Jump to content

Fifty-ish for portraits


Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

I had a chance to evaluate a few lenses (with the help of my wonderful wife who indulged me on my birthday to sit as a subject) in that never-ending project to identify the prime suspects for carry in a small travel bag with my Leica SL or Sigma fp. The choices are a somewhat idiosyncratic array of old and new 50 something lenses, made possible by the many adapters available for L-mount. My fast choices are old - a Summilux-R 50 (ver.1) and a Noct-Nikkor 58 1.2. My Summicron-M 50 (type 4) and new Apo-Lanthar 50 f2 Asph round out the choices. The inclusion of a fast lens in my kit is a priority that comes and goes. It has never hit me hard enough in four decades with Leica to buy a Summilux-M though I've been feeling a new wave of temptation. Reading the reports of sloppy aperture rings and the crazy lens hood situation on the black chrome version continue to help delay that purchase. Both these alternative fast lenses are quite a bit larger, longer and more cumbersome with their lengthy and heavy adapters. The new retro Noctilux seems like a lovely fix... if I could find one for sale.

The color rendering of each lens is different of course and the SL and fp render somewhat different files (each are represented here) - to simplify the comparison I've converted all to B&W in Photoshop. In my hurry to keep my patient wife agreeable I underexposed the highlights quite a bit so they have been restored as best as possible in Camera Raw. It's a pleasure to spend some time with my old Summicron-M 50... a really marvelous lens that yields nothing in terms of center sharpness to the new VM save the tiniest bit of color fringing in high contrast edges near the focal plane. The VM is a skimpy fifty... it shows its wider 50mm personality here. The Noct-Nikkor and the old design Summilux-R show dreamy softness from spherochromatism wide open. The Noct is uniquely creamy and dreamy.  In use it has an odd retro feeling of mixed parts from another world of cameras, pushed way out from the camera with the Novoflex adapter. 

Thanks for looking and of course, your thoughts are most welcome. The files uploaded are reasonably large if clicked.

Noct-Nikkor 58 1,2 on Leica SL/ novoflex Nikkor-L adapter

Summilux-R 50 1,4 (ver.1) on Leica SL/ Leica R-L adapter

Summicron-M 50 f2 on Sigma fp/ Leica M-L adapter

VM Apo-Lanthar Asph 50 f2 on Sigma fp/ Leica M-L adapter

Edited by Alan Friedman
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alan, 

It's somewhat unclear for me what you are after. Still, it's an interesting post picturing your charming wife with four different 50ies. I have these thoughts:

  • Both typical vintage lenses, the Nikkor blurs highlights similar to the Summilux R but even more so. There isn't any information left on the white back-lit spot of your wife's hair. I happen to own a 50mm Summicron R, which blurs highlights too. These highlights are non-recoverable. 
  • The Nikkor renders proportions different to the Leica lenses. Your wife's face is a little more round-shaped with the Nikkor but has more character with the two Leica lenses. This can be blamed on the somewhat longer focal length, but I'm sure there's more to it. 
  • When you compare the Summcicron and the Voigtländer, you can again see the same effect. The Leica lenses render your wife's face a tad slimmer. I've seen this many times before with Canon glass vs Leica lenses or Cooke vs Zeiss etc... 
  • Other than that, the Summciron and the Voigtländer are very similar. Why do you keep both?

Thanks for the lovely pictures!

Hans

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, hansvons said:

Hi Alan, 

It's somewhat unclear for me what you are after. Still, it's an interesting post picturing your charming wife with four different 50ies. I have these thoughts:

  • Both typical vintage lenses, the Nikkor blurs highlights similar to the Summilux R but even more so. There isn't any information left on the white back-lit spot of your wife's hair. I happen to own a 50mm Summicron R, which blurs highlights too. These highlights are non-recoverable. 
  • The Nikkor renders proportions different to the Leica lenses. Your wife's face is a little more round-shaped with the Nikkor but has more character with the two Leica lenses. This can be blamed on the somewhat longer focal length, but I'm sure there's more to it. 
  • When you compare the Summcicron and the Voigtländer, you can again see the same effect. The Leica lenses render your wife's face a tad slimmer. I've seen this many times before with Canon glass vs Leica lenses or Cooke vs Zeiss etc... 
  • Other than that, the Summciron and the Voigtländer are very similar. Why do you keep both?

Thanks for the lovely pictures!

Hans

 

Hi Hans,

Thank you for taking the time to share these thoughts. It is indeed a very limited comparison with some lenses that most wouldn't have or use - your observations are sharp and much appreciated. I've always been a better lens buyer than a seller and I will likely always keep my small collection of pre-aspherical Summicrons and Elmarits for M mount. The Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar series (I purchased both the 50 and the 35) have impressed me for landscape and documentary use where detail to the edge of the frame is to be studied. They are also beautifully constructed - a pleasure to handle. They satisfy my desire for this type of contemporary design which makes me very happy given the price of the Leica Apo-Summicron-M series.  For portraiture like this the sharpness is a bit much - I prefer the Summicron's rendering but I would probably carry the VM most often as the more versatile lens at this focal length and speed. The Nikkor and the Summilux-R both touch on something different and encouraged me to make a new decision. Last night I purchased my first Leica lens from the Aspherical era. I selected the Summilux-M 50 in the retro black chrome design which, though heavy, will be lighter than either the Nikkor or the Summi-R. I really enjoy the experience of focus and composition with M mount lenses on the L mount cameras. Excited to receive the Summilux and to use it.

all the best,

Alan

Edited by Alan Friedman
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, RoySmith said:

Interesting series. Thanks for doing this. I think I prefer #2. 
Although you don’t need another 50, Have you considered a Leica 50mm SL - either the Summilux, or the Summicron ? 
Thanks for posting these?

I have indeed considered adding one of the APO-Summicron-SL lenses. I will spend some time with one the next chance I have to be in B&H. I have a few of the new Sigma lenses which are quite good and serve well for subject matter where auto-focus is a real help. When I can, manual focus is my preferred method to work so I have been hesitant to invest in the SL lenses... they have been described as not the best to use manually (the Sigma lenses are quite nice used manually). I think I need to try it on for myself. I wonder if the hybrid focusing system of the new fp-L will be good with the Leica L mount lenses? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Alan Friedman said:

Last night I purchased my first Leica lens from the Aspherical era. I selected the Summilux-M 50 in the retro black chrome design which, though heavy, will be lighter than either the Nikkor or the Summi-R. I really enjoy the experience of focus and composition with M mount lenses on the L mount cameras. Excited to receive the Summilux and to use it.

Hi Alan,

Let us know what your findings are, especially in comparison to the Summilux R. 
---
I owned a set of Zeiss Super Speeds (PL lenses for cinematography) and shot uncountable projects on them. They are a set of five T 1.3 lenses from the early eighties in 18mm to 85mm (S-35mm format). Open rose they are dreamy, highly prone to flare with a busy but not swirly bokeh. Stopped down to T 2.8, they are tack sharp but keep some of their character. I sold them because I figured that their flatness (as the opposite to dimensionality) and cool rendering with a slight hint of magenta wide open didn't cut it anymore for me. I find Leica glass mostly the opposite: a warm colour rendering, especially in the skin tones, not particular flary, and not flat at all, on the contrary.

Recently, I purchased for my new SL2-S the 24-90 zoom, which is, in a way, a clinical, sharp and perfect glass. Still, it has some character, despite its lack of flaring. It shows some dimensionality in the range of 35-75 mm, and somewhat vignettes when lens correction is turned off. I shoot primarily environmental portraits and are not after wishy-washy blurry backgrounds. That's why I'm okay with the Elmarit badge.
 

Hans

Edited by hansvons
Link to post
Share on other sites

Advertisement (gone after registration)

If you like to see how some of the leica 50's render on SL2 and M10-R at different F-stops.

The Summicron-SL is by far the more detailed..

https://photos.alexkroke.com/Review/50mm-Lenses-on-M10-R-and-LS2/n-WR5V2r/

in my test
Summicron-SL 50
Noctilux 50 0.95
Summilux-M 50

Sigma 45

there are taken at full stops 0.95, 1.4, 2. 2.8, 4, 5.6

Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Photoworks said:

If you like to see how some of the leica 50's render on SL2 and M10-R at different F-stops.

The Summicron-SL is by far the more detailed..

https://photos.alexkroke.com/Review/50mm-Lenses-on-M10-R-and-LS2/n-WR5V2r/

in my test
Summicron-SL 50
Noctilux 50 0.95
Summilux-M 50

Sigma 45

there are taken at full stops 0.95, 1.4, 2. 2.8, 4, 5.6

Thanks for sharing that... great fun. I guess that is why there is no aperture ring on the Summicron-SL. How do find the lens to handle on the SL2? I am using the Type 601 still. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...