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trade up a pre-ASPH Summilux 50 for a Noctilux F1


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i've had my 50mm Summilux pre-ASPH (V.2) for several months now, primarily because it is a period-correct lens (c. 1972) for my M5 (c. 1972) but i've never really been that fond of the 50mm Summilux.....in fact i generally prefer my old school Super Rokkor 50mm over the Summilux for pretty much every part of its rendering. There's nothing wrong with the lens...in fact it's in great shape and turns out nice photos.....but i just find it lacking in character compared to the Super Rokkor.


i really love large lenses, so the size of the Noctilux isn't an issue. I guess my question is, are there a lot of common qualities about the older Noctiluxes and pre-ASPH Summiluxes after F1.4? or are they very different?

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I hope you had a good birthday and visit to Long Beach. Now on to your question.


I would recommend reading the articles by Puts in the Leica Compendium. This is available very affordably as an on-line download.


Some subjective observations:

The Noctilux is a very special purpose tool. It has a very long focus throw, which is appropriate for fine focusing at wide apertures. It is heavy. It is more than a little expensive. Given all these detractions, it is a wonderful tool for its wide-open bokeh and flare resistance. I wouldn't want to use it in a dynamic situation, however.

The Summilux is a superb every-day, every-situation lens. Fast to focus, not too big or heavy, and only mildly insane for price.

I believe both lenses are Mandler designs. They do not use aspherical elements, which means they produce wonderful bokeh, with a companion compromise in corner sharpness wide-open, and small increments of focus shift. The new ASPH versions of both lenses address these compromises, with corresponding prices.


You did not mention how much you shoot wide open. If f/2.0 is sufficient, the new APO Summicron is a real masterpiece. Sharp corner-to-corner at all apertures, it's a much better lens than I am a photographer.


Maybe a week's rental is in order next.


Happy shooting.



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iedei, hi


I am very surprised you feel that way about the pre asph, VII summilux. I have a 1983 example which I love for it's rendering on my M9-P and had the same feelig about this lens on my M8. (accepting this was really a 70mm)


I have three 50's, well now 4 next to me, a version III pre asph Summilux (New to me as of yesterday), a version II, a MkIV Summicron and Elmar-M. In terms of character the Pre Asph Lux has most IMO.


Have you compared to another example ? What is it about it you don't like ? I am astonished if the Super Rokkor is a nicer lens and the most character (I will look for one !)


I'm off to the office, when I am home later I'll write a longer note, in my view the 50 Summilux pre asph has a magic balance between resolution, sharpness and character.

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