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Friday, 23 January 2009


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OK, Young Grump, could you tell us your no-brainer preferences and reasons for them between the 50 Summilux, 50 Summicron and 50 Planar? I presume this is on film, and are you referring to pre-aspherical or post Summis?


When the first came out the Summarits were cheaper than they are now. Leica has had two price increases since then. So, initially, the Summarit was a bit more expensive but you got 6-bit coding at no extra charge (only important to M8 users) and a better warranty.
As far as I know Zeiss hasn't raised any of their net prices yet, but almost everyone else has so I wouldn't be surprised if they do soon.
So right now the Planar is a far better deal at almost 1/2 the price but that may not last. Get 'em while they're hot!

Summarit is coded. Planar is not-

Although on a 50 it makes little difference. On a 35 or wider it does. And presumably future (I am hopeful) Leica rangefinders may employ software optical corrections just as Hasselblad, Panasonic and others do now. So ignoring the IR issue, coding may still have benefits going forward. Or DXO could create a module for Leica lenses...not that they need it:)

Zeiss would be wise to mill the indentations into any of it's new mounts but leave out the paint to avoid patent infringement. Better yet Leica could allow other manufacturers to produce coded mounts. It would be good for the ecosystem.

Overall, the summarits themselves seem to be part of the Leica development that has one wondering, just what were they thinking. The recent (dropped I think) campaign to sell uber-expensive cameras with semi-bargain lenses as point and shoots to new Leica customers was also part of this. The infamous "S" mode, although not without precedent (my dad's ambi silette, the poor man's Leica from 1956 had a "o" or mode, hyperfocal markings on the lens focus scale and a "o" at f9.5 if I recall correctly, essentially a rangefinder point and shoot mode)-is pretty weak considering it only works on 35's and lower, all this for 5500! Perhaps the legacy of Steven-Best Buy Lee, the former CEO? I have no idea.

Otoh-One has to welcome a lower price point even if it is not Zeiss-low, and also the component assembly procedures they employ are starting to be used across other lenses and products, and should help them in the future, ie; the S2.

Finally the summarit 24 is supposedly a really great performer, and as Sean has noted, works wonderfully with the M8's max frame lines, and does not block the view. A compact "bodycap" lens if that is your focal length. Makes the also wonderful Elmarit 24 odd man out, considering the forthcoming lux 24.

And since I am being product evangelist: the summarit 75 as reviewed by Sean is a great deal compared to the over twice as expensive only half stop faster cron 75.

probably the 50 and 35 are the least attractive.

I love Sean's reviews. Although, I don't use any of the gear he normally reviews, but I can still appreciate the effort and thought process which makes them fun and informative.

I'm getting more into film these days (sticking with Pentax LX), maybe a range finder is in my future.

I'm only talking about the 50.

Mike J.

"I'm only talking about the 50."

I know, I agree the 50 is a dog when you consider 50 pre-aspherical summilux's are out there, the 50 crons too!

I have a zeiss 25 and while it is a great lens for the money, the fact that it feels differently in hand compared to my other Leica lenses makes a difference in handling. 1/3rd stop clicks as opposed to 1/2 stop (altho--for digital, the 1/3rds are very useful for expose the right nudging!) and the focus tab is weirdly convex not concave. At "least" the 50 summarit will feel like a Leica lens.

I'm reaching, right?

Yes, but compared to some of the other Leica lenses (eg. 50, f/1.0) it's a bargin, might as well pick one up while at B&H. sa.

Isn't Summarit a little bit smaller than Planar?

Just wanted to add:
I'm getting a little tired of all the Summarit haters. They are really fine lenses and not at all expensive - especially by Leica standards.
Sure Cosina makes some lenses that offer more bang for the buck but some people just want "Made In Germany" and what's wrong with that?
The cost to produce these lenses must be greater than the production of the Cosina lenses, so Leica must charge more to make a profit.
It's fine to spend your money more efficiently for lenses that are arguably just as good, but that doesn't mean one has to crap all over the Summarits and the people who choose to buy them!
For the record I've bought a few Voigtlander lenses new and so far my few Leica lenses are second-hand. Although with the current rebate I am probably going to pick up a new Elmarit 28mm ASPH, which will be my first ever new Leica purchase!
Thanks for the rant space Mike.

You're welcome, but "hate" is too strong a word for lenses. Even when I recently panned that Nikon zoom here, a reader immediately linked to some perfectly fine work he'd done with it. The FIRST principle is that the work is the thing, and if you can make good pictures with a digital p/s or a plastic triplet, well, whatever works. The Second Principle would have to be, do what you want. In the free world, as long as what you're doing isn't hurting anybody, then suit yourself. I can't imagine how an affection for any lens at all could hurt anybody, so, you want to use it, use it.

All that said, a lens is not automatically superior just because it has the L-word engraved on it. They make some great lenses and some not so. The thing I'd hate to see is somebody scrimping and saving for a Summarit 50 because they assume it's a magic bullet, and overlooking a better lens they could have had for less.

Although I guess we all have a right to make our own mistakes, too.

Mike J.

Robert says, above, "the summarit 24 is supposedly a really great performer." I'm afraid there is no Summarit 24. He also says "probably the 50 and 35 are the least attractive." Don't know about the 50, but I own the 35 Summarit and it is a superb lens. I liked it far better than the clinical Zeiss 35/2 I also tried out. Having said that, I agree with Mike the Summarit line is no bargain (I bought mine used). It only makes sense if you like the image rendition it produces.

my bad, I was referring to the new Elmar 24...so I'm way off base.

My point about the 35 and 50 being less attractive was based on their cost relative to the availability of older Leica lenses used that are faster and perform similarly if not better.

An embarrassment of riches.

I suspect I'd quite like the 35mm Summarit, based on Sean's review and poking around the web. But I doubt I'd like it more than the C/V 35/2.5, which is one of my favorites (and one of the only C/V lenses I'm not ultimately ambivalent about). And the question is really relative value: currently $1300 vs. $340. It boggles my mind every time I come across the standard Summarit description: "economical."

On the other hand, I can't quarrel with anyone who wants to use the Summarit. It's their money, and their lens, and god knows I've wasted enough money over the years not getting what I really wanted right from the start. Sometimes "economizing" isn't.

Mike J.

If Leica knows they have a built-in customer base who will purchase their 'L'-branded products uncritically and at any inflated price, does Leica not then have little reason to compete fiercely in the open market?

Is there a new generation of Leicaphiles coming along who will continue allowing Leica to coast, however ungracefully, on its reputation?

Funny, yesterday I bought a mint R-d1 and a new CV 28/2 ultron, mainly based on Sean's review

at luminous-landscape and the also great review from Josh Root at photo.net.

Now, one day later, this post on TOP.

I think it started out that I read something about the Olympus E-1 on zone10 and that is not

unimportant wheter you like the look and feel of a camera, and even the shutter sound. True,

I had the E-1 and sold it. Then I started to realize how great this camera was and that there

is no adequate replacement for it. Also this whole discussions about noise are completely

unimportant for my personal stuff. The E-1 picuteres have the potential to look superb - at

every ISO, just depending on the me and some luck.

However, I always loved rangefinders, but prices were always keeping me away from a film

Leica, the R-d1 and the M8. Maybe this was a mistake from the beginning. How much DSLRs did I

buy and sell? How many lenses? How much did I lose this way?

Now, with the Rd-1 I am at home. After picking it up yesterday, making some shots and getting

used to the handling and buttons I knew it, even before looking at the pictures. Because what

should be wrong with them? Same sensor as in Nikon D50 which was fine. Meanwhile I think that

the minor differences in image quality are unimportant compared to differences in handling

and feeling of the camera. At least for me.

The R-d1 makes me think:

It is a real camera with a sensor behind the lens, not some digital cumbersome piece of

engeneers or marketeers dreams. It fits in the small pouch of my Naneu bag, like the compact

Olympus C5050z. It is light on the shoulder, feels there exactly like a Canonet. You set

aperture, exposure and focus like it should be. The viewfinder is a stunning 1:1, bright and

clear like nothing I have seen before. Then out on the street, you can flip the display

inwards and just concentrate on the real thing. I tried today, and it was so deliberating

after howling around those dslrs and pretending. And you stroke the lever to cock the

shutter. As Sean mentioned at this review, I too could appreciate that design decision after

actually using the camera. Some things one cannot convey in words. Operating a lever after

the shot is the way God ment it to be.

And there many other neat little details that Sean and Josh already disuseed at length.

So: Isn't this what someone called DMD?

Isn't it a pity that absolute milestone products like this get discontinued, yet they produce

always newer and weirder products to create consumer demand? I mean, some of us are really

let down. After having used the R-d1 for a few hours netto I don't even want to look through

and EVF or something like that.

And Mike: why don't you pick up some of these and end your quest for the next dslr? You

wouldn't regret it.

Also many thanks to Sean Read, whose review was really helpful. I subscribed a few minutes

ago to and am looking forward to have some fun wasting my time reading things that I won't

buy anyway ;-))

keep on posting...
best always

Comparing two lenses from a practical point of view ("the pictures I do") is an uncomplete comparison.

I like the Zeiss ZM lenses, but sometime I find some unwanted lateral movement in the focusing rings. Leica's Leica's manufacture seems to be better, maybe metal components are better, and 5 years of warranty costs money and points to the level of the quality control of the manufacturing process. Anyway, Zeiss lenses are optically similar to Leica lenses of the same speed (f/2, f/2.8), and Summarits are a half stop slower (in fact, f/2.4, when the Zeiss are f/2).

If you compare with Voigtländer lenses the differences are more evident: mechanical manufacturing, optical manufacturing (centering), tolerances, coatings (flare resistance), vignetting, resolution, contrasts...

Leica isn't charging a lot of money for the brand. A careful manufacturing process, top-class optical designs, materials and components, costs a lot of money. The long warranty period says all the story.

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