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Jono’s Review: Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux V1 (Steel Rim)


jonoslack

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38 minutes ago, jonoslack said:

Hi There Crem

As I understand it . . the problem Leica have making the MP (and the M-A to a lesser extent) is that many of the parts were made by suppliers who no longer exist, so creating another camera with the same internals would be pretty stupid.

So the M6 is substantially different - I guess Leica are producing the printed circuit boards themselves in Portugal, but I don't know for sure.

I would have thought a more likely (and better) solution would be if they now changed the MP a little to take advantage of the modern supply chain for the M6. . . . but I don't know this. What I do know is that they shouldn't have too much trouble producing the M6 in substantial numbers and then being able to supply spares for many years to come.

best

Jono

 

Do you think this means an older M6 with a dead meter would accept the new M6 meter board?

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27 minutes ago, Habbable said:

Thank you for your response!
 

I was told over the phone by a Leica dealer that the only way to use filters is inside the hood. On this reissue lens, the steel rim appears to have threads, but can you relay whether these are cosmetic or can actually take a filter? 

Hi there

Well, your Leica dealer is wrong 😂 - and to make certain I just went and screwed a 46mm Polarising filter onto the front of the lens (without the hood), you can also do it with the hood. I hope this helps. I could take a photo of it if you're still doubtful!

best

Jono

Edited by jonoslack
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So nice! Jono is that lens made of brass or aluminium? I was curious since i thought the original version was a tad heavier over 220g or so? Not so certain

but it’s lovely if it follows suit the original version of brass..

 

really love the idea leica reissuing the original versions! Summaron and noctilux nailed it

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vor 4 Stunden schrieb t_air_ee:

... Been shooting a 1969 V2 for a year, but the obscure filter size makes it frustrating in practice.

...

Instead of Serie 7 filters you can put 49mm filters upside down into the filter hood of the V2. Sometimes the filter wobbles just a little bit, but a circular 50mm diameter seal with 1mm thickness put in together with the filter into the hood takes care of that. I did this with success with B+W 49mm UV, clear and ND filters.

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4 hours ago, jakontil said:

So nice! Jono is that lens made of brass or aluminium? I was curious since i thought the original version was a tad heavier over 220g or so? Not so certain

but it’s lovely if it follows suit the original version of brass..

 

really love the idea leica reissuing the original versions! Summaron and noctilux nailed it

Both brass and aluminium I think (just like the original) but with much better tolerances 

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46 minutes ago, hektor said:

Is it an improved optical design?

In 1975 lens I had an original which was useless at f/1.4, so I sold it and returned to the Summicron with faster film when needed.

Theoretically it isn’t an improved optical design. But I think the tolerances possible with modern manufacturing means that in practical terms the new lenses will be much better

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vor 11 Stunden schrieb jonoslack:

Introduction

Today Leica have announced two new Classic releases: The 35mm Summilux version I (often known as the 'steel rim') first released in 1961, and the Leica M6 classic, first released in 1984.

This article will concentrate mostly on the new lens, which I have been testing on and off for a little over a year. However, I held the M6 in my hands for the first time at the LSI Meeting in Dublin last week and fell immediately in love!

The New Leica M6

First of all, I haven't tested this camera, There isn't so much need to test a film camera, so I've not had one sent my way. I thought it was a great idea, but I didn't know the full details until visiting Dublin last weekend, where Stefan Daniel was carrying the new camera with the 35 Summilux V1.

Superficially the camera is a replica of the 1984 version of the M6, complete with the Leitz red spot and the engraving on the top plate. The shutter speed dial is also exactly as the original camera and the MP (smaller and in the other direction).

The original camera had a die-cast zinc top and brass bottom plate, but the new camera is machined out of solid brass. In addition it has the latest version of the 0.72 rangefinder. The viewfinder itself now has a red dot between the two arrows (as did the M7 and the M6TTL).

The paint is the same as the M11 (which is incredibly durable) but with a slightly smoother finish. This camera will brass, but it's going to take a long time!

Most of the rumours about the new camera suggested that it would be a limited edition, but this is not the case. Leica have completely revamped the supply chain for components so that they should be able to produce the cameras quickly, and be able to repair them for the foreseeable future.

This is Leica re-affirming their allegiance to film photography whilst every other manufacturer has abandoned it.

Leica Classic Lens remakes

Lots of photographers are discovering the charms of older lenses (and coincidentally their vices!). Collectors have long understood which lenses are interesting or scarce, so that prices for vintage lenses can be extremely high:

For instance a quick check on eBay finds copies of the Leica 35 Summilux (Steel Rim) in good condition on sale for as much as €30,000. The hood was an accessory and the OLLUX (12522) is now trading for around €2,500 (and considering how easily it falls off you would have to be very brave to use it!)

If you are a collector that's all well and good, but if you're a photographer, and you would like to use these classic lenses, then it's pretty hard to justify the cost. More than that, these lenses were at the cutting edge of technology in the fifties, sixties and seventies, and were extremely difficult to manufacture, so there was quite a large sample variation between different examples, added to which many have suffered misfortunes over the years.

Leica had the bright idea of remaking some of these iconic lenses: In most cases the original glass is no longer available, so they have carefully used equivalent modern glass and coatings with similar characteristics. Lens technology has come a long way in 60 years, so manufacturing is now much more straightforward, and the sample variation which plagued the lenses of the 60s should not be an issue.

So far they have produced the 28 f5.6 Summaron from the mid fifties, then came the 90mm f2.2 Thambar soft focus lens from the 30s, then, last year saw the introduction of the 50mm f1.2 Noctilux (which I wrote about here ).

This brings us to the newest lens in the range:

The Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux version 1 (Steel Rim)

History

The 35mm f1.4 Summilux 1 was produced from 1961 to 1966 and came either with, or without goggles. The lens was produced in Silver Chrome finish and black anodised aluminium (Leica didn't use black chrome plating until 1971). The insides of the lens were brass in both cases. There were around 8,000 lenses made in total.

Lenses for the M3 cameras came with goggles (and focused down to 0.65m) those for the M2 came without goggles and focused only down to a metre.

The Leitz shipping records for the lenses did not indicate either their finish (black or silver) or their mount version (goggles or not). Lars Netopil has estimated the quantities of the different versions by interpolating from the number of M3 and M2 cameras sold during the period and come up with:

  • 4400 chrome lenses with goggles
  • 3360 chrome lenses without goggles
  • 160 black lenses with goggles
  • 80 black lenses without goggles

Because the M2 was the accepted camera for wide angle lenses Lars suspects that there might actually be around 200 black lenses without goggles.

The Classic Remake

The remake of the 35 Summilux is a lovely thing. The lens itself is made from brass and silver chrome like the original. It weighs only 200gm, and is not a great deal larger than the 28 Summaron. It handles so nicely on an M11, a great camera and lens combination you can hold in your hand all day.

It comes with 2 different lens hoods; The original Ollux remade, and a round screw in hood. Leica have retained the 'fall off' characteristics of the original Ollux, so the screw in shade is very welcome! Unlike the original lens the remake has a 46mm screw thread for attaching filters, the round shade screws into this, and retains a thread inside, so you can attach filters with either shade (or with no shade).

As an object and a package the whole thing is irresistible; I would recommend you don't look at one if you aren't going to buy!

Image Quality

Erwin Puts in his book Leica M-lenses their soul and secrets (2002) wrote:

At full aperture this lens has low overall contrast with a modest definition of fine details and subject outlines. Stopping down, the improvement is commendable, becoming excellent around f/8. The overall performance characteristic should be put in the context of its age and small volume.

This is a perfect description, but perhaps doesn't cover the 'soul' angle enough.

Wide open the lens is dreamy and never quite sharp. Depending on the subject it can produce really interesting effects.

Stopping down, even to f2.8, makes the lens a great deal sharper, and by f5.6 in the centre it's really very sharp indeed. The edges of the frame are sharp by f4, but the furthest corners never quite make it.

The lens is also rather subject to flare - often in the form of a rainbow, which again can be fun to experiment with.

Clearly the point of buying this lens is for its 'look', not because it compares well with the latest 35 APO Summicron, and 'look' it delivers in spades.

The Bokeh (as with all lenses) depends very much on the subject; with very detailed backgrounds it can seem busy and 'nervous' but never nasty, more often it's sumptuous and creamy.

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Handling

Focusing is with a focusing tab, and it's really delightfully smooth and tactile with an infinity lock. I'm not personally a fan of the infinity lock,

Still, Leica have made it easy to escape and the release button is natural to use.

Like the original lens, you change aperture by holding the tabs for the lens hood, this is a bit fiddly, but the aperture ring feels lovely and it soon becomes second nature.

The small size is a bit of a revelation after using a modern 35mm Summilux; it's wonderfully tiny.

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Desire

Perhaps this is the point at which I should confess that I have mostly been an advocate for Leica's modern lenses, especially the APO lenses which I see as having a real character of their own, detailed, gentle and with a lovely bokeh.

However, I own (and love) the little 28 Summaron, and when I tested the f1.2 Noctilux I was definitely impressed. I didn't buy one at the time - mostly because I like to shoot wide open in bright light and I had an M10 with a top speed of 1/4000th (I'm much too lazy to use Neutral Density filters).

Having tested this 35mm lens over an extended period it's been a long time since I've known I had to buy one.

A few months ago I got an email with some questions about the Noctilux f1.2 and couldn't remember the answers. On googling it I was referred back to my own article, and on reading it I promptly placed an order!

With the M11's hybrid/electronic shutter there is no need to use ND filters, and the new EVF makes critical focusing much easier. Of course these advantages are relevant for the new 35 Summilux classic as well.

So, although I still love the modern lenses, I now have a firm base in classic lenses with the 28 Summaron, the 35 Summilux and the 50 Noctilux (keep them coming!).

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Conclusion

Leica has gradually grown its commitment to classic remakes, and today's announcement of the M6 and the 35 Summilux Steel Rim really brings it into clear focus. Leica are celebrating their heritage by producing exciting new tools for both analogue and digital photographers, made to modern manufacturing standards, but with designs from their illustrious past. One can imagine remakes of other classic lenses like the Mandler 75mm Summilux or the 21mm Super Angulon.

For photographers who actually want to use classic lenses the re-issue series is a wonderful opportunity. The 35 Summilux is not much more than 10% of the cost of a 60 year old version and has none of the problems of variance or deterioration, in addition they have the advantage of being properly 6 bit coded and corrected.

But the real point is that this lens is a delight to use, and produces lovely images on modern digital cameras as well as classic film Leicas.

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Thanks @jonoslackfor your interresting review. I'am interested ti buy this new old lens. Do you can share more images? Here ir on your website? Thanks in advance

Siggi 

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The old v1 and the pre asph that was made until 1994 have the same optical formula, no?

The new one seems to have that same veil and softness wide open

Is this lens hard to nail the focus wide open and close with a rangefinder, or is the lens just soft? So many portraits I've seen online with missed focus

 

Edited by GarageBoy
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29 minutes ago, GarageBoy said:

The old v1 and the pre asph that was made until 1994 have the same optical formula, no?

The new one seems to have that same veil and softness wide open

Is this lens hard to nail the focus wide open and close with a rangefinder, or is the lens just soft? So many portraits I've seen online with missed focus

 

I own or have owned them all from the original 1961 Steel Rim, the Canadian copies and the late German black and titanium copies and no they are not the same.

The original run of Steel Rim copies by a measure bring in more light than all the others and its quite noticeable. In directly comparing all of these together at once the sharpest wide open is the Steel Rim, second the German Titanium and a close tie between the Canadian V2 and the late German black V2. Construction wise it's no contest, as the original Steel Rim is the finest constructed lens of any of my 28 Leica M lenses, then the brass bodied Titanium. If I were to pick one over any of the others it would be the 1961 Steel Rim due to how much more light it lets in and for its far superior build, second would be the German Titanium due to its nice brass build of the body and any of the rest together are all great. I also own the AA Double Aspherical 35 1.4 and while a lovely lens I have always preferred the Steel Rim for its rendering qualities and quality construction over the 35 1.4 AA. 

I am first in line at my Leica store for the remake so we will see if it stacks up to the original Steel Rim better than the 50 1.2 Noctilux remake did as that lens does not match my Dad's original 1968 1.2 on many levels hence it was sold on. 

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51 minutes ago, GarageBoy said:

The old v1 and the pre asph that was made until 1994 have the same optical formula, no?

The new one seems to have that same veil and softness wide open

Is this lens hard to nail the focus wide open and close with a rangefinder, or is the lens just soft? So many portraits I've seen online with missed focus

 

I'm wondering about this as well. Some photos seem soft to the point that it's like missing focus (like the photos of the hens and handrails in the review). I understand that it's the "character" of the lens. Does the softness happen more when the subject is closer to MFD? (I've been looking at all the photos and most of the farther away shots seems alright, but closer objects can look very soft? Would you disagree?)

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17 minutes ago, insideline said:

I own or have owned them all from the original 1961 Steel Rim, the Canadian copies and the late German black and titanium copies and no they are not the same.

The original run of Steel Rim copies by a measure bring in more light than all the others and its quite noticeable. In directly comparing all of these together at once the sharpest wide open is the Steel Rim, second the German Titanium and a close tie between the Canadian V2 and the late German black V2. Construction wise it's no contest, as the original Steel Rim is the finest constructed lens of any of my 28 Leica M lenses, then the brass bodied Titanium. If I were to pick one over any of the others it would be the 1961 Steel Rim due to how much more light it lets in and for its far superior build, second would be the German Titanium due to its nice brass build of the body and any of the rest together are all great. I also own the AA Double Aspherical 35 1.4 and while a lovely lens I have always preferred the Steel Rim for its rendering qualities and quality construction over the 35 1.4 AA. 

I am first in line at my Leica store for the remake so we will see if it stacks up to the original Steel Rim better than the 50 1.2 Noctilux remake did as that lens does not match my Dad's original 1968 1.2 on many levels hence it was sold on. 

Same! tried all of them & steel rim is by far my favorite. That & the 8e cron are the best 35 Leica has ever made. From 1.4 to 2.8 dreamy, from 2.8 super sharp. Plus, alongside the cron 50 rigid & lux 50 chrome, it's the most beautiful lens Leica has ever designed. Great choice for a remake as the original lens prices on the used market are prohibitive.

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1 minute ago, darkspark said:

I'm wondering about this as well. Some photos seem soft to the point that it's like missing focus (like the photos of the hens and handrails in the review). I understand that it's the "character" of the lens. Does the softness happen more when the subject is closer to MFD? (I've been looking at all the photos and most of the farther away shots seems alright, but closer objects can look very soft? Would you disagree?)

Having owned the original I'd avoid shooting it wide open at long distances, but def use it wide open at close distances for dreamy portraits. In the center it's always sharp enough with a dreamy glow that shines especially with b&w film or MM cameras. 

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2 minutes ago, shirubadanieru said:

Having owned the original I'd avoid shooting it wide open at long distances, but def use it wide open at close distances for dreamy portraits. In the center it's always sharp enough with a dreamy glow that shines especially with b&w film or MM cameras. 

Thanks for the tips! There seems to be a learning curve to get the best out of these lenses, and I can't wait to try out different ways to see how it shines! I've been searching for as many photos from the originals as I could online, and the glow does vary in a lot of situations. I just want to learn all the tricks and tips about it, and understand all of its characters before the lens arrive!

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Sorry to confuse matters here but there is definitely sample variations or perhaps the way they have been serviced / adjusted down the years - I have 2 copies, one is super sharp at open aperture and then from 2.8 onward it is softer than the other copy. The other is soft wide open and then incredibly sharp from say 2.8/3.5 and on.  

I mention this because my portraits with one of them look soft sometimes but it can’t be generalised to the other copy.  They are the same year of manufacture so my guess is that they could be adjusted to be optimised at the same aperture and then perform more similarly through the aperture range

I’d be really interested to see how this new E46 version is right out of the box 

Edited by grahamc
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Having held the new version in hand, and compared it to my v1 original steel rim, I can say the infinity lock on the new version has been redesigned, and feels considerably less well built.

I felt like the aperture ring on the new version felt cheaper too, but no one else handling it did, so that one may be on me.

‘My thought coming away from handling it was that if I did not own a steel rim already, I would get the heritage. But it is not an equal substitute for the original- especially for the M3 version, which focuses down to .65 meters.

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1 hour ago, mdg1371 said:

Having held the new version in hand, and compared it to my v1 original steel rim, I can say the infinity lock on the new version has been redesigned, and feels considerably less well built.

I felt like the aperture ring on the new version felt cheaper too, but no one else handling it did, so that one may be on me.

‘My thought coming away from handling it was that if I did not own a steel rim already, I would get the heritage. But it is not an equal substitute for the original- especially for the M3 version, which focuses down to .65 meters.

Can you elaborate? What makes it feel cheaper? it's made of brass as well right?

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