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Building a kit around the 35 Steel Rim Reissue


JoshuaRothman

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Suppose that you wanted to make the new Steel Rim your main lens. What would you put to the wider and longer ends, either to maintain consistency or to provide alternatives in terms of rendering?

I'm renting the Steel Rim this week, and fantasizing about what life would be like with it as my main lens instead of my 35 FLE. Right now, my M kit is almost all ASPH, and built around consistency; almost everything I own is pretty modern. But I'm starting to imagine a kit that has more variety in rendering and lens type. Something like:

  • 24 SEM
  • 28 Summaron
  • 35 Steel Rim
  • 50 Lux ASPH or Cron v5

Four lenses, all quite different, covering the range I like to shoot most. But maybe you'd aim for something different. What are the equivalents of the Steel Rim in wider and longer focal lengths? Would it be something like 28 Summaron, 50 Lux Pre-ASPH?

What kind of kit would you build with the SR at the center?

Edited by JoshuaRothman
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1 hour ago, JoshuaRothman said:

Four lenses, all quite different, covering the range I like to shoot most. But maybe you'd aim for something different. What are the equivalents of the Steel Rim in wider and longer focal lengths? Would it be something like 28 Summaron, 50 Lux Pre-ASPH?

 I own the Nokton that is based on the Summilux pre-asph design and the closest for me are the 50mm ‘cron v3 and the 28mm elmarit v3.

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The steel rims signature is the highlight glowing. This can be seen in any manufacturer's other lenses of that time. Early 50mm Summiluxes glow, so do early 28mm primes. There are other characteristics, of course, but the glow jumps to the eye. This can be nice and annoying. And because it annoyed people back then (users and engineers) and was seen as a flaw, today's lenses don't glow anymore. Building a whole set on key characteristics makes sense in cinematography, as consistency is essential because the different focal lengths will be visually seen in a timeline that pays into one consistent story. That's why vintage prime sets, and modern sets for that matter, are only sold as sets.

The beauty of still photography and lens choice is that consistency isn't a priority. The particular focal length and its interpretation of a subject directs the lens selection. That's where the character of a specific lens comes into play. Coming from filmmaking and despite my love for 50mm, I naturally defaulted to 35mm when starting my stills photography journey. I now own two 35mm lenses and one 50mm lens. That may look a bit poor, but I don't need more to tell my stories for stills. (For filmmaking, that was different; I owned a Zeiss Super Speed set of five primes, a lightweight Angenieux zoom and a large Cooke zoom.) 

The two 35mm lenses are quite different. The 35mm ASPH is sharp to the corners and renders faces pleasantly on the flatter side; the 35mm Nokton is a Steel Rim copy and renders lovely images on film with glows, flares, and smeary corners. The 50mm V4/V5 is a classic; I go so far as to say it's the queen of all 50ies. In terms of consistency and character, it teams up well with the 35mm Summicron ASPH. Both are lenses designed for film rather than with sensors in mind. That can also be said about other ASPH lenses, which makes them somewhat vintage-ish.

If I were you, and you liked your test drive, I'd add the Steel Rim and let one lens go, but not the 35mm FLE. Choices, also in character, are nice to have.

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16 hours ago, JoshuaRothman said:

Suppose that you wanted to make the new Steel Rim your main lens.

I had an original 35mm Summilux for a time and tried using it as my main 35mm lens. It didn't work. Its older, flawed rendering worked very well in some circumstances but was unsatisfactory in others. Such lenses (and reissues) are realy specialist lenses, useful at times but outperformed by their modern equivalents.

Building a set like the one you suggest would give you two moden yardsticks which would show up the flaws in the two older designs. It would not be a routeway that I would take.

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16 hours ago, JoshuaRothman said:

Suppose that you wanted to make the new Steel Rim your main lens. What would you put to the wider and longer ends, either to maintain consistency or to provide alternatives in terms of rendering?

I'm renting the Steel Rim this week, and fantasizing about what life would be like with it as my main lens instead of my 35 FLE. Right now, my M kit is almost all ASPH, and built around consistency; almost everything I own is pretty modern. But I'm starting to imagine a kit that has more variety in rendering and lens type. Something like:

  • 24 SEM
  • 28 Summaron
  • 35 Steel Rim
  • 50 Lux ASPH or Cron v5

Four lenses, all quite different, covering the range I like to shoot most. But maybe you'd aim for something different. What are the equivalents of the Steel Rim in wider and longer focal lengths? Would it be something like 28 Summaron, 50 Lux Pre-ASPH?

What kind of kit would you build with the SR at the center?

In my case, the lenses you mention would become two pairs, based on their rendering: 24-50; 28-35. I'd probably look, in my case for different pairings, so that my choice can be based solely on character, meaning doubling up on the same focal lengths, for example 28-50 in both vintage and modern.

Also, I wonder if the 28 summaron will be a goot match for the 35 summilux SR.

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16 hours ago, acalmplace said:

If those would be your only lenses, the difference in rendering would mean each focal length cannot be matched easily to others and paired. It would be quite limiting, no?

Yes, this is exactly the problem I'm struggling with!

Right now almost all of my lenses are nicely matched. So I can make very appealing pairs, such as:

  • 28 Elmarit ASPH + 50 Cron v5 (not perfect, but close enough)
  • 21 SEM + 35 FLE (perfect)
  • 24 SEM + 50 Cron v5 (not perfect, but close enough)
  • 35 Cron v3 + Voigtlander 75 f/2.5 Color Heliar (perfect)

I'm thinking of adding the Steel Rim—or a Lux Pre-ASPH v2. But I've found that the Steel Rim, in particular, is kind of a "wild" lens. It has this combination of old-fashioned rendering and modern color and contrast that I really love (and haven't seen in lenses like the CV Nokton), but I can't figure out what to pair with it. Maybe on the long end it would go well with something like a 50 Rigid? Or with one of the more purely vintage Voigtlander 50 or 75s?

It got me thinking that it might be more fun, for me, to have a kit in which the lenses are actually wildly different.

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10 hours ago, JoshuaRothman said:

Yes, this is exactly the problem I'm struggling with!

Right now almost all of my lenses are nicely matched. So I can make very appealing pairs, such as:

  • 28 Elmarit ASPH + 50 Cron v5 (not perfect, but close enough)
  • 21 SEM + 35 FLE (perfect)
  • 24 SEM + 50 Cron v5 (not perfect, but close enough)
  • 35 Cron v3 + Voigtlander 75 f/2.5 Color Heliar (perfect)

I'm thinking of adding the Steel Rim—or a Lux Pre-ASPH v2. But I've found that the Steel Rim, in particular, is kind of a "wild" lens. It has this combination of old-fashioned rendering and modern color and contrast that I really love (and haven't seen in lenses like the CV Nokton), but I can't figure out what to pair with it. Maybe on the long end it would go well with something like a 50 Rigid? Or with one of the more purely vintage Voigtlander 50 or 75s?

It got me thinking that it might be more fun, for me, to have a kit in which the lenses are actually wildly different.

I use the SR not as my main but definitely my go to when travelling, and either the rigid cron or the noctilux 1.2 reissue would pair just fine as well as summilux 50 v1 if you could find a decent copy

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Hi Joshua

I pair the 35:1.4 v2 with 50:1.4v3 and couldn’t recommend them highly enough.  But I do that because I find them similar and a great sharpness/contrast/colour match (just different FL’s).   Not to mention amazing lenses.   You could also try the very reasonably priced (by Leica standards) and less discovered 50:2v3, a great match also. 
 

But it sounds like you are now looking for diversity in your pairs , whereas I was looking for consistency, as you have in your current set. 
 

FWIW I tried many mandler pre-asph lenses and for those seeking consistent pairs I felt that these were the pairs (based on nice colour / contrast / sharpness match with these, all released in 1979/1980 so probably no surprise they are all a perfect set):

35:2 v1 with 50:2v3

35:1.4 v2 & 50:1.4v3

35:2 v4 & 50:2 v4 or 5 perfect match (28:2.8 v3 and 90:2 v3 also a perfect match here)

I still own these 35 + 50 pairs but the summiluxes get the most use 

hope it’s helps.  To be honest all of these are more similar than they are different ! But small differences that makes the sets.   To your original question also the 50 Noc reissue could also be interesting to consider. I haven’t tried it though 

Edited by grahamc
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On 10/19/2023 at 6:36 PM, JoshuaRothman said:

Suppose that you wanted to make the new Steel Rim your main lens. What would you put to the wider and longer ends, either to maintain consistency or to provide alternatives in terms of rendering?

If money were no object, I would go for these:

  • 28mm Summaron re-issue
  • 35mm Summilux SR re-issue
  • 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 ASPH re-issue
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55 minutes ago, evikne said:

If money were no object, I would go for these:

  • 28mm Summaron re-issue
  • 35mm Summilux SR re-issue
  • 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 ASPH re-issue

@evikne, I think I’ve read that you moved from ASPH lenses to pre-ASPH. How are you feeling about that, overall?

Part of the reason I’m renting the Steel Rim is that I’ve been feeling that the my current setup, centered on the FLE, is producing images that are a little too modern for my tastes. In terms of rendering, my favorite pictures are coming from my 50 Summicron v5. I also feel that the FLE is just a bit too heavy to be my everyday lens.

(I also take a lot of family photographs and live in a coastal town….)

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15 minutes ago, JoshuaRothman said:

@evikne, I think I’ve read that you moved from ASPH lenses to pre-ASPH. How are you feeling about that, overall?

Part of the reason I’m renting the Steel Rim is that I’ve been feeling that the my current setup, centered on the FLE, is producing images that are a little too modern for my tastes. In terms of rendering, my favorite pictures are coming from my 50 Summicron v5. I also feel that the FLE is just a bit too heavy to be my everyday lens.

(I also take a lot of family photographs and live in a coastal town….)

If you stop down a little, all of these lenses will produce more than sharp enough images, the same is true with my own pre-ASPH lenses. The only time I miss a more modern lens is when I wish I could take sharp images from edge to edge with a wide open aperture, e.g. for an indoor group shot. Now I have to stop down a little and lose some of the light. But this is rarely a problem.

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Definitely keep the 35 FLE.

I have a “daily use” ASPH kit now (24 Elmarit, 35 FLE, 50 lux, 75 APO) and would not part with any of those (not just because they are all silver 😄).

I also have a vintage third party kit (21 pancake VM, 35 Old Delft, 50 Sonnetar 1.1 and 105 Nikkor LTM).

The Steel Rim re-issue does not pair with any of the mentioned kits, it is too good for true vintage look and too glowy to use wide open in critical situations. Still an awesome hybrid and amazing for travel.

@JoshuaRothman I know your dilemma very well, the majority of your lenses are very modern rendering ones. It does seem that Steel rim re-issue was made for folks that like vintage lenses with a modern twist. Try putting a soft FX, Glimmerglass 1 or a slightly heavier (1/2) Black ProMist on your 35 FLE. You’ll get the approximate render effect of a wide-open Steel rim re-issue. I do it all the time, I have all three filters and both lenses.

also, trust me on this one: having one kit with wildly different lenses will only lead to potential frustration.
 


 

 

Edited by Al Brown
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2 hours ago, Al Brown said:

Definitely keep the 35 FLE.

I have a “daily use” ASPH kit now (24 Elmarit, 35 FLE, 50 lux, 75 APO) and would not part with any of those (not just because they are all silver 😄).

I also have a vintage third party kit (21 pancake VM, 35 Old Delft, 50 Sonnetar 1.1 and 105 Nikkor LTM).

The Steel Rim re-issue does not pair with any of the mentioned kits, it is too good for true vintage look and too glowy to use wide open in critical situations. Still an awesome hybrid and amazing for travel.

@JoshuaRothman I know your dilemma very well, the majority of your lenses are very modern rendering ones. It does seem that Steel rim re-issue was made for folks that like vintage lenses with a modern twist. Try putting a soft FX, Glimmerglass 1 or a slightly heavier (1/2) Black ProMist on your 35 FLE. You’ll get the approximate render effect of a wide-open Steel rim re-issue. I do it all the time, I have all three filters and both lenses.

also, trust me on this one: having one kit with wildly different lenses will only lead to potential frustration.
 


 

 

@Al Brown What you say makes lots of sense. One thing I’ve discovered (quite painfully!) is that my tastes in lenses are changeable. Today I’m bored by the FLE, but in six months’ time….? I would hate to find myself wishing I could re-buy  

Do you have any thoughts about the SR Reissue as compared to the Lux Pre-ASPH v2? I seem to recall that you sold your old Lux and kept the reissue. Was it about ergonomics, or were there visible differences in the images that made the difference for you? I ask because I find myself wondering if I could simplify my life by actually buying a proper vintage v2 and pairing it with another vintage lens. It seems like part of the challenge with the reissue is its neo-vintage nature. On the other hand, it could be that old design combined with new coatings that I’m finding so appealing. (Which is one reason why @evikne’s money-no-object kit of only reissues is intriguing….)

 

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4 hours ago, JoshuaRothman said:

I seem to recall that you sold your old Lux and kept the reissue. Was it about ergonomics, or were there visible differences in the images that made the difference

There were visible differences! The re-edition is much more “cleaned up”, I just wanted a brand new, hassle free lens. 
To this day, nothing beats my old Delft Minor 35 in the look I am after. Super retro look without the glow.

I am overcoming the “change of heart” lens issues by simply owning two sets. One very clean and sterile, the other full on character.

Edited by Al Brown
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