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Choosing Lens for Leica IIIg on 4 alternatives Lenses


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Hello,

I have 4 alternative lenses to choose from to use on the Leica IIIg. The options include:

1. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Elmar f=9cm 1:4
2. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Elmar f=5cm 1:3.5
3. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Summaron f=3.5cm 1:3.5
4. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Summitar f=5cm 1:2

Of the 4 lenses, I want to choose 2 first, roughly, which one is the most worthy of choice in terms of quality of sharpness, bokeh, and more flexible use?

Thank You

 

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If you do a little independent research you can answer your own question.  BUT the bigger issue is which focal length/s are you more likely to use often? That should be the starting point in your quest to select 2 lenses. All of the mentioned lenses qualify in your criteria list, and some designs are older than others, which would influence your rendering. I personally own all of your choices and each has its own nuances. As you probably know the issue of sharpness is a thorny one in that it basically depends on the relationship between contrast and resolution, but  its perception is also affected by things such as whether sharpness exists across the plane of focus or keeps the central area sharp while gradually blurring as it moves toward the corners. None of your choices will razor sharp wide open, but that will change as you stop down. As far as bokeh...the term didn't even exist when these lenses were developed. Lastly, how do you expect to use the lenses - landscape, portrait, close-up or infinity focus, street photography, etc? You have a number of considerations to take into account, but as you venture into learning to use your eventual choices you may well find that what you want  out of a lens changes depending on how you use it. But a I said earlier...they all are good choices for the right conditions.

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Remember - the IIIg has viewfinder frame lines only for 5cm & 9cm - so you would need an auxiliary finder to frame 3.5cm accurately. (However, I used a 3.5 lens on my IIIf for years, just estimating the view.) When the IIIg was introduced the 50mm Summicron was the best 5cm lens, but along with the IIIg they introduced the 50mm f2.8 Elmar in ltm, which is a combination I like. The 2.8 ltm Elmar has a conventional aperture ring, unlike the tiny front-mounted adjustment of the 3.5 ltm Elmar.

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It all depends on whether you are more of a wideangle guy or a more telephoto oriented person. As has been pointed out, the IIIg has viewfinder frame lines only for 5cm & 9cm. So if you are a more telephoto oriented person, go for one of the 5cm lenses and the 9cm lens (you would not need an auxiliary finder then). 

You will eventually still want to have a 35mm or even wider lens, and there are quite a few options. The Summaron f2.8/35mm surpasses the 3.5/35 optically, but is usually quite a bit more expensive. Since you will need an auxiliary finder anyway for lenses wider than 50mm, why not go for a 28mm lens (and the appropriate auxiliary finder) instead? A lens kit consisting of 28, 50 and 90mm lenses could deal with almost any photographic situation you are likely to encounter.

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All screwmount Leicas have the problem of viewfinder blockage by large lenses and their hoods. So even though the 1:2.8/5cm Elmar with screwmount is certainly more comfortable to handle than the original version of the Elmar it will cause considerable viewfinder blockage - also without hood. The Summitar originally had the foldable "barnstore" hood, which was specially constructed to minimize the blockage - though of course one has to accept the weird look of this hood. If one uses a round hood with the Summitar one has to accept a lot of blockage. For bokeh the Summitar version with 10 aperture blades which have a round shape at all f-stops is preferable. One should look for a postwar version with serial number higher than 600.000, which is coated and lower than 800.000 (there is some uncertainty about when the 10 blade version ended) - the higher numbers will have only 6 blades. 

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I just pulled out my 90mm Elmar for the first time in a couple of decades to discover that it's actually a really fine lens on my Nikon Z, resulting it my adopting it as the easy-carry extra lens for my M4. Given how incredibly cheap they are and that the camera has the finder built-in, that would be my first choice, followed by the 35mm (or an off-brand, probably Voigtlander, 28mm, if this was for me, not you--I hardly use my 35).

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2 hours ago, UliWer said:

All screwmount Leicas have the problem of viewfinder blockage by large lenses and their hoods. So even though the 1:2.8/5cm Elmar with screwmount is certainly more comfortable to handle than the original version of the Elmar it will cause considerable viewfinder blockage - also without hood. The Summitar originally had the foldable "barnstore" hood, which was specially constructed to minimize the blockage - though of course one has to accept the weird look of this hood. If one uses a round hood with the Summitar one has to accept a lot of blockage. For bokeh the Summitar version with 10 aperture blades which have a round shape at all f-stops is preferable. One should look for a postwar version with serial number higher than 600.000, which is coated and lower than 800.000 (there is some uncertainty about when the 10 blade version ended) - the higher numbers will have only 6 blades. 

The OP is writing about lenses for a IIIg. Just the smallest bit of the top of the 50/2.8 Elmar is barely visible at the bottom of the 50mm frame lines of a IIIg. Essentially zero interference. And since the front of a Summitar or Summicron does not rotate when focused, unlike the Elmars, an inexpensive vented 39mm lens hood can be shimmed to locate one of the cutouts at the bottom of the 50mm frame lines so there is very little functional blockage. 

I don't have one of the "barn door" lens hoods but in the photos it looks like the cutout on the back is sized and located to work with the viewfinder of a IIIf or earlier Barnack. I suspect that the view through a IIIg viewfinder would be very badly blocked. 

Edited by Doug A
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vor 1 Stunde schrieb Doug A:

I don't have one of the "barn door" lens hoods but in the photos it looks like the cutout on the back is sized and located to work with the viewfinder of a IIIf or earlier Barnack. I suspect that the view through a IIIg viewfinder would be very badly blocked. 

Yes, you are right that the „barn door“ hood was designed for the IIIc and IIIf viewfinder, so it may not fit the IIIg - it certainly does not work with the M viewfinder. 

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111g, 50mm Summitar and Barn Door hood works OK.

Black line across frame and top edge of lens is all you see through the viewfinder, best picture I could get trying to line up an I Pad camera.

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On 7/9/2024 at 4:51 PM, liemjerry said:

Hello,

I have 4 alternative lenses to choose from to use on the Leica IIIg. The options include:

1. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Elmar f=9cm 1:4
2. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Elmar f=5cm 1:3.5
3. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Summaron f=3.5cm 1:3.5
4. Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Summitar f=5cm 1:2

Of the 4 lenses, I want to choose 2 first, roughly, which one is the most worthy of choice in terms of quality of sharpness, bokeh, and more flexible use?

Thank You

 

I like the Summitar and use it as the standard lens on my IIIg. The rendering can look surprisingly modern, especially when stopped down a bit, though you can get interesting swirly bokeh in some situations, especially at larger apertures with foliage in the background. Erwin Puts rated it a little sharper than the first Summicron in the centre when shot wide open, though the Summitar benefits less from stopping down and is softer in the corners. The Summitar seems easier to find in clean condition than the collapsible Summicron, too. Get a coated one if you can. I have one of the barn door hoods more as a curiosity than something I would use regularly. The Summitar has a unique conical filter thread, but the SNHOO adapter (or a modern copy) converts it to E39, which opens up the choice of both filters and hoods.

The 5cm Elmar f/3.5 is of course a classic and you can't really go wrong with one if you don't mind a slower lens and the slightly fiddly aperture lever. Either way, a 50 of some description is a natural fit for the IIIg's main framelines. A 90 like that 9cm Elmar will of course pair well with the inner framelines, though you may get more use out of the Summaron, which is more of a general purpose lens. But the latter will need an accessory finder for accurate framing, making the built-in finder redundant, so it's arguably a better fit for one of the earlier LTM bodies if you happen to have one.

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7 hours ago, Pyrogallol said:

111g, 50mm Summitar and Barn Door hood works OK.

Black line across frame and top edge of lens is all you see through the viewfinder, best picture I could get trying to line up an I Pad camera.

That's good to know. Thank you!

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