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50mm Elmar-M vs 50mm Summicron v5


JoshuaRothman

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I've been using the 50mm Summicron v5 for quite a while. I elected to buy it over the 50mm Summilux ASPH for reasons of size, weight, and cost. I use mainly 35mm, and I wanted a 50mm that was pocketable, and the 50 Cron has been a really good fit—I often carry it as an adjunct to a 28mm or 35mm, which gets used more.

But recently, on a whim, I bought a 50mm Elmar-M. My copy is black, 6-bit coded, and somewhat beat up. It was about $900. Having shot with the Elmar-M for a few days, I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised. I thought that f/2.8 would be limiting. In fact, it's a perfect workable maximum aperture for how I use a 50mm, which is for portraits with context, usually where I want the whole face in focus. The lens is incredibly small, the handling is nice, the collapsible mechanism is way less fiddly than I thought it would be. And I'm having trouble distinguishing the images produced by the Elmar-M from the ones I make with the Cron. I know that the designs of the lenses are different, but the images seem comparable to my amateur eyes.

I'm curious if anyone has any pointers about these two lenses. How are they different? What should I be looking for as I use them side by side? Are they actually redundant, if the difference between f/2 and f/2.8 doesn't mean much to me? I have no immediate plans to sell either lens, but it does seem a little silly to own two lenses that are so similar (if, in fact, they are similar). If I feel that they're similar enough, I could probably trade my 50 Cron to get a focal length I don't yet own—like 75mm or 90mm.

50mm Summicron v5 at f/2:

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50mm Elmar-M at f/2.8:

Edited by JoshuaRothman
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The Elmar a damn good lens. Has that fat rounded full "look".

I heard that Leica cancelled it because it was eating into their more expensive 50mm lens sales.

You probably are over thinking this..

Keep the one you like the handling on best...you will actually use it more.

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Outside, I can live with a 50mm Elmar. It is also really pocketable when collapsed. Indoors, I often find the extra stop making a difference. Of course with my M9 working in low light is not evident. All later M models have more than a stop extra in useable ISO values, so with the M11 or M10-R this would be no issue.

The rendering of the Elmar is very good. In my eyes sometimes a little bit too 'perfect'. The Summicron at F2.0 has a more artistic approach to light which I like. I would keep both.
🤔 But I collected 3 Summicron 50 versions and 2 50mm Elmar (LTM F3.5 and M F2,8) and feel that each one has its merits.

It seems like I have a hard time selling any Leica lens... 🫣

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24 minutes ago, tsleica said:

The Elmar a damn good lens. Has that fat rounded full "look".

I heard that Leica cancelled it because it was eating into their more expensive 50mm lens sales.

You probably are over thinking this..

Keep the one you like the handling on best...you will actually use it more.

I agree about the look. If I went with the one that felt better, I'd keep the Elmar-M, just because I can actually put it in a pocket and forget about it. 

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6 minutes ago, dpitt said:

Outside, I can live with a 50mm Elmar. It is also really pocketable when collapsed. Indoors, I often find the extra stop making a difference. Of course with my M9 working in low light is not evident. All later M models have more than a stop extra in useable ISO values, so with the M11 or M10-R this would be no issue.

The rendering of the Elmar is very good. In my eyes sometimes a little bit too 'perfect'. The Summicron at F2.0 has a more artistic approach to light which I like. I would keep both.
🤔 But I collected 3 Summicron 50 versions and 2 50mm Elmar (LTM F3.5 and M F2,8) and feel that each one has its merits.

It seems like I have a hard time selling any Leica lens... 🫣

I'm using it on an M10, M10M, and M6. So on the whole I don't have to worry much about low light. One possibility would be to shift from my 50 Cron to some variety of faster 50. A 50 Lux or 50 Sonnar.....

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vor 3 Minuten schrieb jaapv:

Note yhat there is a difference between the (older) Elmar 50 and the Elmar 50 M. The diaphragm has been relocated, which results in a higher IQ.

Not so sure whether it's really the position of the diaphragm. Certainly with new glass sorts the last version of the Elmar (Elmar-M) shows the much better resolution and contrast.

When I compared the Carl Zeiss 1.3.5/50mm Tessar for the Contax, which has the central position of the diaphragm, to the 1:3,5/5cm Elmar (with the diaphragm between the first and the second element) there were almost no differences: perhaps the Elmar very slightly better in the center and the Tessar very slightly better at the edges, but you wouldn't be able to see the differences in normal usage.  

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46 minutes ago, JoshuaRothman said:

And I'm having trouble distinguishing the images produced by the Elmar-M from the ones I make with the Cron.

Probably because the Elmar-M images are a match, probably better, in technical aspects.

It is a stunning lens. Mine is chrome/brass.

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9 minutes ago, JoshuaRothman said:

I'm using it on an M10, M10M, and M6. So on the whole I don't have to worry much about low light. One possibility would be to shift from my 50 Cron to some variety of faster 50. A 50 Lux or 50 Sonnar.....

Yes, the difference is larger. In fact, I like the Summicron's because they are kind of a compromise/synthesis of both Summilux and Elmar. For its size and weight as well as for its rendering.

2 minutes ago, pedaes said:

Probably because the Elmar-M images are a match, probably better, in technical aspects.

It is a stunning lens. Mine is chrome/brass.

Yes, and that can be an issue. Too much of a good thing is not always best choice. Summilux can be more exciting even if it is less perfect. The Summicron strikes a balance between both in my eyes.

@JoshuaRothman Be careful which Summilux you choose. The pre-ASPH version is quite different in that respect from the Summilux ASPH. And ASPH lenses in general are different from non-ASPH versions.

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I thought f2.8 lenses were called 'Elmarit' . In my view, Elmarits, in many focal lengths are highly underrated lenses. For most purposes, f/2.8 is more than adequate for many applications.  Their main handicap is their perceived inferior performance (which is a fallacy) and lower cost, as you have discovered. 

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1 hour ago, UliWer said:

Not so sure whether it's really the position of the diaphragm. Certainly with new glass sorts the last version of the Elmar (Elmar-M) shows the much better resolution and contrast.

When I compared the Carl Zeiss 1.3.5/50mm Tessar for the Contax, which has the central position of the diaphragm, to the 1:3,5/5cm Elmar (with the diaphragm between the first and the second element) there were almost no differences: perhaps the Elmar very slightly better in the center and the Tessar very slightly better at the edges, but you wouldn't be able to see the differences in normal usage.  

According to Erwin Puts it is...

 

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@JoshuaRothman At first I thought that by the Elmar-M you were referring to the 50/3.5 Elmar-M (ELMAM) until you mentioned f/2.8.  The ELMAM is a later M-mount version of the wonderful 50/3.5 Elmar LTM and both are excellent lenses and more compact than either of the two 50/2.8 Elmars.

43 minutes ago, wda said:

I thought f2.8 lenses were called 'Elmarit'

The 50/2.8 Elmar is the exception to the rule, David.

Pete.

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I have and use both the 2.8 Elmar (1960s) and Elmar-M on my M10. The Elmar-M images are crisper and technically "better", and since the front of the lens doesn't rotate as you focus it's faster to use and adjust the aperture. However, I still enjoy the older 2.8 Elmar more - I guess because it's the first Leica lens I used back in the 1960s. Its images are still lovely, and the construction quality is great.

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vor 2 Stunden schrieb jaapv:

According to Erwin Puts it is...

According to Marco Cavina it's the glass:

Nel 1994, per il modello celebrativo Leica M6J, venne calcolata ex-novo una versione moderna ed ormai insperata di quest'obiettivo, caratterizzata da una montatura di messa a fuoco non rotante, da una lente anteriore di grande diametro per contrastare la vignettatura, da antiriflessi moderni e dall'adozione, per l'elemento frontale, di un vetro Dense Flint al Lantanio di progettazione esclusiva Leitz, il tipo 808452, caratterizzato da altissima rifrazione (superiore ad 1,8) e dispersione relativamente ridotta (numero di Abbe 45,2); tale obiettivo, messo in regolare produzione nel 1995 (acquistai uno dei primi esemplari, pagandolo all'epoca ben più di un Summicron 50mm f/2...), garantisce prestazioni di rilievo, decisamente superiori a quelle del modello precedente soprattutto per contrasto, brillantezza cromatica e profondità delle ombre.

 

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Well, you might test it:

Take an „old“ 1:2.8/50mm Elmar and an Elmar-M - both fully opened. Of cause the Elmar-M will show much better resolution and overall contrast. How does the position of the diaphragm gets involved in case the lens is used fully opened? Is by Tao or perhaps by Zen? 

 

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I have no idea. I just wrote down what a reputable expert said. I’ sure that Puts would have agreed on the influence of recalculation with different glass, as I am equally sure that Cavina would agree on the influence of the location of the diaphragm in a stopped-down lens.
I am a bit surprised that an innocent reference to a handbook seems to have turned into a point d’honneur. 😳

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