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A Lightweight Lens Kit For Hiking

Update 26 May 2015: partial refresh, summary comments need some revision, but core suggestions in table are up to date.

The recommendations on this page follow 20 months of experience with the Leica M9, from a perspective of hiking and travel. Emphasis placed on compact size and low weight and also minimal distortion, without sacrificing performance.

A 5-lens kit with the M9 body weighs about 2000 grams (depending on lenses). Compare that to a Nikon D3x without any lenses at 1405 grams and it’s clear that the Leica M9 has considerable travel/hike appeal.

Not everyone will want the same focal lengths, and be sure to think out the range of focal lengths ahead of time.

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Diglloyd Guide to LEICA contains in-depth coverage of Leica M system cameras and lenses, with additional coverage of Leica M Monochrom, Leica Q, Leica SL.

Special emphasis is placed on Leica M lenses and certain Zeiss ZM lenses.

  • Make better images by learning how to get the best results right away.
  • Save money by choosing the right lens for your needs the first time, particularly the Summilux/Summicron/Elmarit choice and/or Zeiss ZM.
  • Make better images, a sort of “cheat sheet” saving yourself months or years of ad-hoc learning. Processing parameters are discussed and shown.
  • Jaw-dropping image quality found nowhere else utilizing Retina-grade images up to full camera resolution, plus large crops [past 2 years or so].
  • Real world examples with insights found nowhere else. Make sharper images just by understanding lens behavior you won’t read about elsewhere.
  • Aperture series from wide open through stopped down, showing the full range of lens performance and bokeh.
  • Optical quality analysis of field curvature, focus shift, sharpness, flare, distortion, and performance in the field.

Want a preview? Click on any page below to see an excerpt as well as extensive blog coverage, for example on Leica.

Distortion for Leica 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar-M ASPH
Distortion for Leica 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar-M ASPH

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