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Hi,

I'm looking at getting a Summitar and was wondering whether anybody can shed light on the two variants, namely the round aperture bladed version approx. pre 1950 and the later type with the hexagonal arranged aperture. Generally the latter version seems to be a little less expensive and less sought after if my observations are correct. 

Both lenses opened at f2 there is clearly no difference in aperture shape but any smaller setting then does the hexagonal opening perhaps provide a little less appealing bokah for instance? Or perhaps there may be other discernible differences?

Thanks in advance.   

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Hi,

I'm looking at getting a Summitar and was wondering whether anybody can shed light on the two variants, namely the round aperture bladed version approx. pre 1950 and the later type with the hexagonal arranged aperture.

 

The Summitar can be confusing. The shape of the aperture was changed during the war, and back, and again to round after the war when it was also better coated. The yo-yo changes were certainly for economic reasons, using parts available. I waited years to find a post-war coated, round aperture version.

Edited by pico

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I have two, a 1941 war-time copy with normal aperture that seems to have a light coating and a 1949 post-war coated one, also with normal aperture. The main difference is that the earlier ones only stop down to f12.5 whereas the post-war ones go to f16.

I have not seen one with the hexagonal diaphragm blades. I have read that they were used because Leitz found a quantity of leftover blades used in the discontinued Summar and used them up in Summitars. They are both nice lenses to use. Another difference is the lenshood fittings, but both of mine take the later clip on hoods. Also the filter size is an unusual tapered screw size.

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I have a 1939 uncoated and a 1948 coated, but with "normal" diaphragms, and both take the barn-door clip-on hoods. Of course the '39 only closes to 12.5. The hex diaphragm blades are said to "bow" as they are closed which slightly changes the effective fore-aft position of the opening. Some have suggested that, plus the hex corners, may reduce focus shift, but that sounds like after-the-fact rationalization.

There is an adapter to allow the use of 39mm filters and hoods - Leitz made one, and there is an aftermarket copy also.

My '48 copy gives images very close to my v1 Summicron. The '39 needs haze cleaning.

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My only Summitar has the SN 585995 which indicates that it is from 1942. It has 'normal' aperture blades, but only stops down to f12.5. It is coated and came with a 1949 Sharkskin IIIc that had been upgraded to a IIIf Black Dial. It is possible that the lens was coated as part of the upgrade process. Both the camera and lens are not far off mint condition. The lens gives very good image quality, close to that from an early collapsible Summicron in my collection.

 

William

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Using the round blades of the "old" version should make a difference for the bokeh - and ist does (as long as you don't use f/2 where the blades don't matter).

 

With No. 523232, uncoated, 10 blades with round opening at 1m and aprox f/4:

 

 

With No. 794100, coated, 6 blades with hexagonal opening, at 1m approx f/4:

 

 

Though it is not clear when the change from round to hexagonal blades happened. In this older thread  I referred to an entry by Thiele, who says that the hexagonal version started with No. 810.001:  https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/138870-summitar-10-aperture-blades-years/

 

This is not right, since my own No. 794100 already has the hexagonal blades. On the other hand there are examples with higher numbers than 810xxx and round blades mentioned in the thread. 

Edited by UliWer

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Searching the Web I found one No. 793.459 which obviously has the round opening. So I'd presume the change from round to hexagonal started around 794.000 - perhaps there are some later outliers. 

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Using the round blades of the "old" version should make a difference for the bokeh - and ist does (as long as you don't use f/2 where the blades don't matter).

 

With No. 523232, uncoated, 10 blades with round opening at 1m and aprox f/4:

 

Summitar_rund.jpg

 

With No. 794100, coated, 6 blades with hexagonal opening, at 1m approx f/4:

 

Summitar_hex.jpg

 

Though it is not clear when the change from round to hexagonal blades happened. In this older thread  I referred to an entry by Thiele, who says that the hexagonal version started with No. 810.001:  https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/138870-summitar-10-aperture-blades-years/

 

This is not right, since my own No. 794100 already has the hexagonal blades. On the other hand there are examples with higher numbers than 810xxx and round blades mentioned in the thread. 

Cheers all, yes UliWer the beads of light are quite pronounced hexagonal in the comparison, thank you.

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I have a Summitar, #930108 with hexagonal  blades.

 

Ciao,  Sully

Edited by Sully

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Mine is a coated 1946 version with the round aperture. The bokeh wide open can be distinctly weird, but that is precisely why you should buy it, and if you don't want the weird bokeh buy a Summicron. 

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I have a hex diaphragm Summitar in beautiful condition, barely used but I regret it is far from my favourite Leica lens. It has less than pleasant bokeh, still aperture shifts quite a lot, is very soft in the corners wide open and has a noticeable blue tint when used on colour negative film. For period 5cm lenses, I much prefer my Summarit and Hektor plus I also have the ultimate 50mm LTM lenses, the 1999 year special edition Summicron V and Summilux III lenses. 

 

It is possibly an apocryphal story, but supposedly when Leica was doing a reorganisation of their storage in various buildings around Wetzlar, after the chaos of the immediate aftermath of WW2, they discovered a whole bunch of unused Summar hex diaphragms. To use them up, they put them in the later versions of the Summitar. I suspect the truth is more that Leica reverted to the bowed hex diaphragm to try and reduce the aperture shift on the Summitar lens, which is what the diaphragm had been developed for with the Summar. 

 

Wilson

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Wilson, that does sound like an apocryphal story about the hexagonal aperture blades, Pyrogallol referred to the same story. Aren't the Summar hexagonal aperture blades too small to fit in the Summitar? What do you mean with aperture shift?

Lex

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I have 53 Summitar lenses, most on war-time IIIc's, but some on IIIF and IIIG.

My favorites are shown in the below photo.  487275 is from the very first lot and would be the 275th production unit, round aperature blades, and 991441 is from the very last batch, 1952 with hexagonal blades.

 

 

I have recordedSummitar 586349 uncoated and 586407 coated; so coating started about then. The 35 elmar started coating at 581501, the 135 elmar at 590551, and the 400 telyt as early as Oct. 1941.  I have the coating start serials for other lenses, but can't find it at the moment. Others may have it also.

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I have 53 Summitar lenses, most on war-time IIIc's, but some on IIIF and IIIG.

My favorites are shown in the below photo.  487275 is from the very first lot and would be the 275th production unit, round aperature blades, and 991441 is from the very last batch, 1952 with hexagonal blades.

 

IMG_0397.JPG

 

I have recordedSummitar 586349 uncoated and 586407 coated; so coating started about then. The 35 elmar started coating at 581501, the 135 elmar at 590551, and the 400 telyt as early as Oct. 1941.  I have the coating start serials for other lenses, but can't find it at the moment. Others may have it also.

 

My Summitar 585995 is coated, but, as I speculated above, I believe this was done as part of an upgrade of a camera/lens combination. I would be interested in seeing the starting serials for factory coating on various lens types. I have some lenses from the 1930s which were obviously subjected to after market coating, such as a Mountain Elmar and several Summars, but finding out whether a lens was originally coated in the factory is more difficult for lenses made in the 1940s.

 

William

Edited by willeica

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I have a 1952 hex Summitar (as seen on the Leica iiif in my profile pic). I wish it had the standard aperture, but my copy is really clean glass-wise, no fogging or cleaning marks, so I'm happy about that. It does the job just fine. I think if I was going to invest a lot more money into a 50mm f2 LTM lens I'd probably get a first-gen Summicron. I actually prefer the rendering of my Elmar f3.5, but of course it's not f2. 

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With this old Leitz lenses first and foremost factor to choose lens over another is condition. Fungus, fogging, separation and heavy scratches will ruin images. 

I had non rounded aperture, coated lens, which was cleaned. It wan't best looking lens, but it was fine for bw film. And this is what for lens like this should be in use, IMO.

 

I didn't find this lens hex aperture shape to be a problem in regular life photography.  

 

 

 

 

 

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I have 53 Summitar lenses, most on war-time IIIc's, but some on IIIF and IIIG.

My favorites are shown in the below photo.  487275 is from the very first lot and would be the 275th production unit, round aperature blades, and 991441 is from the very last batch, 1952 with hexagonal blades.

 

IMG_0397.JPG

 

I have recordedSummitar 586349 uncoated and 586407 coated; so coating started about then. The 35 elmar started coating at 581501, the 135 elmar at 590551, and the 400 telyt as early as Oct. 1941.  I have the coating start serials for other lenses, but can't find it at the moment. Others may have it also.

 

Hello Alan,

 

I think there is a small typo: "the 135 elmar at 590551" which should have been "the 135 hektor at 590551".

 

Best Regards,

 

Michael

Edited by Michael Geschlecht

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Above it was suggested that old Summar hexagonal aperture blades had been used for Summitar lenses. But aren't Summar hex aperture blades too small to fit in a Summitar?

Lex

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ITS a NO Brainer ! A round aperture of; as close as a perfect circle, is ALWAYS the better choice !!!! Optical manufacturers in the 1930's knew that, BUT the greed of the modern lens designer is to realize profit/ cost analysis and modern lenses have modified scalloped or curved leaves to try and get near a perfect circle. Hexagonal design from Leica was a mistake. This is why the Reich preferred Zeiss lenses in the late 1930's. Leica was offended and they came of with the Summitar 5cm/2, uncoated in 1939 with 10 aperture blades circular! By the way Zeiss was really offended when they were ORDERED to make their lenses in m39 or LTM. A 12 bladed dog legged blade that makes Hexagonal shape from Summitar is NOT the same size as the Hexagonal design of Summar 5cm/2. Who ever started that rumor , never took these lenses apart and compared them! The hexagonal lens aperture design was dome shaped and was a optical correction method used in the Summar& Summitar to correct for astigmatism in the double-Gauss design, Don@eastwestphoto.com

 


 

With No. 523232, uncoated, 10 blades with round opening at 1m and aprox f/4:

 

Summitar_rund.jpg

 

With No. 794100, coated, 6 blades with hexagonal opening, at 1m approx f/4:

 

Summitar_hex.jpg

 

Though it is not clear when the change from round to hexagonal blades happened. In this older thread  I referred to an entry by Thiele, who says that the hexagonal version started with No. 810.001:  https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/138870-summitar-10-aperture-blades-years/

 

This is not right, since my own No. 794100 already has the hexagonal blades. On the other hand there are examples with higher numbers than 810xxx and round blades mentioned in the thread. 

Edited by eastwestphoto

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