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Collapsable 50 Summicron-Tell Me About It


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I just purchased a Leica 3F.  It came with a collapsable 50 Summicron which had just been CLA'ed by DAG.  I am using the camera on a trip around the US and will not see the results of my photography for a couple weeks.  I own the latest version of the 50 Summicron (non APO) so what can you tell me about the collapsable?  Is it's rendering different enough from the modern version to justify the purchase of a LTM adopter for use on my digital Leica or M2?

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If the surfaces of the front and rear lenses of your collapsible Summicron are good you may use it without any problems on a digital M. Of course it is softer, has less overall contrast and colours are not as crisp as with a modern version.  In some cases this may be an advantage - but only if you don‘t play too much with the sliders in your software for postproduction. If you do so, differences between the two versions are not important - the older lens just showing less resolution. 

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It’s always been a great learning experience for me to have two different versions of a lens to compare. Older lenses when shoot wide open will generally have lower resolution or lower contrast or both. The lower contrast on digital sensors can open the shadows and make for great images that have less bite. Once stopped down the older lens may look pretty close to its newer version. 

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I have a 1953 collapsible I bought to go with my 1957 M3. I find the lens very usable, but like most Leica lenses of the time it is lower contrast than modern lenses. But the photos still have a crisp feel to them. A little flare, get a 12585 lens shade. Mine is very good at f2. I have used it on an M3, M8, and digital CL.

M3 50 Summicron collapsible, TMax 100

Edited by tommonego@gmail.com
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I bought my 1955 5cm Summicron Collapsible some years ago for the IIIg I had at the time.  Yes, it has lower contrast but it has proved to be a capable performer on M240 and earlier this year I put it to the test on my M10M - with very pleasing results. Example below:-

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The collapsible Summicron is very much center weighted as to sharpness when wide open and does flare easily.  when stopped down to around f:4 it is amazingly  sharp.  Having said that, I've always gotten better results from rigid Summicrons.  In any event, your most valuable accessory is ilikely to be s a good lens hood. My best advice is leave the lens extended unless you have a good reason for collapsing it.  Hurridly extending it may preclude taking your greatest photo of all time,  especially if you are not used to the drill.  Regards, Ron

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The glass used in the Collapsible Summicron was changed around SN 105xxxx. The early lenses used Thoriated Glass, which is radioactive and subject to yellowing. With B&W film, it acts like a light yellow filter. This can be bleached out. All of these lenses were subject to interior haze, that lowers contrast. Once cleaned- the rendering is beautiful, lower contrast than modern lenses, preserves shadow detail and subdues highlights. If the glass is clear (not yellowed), beautiful on digital.

The Rigid Summicron is an improvement on the collapsible lens, a computer was used to optimize for formula. 

Edited by BrianS
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vor 57 Minuten schrieb BrianS:

The glass used in the Collapsible Summicron was changed around SN 105xxxx. The early lenses used Thoriated Glass, which is radioactive and subject to yellowing. With B&W film, it acts like a light yellow filter. This can be bleached out. All of these lenses were subject to interior haze, that lowers contrast. Once cleaned- the rendering is beautiful, lower contrast than modern lenses, preserves shadow detail and subdues highlights. If the glass is clear (not yellowed), beautiful on digital.

The Rigid Summicron is an improvement on the collapsible lens, a computer was used to optimize for formula. 

Have to agree, I have owned 2 collapsible and 2 rigid Dual Range Summicrons the two rigid were really good, while the collapsibles are good just not quite as good compared to the Dual Range. I hardly ever use a 50 so I buy them, they sit in my camera bag and I eventually sell them. Interestingly my last Dual Range had some fungus etching on the rear element but was still very good. 

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DAG has preformed a CLA on the 50 Summicron recently.  I cannot see anything wrong with the lens (cleaning marks, fungus, etc).  I own the latest version of the 50 Summicron and the 50f1.2 Nokton which is amazingly good.  Am not sure the collapsable is different enough from the current version to bother with putting it on the MP240 or M2.  I know collapsing it on the MP240 is not a good idea.

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3 minutes ago, ktmrider2 said:

DAG has preformed a CLA on the 50 Summicron recently.  I cannot see anything wrong with the lens (cleaning marks, fungus, etc).  I own the latest version of the 50 Summicron and the 50f1.2 Nokton which is amazingly good.  Am not sure the collapsable is different enough from the current version to bother with putting it on the MP240 or M2.  I know collapsing it on the MP240 is not a good idea.

Why is collapsing it on the M-240P not a good idea?

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Later Collapsible Summicron on the Leica M8, wide-open at F2. Full frame and 100% crop.

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I didn't find current non APO 50 Cron to be impressive lens on bw darkroom prints. Too sterile, IMO. Great lens for color, film and digital. I also had collapsible and it was giving me high quality, juicy bw darkroom prints. It was lens which left no interest in MF film format in me. But my collapsible was M version. I don't like Leitz 50mm LTM lenses on M mount cameras. Focusing positions are odd. 

Instead of LTM-M adapter, I recommend SBOOI. After getting it, I sold M3, which isn't 1:1 VF, but SBOOI is and it is marvelous. Barnack with Cron and SBOOI is hard to beat kit for bw, IMO.

I had collapsible, rigid, V3 and V4 Crons, BTW. If I would be back to serious BW darkroom printing, I would get collapsible Cron back or Elmar-M 50 2.8 (last version). While V4 and after are nicely matching digital Ms, IMO. 

Edited by Ko.Fe.
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I could be wrong but my understanding is that any collapsable lens on any digital Leica can lead to sensor damage.  If I am mistaken I hope to be corrected.  Again, with two 50's in M mount, I don't see myself gaining much by buying a LTM adopter.  

And thanks for the link to your tests of the various older 50's.  Am looking forward to the first couple rolls I get back from the processor.  Am thinking Ektar 100 may be my film of choice for the 3f.

Edited by ktmrider2
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27 minutes ago, ktmrider2 said:

I could be wrong but my understanding is that any collapsable lens on any digital Leica can lead to sensor damage.  If I am mistaken I hope to be corrected.  Again, with two 50's in M mount, I don't see myself gaining much by buying a LTM adopter.  

And thanks for the link to your tests of the various older 50's.  Am looking forward to the first couple rolls I get back from the processor.  Am thinking Ektar 100 may be my film of choice for the 3f.

No sir. The first thing to look for is is the tube, when collapsed, protrudes past the mount and how far. The shutter will get smashed long before the sensor gets touched. When you look in the mount the first thing you see is the shutter, not the sensor. It is good practice to mount a collapsible lens fully extended so if the tube sticks out it doesn’t damage the throat of the camera. I use a collapsible 50 Summicron and Elmarit and both collapse fine with no harm.

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