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I have a 1936 IIIa (s.n. 184223) that is in need of a lens, and I am now in a position to purchase one.  I am leaning towards an f3.5 Elmar, as I think it complements the design of the camera beautifully both in compactness and in general appearance.  The other lenses that are possibilities look a bit heavier and some even a bit too modern (even though some of them are not) for an 85 year old camera.  I do have some points that I would appreciate comments on from those who know more about things Leica than I do, before I part with my cash.

Firstly, condition.  Quite a few lenses of this age have either dust or haze in the optics, and others have light marks.  Would I be correct in assuming that dust or haze (provided the haze is not excessive) could be fixed with a CLA, as could a stiff aperture ring or focusing ring, but marks would generally not go away?

Secondly, coatings.  I see that, as a rule, Pre-War lenses are clear, and Post-War lenses are coated, and I understand the basic reasoning behind coating lenses is to cut down internal reflections but, in lenses of this quality, is there really much of a difference between the two?

As for the lenses that I’m looking at:

Elmar f3.5:  My preferred option, as it is so light and compact and just looks so right on a Barnack Leica;

Elmar f2.8: Aside from the extra f-stop, is there any reason for preferring this over the f3.5 Elmar?  I find it does not have quite the same visual appeal as the f3.5 Elmar, but it could be useful in low light situations.

Summar f2:  Maybe another lens to consider.  Again, not quite the same visual appeal as the f3.5 Elmar, but it could also be useful in low light situations.

Summitar: From what I can see, it appears to be an updated and improved version of the Summar.  Compared with the Elmar, and even the Summar, it looks a trifle bulky (yes, I know it isn’t really).

Summicron: I’m not so keen on this one, as I find the appearance of the earlier lenses more appealing.  I would also prefer to fit my camera with a lens that’s a bit closer to what it originally had.  I have heard that the front element is made of an unusually soft glass, which means that these lenses are often badly scratched.  Is this so?

Thank you in advance for helping a newcomer to the world of Leicas.

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An f3.5 Elmar. There are plenty of them to choose from and a later 1950’s red scale model would give the best performance but still look in keeping with the camera. The f2.8 Elmar, Summitar and Summicron look like later lenses while the design of the f3.5 Elmar stayed the same apart from improvements in the glass and coating.

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I would go for an Elmar 3.5/5 cm from the period of the camera, thus uncoated. A few marks on the front element don't harm.

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I have samples of all the lenses you list, and any would be good. The 3.5 Elmar is the most classic and plentiful, but the others have more convenient diaphragm control rings.

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I too would go for a 5cm 3.5 Elmar. The later 'red scale' lenses are marginally better and are coated, but a lot of earlier lenses were also coated even if they left the factory uncoated. Also older lenses develop their own coating patina as such so it's not something to worry over. Contrast can be added in PP. 

The 3.5 is such a tiny gem of a lens, a fine performer even by today's standards and makes a great compact package. I would get the best example I could find. Dust isn't an issue but avoid hazy or fungus ridden glass. Small marks on the optics won't matter but you should be able to find a decent all round example to not have to settle for less.

The 2.8 Elmar was made in the 50's and more aimed at the new (then) lllg. It has a 39mm filter thread and conventional aperture ring but performance is the same. It's larger and heavier of course. 

I love the Summar as well but it's quite a characterful lens and I think it's much harder to find a decent one, as they suffer a lot from 'cleaning marks' having 'soft' glass that was more prone to scratching from careless cleaning. A good example though is also a fine lens. 

 

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My vote too is for the Elmar. Get a pre-war uncoated lens for that 'special look' you can get from uncoated lenses. All that super saturated stuff can get a bit wearing. I must have over 20 Elmars (some are on fixed lens models) and I don't think I have ever had a bad one. Like James, I have a special love for the Summar, which can give images quite unlike any other lens when shot wide open or near to that. I have 12 Summars and there is not a bad one among them, but a lot of people say they have had bad ones with scratches on the soft glass, probably due to being cleaned with ties or handkerchiefs. The Summar is an acquired taste and, somehow, I and some others have acquired it. The Summitar is technically a 'better' lens than the Summar, but does not give images that are as interesting. I would not put a post war lens like a Red Scale, f2.8 Elmar or a Summicron on a IIIa, but that is my inner collector coming to the fore. 

William

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Another vote for the Elmar 3.5 lens. It is THE classic Leica lens, in particular considering the vintage of your camera. As opposed to some others here, I would go for a coated version, preferably the so-called Red Scale Elmar. It is far from producing super saturated results, and except for Leica addicts and collectors, no one will spot the difference between a Red Scale Elmar and a pre-war uncoated Elmar. You will likely be surprised at how good those Elmar lenses are.

Cheers, Andy

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In fact after a little more thought and looking at my own examples above, I think you really need to get a f3.5 Elmar AND a Summar. 

 

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vor 4 Minuten schrieb earleygallery:

..., I think you really need to get a f3.5 Elmar AND a Summar. 

That's when GAS kicks in :).

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Elmar 5cm 3,5  of the era (the 2,8 is really too young for the camera...) ;  Elmar 3,5 cm + finder as interesting alternative ; Summars, in the mean, are often more worn than Elmars of the same time... Costly/risky choice (many are very worn) : a Xenon - a bit bulky, but classy... 😎

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Many thanks for your comments.  As I said, I was leaning towards an f3.5 Elmar, but I've now decided that I will get an f3.5 Elmar, and it will be an uncoated lens. By the way, here's the camera:

 

 

 

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I have a 1937 Leica model IID with several uncoated early lenses (the 200mm Telyt with Visoflex is a superb portrait lens). Anyway, I digress... I use the f2 Summar and it's a much maligned lens, although I have had mine CLA'ed. It also really does need a lens hood as it is very prone to flare. However, it's now my favourite lens and I use it (via an adapter) on my M9, most often at f2. I think it looks much nicer than the Elmar (personal opinion) and find that adjusting the aperture is much easier than the Elmar too (especially when there's a lens hood in the way).

Image taken with M9 fitted with the Summar.

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While I recommended the Elmar as it is 'more normal', the Summar is capable of producing a look which very few other lenses can replicate. Here are some examples taken with a Summar on an M8, the first quite wide open and the second stopped down as the hexagonal highlights will confirm. The swirly background bokeh, plants in the first and water in the second, in these photos is something that I really like.

William

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Jim J. That is one very nice looking camera. Your choice of the 1:f3·5; 50mm. uncoated Elmar is definitely 'in-period'.

The problem with adjusting the aperture with lens-hood (FISON) attached was solved by Leitz with the adapter VALOO

Cook and Perkins made their own version.

A VALOO can be a bit pricey.

D.Lox.

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I have a collection of different FISONs and a VALOO.  The latter was designed for Darkroom use and it is a bit large on top of an Elmar. You have to line up your apertures carefully before mounting it on the lens. In truth, the 50mm Elmar rarely shows flare and I generally use it without a hood.

William 

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I use my Summar with the FIKUS hood (as I can use it with my other lenses too). Here's another shot using the M9 + Summar...

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Well,  I've jumped into the older market, purchased 2 lllf Red Dials, a 50mm Summicron F2  & 50mm Summitar F2  to start the ball rolling.. These are for gifting when I pass.. Will be looking out for a couple of nice 35mm lenses & maybe a 135mm,  in the near future. . L

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