Leica vs Pentax

Back in the early 80s I had a chance to test a Leicaflex side by side with my Pentax LX. I shot a series of photographs comparing the following lenses:

  • Leica 35mm – Pentax-M 28mm f2.8
  • Leica 50mm – Pentax-M 50mm f4 macro
  • Leica 135mm – Pentax-M 100mm f2.8

I cannot remember the Leicaflex model or the maximum apertures of Leica lenses; but they were the ones current at that time. They were supplied by Leica Canada as part of a promotion to “try a Leica for a day” in the hopes that one would buy one.

The photographs were taken on Kodachrome 25 for maximum sharpness, and both cameras were mounted on tripods. The first slide on each roll of film was a photograph of the other camera. Both films were processed by Kodak Canada and returned uncut in two strips of slides, one from the Leica and the other from the Pentax LX. I then asked the son of the owner of the camera store where I dealt, to choose the Leica slides. He inspected both film strips with a Pentax 20X magnifier and selected one strip of slides as being shot by the Leicaflex. I then asked him which camera was pictured at the front of the strip. It was the Leicaflex. The photographs he thought were taken with the Leicaflex had actually been taken with the Pentax LX. His father, who was a bit of a Leicaphile, also inspected the film strips and appeared somewhat upset by the results.

At the time of the tests I used Leica Ms for all of my available-light work. Therefore, having no need for high-speed lenses, when I purchased Pentax lenses, they were the slower f2.8 and f4 ones. These ones, I expect, would be easier to correct for aberrations. Also the photographs were taken outside at around f8, rather than wide open. This was not a definitive test; but it proved to me that, certainly in some areas, the Pentax lenses could hold their own against some of the best. I was happy with the results because the circumstances of the test mirrored the situations in which I expected to use the Pentax and its lenses, outdoors for architectural and other work.

I have been using Pentaxes ever since then for my 35mm SLR and DSLR work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *