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Deciding on the first 50mm Leica Lens


leicatech
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Hi everyone, I just picked up an M 240, which I'm enjoying using. I come from a background of Canon, Sony, and most recently Fuji cameras. My favorite focal length is the 50mm (with 35mm coming in second). I'm trying to determine what my first lens will be for the camera (I'm borrowing a lens right now). I'm looking to keep the price < $1600 USD (but can go up if necessary). I've heard great things about the latest Voigtlander 50mm F1.5 as an alternative to the Leica 50 Summicron. I'm having a hard time finding a used summicron locally and I hear buying online is tricky since you can't make sure everything is calibrated correctly. For the summicon, it sounds like V4 is a good bang for the buck, but I see those for around $1600, which isn't that much cheaper than a brand new v5 for $2100.

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If you want to stay with Leica, you might consider something vintage. I have a 50 f/1.4 Lux from the early '60's that I absolutely love. You could probably pick one of those up in your price range. If you are buying used, it's hard not to purchase online. I do it frequently, and haven't had a problem yet. But I'm sure it's possible. If going outside of Leica, I would tend toward Zeiss before Voigtlander. I just think they are higher quality lenses. If you want to go truly budget though, and maybe pick up more than one lens for the money, you might consider the new Iberit's. Ashwin Rao has been reviewing them and seems to be impressed. You can google them for more information.

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Very difficult to answer for only one 50mm (as tough as other 35/28/etc.).

 

As Leica 50mm lens lover, I have used tens of 50mm over time, and each one is special lens.

 

To be short, if for first 50mm lens, now I would buy Summarit-M 2.4 or 2.5/50.

 

This one (2.5/50) is my last 50 that I wanted to use after Noctilux, Summilux, Summicron, Elmar and other 50mm.

 

The light weight is not there in place of built quality that is not "cheap" at all.

The image from it is nice, less flare prone than my Summicron (last not apo).

 

F/2.5 is enough with ISO from M240/262 which is good till 3200.

Summarit-M serie is hard to be matched for price/quality ratio.

 

Arnaud

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I have no experience with Voigtlander 50/1.5 or 50/1.1 lenses but if you're after a fast lens there are only two of them i'm aware of within your budget:

- Sonnar 50/1.5, my favorite for portraits but too much focus shift to be advised on a rangefinder;

- Summilux 50/1.4 pre-asph, another favorite for portraits, as sharp or sharper than the Summicron in the centre of the frame but softer in borders and corners. Better resistance to flare than the Summicron with more CA though.

For an f/2 lens, you cannot go wrong with either Summicron or Planar 50/2. The Planar is less prone to flare and has less CA and less focus shift than the Summicron but is said to be somewhat harsher than the latter. I have no experience with the Planar though.

Among slower lenses, my favorite is the Elmar 50/2.8 for its "Tessar look" but the Summarit 50/2.5 (no experience with 50/2.4) is almost perfect. Better use it with a good hood though as it may cause some nasty flare when strong light sources are outside the frame.

Edited by lct
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Summarit 2.5 is fantastic, small, light and you can buy a square lens hood which looks great and has less flare than the Summicron. Problem, if you shoot wide open it is half a stop slower than the Summicron and if you're like me you'll spend all your time wishing you had a " 'Cron ". The price though is fantastic. Roger Hicks of Amateur Photographer fame was given one to test and ended up keeping it as he liked it so much.  

 

I traded my Summarit against a Summicron f2 (V5). I prefer the way it renders colour, slightly faster but still a good size compared to the Summilux. Has a built in lens hood which slides out of the lens barrel and no focus tab. I'm getting used to living without the tab. Focusing is more precise though. The V4 has the tab.

 

I always think that Voigtlander/Zeiss are 'colder' and somehow lack the character of Leica lenses but they are still great from what I've seen.  

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My advice FWIW, you know already what your chosen focal length is, based on past experience.

Draw on the same experience to decide on the maximum aperture you desire for the chosen focal length.

 

Then the candidate list becomes that bit smaller and you can focus on perhaps just 3 or 4 lenses from Leica, Zeiss or Voigtlander.

View the images in the flickr groups for the lenses in question and see the difference in rendering. Rate them A, B & C

 

Then ask yourself an honest question, if I buy (B or C) over (A) because of financial constraints, will I eventually buy (A) at some point in the future?.

If the answer is yes, I would stretch myself and buy (A) from the outset.

My reason being, my personality disorder dictates I will never be happy until I have (A), so I generally circumvent the problem by moving directly to (A) for personal

 peace of mind. 

 

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I would go for the Summarit or Zeiss - both great performer for this price.

I owned a Voigtländer 1,1/50 for a while and used it at a Leica M3 and M6

but I wasn´t satisfied with the pictures I get. 

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They say what M240 ISO 3200 is usable. It seems to be very similar to what I have with non-Leica digital camera and f2.8 prime lens. IMO, with M240 you might need f1.5 if you are into bw during deep night, handheld photography.

If not, Elmar-M 50 2.8 and Summarit-M 50 2.5 and 2.4 are withing your budged. You could get NiB, never open Summarit-M 50 2.4 for 1600$ and have it registered under your name with Leica.

 

I had Planar 50 2 ZM and get rid of it within couple of weeks. Handling is nowhere near Leica standards. And it was must boring lens I have on digital M as well. Flat bw rendering.

I also have Nokton 50 1.5 and sold it within couple of months. If you are OK with very prominent purple fringing at f1.5 and very slow focusing done by stiff focus ring which has nothing but sharp edges - go for it, but rendering and handling is not Summicron, which I also have on digital M. 

Edited by Ko.Fe.
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How do you like the rendering of the Summicron? I'm considering one along with my M10.

 

I was using Rigid (typ 2) on M-E, purchased it at low price, it was very used lens with OK optics and front focus shift from f2 to f4 at one meter on focus scale chart, but it wasn't the issue with real life photography.

In rendering it was typical Leitz made lens from fifties-sixties. Not as sharp are newer versions made for digital M, but giving something more than modern Cosina made lenses. I don't know how to describe it technically, but old Leitz and modern Leica lenses always giving something more. Not primitive sharpness, but how much is in rendering of micro details and in transition parts from focus to off focus. I don't know what it is exactly, micro-contrast, maybe... Overall Rigid images from M-E have something more pleasing and less primitive in rendering.

Rigid was fine for M-E and film, but, I think, for M10 if Summicron then it is better to have as newer as possible. 

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Sounds to me like you want a v4 summicron and the only thing holding you back is not being able to check one locally before purchase. Consider buying a 'cron online from a dealer with a large stock and a solid return policy.

The 'cron is an excellent choice; handles great, not heavy, very sharp, can be serviced by Leica and retains value well. Only down side I ever hear about is propensity to flare. Bokeh is highly subjective, but for me personally I would say smoother than the Zeiss planar but not as nice as a sonnar. Generations of photogs have used and loved a 50 cron. In some ways using one is a right of passage for a new Leica user; it is one of those reference lenses.

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Went the route of the Summarit-M f/2.5 first (great lens as far as price/performance is concerned) and managed to find a second hand (in mint conditions) Cron v5 on the bay at a very good price (EUR 1,000) and I am now a happy camper.

The Summarit is great but I prefer more the rendering/definition/bokeh of the Cron

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Generations of photogs have used and loved a 50 cron. In some ways using one is a right of passage for a new Leica user; it is one of those reference lenses.

If you had to make a decision between a 50 Sunmilux + 35 Summicron ASPH combo or a 35 Summilux + 50mm Summicron combo, which would you choose? To throw another wrench into the mix, where would you include the Zeiss 35 Biogon 1:2 in the decision as a replacement for the 35 Summicron?

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If you had to make a decision between a 50 Sunmilux + 35 Summicron ASPH combo or a 35 Summilux + 50mm Summicron combo, which would you choose?

 

 

My choice would be a third combo (from the four lenses): 35 Summicron ASPH and the 35 Summilux ASPH.

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My choice would be a third combo (from the four lenses): 35 Summicron ASPH and the 35 Summilux ASPH.

 

Ha! 

 I know I want a 50mm as well, so I'm figuring out how to make this all work with my budget. Have you used and compared a Zeiss Biogon 35/2.0 against the newest Summicron ASPH? 
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Ha! 

 I know I want a 50mm as well, so I'm figuring out how to make this all work with my budget. Have you used and compared a Zeiss Biogon 35/2.0 against the newest Summicron ASPH? 

 

I purchased a new Zeiss biogon 35mm f/2  (silver) a couple of weeks ago. Cannot offer you a comparison to the 35 summicron, as I have not used the Leica.. The Zeiss has a solid build, and produces nice vibrant images. Decent sharpness as well. No gripes.

 

I'm going to flip it because I had an opportunity to buy the Leica 35 summilux FLE, so send me a note if you are interested in the zeiss 35.

 

Rob

Edited by ropo54
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I currently have 2 50's and I have settled on them as complementary lenses rather than "must have" lenses.

Having said that I love them both for their individual attributes.

 

So, have had many Leica 50's over time and have tried some Zeiss and Vogtlander models as well.

 

My advice for the best combination of optical performance, size and weight, and especially build quality, and of course price, is the Ver. 4 Summicron.

So, same optics as a Ver. 5, better build quality, better lens hood for reducing flair, focusing tab, smaller size and better pricing.

 

Oh, and my 2 lens 50mm complementary kit, a mint 1956 Summicron Rigid for the classic "look", and the current Summilux ASPH (black chrome - classic design all brass) a truly  beautiful lens  

 

The 50 Rigid is for use on my Monochrom MM1, and the Summilux ASPH Black Chrome primarily for my M240........but also with the MM1.

Edited by 4X5B&W
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