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Is the 50 Summicron still relevant?


Julian H
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Hi

 

I am looking to purchase a 50mm lens for my M262.

 

In these days of sensors which really can exploit superb lenses, I wonder whether the ASPH lens is really essential to make the most of the potential of the camera? I don't really need f1.4 but would plump for the Summilux if it is the right way to go, despite the weight and size disadvantage.

 

Unfortunately, the APO ASPH is outside my financial wherewithal and I don't print much beyond 10x15in by the way, if that is a factor.

 

The 50mm lens will complement a 35/2 ASPH.

 

Thanks

Edited by Julian H
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First thing, if the only lens I had was a 35mm, I wouldn't even be looking at a 50mm to go with it.

 

Secondly, I would think that not a single M lens is irrelevant, be it Summicron, Summilux, Elmarit, etc. Different versions will draw differently but the notion of "better" is just subjective. It depends what you like.

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Sean Reid on his subscription review site did a detailed head-to-head comparison of the current two 50mm Summicrons.  While the ASPH version was clearly better - the non-ASPH model was no slouch.  That's the version I use with my M-240 and M246 and it is a brilliant lens.

Edited by Luke_Miller
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I've used Leicas since 1968, and find the 35 & 50 quite different. My main kit has always been 35, 50, and 90, with the 35 & 50 being Summicrons since 1968. With digital I did move to the current 50 Summicron (non ASPH), and it is so good I have zero desire for the new ASPH.

However, while the 50 was my main lens on film, with digital I find I use 35 most of the time as a one-lens kit, as the quality holds so well in a crop I seldom need the 50.

I've also switched to the 2.5 35 Summarit as my main lens, as I love the size and handling, and find the images very pleasing. I also use the 2.5 50 Summarit more than the Summicron now, as it's size and handling match the 35. I recently added a 2.5 90 to replace my old 2.8, so now my main kit is all Summarit.

Yes, I have 1.4 35 & 50 lenses as well, but seldom use them, as I prefer using the 2.5s

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I understand the different look I might see, and that it comes down to preference but now, the standard 50mm Summicron, no matter how good it might be, is one of the only non-ASPH lenses in the range. No doubt it is a brilliant lens. I used one for many years on my R's and was always delighted [with film]. 

 

As for 50 being a choice that might be perceived as too close to 35, for me its not. With my R's must have's in my bag were always 35/50/60. I might occasionally have taken others but they would rarely see the light of day!

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I have the last Summicron 50 before the APO ASPH, and I found it exelent. Maybe the APO is better, but for me not worth the extra charge.

Here is an example taken with this lens:

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/uploads/monthly_09_2016/post-16731-0-86635800-1473705636.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by fotomas
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Lot of choices

  (including Zeiss and used Leica...) : if you can afford the Summilux... why not ?  Personally, on my M240 I use a Summicron aged 20 years, bought used and CLAed 3 years ago... and Summicron is a lens one never complains to have and use. Edited by luigi bertolotti
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Not saying that 35mm and 50mm are the same or too close. Just, for my own tastes, I don't see those two focal lengths as being complementary. I have both 35mm Summicron ASPH and a 50mm Summilux, but they are never taken out together. I usually take the 35 Cron and the 90mm Cron APO.

 

But again, as with so many things, it's just a question of personal taste.

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An APO 50mm Summicron is my preferred lens. Small, light, easy to focus. Beats the hell out of other 50mm lenses in terms of size, weight, and portability.

 

Price is subjective. The APO costs a lot more than the Summilux but is cheaper then the Noctilux which I have tried and hated. Resale value is higher than the Noctilux.

 

Small and light is great. Big, heavy, and cumbersome isn't my scene.

 

Carry a Noctilux for more than one kilometer and you would give your right arm for an APO Summicron. Please remember that the Noctilux is meant for studio work or people who take the car everywhere.

If you like to walk (hike) then every step is a pain on the way out and a pain in the ar$e on the way back.

 

On return you will never take it out again. You will want to sell it ... as I did.

 

The Lux is middle ground. Heavy but not too cumbersome. Cheap compared with the APO Summicron. A decent compromise but not as good. That's why they are cheaper.

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Sharp is nice.  Fast fall off from plane of focus you may or may not like.  Peter Karbe designed this way.

 

So now we come down to my issue.  D800 + new to me 35 2.0 AiS lens from George Ury @ $150.  Surprised me I could read the lettering on a can of Raid from 10 feet.

 

M9 and Summilux 1.4 ASPH at $3000+ for the lens would not.  Flash used on both pics.  Difference is 18MP vs 36 MP.  And the bar is going to be 50 soon.  

 

Leica can design beautiful lenses, but without a camera to take advantage, it is for nought.  

 

Will the SL be better.  I surely think not.  But there is the S ,medium format,  you can buy if you have the coin and a very strong back.

 

M240 is only a few MP up and I doubt it will make up. 

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If you like the rendering of your 35/2 asph you should like also Leicas 50/1.4 asph, 50/2 apo, 50/2 non apo & ZM 50/2. Slower lenses like Leicas 50/2.5 & 50/2.8 v2 can be recommended as well. If you want a fast, small and affordable 50, the Summicron non apo remains difficult to beat, especially the 50/2 v4 which is very small (left).

 

Edited by lct
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If you like the rendering of your 35/2 asph you should like also Leicas 50/1.4 asph, 50/2 apo, 50/2 non apo & ZM 50/2. Slower lenses like Leicas 50/2.5 & 50/2.8 v2 can be recommended as well. If you want a fast, small and affordable 50, the Summicron non apo remains difficult to beat, especially the 50/2 v4 which is very small (left).

 

LeicaM_5020_v4_v5_apo_web.jpg

 

 

Agree 100%, I have the 50 Cron Ver. 4 - small, compact, light and a superb performer on anything up the a M240 sensor or Monochrom resolution.

 

Additionally I own a beautiful 50 Rigid Cron from 1958, and the current 50 Lux ASPH.......all superb lenses with slightly different optical "signatures".

 

I cannot comment on the performance of the new 50 APO Cron, but I suspect if higher resolution sensors are used sometime in the future there will be  an advantage to having one.......if affordable!

 

However, for today's sensors, the lenses I personally own perform wonderfully.

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It seems like there is still a lot of love for the standard Summicron which is good news indeed. I may pick one up and see how I get on, possibly a version 4 [lct, your picture was very informative, and I already have the 12585 hood]. I might look at a Summarit too.

 

Tobey, if your comparison is aperture for aperture and repeatable, thats interesting. Of course, both pieces of Nikon kit are excellent too. I once had the 35/2 AIS, on an FM 

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It seems like there is still a lot of love for the standard Summicron which is good news indeed. I may pick one up and see how I get on, possibly a version 4 [lct, your picture was very informative, and I already have the 12585 hood]. I might look at a Summarit too.

 

Tobey, if your comparison is aperture for aperture and repeatable, thats interesting. Of course, both pieces of Nikon kit are excellent too. I once had the 35/2 AIS, on an FM 

 

 

Yes, that would be only way this would be valid.

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Julian--

With all the rhapsodic affection expressed, it's worth noting that on digital sensors, this lens design does shift focus from about ƒ/2.8-5.6. From 5.6 on, this is overcome by DOF and it's resolving power, compared to the APO, is nearly indistinguishable. At ƒ/2, contrast is a bit low and you get that legendary Mandler 'glow'. Which may or may not be to your liking--personally did not care for it.

 

In re: APO, aside from the subjective optical signature (or lack thereof), its great 'virtue' lies in being able to resolve at ƒ/2 what most other lenses can only achieve by ƒ/5.6 or smaller. In this aspect, it has few peers and they are all much larger in size.

 

Worthy of consideration and unmentioned as yet is the unsung Zeiss ZM 2/50, a more modern rendering and an excellent and economical alternative.

Edited by james.liam
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1- Why do you care what anybody else thinks? The Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 lens has been a brilliant lens for more than fifty years. Just because they've come out with an even better performing lens doesn't mean the older ones aren't still just as good as they always were. Why would several other people stating this fact alter your decision process on which lens to buy?

 

2- I find that I also like the 35/50 lens pairing, although in recent years I've moved to using the 35/75 lens pair more of the time. 35 and 50 are the classic wide and normal lens kit. 

 

My favorite 35mm lens is the petite Summilux 35mm v2 from 1972, an original Walter Mandler design. It's full of interesting 'flaws' that collude to make it image beautifully. A lens full of character and personality... I haven't found my favorite 50mm lens yet. The last one I had was a mid-1990s Summicron that imaged just beautifully but I sold it a dozen years ago for other equipment I wanted more at the time. I'm still looking for the right one; in the meantime, the Voigtländer Color Skopar 50mm f/2.5 and Nokton 50mm f/1.5 ASPH (LTM) are doing 50mm service for me and are quite nice in their own right.

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In these days of sensors which really can exploit superb lenses, I wonder whether the ASPH lens is really essential to make the most of the potential of the camera? I don't really need f1.4 but would plump for the Summilux if it is the right way to go, despite the weight and size disadvantage.

 

My opinion FWIW is that the 50/1.4 Aspheric (which I have) has noticeably improved performance wide open over the 1.4 non-aspheric version. I traded up and since I do use the lens wide open at times have no regrets. If I didn't use the lens at 1.4 then I'd probably have the Summicron or possibly Summarit because both will perform very well stopped down. Most lenses from Leica do. Its not so much about stopped down performance as wide open performance. If you need/use 1.4 then the Summilux Aspheric is a no-brainer, if you don't well you have lots of choice and its all pretty good. If you can, try different lenses at a dealers and go with which feels best.

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...

So now we come down to my issue.  D800 + new to me 35 2.0 AiS lens from George Ury @ $150.  Surprised me I could read the lettering on a can of Raid from 10 feet.

 

M9 and Summilux 1.4 ASPH at $3000+ for the lens would not.  Flash used on both pics.  Difference is 18MP vs 36 MP.  And the bar is going to be 50 soon.  

 

Leica can design beautiful lenses, but without a camera to take advantage, it is for nought.  

 

Will the SL be better.  I surely think not.  But there is the S ,medium format,  you can buy if you have the coin and a very strong back.

 

M240 is only a few MP up and I doubt it will make up. 

 

I am not sure what went wrong with your test, but in general the 18MP, M9 performs very well compared to the D800 in terms of resolution power. I am sure the M240 will be even better.

Actually I saw the 36MP D800 struggle to better the 11MP sensor of my DMR... In that case we were able to use exactly the same R lens on the Nikon as on the R8/DMR only a few serial numbers apart.

 

So saying that Leica does not take full advantage of their lenses and Nikon does puzzles me...

 

Anyone has compared a digital M with the D800 or one of its successors?

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