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50mm Summilux vs Summicron


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On 12/19/2016 at 3:00 PM, jaapv said:

As soon as somebody starts comparing lenses on "sharpness" you can be sure that the rest of the discourse is nonsense.

You can compare resolving power, micro- and macro contrast rendering, distortion, whatever.

You can compare MTF curves, or even better OTF diagrams, but "sharpness" is not quantifiable.

 

The best thing would be to use and compare the two for your own style and subjects.

Lacking that, the opinion of leading experts in the field can be valuable. Sean Reid springs to mind, and certainly an authority like Erwin Puts. But it would be foolish to base a purchasing decision on Internet bloggers of doubful reliability.

 

As for the two lenses you mention, you can not go wrong with either. Both are top class 50 mm lenses.

Purchasing one or the other is entirely determined by your need of a wider aperture or not.

👍 Words of wisdom .

I would like to quote Jaapv here,

for all of us who hesitate between two or more lenses

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The question isn't meaningless, nor is it relevant that there's a slight error about stating "Asph" for the regular non-apo 'Cron. This forum is full of questions regarding lens choices...and Leica has such a list of possibilities in 50mm. Certainly many are different animals...but if you're buying only one 50mm, the question is highly relevant, as is asking people's opinions and experiences. Sometimes people asking questions on this forum get roundly criticized for not 'formulating their questi

Why would one even want to recover "extreme highlights"? In digital highlights that must be detailed should be exposed correctly - like on slide film. If he gets muddy results the problem is not with the camera but with the exposure and postprocessing technique. With all digital cameras the highlights are a brick wall exposurewise. Dynamic range extends into the shadows. So: expose correctly for your relevant highlights and recover shadows as needed. Something apparently unknown to Mr. Rockwell.

As soon as somebody starts comparing lenses on "sharpness" you can be sure that the rest of the discourse is nonsense. You can compare resolving power, micro- and macro contrast rendering, distortion, whatever. You can compare MTF curves, or even better OTF diagrams, but "sharpness" is not quantifiable.   The best thing would be to use and compare the two for your own style and subjects. Lacking that, the opinion of leading experts in the field can be valuable. Sean Reid springs to mind, an

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To me, sharpness is among the least important factors when I choose a lens. Here is my checklist in priority order (assuming I can afford it):

  1. Speed
  2. Rendering
  3. OOF rendering (bokeh)
  4. Near limit
  5. Size
  6. Sharpness

Other things that many people argue about, like micro contrast, corner sharpness, distortion etc. isn't even on my list.

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I would also add 'weight' and 'blocking the viewfinder' to any list. Some lenses are so huge that they become a Herculean labour to being carried any distance and, by virtue of their size, prevent an unimpeded view unless an EVF is used. Those might be acceptable, and surmountable, problems in a studio. On a long walk they become a real irritation.

The 50mm APO Summicron is light and compact, doesn't block the viewfinder, is very sharp from corner to corner, gives excellent bokeh. I think that a couple of stops of speed can be easily compensated by increasing ISO from 200 to 600 with no loss of image quality.

Precisely what 'near limit' means is a mystery to me.

In summary, use whatever lens with which you feel comfortable and takes great pictures. For some it will be a Sumo wrestler like the Noctilux 0.95. For others it will be a Voigtlander. For me, an elderly country bumpkin who likes to walk, it is the 50mm APO Summicron.

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On 12/19/2016 at 8:00 AM, jaapv said:

You can compare MTF curves, or even better OTF diagrams, but "sharpness" is not quantifiable.

Sharpness is quantifiable; the illusion is important.  Ask an optometrist.

Edited by pico
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There is an illusion associated with ageing eyes. In low light one can’t read a map or make anything out in a picture but one can read text. It may be partly the higher contrast of text but there is also the massive quantity of brain dedicated to the task of reading. This effect can be quantified and can also be classed as an illusion.

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For those of us who enjoy trying to get the best out of a variety of uncoated pre-war lenses “sharpness” is something we appreciate when we can achieve it. Lighting, hand steadiness, aperture, haze - inside or outside the lens, all add up to the sharpness we can end up with in prints, and I mean prints, that can be studied at leisure and under different lighting and on different papers, just viewing pictures on a screen for a brief moment does not really amount to much.

For me, any modern lens seems to be very sharp and contrasty when I use one, like my 50mm v4 Summicron or 35mm v3.

Edited by Pyrogallol
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  • 2 years later...

Think about this. Is it at all believable that KEN ROCKWELL who is always begging for "donations" has the wherewithal to afford the hundreds if not thousands of photographic items that he reviews or is able to borrow them? I believe that he gleans information from reviews by others and tailors them for his reviews. His review of the LEICA 3f in particular indicates that he has probably never actually used one. His "twice as many knobs and settings" etc. claim puts the lie to his alleged review.

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If I were limited to only one lens, I could do almost everything with just the 50mm Summilux asph. It's incredibly sharp across the range and I like the look it has when shot wide open. It's a very snappy modern lens and very versatile.

I have the 50 Summilux asph and the 50 Summicron (IV). I bought the Summicron used in the early 90's. It was cheap and cosmetically not pretty, but a stellar performer. I used it hard as a working photojournalist for years. I felt convinced that it would be the only 50 I would ever need....until I purchased the Summilux asph. The advantage of the Summilux is the 1.4 aperture and the look that it makes that you just can't get with an f2 lens. If that look is not important to your style of photography then save your money and get a Summicron.

BTW, I have an embarrassing number of 50mm lenses as I find it the most versatile lens for my work. One can easily go down a rabbit hole of different looks with the variety of Leica 50mm offerings. The old Summilux V1 and Summarit I find very difficult to use, but can produce a classic look that modern lenses can't when used properly. The modern designs are much more forgiving. The Summitar is one of my favorites of the classic designs. 

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