Comparing Leica to 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 pictures comparing the following lenses:

  • Wide angle: Leica 35mm – Pentax-M 28mm f2.8
  • Normal: Leica 50mm – Pentax-M 50mm f4 macro
  • Telephoto: Leica 135mm – Pentax-M 100mm f2

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

Method & Results

I used Kodachrome 25 slide film for maximum sharpness. With both cameras mounted on separate tripods, I photographed the other camera as the first slide on each roll of film. I then took a series of photographs with each of the three pairs of lenses. Kodak Canada processed both films and returned them uncut in 36-exposure strips.

On return of the processed film from Kodak, I 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 20X magnifier and selected one as being shot by the Leicaflex. I then asked him which camera was pictured at the front of that strip. It was the Leicaflex. The pictures he thought were taken by the Leicaflex had been taken by the Pentax LX. His father, who was a bit of a Leicaphile, also inspected the film strips and appeared somewhat upset by the results.

Conclusions

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, I purchased the slower f2.8 and f4 Pentax lenses. These ones, I expect, would be easier to correct. Also I took the pictures 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 of my comparing Leica to Pentax Lenses 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.

Samples of my Pentax LX work: Barns in the County, Series 2

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