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90 Summicron (E48, ELC, 1959)


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I posed the following questions on another thread, but haven't got any feedback as yet, so hoping this might yield more fruit here.

 

I had been looking for a slightly longer lens for portrait and was recently given a 1959 Summicron 90 (I, ELC version - f16 min. aperture). Anyone have experience with this lens that they can draw from - any idiosyncrasies? How is it close up? I know there were several variations of version 1 between 1957 and '80, was there any difference optically, how about the glass coatings?

 

I was at some point going to buy an E55 Summicron (the pre ASPH version from between 1980 and '98) does anyone know how these compare? I would prefer not to now that I've been given an earlier version, but if the performance was drastically better I would still be interested. Incidentally I don't think I'd want to go for the latter ASPH version because it's most likely a little too sharp for flattering portraits.

 

Thanks in advance for any info.

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Sorry cannot add any value to this question except to say that I posess only the 90/2.8 TeleElmarit which has proved to be a stellar perfomer and is light and compact.

It receieved a lot of bad press but my example is top dog..

 

hope someone chips in with a more relevant answer...

cheers

andy

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I don't have that version but have the ELC f16 min version (Type 2?) and the ASPH version. Both are sharp and as you note the ASPH version may be too sharp for some work.

I would simply give the lens a try and then judge the results.

If your lens is anything like the ELC version I have, its big and heavy. My Type 2 Chrome weighs 628g's and the black ASPH weighs 494 g's. (weights measured with UV filters)

The only other problem with any of the 90mm Summicrons that if using wide open, your focus must be dead on ( I usually try for the eye) and even then not everything is in focus. I have switched to the 75mm Summicron for portraits.-Dick

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Well, it happens that I have both versions, one from 1959 as yours (1.681.650) in screw mount, the other of the 2nd generation of lens design (there are a lot of variants in the 1st version, but glass is the same): the only reason for I prefer the second is for it's a bit more compact... it's also someway sharper at edges but, anyway, I do not consider any of them as lenses to achieve top sharpness (in this sense, TE 90 and even the Elmar 90 3 elements are superior, at least the items I have). So, in my opinion, if you like to use it for portraits, yours it's a very pleasant lens ... almost as the Summarex 85...

 

Of course, the 1st version has also the removable lenshead... but I wasn't so satisfied when tried to use as a macro lens with Visoflex.

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Thank you so much for your excellent posts filled with great info!

 

Dick: It certainly is a heavy lens, I like to think it's 'reassuringly heavy'. Shall have to see re. the focus.

 

Echorec: that lens on a 5D - symbiosis I should imagine?

 

Luigi: I am glad you've got the extensive range of lenses you do (was it 60?!), because now I know I can always count on you to give sage advice based on personal experience with so many variations! So it seems our lenses were not quite split at birth, but are very close family, mine's No. is: 1680631.

 

Thanks again chaps, now to go shoot some stuff, I'll try to post some results.

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Now let's sort out this 'version' nonsense.

 

The supposed 'first version' is actually two, and they are optically different. The first one (1957–59, Wetzlar and Canada) had a separate hood and was quite soft, especially wide open. This was a classical double Gaussian six element design. The next version (1959–79, Canada) had a telescoping hood. This had been recomputed, though with the same basic optical layout, and performed nearly as well as the later five-element Summicron (1979–98), and actually somewhat better wide open!

 

Both took E48 filters and were humonguous brass cannon with a weight of close to 700 grams. Most people bought the lighter Elmarit lenses, except press photogs who did desperately need the speed. If you are going to use one of these lenses, book into a gym and start pumping iron. My esteemed former countryman (country of Skåne, man!) Tom Abrahamsson of Vancouver tells of how one Summicron lens tore a strap attachment out of a M3 he was carrying, whereupon it made a Kamikaze dive and landed, hood first, on his big toe (he was wearing sandals at that time). The toe did heal eventually, but the hood took on a free-form sculptural shape and could not be collapsed anymore. Object lesson: Wear industrial type shoes with reinforced toe caps when carrying that lens.

 

The old man from the Age of Gauss Lenses

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Now let's sort out this 'version' nonsense.

 

The supposed 'first version' is actually two, and they are optically different. The first one (1957–59, Wetzlar and Canada) had a separate hood and was quite soft, especially wide open. This was a classical double Gaussian six element design. The next version (1959–79, Canada) had a telescoping hood. This had been recomputed, though with the same basic optical layout, and performed nearly as well as the later five-element Summicron (1979–98), and actually somewhat better wide open!

 

Both took E48 filters and were humonguous brass cannon with a weight of close to 700 grams. Most people bought the lighter Elmarit lenses, except press photogs who did desperately need the speed. If you are going to use one of these lenses, book into a gym and start pumping iron. My esteemed former countryman (country of Skåne, man!) Tom Abrahamsson of Vancouver tells of how one Summicron lens tore a strap attachment out of a M3 he was carrying, whereupon it made a Kamikaze dive and landed, hood first, on his big toe (he was wearing sandals at that time). The toe did heal eventually, but the hood took on a free-form sculptural shape and could not be collapsed anymore. Object lesson: Wear industrial type shoes with reinforced toe caps when carrying that lens.

 

The old man from the Age of Gauss Lenses

 

Lars, you are right... I forgot the SOOZI..

, that really has different glass from the one I previously quoted as "first version".
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Now let's sort out this 'version' nonsense.

 

The supposed 'first version' is actually two, and they are optically different. The first one (1957–59, Wetzlar and Canada) had a separate hood and was quite soft, especially wide open. This was a classical double Gaussian six element design. The next version (1959–79, Canada) had a telescoping hood. This had been recomputed, though with the same basic optical layout, and performed nearly as well as the later five-element Summicron (1979–98), and actually somewhat better wide open!

 

Both took E48 filters and were humonguous brass cannon with a weight of close to 700 grams. Most people bought the lighter Elmarit lenses, except press photogs who did desperately need the speed. If you are going to use one of these lenses, book into a gym and start pumping iron. My esteemed former countryman (country of Skåne, man!) Tom Abrahamsson of Vancouver tells of how one Summicron lens tore a strap attachment out of a M3 he was carrying, whereupon it made a Kamikaze dive and landed, hood first, on his big toe (he was wearing sandals at that time). The toe did heal eventually, but the hood took on a free-form sculptural shape and could not be collapsed anymore. Object lesson: Wear industrial type shoes with reinforced toe caps when carrying that lens.

 

The old man from the Age of Gauss Lenses

 

Thank you Lars,

 

So it would be fair to say there were in fact three distinct types of Summicron 90s prior to the ASPH version? Great to hear that the one that I have, that I will now refer to as the 2nd type is better wide open than the later version! Could this wide open performance be related to lens diameter being reduced in the third type I wonder, perhaps that's one of the things you have to accept if you want reduced weight?

 

Thanks again!

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The (really) third version, last pre-ASPH 90mm Summicron is a completely different design, a five-element true telephoto lens weighing in at 440 grams, as against the c. 685 of the two preceding versions, which are symmetrical six-element long-focus lenses. So it's not possible to point to one single reason for the performance difference. They are just different!

 

Me, I'm using the five element version on the M8 on a regular basis and am pleased with the results. BTW Luigi, how do you like the early-mount lens that I procured for you?

 

The old man from the Age of Herr Professor Gauss

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The (really) third version, last pre-ASPH 90mm Summicron is a completely different design, a five-element true telephoto lens weighing in at 440 grams, as against the c. 685 of the two preceding versions, which are symmetrical six-element long-focus lenses. So it's not possible to point to one single reason for the performance difference. They are just different!

 

Me, I'm using the five element version on the M8 on a regular basis and am pleased with the results. BTW Luigi, how do you like the early-mount lens that I procured for you?

 

The old man from the Age of Herr Professor Gauss

 

Yup, I'm very happy to have it... it's so nice that I have decided to assign it to the group

"use with care - storage in right environment"

.. and I found the way to manage its backfocusing on M8.
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I don't know where 685gms and close to 700 gms comes from?

My measurements are with calibrated digital scale and 2KG cal weight. The scale is accurate to 1 gm.

I don't include the lens cover or rear cap but only UV filter and obtain 628 gms. While certanly heavy compared to many Leica lenses, it in no way approaches the 135mm f2.8 RF of 798 gms.

I found the 628 gms quite useful on my M3 for a number of years until I purchased a 90mm Summicron ASPH.-Dick

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I don't know where 685gms and close to 700 gms comes from?

Frankly, I haven't weighed one. I got the weight from Dennis Laney and Erwin Puts, Leica Taschenbuch, 7. Auflage. If your scales say it's less, congratulations. My own precision scales do not accept objects of that weight.

 

The old man from the Age of Hrrmph

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Mine is exactly 650 grams. It's a chrome/anodized version no 1818364, bayonet, six elements. I think the later black ones, also 6 elements, are sligtly lighter. I've also owned a version with 6 elements from the late seventies, black, with a non dimpled focusing ring. The performance of that lens was even better, so I think there has been a slight recomputation along the way. However, the early ones look much better. Luigi is right, as a close up or macro lens it's not very good, but there are many alternatives to that.

 

Erik.

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