Leica is not expensive. Leica is considered expensive because we tend to focus on its high-priced lenses, but in fact, Leica has many inexpensive lenses that are also outstanding. Take, for example, the first generation 90mm F4 lens, which has many versions. The optical design of Leica ELMAR 90MM F4 has never changed, and it is quite mature. Now is the harvest year for Leica 90mm lenses, and they are very cheap! There are so many 90mm lenses lying around that nobody picks up. The first generation ELMAR 90MM F4 with an A36 filter thread is even priced at over a thousand! We have overpriced Leica, and we accuse it of deceiving us. Of course, the E39 thread version is the favorite of collectors and is much more expensive.
The earlier 90mm lenses looked too strange, some looked like a gourd, and some like a ladle. The later lenses were all small and not very attractive when mounted on M cameras. So I chose the latest screw mount version and put it on my Leica IIIg, which looks quite beautiful. I recommend using this lens with a screw mount camera. Really, Leica screw mount cameras are almost as easy to use as M cameras, and you can use a screw mount camera if you can use an M camera. There won’t be any adaptation issues. If you attach it to an M camera, I suggest going for the 90/2 big guy for better coordination. Don’t even mention the TELE version of the Elmar 90mm f4, as I don’t like the telephoto design. It’s a telescope design, and I prefer the Elmar version. The image quality of the Leica ELMAR 90mm f4 is excellent and can compete with all modern Leica lenses. Ironically, many people don’t like the 90mm f2 AA lens because it’s too sharp, and in fact, my 90MM f4 is a bit too sharp too. I don’t know why such a good lens is so cheap and still looked down upon by people. Perhaps the F4 aperture is too small, and modern people pursue large apertures. But even at F8, the 90mm lens can still create a nice bokeh effect, depending on the distance between the lens and the subject.
Saul Leiter used the 90mm lens without relying on bokeh or atmosphere. Surpassing equipment is what makes a master. No master achieved success solely by relying on bokeh or sharpness. Their achievements go far beyond equipment. Anyway, F4 is considered a small aperture in today’s market. I can only borrow Tagore’s words again: Even if the wings are broken, the heart must fly.
In summary, I think using a telephoto lens for street photography is a timid behavior. Yes, it’s cool to use a 21mm lens to shoot right in someone’s face, but that’s not about courage. Courage quickly loses its effectiveness in real shooting. Street photography ultimately relies on habits and happy habits. If you’re happy using a 21mm lens, then use it. If you’re happy using a 90mm lens, then use it. Don’t let others’ habits dictate your own.
The 90mm lens is a dark cloud, and curiosity is the sun. When the dark cloud kisses the sun, it harvests a garden full of flowers.
Focal Length: 9cm (90mm)
Mount: LEICA SM
Min. Focusing Distance: approx. 1m (3ft)
Minimum / Maximum Aperture: f/36(f/32 N)~f/4.0
Filter Attachament Size: E39
Weight: approx. 240/300g