Ricoh GXR: Close-Up Behavior of the M-Mount Lenses

Since I like to take close-up photos of flowers and other motives, I tried to answer the question, which of my M-mount lenses can be used for this purpose (the shortest distance values of the lenses suggest that I cannot use any of them...). Therefore, I made comparison photos at the shortest possible distance and also calculated the maximum magnification of my lenses.

Note: The formulae used for the calculations in the table below can be found on page Calculating Minimum Object Size and Magnification.

Overview of Lens Data Relevant to Close-Up Behavior

 Lens Mount Focal Length Angle of View Min Distance Smallest Object Size Magnification Full-Fr. Format APS-C (DX) Full-Frame Format APS-C (DX) Technical Data (FF Format) Full-Frame Format* APS-C (DX) Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar M bayonet* 15 mm 22.5 mm 110° diagonal 87° diagonal 0.5 m 1106 x 737 mm 1:31** 732 x 488 mm 1:31*** Zeiss Biogon T* C M bayonet 21 mm 31.5 mm 90° diagonal 68° diagonal 0.5 m 775 x 516 mm 1:21.5** 523 x 349 mm 1:21.5*** Voigtländer Snapshot-Skopar M39 25 mm 37.5 mm 82° diagonal 59° diagonal 0.7 m 934 x 628 mm 1:26** 615 x 410 mm 1:26*** Minolta M-Rokkor M bayonet 28 mm 42 mm 75° diagonal 54° diagonal 0.8 m 951 x 634 mm 1:26.4** 627 x 418 mm 1:26.4*** Zeiss Biogon T* C M bayonet 35 mm 52.5 mm 62° diagonal 44° diagonal 0.7 m 652 x 434 mm 1:18** 439 x 293 mm 1:18*** Zeiss Sonnar T* C M bayonet 50 mm 75 mm 46° diagonal 32° diagonal 0.9 592 x 395 mm 1:16.5** 395 x 263 mm 1:16.5*** Voigtländer Color Heliar M39 75 mm 112.5 mm 32° diagonal 21° diagonal 1.0 m 444 x 296 mm 1:12** 293 x 195 mm 1:12*** Leitz Elmar-C M bayonet 90 mm 135 mm 27° diagonal 18° diagonal 1.0 m 372 x 248 mm 1:10** 244 x 163 mm 1:10*** Leitz Tele-Elmar M bayonet 135 mm 202.5 mm 18° diagonal 12° diagonal 1.5 m 330 x 220 mm 1:9.2 368 x 245 mm 1:10** 244 x 163 mm 1:10***

*) Or: M-mount
*) Calculated for a sensor width of 36 mm (note that the Leica M (Typ 240) has a sensor width of 35.8 mm)
**) Calculated for 35 mm according to a simple formula on the basis of angle of view (technical data) and shortest distance (technical data); please note that these values are just estimates
***
) Ditto, recalculated from sensor format and shortest distance (technical data); please note that these values are just estimates

Conclusions

My calculations reveal that the magnification of a lens is independent of the sensor (film) format (given the same aspect ratio), but, of course, the angle of view and the smallest object size are different (because of the crop).

When starting from film/sensor-related data, both Leitz lenses deliver identical values for the smallest object size and magnification. They are also the lenses which deliver the highest magnification for close-up photography.

Note: The formulae used for the calculations in this table (rightmost column) can be found on page Calculating Minimum Object Size and Magnification.

Comparison Photos

Here are comparison photos taken with my M-mount lenses where I tried to photograph a scene at the shortest possible distance (and in most cases at the maximum aperture):

 Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/4.5 Minolta M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 (Voigtländer Snapshot-Skopar 25mm f/4 mm is similar) Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 (at f/2.8) Voigtländer Color Heliar 75mm f/2.5 Leitz Elmar-C 90mm f/4 Leitz Tele-Elmar 135mm f/4

Note that the Voigtländer Snapshot-Skopar25mm f/4 is missing here, because I bought it after this test was performed. It comes close to the Minolta M-Rokkor (1:26 versus 1:26.6 for Minolta).

Conclusions

As a rule of thumb, the test photos reveal that the shorter the focal length of the lens from my collection, the less the lens is suited to close-up shots. This is reflected in the magnification values that I (mostly) calculated. Somewhat disappointing in this respect is the Minolta M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 (the missing Voigtländer Snapshot-Skopar has a similar close-up performance but has a shorter focal length), which is topped by the Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/4.5. The Voigtländer Color Heliar 75mm f/2.5 is better at close-up shots than all the wider lenses - it comes in third - but it cannot compete with the two Leitz tele lenses, although it is not too far away from them (1:12).

The two Leitz lenses are suited to close-up shots best, although a magnification of about 1:10 is also not impressing. Their technical values are more or less identical, but due to their different focal lengths (90 mm and 135 mm), both differ with respect to perspective and thus background blurring. While the Elmar-C is more handy (lighter, smaller), the Tele-Elmar provides a better separation of the foreground object from the background.

All in all, either of the two Leitz tele lenses is suited to "moderate" close-up photography. Setting the focus correctly (and manually), is another story, though... But both lenses have a focus ring with a small thread pitch, which makes focusing easier: The distance scale stretches over about 180 degrees, whereas it is about 90 degrees for all the other lenses (with slight variations), including the Voigtländer Color Heliar 75mm f/2.5.

 gerd (at) waloszek (dot) de About me made by on a mac!
 19.11.2020