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Best 35mm Summilux for Film (M6)


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I'm looking to trade up my 35mm Summicron ASPH to a Summilux for my M6. I shoot only film and so I've been craving a slightly faster lens that'll go well with slow film. After some research, I'm torn between all the different types of Summilux's:

 

- Pre-ASPH/Classic (cheaper, prone to flare, prone to focus shift, softer on the edges, and has the classic Leica glow/rendition)

- Aspherical (super expensive, a non-option for me)

- ASPH (a little cheaper than the FLE, still prone to focus shift, sharper than the Pre-ASPH, still has the classic Leica glow/rendition - not as much as Pre-ASPH though)

- ASPH FLE (expensive, no focus shift, really sharp, lots of contrast, more modern Leica look)

 

I'm leaning towards the ASPH and ASPH FLE, and the only reason why I'm leaning towards the ASPH FLE was that the focus shift is mostly eliminated with the floating lens element. However, I kind of like the classic Leica look that the regular ASPH has. I've also read places that focus shift is less prominent in film cameras. Is that really true? Should I just spring for the FLE version?

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I am biased. I love my pre-asph 35mm summilux. But...

 

If I were you, coming from the 35mm summicron ASPH, I'd go for the either of the modern ASPH 35mm summilux's. The pre-asph will be a shock coming from the modern summicron ASPH, and like most, the ASPHERICAL is out of reach.

I'd swing towards the FLE version, only because the hood is smaller, making it a bit more compact. But then the per-FLE ...  

 

Do you have an opportunity to try them out before making the plunge?

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Thanks! I actually got to borrow a friend's ASPH FLE today and shot half a roll with it. I'm going to develop it this weekend and see how things turn out. The Pre-FLE is going to be a bit harder to come by, but the one thing I'm really worried about is the focus shift that everybody talks about. Is it really that bad, especially when I'm shooting with film?

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Thanks! I actually got to borrow a friend's ASPH FLE today and shot half a roll with it. I'm going to develop it this weekend and see how things turn out. The Pre-FLE is going to be a bit harder to come by, but the one thing I'm really worried about is the focus shift that everybody talks about. Is it really that bad, especially when I'm shooting with film?

It shouldn't be an issue with film. The focus shift problems really started to appear with digital sensors.

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Thanks guys! With the FLE only a couple hundred dollars more than the Pre-FLE, I might get the FLE just to be safe. Is there any downside to the FLE vs. Pre-FLE?

 

 

It's a ore complicated design, with two groups moving when focusing. In theory it would be more demanding on tolerances. In practice, some have reported a different feel (less smooth) on the focus tab.

I wouldn't let any of that bother you though, you tried it and liked it (have you developed the film yet?), so get it and don't worry.

 

As an aside, I find it amazing how well the pre-FLE has held value. I would have thought (secretly hoped) it's value would have dropped a lot quicker with the introduction of the FLE model.

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I faced exactly this choice recently.  I guess I went the opposite direction: pre-asph for me.  I just can't get past how quickly the ASPH lenses transition from in-focus to out-of-focus.  Often the images look like a pop-up book: the in focus hovers above the background.  That frequently bothers me.  I much prefer the slower transition of the older lens as it imparts a "roundness" that I like very much, even though in all honesty it's not really good at f/1.4 (if there's any point light source, my copy of the pre-asph goes really wonky with flare and glow).  So it's really a summicron in the end!  (And I am keeping my ASPH summicron.  This is how lenses proliferate, isn't it?)

Edited by KevinL
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Pedantic mode on: It is not necessary to refer to the original 35mm as pre-ASPH.

We understand.

 

I'm repeating what I have written before. The 35mm Summilux is two lenses. The first

is at wide open with contrasty light it might give a glow. Stopped down to F/2 or

greater it becomes a Summicron.

 

I'm on my third 35mm Summilux, others lost to damage, and still very happy.

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I use my 35mm FLE on a M6, and it very seldom comes off there. I prefer it with film to using it on my Monochrom - Not that that there's anything wrong with it on the digital sensor - Just that the M6 and the Summilux are a match made in Heaven for me. It is, for me, a great prophylactic for GAS.

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There is very little difference in rendering between the 35 asph and 35 FLE, which should be no surprise, as the optical formulas are virtually identical. The only real difference is the reduced focus shift, which is of less importance on film. However, the way the world is developing it is not unlikely that you will shift to digital one day, on even higher resolving sensors than the present ones.

 

That is a good argument for spending a few shekels more now for an FLE instead of facing a larger financial hit in the future.

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Hello Kevin,

 

Welcome to the Forum.

 

As per your Post # 8:

 

Sometimes lenses with floating element designs show a greater degree of sharpness at their exact plane of focus than their non-floating element siblings do. This greater degree of sharpness sometimes drops off more rapidly in front of & behind the plane of focus: Therefore effectively producing less depth of field than is the case with their non-floating element siblings.

 

As an example: The first 280mm, F2.8  APO lens for the "R" Series Cameras.

 

Look at the difference in depth of field between it & its 250mm F4 contemporary: Small difference in focal length. Large difference in depth of field.

 

You can see this by looking at the comparable depths of fields of the 2 lenses at F22 in the WIKI at the top of this page.

 

Best Regards,

 

Michael.

Edited by Michael Geschlecht
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Pedantic mode on: It is not necessary to refer to the original 35mm as pre-ASPH.

We understand.

 

I'm repeating what I have written before. The 35mm Summilux is two lenses. The first

is at wide open with contrasty light it might give a glow. Stopped down to F/2 or

greater it becomes a Summicron.

 

I'm on my third 35mm Summilux, others lost to damage, and still very happy.

 

 

I'll try to remember that.  No promises though (long habit from another forum), so I may accidentally continue to annoy you and arouse your latent pedant.  For that, you have my apologies in advance.

 

EDIT: Spelling.  Ironically, long days of writing leads to sloppy typing.

Edited by KevinL
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Nobody can decide for you. I've been in the same situation some time ago, and I chose ASPH pre-FLE. It's all personal taste. I bought pre-FLE version, and I paid more than I'd pay today for used, but mint FLE version. I've studied hundreds pics of both versions on the net, and I liked pre-FLE more. Well, I prefer good bokeh over better sharpness, but everybody is different. I didn't like nervous bokeh of FLE version. It doesn't mean that pre-FLE is excellent in every single situation, but more often I liked it more. FLE is too clinical for me, when pre-FLE is just right, and gives me more natural look.

 

I'm also film shooter, and this lens is sharp enough, and don't miss anything sharper. However, you have to find good sample, because I've read that some got not-the-best variation, and then they had to replace it with another one. Try to find later serial number in silver-black box when Leica turned digital (>390xxxx). You'll have better chance to get well tuned copy. That's what I did, and it's plenty sharp wide open, without focus shift.

Edited by krishilife
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There is very little difference in rendering between the 35 asph and 35 FLE, which should be no surprise, as the optical formulas are virtually identical.

 

Definitely difference in the coatings on the front element - in the light of my screen the FLE in front of me has a greenish hue while the pre-FLE is purple.

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Hello Easy_Action,

 

Welcome to the Forum.

 

Coatings that have green tints are sometimes reflections from multi-coated lens surfaces while purple/magenta or brown tinted reflections from lens surfaces are sometimes from coatings using earlier processes that have less layers.

 

Best Regards,

 

Michael

Edited by Michael Geschlecht
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Thank you Michael

 

To the OP, sorry I can't help answer your question about these lenses with film.

 

On digital what I notice most is that the FLE is noticeably sharper in the corners at close range - just what the floating elements are supposed to achieve.  Focus shift is somewhat of a problem on the pre-FLE, but I tend to either shoot wide open or at f/5.6 or f/8 for depth of field, so in practice I haven't noticed it much.  Defocused backgrounds seem pretty smooth in both.

 

Really, as jaapv mentioned results seem quite similar.

 

Physically the FLE feels somewhat 'fatter' between the fingers... maybe only noticeable when they are side by side.

 

As for the coatings, I haven't used either in conditions where flare is likely to be much of a problem.  I prefer shooting when it's gloomy!

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