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differences between Summicron 35 "king of bokeh" and Summicron ASPH

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I read and documented myself on these two lenses, but I never got to try them. In practical use, what are the appreciable differences? what is the best field of use for both?

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They are both excellent Leica lenses.

The non-asph is smaller and lighter and gives classic results.

The asph. is bigger and gives one of the best modern results.

 

sizes comparision of four 35mm

at left non-asph. then asph. , Summilux-M Ti non-asph. ...rear row M-Hexanon 2/35 the big brother

 

 

Edited by a.noctilux

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The Summicron 35/2 v4 was not considered a classic lens when it was launched in the eighties. Modern lens with high contrast then and focus shift was not obvious on film. I didn't even know what focus shift is then. Flare was not considered an issue either as previous Summicron 35/2's let alone the Summilux 35/1.4 pre-asph were even worse from this viewpoint. When the 35/2 asph appeared in the nineties it felt significantly bulkier with more acutance, less flare and less focus shift when the asph is calibrated for digital. Bokeh wise the 35/2 v4 was considered a king with a bit of exaggeration but the 35/2 asph is no slouch either although i still prefer the "king" at f/2.8 and on. Also it seems that the asph has more DoF behind than in front of the subject matter which may give a feeling of more "pop" or subject separation. 

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1 minute ago, lct said:

Bokeh wise the 35/2 v4 was considered a king with a bit of exaggeration but the 35/2 asph is no slouch either although i still prefer the "king" at f/2.8 and on. Also it seems that the asph has more DoF behind than in front of the subject matter which may give a feeling of more "pop" or subject separation. 

1++

The 'bokeh king' title was bestowed by a single reviewer (his name escapes me) and based on nothing more than his off-the-cuff description, which isn't borne out by the images. The name stuck, probably because resellers were eager to differentiate it from the newer and in nearly every way, superior ASPH. The prices for the older lens, compared to its predecessors has remained elevated ever since. It is a cute little lens, though, and is more interesting on film.

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1 hour ago, james.liam said:

1++

The 'bokeh king' title was bestowed by a single reviewer (his name escapes me) and based on nothing more than his off-the-cuff description, which isn't borne out by the images. The name stuck, probably because resellers were eager to differentiate it from the newer and in nearly every way, superior ASPH. The prices for the older lens, compared to its predecessors has remained elevated ever since. It is a cute little lens, though, and is more interesting on film.

Thanks for reminding us. I personally don't care for the nickname 'bokeh king'. In fact I cringe every time I see it used to refer to this lens.

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2 hours ago, james.liam said:

The 'bokeh king' title was bestowed by a single reviewer (his name escapes me) and based on nothing more than his off-the-cuff description, which isn't borne out by the images. 

Mike Johnston, now editor of TOP, put the term ‘bokeh king’ in the caption of a magazine picture of the Summicron IV. It stuck.  But even Mike doesn’t think it’s generally good at OOF blur, saying it particularly sucks in this regard at large apertures and close distances.  He’s written ad nauseam about it since, debunking myths, as well as writing about other lenses demonstrating more pleasing bokeh overall.  

Incidentally, it was Mike who first introduced the term (spelling) bokeh, in the magazine he edited, adding an ‘h’ to the Japanese ‘boke’ so that his readers (unfamiliar with the term) wouldn’t think that it was pronounced as rhyming with ‘joke’; rather than ‘bo-kuh’.  He no longer likes the term, often misused, preferring to discuss the quality of out of focus blur, which can vary even using the same lens under varying conditions.

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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I am not sure who brought it into English, but it comes from the Provoke photographers of Japan in the late sixties early seventies. I am not sure if it was Daido Moriyama himself, or one of his colleagues who described their photos as "are, bure, bokeh": grainy, blurry and out of focus. Spelling it in English with the "H" helps pronounce it properly...for the most part Japanese has syllables rather than consonants and vowels, so the "ke" is one thing pronounced as "kay", not like joke etc. The funny part is that the Provoke photographers would probably be the very last people to care about the finer points of the aesthetics of the bokeh in flower pictures etc. A lot of the goal was to break down traditional notions of aesthetics and to decry pictorialism etc. 

Edited by Stuart Richardson

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1 hour ago, Jeff S said:

Mike Johnston, now editor of TOP, put the term ‘bokeh king’ in the caption of a magazine picture of the Summicron IV. It stuck.  But even Mike doesn’t think it’s generally good at OOF blur, saying it particularly sucks in this regard at large apertures and close distances.  He’s written ad nauseam about it since, debunking myths, as well as writing about other lenses demonstrating more pleasing bokeh overall.  

Incidentally, it was Mike who first introduced the term (spelling) bokeh, in the magazine he edited, adding an ‘h’ to the Japanese ‘boke’ so that his readers (unfamiliar with the term) wouldn’t think that it was pronounced as rhyming with ‘joke’; rather than ‘bo-kuh’.  He no longer likes the term, often misused, preferring to discuss the quality of out of focus blur, which can vary even using the same lens under varying conditions.

Jeff

Thank you for that information. Never knew that regarding the spelling of 'bokeh'.

I don't know how Mike pronounces it, but I believe the correct way is 'bo-kay', not 'bo-kuh'. Another thing that makes me cringe.

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I doubt whether this Championship in Debunking Bo-keh helps the OP in his decision making.

Whether the pre-asph is better on film is a matter of taste. I prefer the pre-asph on my MM1 and my Summilux FLE on film. 

The asph is better in the edges and you could call that ‘modern’.The pre-asph is not that sharp at the edges, but that is more or less a habit of Leitz and Leica lenses until deep in the eighties. You could call that ‘classic’. 

You could say that the asph is more allround and for instance also very good for landscape, whereas the pre-asph is especially interesting for street photography. 

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Of course Otto, you are right. My own take is that the more recent digital bodies perform better with the modern lenses. There are fewer focus shifts and noticeable problems like chromatic aberration, smearing from the coverglass etc. In general if you are looking for a classic look, using the older lens on film seems to work better. It is a boring answer, but one I have found is met out time and time again. I did not have the 35mm Pre ASPH, but I did try it, also alongside a 35mm Summilux ASPH pre FLE, UC Hexanon 35mm and the 35mm M Hexanon. All of those lenses were well known for having pleasing bokeh. The performance was fairly similar among the non ASPH lenses, while the Summilux ASPH had both the best performance and most pleasing bokeh to my eyes. Unfortunately I have not had the 35mm f2 ASPH to compare to.

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43 minutes ago, a5m said:

I don't know how Mike pronounces it, but I believe the correct way is 'bo-kay' 

 

Nope (rhymes with soap).  :)

Jeff

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51 minutes ago, Stuart Richardson said:

I am not sure who brought it into English, but it comes from the Provoke photographers of Japan in the late sixties early seventies. I am not sure if it was Daido Moriyama himself, or one of his colleagues who described their photos as "are, bure, bokeh": grainy, blurry and out of focus. Spelling it in English with the "H" helps pronounce it properly...for the most part Japanese has syllables rather than consonants and vowels, so the "ke" is one thing pronounced as "kay", not like joke etc. The funny part is that the Provoke photographers would probably be the very last people to care about the finer points of the aesthetics of the bokeh in flower pictures etc. A lot of the goal was to break down traditional notions of aesthetics and to decry pictorialism etc. 

As I wrote, from the Japanese boke, and other related terms, as  Mike and others have extensively explained.  He has always given proper attribution.

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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1 hour ago, Stuart Richardson said:

Of course Otto, you are right. My own take is that the more recent digital bodies perform better with the modern lenses. There are fewer focus shifts and noticeable problems like chromatic aberration, smearing from the coverglass etc. In general if you are looking for a classic look, using the older lens on film seems to work better. It is a boring answer, but one I have found is met out time and time again. I did not have the 35mm Pre ASPH, but I did try it, also alongside a 35mm Summilux ASPH pre FLE, UC Hexanon 35mm and the 35mm M Hexanon. All of those lenses were well known for having pleasing bokeh. The performance was fairly similar among the non ASPH lenses, while the Summilux ASPH had both the best performance and most pleasing bokeh to my eyes. Unfortunately I have not had the 35mm f2 ASPH to compare to.

Ok, but this is all a matter of taste. And this is what mostly happens with these questions.

The only solution for OP is to try these lenses yourself.
I think there is no answer to these sort of questions for customers who plan to buy from a webshop and are not in the position/location to go to a trustworthy Leica shop and try these lenses for themselves. 

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1 hour ago, a5m said:

Yup (rhymes with I was right) 😉

 

Ke as in Kenneth, not as in Kay.  Many other such online posts, including native Japanese.  Mike had it right with ‘keh’... my  ‘kuh’ was misleading.

Jeff

 

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I call it "bouquet" - with irony. It's like the wine folks who go on and on about some chardonnay's bouquet - and when I try it, it still tastes like panther sweat. ;)

_________

To the original poster.

- The v.4 lens is substantially (48%) less heavy than the ASPH, and smaller (see photo in Post #2). I felt the ASPH always felt unbalanced on any M camera, at least after years using the v.4.

- the 35 Summicron ASPH is very pink in color balance for my tastes, the v.4 is more in line with Dr. Mandler's other lens designs from 1980 (greener/cyan).

- the ASPH has more macro-contrast than the v.4, and in fact my Leica rep told me that would be the main difference I'd notice.

- the ASPH actually has the "better" bokeh (smoother blur circles, less obvious "bright rings") at f/2.0. The v.4 can be quite busy. See below. But I find the ASPH to be bland - almost too smooth.

- Both have noticeable coma/astigmatism (bright point-lights grow "wings" near the corners from f/2-4), and the corners are thus soft otherwise. Not great lenses for placing the subject anywhere but the center, until f/5.6. The ASPH less so than the v.4.

Personally I prefer the v.4, for color and contrast. But the last time I wanted to get one, I couldn't find any, so I got a Voigtlander 35mm Nokton f/1.4 MC - which stopped down to f/2 is a fair copy of the v.4 in most ways.

I use a 35mm for journalism/reportage and (stopped down) some environmental portraits. I can't say one or the other is "better" for any other kind of field.

Bokeh sample f/2 - ASPH version on M9

Bokeh sample f/2, v.4 on film (note prominent bright blur edges and "double-images" of blurs, lower right).

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A different example of v.4 bokeh at f/2 (digital, M9). In this case I found it quite brilliant, interesting and effective.

Edited by adan

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Hallo,

I searched a nice Summicron 35mm IV for a reasonabel price (< 1.700 €!) for nearly 2 years as a replacement for my Summicron-C 40mm.

No chance at all.

Now, I have bought a new Summicron 35mm asph (first version) - new, old stock at my dealer for 2.100 €).

Until now, I'm NOT so convinced by this high praised lens.

A little bit too harsh, the contrast not very subtile (too much macro contrast?), the colors ok (but not more) AND TOO MUCH PINCUSHION DISTORTION (not very nice on slide film).

The lens is "ok", but not more - and it is heavy!

Best,

JensAndere Medien einfügen

Edited by jensthoes

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