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35mm conflicting thoughts..


Fookuda

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So I’ve recently acquired an M4 and am looking to get a 35mm lens for it—but I have some conflicting thoughts…

So, I met some leica purists (as I would call them) recently and they all recommend not to mess with any glass other than leica on my m4. I can get behind that, but I also see SOOO many examples of glass outside (Nikkor, Zeiss, Konica, etc.) that do well on these bodies.

The person who sold me this camera is offering me a Konica 35mm f2 Hexanon-M and said it was his favorite. The Leica purist pointed me to a Summaron 35 f3.5.

Then again I could shell out +2k on a cron just for retainment of value in the end and be happy.

It’s all somewhat overwhelming and I’d LOVE to get a few takes on your favorite 35mm lens with some photo examples.

I completely understand that this all to comes down to budget but i’m willing to invest for something with: Character, value retainment, value, build quality, and light weight. 
 

Any help would be great!!

Best regards, a lost newly  joined member of the Leica society :)

 

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I have a 35mm Summicron f2 V.4 which I have had for a long time. It's small, sharp and a great lens. I also have the 35mm Summilux FLE which is a bit heavy, more expensive and faster. Quality is excellent. I have used Leica since 1964 so clearly I like the brand. That said, there are excellent lenes by others that may well be as good as Leica. I would ignore the "purists" and get the lens that you find works best for you. As you grow in the Leica usage you will discover a wonderful world of Leica users. Welcome to the Leica Society! 

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Posted (edited)

Oh, dear - this has the makings of 50-page thread! ;)

There will be those who'll direct you only to Leitz/Leica 35s, and among those will be the classicists who will recommend the Double-Gauss Leica 35 f/2s from 1954 to 1996 or thereabouts, and the modernists who insist that only the most modern performance (ASPH and/or APO post-1996) truly delivers the Leica experience today.

And then those who will point out that from time to time, other manfacturers have produced equally good 35s for Leica in certain eras (but note that until 2002 or so, they were generally screw-mount lenses adaptable to M-mount with a simple ring - convenience question). (Quibblers please note the qualifying word "generally" ;) )

BTW - Double-Gauss just refers to an overall simple and (for 35s) extremely compact lens design of 6, 7, or 8 elements arranged quasi-symmetrically around the aperture blades.

Here is a link to one of the most basic DG 35's Leitz made - which happens to correspond to their "state of the art" during the exact era of the original M4. Summicon v.2 (1969-71). You can see the DG layout in the cutaway diagram. it also gets you into the forum's Wiki, which has lots of techincal details about most Leica legacy products.

https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/35mm_f/2_Summicron_II

Pretty much any 35mm for the M prior to 1997 - made by anyone - will have a roughly similar DG design. It was not until the development of inexpensive aspherics in the 1990s that anyone had a better solution. So they will all tend to image with very minor differences, which takes that out of the equation. Hexar, Summicron, Voigtlander Nokton, Canon/Nikon screw-mount, etc.

Main point about the DG 35 lenses is they can be very sharp in the center right from the start at f/2 - but usually need to be stopped down a bit to get the long ends and corners of the picture sharp (f/2 for people - f/6.8 for brick walls and landscapes ;) )

GFW2's v.4 is just a later iteration of the v.2 and v.3 (and the last pinnacle of the DGs) - and I have a v.4 also. But I happily used a Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 until I could find a nice 6-bit-coded Summicron.

A side note, if you are considering a Summaron (also uses the DG design) - the f/2.8 is often considered to be a notable improvement over the f/3.5. I cannot comment on that from personal experience, however.

https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/Summaron_f%3D_3.5_cm_1:2.8

 

Edited by adan
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56 minutes ago, Fookuda said:

So, I met some leica purists (as I would call them) recently and they all recommend not to mess with any glass other than leica on my m4. I can get behind that, but I also see SOOO many examples of glass outside (Nikkor, Zeiss, Konica, etc.) that do well on these bodies.

firstly welcome to the LUF

secondly, there are lots of great M mount lenses, some made by leica some made by other manufacturers. there is no way for you to really tell what you like until you look at a bunch of images and shoot with the lens yourself. it's the journey only you can walk

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You all make very valid points and thank you for the information left here. My goal here (and perhaps a loft one) is for this discussion to have a place where we can see both photos and read the opinion of others. Now I do feel like i'm asking a lot as now everyone has to dig through their archives for their 35mm lens samples, but it may contribute to new folks such as myself and the community. 

I am definitely doing my research and currently my eyes are set on the Konica Hexanon-M 35/2, Summaron 35/3.5, Minolta Rokkor 40/2 (yes it's not 35 I know aha). If it's totally worth it to jump up to a summicron then I may just do that.

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Posted (edited)

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1 hour ago, Fookuda said:

You all make very valid points and thank you for the information left here. My goal here (and perhaps a loft one) is for this discussion to have a place where we can see both photos and read the opinion of others. Now I do feel like i'm asking a lot as now everyone has to dig through their archives for their 35mm lens samples, but it may contribute to new folks such as myself and the community. 

I am definitely doing my research and currently my eyes are set on the Konica Hexanon-M 35/2, Summaron 35/3.5, Minolta Rokkor 40/2 (yes it's not 35 I know aha). If it's totally worth it to jump up to a summicron then I may just do that.

I was just going to propose the Minolta Rokkor 40/2. I am really fond of my Summicron C 40/2 on any full frame M. Maybe it even shines more on the digital ones because I always add a little bit more contrast in PP compared to the regular M summicron's of the period. I have not had the Rokkor version of this lens, but read good comments on it. Actually the Leica version is one of the cheapest ways to get a Summircron today. I have good experiences with my Rokkor 28mm/2.8. It is not a Leica, but good enough for me since I like going for either 21 or 35/40 on FF more than 28.

Standard 40mm lenses will bring up the 50mm frames on the Leica M (except on the Leica CL classic). Unfortunately that is much too small to be practical in use. The first few months I locked the frame lever of my M8 to the 35mm position with a little piece of plastic. You have to be careful to not push off the lever so in the end I decided to have the mount altered and 6-bit coded by Will van Manen. Now it is one of my favorites on both M8 and M9.
The 35mm really work well as long as you work on the inside of them. I do not even think about it anymore and hardly ever have issues with cut offs that were not intended.

As said before, there are many 35mm lenses from other manufacturers. Most of them are LTM. Having to use an adapter has never been an issue for me. It even allows for DIY 6-bit coding and choosing the frame lines if need be. And more importantly, I have a Leica IIIF that I use occasionally, and a contemporary Voigtlander could add a nice combination of old and new to my options. Generally I like  to combine older (50s / 60s) lenses on digital bodies and newer ASPH lenses on older film bodies. If you intend to scan your negatives anyway it does not matter much, because adding contrast is easy in PP, but if you are going to do wet prints, having a 'newer' lens will really stand out.

Just my 2 cents.

Edited by dpitt
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Rather than posting images to illustrate my opinions, I would point you to some excellent image threads. Unless you have a really methodical approach and shoot the same subject with tripod on the same moment and with the same settings, it is very hard to make honest comparisons by pictures. And even then you are never sure both vintage lenses were in optimal condition. Even brand new, samples (of cheaper alternatives mostly) can vary, and certainly if you throw in 30+ years of aging and storage.  That is why I recommend the thread below more as an orientation. After that it is literally trial and error to get a loaner or buy and sell process until you find a keeper.

 

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For me the anwser to your question depends on different criterias for the future. 

  • If you go tomorrow to digital (lenses are un investment), I recommend to stay with 1 brand only for the consistancy in color rendering, handling etc. At least Voigtländer, ZEISS and LEICA are good lenses.
  • If you prefer "classic" look, take older lenses (No modern aspheric design)
  • Most ZEISS and Voigtländer lenses are build by COSINA
  • recently more and more lenses from China are on the market, even remade of old Leica lens design. But they don not use the same glass.
  • 35mm is the best "general purpose" lens for Leica M, whatever the brand is. 
  • If you are a purist, take Leica. Leica lenses may be an investment.
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4 hours ago, Fookuda said:

The person who sold me this camera is offering me a Konica 35mm f2 Hexanon-M and said it was his favorite.

I would do some research on this lens. I have read, although never verified, that it ts focus may not be callibrated identically to Leica's. So it would be worth checking up on this. Secondly, as far as I am aware, with no manufacturer's support spares may not be readily available and whilst rangefinder leses are pretty reliable generally, you may want to check up on a technician or two to make sure that any defects will be repairable in the future. The M4 still has many technicians able to service it and supply spares although service times may be long.

Whilst I'm not an absolute purist, a recent 35mm f/2.5 or f/2.4 Summarit will work perfectly with your M4 and will be a lot newer than other 'affordable' Leica lenses. Alternatively wade through the numerous threads here to see what users think of their non-Leica 35mm lenses. There is a lot of info if you are prepared to search.

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There are a few threads on this topic, often with digital M cameras in mind.  I went through this thought process a while ago, and got a 35 Summilux-M (pre-asph), v2.  Works nicely on film.  Another lens I considered was the Zeiss Biogon 35/2.8 - though with film, that may be a little slow …

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I started on the M system with an M2, and so went through a similar process of choosing 35mm lenses, in my cases over several years. In order, my lenses have been:

  • CV 35mm f/2.5 Color Skopar
  • Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon
  • CV 35mm f/1.4 Nokton II SC and MC
  • CV 35mm f/2 Ultron II
  • Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux FLE

Along the way, I sold my other digital cameras and got a digital M. I now shoot film and digital M only. I'm a hobbyist and basically make documentary pictures of my home life and travels for work.

Here's what I'd say. First, I wish I'd skipped the f/2.5 and f/2.8 lenses. They made great images, but were too slow for my film photography, which often involves low light. Second, both the CV Nokton and Ultron are excellent and affordable; which one you prefer just depends on whether you want a vintage or modern design and whether you need the extra stop for low light on film. Third, I kind of wish I'd just jumped right to a Leica lens, mainly because I lost a fair bit of money through depreciation while trying out these third-party lenses. (Of course, when I started, I didn't know if the M system would work for me, and wanted to take it slow.)

If it were me, I wouldn't buy the Summaron because I'd find f/3.5 too slow for film. And I wouldn't buy the Konica because the resale process could be complicated if you don't like it. I would just buy a Voigtlander 35 (f/2, f/1.4, or the new f/1.5), shoot with it for a while, and then decide what you want after looking at lots of your own pictures. If you're after an excellent, small, modern lens, you can just stay with the Ultron. If you're after something more vintage, you can look at some of the older Summicrons. And if you're after something fast and modern, you can look at the FLE-like lenses that are out there.

There is no right answer, and it's ultimately about what you prefer in your own pictures. The only way to find out what you want is to choose a lens almost arbitrarily and use it!

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Posted (edited)

Just a few random thoughts on this topic:

1. Stay cool😉! Don’t let yourself be pushed by others.

2. Listen to your gut feeling. What kind of photography are you in? What kind of lenses (focal length and speed) do you prefer - especially for analog photography?

3. Especially Voigtlander has upped its M-lens lineup as well as the quality of the lenses a lot. If I would start now buying M-lenses I would look there first - the price-performance ratio is superb.

4. Leica glas has still two advantages: the lenses hold their value pretty good and especially the top notch lenses (APO) are a class on their own.

Edited by Knipsknecht
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Minolta 40/2 is a very very good choice for both budget considerations and image quality. Its sharpness is as high as the modern Voigtländer 35 Ultron, from my personal experience on them, but with much less barrel distortion! Just don’t listen to those bs said by the Leica purists. They are more of gear collectors but not true photographers. If your wallet can afford those crons, you are free to play with them and resell them if you don’t like. For me, characters and sharpness differences are just bs. Just find one lens with nice ergonomics to handle, tiny size, and without focus shift, then just start shooting to create your own photography and memory.

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Your current dilemma is one of the big reasons why I came over to Leica from Fuji: a universe of quality lens choices in every focal length!

I have a Summaron 35 f/3.5 (1956) with googles that I use on my M10P.  I like the way it renders, it has veiling flare in almost any light condition so it's a  low contrast lens in general.  Is that what you want?  

If you aren't so sure, just get a recent f2 lens by any of the makers mentioned and use it.  Much of the final decision can be around the ergonomics of how the lens works.  Does it have a focus tab, can you find the aperture ring easily, does it have a decent lens hood thats out of the way, how far is the focus throw, what filter size (you film guy!!!), does it block the viewfinder and does that bother you....etc.

And always remember: "Sharpness is a bourgeois concept."

 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Fookuda said:

You all make very valid points and thank you for the information left here. My goal here (and perhaps a loft one) is for this discussion to have a place where we can see both photos and read the opinion of others. Now I do feel like i'm asking a lot as now everyone has to dig through their archives for their 35mm lens samples, but it may contribute to new folks such as myself and the community. 

I am definitely doing my research and currently my eyes are set on the Konica Hexanon-M 35/2, Summaron 35/3.5, Minolta Rokkor 40/2 (yes it's not 35 I know aha). If it's totally worth it to jump up to a summicron then I may just do that.

Hardly a new topic around here. You can easily search through multiple discussions. As for pics and recommendations, my philosophy is that one needs to actually use a lens (with one’s own cameras) to better learn and appreciate its characteristics.. not just rendering, but size/balance, ergonomics, controls, hood design, etc…and ideally by making prints. Online viewing of pics from others has never determined my purchase decisions.  Dozens of workflow variables determine my ultimate print rendering output.. at every stage from shooting, editing, printing and display. Screen viewing makes even phone camera pics look fine, and one never knows how other screens are calibrated. And even with all that, individual tastes and preferences will vary.

If you agree that personal experience makes sense, you live in the right place. The US has places to easily rent lenses if you don’t have a nearby dealer for demos.  And CameraQuest provides for new CV lens purchases with 30 day return policy, no questions asked.  

Jeff

 

Edited by Jeff S
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The Konica F2 UC Hexanon lens is an extremely nice lens and one which renders very closely to the Leica V4 35mm Summicron, plus it is very small, fabulously built and very robust unlike the Canadian V4 Summicron's with the plastic front element support. I own virtually every Leica 35mm lens made in Summicron and Summilux, plus the Konica UC Hexanon Limited Edition, and for its size, build quality (lovely in black paint over brass) I would happily use this lens as my only 35mm. You do have to use an LTM adapter given its screw mount and yes I have heard that some Konica lenses require shimming for accurate rangefinder focussing although I did not experience this issue with my copy. Also this is not a hard lens to sell given just 1000 copies made and a willing audience looking for them. 

In order of preference with a budget also as a consideration (IE no 35 APO) I would choose:

1. Leica 35 V2 1.4 summilux which is a tiny lens, possesses a lovely rendering at 1.4 and my late titanium German copy is as sharp as my Leica V4 German Summicron from F2 on up.

2. Konica UC Hexanon F2 Limited Edition as it is incredibly well made and optically virtually a copy of the Leica V4 Summicron. 

3. Leica 35mm Summicron V4 Germany if possible or a Canadian copy that is not suffering front a wobbly front hood mount. 

Since you have been offered the Konica UC Hexanon why not start there?

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Posted (edited)

Buy used on FredMiranda….

 

Save some money to try out some used lenses. Usually lots of 35mm options. 

 

For me, I really enjoy using Voigtlander lenses from a IQ standpoint etc. I don’t like that they aren’t 6 bit coded but if you are going to only use them on film, it doesn’t matter. The Ultron 35 f/2 or the Leica Summilux FLE1 would be my first two pics. The FLE is a good deal right now since the new one came out. Would work amazing on film if you can stretch your budget. If you can’t or don’t want to stretch the budget, the 35 Ultron is a great little lens. 

 

Last roll of film I shot with a 35

Leica MP 35 Summilux FLE

Kodak EKtachrome 100

 

 

 

 

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Edited by rustyrus
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You really know how to stir the hornet's nest! I agree with many others...stop listening to the purists touting their favorite owned lens. Here's my take on 35mm. I began my Leica experience with a new M4 and new 35mm Summaron 2.8 in 1967-8, and continued to use it during my travels in the Mediterranean and the USA for the next 30 or so years, mostly to the exclusion of other focal lengths, although I did try a couple of others for special assignments or to test out. in the late 1990s I found I wasn't using the Summaron very much, as I had switched to  Leica SLR bodies, and as I looked back, I realized the early 35 photos especially were mostly taken around f/5.6 and weren't as sharp edge to edge as I had originally thought...and the lens focus ring was stiffening up, needing a CLA, so I sold it. Fast forward 10 years or so I came back to rangefinder bodies and wanted a 35 again, but the Summaron was too expensive and I remembered my reasons for having grown tired of it. So I filled the gap with Voigtlander's 35/2.5 Color Skopar, which I still have. It rendered much more crisply...and with B&W almost painfully so. I acquired a Biogon, having used the Contax SLR version, but wasn't blown away.  Then I got Voigtlander's Nokton 35/1.4 classic SC for my color and M based work and really like it. But by now I had several Barnack bodies and was looking for a small LTM lens with a different rendering than the Color Skopar. The Summaron 2.8 again was too expensive in the LTM configuration, so I got the tiny 3.5 Summaron, and have been quite pleased, recognizing that it doesn't quite match up to its 2.8 brother, but at f/5.6 is indistinguishable. Long story short...no need to be a purist. Determine what you plan to shoot and how you want it to render. All of the popular 35mm lenses, both LTM and M, will deliver pleasing overall results. If you're not shooting wide open, any port in the storm. Size and ease of focusing may be important...do you want a tab or just barrel focus? Might you use the lens ultimately on a screwmount body? It is hard to go wrong unless you need something special for low light or gigantic landscape edge-to edge sharpness enlargements. Don't overpay for whatever you decide, as you'll probably eventually want more than one 35mm lens. I've been quite pleased with used lenses from reputable sellers, both private and online. Best of luck in your eventual choice, and enjoy it.

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