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The perfect 50 for film


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I'm seriously considering the move from digital to film. I already know that I want a Leica M6 from the research I've done, but I'm unsure on which lens I should go for. I know that I want my first lens to be 50mm, but I don't know how useful the extra light gathering abilities of the Summilux will be, considering that film is more limited than digital with regards to how high you can push the ISO. How valuable is that extra stop of light in lower light conditions? As I do intend to shoot indoors as well as outdoors.

 

Also, is the creamier Bokeh/rendering of the 'lux as apparent in film? I do like taking portraits so good Bokeh is something I do appreciate. Another thing I'd like to know is whether film can take full advantage of the sharpness of these lenses. Do the modern Leica lenses out resolve the capabilities of film?

 

Any help will be much appreciated.

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I find the extra stop very useful with film. Frequently the most interesting light and activity is to the end of the day or early in the morning. I have both the last pre apo Summicron and the Summilux Asph.   50 Summilux Asph:   Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!0719AL by Sky-nerd, on Flickr   Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du w

You have heard a lot of very good tips for your future 50mm lens. It really depends what you want to do with your camera. When I travel I prefer the Elmar 50mm. It is very compact and to me the perfect "one camera-one lens" combination. To me this is one of the most underrated Leica lenses. best regards   Marc   Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!  MP, Tmax 400, Elmar 50

I found the color rendition of the 50lux asph, especially on Provia, astounding and very special/unique. Somehow on my M9, this did not come through that much, relatively speaking. In the mean time I acquired an Elmar50 which gives a lot of IQ. As a Summilux I prefer a 75 (smallest object field) in combination with the 35FLE, which has astounding color rendition too. There were other disadvantages for me too, the 50lux asph is quite heavy for a 50 and it hangs over. It began to irritate me that

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I'm not an expert on all of the latest 50's but can tell you that the extra stop is useful in low light with film. I have a 50/2 (M and R) and have shot an older (non-ASPH) 50/1.4 M and a 50/1.4 ASPH R. All great but different. The old M Lux had the famous "Leica glow" (beautiful and atmospheric wide open), the 50/2 (M and R) is a great all around performer and very light and well balanced on the camera, and the 50/1.4 R was the 'best' lens in terms of contrast and corner sharpness, but slightly less sharp in the center than my 50 Summicron, both M and R.

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A couple of questions: first do you plan on adding a film camera to your current equipment or selling the lot and moving to film? Second is what is your workflow plan? Is there a local lab to process and scan, outside processing and scanning on your own or traditional wet prints? How high of an ISO are you looking for? Most films can be pushed two stops above rated box speed before degradation of the image. There is still the chance of blown out highlights and loss of shadow detail. Negative film can be fairly forgiving and there are some very good ones on the market. Spend some time looking through the galleries on this site. Many are annotated with the camera, lens and film used. As for a 50, I have a Summicron and love it but I also have two other lenses in the same filter size. There is no shortage of information on the Summilux listed on this and other forums. An M6 and a 50 Summilux would make a great combination. Then you can start working your way through the different films to find the one you like. Welcome to the forum.

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I find the extra stop very useful with film. Frequently the most interesting light and activity is to the end of the day or early in the morning. I have both the last pre apo Summicron and the Summilux Asph.

 

50 Summilux Asph:

 

0719AL by Sky-nerd, on Flickr

 

0636AL by Sky-nerd, on Flickr

 

Pete

Edited by Stealth3kpl
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I used a 50 Summicron (1969 version) with my M4 and M6 for over 40 years, much use indoors, and never used flash or needed an f1.4 lens. Not that an extra stop couldn't be useful with film, but not necessary for my shooting.

I did use 50 f1.4 on my film SLRs, where the mirror vibration liked faster speeds.

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I'm truly grateful for all the quick replies and thank you all for the warm welcome.

 

A couple of questions: first do you plan on adding a film camera to your current equipment or selling the lot and moving to film? Second is what is your workflow plan? Is there a local lab to process and scan, outside processing and scanning on your own or traditional wet prints? How high of an ISO are you looking for? Most films can be pushed two stops above rated box speed before degradation of the image. There is still the chance of blown out highlights and loss of shadow detail. Negative film can be fairly forgiving and there are some very good ones on the market. Spend some time looking through the galleries on this site. Many are annotated with the camera, lens and film used. As for a 50, I have a Summicron and love it but I also have two other lenses in the same filter size. There is no shortage of information on the Summilux listed on this and other forums. An M6 and a 50 Summilux would make a great combination. Then you can start working your way through the different films to find the one you like. Welcome to the forum.

 

I'm a Fuji X shooter, and I'll be selling my gear (23mm, 56mm lenses and X-E1 body) to fund my move over to film. I actually love the output of my current system. I couldn't be happier with the images produced by the two lenses I own, but I've always been left frustrated using autofocus. I prefer manual focus as I feel more in control and it's generally a more fun experience, though the manual focusing system on the Fuji X cameras leave a lot to be desired. So yes, that is one of the main reason why I wanted to move over to a fully mechanical camera.

 

I actually plan to shoot in b/w and do the developing and scanning myself. It's all part of the fun of shooting film right? Probably start off with a reasonably priced scanner and if I require higher quality scans, there is a local film processing/scanning service that has a good reputation which I could use.

 

I plan to experiment with different films but I'm leaning more towards Tri-X 400 as my standard. My partner and I plan on doing a lot of travelling in the next few years, so I suppose I'll mostly be shooting environmental portraits. A prime reason as to why I gravitated towards the 50mm focal length, in which I am able to isolate as well as have context in the photos I shoot.

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I find the extra stop very useful with film. Frequently the most interesting light and activity is to the end of the day or early in the morning. I have both the last pre apo Summicron and the Summilux Asph.

 

50 Summilux Asph:

 

Pete

 

That's actually a very good point, which has me leaning more towards the 'lux. The ability to open the aperture a stop more, especially in those beautiful end of day, low light evening scenarios would be extremely valuable.

 

Lovely images btw.

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Every Leicaman/woman who shoots film should own a dual range summicron

 

I'll look into it.

 

I used a 50 Summicron (1969 version) with my M4 and M6 for over 40 years, much use indoors, and never used flash or needed an f1.4 lens. Not that an extra stop couldn't be useful with film, but not necessary for my shooting.

I did use 50 f1.4 on my film SLRs, where the mirror vibration liked faster speeds.

 

I'm sure that I'd be more than happy with the 'cron, but I'm still undecided whether the 'lux will be worth having for the times where the sun is closer to the horizon, as I mentioned in my previous post. I'm thinking that especially with film, the ability to open the aperture a stop further could be more crucial to nailing a shot in those conditions.

Edited by GSharp
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..... but I don't know how useful the extra light gathering abilities of the Summilux will be, considering that film is more limited than digital with regards to how high you can push the ISO. How valuable is that extra stop of light in lower light conditions? As I do intend to shoot indoors.........

 

It is a matter of perception. Myself I don't like the trend to turn nighttime into daytime by pushing the ISO a lot. There really should be a time when you say 'it's too dark to properly represent what I'm seeing' when using a modern camera that in the dark can see more than you are seeing.

 

There is only one camera anyway that I like high ISO with and that's the Monochrom, because the 'noise' looks like film grain and you can still keep a bit of atmosphere in the image. Other digital cameras I stick to around 800 to 1600, and likewise with film because it is easily doable. How much one stop gives you when using film in darker conditions is offset by how little ithe shallow DOF can give you. If a wafer-thin plain of focus can represent what you are after then the extra stop of a Summilux is ideal, but if it means all you can do is take a photograph, but without regard to the image you want to represent, then a slower lens and a flashgun may be a better answer.

 

Steve

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It is a matter of perception. Myself I don't like the trend to turn nighttime into daytime by pushing the ISO a lot. There really should be a time when you say 'it's too dark to properly represent what I'm seeing' when using a modern camera that in the dark can see more than you are seeing.

 

Steve

 

Hear Hear!

A Dusky Wonderland

 

Pete

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A Summicron is surprisingly flexible in lower light conditions, something borne out by my own experience, and some great examples from Chunyang Lin, a cinematographer and Leica enthusiast in Taiwan. For a number of years, Chunyang was shooting a 50mm Summicron and various colour films, first with a Bessa body, and then the M6TTL.

 

https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=14448739@N00&q=summicron

 

He now uses a M9 and Sony A7S, but still uses the Summicron, among other lenses. The digital photos look great, but the film photos with the Summicron have a distinct charm of their own. And the pretty Taiwanese girlfriend does help, too.

 

I don't own a Summilux (yet), but I have the Zeiss C Sonnar 50/1.5, which is utterly gorgeous. The look that this creates is stunningly artistic on film and digital. The lenses will slightly backfocus at f1.5, and are factory optimized for f2.8, but this is easily compensated by leaning forward slightly after focusing at f1.5, or sending it to Zeiss for recalibration, if you wish.

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My only camera is an M6. I shoot 400 speed B&W film (tri-x). The extra stop of the 50mm Summilux is quite helpful. During the day it won't matter, but if you are indoors it really helps.

 

I removed the batteries from my M6 and meter using the Lumu and its associated phone app. This approach has worked great and rarely results in improper exposure.

 

I am not an expert on resolving power and the science behind it, but I would suggest that you might be asking the wrong question with regard to sharpness. It's not so much about whether film will capture the resolution of a lens; rather, it's whether film will capture the rendering signature of a lens. In my admittedly limited experience, I think the answer is a resounding yes. I have been thrilled with how my scans come out. There really is something special to tri-x images captured with fine lenses like the 50 lux.

 

A few final tips:

 

  • Consider using a light yellow filter at all times. It provides a touch of contrast as well as lens protection. If you meter with an incident meter such as the Lumu, make sure to adjust with +1 stop exposure.
     
  • I find the best results with tri-x come when over exposing by .5 to 1 stop (in addition to the adjustment mentioned above).
     
  • Trying to do all of the developing and scanning yourself might be overwhelming. You might send your first rolls to a lab as you experiment and get the hang of things. Otherwise you are taking on a lot all at once.
     
  • For your first rolls, do some controlled tests (e.g. bracket exposures, same shot w/filter and without, etc). This will help you isolate variables and ensure consistent future results.

With a bit of patience and trial and error I think you will enjoy it!

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I used to shoot film many decades ago

Just getting back into it now

It depends how much money you have but I recommend as bright a lens as you can afford.

It's really useful to have the extra latitude.

 

A good value lens is the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 M Aspherical. It's very sharp from f2 and sharp in the middle at f1.5. It has lower contrast then the new Leicas which is personal taste. This can be changed post in an editor like photoshop or Lightroom.

 

The Zeiss 50mm f1.5 is a tale of two lenses. Wide open its quite soft but dreamy, by f5.6 is becomes a sharp modern lens, again less contrast then New Leicas. I didn't find it very useful wide open and it has focus shift at f1.5 (unless you get one optimised for f1.5, in which case it will shift from f2-f4)

 

The Leica 50mm ASPH Summilux is a fantastic lens if you can afford it. It is centre sharp from wide open and also has more contrast wide open then any other f1.4/1.5 lens I have seen

 

The last generation Noctilux goes to f1 and is dreamy at this aperture with softer corners. It does have a nice pre-ASPH Summilux like draw once it stops down

 

The current generation Noctilux is sharper and higher contrast through the range. It's still quite soft in the corners until f2 but a great option for the extra 1 (or is it 2?) stops of light from f1.4.

 

The pre-ASPH Summiluxes are beautiful draw and Bokeh with similar characteristics to the old Noctilux. I think the v3 and v4 are highly regarded.

 

There are some other rangefinder lenses knocking around, like the Canon 50mm f1.2 but they are quite hard to find and not cheap. Again they have distinct draw.

 

If you want the most detail and most contrast its best to stick to the latest lenses but the choice is quite large.

 

Finally note that current Leicas have high contrast and a very neutral colour balance, shifting slightly towards blue. Voigtlander and Zeiss tend to have a slightly warmer colour balance, shifting slightly towards yellow.

 

My recommendation would be either the Voigtlander or the Summilux.

 

Lastly remember that the film you use also has an influence on contrast. E6 film is higher contrast in general. Films like Kodak Ultra and Fuji Superior are higher contrast for C41 whereas Portra is a lower contrast with softer skin tones. It what makes it so much fun about film, all the tweaking and choice and the fact you can change the sensor type every roll

Edited by colonel
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50's I currently use on film:

Noctilux 1.0

Elmar 2.8

Summicron v4

Voigtlander 1.5 nokton

 

The voigtlander is the first I would cut. It seems popular among other users, but my pictures are turning out flat compared to the other lenses.

At night indoors, with little light the summicron is too slow with 400 ISO film in my experience.

I haven't used the summilux 50, but I would get one if I had to use only one lens.

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Let's face it, if you can afford a Summilux 50 asph, you really cannot go wrong with this one. It delivers popping results, very nice bokeh, superb color rendition and renders tack sharp corner to corner even at full aperture. Other 50s are certainly good, too, but none has that all around goodness in a still fairly compact package. I did not count my 50s, but it is well over a dozen, old and new, and I use them for different reasons, but if I had to restrict myself to just one 50mm lens, it would be the Summilux 50 asph.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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