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andrewteee

50mm lens for the SL for my 50th - which one?

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Hi folks, I believe this may be my first post here, though it's been an informative resource as a consumer of forum posts! I appreciate your insights as I think through a very important question. 

 

I turn 50 in October and I'd love to mark the occasion by purchasing a 50mm lens for my Leica SL. Outside work and family, my deepest passion is photography and I want to feed that love. I currently have the 24-90 and it's been an amazingly fantastic landscape camera! Even with its weight I absolutely love taking it out into the woods and trails and seeing what I see. But I've been longing for a dedicated 50mm lens for years now; it's a focal length that I love to shoot with and I'm feeling anxious to get back to it more often. I also have the Q, which I often travel with and use for family snapshots and other documentary purposes. I've long dreamed of a 50mm Q, but I'm not convinced we'll ever see one. 

 

Long ago I had a Zeiss Ikon and paired it with the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 lens for dreamy captures. But both died along the way. I've rented digital M's a couple of times, but, as much as I love using them in some ways, my older eyes (with glasses) struggle with the rangefinder VF. I recently rented the M10 with a 50mm Summicron and came to the same conclusion again. I later rented a CL with the 35mm TL. The CL was great, but did not interest me enough to buy one. However, the 35mm TL was amazing and I also tried it on the SL, where it worked wonderfully. That was a much smaller, lighter kit than the 24-90, but of course the files are smaller. 

 

Now to my question for which I would greatly appreciate your own thoughts and experiences: as stated, for my 50th I plan to purchase a Leica 50mm lens to pair with the SL. Naturally, there's the Summilux-SL, but there's also M-mount 50mm lenses (for which I'd probably go with a Summicron). It's between those that I'm deciding. FWIW manually focusing on the SL is not an issue. We all know the technical and characteristic differences between the lenses - what I'm really looking for is your own usage experiences and preferences. What your mind told you and what your heart told you. Any other related inputs also appreciated. 

 

That won't be my deciding factor, but your stories are highly valuable. I may also rent them before buying; I have not decided on that yet (given the rental costs). 

 

TIA! 

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I think it depends how fast you need to focus. I have a Summicron M 50 lens which I use on the SL with the convertor. I can focus perfectly and reliably but not reliably/quickly. Like you I have the 24-90 and I have to say that focusses reliably in a snap. If I could afford it I'd have the SL50.

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Hi Andrew,

 

Welcome to the forum!

 

I have the 50 Summilux-SL, 50 Noctilux 0.95, 50 Summilux-M ASPH and a 50 Summitar LTM. I have a bit of a thing for 50mm, it seems. I’ve never seen the need for the 50 APO Summicron-M, though it sounds very good. Here are my thoughts on these lenses on the SL (I also have the 3 zooms).

 

Summitar 50/2 LTM - this is a 1948 copy. It’s diminuitive and has interesting, wild bokeh. Cheap, and a bit of fun - not a serious contender.

 

50 Summilux-M ASPH - for a long time, Leica’s reference 50mm lens. On the SL, it’s small, and compared to the APO, Noct and SL Summilux, reasonably priced. If manual focus is okay, you like the haptics of a smaller lens on the SL and price is a consideration, it would be a good choice. I don’t use mine on the SL as I prefer the bigger lenses.

 

50 Noctilux-M 0.95 - Erwin Puts describes this as the paintbrush, compared to the more precise Summilux. He also say by f/4 the Noct and the Summilux are indistinguishable. There’s no doubt this is a special lens, but it doesn’t suit everyone. On the SL, it fits well. I like the haptics of the Noct on the SL, and it performs better on the SL than on the M cameras (particularly purple fringing and focus hit rate). But it is massively expensive, and for many pointless. It is smaller than the 50 Summilux-SL.

 

50 Summilux-SL - who’s your Daddy? This is the best 50mm Leica makes - it is their reference lens. AF is fast and accurate, it’s tack sharp across the frame and at all apertures from what I can see (I’m not apixel peeper). The fall off from in focus to out of focus gives the impression it is faster than 1.4 and the out of focus “bokeh” is creamy. I love this lens. It is huge, compared to the others; smaller than the 24-90 zoom; heavy compared to others; but it balances nicely on the SL.

 

So, for image quality, AF (actually, manual focus is good to - not as good as an M lens, but good), and balance on the camera, the 50 SL would be my pick.

 

If you want manual focus, nice balance, and the magic of a very fast lens, the Noctilux is amazing. Somewhat specialized, expensive, but better on the SL than on the M cameras.

 

Hope this helps. A nice project for you - no bad Leica choices!

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The SL 50 is such a perfect lens, as Ikarus John posts.  Perfect and with the same character that the SL 24-90 renders, but even 'better'.

 

The Noctilux, on the other hand, is one-of-a-kind. It renders with a very special kind of look; different than the perfection of SL lenses. If you've got the SL 24-90, I'd say to get the noctilux. 

 

Rob

 

Some examples with the noctilux at 0.95:

Edited by ropo54

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I would go with the Summilux-SL. I own it and the Summilux-M ASPH. I no longer shoot the M lens on the SL after acquiring the native lens. It’s that good.

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I have the 50 summilux-M and the noctilux and now I am happy owner of 50 lux SL.

The 50SL, as has already written who preceded me, is a simply perfect lens! If I had to decide to keep only one of the three, I would definitely choose the 50SL!

Autofocus is fast and is very useful on many occasions and the quality at full aperture is amazing, in my opinion it is the perfect 50mm for the SL.

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Thanks all! Even these few responses paint a fairly consistent picture. And I can appreciate the point about "reliably/quickly" manual focusing. I guess in my mind I was not concerned with speed, but perhaps that's naive to think or my preference might change over time. 

 

I was not considering the Noctilux given its incredible price for a specific use lens (though I have no doubt I'm one who would appreciate that use and rendering). Maybe later. 

 

As a side note, when I had the Zeiss C Sonnar I found that I liked its rendering style only in B&W where I feel that it thrived (I'm partial to B&W anyway). It just did not look right in color. With the Noctilux, do others have the same impression?

Edited by andrewteee

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50 SL... end of story!

 

The best 50 EVER... and has AF.

 

If you are used to 24-90 size... 50 is basically the same size. If you love the 50mm focal length... it’s the one for the SL.

 

You can add the Nocti later

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Thanks all! Even these few responses paint a fairly consistent picture. And I can appreciate the point about "reliably/quickly" manual focusing. I guess in my mind I was not concerned with speed, but perhaps that's naive to think or my preference might change over time. 

 

I was not considering the Noctilux given its incredible price for a specific use lens (though I have no doubt I'm one who would appreciate that use and rendering). Maybe later. 

 

As a side note, when I had the Zeiss C Sonnar I found that I liked its rendering style only in B&W where I feel that it thrived (I'm partial to B&W anyway). It just did not look right in color. With the Noctilux, do others have the same impression?

 

The Voigtlander Nokton images are very close the the look of the Noctilux - there's a set of comparison images somwhere on the web. It's about a 5th of the price too!

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Just out of curiosity, did you (OP) try a diopter on the rental M10 along with your glasses (corrected for astigmatism, if any)? My 50 Summilux-M ASPH is a dream to use on the M10, with glasses and +.5 diopter for my aging eyes.

 

Jeff

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As per above, I’d personally go for the native SL lenses.

 

In addition to the SL Lux, don’t forget the smaller SL 50 Summicron is on its way near term .....

 

http://uk.leica-camera.com/Photography/Leica-SL/SL-Lenses/Prime-Lenses

 

In my opinion, the SL lenses are generically stronger performers than their M equivalents - at least that is my view in terms of their edge-to-edge sharpness, accurate colours, rendering etc.

 

I have the M 50mm APO Summicron, and the M 50mm Summicron v5. Both of these Ms are VERY similar in the middle in terms of resolution and rendering when critically examined, but the v5 (my copy, at least) needs a LOT of stopping down to get the same edge sharpness as the APO.

 

But I still think the SL Lux, performance wise, is superior to the M 50 APO. Maybe the larger size of its construction helps here? The M lenses are great in terms of performance — especially when considering their small size. But it appears that great can become greater when construction size is less constrained, as with the SL lenses.

 

Finally, I do think the newer SL 75mm and 90mm Summicrons are the finest Leica lenses I’ve ever tried in terms of image quality (resolution, lack of CA, perfect edge-to-edge sharpness WHILST ALSO being “gentle” and “undigital”), and size wise they also handle perfectly on the SL body. That is why I’d personally also look at the pending SL 50mm Summicron if you are happy to wait a bit - maybe it’s the ideal combo of performance and weight / size, without any compromise?

Edited by Jon Warwick

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Just out of curiosity, did you (OP) try a diopter on the rental M10 along with your glasses (corrected for astigmatism, if any)? My 50 Summilux-M ASPH is a dream to use on the M10, with glasses and +.5 diopter for my aging eyes.

 

Jeff

 

 

You mean the one built in right? I can't recall if I did or not, since I was wearing glasses. 

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As per above, I’d personally go for the native SL lenses.

 

In addition to the SL Lux, don’t forget the smaller SL 50 Summicron is on its way near term .....

 

Finally, I do think the newer SL 75mm and 90mm Summicrons are the finest Leica lenses I’ve ever tried in terms of image quality (resolution, lack of CA, perfect edge-to-edge sharpness WHILST ALSO being “gentle” and “undigital”), and size wise they also handle perfectly on the SL body. That is why I’d personally also look at the pending SL 50mm Summicron if you are happy to wait a bit - maybe it’s the ideal combo of performance and weight / size, without any compromise?

 

I get that, and if it was here now I'd probably go there, but I'm turning 50 now, not later 

Edited by andrewteee

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You mean the one built in right? I can't recall if I did or not, since I was wearing glasses.

No, although the M viewfinder has a built in default -.5 diopter, Leica sells corrective diopters that screw into the VF to provide further correction as needed.

 

I wear glasses to correct for distance and astigmatism, but find that adding a diopter of +.5 gives me optimal viewing. This is especially common for aging eyes.

 

One can experiment with different diopters at a Leica dealer, and the M10 has dedicated ones due to its larger diameter VF. But one can go to most any good local optician to try their trial diopters. I took my camera to my optician and taped the diopters over the VF to experiment. I then ordered the proper strength from my dealer. Just a small correction made a world of difference for me.

 

Note that the focus patch is set at a virtual distance of 2m on your M, so ideally you want to see that clearly as well as subjects at varying distances. It’s important to correct for any astigmatism for clear focusing. While there is a third party diopter that provides this, I prefer using my glasses so I don’t need to take them on and off.

 

All this refinement is important for me, as the M is my ideal camera for 28-75mm focal lengths and simple manual focus and operation in a small package.. The 50 Summilux-M is perfect for that, at least for me.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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Thanks Jeff. I was not aware of the additional diopters. I also have astigmatism. Maybe I'll drop by the Leica shop to try their diopters out of curiosity. 

 

BTW I figured out how to estimate the diopter strength through a calculator on a swim goggle web site. I shoot with my left eye and I'd take a +1.5 diopter. That would probably make a big difference vs the default M diopter. 

Edited by andrewteee

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Jeff raises an interesting question.

 

I correct for my long sight (presbiopia) on the SL and the TL using the built in diopter. For the M, I had always assumed that as the focusing distance is set at 2 metres (actually, for the MM I think it was 1 metre), I haven’t needed a diopter - with mild long sight, I have no problem focusing on objects at 1 metre.

 

Have I misundertood the M viewfinder focusing distance?

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Andrew, sorry but the guy who did that best was Rick, our resident eye doc, and I haven’t seen him around here for a while. I’m no eye doc, just a photo enthusiast.

 

For me, the best course of action is not to rely on math, but rather on experience. Try them out and see what you think. Call ahead to be sure they have them in stock. You can also fit the smaller diameter diopters from prior M models if the store carries the required adapter. Or if not available, do as I did and drop by an optician.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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Jeff raises an interesting question.

 

I correct for my long sight (presbiopia) on the SL and the TL using the built in diopter. For the M, I had always assumed that as the focusing distance is set at 2 metres (actually, for the MM I think it was 1 metre), I haven’t needed a diopter - with mild long sight, I have no problem focusing on objects at 1 metre.

 

Have I misundertood the M viewfinder focusing distance?

All recent M models have the focus patch set at a virtual focus distance of 2m. It’s the framelines that are optimized for different distances.... M8.2, M240 and M10 for 2m, while M8 is set for .7m and M9 is set for 1m.

 

BTW, I use the same strength +.5 diopter for my MM1 and M10. The only difference is the diameter.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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The Noctilux is a specialist lens because of the field curvature it exhibits. It needs to be shot by people who can put this to right use. Of Rob’s pictures above, this is only the case with the red truck, IMO. I hardly ever use it wide open because I can’t make aesthetically pleasing pictures with it. See here a perfect example of an optical problem put to right use by someone who knows how to do it: https://i.stack.imgur.com/gNEVu.jpg

 

And see the link below.

 

“The Noctilux is known to exhibit more field curvature at wide apertures than high-speed designs that incorporate aspherical elements. (Field curvature will cause the center of the image to be focused in a different plane than the edges.) Moreover, field curvature may change based on focusing distance and the aperture used.”

 

http://vothphoto.com/spotlight/reviews/noctilux/noctilux.htm

Edited by Chaemono

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The Noctilux is a specialist lens because of the field curvature it exhibits. It needs to be shot by people who can put this to right use. Of Rob’s pictures above, this is only the case with the red truck, IMO. I hardly ever use it wide open because I can’t make aesthetically pleasing pictures with it. See here a perfect example of an optical problem put to right use by someone who knows how to do it: https://i.stack.imgur.com/gNEVu.jpg

 

And see the link below.

 

“The Noctilux is known to exhibit more field curvature at wide apertures than high-speed designs that incorporate aspherical elements. (Field curvature will cause the center of the image to be focused in a different plane than the edges.) Moreover, field curvature may change based on focusing distance and the aperture used.”

 

http://vothphoto.com/spotlight/reviews/noctilux/noctilux.htm

Does that info apply to the 0.95 version as well??

 

The article says it is only the F1 version.

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