MOD is 70cm and the results are quite good. Now Im trying to find a 90mm Summi APO, wich is regarded to be the best overall lens. But you know what? Ive been more and more connected to the look I see than to specifications. I just like the look the Leicas give me and Ive tested them transfered to 35mm and enjoyed the results, both aesthetically and technically. Here you’ll find an article I wrote for the ABC ( Brazilian Association of Cinematography ) on the use of DSLRs on fiction TV series. It’s in portuguese but there you’ll find a couple of picts etc.


Shane August 18, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Marcelo Trotta, I totally agree. The Leica’s are where it is at. You have to be patient. It is a long haul.

Shane August 18, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Marcelo Trotta, I looked at your article, even though I could not read it, what was your picture style? The images look wonderful. I am sold on the Leica’s. There is a reason that all Primo Panavision Primes are Leica glass, they are the best. Period, the end.

Marcelo Trotta August 18, 2010 at 10:18 PM

Hey Shane, after some testing I decided to go with: -1 Sharpness, -2 Saturation and -2 Contrast. In Neutral or Faithfull the images looks too contrasty to my taste ( and , probably, to the majority of the colorists as well ). I light mostly with heavy diffusion on one side and negative fill on the other, so my lightning already comes contrasty but i like to have the smoothest gradient i can get. On the other hand if you lower too much things at the Picture Styles settings, the light design is gone.The thing is to have the image as close as possible to what you want right out the camera, don’t you think? The less you twist in post, the less you you have to struggle with the Canon cameras issues , such as heavy compression. At the end if you put more contrast in a scene in post, you’re actually introducing more compression ( as you reduce the amount of different shades of grey… ).

Darren Scott August 19, 2010 at 9:55 PM

hey Shane i hear you talk about “creaminess” of lenses all the time…what exactly does that mean.

Offtopic…check out this vid i shot on my 7d i thought you would like…pretty interesting way down there.


Shane August 22, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Darren Scott, This is what I have been trying to achieve in the HDSLR platform for awhile. Getting the right combination of glass to respond with the 5D sensor. So far the best combination that I have found to give that Digital film look is what I call creamy, but sharp. Creamy is the ability of a lens to roll off highlights smoothly and not have that harsh sharpness that you get with other lenses. Also the roll off into the shadows, with this extended dynamic range you get a creamy look but still hold a nice sharp image. So rating lenses that deliver this would be as follows: Panavision Primo Primes, which is Leica glass in a Panavision wrapper, then Leica R mount lenses adapted to the EOS mount, then finally Canon L Series glass, no Zooms only the primes. I hope this helps.

Darren Scott August 19, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Sorry you may not be able to watch it on Facebook…


Darren Scott August 25, 2010 at 9:38 AM

thanks Shane.

Remember to check out the supertakumar 50mm (1.4) and 85mm (1.9), and the helios 40-2 (85mm). get em on ebay. tell me what u think.

Bill September 10, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Shane, Marcelo,

Shane, are the mirrors shaved on your/rental 5D(s)?

Marcelo, is the mirror shaved on your 5D(s)?

Great info on the Leicas however I am getting confused as to what works without modification and what does not.

I have completed my set of Mamiya M645 lenses in my kit, however I want to start getting the Leica’s and bring the kit to the next level.

Thank you,

Shane September 10, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Hi Bill, The Leica’s are R mounts, you just need to put a Leitax adapter on there and you are good to go. There are a couple modifications that I had Duclos lenses do for the wider Leica’s. They had to shave the back of the rear element ring so that it did not hit the mirror. No I do not modify any of my 5D’s other than the PL mount versions that HOT ROD cameras has done. You are very welcome.

Andrew Wehde September 13, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Hey shane, could you talk a little more about which Leica R lenses you needed to be sent in to get shaved down? I know you say the summilux are the best lenses to get, but for some of us who can afford those, what is your opinion on the Elmarit R lenses? I was thinking the 24 elmarit, 35 elmarit, 50 summilux, 90 elmarit. Would you say this lens set is a far superior set then the Nikon AI/AIS glass, in particular, the 35 1.4, 50 1.2, 85 1.4?

thanks shane!

Shane September 13, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Andrew Wehde, with all of my testing, the Leica’s seem to be the best fit for the Canon CMOS sensor. But that is truly my eye telling you this. You are an artist. If you feel you can deliver the images that you love with the Nikon’s then go for. I love the Nikon AI/AIS glass. Blogs are great for information, but that is exactly what they are. You have to then take that information and see if it fits your artistry. I started with Nikon AI/AIS glass because that is what I owned.

Andrew Wehde September 13, 2010 at 11:21 PM

Thanks Shane! i am ordering the leica R 50 1.4 and doing some camera tests against the nikon and zeiss. Lets see what works best, I like the idea of the Leica a lot. I think superior optics should be the victor and love the idea of the longer focus throw to give myself a chance. The only thing with the Leica that throws me off is the f.4 21mm. I also really like the idea of having a Canon L zoom set for commercial and faster paced work and a leica R set for more cinematic work. Wish me luck! I will update you once i make my decision.

Shane September 14, 2010 at 10:45 PM

Andrew Wehde, don’t embrace the Canon Zooms, go for the Leicas, they kick ass. The 21-35mm, 35-70mm, and the 75-200mm all t3.5.

Andrew Wehde September 14, 2010 at 6:47 PM

Hey Shane, Have you done any tests with the Leica R mount Angenieux 70-210/3.5? I know these lenses are legendary in the cine world, i was wondering if this still lens holds up on the big screen or if it even is worth looking at for the 5ds?
thanks again for everything you have and continue to do for cinematographers around the world!

Andrew Wehde September 15, 2010 at 12:49 AM

Thanks for the advice, what do you find from these lenses that make them more superior then the canons even at a slower 3.5?

Shane September 15, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Andrew Wehde, I find that they deliver a better contrast range than the Canons.

Thai September 17, 2010 at 5:14 PM

Hi Jane

Recently I came across your blog. Since then I am checking i regularly. Thanks for all these great infos!

I was inspired by your article about mounting Leica-R on 5D for video work, and thus purchased the Leica 35 F2, 50 F2 and 100 Apo Macro today (all used). Although I didnt have time to test the lenses intensively I noticed the following things: all three lenses do breathe. And second when I pull focus (from Chrosziel) quite rapidly back and forth there is an image jump at the starting point. My Leicas are connected via a Novoflex adapter which fits quite well. Based on what I read I assumed that Leica lenses dont breathe at all. Therefore I am even more worried about image jump when pulling focus. I am not sure if image jump is due to the Novoflex adapter. It seems quite tight to me although there might be a little bit of play when pulling focus very fast. Is this normal or am I missing something?

Shane September 18, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Thai, this is a pro-sumer plastic camera, that we are all asking it to do stuff that it was not designed to do. You are also asking the mount to not flex slightly when you do a rapid focus rack. Well unfortunately you will fail. I have very tight mounts and my image moves with in the optics also. You just cannot do that kind of shot or slow it down a bit. It is all about trying to not show this cameras cons. One thing you can do that I would advise is getting the Leitax mount that you remove the R mount from the lens and then screw this mount directly to the back of the Leica lens. You will not have that play that every adapter has, other than the plastic body flexing. Just a quick question. Did you buy the exact name and lens that was on my blog post. Because buying the same millimeter means nothing in the Leica world it has to be the exact make and t-stop. You are so very welcome and I thank you for the support.

Thai September 17, 2010 at 5:16 PM

shane, sorry for misstyping your name!

Thai September 18, 2010 at 11:12 AM


Thanks for your quick reply! After some more testing I must say that I was mistaken. The Novoflex adapter (which is of metal) does not move at all. In fact it is very tight (it cost a hell of money here in Switzerland).
So I think the image shift has something to do with the internal floating of the glasses when racking focus, which surprises me after having read such good comments from you about Leica -R lenses. I check serial numbers of all my Leicas and they seem to be quite new (production year 1993). And I think I bought the right ones based on your list ( 35 2.0 summicron; 50 2.0 summicron; 100 2.8 apo macro elmarit). However you ar right about slowing down focus movement which improves. But there is still image shift. Probably I will bring the lenses to a local dealer and have them inspected. Maybe they can adjust the internal floating?

Shane September 18, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Thai, they could have been damaged in shipping, there are little set screws that hold each piece of glass in the lens, I have this happen all the time on the cinema style lenses. On Terminator:Salvation we shipped in a 40mm Primo from LA to Albuquerque, New Mexico and it would not find its focus, the elements had jarred loose.

Thai September 19, 2010 at 5:13 AM


one final question, do your Leicas breathe when racking focus?

Andrew Wehde September 21, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Hey Shane, i just received the 50 1.4 and the 21 f4. The 50 is gorgeous! but i am not sold on the 21, i feel it is not as sharp as the canon 16-35 2.8 II. Do you have any suggestions? Is the 19mm 2.8 a better lens? This hicup is giving me some doubt on these lenses, If i cant provide consistent quality from wide to tele, i am afraid of using them as a whole set. thanks shane!

Shane September 22, 2010 at 12:50 AM

Andrew Wehde, Your 16-35 Canon is not sharper, it is contrasty than the Leica, which makes it look sharper. I don’t use any of those Zooms. I will take a Lecia over any of that Canon glass. The Leica’s look far more cinematic, but to each his own. If you love that Canon glass you are not going to like Leica. I like Leica because that has been what I have been using to shoot 13 of the 15 movies I have done.

Andrew Wehde September 21, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Also, With the 35mm 1.4, i assume that lens needs to be shaven down? Or does it fit on the 5dmkII with the Leitex adapter?

Andrew Wehde September 21, 2010 at 7:04 PM

Oh man, i am starting to annoy myself now, Last question i promise! I only ask because i am not happy with the 21mm i got, its being sent back tomorrow. With the 35mm, did you find the 1.4 being worth the extra money in comparison to the quality of the 35 2.0? Same with the 80mm, did you find the 80, 1.4 being worth getting over the 90mm 2.0? thanks again for all your time spent to help us small filmmakers make the best choices!

Shane September 21, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Andrew Wehde, yes

Thai September 22, 2010 at 1:35 AM


I had a film shoot using my Leicas for the first time yesterday. I only used the 50 f2, 35 f2 and 100 2.8 apo macro. I am very happy with the images, very sharp, nice color and a creamy look very different to my Canons. If I understand you correctly you said it is worth getting the 1.4 over 2.0. Are you referring to image quality that is even better or that they are faster? Shooting below 2 with the 5d is an overkill in my mind. So I dont need the extra stop.
The only thing that I was hoping the Leica would deal better is lens breathing. Unfortunatrly I must say that my Leica lenses dont do a better job than my Canons in this regard. I would like to hear your personal opinion here.
Again I appreciate your time and support.

Shane September 24, 2010 at 1:18 AM

Thai, when I am suggesting the 1.4 over the 2.0, it is when you least expect it expect it. I found myself in a subway station without the ability to use any light. I went with a sliding shot and went all the way down to a 1.4 to bring the subway station to life. These are situations as a filmmaker that you will be put under. Having that extra stop is priceless. The Leica’s breathe hear and there, but come one, you are dealing with still lenses. If you want excellent quality glass without breathing then you have to either shoot Panavision Primos or Dalsa 4K Primes, it is simple as that.

Andrew Wehde September 22, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Thanks Shane! I actually hate the canon glass, i shot with the 50 1.4 today, did a bunch of tests and comparisons to the zeiss zf, nikon ais, and canon, The leica is far superior in every way, i am in love. My only complaint was the 21mm and its strong vignetting, do you find the 19mm 2.8 a better lens then the 21mm? I am trying to decide to either keep the 21 or ditch it for the 19mm. Any thoughts?

Shane September 24, 2010 at 1:13 AM

Andrew Wehde, I told you. I am looking at these babies on a 32′ screen and the Leica’s are the only ones holding up in a cinematic way. But they are quirky just like the camera we both love. Love the 19mm. Ditch the 21

Thai September 23, 2010 at 2:11 AM


I am wondering if your Leicas breathe while racking focus?

Thai September 24, 2010 at 8:35 AM


don’t take me wrong. I am very happy with the Leica and will definitely drop my Canons when it comes to shooting film. But also for still images, color rendition and bokeh are wonderful. I like much more than my Canons.
I was just confused when you said in the pros section that Leica glass don’t breathe. Maybe you meant breathe less.
Thanks again for guiding us.

Shane September 27, 2010 at 6:43 PM

Thai, They don’t breathe as much and feel more cinematic.

Andrew Wehde September 24, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Excellent insight Shane! They do seem quirky, but are wonderful! They give the images a new sense of “pop” that even the zeiss can’t do. They make the images feel more cinematic and give a new sense of 3 dimension space. They have wonderful contrast and seem to add a bit of latitude that is very welcome! In terms of the 19mm, Do you use the Version I or Version II? Have you tested both? Which one produce better results? or were they similar enough to go with the less expensive version I? thanks again for spending the time doing all of these tests on lenses that someone like me doesn’t have the budget or resources to do myself!

Shane September 27, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Andrew Wehde,yes they are great. I am glad you are loving them, because I can tell you one thing. The only lens that fits this sensor characteristics is Leica. Period. I would go to the website that I put on the Leica blog to get that info. I am not sure what version I have. They might be able to give you insight.

Greg Greenhaw September 27, 2010 at 9:31 PM

I love the Leica R’s
35mm summicron “bokeh king”
100mm APO 90
50 summicron
28 elmarit
But I was going to get the 19 elmarit but choose the Canon ts-e 17mm instead since the optics were so much better.

The TS-E is a manual focus lens so it doesn’t have the same issues the autofocus lenses do.
The 19mm leica is famous and hard to get but you need to shave the lens/mirror to make it work.

I’m going to sell me 50mm and 28mm since I use the 35mm more.


Shane October 1, 2010 at 1:25 AM

Greg Greenhaw, I will buy those two lenses from you. I am building a second set fo the same lenses that our listed on the Leica Blog. Thoughts?

Thai September 28, 2010 at 5:26 PM


I am starting to love my Leicas too. Got a commercial photo shoot today and shot every manual with my Leicas (I had a punch of my Canon L in my bag but did not even touch them). Back to the days where there was no AF in photography! As for film I will definitely switch to Leica (still keep my Canon as backup).

BTW, coming from photography I also shoot with a Hasselblad V system with a digital back from Leaf. I already tested the Hasselblad lenses on my 5D II before reading this blog. Images came out quite nice, although not as nice as the Leicas. The only negative thing is lenses are prone to flare (especially the 50mm) and have 5 blades only. Otherwise handling and focus throw is very cinematic.

Shane October 1, 2010 at 1:19 AM

Thai, I tried the Hassleblad lenses but did not fall in love with them. The out of focus highlights do not give you nice balloons of light. They breathe huge, but do have a nice cinematic focus throw, but their contrast, color and dynamic range felt like a Zeiss.

Andrew wehde September 29, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Shane, Does your 19mm 2.8 have the built in filters in the front? This is a sign of version 2. Version one is the larger optical glass in the front where as the 2nd version has the same berrel width through out the lens as well as built in nd filter. Would love to know which one you are using. This is my last lens I need,

I have the 35 2.0, 50 1.4, 80 1.4, 135 2.8

Shane October 1, 2010 at 1:06 AM

Andrew wehde, I have the version one. I do not have any ND filter with mine. Nice set you are putting together there. I find them so great and so cinematic in there contrast range.

Andrew Wehde October 1, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Thanks Shane for the info! I notice you have both the 60mm and 100mm macro on your list, Which one of the two gives a more macro shot? I am not sure the correct way to word this. I notices the 100mm macro has about a 26″ close focus and the 60mm has under 12″ I would like a macro in my kit for those extreme close up shots, in other words, have you decided which one provides that better then the other?

Shane October 2, 2010 at 1:54 AM

Andrew Wehde, You are very welcome. I like the 60mm myself.

Thai October 1, 2010 at 5:44 PM


I agree with you regarding the Hasselblad lenses. I still use them for photography with my Hassi V and digital back.
Otherwise I go with my Leica. I will add the 19mm 2.8, then I have a pretty good set. For the moment I stay with 35, 50, 90 F2 and 100 macro, until I find more occasions where I need to go faster.

Shane October 2, 2010 at 2:00 AM

Thai, sounds like you are putting together a kick ass kit. Thank you for all of your support.

Andrew Wehde October 6, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Shane, I finally received my Leitex Mounts. I have found they still have vertical play when i am using a follow focus. Did you run into the issue? Did you do anything to help stabilize the lens to minimize or eliminate this movement?

Shane October 6, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Andrew Wehde, Unfortunately there will be always a little play. The Canon mount is not the greatest for holding lenses stable, other than theirs. I would call Leitax directly to see if there is an adjustment to the mount that can help this play.

Andrew Wehde October 6, 2010 at 12:34 PM

I think it is also due partially to the camera body flexing on the zacuto mount, do you have any experience with the viewfactor cage with eliminating the flex and stabilizing the camera body? I do see the small flex between the lens and body, very little, but i think most of the image movement is the camera body flex because my leicas have such a tight focus pull… I wonder if that can be loosened as well???

Shane October 6, 2010 at 7:59 PM

Andrew Wehde, give Paul a call at Duclos http://www.ducloslenses.com/Duclos_Lenses/Contact.html maybe he can help you out with that.

Andrew Wehde October 29, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Hey Shane, I just got my 19mm 2.8 in the mail. It is version one like yours and i was doing some tests and i noticed when used in bright light during the day, you get a white halo ring around the edge of the frame and the same goes for at night with a practical light in the shot, same effect happens. Does this happen with yours?

Shane October 29, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Andrew Wehde, yes, I love that. The lens flares it is the equivalent of a 12.7 mm lens.

Tim Whitney November 11, 2010 at 5:29 PM

Shane, thank you! I just received my first Leica a few days ago (35mm Summicron-R) and am just now picking my jaw up off the floor. I really see what you mean about the “cream” in the highlights, it just handles blowouts so elegantly. I am officially a Leica convert now. 50 f/1.4 and the 90 f/2 are next on my list. Thanks again!

Shane November 15, 2010 at 1:33 AM

Tim Whitney, I told you so. It is the best lens with this sensor. Period. I am glad you are enjoying them. Rock on!!!

sammy November 21, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Leica zooms? There are Leica 35-70 and a 22-90 mid-range zooms.
Curious if anyone has given these a go.

Shane November 21, 2010 at 8:45 PM

sammy, I have a 21-35, 35-70, 28-70 and the 75-200mm. They rock!! Probably the only zooms that I fly on my 5D other than an occasional Canon 70-200mm IS.

Keidrych Wasley December 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Hi Shane,

I’ve been given some money out of the blue and have decided to take this opportunity to invest in some lenses. At the moment it is between the canon L primes and Leica’s. I would also like to use the lenses for still photography so the AF of the Canon’s is tempting.

One option is the Canon:
24mm L 1.4 MKII (bit too soft until 2.8?)
50mm 1.4
85mm L 1.2 MKII
100mm macro IS.

The other option is the leica:
21mm R 2.8
35mm summilux R 1.4
50mm summilux R 1.4
90mm summicron R F2 (non – APO) OR 80mm 1.4.

I wonder if you could share any of your experience, advice and thoughts?

Thanks you so much.

Shane December 6, 2010 at 7:56 AM

Keidrych Wasley, there is not better glass to put in front of this sensor than the Lecia’s. period. The end. Plus you don’t have to worry about the endless focus ring scenario with the L series glass. Duclos will de-click the Leica glass so that you can do iris pulls if necessary and not be locked into 1/2 stop increments.

Anthony December 6, 2010 at 5:20 AM

Shane — or anyone — have you gotten the Summilux-R 35mm/1.4 to work on the 5D? Most of the charts say that it’s not possible, that it will protrude into the mirror. Is this the one you had Duclos shave down? Just curious … as I would prefer the Summilux to the Summicron, but want to make sure it’s compatible with the full frame cams …. thx!

Michael Svitak December 6, 2010 at 10:46 PM


This is Mike Svitak from the elite team. The 35mm Summilux DOES fit on the 5D, but it does have to be shaved. This also goes for the 21-35mm zoom! Also, good to know that the 24mm will not fit either, but the glass protrudes into the mirror so it CANNOT be shaved down.


Chris McAlister February 11, 2011 at 4:26 AM

Hey Mike,

Thanks for the info. The 24/2.8 hits the mirror? I haven’t experienced that with mine yet…

Richard Allen Crook December 7, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Shane, how about vignetting on the 5d with these lenses? Any more of it compared to the Canon L? Less? Thanks!

Andrew Wehde December 26, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Hey Shane! What screw in filter do you use with the 82mm 19mm 2.8? I ordered a 82mm, but there is a slight vignette in the corners. I am worried if i go up to the 86mm with a step up fliter, there will still be a vignette since the filter will protrude forward more. Any advice? I have all whitewater 77mm for the rest of my leicas, amazing!

Shane December 26, 2010 at 9:04 PM

Andrew Wehde, We use the 77mm and electric tape it right to the front. We try to keep all of the filters one size so that we don’t have to carry different sizes and it keeps the cost down also. Try the tape. I am glad you are liking the Water White glass, it is so clean. I cannot be happier with the Leica resolution. Loving them too!!

Andrew Wehde December 27, 2010 at 12:35 AM

hmmm, i just took a look at your suggestion. I think i am a little confused. The front screw on for the 19mm is 82mm. When i place the 77mm filter on top of the front element, the convexed lens hits the 77mm filter. Is there a method that you guys use? Correct me if i am wrong, but i remember you mentioned awhile back that your 19mm is Version One with the 82mm front. Version two has no front thread and have a built in nd filter. Thanks again for helping me out!

Shane December 27, 2010 at 3:27 AM

Andrew Wehde, yes mine is version one, what is yours?

Andrew Wehde December 27, 2010 at 2:47 PM

mine is version 1 as well. When you lay the 77mm filter on top of the convexed lens. Do you let the two pieces of glass touch? How much of a vignette is there in the corners of the frame? For me, there is a noticeable vignette happening.

Mike Svitak December 29, 2010 at 11:52 AM


Yes, the 19mm does have some frustrating filter limitations. I read you had the same issue with the 86mm fliter. We use 4×5 whitewater filters when we run into this problem. It is not as secure as screwing in a filter, but will get the job done.


Andrew Wehde December 29, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Thanks mike! Do you actually tape the 4×5 onto the lens or use a mattebox? Just like you guys, i love not using a mattebox to keep weight and shear size down, and lets not forget how well the leicas flare! Thanks for all the help!

Shane December 31, 2010 at 6:36 AM

Andrew Wehde, yes, taping it out to keep it light or with a Matte Box if you are in studio mode or on the crane.

Keidrych Wasley December 30, 2010 at 7:47 PM

Hi Shane,

I’ve decided to buy Leica 50mm F2 summicron, 35mm ‘cron, 90mm ‘cron and 19mm elmarit. I wanted to ask if you have tested the older 50’s/35’s with the more modern versions? What differences have you noticed? I’m thinking particularly in contrast and wide open performance. I was going to get the 50 summicron F2 1978-1997 version.

I have also been thinking about a summilux 50mm, the problem is the summilux is harder to find and often quite expensive. I’ve read that the old 50 summilux is less contrasty (a good thing) than the new one but also quite soft wide open. I’d really appreciate any info you might have. Thanks again for your time Shane. Hope you have a great holiday season!

Mike Svitak December 31, 2010 at 12:18 PM


The 19mm gets a little tricky without a mattebox, but definitely can be done! Good luck!


Mike Svitak December 31, 2010 at 12:34 PM


We have had the opportunity to test various models of leica R primes against each other and had mixed results. We did an extensive test with the 28mm and found the newer version to be sharper and capture more vivid colors. The older version of this tended to be softer and have a slightly more magenta tone to it. We haven’t done much testing with the summicron leicas, but we did have a chance to test versions of the 50mm summilux. It had similar results as the 28mm, but without the magenta hue to it. What it boils down to, in my opinion, is what look you are trying to attain.

We have the 50mm t1.4 and, like all lenses this fast on the Canon 5D the depth of field is basically nil. A beautiful tool to have the ability to use when you are shooting, but not necessarily something that needs to be utilized in all situations.

Hope that helps!


Keidrych Wasley December 31, 2010 at 2:34 PM

Thank you so much Mike.

So, pretty much any 1.4 50 is good in your opinion? Just that earlier ones are a little softer? But i take it not so soft that it is not really usable? Which 50 1.4 did you guys decide to keep?

Thanks again

Michael Svitak January 2, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Either 50 is going to look superb. The earlier ones are a bit softer. Shooting at a 1.4 is definitely usable! But we tend to use it as more of a look for specific shots, rather than in a narrative environment. We have the older version of the 50mm Summilux.

CatAndHearRatMeat April 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Hi Mike,
Admire your effort on educating people. I started gathering Leica R’s little over a year ago not necessarily only for movie mode but simply because of the quality of glass…! It’s great, it’s heavy, it’s fully manual, just the way we like it(my day job is being a focus puller on movies and episodic here in NY). As for the image quality… again just the way it is in film world, you can get craps out of gold if the job is done poorly, but when done well… my fellow industry professionals immediately notice the difference and ask what lens I used- this mainly because even to professionals in the real world where 5D has sort of become D or E body(A, B and C being bigger ones like Alexa then D being Sony F3, then our good ol 5D as a Digital Eyemo), they only think of using Canon lenses.
Anyway, I saw how you guys put distance markings on your lenses. Coming from Ac background, I did the same when I started using 5D with manual primes, but yours look so much slicker and easier to see than mine. I just cut 1/2″ p-touch very tiny after 10x mag eyefocused on Putra chart, $ bill, to what I think as the most usable markings(like how Primos and S4s did the amazing jobs, but not so much with Optimos and Master Primes though they are great lenses)- 2′, 2′ 6″, 3′, 3’6″, 4′, 5′, 6′, 8′, 10′, 12′, 15′, 20′, 25′, 50′ … something like that. Any suggestions of making it look slicker? I know this has nothing to do with HDSLR tech and more of a labeling q’s but I just can’t figure it out. Thanks bunch in advance. Please feel free to PM me. It’d be great to hear from you.


P.S. These lenses have the same optics as Van Diemen Leica on PL… and though well- housed, they are not that well labeled and still $8k/pop!

Keidrych Wasley January 4, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Thanks again mike.

I have one more question. I’m going to get the 19mm elmarit but i wondered if you had tested the first and second version? I know Shane has the first version. The second version needs shaving a bit but is supposed to be much sharper and so on, though this might not necessarily be the best thing. So.. did you test both and go for the first version for a specific reason?

Thanks again. It’s a great help.

Francois Archambault, S.O.C. January 7, 2011 at 1:53 PM


I have a full set of Leica R, from the 28mm Elmarit, to the 250mm Telyt. All lenses with serial # above 310XXX, in other words, very similar coatings on all. I A/B tested them on a focus chart comparing them to my Zeiss ZF.2 lenses that I also have, a kit that was cine-modified by Duclos. The results were, to say the least, disappointing on the leica side. The 28mm Elmarit AND the 35mm Summicron were both fuzzy in the corners that I simply cannot imagine shooting with either of them at all, even in the 2.40:1 ratio. Plus, the 28 had a very distracting fall-off at 2.8. The Zeiss ZF.2 28mm and 35mm were clear winners, by far. The 50mm Summicron was as good as the 50mm Zeiss Macro-Planar, and the print showed nice color separation on both. The 80mm Summilux is a gem, but so is the Zeiss 85 1.4. Both looked magnificient. The 100 Apo-Elmarit was as good as the Zeiss 100 Macro-Planar, with a slight edge of more sharpness on the Zeiss. The 135 Elmarit, 180mm Elmarit 2nd generation and the 250mm Telyt were all compared to the Zeiss 85 and 100, and the Leicas looked good to wonderful. And mixing and matching them in the same scene seemed to be totally possible. I would have posted pictures of the RAW tests to show you guys, but I don’t know how to post them here.

My biggest disappointment was the 28 and the 35, both MUCH lower in results than the Zeiss of equal length. Plus, the size of the actual lenses made difficult the use of my motors with filters and mattebox, especially the 28mm Elmarit.

These were all tests made to establish fall-off, contrast and sharpness results, all done at a f2.8 stop. Why 2.8? Well, even if I look to expose at least at f4 anyway, I think that 2.8 is a realistic and popular stop for wide exterior nights, when lines and architecture fill the frames, and you don’t have a zillion dollars to light the set.

Now, on the “color separation” side of life, I will be shooting more tests in coming week, and I will go have a look on the speedgrade DI to see the results. I will keep you informed, if you’d like, but I was wondering if any of you guys actually did side-by-side A/B tests with the Leicas VS Zeiss ZFs?

Thank’s again Shane for your dedication and passion in sharing your knowledge! Too bad it’s not always like that in this business… as it should, if you ask me…

Francois Archambault, S.O.C.

Samuel Hurtado January 10, 2011 at 2:28 PM

wow, great info Francois, thanks for all the detail, and for the
comparison with the zeiss lenses

your conclusions kind of confirm what my web research had found, which
led me to get the cheaper but sharper elmarit 35mm instead of the
faster summicron 35mm

some Leica-R lenses ordered by weighted MTF sharpness at f/2.8 (and at
f/4), best to worse:
0.81 (0.86) – ElmaritR 90mm
0.81 (0.84) – SummiluxR 50mm
0.79 (0.87) – SummicronR 50mm
0.78 (0.81) – ElmaritR 35mm
0.75 (0.78) – SummicronR 35mm
0.74 (0.80) – ElmaritR 180mm
0.74 (0.79) – ElmaritR 28mm
0.73 (0.78) – PC Super AngulonR 28mm
0.71 (0.75) – ElmaritR 24mm

all that info is coming from photodo.com

Mike Svitak January 12, 2011 at 7:57 PM


We own a first gen version of the 19mm and have not tested it against the second gen yet, but hope to do that as soon as we can get a 2nd gen to test against.


Mike Svitak January 12, 2011 at 8:07 PM


Thanks for all the info! We have not done extensive A/B testing Leica R versus Zeiss. We have done Leica vs. Canon though and the Leicas were out-preforming the Canon. Also, when testing we shoot video in addition to stills and playback on the dreamcolor. Each class of lenses behaves differently. It boils down to what sort of look you are trying to achieve and knowing how to set your picture profiles according to each brand of lens. We have specific Zeiss, Canon and Leica profile settings in our cameras to enhance lens performance, this is very beneficial for matching multiple brands of lenses.


Francois Archambault, S.O.C. January 13, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Mike Svitak,

the testing I’m doing has to do with how it’s going to look after a film finish. Therefore, it became obvious to us that sharpness was a paramount lens characteristics to check and test. As you may already know, when tests are done for film projects, lens sharpness is verified after actually rolling film with the lens, using a focus chart, and then the stock gets labbed, and then the camera assistant inspects single frames on that neg test roll using a magnifying glass on a light table. That’s why verifying lens sharpness by simply looking at a video rolling in front of you, even on the HP dreamcolor, will not give you reliable results.

What we did was compare RAW still pictures taken with the lenses, using proper focus charts, and had 11 x 14 high quality photo prints made. All of a sudden, you see everything…

As far as I’m concerned, I tested 2 of each 28mm and 35mm leica lenses, and they all showed the same issues: blurry corners and sides. Then, just for shits and giggles, those same lenses were tested on a 7D, and with its 1.6x crop factor, the sharpness results were highly superior, the 7D sensor using less glass with it’s narrower circle of confusion. Having said that, I have to say that I prefer the “feel” of the leicas. Their lower contrast and creamier look makes them more cinematic. But even then, with good color correction (and a good colorist, these guys are the key to success on every project), we were quite easily able to get that similar “cinematic feel” with the Zeiss. Plus, the Zeiss being less easily “polluted” by lens flares (unless you want that, of course), wide shots are easier to work and match, contrast wise. But I haven’t thrown the towel yet, I’m now looking for a 35mm Elmarit to test… It is supposed to be much sharper that the Summicron… Can’t wait to find one…)

I am also a musician, and I feel that shooting with the Canons is very much like recording soundtracks in a studio. The raw basic recorded tracks HAVE to be clean, precise, no effects, and as true and faithful as possible to the actual tonal range of the instrument. That will give you the best possible raw material for the mixing process afterward. When shooting with the canons, some will say that you should expose DSLR footage as if it was reversal film, and I totally agree with that because it is in the same frame of mind as recording sound. Expose it right (with the Dreamcolor…), shoot it properly, compose FOR the story and the action happening in front of you. The rest happens in post. And since “post” is where you’re “stuck” with what you’ve shot, if one lens is less sharp then the others, it is more of a serious challenge to match then a slight color issue. If your raw material has blurry corners and sides, then, that’s what you’ve got, period. Color matching is the job of professional colorist, and even if some color issues are difficult to deal with, most can be fixed and matched to a degree where most of the time becomes seamless in the cut. But sharpness CANNOT be added, and so for me, it is priority #1.

Mike, I agree with you when you say that establishing a look and knowing how to get it is important, you are totally right. But I still think that sharpness (and it’s constancy…) is the only BEST FRIEND in the Canon 5D DSLR world. And that best friend involves 2 entities: 1- the actual glass of the lens, 2- and, mostly, a trusty focus puller. Even with the sharpest lens in the world, a bad focus puller will make everything ugly. A good focus puller is an artist. Not only will the shot be sharp, but he will rack at the proper moment, at the proper speed, and for the right reason. And that’s crucially part of visual story telling. Impressive cameras and high quality tools and accessories are important. But humans will give any of those tools Artistic depth and visual purpose.

Jeez! I’m gettin’ philosophical now… that enough, I need a drink…


Shane January 17, 2011 at 1:42 AM

Francois Archambault, S.O.C., can I join you for that drink? Thank you so much for all of your testing and research. I hope that Mike and Adobe are getting to the bottom of your problems.
I am on the same pursuit for this platform to be able to hold up on a 60′ screen. All the tests that I have done found that the Primo’s were the ultimate capture medium with glass. Sharpness with a hint of cream. I am in agreement with you treating the 5D like reversal film stock. Get it close, what you see is what you get. That is why I love cinema glass which is not so current and sharp. I find the new lenses from Leica, Zeiss, and Angenieux are way too sharp for the HD platform. To me it delivers HD, plastic, too crisp images, not Digital Film.

Erik January 17, 2011 at 9:52 PM


I am wanting to purchase probably 3 of the Leica R primes for a 5D and have typed in lots of the different ones on your list to search for them used…and I’m pretty confused as some of them are exactly as you’ve written out but the price differences vary WILDY, with little difference in what condition they’re supposedly in. This is making me doubt if the lower-priced ones are the same as the higher-priced, if it has to do with the age (very hard to find the year manufactured), and so on. I confess I’m not a Leica expert so I really am having difficulty telling what is what. Is there are particular kind that I can’t really go wrong with, like the Summilux or Elmarit series? I’m kinda on spec overload at this point, any help would be much appreciated!

Mike Svitak January 19, 2011 at 1:15 AM


Summilux are the best, fastest (t1.4), and usually most expensive. Maybe a better way to start your package is deciding what 3 lenses you want in your bag.


Andrew Wehde January 25, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Hey Mike Svitak, I read that you use a specific picture profile setting for the Leica’s. Would you be open to sharing that info with the few of us who have committed to the leicas on the dslr platform for filmmaking?! Would love to get an idea of what you guys have found to be the ideal adjustment to get the absolute best out of these lenses! They really do shine, I have a bunch of really big clients in town (chicago) all of which are also post houses and they go nuts over these lenses in comparison to anything from canon/nikon/zeiss. It is wonderful being the only DP in town who has them!

Chris McAlister February 11, 2011 at 4:38 AM

Andrew, I also live in Chicago and adhere to the Leica primes, for obvious reason. They’re the cream of the crop, but it all comes down to what you do with them. Don’t single yourself out just yet.


Keidrych Wasley February 3, 2011 at 5:55 AM


I’m wondering if anyone has any experience with both the Leica 19mm elmarit version 1 and 2? I’m torn between which one to get. I’ve read that the V2 is sharper and more contrasty, but this is not necessarily the best thing for video work. It is also more expensive.

Thanks for any advice.

Mike Svitak February 7, 2011 at 3:23 PM


We do have a specific profile for the leica lenses. It is very similar to the profile we use for Panavision Primo lenses. I would be happy to see if we can post some picture styles online for you, but we create these picture styles by shooting stills in a similar environment then taking those still images and adjusting the contrast, saturation and curve with the CANON PICTURE STYLE EDITOR that comes with the camera. I’d recommend creating their own picture style before they go out shooting. What we are trying to do is gain a couple extra stops of latitude by reaching into the blacks while still holding the highlights.

One thing to remember is that you will need to set different picture styles for the 5D AND 7D because the sensors behave differently. We have general settings for CANON, ZEISS, PRIMO, and LEICA for each camera.


Mike Svitak February 7, 2011 at 3:23 PM

We use version 1 of the 19mm.

John Hally February 12, 2011 at 1:36 AM

I’ve been using a Leica 80mm f1.4 since before DSLR’s did video, and since the 5D2 have gone almost entirely to Leica R. Many work beautifully, but I’ve had some infinity focus issues, most notably with the 35-70mm f4 and the 400mm f6.8; can anthing be done? Adapters, mods (I don’t anticipate ever going back to Leica R cameras, so non-reversible is doable)?

Shane February 12, 2011 at 8:54 AM

John Hally, have you tried the Leitax mod http://www.leitax.com/Leica-lens-for-Canon-cameras.html. It requires you to take the R mount off and attach their mod that gives you the infinity focus and works around these loose adapters.

John Hally February 15, 2011 at 1:20 AM

Thanks, Shane, I’ll give Leitax a try…I’ve done Novoflex and various others—most lenses are close, but the 35-70 maxes out at a few yards…

Nadya February 12, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Thank you for this blog Shane, very enlightening! As are the posts. I have been considering buying a 35mm prime lens (with financial restrictions of course)to use with 5D and have been undecided- for a while considering the upcoming Zeiss 35mm 1.4 (but it’s expensive for my budget). But then I found this blog. What are your (or anyone’s!) opinion on the best 35mm Leica lens for “film” purposes to go with the 5d? Comments appreciated!

Shane February 13, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Nayda, thank you so much for those kind words and welcome to the Hurlblog, I see K Wasely is taking care of you. We love Leica’s here.

K Wasley February 13, 2011 at 7:47 AM

Leica M lenses do not work with a 5D, so that cuts that out. So you are left with Leica R and there are only two options which keeps things simple!

1. Leica 35mm summilux 1.4. This is the most expensive option and the lens will need to be modified to clear the 5D mirror, which will cost extra. Great lens.

2. Leica 35mm summicron F2. This is a cheaper lens due to the F stop. Very nice lens in my opinion. You want the second version which is serial number 2791417 and up. Expect to pay $600 to $1100 dollars depending on condition and where you buy it from. Forums can be a good place for a good deal. Leica forum, getDPI, FredMiranda and so on.

Happy hunting…

Nadya February 13, 2011 at 1:11 PM

K Wasley- Thank you!

Nadya February 13, 2011 at 1:34 PM

One more question- why does the serial number have to be 2791417 and up? Do any serial numbers lower than that not work? thanks!

Chris McAlister February 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Shane or Mike, have you guys had a chance to check out the new Zeiss CP.2’s? If so, what was your impression on them?

K Wasley February 15, 2011 at 8:27 AM

“One more question- why does the serial number have to be 2791417 and up? Do any serial numbers lower than that not work? thanks!”

This is just because from that serial and up is the second version of the lens, which i would recommend.

Tomi Gangl February 16, 2011 at 4:49 AM

Thanks Shane for all this blog informations!
I m buying a cannon 5D mark 2 and i want to use it especialy for shoothing on green screen.
I want to catch the whole human figure in the picture.
Which is the best lens that i should use for green screen shoothing in an interier?

Shane February 16, 2011 at 10:38 PM

Tomi Gangl, I would use a 50mm. That would look nice and give you full figure.

Mike S March 10, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Hi Shane,

I’m a film student and I’m interested in getting started in DSLR filmmaking. Your site and blogs have been my major source for info on the topic so far, so I want to thank you for that. I plan on getting the 550D because its cheaper, so I can invest in some good lenses and upgrade the body in the future. I was wondering if you knew anything on how the Leica Rs work with the T2i, and with the crop sensor on the T2i, what lenses you think would be best to start with. Whatever information or tips you can give would be very very appreciated. thank you so much

Shane March 10, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Mike S, I would save your money and get a 5D. The 7D, T2i, 550D all don’t hold a candle to it. If you are serious about making movies then I feel you need to start with the ultimate capture medium. Those others are all going by the wayside fast and the one that remains is the 5D. I would go for the 28, 50, 80, 100mm macro R Leica’s to start. They will deliver wonderful cinematic images.

Mike S March 12, 2011 at 2:04 AM

Thanks, Shane, you’re such a huge help. A second summer job will definitely be worth it :). I’m guessing you’re referring to the 5d mark ii? or the original 5d? also do you know where I could buy the Leica Rs? I dont see any on amazon or b&h. Thanks!

Shane March 12, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Mike S, eBay baby. Thank you so much for those kind words.

K Wasley March 12, 2011 at 8:21 PM

The 5D MKII. The 5D does not do video. In terms of Leica lenses, internet forums often have the best deals. Try the leica forum, GetDPI and fred miranda to start. I’ve paid significantly less than ebay prices getting lenses, often mint, from these forums. You want Leica R lenses don’t forget. Best of Luck!!!

Martin H March 20, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Hi Shane,
short question about the Fotodiox adapters. There are several different versions avaiable at theire website (pro grade; consumer grade; with chip…) wich adapters would you recommend for use on a 7d. Thanks for this great Blog by the way its a big source of inspiration…

greetz from Germany

Shane March 21, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Martin H, Pro grade, no need for the chip. SHould run you around 80 bucks.

Ron March 22, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Hi Shane,

Excellent forum! I have learned alot.

Initially I was going to purchase the “Red” however, decided on the Canon 5d ii. Been playing around with it for a month now. Found the Canon 24-105mm lens so, so. Bought the Canon 50 mm f/1.4 to see the performance. Then I ordered the Distagon T 21mm f/2.8 ZE. Still waiting for it to arrive. Noticed your pro Leica stance and I would have went for Leica if I would have found this blog earlier. Next lens will be a Leica. It has been a fun journey so far.

So for the Leica lenses:
1. Need the Mount
(ebay: Fotodiox Leica R – Canon EOS lens mount adapter PRO – $79.95)
2. R Lense
(use the pebbleplace site as pointed out for whether the lens will work:
http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/Leica_db.html )

By the way, your videos are fantastic.

Much appreciated,

Ron – from Edmonton – lots of snow still on the ground.

PS. I thank everyone else who has contributed information too! Thanks.

Shane March 22, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Ron, Thank you so much for those kind words, sounds like you are on your way. I would go with the Leitax mounts, these are the best. Don’t mess around with the fotodiox. I find that each lens gives you a different feel. You have to choose the project and then choose the lens that fits the style and look of that project.

Fredrick Dent May 10, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Shane, I’ve been building my collection of Zeiss and Leica R lenses for decades now, and I wonder how you adapted the Leica wide angles-15,19, 35 Summilux- for the 5D II. Thanks, Fredrick Dent

Shane May 17, 2011 at 12:48 AM

Fredrick Dent, I had Duclos lenses shave the rear element and use Leitax mounts.

Fredrick Dent May 20, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Shane, That sounds like a winner. Thanks, Fredrick

Ron March 23, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Hi Shane,

Thanks for the advice on the Leitax mount. Looked at my tracking # for the 21mm Zeiss I ordered – going thru customs. Once I play around with the Zeiss, then the next step is the Leicas. I’ll probably be picking your brain before I purchase a Leica, if you don’t mind.

By the way, I thought you were younger than me till I saw the website saying you were born in 1964 – good year, my year of birth too. Have a good one, and keep up the great work.



Shane March 24, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Ron, I am glad you found those. They are the best because the physically become a part of the lens not something you snap on. 1964, yes a good year. Thank you for all of your support.

Ron March 30, 2011 at 9:32 PM

Hi Shane,

I received the Zeiss 21 mm lens now. Been playing around with it. I found the information that you previously posted about the Zeiss is dead bang. I am switching back and forth in my thoughts and now thinking of getting another Zeiss without trying a Leica (sales guy is trying to encourage me to stick with Zeiss – although I value your opinion 1000x over his opinion). With the Leica, does it hold up better on the “big” screen compared to the Zeiss? Or is it a fine line? I can manipulate looks in post.

By the way, you are in a league way above the rest, which very few ever attain. You’re work is simply amazing. Thanks again for your blog.

Shane March 31, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Ron, Thank you so much for those kind words and your continued support. You have to do that test for yourself. I can only tell you what I believe and that is that I love Zeiss for a specific look and Leica’s for all of my looks. You have to see what fits your creative as a cinematographer.

Ron April 2, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Hey Shane,

Downloaded your T4 Episode 5 and Navy Summer Short. Burned to disc. Tried them on 50 inch TV – both awesome – looks like an expensive film camera was used – even my wife was very impressed (she gives me a hard time all the time). Then projected the 2 videos on my 150 inch screen from my HD projector. T4 was still awesome. Navy Summer Short, still awesome however, some scenes slightly weaker (in look) to other scenes – still incredible. Both videos look like you worked some voodo magic to achieve such high quality. Now here’s three questions.

1. What lens did you use for your T4 episode?

2. Do Leica’s blow up the best on the big screen?

3. Will a Zeiss blow up okay on the big screen?

Still pondering which way to go on the lenses down the road. I probably will play the lens game as I play poker, “all in” once I make a final decision.


Michael Svitak April 8, 2011 at 5:57 PM


To get the slick marks we super glued the p touch labels on the sides of the lenses, but those are just for reference. When using any still lenses we actually run out a tape measure whenever we change lenses and label the Bartech. Even if you have a ring made up the marks can be off slightly and result in a soft shot. Anything to give the focus puller a fighting chance is good for the dp to keep in mind.


Shoichi June 26, 2011 at 11:33 PM

Hello Mike,
I did the same(tiny distance numbers on focus barrels made with a p-touch…) on location in the Philipines for focus pullers there to treat them like film cameras, which they’ve been using for last many years. It worked except that pulling on still lenses are still hard, even on Leicas… no Bartech just modullar follow focus.
Some company in Switzerland modifies Leica Rs and put an exterior housing over the lens, along with geared focus and iris(after de-clicking). Not sure worth $$$ though.

Jonny Franklin April 19, 2011 at 6:05 AM

Hi Shane/Elite Team,

After all of your advise on Leica glass, I bought a 35, 50, 90 and 35-70 Leica Lens. I have to say that I am very happy with the results, and all of your advise that you have given on your website has been invaluable to me. And I have filmed my first short using a 7D and the leica glass for the 48hr Sci Fi challenge. I am please with the results and wanted to share the video with you to get your opinions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgDP2kwvj1E&hd=1
It was a struggle to do it all in 48hrs but I am now in the final 10 videos for the competition, so fingers crossed! Once again thankyou for all of your help and advice.

Kind Regard

Jonny Franklin

Ron April 26, 2011 at 2:33 AM

Johnny, I’ve been sitting on the fence with respect to the leica lenses. I’ve been going thru all of Shane’s posts on the leica. Your short does show that the Leica glass is a step above.

You may want to mark April 30, 2011 on your calendar, see link below.


Shane April 27, 2011 at 1:56 AM

Ron, I am meeting with Technicolor on Thursday to go over there new picture style for the Canon’s. I will report back once I get my beta.

Mike Edwards April 27, 2011 at 8:29 PM

Shane: very interested in your meeting with Technicolor. Very eager for your report back. Keep up the fantastic work.

Shane April 28, 2011 at 12:04 AM

Mike Edwards, I will give you a report once I vet this baby out. Thank you for the support.

Jonny Franklin May 5, 2011 at 8:49 AM

Hi Ron,

Im really happy with the results that the Leica lenses provide, its hard to make
Anything look bad using them, i would definatley recommend to all. Thanks for the tip on the technicolour cine style, I’ll definatley be giving this a go. Shane have you tried this come style yet, if so what where your thoughts.

Ron April 30, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Shane, the technicolor profile appears to be the real deal. Tried it this morning and will try it later in some extreme conditions.
Here’s a guys post:

Look forward to your comments.



Ron April 30, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Hey Everyone,

Tried some outside, “crappy situation shots” and technicolor performed amazingly! With and without nd filter. In post (AE), Shadows and Highlights were solid. No problems with any applied effects so far. Curves (adopted from photo5 – used various contrasts from weak to strong)performed perfectly! Colors held. My 2 cents. Used a Zeiss for the test.



Patrick Kothbauer May 2, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Hi Shane!

You get a lot of positive feedback from readers of your blog – and here’s some more.
A few months ago I quit 10 years of programming computers and started a film production
company with a scriptwriter friend.
My main source of inspiration, the springboard which made the decision an easy one…is your blog.
[Emotinal music fading, roaring applause, and curtains closing]

Now please don’t interpret the thank you as a positional play for the following question – I really love you blog! 🙂
My question though, is this.
I’m starting a Leica -R kit from scratch on a pretty tight budget. I’ve found two used lenses on e-bay
and I’m curious which option you would approach.

1. A somewhat scratched Super-Angulon-R Leica 21/4, plus an Elmarit-R 90/2.8 for a total of $900.
2. A Summilux 50/1,4 for $950.

I know you’re a super busy man, but if you, or any of your colleagues, want to help a rising star, just kidding, a
budding filmmaker – I would very much appreciate the help.

To get a sense of where I’m at, regarding taste and technique, please check out http://www.backnbauer.se.

Cheers and sorry for my crappy english
Patrick from Sweden

keidrych wasley May 2, 2011 at 6:08 PM

i’m not the authority on this, but if you’re on a budget, and you look around at the forums, you could get a 50 summicron f2 and a 35 summicron f2 for that. Or alternatively a 35 summicron F2 and 90mm summicron f2 for a bit more if you search around. Check out pebbleplace website for all the leica serial numbers and versions, very helpful. 35 and 90 will get you quite far on a budget. If you want wide i’d go for the 19mm version 1 over the 21 angulon. Also, you can get a 50 1.4 for a better deal than 950, aim for 750. With these things, it’s better to save your money and get stuff not scratched etc and in decent condition. Check out forums like the leica forum, fred miranda, photo.net etc, often great deals on there. It’s hours of research, but i’d put in the work if you’re serious, you’ll also learn a hell of a lot on the way…

just one persons opinion of course:)

Patrick Kothbauer May 3, 2011 at 5:26 AM


Thank you so much for your elaboration on this issue – awesome!!
It so happens that I found a seller this morning offering a 35, a 50 and a 90, all f2.
Also, thanks a bunch for the links – will check those out pronto. 🙂


Mike Svitak May 2, 2011 at 9:26 PM


Hey, this is Mike Svitak. My rec would be to get something a little more versatile, like the R 35-70mm t3.5 zoom. You can probably find one of these for around $700 USD in pretty good shape. I feel like the 50/90 combo might be limiting. Zooms are a good way to start thinking about how you are going to be composing your images. Then go for the primes. Good luck!


Patrick Kothbauer May 3, 2011 at 7:17 AM


Excellent recommendation! We are doing a lot of preparatory work on location and it never occurred to me
that using the zoom to explore composition and matching primes, would be much smother than switching.

John Novotny May 9, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Hello Shane,

You stated as a con that:

“Older lens technology, not up to date coating”

But didn’t explain it. What is wrong about the coating?


Shane May 10, 2011 at 1:11 AM

John Novotny, There is nothing wrong with the coating other than it is out of date, better technology has arisen and lenses now deliver much more contrast. I find that the Leica’s deliver the perfect contrast and color as well as flaring. I like the older glass because it is not as sharp. Sharp and HD don’t mix, all that translates to is your footage looking like video.

Ron May 14, 2011 at 10:38 PM

Hello Everyone,

I’ve finally decided to go the Leica route too. Ordered the following lenses: 28, 35 f/2, 50 f/2 and the 90 f2.8.


Patrick Kothbauer May 15, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Hi Ron!

Congrats to landing the Leicas!
I’m struggling hard to build a Leica kit myself – having a hard time deciding on what to invest in.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on wether or not the less light sensitive versions of the
35 and the 50 would be enough. I’m afraid that I’m never going to be shooting down at f2 anyway, but
rather closer to f4. Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

Best regards

Shane May 17, 2011 at 12:17 AM

Ron, rock that stuff out my man. You will be very happy with the results.

Eric Diosay June 30, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Hi Ron – good to have you on board. I’m an avid alt lens user and I have a full set of Zeiss ZF primes and of course, Leica Rs (28/2.8, 35/2, 50/2, 90/2). I prefer the 90/2 over the 90/2.8 due to the dreamy 3D quality of the images from the faster lens.

Shane mentioned earlier to choose lenses that aligns with your creative requirements so I will add that having a full set of Zeiss glass in the future would likely be beneficial to your growth as a filmmaker. There are so many awesome lenses out there to experiment with and use. It’s like having access to different pallets.

Ron May 15, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Hi Patrick,

I’m dealing with a guy from Toronto, Canada. He has been in business for many years. When I receive all the lenses, I’ll let you know how the transaction completed (ie. were the lenses as they should be, etc.). He has reasonable pricing and is willing to negotiate. He has his lenses checked and cleaned by a technician.

It was recommended to go with the 90 f2.8. He said it is a great lens. And to spend extra for an f/2, was not needed.
Here’s an example of the 90 f2.8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPumYDE3nXQ

The 35 mm, he recommended the f/2. He said it is an awesome lens(the 35 f/2 is better than the f/2.8).Here’s a review of it for further info.

For the 50 mm, he recommended the f/2. And the 28 mm, there is only the f/2.8.

He said alot of people go for speed and pay extra for it. It doesn’t mean it is better unless it is needed.

And as Shane has said, the Leica’s are the best choice. I found him correct on all his statements so far. Of course, I have to try to prove him wrong and end up finding out what he already knows and has said.

And look at Jonny Franklin’s video shot with the 7d and with Leica Glass
The look is a definite step above in my opinion. Awesome little video too.

Once I get my glass and give it a go, I’ll let you know how things went.



Patrick Kothbauer May 16, 2011 at 5:31 AM

Hi, Ron!

I just wanted to thank you for being so kind and provide such a thorough answer – brilliant!!
I’m currenlty using a Canon 24-70 zoom – so I’m hoping that the switch to Leica Primes will
be “recognizable” 🙂


Patrick Kothbauer May 16, 2011 at 5:32 AM

I have a question regarding Elmarit -R 19mm version 1.
Does this lense have to be shaved if used with the Leitax adapter?
If yes, does anyone have any tips on where this can be done in Europe?

Best regards

Eric Diosay June 30, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Patrick – if the lens is a Version 1, model# is 11225 and the serial# from 2735XXX to 3500000, you should be fine.

It is an awesome lens, by the way.

Ron May 19, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Pat, check the link out with respect to the elmarit r 19mm.


By the way, received 2 of my lenses (2 still coming) and waiting for adapters.


Patrick Kothbauer May 20, 2011 at 4:16 AM


Awesome!! Thanks a million for that – I’ve checked and the 19mm I’m about to order is
the right one. Would be great to hear about your impressions about the lenses you got.
Are you going to use Leitax for adaption?


Ron May 20, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Hi Patrick,

I ordered 3 different adapters. I’ll probably eventually go with the Leitax.


And a Chinese brass mount (Pixco).

I want to see how these fit and if I can “glue” them. First I want to see if the Leica performs which it should. Shane suggests the Leitax and he plays with the stuff. I’ll probably end up going that route.

I haven’t received my mounts yet. So once I get them and try the lenses, I’ll let you know how things turned out.



Ron May 25, 2011 at 12:30 AM

Hey Patrick,

Received my Zykkor adapter. Was pleasantly surprised – solid, tight fit!
I tried my 50 mm f/2 and it is impressive. Post production was amazing. I did have a few issues with the color red on some playground metal posts. Other than that, the colors and the look were exceptional. I’ll be trying my 90 mm tomorrow. Hopefully my 28 and 35 arrive soon. Shane knows his stuff. Leica!

Patrick May 26, 2011 at 2:35 AM

Hi Ron!

Wow, I’m getting super exited reading your first impressions of the Leicas – my Elmarit 19mm arrived today.
I’m very close to buying a Summicron 35mm f2 and a Macro-Elmarit 60mm. Hoping to close the kit with a
Summilux 80mm and an Elmarit 180mm.
What adapter did you decide to go with? I’m reading Shanes blog every day and I get the impression he
recommends the Leitax adapter.

Another question, would you mind disclose how much you paid for the 35, 50 and 90 and the condition of
each? Would be nice to compare with what I’m seeing around here (Sweden).


Ron May 25, 2011 at 12:35 AM


Thank-you for being kind to share your thoughts about the Leica lenses. I tried my 50 mm today, and couldn’t believe how wonderful it performed. Simply put, WOW!!! Thanks again.



Shane May 25, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Ron, I am so glad you are happy with the Leica glass, it is truly amazing.

Ron May 27, 2011 at 9:32 PM


The lenses are awesome! I should have listened to you right off the bat! I should be getting my other 2 lenses next week. The guy,that I ordered them from, has the lenses checked and cleaned by a technician.
Here’s the link to the place I ordered my lenses in case anyone is interested. The owner, Alex, is the guy to talk to. He knows his Leicas. http://www.setadelstudios.com/



Michael Svitak May 30, 2011 at 8:35 PM


Go with the Leitax adapters for your lenses. They are solid. As for prices, they are always in flux. You can expect to pay around $1000 USD for each of the lenses you mentioned. Always search the COMPLETED LISTINGS on ebay to see what price the lenses are selling at. Good luck!


Patrick May 31, 2011 at 2:44 AM

Hi Michael!
Thank you so much for the recommendation – I will go with the Leitax then.

Received the 19mm a few days ago and I think the price was great (just under $1000 USD).
Now I’m racing to find a Summicron 35mm and a Macro 60mm to complement.
Some rental services here are pushing for 7D with pl-mount and Arri Ultra Primes.
Would love to hear your opinion on pro/cons between 5D+Leica vs 7Dplmount+Arris U.Primes.

Best regards

Ron June 11, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Hey Patrick,

I have the following Leica’s now:

28 mm, 35 mm f/2, 50 mm f/2, 90 f/2.8 and waiting on a 135 mm f/2.8 (bought that one from ebay). When I bought the other lenses from Setadel, I negotiated a better price. So if you buy from a camera store, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to sharpen the pencil abit(see if they’ll give a better deal).

I’ve been experimenting with the lenses. Each lens has its own personality. The 90 f/2.8 seems to be overlooked. It is amazing – practically nil for distoration. The others are amazing too.

How is your 19 mm lens?



Patrick June 15, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Hi Ron!

Wow, that’s a nice collection you’ve built – and in very little time! 🙂
I haven’t had the time to try out the 19mm, since I’m in the middle of an assignment.
Thanks for the tip on haggling with the vendors! 🙂


Ignacio June 28, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Hello Mike Svitak
I got a question for you. I own a Summicron 90 (E55). I need a step up ring for my tiffens 77mm, but it is hard to find the right step up ring, because my “Cron” although it is called E55, it is 56,4mm more or less. I was wondering if you have that lens and what solution did you find for your front donut.
Thanks to all
Wonderfull people

Eric Diosay June 30, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Hi Mike – contact Matt Duclos at Duclos Lenses. He made all the cine-style step up rings (77mm) for all my Leica Rs. The workmanship and product is amazing. I believe Shane use’s Matt’s services to cine-mod his Leicas with focus rings, front step up rings and iris de-clicking. All this for about $250 per lens.


Ignacio July 1, 2011 at 4:33 AM

Thanks Eric.

Eric Diosay July 4, 2011 at 9:04 AM

My pleasure, sir. And I meant, “Hi Ignacio”. Sorry about that. I think I have to learn how to read 🙂

Michael Svitak July 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Our 90mm has the step up ring from 55mm to 77mm.

Leica-R Lenses – Cinema Glass in a Still Lens Size « Crooked Path Blog July 13, 2011 at 2:08 PM

[…] AND CREAMY:  There’s a reason why Shane Hurlbut, ASC loves Leicas and sys they hold up on the big screen better than most other lenses.  The sharp, low […]

Ruben Fernandez July 14, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Hello Shane, even though I don’t have the budget for “real” Leica lenses, I am considering using the Voigtlander equivalents, in M mount, specifically, the 50mm 1.1, and the 35mm 1.2 primes. Do you know/have heard if they don’t breathe like their more expensive Leica cousins? On a side note, I am very interested on applying to the boot camp, I know it’s not open this year but would be very interested in taking it next year if you manage the time to dictate it.

Thanks a lot for all the information you beam out through your blog, it has been immensely helpful in my productions down here in Colombia.

Shane July 17, 2011 at 11:45 PM

Ruben Fernandez, the M mounts do not work on the Canon’s. You will have to try and find Leica R’s that fit it your budget. The bootcamp is still on hold until I see where my schedule is. Thank you so much for your kind words and support. You are very welcome, glad I could help out.

Patrick September 26, 2011 at 9:13 AM

What’s the proper step up ring for a Leica Elmarit-R 19mm F2.8 – version 2 to a 77mm ND filter?
Do you guys use electric tape or a step up ring?

Best regards

Patrick January 17, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Has anyone experienced severe vignetting when using:
Canon 5DMk2 -> Leica Elmarit 19mm/F2.8 -> Fotodiox Stepdown 82mm-77mm -> 77mm UV Filter?


Shane January 18, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Patrick, yes, lose the stepdown ring and use electrical tape with your 77mm ND’s

Patrick January 19, 2012 at 5:02 AM

Thank you so much for the help, Shane!! 😀


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Daniel Primo February 29, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Hi Shane,

I just got a Leica R Set , all lens mint / EX+.
ready to be cine-moded by Duclos

19mm V2 2.8
28 V2 2.8
35 1.4
50 V2 1.4
80 1.4
100 APO Macro

What do you recommend, shave the mirror, remove the mirror or shave the rear of the housing? Pros and Cons.

Keep on with your very good work, I’m learning a lot from your blog.

Cheers from Brazil!

Shane March 5, 2012 at 12:26 AM

Daniel Primo, Shave the lens. It works beautifully. Don’t mess with the camera.

Peter Borrud March 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Hi Shane,
You’ve heard this before a million times, but I just have to say that your work is incredible and an inspiration to me. I appreciate your willingness to answer questions and help other fellow cinematographers in their craft.

I’m thinking about investing in Leica R’s for use on a 5D (Mark III eventually), 7D, and especially on the Scarlet. My one major concern right now is breathing. I bought a Zeiss 50mm ZF 1.4 to test out for a little while and seeing your comments and other examples I’ve seen, I’m concerned about the breathing on the Zeiss lenses. But, also when I saw this lens test it made me concerned because of how much breathing I was seeing with the Leicas. https://vimeo.com/33707458

Has this been a concern for you at all in certain rack focuses? Would you say the breathing is better or worse in the Leica’s than the Zeiss lenses?

Either way I figure that if they’re both going to breathe, might as well go with the more often better looking one which appear to be the Leica R’s. Thanks!


Shane March 13, 2012 at 12:49 AM

Peter Borrud, Thank you so muhc for those kind words. All still lenses breathe to some extent. The Leica’s breathe just as much as the Zeiss. It really comes down to the look and feel that you want to achieve. Zeiss will give you a cooler, contrasty look. Leica are more lower contrast, warmer in tone, and very sharp.

Chris Miles April 18, 2012 at 5:32 AM

Hey Shane

you wouldn’t happen to know what the name of the Nike commercial shot by Robert Elswit would you? I’d love to see the spot… perhaps you even have the link.

On a separate note how much of a problem are front element scratches? I bought a Leica 90mm F2.8 and noticed when I got it that it has a roughly 2mm scratch on the front.


Chris Miles

Ron June 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Quick question. Thinking of adding to my Leicas. With respect to the 19 mm is Version 1 okay to go with, or should a guy get the version 2 and do some shaving (is version 2 that much superior)?

Shane July 9, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Ron. The version 2 is definitely a superior lens.

Aleksandar July 12, 2012 at 4:09 AM

Hi Shane
I am interested in buying Leica r lenses f2( normal and tele ) and f2.8 ( wide and tele )due to budget :). Can you tell me which version I should look for or which version do you have. Is there much difference between version 2cam and 3cam in optical performance.
Thank you and stay brave:)


Shane July 25, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Aleksandar, yes, go with the f2 version

Shane August 22, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Aleksandar, obviously the faster the better. I like the 2.0 and the 1.4’s myself. The coating and sharpness from version 2 to 3.

Paul Abrahams October 20, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Version 2 to 3 ? whats that?

Leica’s on ebay OCT 2012:
50mm 1.4 is $1200+, f2 $300-700.
35mm 1.4 is $3K+, f2 $900+, f2.8 $300+
90mm f2 is $500+.
19mm f2.8 is $1200+.

I think the word is out, not many bargains around. But here’s the catch, even the 35 f2.8 has better definition
corner to corner than a canon L zoom. Perhaps Canons latest 24-70L II is getting there but at $2400 a pop.

I could get two or three Leica’s.

Whats a bargain? :))

Ron September 17, 2012 at 8:46 PM

Hey Shane,

You might want to check out the new Leica Camera with HD video. You can use Leica R lenses on it with an adapter. Check out 5:40 to observe the video in action.


Ron October 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Hey Shane,

Here’s something of interest. LEICA M GLASSS on the Canon 5D2.


Ray November 12, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Hi Shane,

I wanted to ask you the ultimate question. New Canon 6d. tight personal budget, enough money for one or two lenses for stills & of course video. What do you go with? Leica? Canon Zoom? Used Zeiss prime?

What two lenses are in your bag?

Thanks for a great site and all your sharing.


Shane November 14, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Ray, I have no idea about the 6D. Lenses I would go with a 24mm and a 50mm. Best lenses Canon makes. If you are going Leica then I would go with a 21-35mm zoom and then the 80mm. No zooms

Roy Isabella January 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM

I never upgraded the 5d classic, but now canon don’t support it I might just have to 🙁

Jonesy May 13, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Hi, so I know I’m really late to the party but I have fallen in love with the images I am seeing from the 60mm 2.8, which is on the list. But what I am also hearing is that the focus pitch is very steep, meaning a little focus adjustment makes a large difference. Does anyone have any experience with this lens? Is pulling focus difficult?

Shane July 4, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Jonesy, yes, it is a macro lens, which means your hat will be handed to you quickly. I love the lens too but it focus is so shallow

Mike Maples July 8, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Hi Shane,

This and so many of your articles have been so helpful to me. The other day I asked you “if you could pick 3-4 Leica lenses to start with what would they be?” You suggested the following:

21-35mm Zoom
35mm Summilux
50mm Summilux
80mm Summilux

This was very helpful and I had a couple of follow-up questions that I hoped would be helpful to others as well:

First – I have heard that the 21-35 zoom does not fit all of the EF mount Canon cameras so well because of some sheath on the back. I am assuming that this works OK for you because you have Duclos cinemod the lens and shave the back, making the issue go away. But I want to make sure about this and others: Is it fair to say that any of the four above that you recommend and the others you mention in the article that they fit the Canon cameras without any issues if Duclos shaves the lenses?

Second – If Duclos mods the lenses to an EF mount, do the lenses function as “true” EF lensee? For instance, if I get a Blackmagic pocket or Cinema Camera with an MFT mount, could I use a Metabones Speedbooster and boost the EF-modified Leica R lenses? Or is this a Leitax adapter coupled with a Metabones adapter which means too many adapters? I know I could do Canon EF lens to Metabones, but not sure if I could do Leica R/Duclos EF to Metabones or if this is too many adapters? Do you even think the Metabones adapter is a good thing in the first place or am I better off just dealing with the crop factor when using the small sensor cams, most specifically with the Pocket Cinema camera?

Third – if you have the BM pocket cinema and were going to adapt your Leica R lenses to it, which adapter would you try first?

Last – Summilux vs Summicron. I have heard you recommend both at different times. I am assuming you like both for the reasons people state: Lux is better in low light and cron is better for sharpness but there is no “right answer.” Having said this, I wondered if there is more to it than this and if you have any wisdom to impart about Lux vs Cron at 35, 50, and in the range of 80 or 90mm.

Thanks again for your help! Your blog is epic! I have learned a ton.

Sean Morris June 13, 2014 at 2:47 AM

Hi Shane,

Great article

Been using Leica R glass for a while now, love the glass that much I
had a hardfront machined for my old ARRI IIC with a EF EOS mount 😉

my favorite lens would be the 90mm Leica R, superb glass


Shane July 15, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Those babies rock! Thanks for the support Sean.

Doug Quill April 2, 2017 at 10:46 PM

Hi Shane,

Thanks for the article. Is it crazy to consider using these lenses for a feature? How would they hold up on the big screen? How would the compare to Zeiss Superspeeds MII or K35′?s



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