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Old 50mm Summitar vs. Summicron vs. Summarit?

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Hi,

I'm looking to soon purchase an M2 and have enough money to get a single 50mm with it. This will be my first M. I was thinking of getting the 50mm collapsible Summitar & M mount adapter, Type 1 collapsible Summicron, or 50mm 1.5 Summarit.

 

From what I read on Ken Rockwell, and have seen on Flickr, the Summitar is a great lens but doesn't have click stops, has a funny bokeh, and isn't sharp if I want to frame my subject off center. I also would have to buy the adapter.

 

The Summicron is more expensive but appears to have a cleaner bokeh and produces nicer images both in terms of sharpness (not pixel peeping I'm just talking a general impression of the images) and color. It has softer glass which means I will have to be careful with it of course (both in use and purchase).

 

I can't find many good examples of the 1.5 Sumarit. It also needs an adapter and I don't think it has click stops.

 

The rigid Summicron is highly praised but is much more expensive.

 

What is everyone's opinion on these lenses, the images they produce, and their usability?

 

I've become familiar with the quality issues to watch out for (flashlight fungus, scratches, cleaning marks, haze, how rings and the lens slide, caps or no caps).

 

Posting picture comparisons would be great too if you have any to share. Thanks.

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The Summicron is the best of that bunch, but I would recommend the 50 Elmar 3.5 instead. OK it's a bit slower, but its a fantastic lens and better than the 2.8 version, although its very marginal (the later style LTM/M mount version is basically the same as the earlier screw mount 'red scale' Elmar).

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Hi

 

I also use a f/3.5 Elmar baynet '52-'58, just like James', but you did not ask about that.

The non clicked stopped lenses are not a problem in use as there is normally sufficient friction.

The older lenses are priced as collectors especially if you are going to insist on pristine optics, even then they will be low contrast lenses doing water colour style pastels or nice flat mono negatives. The Elmar ditto. But they are cheaper than Apshs.

They are thereby sought after by M9 users who gain some margin on (burn out of) specular highlights, you may like pastel colours, note CV sell some of their new lenses in single coating for the same effect.

They will all need hoods typically a large barndoor, to avoid occassional white out.

If you want to shoot street where you cannot control lighting a modern lens is more desirable, e.g. the f2.8 post 1994 Elmar, is not much more expensive, (and can slug it out against a modern cron) or a CV f2.5 5cm in LTM a lot cheaper.

If you are merely gong to fondle it you can get anything you can afford.

 

Noel

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There is not too much visible difference between a collapsible Summicron and a Summitar in my experiece, and there is always the problem with the very soft coating of the Summicron's front lens. I have yet to find one without any cleaning marks! Fogging is another problem that seems to affect the Summicron more than the Summitar. The Summitar has more contrast and resolution in the middle of the frame, the Summicron a more even performance all over the frame. Personally, I'd prefer the Summitar, as the performance difference does not justify the price difference IMHO.

 

The Summarit is also prone to fogging. It is very soft and without much contrast wide open, but getting a lot better stopped down beyond f4. Even good ones are severely affected by flare, so you always have to use the - hard to find (=expensive) - hood. This is really a nice lens for several purposes, but I would not consider it an everyday lens.

 

If this is to become your first and only lens, you better look out for something else such as a nice clean Elmar (2,8 or 3,5 - both will outperform all of the above); better still, look out for a clean rigid Summicron, which blows all the others out of the water easily. Most important: with every old Leica lens, watch out for fogging! This is the single most important problem of these lenses, if you want to actually use them!

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look out for a clean rigid Summicron, which blows all the others out of the water easily.

 

I love comments like this. To me it's about as useful as saying: "Look out for Velazquez, he blows all other artists out of the water easily."

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I love comments like this. To me it's about as useful as saying: "Look out for Velazquez, he blows all other artists out of the water easily."

 

The meaningful bit is 'look out for' as if you can get a pristine one cheap, you sell it at a profit.

The type III and type IV will out drag one (i.e. the rigid - type II) any day of week.

A type III may offer the 'best' cost/effect.

 

A CV lens even better for cost effect... people can spot them at a distance so you will be ashamed to be seen in public.

 

Noel

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Here you find a "comparison" between an uncoated Summitar, a collapsible an a rigid Summicron. The photos were taken with the M8, so you might see bigger differences in the corners on film:

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-collectors-historica/98963-legendary-leica-lenses-old-vs-new-2.html#post1046145

 

The coated post-war version of the Summitar shows more contrast, thgough still less than the Summicron.

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Keep in mind that the Summitar had different construction over the years. It was coated after WWII, and had a round aperture which was replaced with an octagon shape sometime after they started coating. I searched high and low to find one that was coated and had the round aperture (and was clean). It is from 1949, I think.

 

I'm quite happy with its look. The images are not as crisp as a later Summicron, but I like it none-the-less as it is.

 

.

Edited by pico

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I love comments like this. To me it's about as useful as saying: "Look out for Velazquez, he blows all other artists out of the water easily."

 

You've got me wrong. There's a quantum leap between the collapsible Summicron (and the other 50s of previous times) and the rigid one, that makes for a very clearly visible and measurable difference in performance at the wider apertures, and I know what I'm talking about because I own - and use - every single lens I've commented on. I did not say anything about artistic qualities, glow, bokeh or other metaphysical aspects of what any of these lenses may do or may not do.

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The meaningful bit is 'look out for' as if you can get a pristine one cheap, you sell it at a profit.

The type III and type IV will out drag one (i.e. the rigid - type II) any day of week.

A type III may offer the 'best' cost/effect.

 

A CV lens even better for cost effect... people can spot them at a distance so you will be ashamed to be seen in public.

 

Noel

I agree without much reservation - but type IV ones are very much in demand nowadays, and even type III are regularily more expensive than type II ones. C'mon, type II is good enough for almost everything. Sure, there are many modern alternatives at competitive prices, but why buy an M2 at all - when there are Voigtländer cameras (at half the price of a good used M2) that even have a built-in meter?

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Partially because I already have a lightmeter M and also because I need a camera that is going to be absolutely solid for one or one and a half years in the Guatemalan jungle. Any batteries pose a problem seveal different ways (film does too but I'll bring silica)

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I have the late coated hex diaphragm LTM Summitar 50/2 dating from 1953. It is in very good condition as my father always preferred his Summar, which he had coated in the Netherlands post war and very rarely used the Summitar. It is a OK lens but not a whole lot better than that. Wide open it is quite soft and very prone to flare unless you use a hood. It gives a lovely vintage feel to photos taken on black and white film and that is what I use it for on my IIF. The original Leica hood is a monstrosity called the barn door hood. It is quite difficult to find the neat hood that most used in the 1950's which slid on to the outside of the lens and locked with a small knurled screw. If anyone knows where these are available I would be very grateful to hear.

 

I also have a contemporaneous Zeiss 50/1.5 coated Opton Sonnar, which I use on all my M's with a Amadeo Muscelli focusing coupled adapter. This is a noticeably better lens: Crisper, higher contrast, less flare prone and one stop faster. It also takes standard thread filters and hoods rather than tapered thread ones like the Summitar.

 

I have never tried collapsing the Summitar on my M8 or 9 but it marked the shutter blind guide tracks when I tried to collapse it on my M4. Other model Summitars can apparently be collapsed but I would be very wary of doing this

 

Wilson

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Here you find a "comparison" between an uncoated Summitar, a collapsible an a rigid Summicron. The photos were taken with the M8, so you might see bigger differences in the corners on film:

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-collectors-historica/98963-legendary-leica-lenses-old-vs-new-2.html#post1046145

 

Thanks for this! After looking at these closely, prices on eBay, reviews, and their Bokeh on Flickr, I decided on the collapsible Summicron M Mount. I found one with purportedly "Perfect" glass and "Immaculate" barrel, with no oil on the blades, snappy aperture dial, and with the front and back caps for $412 with shipping. If it's not as described I can of course send it back (it is hard to believe). I also like the collapsible design actually but besides that, the price difference between the collapsible and the rigid for what appear to be remarkably similar and gorgeous lenses wasn't justifiable.

 

Another aspect that had me avoid going with the rigid was that it had a minimum focusing distance of 3 meters. The collapsible is 3.4 feet, 1/3 the distance.

 

And James thanks for your comment, I chose this over the Elmar just because I wanted better low light performance.

 

Thanks everyone! This forum is immediately useful (and moreso than the X1 forum where everything digresses so quickly).

 

Now I'm off to find a UV filter to try to keep it as nice as it is.

 

Cheers

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Hmmm

 

Nice

 

You will probably find you also need a hood, options of barndoor, cone or inverted cone, all expensive as well. The signature with color film is really nice - but that is just me speaking.

 

Noel

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As you have found a lens with the milled groove in it, probably the nicest and neatest hood is the 12585. No particular shortage of these. Sadly my Summitar is a few numbers below when they started to mill the groove, so this hood doesn't fit. One on Fleabay at the moment here Leica 12585 lens hood - Summicron Summaron 35 50 on eBay (end time 17-Mar-11 00:10:24 GMT) I am thinking of getting a groove milled into my Summitar, if I can't find a clip on hood.

 

Wilson

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I'm a coated LTM Summitar user, my serial # 76xxxx dates from 1950. While my lens could be could be considered one of those "perfect" glass, pretty decent barrel survivors, there are a few drawbacks. One is the appearance of semi-softness at the wide open apertures at the edges. Stopped down, mine's sharp all the way across. The second is the Summitar only filter thread mount. Finding protective UV filtration took a while. A Leitz Summitar UV (needed for M8 color) can be pretty pricey. When I did find it, I jumped, but they can go for $150+ on the Bay. I bought a back up (in B&W Summitar UV form) but my barn door hood didn't fit in the milled groove anymore. Third, I consider the hood to be pretty integral to the use of that lens. If you even think about pointing it toward a light source the lens will flare, but so will any version 1 Summicron. Fourth is just the collapsible mechanism. Mine's 61 years old and sometimes turning the aperture wheel will disengage the extended lens.

 

Over the years I have acquired and sold 2 collapsible Summicron from that era, one 5cm LTM that had a front element that looked like it had been sandpapered, and one 50mm first version M collapsible that appeared to have been recoated. I had already found my Leitz UV for the Summitar, so the 'cron moved on.

 

There's a more modern Summicron 50 in my future, I'm already beyond admiring the latest version.

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A cheap hood for the Summitar is this:

 

Fedka.com

 

It fits perfect.

 

/Per

Hi Per

 

The 'heavystar' screw in conical hoods also fit.

 

But since the OP wated a cron he may want a pukka Leitz hood?

 

Noel

Edited by Xmas

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I can't find many good examples of the 1.5 Sumarit. It also needs an adapter and I don't think it has click stops.

 

My summarit is m-mount, it doesn't need adaptor and it has clicks on its aperture ring too...mmm, that's strange. Different version?

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