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50mm Summilux Version 1 - Opinions and Examples?


Laharrier
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Hi all, thank you for allowing me to join this is my first post. I have the opportunity to buy this lens for a fair price in nearly unused condition. I have read a lot of the posts regarding this lens on this forum and have been able to get some good info but I am looking for some updates opinions and hopefully some example photos. Let me first say I am not looking at this lens for an “all arounder”. I already own a 1962 V2 Summilux and have a V5 Summicron 50 for all around uses. Have several other lenses for different purposes and have experience with a lot of Leica glass. I am interested in this V1 as a character lens and a portrait lens. I shoot color film in my 1955 M3 and use an M-P240 primarily. So color photography is the focus. I have a screwnount Summitar 50 f/2 that has some very interesting bokeh and lovely soft rendering wide open and I see that most show that the Version 1 Lux is basically a slightly improved Taylor 50/1.5 or Summarit 50/1.5. I personally like the bokeh on those lenses. It also seems that the schema of the V1 Lux is nearly identical To the Noctilux f/1 so one may gather that it has some similar characteristics at f/1.4? 
 

would love to hear the opinions of those who own and or have used this lens in color photography and would love to some examples! 

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Hi I used to have this lens. Compared to the lux v2 50mm:

  • V1 is heavier (I believe extra 30 to 50g can’t quite remember now)
  • V1 Glows more at f1.4
  • Zero distortion on the V1, significant distortion (for a leica lens) on the V2
  • From f2.8 this lens is really sharp and such a great performer, and the rendering wide open is lovely

I used to own the v1 and v2 in the past but now I only own the rigid summicron simply because it is lighter/smaller and it has a shorter focus throw which makes it more user friendly when shooting street photography. 

If you don’t mind the distortion of the lux, which is not too significant, then I’d say go for the v2 chrome simply because it is lighter and it also provides a beautiful rendering wide open, while keeping the same external design (which to me is the most beautiful out of all leica lenses). But if you are able to get a V1 with mint glass I’d say go for it, as it is not easy to find one in good condition and is a great performer, I just sold it because of the weight tbh because I like to travel light (as in, lens that weight around 200g). 

Shots in color are shot on film. B&W is shot on the M10M. First 3 shots are at f2 or f2.8, f1.4, f1.4 or f2 (sorry I can’t quite remember). Last two shots are at f4/f5.6. 

 

 

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49 minutes ago, shirubadanieru said:

...If you don’t mind the distortion of the lux, which is not too significant, then I’d say go for the v2...

The OP already has the v2, shirubadanieru;

"I already own a 1962 V2 Summilux and have a V5 Summicron 50 for all around uses..."

Hi, Laharrier, and welcome to the forum.

If, as stated in the OP, the v1 really is as clean as it seems and the price is fair then I can see no reason not to buy the lens.

Good luck and please do keep us informed!

Philip.

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Welcome @Laharrier

50mm explorer !

Just in case... if you don't use it by yourself, you would never know and the "thing" will haunt you untill you buy it, use it then decide.

I had the version 1 for many years, very good lens but sold it as I saw it as almost same rendering as my Summarit 1.5 less it's round aperture openings.

I prefer the version 2, then and now, I never regret my choice.

A bit glowy at wide  open (as 1.5/50 Summarit), less weight though.

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I bought both the v1 and 2 versions around Christmas. I haven’t used them enough to give an opinion though I thought the v1 was a bit softer wide open. They came from my dealer who was closing down and I bought, When he closed, the  M2 that belonged to the v1 lens, only one previous owner, not counting my dealer.

 

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I had the V1 years ago. My recollection is that it was heavy, soft wide open, and even closed down didn't really have sharp corners. I used it in an interior low light shooting for the retirement of a friend and was initially disappointed, but acknowleged that I was shooting at a low speed and probably had a little camera shake there. Anyway here's a sample wide open (click image to see a reasonably good resolution).

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Okay so I picked up this lens today. Lucky it was at a local camera shop here that has been in business since the 50’s. It’s possible that the lens has been here since then about. First observations comparing it to my 1962 Version 2 from 2 years later is that the original is heavy, and larger. 
 

This copy of Version 1 that I picked up is about as nice as I could want an old lens without it being new old stock. The barrel shows almost no use whatsoever, the mount as well, and the optics are absolutely perfect. No dust, no haze, and not a mark on the coatings. Rather remarkable. It also included it’s original hood, which is different than the hood for my Version 2 although they look very similar. 
 

initial shooting impressions are basic as my subject matter was limited to objects and not people, but the lens is definitely softer at 1.4. Nothing like my version 2 which seems perfectly punchy even wide open. However, being one of the last batch of version 1 produced I would wager the coatings on my copy aren’t much different from my version 2, and looking at the lenses together the optical color is very very similar if not identical. Thus, the contrast on the shots I’ve taken so far is quite pleasing. While the lens render softer, the contrast appears quite good for a lens of this type, and the bokeh is quite beautiful. The rendering is all I was hoping for; a glowy, soft one with a painterly background. Stopped down even to f/2 the lens becomes perfectly usable as an all purpose lens and becomes much much sharper. By f/4 this lens is not discernible from my Version 2. 
 

overall I am very very pleased with this pick up. Considering it is one of the last version 1’s off the line, and that I assume the coatings are similar to my version 2, I feel this could be a bit of a unicorn. Having learned that this has an identical lens schema to the Noctilux makes me wonder how long these Version 1 Summiluxes will remain “cheap” by Leica standards. I see very few nice ones come up for sale so I presume clean copies are not very common these days. 
 

I will share some photos as soon as I edit them. All taken in my M-P 240. 

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Here are a couple of shots at f/1.4 in diffuse cloudy outdoor light with zero post production. 

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Posted (edited)

Here f/1.4 focus point dead center blossom. Big difference in contrast and sharpness 

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Edited by Laharrier
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Here is f/2 - much better contrast and resolution 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Laharrier said:

Here f/1.4 focus point dead center blossom. Big difference in contrast and sharpness...

Congratulations on a very nice find; beautiful lens and with original hood into the bargain!

Just a thought and I may well be mistaken but it might be an idea to do a focus-test at min-focus / f1.4 if the apparent softness is in your thoughts.

It's hard to tell for sure given the very nature (Ho!) of the hydrangea photo but looking at some of the leaves nearby I suspect - and really it is no more than a suspicion - that the lens is front-focussing by a centimetre or two when used in those circumstances. It could be that when stopped-down to f2 the focus-plane shifts backwards at which aperture, of course, gives you greater d-o-f and this helps in 'sharpness' matters as well.

From reviews which I've read in the past regarding the v2 there is, seemingly, a slight but definite tendency for focus to creep rearwards when the lens is used at close distance and stopped-down from 1.4 - 2.0 - 2.8 so it crossed my mind that this might be found on the v1 as well.

Regardless; you have found a superb lens and I wish you the best of fun using it.

Philip.

Edited by pippy
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Posted (edited)

For many years, I don't rely on FTM curves to choose a lens.

Out of curiosity, I had a look in my Leica Pocket Book 8Th. to find out the "lack" of contrast of Summilux 50mm (I) page 172, at f/1.4.

In contrast ! next page 174 is obvious with the (II) wide open is such progress that I can say those two (I) and (II) are so different that

my choice of the (II) is more obvious for me, using the Summarit 1.5 in place..

...

side note, Summarit 1.5/50 page 171 is even "worse" in field (more character ?) wide open and "better" than (I) in center.

Edited by a.noctilux
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3 hours ago, pippy said:

Congratulations on a very nice find; beautiful lens and with original hood into the bargain!

Just a thought and I may well be mistaken but it might be an idea to do a focus-test at min-focus / f1.4 if the apparent softness is in your thoughts.

It's hard to tell for sure given the very nature (Ho!) of the hydrangea photo but looking at some of the leaves nearby I suspect - and really it is no more than a suspicion - that the lens is front-focussing by a centimetre or two when used in those circumstances. It could be that when stopped-down to f2 the focus-plane shifts backwards at which aperture, of course, gives you greater d-o-f and this helps in 'sharpness' matters as well.

From reviews which I've read in the past regarding the v2 there is, seemingly, a slight but definite tendency for focus to creep rearwards when the lens is used at close distance and stopped-down from 1.4 - 2.0 - 2.8 so it crossed my mind that this might be found on the v1 as well.

Regardless; you have found a superb lens and I wish you the best of fun using it.

Philip.

Thank you for the reply! You are absolutely right. I noticed this almost right away, that at 1.4 the lens is definitely front focusing a bit. It’s more pronounced focus shift than I am used to on my V2, so it will take some getting used to in order to make full use of its potential 

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6 hours ago, a.noctilux said:

For many years, I don't rely on FTM curves to choose a lens.

Out of curiosity, I had a look in my Leica Pocket Book 8Th. to find out the "lack" of contrast of Summilux 50mm (I) page 172, at f/1.4.

In contrast ! next page 174 is obvious with the (II) wide open is such progress that I can say those two (I) and (II) are so different that

my choice of the (II) is more obvious for me, using the Summarit 1.5 in place..

...

side note, Summarit 1.5/50 page 171 is even "worse" in field (more character ?) wide open and "better" than (I) in center.

Interesting!! I would have chosen the Summarit 1.5 but finding one without damaged coatings is nearly impossible. Just saw one sell on ebay for $600 with heavy cleaning marks. 

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1 hour ago, Laharrier said:

I would have chosen the Summarit 1.5

Take time to  learn knowing the Summilux v1, then you can move to Summarit 1.5 later.

They are quite different if similar.

Even "same type" lenses can behave differently.

I know this subtle idea having at same time Summicron 35mm "IV" 1979-1996 (a good number of "ten" at once) to find out as "statistic" of KING-of-nothing.

To discover that they are from different period and country/factory.

Discovered also the 135g/155g/plastic-part-or-not/etc.

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Performed some tests and the lens is indeed front focussing at f/1.4 by about .5 centimeters. Very minimal but its there. When focus is correct the lens performs much much better, as could be expected. Wonder if it would be worth sending it out to have it adjusted. 

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Okay here is some interesting info. I emailed my pal Don Goldberg at DAG Camera about this and here is his response verbatim. I think if there is anyone living knows these lenses as well it’s him and Shelly.

 

I have attached Don’s photo as well. 

“J
 
Please see attached photo, I focused on the red #64 on the yellow scale, 5 feet away at a 45 degree angle, Summilux 50mm lens was wide open at f-1.4.
You can clearly see that the lens is slightly front focusing. That's because Leica did that on purpose because when you start stopping down the lens starts to back focus, so if a lens is slightly front focusing wide open (let's say f-1.4) then at f-2.o or f-2.8 the lens is perfect, then at f-4.0 the lens starts to back focus a bit, however now there's a greater dept of field to compensate for the slightly back focusing... So I'm guessing that if you have your lens focusing perfectly at f-1.4 it'll start back focusing too early for the depth of field to compensate. I have adjusted lenses for perfect focus at f-1.4 because the owner of that lens wants perfect focus mainly at f-1.4, so if this is what you want then it would be a good idea to adjust focus. Also- compared to the attached photo I have w/this email, perhaps your lens is front focusing more than the photo shows, then perhaps your lens is actually front focusing more than it should and should be adjusted.
 
Regards,
 
Don”
 
 

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3 hours ago, Laharrier said:

You can clearly see that the lens is slightly front focusing. That's because Leica did that on purpose because when you start stopping down the lens starts to back focus, so if a lens is slightly front focusing wide open (let's say f-1.4) then at f-2.o or f-2.8 the lens is perfect, then at f-4.0 the lens starts to back focus a bit, however now there's a greater dept of field to compensate for the slightly back focusing...

This is exactly what I experienced with my 50mm Summilux v3. I sent it to Leica Germany for a CLA. When I got it back, my lens seemed to have been wisely calibrated to f/2, where the focus was spot on, and still very good at f/1.4 and f/2.8. Before the CLA, the focus was better at f/1.4, but the back focusing made it almost unusable at short distances at f/2.8.

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