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Robert Seeney

Summicron 50mm Latest Version

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I made the move to Leica about 8 months ago having been drawn to the rendering of the lenses.

 

I have been continuously amazed by the performance of the 50mm cron...and I really do mean amazed.

 

Out this morning in the woods - bright light from a low sun, snow everwhere and dark trees....the lens handled every single shot and even after I imported into lightroom and saw some seriously underexposed shots (a little too much Chianti last night), I could bring it all back without any loss of detail or added noise. No way my 5d2 would have done that.

 

There are times when I wonder about the Summilux but it's hard to see how it could be any better than this...in fact, it's hard to see how any lens can top this performance.

 

Thank you leica.

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Robert, your summary and findings accord with many users. It is a super lens. The Summilux comes into its own mainly in low light situations where it simply excels. It is marginally better than the Summicron at f/2, f/2.8 and possibly f/4. Beyond that, almost indistinguishable. So, unless you do a lot of low-light work, your Summicron will serve you well for a very long time.

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The Summicron 50 is one of my favorite lenses. It seems to be the sharpest lens in the Leica line and is relatively compact, fast, easy to focus fast and has a built-in hood. The reason to own a Summilux 50 is if you need the extra stop, imho.

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I suspect strongly that, in the real world of making pictures, the only argument for a Summilux is if you need one extra stop. If fact, almost no one does. Rarely can you not use a higher ISO. Even the narrower dpeth of field at f1.4 is not so much more as at f2. The slight extra image quality available from the Summilux is probably not available unless that camera is on a heavy tripod, and many other elements are optimum. For almost all us us, we never make pictures in those circumstances, and the slight advantages of the current Summilux are not available in practice. In the real world the Summicron is not a lesser lens.

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I did not need the extra stop (well, 'need' and 'want' are not the same thing). Still I dumped my Summicron in 2005 and bought myself a Summilux ASPH.

 

Reason? I was dead tired of getting my shots ruined by strange flare light phenomena. The Summicron simply cannot live with any large bright area within or close to the image. With a SLR camera you see these things and can take measures. With a RF camera, not. With a film M, definitely not. My camera at that time was a M6TTL.

 

The current Summilux is probably the most flare-resistant lens in the Leica M stable. The previous 'spherical' Summilux, which I have also owned, was also superior to the Summicron in that respect. But in non-tricky light and this side of f:8, the Summicron had way better IQ. The Summilux ASPH replaced both these lenses. Case closed.

 

The Summicron, in my opinion, is due for a complete redesign, if Leica decides to support at all a lens with these specs. The Summarit after all is just half a stop slower.

 

The old man from the Age of the 5cm Elmar

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I suspect strongly that, in the real world of making pictures, the only argument for a Summilux is if you need one extra stop. ....

... or the extra shallowness of focus offered by f/1.4.

 

Pete.

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The current Summilux is probably the most flare-resistant lens in the Leica M stable.

No, it's not. The Summilux-M 50 mm Asph is very flare-resistant indeed—and, by the way, so is the Summilux-M 35 mm Asph—but the prize for the most flare-resistant Leica M lens must be awarded to the Summarit-M 35 mm. The 35 mm and 50 mm Summiluxes are very close seconds. The Summarit-M 50 mm is pretty good in this respect, too, while the 35 mm, 50 mm, and 75 mm Summicrons are having issues ...

 

The fact that the M9 will associate the lens code 53-3 with "50/2" might be interpreted as some sort of evidence that an all-new Summicron-M 50 mm 1:2 lens (maybe 'Asph') currently is under development. However, no official or semi-official information as of now ...

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The look of the 50 Summilux and other 1.4's does see to capture a bit of something that slower lenses miss to my eyes. I accept the DOF change, but my 90 Elmarit has a narrower DOF but doesn't seem to capture 'light' in quite the same way the 50 lux does ?

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... —but the prize for the most flare-resistant Leica M lens must be awarded to the Summarit-M 35 mm. ...

The 28 Summicron asph is very flare-resistant; how does it relate to the lenses you've mentioned?

 

Pete.

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That's right, I have the Summicron 50, latest version, and it's an incredibly sharp lens.

 

The only fault is its behaviour in certain situations of "contrajour", as the french say.

 

Not every shooting against the light provokes flare. The most radical situations doesn't necessarily generate it (for instance, with the light source included in the framing), it appears only under certain circumstances, when there is a bright light just outside the framing.

 

My 35 Summicron, again latest version, is on the contrary very much flare-resistant.

Edited by Manolo Laguillo

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Not at all.

Do you have an objective basis for comparison of flare resistance in lenses?

 

Pete.

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Do you have an objective basis for comparison of flare resistance in lenses?

 

Pete.

 

An objective basis would take some kind of objective standardised flare test set-up. I am certain that most manufacturers – certainly, Leica – use such procedures internally, but they keep mum, by some optical omertá, about the results. So of necessity, we have to go by our own impressions which are of necessity non-standardised, anecdotal and subjective.

 

This said, there may well be Leica lenses that are even more flare and reflection resistant than the 50mm Summilux ASPH. The 35mm Summarit may be one, and so may the 28mm Elmarit ASPH, but I have no personal experience of either. The current 35mm Summilux is definitely less flare-prone than its predecessor, that I can say, but produces more flare than the 50mm Summilux.

 

Someone who owns all current Leica M lenses could devise a test rig, run the tests and publish the results. Certainly a pipe dream. But everything would hang on the design of the test set-up. In an extreme case, it could produce no flare at all, or get completely unrealistic results.

 

The old man from the Filter Age (Y, mostly)

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its fun how someone generally complimenting the 50mm cron leads to a discussion of flare resistance across the lens range

 

Leica does not currently make a pup lens IMHO

 

Which is why the system is more then the sum of its parts ...

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... by some optical omertá ...

Love it.

"You talk about the flare test, you sleep with the fishes."

 

I suspect that one of the greatest problems to overcome with a standardised flare response test would be normalising the source of the flare because I've noted that different light sources produce different flare response in the same lens. So colour temperature, source strength, beam width, angle of incidence, beam shape, and source constance are some of the factors that are likely to produce sufficient variables to complicate such a test to render the results unreliable. On top of that there would be the difficulty of separating weak veiling flare from other causes of low contrast.

 

Not an impossible test to devise, I feel sure, but certainly complex if reliable results are desired.

 

Pete.

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I concur completely! Absolutely love the results of my 50 'crons, and have since 1985. Which, brings me to my spin-off question, not meaning to hijack this thread.

 

Question first, background information second:

 

For the M8/M8.2, which lens, current or past most closely replicates the performance and feel of the current 50 'cron? Obviously, with the crop factor, a 35mm would be closest for comparable focal length. The smaller sensor should also downplay concerns of corner sharpness, methinks. Lack of field curvature and distortion is also a priority for me. Would appreciate your experiences and opinions.

 

Some background info about me, should it help your suggestions. I had been a faithful and fanatical Leica R user from 1985-2008. When the R10 project hit the waste bin, I decided to try out the Nikon DSLR system. I've had some good results but just am not completely in love with the equipment. My work is becoming rapidly sloppy and uninspired. So, have decided to come back to Leica and use the M. Initially, I had planned to purchase new the M9 and 50 'cron, but when I became aware of the lens stock shortages and delays, it gave me a "cooling off" period. So, I figure I'll try out the M8, wait to see what is announced at Photokina, and decide if I "need" the anticipated M10, or maybe pick up a used M9 if its resale value plummets, or new if it holds up. I'll shut up now. Cheers! ;-)

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No, it's not. The Summilux-M 50 mm Asph is very flare-resistant indeed—and, by the way, so is the Summilux-M 35 mm Asph—but the prize for the most flare-resistant Leica M lens must be awarded to the Summarit-M 35 mm. The 35 mm and 50 mm Summiluxes are very close seconds. The Summarit-M 50 mm is pretty good in this respect, too, while the 35 mm, 50 mm, and 75 mm Summicrons are having issues ...

 

FWIW, from E. Puts regarding the 50 Summilux asph...

 

"Flare suppression is outstandingly good and even better than that of the Noctilux or the Summicron. It is almost impossible to create secondary reflections, even with bright sources in the picture or even worse, just outside the picture but shining into the front surface of the lens. In this last situation, you may see some smeared out bands of light in the outer zones, Of course, no lens with this aperture and front lens diameter is fully immune to flare and veiling glare but this lens is quite close to being for most intents and purposes flare free. You can see this when you make pictures where very bright windows figure prominently in the scene and the windows are decorated with small objects. Normally these objects are washed out and over saturated, but with the Summilux ASPH they retain shape and colour fidelity, a most remarkable performance."

 

And his comments regarding the 35 Summarit...

 

"This lens is for all intents and purpose flare free. Even shooting with the sun at oblique angles does not induce flare or veiling glare. At 1:2.5 branches against the clear sky have a faint dark grey color where stopped down you see an intense black. Secondary reflections are also absent, even with the sun shining directly into the lens. The Summarit in this respect is better (but not by a large margin) than the Summicron 2/35 asph."

 

And, finally, regarding the 35 Summilux FLE...

 

"Secondary reflections and flare are still present under adverse situations. It is less evident than with the SX design. It this domain Leica has made good progress and the delay in the production has partly been caused by final improvements in the flare reduction by coating technology."

 

 

Not that any of this is scientific, but he seems to rate flare resistance for the 35 Summilux FLE lower than you (although it seems he tested an early or pre-production lens). He does, however, agree on the almost non-existence of flare on the 50 Summilux asph and the 35 Summarit.

 

I own the 50 Summilux asph and the 35 Summicron asph, and I do occasionally get flare issues with the latter, but not the former. I used to own the 50 Summicron asph (I didn't find a Puts' flare description anywhere on quick review) and, like my 35, it did occasionally exhibit flare.

 

But for all practical purposes, there aren't any really bad performers here with regard to flare, or for that matter, in any significant regard (although sometimes one would hardly know that by just reading the forums). It's easy to get spoiled by such wonderful options.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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