My SLR Magic HyperPrime LM 50mm T0.95 Review!

Started Oct 12, 2012 | Discussions thread
Mark Ewanchuk
Regular MemberPosts: 318
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Re: SLR Magic
In reply to BSweeney, Oct 19, 2012

I too, was one of the very early preorders for the RF coupled lens.

My experience parallels that of the OP; namely poor packaging (bubble wrap, peanuts, and lots of tape) as well as some less than perfect cosmetics on arrival, and an included UV filter (very thin and sleek!) which basically came apart and had to be tightened by me.  The aperture blades were indeed marked; The glass, however, was flawless, and there were no inclusions visible within the body of the lens.

I must say from the outset that Andrew initially appeared to be very responsive, and usually got back to my emails. Furthermore, when properly focused, the lens was certainly capable of some beautiful images.

However, I immediately raised concerns about focus inaccuracies on arrival, and was also told by Andrew that my camera/lens combo might need to be properly "calibrated".  Unfortunately I had three other Leica lenses that were working perfectly on my M9-P, and I was not willing to compromise them in order to get this particular combo going reliably.

I also noted that there was a fair amount of "play" in the lens mount itself, and seemed to move if turned past the locking point.  Initially the lens would not focus reliably at infinity.  I did manage to get infinity calibrated, but then noticed some back-focusing beyond about 3m.  There were certainly inconsistencies regarding how the aperature and focus rings "moved" throughout their range.

I did note a difference (as noted by other individuals on other forums...) that there seemed to be some variability whether one was actually holding up and supporting the lens, or just holding the camera body itself.  Although I did not initially believe my own results, it did seem that there was enough tolerance or "play" in the mount itself to allow this to occur if the lens was allowed to "sag".

Most distressingly, I did notice that this lens would actually throw my rangefinder mechanism out of calibration.  For example: if I had my Lux 50 on and perfectly calibrated (at f/1.4) across the focus range, and then put the SLRM on and focused it from near to infinity, and then back again; my Lux was actually out of calibration when I placed it back on the camera body.  I raised the issue with Andrew, and got a multitude of very knowledgeable and technical responses about various Leica lenses, but did not get an acknowledgement about this particular possibility being related to the design of the SLRM lens itself.

In the end, I did manage to convince Andrew and his team to give me a refund, although I had to swallow about a $500 loss (for "shipping, packing, and incidentals").  I do note that when I shipped the lens back to them, they specifically asked me to wait while they sent me a "proper" shipping container...A very sturdy looking foam-packed retail box appeared.  Return shipping was at my expense.  I was later informed by Andrew that the lens did not appear to exhibit any of the behaviors or focus issues that I documented when tested on their calibrated body.  He suggested that I consider a second body for such a lens.  (Noctilux, or otherwise...)

I did email Steve Huff, and he did briefly place a warning/addendum on his review; as did the folks on "La Vida Leica".

Despite all of this, I have been following the various sites and reviews, and have recently wondered whether I should give this product another chance.  Unfortunately I emailed Andrew about 5 days ago and inquired about the possibility of a repeat purchase, the wait time, and the actual policy regarding shipping and purchase outside of Hong Kong.

I have not received a response.  Perhaps SLRM has, in fact, decided that they no longer wish to sell this lens to us "particular" North Americans...which I feel is certainly unfortunate.

In any case, I do not want this to come across as a SLRM "witch hunt..." I simply want individuals to be aware of my experience, and note that these are not isolated cases.  I really wanted to love this lens, as I do not have the funds for a Noctilux (or a second body...).  However (and I am, by no means, an expert...) I do believe that there are tolerance and/or technical and design issues (which have yet to be remedied) which prevent the reliable "good behavior" of this product (as part of a system) with other lenses, on a single body not properly calibrated to account for it's "idiosyncrasies".

I will certainly post a follow-up if I receive further details.

Warm regards,

-Mark.

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