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Collapsible LTM Summicrons


qqphot
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I mostly just want to gripe here. I've been trying for a couple of months to find a vaguely period-correct collapsible 50mm Summicron for a IIIg. Twice so far I've actually bought one, for hundreds of dollars, once from a reputable shop and once from someone on Reddit. 

Both Summicrons were inoperable, and in the same way - disassembled by an amateur and put back together I assume with one or more elements reversed or in the wrong order. No sharp image at any distance, just a hazy swirling blur from infinity to up close.  I haven't taken a Summicron apart, but I'm wondering if this is a particularly easy thing to get wrong?  In any case I assume even if it were reassembled in the right order and orientation it'd need major recalibration than I'd have no way to accomplish. The most recent one also had the aperture ring installed wrong, rotated 90 degrees from correct.

It's just disappointing to see that sellers apparently don't even bother slapping a lens on a digital body and taking a quick snapshot to see if it's even functional at all.

It's kind of a dreamy effect but this is not the "Leica Glow" I was hoping for! 🤣

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2 hours ago, qqphot said:

It's kind of a dreamy effect but this is not the "Leica Glow" I was hoping for!

😂

I was considering a collapsible LTM cron 50 at one stage but ended up settling for a rigid 50 LTM cron when one came up here in Australia (with a dealer I knew & have been buying from for a number of years) at a very reasonable price & in beautiful condition     

Edited by romualdo
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2 hours ago, qqphot said:

 

Both Summicrons were inoperable, and in the same way - disassembled by an amateur and put back together I assume with one or more elements reversed or in the wrong order. No sharp image at any distance, just a hazy swirling blur from infinity to up close.  I haven't taken a Summicron apart, but I'm wondering if this is a particularly easy thing to get wrong?  In any case I assume even if it were reassembled in the right order and orientation it'd need major recalibration than I'd have no way to accomplish. The most recent one also had the aperture ring installed wrong, rotated 90 degrees from correct.

 

That's the sort of image I was getting with a collapsible Elmar 90 f4 - found out that elements had been reversed on previous CLAs

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7 minutes ago, romualdo said:

That's the sort of image I was getting with a collapsible Elmar 90 f4 - found out that elements had been reversed on previous CLAs

It must be similar, and I almost want to take it apart to try and figure out what they got wrong, but I haven't done a summicron before and it looks moderately non-trivial compared to easier things like the Industars and Feds that I've done, and I don't want to strain the sellers' willingness to refund the purchase...

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I've been lucyk in that I've had two which were in great shape from the get-go. I much prefer their rendition to the later Summicrons (after the original rigid). Too many people fiddle around with the collapsibles and screw them up. These days I'd only consider buying one from a trustworthy dealer or if a private sale only after I've asked a bunch of questions and seen samples of shots taken with the lens, Sad that it's come to that.

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41 minutes ago, qqphot said:

I’m hoping to find a decent one some day, so far I’ve never seen a working one at all!

FYR.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/334090724754?hash=item4dc95be592:g:~EMAAOSwb7tg~uUx

This is a used Summicron 5cm f/2 M that is in good condition.  This item has been tested in our store and is in good working order.  This lens was serviced by Youxin Ye in April 2021.

The front and rear elements are in good condition with only minor cleaning marks.  There is some light internal dust but the inner elements are free from fungus, haze, etc.  The aperture blades are clean and move smoothly.

The barrel exhibits some minor wear but is in great shape overall.  The focus ring turns smoothly.  The aperture ring turns smoothly.  Both the mount and the filter threads are in good shape.
 

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It does take some searching.  I used eBay because it gave me a world market.

Four times i bought and returned three.  One must make sure of absolute trust to return without argument. My lens has metric distances, preferred by me. And of course a perfectly clean front element, and signs showing v little dismantling...if any.

The lens needed a CLA...after nearly 70 years, i think a clean is only reasonable. That costs extra.

If you want this fabulous lens then don't get too hung up on the price (to some degree).

It was HCB's favourite lens, and mine too... 😉

Good luck, as always, the search is the fun...took me a year.

It's still my favourite, and only, 50mm Leica lens.

 

Good luck

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7 hours ago, qqphot said:

I’m hoping to find a decent one some day, so far I’ve never seen a working one at all!

What has been made on your lens is of course undefinible... maybe a badly made disassemble/reassemble... or maybe they hav mixed parts coming from different lenses : for example.... I have two Summicrons LTM - rather distant as s/n (920.xxx and 1043.xxx) - as you can verify, the top lens group is easily unscrewable, leaving "open" the diaphragn mechanism : well, if I exchange the two groups, the Summicron becomes grossly out of focus... probably the real focal length of my two items is different, and the curavtures of front and back groups don't match each other.

 

Edited by luigi bertolotti
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/5/2021 at 5:34 PM, Erato said:

FYR.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/334090724754?hash=item4dc95be592:g:~EMAAOSwb7tg~uUx

This is a used Summicron 5cm f/2 M that is in good condition.  This item has been tested in our store and is in good working order.  This lens was serviced by Youxin Ye in April 2021.

The front and rear elements are in good condition with only minor cleaning marks.  There is some light internal dust but the inner elements are free from fungus, haze, etc.  The aperture blades are clean and move smoothly.

The barrel exhibits some minor wear but is in great shape overall.  The focus ring turns smoothly.  The aperture ring turns smoothly.  Both the mount and the filter threads are in good shape.
 

This one looks very nice, but it's M-mount. I've been looking for an LTM one, for my IIIg.

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  • 4 weeks later...

A "mint" collapsible Summicron passed through my hands this past week, and after reading many comments on these lenses I was surprised to find that it was quite bad in every respect compared to my coated Summitar. I had read that the cron is sharper off-center than the summitar but I couldn't find any part of the frame at any distance where this one exceeded the sharpness of the Summitar, and certainly never the contrast. So rather than everyone being wrong I'm assuming (like all the others I've seen so far) that this one was not at peak performance, probably again from someone taking it apart to clean it and just making it worse. At least this one focused correctly!

 

 

Edited by qqphot
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If you look at some MTF-curves (in Puts pocket-guide) you can see that the Summitar is better towards the edge of image circle wide open compared to the Summicron first version, but I think it shouldn't be that bad, reminds me of Summar.

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1 hour ago, romanus53 said:

If you look at some MTF-curves (in Puts pocket-guide) you can see that the Summitar is better towards the edge of image circle wide open compared to the Summicron first version, but I think it shouldn't be that bad, reminds me of Summar.

Wow, I didn't expect to find MTF curves for these old lenses and didn't think to look for them. This is interesting.  When the first Summicron was brought to market, what was it's claimed advantage over the Summitar (which i suppose was its predecessor as the "standard" 50mm F2)?

Just from experimenting with the two side by side, it seems like it may have somewhat better resolving power dead center in the frame, but this example at least was basically always muddy and blurred at the edges at any aperture. It seems like its plane of focus curves quite strongly at most subject distances, too.

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Some users thought that there was no improvment or even step-back but focus in lens-development at that time was on performance wide open in the center - if one didn't need that the trusted Elmar was a maybe better option.

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B&H photo had a LTM collapsable in their used dept on Tuesday when I was there for $400 but it did have little scratches on front element.  I have a nice copy of this lens that I bought on eBay a couple years ago.  It's a great lens.  I actually just had the local Leica store send it out to get CLA'd to remove some of the haze inside of it.  So hopefully it returns in even better condition. I always keep a UV filter on it to protect the front element which I hear are notoriously soft.  

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This one was listed as Mint on eBay (and not japanese "mint"!) but as you can see it's got scratches both inside and on the surface, coating loss, and some haze, in addition to what I can only guess is an element out of place enough to throw off corrections. Anyway it's going back to the seller who was happy to refund.  Maybe  another day!

It's kind of amazing how easily photos of a lens can tell either a good or a bad story.

 

 

Edited by qqphot
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7 hours ago, qqphot said:

This one was listed as Mint on eBay (and not japanese "mint"!) but as you can see it's got scratches both inside and on the surface, coating loss, and some haze, in addition to what I can only guess is an element out of place enough to throw off corrections. Anyway it's going back to the seller who was happy to refund.  Maybe  another day!

It's kind of amazing how easily photos of a lens can tell either a good or a bad story.

 

 

That is really nasty!

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