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Thein Review of 50mm APO Summicron


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#1 pcsmythe

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 04:51

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Ming Thein is an excellent reviewer. He has just posted a review of the 50mm APO Summicron: May 10, Part 2: The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50/2 ASPH review, and a comparison – Ming Thein | Photographer
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#2 lars_bergquist

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:59

I agree – Ming Thein is good. Knowledgeable, thinking, articulate – and realistic.

My own conclusion – about the lens, not the reviewer – is that the 50mm Apo-Summicron is for the people who want a mobile medium format camera system. Those who appreciate the Leica M for quick-reaction, interactive, into-it-up-to-your-knees photography, meaning traditional Leica photography, are equally well served by a 1979 Summicron or the Zeiss lens, the Summilux ASPH (my choice) or for that matter a Summarit. And financially ...

In order to bring out the definition of the Apo, you have to concentrate on the photography and not on the subject, which is most un-Leica-ish. And if your subject takes into its head to move, you are screwed.

The old man from the Age of the 5cm Elmar

P.S. My default lens is the current 35mm Summilux ASPH ...
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#3 jaapv

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:52

I agree with Lars. This lens requires impeccable and careful technique to bring out the best. But in reality that goes for the Apo-Telyt 135, Apo Summicron asph 90 and even Summilux 50 asph as well. It is the high price however that makes this consideration an important one. I think that is the wrong approach One should, with all these lenses, just use them forgetful of the financial aspect and enjoy whatever result comes out depending on the circumstances.
An expensive lens should not be limiting in making it an obligation to take technically blindingly good photographs solely.
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#4 IWC Doppel

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 09:28

Very informative review. I know better understand T stops as well :rolleyes:

#5 marknorton

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 09:34

I am sure that if you were to ask Leica why they have introduced this lens, at least some would say "because we can". Even if the lens is not relevant to our own photographic needs, we should be pleased it exists.
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#6 muddyT

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:06

What surprised me is Zeiss 50mm f/2 rendering is very close to Summicron 50 ASHP and the upper right corner sharpness is even sharper than the latter's.
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#7 jpattison

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:09

An expensive lens should not be limiting in making it an obligation to take technically blindingly good photographs solely.


Once you've spent the money, be happy and don't think of it ever again :rolleyes:

John
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#8 luigi bertolotti

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:17

What surprised me is Zeiss 50mm f/2 rendering is very close to Summicron 50 ASHP and the upper right corner sharpness is even sharper than the latter's.

The difference in color "temperature" is also noticeably significant - and the reviewer says that none of both is "right" in this...

#9 Paul J

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:23

The lens looks amazing.

A good review although I really want to see some comparisons with the Summilux and older Non APO Summicron.
Perception. Not perfection

#10 bybrett

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:44

Some of the images in the review seem to have had vignetting added in PP (or the wrong lens detection) as I haven't seen any noticeable vignetting in the field.

#11 Paul J

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:53

Some of the images in the review seem to have had vignetting added in PP (or the wrong lens detection) as I haven't seen any noticeable vignetting in the field.


In the review he mentions there is vignetting with the lens. Interesting you've found none in use.
Perception. Not perfection

#12 mongrelnomad

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:59

Very good article, very good reviewer (I like the combination of technical and real-world critique).

Also underlines why I won't be getting a 50AA (as he calls it) - yes, it is a better lense, but aside from the marginal improvement over my other 50s, it won't functionally improve or alter the way I take photos (unlike, say, my two Noctiluxes).

A wonderful lense, and if I didn't already own too many 50s, I'd give it some serious consideration.

As it is though, not for me.
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#13 bybrett

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 11:04

In the review he mentions there is vignetting with the lens. Interesting you've found none in use.


Yes I read that. Check out my images and compare...

The lens is more than a marginal improvement over any other lens and seems to have a 3 dimensional quality to its images. The bokeh is very even across the whole image unlike Noctilux and Summicron and does not show fringing wide open unlike Noctilux and Summilux.
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#14 Paul J

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 11:15

Yes I read that. Check out my images and compare...

The lens is more than a marginal improvement over any other lens and seems to have a 3 dimensional quality to its images. The bokeh is very even across the whole image unlike Noctilux and Summicron and does not show fringing wide open unlike Noctilux and Summilux.


Your images show a clarity that really pops.
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#15 bybrett

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 11:26

Here's another shot to peruse -

All sizes | Massive Winner | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Wide open hand held.
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#16 johnbuckley

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 12:53

I am sure that if you were to ask Leica why they have introduced this lens, at least some would say "because we can". Even if the lens is not relevant to our own photographic needs, we should be pleased it exists.


I think this is exactly right, and after 20 LUF pages of sturm und drang over the price, and what it means for who Leica is and has become, is the best way of looking at things.

#17 lars_bergquist

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 13:30

The lens is more than a marginal improvement over any other lens [ ... ]


Any other lens? Any other 50mm Summicron, I'd say. The fact is that Leica have produced lenses in this class for decades.

Here we have to compare not only apples and oranges, but bananas too. So in order to be as even-handed as possible, let's compare lenses at f:5.6, a good honest mid-aperture. The Apo-Summicron at that aperture has its MTF curves for 5 and 10lp/mm up above 96-97% across the field, the 20lp/mm curve is above 90, and the 40lp/m curve curves around at 80%. That is great performance. But it is unique? No.

The first Leica lenses that reached that perfomance level were long primes for the R system. Already the legendary Apo-Telyr-R 1:3.4/180mm, from 1975, was up there. In fact, the 40 lines curve was above 90% over much of the field. The other curves were tightly bunched at nearly 100%. Go to the later Apo-Elmarit and Apo-Summicron lenses of the same length, and you get even better performance. The Apo-Telyt-R 1:4/280mm has flat 5, 10 and 20mm curves that are so close to the 100% upper edge of the graph that you can scarcely tell them apart. The 100mm Apo-Macro-Elmarit-R is in this class too.

There are M lenses too that belong there. Go take a look at the vital statistics of the 21mm Super-Elmar for instance, or the 24mm Elmar. The 18mm Super-Elmar, the 28mm Summicron and the 50mm Summilux ASPH too are so close to this stratospheric class that you can largely forget the difference.

So why have we not heard the hype about a new level of performance etc. with respect of these lenses? (Oh yes some eyebrows were raised in 1975 – but that was long ago.) I think that the reason is that in actual picture-taking, you cannot reliably produce the definition that these lenses are capable of on the lab bench. Do I have to mention the reasons? Rangefinder/lens mismatch, camera shake however infinitesimal, focusing error margin, subject movement (those pesky undead subjects!) and even the intervening air all degrade the definition. These are the factors that, with modern lenses and either high-acutance films or digital capture, really determine the end result. I know that I can only in exceptional cases approach the definition limit of my 50mm Summilux ASPH. To quote the immortal Pogo: "We have seen the enemy, and he's us!".

I don't question that there is an advantage to using the 50mm Apo-Summicron, at least if you think that extreme definition makes or unmakes your pictures (I don't, but you know that already.) But the contribution of those extra €3000 or whatever must be relatively small, if we judge it realistically. A realistic judgment may be a very unrealistic expectation however ...

The old man from the Age of Hypo

Edited by lars_bergquist, 25 May 2012 - 13:37.

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#18 IWC Doppel

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 13:47

With 8 shots using the 50 APO on my M9 it was quite obvious that the resolution in a 'more real and getting closer to the person way' was notably ahead of other lenses I have used on my M8 or M9-P. I do notice the image resolution quality of my 28 summicron over some other lenses, but this was much further ahead again.

For me I could see the potential straight off unprocessed onto my iMac. I shot a similar number of pictures a while ago with the Zeiss 50/2 and somehow it seemed a little flat to my eyes and I didn't buy it.

From my very limited experience and the shots I have seen it DOES look special, I don't think you will need a tripod or lab test to notice. At £5k for a 50 I won't be able to own one, not sure about the rendering and bokeh etc. But if I was looking for a highly resolving 50 with other qualities this would be on my list to look more closely at.

#19 bybrett

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 13:47

My mistake I meant to say any other M lens. I agree that the Apo-Telyr-R 1:3.4/180mm is legendary. I'm not just talking about just definition.

#20 Messsucherkamera

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 13:48

One should, with all these lenses, just use them forgetful of the financial aspect and enjoy whatever result comes out depending on the circumstances.
An expensive lens should not be limiting in making it an obligation to take technically blindingly good photographs solely.

As with any other possession, many (if not most) people immediately go to the money thing. Some who really miss the point go so far as to resent or to actually hate Leica for creating cameras and lenses that they cannot easily own. What a sad and shallow way to think and live.

Leica cameras and lenses are about photography - not money, not status, not elitism or snobbery. They are about a deep, burning passion for visual artistry. They are about a love of image making that is so deep that it permeates you to your bones, that you obsess about it. That you wake up in the morning and realize that you had been dreaming about it the night before. It's not about the mere act of possessing a costly camera or lens. It's about what you do with them.

The mere act of purchasing and possessing a set of scalpels and a rib spreader does not make one a heart surgeon. There's a little more to it than that. Purchasing and possessing an M9 and a 50/2 AA does not instantly transform the owner into a "good" photographer.

Those who think otherwise miss the point of Leica entirely.

JMHO.

Edited by Messsucherkamera, 25 May 2012 - 14:05.

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