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Best Leica 50mm lens for portraits?


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I also have both the pre-ASPH and ASPH version of the 50 Summilux. I select the ASPH when I want the best possible results in challenging or unpredictable light conditions. And I often prefer it when photographing wide open from a longer distance, because of its better resolution.

The pre-ASPH is my preferred choice in most other situations, because of its gentle rendering and beautiful bokeh.

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Shoot your mother in law and ask her the pic she prefers .

Don't tempt me!

Summilux all day for me for street and posed portraits. Some reasons for this opinion: 1. Because of the shallow DOF wide open it helps render faces smoother at 1.4 when desired 2. You can be created with the OOF area at 1.4 with backdrops and with colorful backgrounds 3. Better at f2 and on than the standard 50 cron. It is APO and aspheric glass types which renders colors better and has less aberrations 4. I like the hood and size of the 50 Lux better 5. I like the focusing tab bet

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Content is what separates a mere photo from that of a most excellent photograph.  r/ Mark

Very true, Mark. What has become clear to me is that we are talking about two excellent lenses, and it's down to personal choice. I haven't bought either yet...will do so today!

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I went down the Summilux road after using a Summicron and several 90s for years. For me it was too fussy and I decided to try the old Elmar 3.5, which I ended up sticking with. I think it all depends on  your taste, your subjects and your capabilities to use a lens to its fullest. Good luck with your upcoming project.

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4 hours ago, Johnclare369 said:

Not sure I can see the freckles, moles etc in the asph lens? That may be just me!

Have a look at the 4 comparison pictures set with "Leica M10 + Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M Version I - @ f/1.4", "Leica M10 + Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M Version II - @ f/1.4", and "Leica M10 + Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH - @ f/1.4" and "Leica M10 + Leica 50mm f/1.5 Summarit-M - @ f/1.5".  The middle 2 pictures are the pre-asph 'Version II' and the asph and have the subject's head in the same pose so the shadows are falling in roughly the same place.

In the asph picture I can see a blemish on the middle of her chin, a small, single freckle above her right eyebrow, and 'orange-peel' stippling of the skin in the shadow on her right cheek.  All of these are much less obvious in the Version II picture.  

They are small blemishes, and likely to be insignificant to us photographers but my guess is that those are the first things that the subject's 'eagle vision' will notice because those are the most important things to her and well might be the difference between her loving the picture or never wanting it shown to anyone.  It sounds a little dramatic but I assure you I have learnt that mind-boggling lesson through bitter experience.  This is one of the main reasons that the companies who sell 'barbie-doll' facial processing software packages are doing so well. (I laugh when I see the 'plastic skin' effect that they produce, particularly on billboards where it is very obvious.)

The other thing is that the subject in the link has few blemishes but a slightly more mature lady with 'laughter lines', crow's feet', or other tell-tale 'wrinklets' would probably wish them not to show.  The Version II is much better at that than the 'cut like scalpel' asph.

Pete.

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On 7/22/2020 at 4:55 PM, Jeff S said:

Karbe describes how difficult it was to bring the current 50 Summilux ASPH to fruition...

https://www.shutterbug.com/content/leica-lens-saga-interview-peter-karbe
 

Jeff

I've long suspect that the 50 Lux ASPH was DG design because I get that signature rendering at certain conditions and the front groups are identical, but now coming from Karbe's interview I can confirm that.  My research is telling me 50mm f/1.2 and 50mm 0.95 are also my favorite DG design but I don't own them. 

 

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I favor the summilux v1 at f/2 or, more recently for black and white, a clean summar.  There are many other great choices.  For short telephoto, it’s very hard to improve on the 80mm summilux (mine is adapted for Sony), the 75 summilux (more or less the same lens), or the last pre-ASPH 90mm summicron.

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A year ago I chopped in the latest 50 (non-APO) summicron for a ASPH summilux 

I don’t regret the choice. 
 

The little things that don’t affect the picture are nicer (focus tab, twist to lock hood), but the thing I’m really enjoying (compared to the ‘cron) is the lack of propensity to massively flare, which ruined a few of my ‘cron shots

Used wide open at focus distances of 3 meters and less the ASPH ‘lux is wonderful. Charming and with a 3D look to the image.

I do find that at longer distances (say 10 meters and up) that it’s a little soft and needs a surprisingly large amount of sharpening in post to present fine details (if fine details are required)

(This is with an M240 using the EVF, so please no one reply with advice about RF calibration)
 

I think too much is written about the 50 ‘lux... it’s almost mythical... sharper at F1.4 than other lenses at F2 etc etc

That’s not to detract from it.. I’m not much of a pixel peeper (honest!) but let’s just say that if there’s one lens that the lux is not sharper at 1.4 than F2, then it’s the lux!! As f2 is noticeably sharper than 1.4 
 

But all that said there’s probably no finer VFM Leica option 50 for beautiful modern rendering on the secondhand market as the lux 

Or course older versions and other lens brands may suit ones particular style or deliver ones photographical intent better, but in terms of size, features and (secondhand) cost IMHO the 50 ASPH lux is the one to go for...

...just don’t get seduced by the hype and expect to stop it down a little if you need small details captured that are some distance away
 

I’ll include a shot of what, for me at least, is the lux at its best, wide open an pretty close to the subject! (Even if it’s just a shot from the park)

 

Edited by Adam Bonn
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12 minutes ago, Johnclare369 said:

Thanks Adam (and everyone else). Very helpful. I've just missed an asph lux on eBay, and have bid on another one.

Fingers crossed!

Regards to all.

JC

Oh I forgot to mention, at f4 it’s stupidly sharp, like I showed mrs Adam a portrait of her taken at f4 and she didn’t speak to me for like a week!

so i sort of see it as two lenses in one... dreamy pop wide open and <2.8 and a micro detail monster at mid apertures 

I assume you’re also checking the secondhand sections of various stores?

I scored mine from a forum (not this one) so that’s worth checking out too

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21 hours ago, jaeger said:

I've long suspect that the 50 Lux ASPH was DG design because I get that signature rendering at certain conditions and the front groups are identical, but now coming from Karbe's interview I can confirm that.  My research is telling me 50mm f/1.2 and 50mm 0.95 are also my favorite DG design but I don't own them. 

 

Hi 

Do you suggest that all these three are DG design (= Double Gause)? I am no techy, but I was quite convinced that the Lux asph is not (with the ¨magic¨ developed in the rear ¨ reshufled/new/non-DG¨ part of the lens),... and neither the Noct 0,95 with its ¨deviating¨ rear element?

 

regards,

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My most favorite 50mm for portrait is Noctilux 1.0. But I use Summilux non ASPH most often because of its size and weight (and of cause rendering). Sometime I use summicron collapsible (v1) because of low sharpness and low contrast wide open. I also use summicron ASPH when I want high contrast and sharpness. So it depends on what your photography style is. 

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10 hours ago, Stein K S said:

Hi 

Do you suggest that all these three are DG design (= Double Gause)? I am no techy, but I was quite convinced that the Lux asph is not (with the ¨magic¨ developed in the rear ¨ reshufled/new/non-DG¨ part of the lens),... and neither the Noct 0,95 with its ¨deviating¨ rear element?

 

regards,

It's at the end of page one, I didn't say it, Peter Karbe said it. 

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Sorry to bring Voigtlanders into a Summilux thread, but does anyone have any experience of comparing the Nokton F1.5 against the Summilux ASPH in terms of rendering?  Someone who I greatly respect and an experienced M9 and Summilux ASPH user is of the opinion that the Voigt is as good (or even, surprisingly to me, possibly better) in that department and prefers using it.

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7 hours ago, Ray Vonn said:

Sorry to bring Voigtlanders into a Summilux thread, but does anyone have any experience of comparing the Nokton F1.5 against the Summilux ASPH in terms of rendering?  Someone who I greatly respect and an experienced M9 and Summilux ASPH user is of the opinion that the Voigt is as good (or even, surprisingly to me, possibly better) in that department and prefers using it.

Yes, I've had the version 1 (LTM) 50/1.5 Nokton for many years and it's not in the same ballpark as the 50/1.4 Summilux asph.  It's a low contrast lens, which has good acutance in the centre wide open but the corners are not as good.

It's still a very good and under-appreciated lens but it will produce quite different pictures from the Summilux.  Mine looks after my IIIg so it's confined to shooting film these days.

I regret I I have no experience of the VM versions.

Pete.

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My choice is the 50 lux asph. It strikes the best balance of speed, sharpness, contrast, bokeh and size.

I'm not a fan of using older lenses for digital because a sharp image can always be made softer in post but not the other way around. 

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Re 4) As a Sonnar- 50 I can recommend the Nikkor-HC, it can be great ; or the beginning sixties J-3 wide open; (later 1975 version I have is ‘softer’ wide open but more than exellent at about F2.2) but the Jupiters I now have are theKiev version . . . So that requires quite some planning.

Edited by Alberti
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On 7/22/2020 at 11:44 PM, dkmoore said:

Summilux all day for me for street and posed portraits. Some reasons for this opinion:

1. Because of the shallow DOF wide open it helps render faces smoother at 1.4 when desired
2. You can be created with the OOF area at 1.4 with backdrops and with colorful backgrounds
3. Better at f2 and on than the standard 50 cron. It is APO and aspheric glass types which renders colors better and has less aberrations
4. I like the hood and size of the 50 Lux better
5. I like the focusing tab better than not having one

The 50 Lux is one of the best Leica lenses ever made in my view. I can't imagine how good a new version would/could be if they ever attempt to modernize it.

Some would say though, that there is very little difference between F2 and F1.4 and the positioning of the camera and person you are photographing will have more impact on DoF than 1 stop in aperture value.

The Cron is smaller and the hoodless Cron is even smaller than that, plus has a focus tab.

Plus then there is the choice between, ultra sharp, modern looking portraiture which the ASPH lux will give you, vs a slightly softer look that the Cron will give you (at F2 anyway) then it becomes sharp like the APSH.

Its preference. Plus, you dont find many portrait photographers using F1.4...

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2 hours ago, JTLeica said:

ts preference. Plus, you dont find many portrait photographers using F1.4...

Not those using Summicrons, no.  ^_^

But I strongly suspect that the tendency for portrait photographers with fast lenses outside the studio is to use them wide open to provide subject separation and to lessen the effects of distracting backgrounds.

Pete.

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