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results from an informal test of the 50 Apo vs. 50 lux aspherical on the M9


BerndReini
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The Apo price increase prompted me to visit my local Leica store yesterday and shoot some quick informal comparisons between my trusty 50lux aspherical and the new Leica siren, the 50 Apo. I shot some quick snaps handheld with both lenses and even though this was not scientific, I did learn some things I would like to share with you guys.

 

I had the lens detection set to auto, but I must not have the latest firmware on my M9 since the camera did not seem to detect the 50Apo, which I blame for the heavy vignetting of the 50Apo compared to the 50lux. The picture I am posting here was taken at f2 at the same ISO and shutter speed with both lenses consecutively on the same camera body. The first photograph of the gentleman looking straight at camera is the 50lux, the second (looking off) is the 50 Apo.

 

My conclusion is that I don't see that much difference in sharpness between the two lenses, as you can see comparing the crop of the face. Where I do see a difference is on the sleeve. The outline of the sleeve, which is slightly behind the plane of sharpness, shows the superior CA correction of the Apo pretty clearly. There is also more micro contrast in the fine texture of the fabric that shows an unbelievable amount of detail.

 

What I can't decide yet, is whether this adds up to enough of a difference to justify spending this kind of money for the new lens, but that's for everyone to decide for themselves.

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Considering that it is a quick test, it's rather interesting : the Summicron shows a plus only in the 3rd cropped detail, but are you sure that is just the superior apo correction ? Indeed, it could be also a slight difference in focusing... seems to me that this can appear in the small "hair" of fabric...

The other pictures are really very similar, at least on monitor... even in the skin rendering : my opinion (from a test like this) is that the small IQ advantage of the Summicron does NOT overcome the loss of f 1,4 capability (not to speak of the price gap) ; my idea (not supported by any test) is that the Apo Summicron needs significantly large very well processed prints to show its real value (which, of course, can or cannot worth its huge cost... I don't dare any judgment about).

Edited by luigi bertolotti
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It is so hard to get your hands on an Apo these days and it is even more tedious testing it against another lens. I could really only play with it for a little bit and there really wasn't much to shoot. I agree that you have to shoot different pictures to see what this lens can do, a model with wild curly hair would have been nice for example.

 

I also agree that small differences in focusing can make a difference, but what I am seeing in the texture of the coat, can also be seen in the beard stubble. If you look closely, you see that the stubble and pores are more clearly defined with the Apo in the areas that are in sharpest focus.

 

I think what it comes down to is that the 50lux aspherical is already an excellent lens and it might not be all that easy to show its disadvantages against the 50 Apo in real world shooting. On my last trip a few weeks ago, I only packed my M9 and a 35lux and 50lux. I have not seen any comparisons so far that would make me leave my 50lux behind for the 50Apo at this point. It will be interesting to see what Steve Huff comes up with.

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Guest JonathanP
It will be interesting to see what Steve Huff comes up with.

 

Something along the lines of "its a FANTASTIC lens which you can BUY from my SPONSORED LINK". Just a guess of course ;)

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I actually think he may sell his copy again in a couple of weeks because he will feel guilty about spending that much money. Then he will miss it and buy it again, something like that. But honestly, I really appreciate Steve. I enjoy looking at his site and reading the contributor's articles. I know that his enthusiasm can get a little annoying, but with all the cynicism around the web, his website is generally a breath of fresh air.

 

Btw. I think what these photographs really show is what the "old" 18mp M9 sensor can resolve and how much lens quality really matters when shooting at wide apertures.

Edited by BerndReini
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  • 3 weeks later...

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It seems that the summilux field of focus is closer than the summicron. The eyes are in focus on both, but only the summicron also still has the ear sharp enough to be considered in the field of focus, whereas with the summilux I would consider the ear outside the field of focus.

 

This difference in planes of focus make it impossible to compare the sleevecrops as one could be outside of the focus area and the other inside.

 

For example look at the tip of the man's nose and the man's eyebrow, and the story is reversed imo. It's much closer to the edge of the field of focus with the summicron thus imo being sharper with the summilux.

 

I also would not give up the 1.4 aperture for alleged sharpness or resolving power, especially considering that the M240, which I have, isn't the sharpest camera around imo. To take full advantage you would need a monochrom I guess, although I'd say it would be far too clinical a combination.

Lens size is a consideration that I can kind of understand for giving up 1.4, but not for that price.

Edited by pieterpronk
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Personally I would rather have the 1.4 extra stop on my 50 lux asph over the 50 APO

I find lens test comparisons a little mind numbing and non conclusive

Edited by nelly001
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If you shoot architecture professionally, or wide scenics that you plan to print large, the APO might be worth the money. But, in real world use, I don't think so.

 

My guess is you're simply looking for justification to buy the latest and most expensive lens. And that you'll buy the APO, regardless of what members of this board have to say.

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It seems that the summilux field of focus is closer than the summicron. The eyes are in focus on both, but only the summicron also still has the ear sharp enough to be considered in the field of focus, whereas with the summilux I would consider the ear outside the field of focus.

 

I agree. The slight turn of his head might be responsible for the different plane of focus. If I do get a Monochrom, I will first play with my 50mm summicron rigid.

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  • 2 years later...

The Apo price increase prompted me to visit my local Leica store yesterday and shoot some quick informal comparisons between my trusty 50lux aspherical and the new Leica siren, the 50 Apo. I shot some quick snaps handheld with both lenses and even though this was not scientific, I did learn some things I would like to share with you guys.

 

I had the lens detection set to auto, but I must not have the latest firmware on my M9 since the camera did not seem to detect the 50Apo, which I blame for the heavy vignetting of the 50Apo compared to the 50lux. The picture I am posting here was taken at f2 at the same ISO and shutter speed with both lenses consecutively on the same camera body. The first photograph of the gentleman looking straight at camera is the 50lux, the second (looking off) is the 50 Apo.

 

My conclusion is that I don't see that much difference in sharpness between the two lenses, as you can see comparing the crop of the face. Where I do see a difference is on the sleeve. The outline of the sleeve, which is slightly behind the plane of sharpness, shows the superior CA correction of the Apo pretty clearly. There is also more micro contrast in the fine texture of the fabric that shows an unbelievable amount of detail.

 

What I can't decide yet, is whether this adds up to enough of a difference to justify spending this kind of money for the new lens, but that's for everyone to decide for themselves.

 

Thanks for sharing this.  I'm not too keen on scientific tests, I prefer real life results.  Looking at these, the APO seems slightly  sharper overall, but perhaps the focus was a tad off with the LUX? That is possible.  I currently own the LUX and appreciate it's usefulness in low light situations.   The APO is obviously a fantastic lens, but at some point, at least for me, the ever increasing Leica spending madness has to end.  The LUX ASPH is such a fantastic performer, I'll leave well enough alone.

Edited by wilfredo
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A lot has changed in the 2 years since this thread began.  My prints are significantly better due to enhancements in my workflow resulting from different printer, inks, profiles, editing software, papers, and more....including my own experience and skills....and I never even had to switch from my 50 Summilux-M ASPH.

 

Jeff

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A lot has changed in the 2 years since this thread began.  My prints are significantly better due to enhancements in my workflow resulting from different printer, inks, profiles, editing software, papers, and more....including my own experience and skills....and I never even had to switch from my 50 Summilux-M ASPH.

 

Jeff

 

There is no need to switch, but you could revisit the 50 Apo again with your new workflow. I didn't see any "need" for a 50 Apo when I posted this test. Then after taking a trip with my 50 lux aspherical during which I shot subject matter that I usually shoot on 4x5 when I'm not traveling light, I found that the 50 Apo does get me closer to the "ideal" and I bought one. I couldn't be more pleased with it and I really find that it is the greatest 50mm lens I have ever used.

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There is no need to switch, but you could revisit the 50 Apo again with your new workflow. I didn't see any "need" for a 50 Apo when I posted this test. Then after taking a trip with my 50 lux aspherical during which I shot subject matter that I usually shoot on 4x5 when I'm not traveling light, I found that the 50 Apo does get me closer to the "ideal" and I bought one. I couldn't be more pleased with it and I really find that it is the greatest 50mm lens I have ever used.

 

I've never 'visited' the 50 APO, and no desire to switch my modest M arsenal.  I am, however, exploring a complementary system to use with the M, primarily for wider and longer focal lengths.

 

I shot 35mm along with medium and large format film since the 70's, processed and printed in my own darkrooms, and have collected vintage prints over that period from those far more talented than I, so I'm well aware of the possibilities. 

 

While I'm happy with my print results, I'm always seeking to improve.  Experience has taught me that improvements are far more likely to come from me and the processing end of things than from camera/lens changes, provided the system is good enough to start.  And it seems to me that there are lots of terrific gear choices these days to suit most any style.  

 

Some of the most beautiful prints I own and have collected from others were produced with gear that doesn't come close to the technical perfection exhibited today....that alone keeps me in check and avoids GAS.

 

Jeff

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  • 2 weeks later...

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