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The dance of the 50mm f2


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I have the Zeiss, and can comfortably say that it is well built, sharp and contrasty. Mine is spot on wide open. It takes a little getting used to 1/3 aperture stops if you are used to Leica's 1/2 stops. I have several older Summicrons as well, although not the newest. Although I haven't done a comparison yet on film, on my digital Sony A7rii the Zeiss shows the crispest pictures, whether I pixel peep or not. Others may have different experiences.

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1 hour ago, colonel said:

...Leica 50mm f2 summicron new...

Are you meaning the APO or the 'regular' version - commonly referred to as v5?

If the former then I have no personal experience of the lens but, from what I've read, it seems to be as close to being as 'technically perfect' a lens as is possible to make within the constraints of M lenses.

If the latter then it's probably worth bearing in mind that the optical design of this current lens was introduced with the v4 version in 1979. Although this might seem a Bad Thing the fact is that its optical design was / is so good that Leica realised they couldn't improve on it in any significant way until the appearance of the 50mm APO Summicron in 2012. The APO, however, costs a staggering three-times the asking price of the v5 (£2,200 vs £6,600 here in the UK) if cost might be a factor.

Philip.

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Within the three you listed, I only have the Summicron v5, and can't compare. I rarely use the Summicron and prefer the rendering of the Summilux Asph.

I pretty much agree with Flavio's analysis (for the lenses I have) in his detailed review. I am sure you'll find answers to some of your questions.

https://www.47-degree.com/focus-shift/leica-m-50mm-lens-comparison-part-1

 

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I own the VM APO 50mm. Technically it is the perfect lens. I don't like it that much though, go figure 😂 

Couple of samples below.

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4 hours ago, colonel said:

Voigtlander 50mm f2 apo VM 

Leica 50mm f2 summicron new 

Zeiss 50mm f2 ZM

Anyone had all or some and can give comparison thoughts ?

 

I owned all 3 and the Nokton 50f1.5 II.

The APO is large and heavy for a 50f2. It has an interesting looking concave front element and it is packed from end to end with glass. The image has a lot of contrast, warm, nice colors and is razor sharp pretty much from f2 onwards. The one flaw is some vigneting ar f2 that goes away quickly after you start closing it. It basically gives you the same uber corrected image right from f2. Sometimes it is so sharp it looks like it is drawn instead of taken with a camera. This may be too much for some people. 

The Zeiss Planar is the cheap alternative to the summicron. It is quite similar to it but the handling and feel of it feels significantly cheaper. I never had a smooth focusing experience with it. I didn't like the way it rendered colors. It was harsh to my eyes. The contrast and the sharpness was plain ugly to me sometimes (its a lot and just overwhelming to me) but that same contrast and harsh sharpness looked good to me in B&W. I always liked the B&W out of this lens especially when it had a lot of noise. Looked Quite filmic to me. Colors not for me. 

Leica Cron 50f2 BIH version is the one I ended up buying as my primary lens after trying all those. To me it is the perfect 50mm lens. Just a little bit softer and gentler at f2. Then it keeps getting more contrast and sharpness as you stop down. F8 and f11 on the M10R gives you a ton of detail. The photos are so pretty sometimes I don't even edit them. It has the perfect smooth focusing feel and the focus throw is short and fast. It's light and small and feels awesome. It does flare if the sun hits it directly. I haven't had the 35 cron ASPH that long yet so as of now, the 50 Cron is the best lens I've ever bought. I bought it brand new and never regretted paying for it. It is worth every single penny. It is one of those lenses you buy and just keep forever. Even if 50mm isn't your primary lens, when you need a non nonsense great 50mm the 50 Summicron is where is at.  If I could only have 1 Leica lens it would be this one. 

I know people love the 50 Lux. But the problem is the same as the Apo-lanthar. For an every day walk around lens I want small and light lenses and i will never use f1.4. Thats why for me the 35 and 50 crons as a pair of every day small lenses are the perfect pair. 

My 50 Cron. I'm going to be buried with it. The king of 50f2's. Accept no substitutes. 

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Edited by crons
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10 minutes ago, crons said:

...Leica Cron 50f2 BIH version is the one I ended up buying as my primary lens after trying all those. To me it is the perfect 50mm lens. Just a little bit softer and gentler at f2. Then it keeps getting more contrast and sharpness as you stop down...

It took me a few seconds to work out that 'BIH' stood for Built-In-Hood...

And yes; I agree fully with your summing-up of how it performs (although I have the older 'NBIH' version......😸......).

Philip.

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Posted (edited)

I left out the 50 Nokton II. It's the first 50mm I ever bought for Leica. It's so small and light I don't know how they engineered this lens being an f1.5. The M10R sensor made it obvious that it wasn't the sharpest tool in the drawer, but for the M10 I had at 24MP the images were actually very lovely. I had the SC version so the colors were a little more muted than the MC one, but it was warm and had that vignetting that voigtlanders love. If I had a tight budget I would choose this instead of the 50 Planar. For reasons I never understood Voigtlander doesn't release a 50f2 Ultron

I bought the Planar to replace it because at the time like an idiot I was chasing sharpness. I definitely got it with the Planar it was just not the sharpness I was looking for.. so then I said screw it and went with the Apo-lanthar which is even sharper but in a nice way. The apo also feels very Leica in terms of build.

Edited by crons
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22 minutes ago, crons said:

I owned all 3 and the Nokton 50f1.5 II.

The APO is large and heavy for a 50f2. It has an interesting looking concave front element and it is packed from end to end with glass. The image has a lot of contrast, warm, nice colors and is razor sharp pretty much from f2 onwards. The one flaw is some vigneting ar f2 that goes away quickly after you start closing it. It basically gives you the same uber corrected image right from f2. Sometimes it is so sharp it looks like it is drawn instead of taken with a camera. This may be too much for some people. 

The Zeiss Planar is the cheap alternative to the summicron. It is quite similar to it but the handling and feel of it feels significantly cheaper. I never had a smooth focusing experience with it. I didn't like the way it rendered colors. It was harsh to my eyes. The contrast and the sharpness was plain ugly to me sometimes (its a lot and just overwhelming to me) but that same contrast and harsh sharpness looked good to me in B&W. I always liked the B&W out of this lens especially when it had a lot of noise. Looked Quite filmic to me. Colors not for me. 

Leica Cron 50f2 BIH version is the one I ended up buying as my primary lens after trying all those. To me it is the perfect 50mm lens. Just a little bit softer and gentler at f2. Then it keeps getting more contrast and sharpness as you stop down. F8 and f11 on the M10R gives you a ton of detail. The photos are so pretty sometimes I don't even edit them. It has the perfect smooth focusing feel and the focus throw is short and fast. It's light and small and feels awesome. It does flare if the sun hits it directly. I haven't had the 35 cron ASPH that long yet so as of now, the 50 Cron is the best lens I've ever bought. I bought it brand new and never regretted paying for it. It is worth every single penny. It is one of those lenses you buy and just keep forever. Even if 50mm isn't your primary lens, when you need a non nonsense great 50mm the 50 Summicron is where is at.  If I could only have 1 Leica lens it would be this one. 

I know people love the 50 Lux. But the problem is the same as the Apo-lanthar. For an every day walk around lens I want small and light lenses and i will never use f1.4. Thats why for me the 35 and 50 crons as a pair of every day small lenses are the perfect pair. 

My 50 Cron. I'm going to be buried with it. The king of 50f2's. Accept no substitutes. 

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Lovely picture. Since this is a picture of a Summicron, which camera and lens was this picture taken with?

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, crons said:

I owned all 3 and the Nokton 50f1.5 II.

My 50 Cron. I'm going to be buried with it. The king of 50f2's. Accept no substitutes. 

how would you compare the Leica 50mm f2 to the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 ii ?

Edited by colonel
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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, evikne said:

Lovely picture. Since this is a picture of a Summicron, which camera and lens was this picture taken with?

My phone.. I have a Galaxy S24 (the normal size 6.1"). I just left iPhone. This is so much better. Pro mode is great. 

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Edited by crons
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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, colonel said:

how would you compare the Leica 50mm f2 apo to the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 ii ?

I never used the Leica APO because they're just way too expensive. Also I like a bit of character throughout the aperture range so it gives me a couple of looks. 

So compared to the Apo-lanthar the APO dwarfs the little Nokton. The Nokton is so small the camera tilts back when you hang it on your neck. The apo feels like it was built by Leica and has almost near perfect optics. 

Compared to the 50 summicron the summicron balances better, feels better and more expensive of course. The IQ is sharper and with more contrast. More neutral also. It also by some magic with 1979 optics can handle the new 40MP and 60MP sensors.

The Nokton is charming. Warm. Small. Light. Playful. It's not the sharpest but its sharp enough. It makes pretty photos and its really a lovely little lens that has charm and is not for pixel.peeping. I would recommend to get the MC version. It wont blow your socks off if you have a 40 or 60mp camera though. I think at 24MP is just fine. 

Edited by crons
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Posted (edited)

The Summicron is, well, what a Leica lens “should” be, for so very many Leica shooters; not too modern, but not too much of a vintage/classic rendering. Dr. Walter Mandler designed this lens, in the 1970s. There are “Walter Mandler fans,” among Leica shooters; I am one of them, though I also appreciate and love several of the newer Peter Karbe-era lenses, too. The Version IV started production in 1979, and the same optical elements are in today’s “Version V,” which a Leica parts catalog will still list as Version IV. If I were not so very much a “Summilux shooter,” this Summicron could be my usual, normal, daily-use 50mm M lens. (The Summilux-M 50mm ASPH, a Peter Karbe-era design, is THE lens that lured me to add the Leica M system.) I own the 50 Jahre Special Edition (~2003) of the Summicron-M 50mm, Version V time period, which means the coatings are “current,” as I understand it.

The Voigtlander 50mm AOP Lanthar VM has a very modern, very-highly-optically-corrected rendering. Flare is almost impossible to produce, which gives this lens an edge, in circumstances in which flare must, absolutely, not be allowed to happen. If I were to resurrect my evidentiary/forensic/crime scene photography training, to serve in some investigative/humanitarian/technical/scientific role, or perhaps product photography, this Voigtlander APO Lanthar could be a valuable tool. Photographing a social event, in some low-angle sun conditions, especially if the event is occurring in harsh sunlight, shaded by the locally-common Southern Live Oaks. (I am not a professional photographer, but some family and acquaintances “expect” me to know what I am doing.) I hope to resume some amount of travel, this year, and might find myself at a scenic overlook, or similar situation, when I cannot wait until another day for just-right direction of light. The APO Lanthar might well enable a decent result, in conditions that might causing a veiling flare in images produced by my Summilux or Summicron lenses.

The only “issue” with the APO Lanthar is vignetting, when the aperture is at the more-open end of the scale. I am not annoyed by this, and, do not try to mitigate it in-camera, by manually entering any of the 6-bit codes.

When a review of the APO Lanthar indicated that it played at the Zeiss Otus level, I saw no reason to disagree with him. Cosina manufactures the Voigtlander ZM and the Zeiss Otus ZF.2 and ZE lenses. (I own an 85mm Zeiss Otus ZF.2 lens.)

Edited to add: I do not find the APO Lanthar to be too large, or too heavy. I actually prefer a lens that has some amount of heft and “grip-ability,” because my left hand is the hand I mostly use to support and grip a camera/lens combo.

Edited by RexGig0
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1 hour ago, pippy said:

It took me a few seconds to work out that 'BIH' stood for Built-In-Hood...

And yes; I agree fully with your summing-up of how it performs (although I have the older 'NBIH' version......😸......).

Philip.

The trade off is of course WFT vs NFT.

Jeff

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2 minutes ago, Jeff S said:

The trade off is of course WFT vs NFT.

It took all of 10 seconds to get it after I realised you didn't type the slightly more commonly-seen acronym WTF?...

😸

Yes; the v4 / v5 design-detail preference is an interesting consideration in its own right and does seem to polarise opinions into two quite distinct camps.

Philip.

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Posted (edited)

Couple of 50/2's here but no CV apo sorry as i prefer compact lenses. In a nutshell:
• Summicron 50/2 apo is almost perfect on paper but too harsh for gentle portraits so i don't use it much given that for landscapes, it is hardly better than the Planar. Not a perfect lens flare wise and not in matter of color fringing either in spite of being apo. Concave focus tab with short focus throw.
• Summicron 50/2  v4, German made variant. My favorite 50/2 for gentle portraits together with v5. Only cons are flare when strong light sources are just outside the frame, and a bit of focus shift at about f/4. Concave focus tab with a bit longer than Summicron apo's focus throw.
• Summicron 50/2 v5 is the same lens as Summicron v4 German variant with built-in hood and w/o focus tab with a bit longer than v4's focus throw.
• Hexanon 50/2 is a clone of the Summicron v5 with the same quality and flaws and same IQ at a more affordable price and a bit shorter than v4's focus throw.
• Planar 50/2. Almost perfect lens like the Summicron apo with less flare and less color fringing but also too harsh for gentle portraits. Focus bump with focus throw as short as Hexanon's.

Edited by lct
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I hear harsh vs soft when applied to apo vs summicron.

harsh can be “too sharp” which I don’t mind as this can always be dealt with afterwards, but it can also mean harsh rendering - eg. bluish rather then yellowish colour shift, or contrast is too high.

does the summicron have the sharpness, say compared with the Voightlander 50m f1.5 ii, perhaps more ? But it is slightly lower contrast - which is good for me, as contrast can be controlled afterwards ?

It has come down to summicron vs voigtlander apo. I am tilting to a new cron, but was put off by the comment “soft”. I prefer to control sharpness, but not have harsh rendering. 

ho humm (despite all the above, I actually enjoy the “shopping” bit :) )

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3 hours ago, colonel said:

...It has come down to summicron vs voigtlander apo. I am tilting to a new cron, but was put off by the comment “soft”...

Perhaps we should keep things in perspective? The regular 50mm Summicron could hardly be described as having "soft" rendering by normal standards even at f2.0.

Here is an extract (written before the APO had been released) regarding the behaviour of the v4 / v5 50mm Summicron by the very-highly regarded Leica lens expert Erwin Puts;

"Optically the current Summicron can still claim to be the world's best 50mm lens. This is not the same as saying that the Summicron 50mm is the best lens in the world. It is a very versatile lens, that performs very well in close up and infinity settings and at intermediate distances and at every aperture. You can use it without reservation at f2 and 70cm and can expect excellent quality......The current Summicron offers performance that exceeds the capabilities of most users."

If you wish to read the whole article here is the link;

https://photo.imx.nl/leica/lenses/lenses/page92.html

Philip.

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