First two copies of the 280mm f/4 were from the second and fourth batches, respectively. The one that arrived this morning is from the first batch, and an early serial as well. The first copy, in retrospect, was missing the front protective element, which gave it an oddish color cast. The second one had been one of Leica’s own display copies and was perfect. This one looks to be in great shape, likely having had a CLA somewhere along the way.
The plan was to shoot the lens without teleconverter today, but a rare sunny afternoon prompted me to shoot with the APO 2X the entire outing. As expected, resolving power was insane—if and when I got focus critically accurate. That’s the other edge of the sword: when a lens has this capability, it’s harder to exploit that capability on every shot, even more so on distant subject matter.
While the focusing knurl rotates probably around 270 degrees, only about 30 degrees of that comprises 10 meters to infinity (and beyond). The very act of pressing the shutter button while touching the focusing knurl can cost the shot critical focus. And, as I noticed with previous copies when used with the 2X, areas that are slightly out of focus have a sort of glazed-over look.
Even when critical focus is acquired, the lens/2X combo doesn’t come close to capturing the level of details that the lens alone can. The photo below of an Asian Brown Flycatcher illustrates. Too, the combo needs moderate to good light in order to do its best, while the lens alone can capture more details in low light than the camera can render.
Tomorrow it’ll get the full target test after which the APO 2X will be paired with the lens only in very good light. An APO 1.4X has yet to be found, but will likely be default deployment once it is. Effective f/5.6 aperture should be fast enough in most light.
Although editing my user profiles called up a couple of nasty firmware bugs on the SL2 this afternoon, the biggest remaining limitation with this setup will be my focusing and handling skills. No camera to blame, no optics to whine about, it’s up to me. And I like it that way.