Leitz Elmar 135mm f/4 on the town

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The missing link in the sacred lens arrived today in the mail, and I was finally able to take the Elmar 135mm out for a spin.  Thankfully unlike the Pentax lenses, the Leica adapters are not huge hunks of metal–because the old Leitz lenses stick out enough as it is.  When I screw the lens in, the whole package looks like a judge’s gavel.  This lens uses a bayonet mount while my 90mm Elmar uses a screw mount, and the former feels much more secure.

Anyway, I went to a part of town that’s very much old Busan–often all the houses you see around the base of any mountain are old Ju-Teks; 2-story buildings with no insulation, wood interiors, concrete and steel frames, and brick veneers.  They can be quite charming, but once some building company gets the money correct, it’s not long before the residents sell.  Charm does not keep your ass warm in the winter, but the complexes that replace their old houses do.

So, all the lots sold, the only thing left is to level the houses, and what’s left in the neighbourhood is a lot of junk–very much like something out of Full Metal Jacket.  It’s a monumental project to build these new apartments, so the window to do any exploring is very small indeed.

It’s a very overcast day, but the sun’s threatening to peek out just before it sets. Nevertheless, it’s more than enough light for this lens to work it’s “magic”.


A quick shot of some passengers on the subway confirms that the lens wide open is sharp indeed.  I opted mostly for full colour photos with zero image manipulation this time around, because I really wanted to see its limitations.  At a micro four-thirds equivalent of 270mm and a width of field of about 18 degrees, many people would disregard this as any kind of useful portrait lens, just because of (a) the shake factor, and (b) the inconvenient distance needed to get the subject in sight–but the internal stabilization of the E-PM2 works a treat, and the distance actually works in your favor when you don’t want to look as obvious to the subject.  In my case, I was really just curious as to the quality of these lenses and had a little disposable income, so I figured why not take the plunge.

In terms of distance, my kit zoom lens is slightly longer and includes AF, although it maxes out at f/5.6 which isn’t too bad, but it’s not nearly as sharp as this lens.  My other zoom, a 200mm f/4 Olympus E. Zuiko is even more powerful, but is considerably heavier.



Focusing speed is painfully slow, but since the houses aren’t going anywhere, who cares?  Still life photography requires precision and timing, not speed.  According to what I’ve read, you can point this lens at the sun and very little flare occurs–when next I try this out, it’ll hopefully be a sunnier day.


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