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Sunday, 08 May 2022


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I have that pre-asph/v4/bokeh king 35mm summicron. It’s a marvellous lens. It looked new when I got it 12 years ago. The red dot has dropped, one of the hood tabs has fallen off. I’ve been (sadly) very careless with it but it still works like it always has. It’s been through a lot of rain and once drowned whilst taking pictures next to a jet-washer (did I say I was careless?) Malcolm Taylor who fixed it for me after that (the focus seized) was shocked (barnacles!). I didn’t know what I was buying at the time and I got it for a great price. The photographs look lovely. Someone suggested to me it could sell for £2k at which I laughed (I don’t think the state of the lens warrants it). Did I say it work likes it’s new? I am more careful with it now. There’s no point abusing a lens for no reason. If it ever breaks I will first cry and then buy that Nokton Classic. Looks lovely.
I also have that 35 Nikkor which I got for a bargain since it’s not the D version (£90?). I like that one too. Not like the summicron though.

If you still have that Minolta 40mm then you absolutely owe it to yourself to use it with the M10, it would be wonderful, don’t worry about the framelines just get it out there and use it.
I had a Leica 40mm and my copy tended a little magenta for some reason compared to the rest of my Leica lens which is the only reason I sold it on! Otherwise I would still be using it. I get so tempted by 40mm lens as for me they are just right. I have a 40mm on my D850 most of the time. And on my new Leica M11 a 35mm Summicron. If you did use the 40mm that M10 might not be going home anytime soon!

This article showed up in my Apple News feed this morning. Seems like you’re everywhere. Nice.

It's posts like this that make me wish we had a simple "+1" upding to give you.

Actually, the 40mm focal length makes a lot of sense on the Leica M. Frame lines on the viewfinder are very conservative, i.e., the 35mm frame line matches a 40mm field of view. Since the 40mm lens defaults to the 50mm frame line, you need to have a little bit of the 40mm lens mount filed off to bring up the 35mm frame lines by default. I used that setup for years on a Leica M6. I regret selling that lens.

How about the older Leica screw mount lenses? Are they still viable? Some nice glass that still works.

I would find it very interesting to know if and how the typical image characteristics of M lenses differ depending on whether you shoot with film or digital.
Especially with regard to the representation of the out-of-focus areas in the image / bokeh and the micro-contrast and all the other parameters that you can't measure individually.
That there is increased vignetting with the shorter focal lengths and digital shooting seems to be common, especially with Sony cameras with their thick filter glass over the sensor. With Leica bodies presumably less so, because the microlenses at the edge of the sensor are supposedly tilted slightly inward.
I don't have any original Leica lenses myself, but when shooting with the Nokton 1.2 / 35 mm Asph. (V1) and the Sony AII, I always have the impression that the blur areas are not as smooth and harmonious as on film, rather a bit harsher, rougher, although this lens (despite CAs) is still one of my favorites, especially in black and white.

I assume that especially in your reader community there must be particular experiences on this subject.

Picture yourself owning the new Leica M-3-

I had a M4-2 for a decade, and I believe it had the same .72x viewfinder magnification as the M6. But darn if I could ever see, in one glance, the 35mm frame! Even if my eye was scrunched up to the eyepiece as close as possible then I still had to look around to see the edges of the frame.
The M4-2 is long gone, what it taught me was that 3 decades of the glorious OM-1 viewfinder had spoiled me for TTL viewing and focusing.
So….now my 35mm focal length is covered by a $50, slightly ratty f2.8 Zuiko. Talk about pedestrian! Doesn’t hold a candle to the lovely CV 35mm f2.5 P2 but good enough for the likes of me.

A PS; I’ve had 3 of the 40mm f2 Zuiko pass through my hands. Sold every one for 3-5x what I had paid for them to obtain funds for other photo stuff. Had a 35mm f2 Zuiko also. Too big. Sold off.

Mr. Adler brings up an excellent point. When transitioning from film to digital, most of my M lenses from the 1960's did not perform as well on the M8. Now I am using the Monochrom with Zeiss 35mm f2.8 Biogon...an excellent choice. All the newer Leica lenses have been reworked to to give optimum results on the digital sensor...But you have to pay through the nose to get there.
An alternative choice are the 3 Olympus f1.2 pro lenses on a Olympus micro 4/3 body. Ive been using this combo for the last 3 years and have found the lenses to be perfectly matched to the sensor. All can be used confidently wide open giving very nice bokeh. 24"x18" museum quality prints are easily obtainable and if you need to go bigger, Photoshop has the Enhance feature to go 40"x30". The whole idea is to get an Image that I shot 30 years ago to be consistent with a Image I shot yesterday.

That collapsible 50mm Summicron is the first Leica lens I owned (it's what came with the M3 body I bought used around 1973). Then I added a 90mm Summicron and then a 35mm Summicron to it, and I was happy. I wanted f1.4 for small lenses on my SLRs, but f/2 was good on the rangefinder, and it was nice matching all 3 at f/2. I don't think the faster options existed yet, in any case (the last of them, the 35mm, I bought in 1975).

I did shoot them wide open mostly, though, except when shooting flash. Covering events for the college alumni magazine was usually flash, and with that I was around f/5.6 or at least f/4 (on PLUS-X, bouncing the flash; I had a good flash, a Braun RL-515). Other stuff was available light, often pushing the TRI-X to EI 1200 or so.

Malcolm Taylor restored, which is probably the correct verb, my Leica M4. He replaced the shutter, sorted out the loose elements in the rangefinder and did a general CLA.

Malcolm was a very interesting person to talk with and had high regard for people who used Leica Ms, which was one reason, he said, he liked to fix their cameras. Certainly, after Malcolm's work, my M4 continues to work as new and is a joy to use. I prefer it to my 'classic' M6 Leitz, although the meter in the M6 can come in useful on occasion.

Gosh! You just reminded me that I have the 35 Summicron-M (ver 4) somewhere which I must take out to use again after being in hibernation for >20 years.

How close are the DR and the Rigid? At one point, for reasons I can’t remember, I thought they were (nearly) identical in formula, maybe construction.

Same question for the Minolta and Leica 40/2 lenses? I can’t imagine them being “the same” but their similarities and differences would be interesting, as I have the Cron but not the Rokkor. As if I need to feed my GAS …

The original Leica f/1.2 Noctilux introduced in 1966 has been selling at auctions in the $35,000 range. A Leica web page states 1,757 were made between 1966 and 1975.

Leica recently introduced a remake of the original, selling for almost $8,000.

If Mike will permit a slight digression, it's wonderful to see that amusing picture posted by fellow commenter Herman Krieger. Mr. Krieger is only a year younger than Leica cameras are, as he was born the year after the original "Leica" miniature format was introduced to the world.

His biographical web page of photographs, put together long before the era of Facebook and blogging websites, is a fascinating look at a slice of the last American century. From it, I learned that he was an employee of a photo store a full eighty years ago.


... and if you can't go the full (manor) Leica way, a Sony A7 (or Nikon or Canon) allows you to use those lenses without drawbacks.
My personal experiences with a Voigtländer 35mm VM lens on Sony lived up to my expectations, as far as I've read lenses of 35mm and longer focal lengths won't suffer from filter stack induced degradations.

Of course this won't get you the original rangefinder experience, but you can do all that zone focusing that often lets you react better than depending on auto-focus decisions, as well as manually handling f-stops and/or shutter speed. And you can get that for a quite minimal investment - nice if you have other obligations, too.

Voigtländer 50mm collapsible :

Heliar_50_mm_f_3_5 I have and too sharp. There are others http://dankerinphotography.com/voigtlander-50mm-f2-heliar-classic and I guess this non-m lens is for leica body for some. But it is quite good.

I recall that when it was introduced, Leica planned to sell about 2,000 of the 35 Summicron Aspherical, but only made about half that number.

The collapsible 50mm Summicron was probably my favourite lens in the 60's, as my 35mm Summaron didn't grab me as much, and with slow films the extra stops were quite useful.

While both the collapsible Summicron and the rigid in both its forms were 7 element, there was a reshaping of the elements that made the rigid a noticeably 'better' lens, in terms of resolution across the field, especially in the outer zones and at larger apertures. Rumour had (has) it that the dual range lensheads were selected as the better ones from the inevitable sample variations. The performance of the dual range always impressed me, except for flare.

I liked the Zeiss Biogon 35/2. It may not win comparisons, but it has strong contrast and "pop", handy size and the design ensures very minor distortion. On the flip side it has aberrations and the bokeh can act up, but a lens shouldn't be too easy to use either.

Like Henning, I have heard the rumor that the optical units used for the DR Summicrons were picked out from the production as the better ones. But, I have never heard any credible verification of this. This myth is discussed here:

In both the DR and the fixed version, the optical unit is removable. Because of variation in the focal length, the optical units were matched with the focusing mount. This can be an issue when buying a used rigid or DR Summicron. (like any that anyone here is likely to see!)

As reported in the link above, only a single version of the DR focusing mount was made, and the optical units were chosen to match that focal length. That seems quite plausible to me.

If anyone wants to compare, the barrel of the optical unit of mine is marked 51.9, consistent with the account above.

Last night, I think I had a dream based on this blog post: Johnny Depp loaned me his Leica camera, with the collapsible 50, so that I could photograph the grounds of an old hotel. The camera was shaped more like a Bessa Voigtlander than a Leica, and it was very lightweight, made of plastic. I enjoyed using it very much, but I woke up before I got to develop the film. Johnny Depp was somewhat off-putting, but I appreciated that he let me borrow his camera.

I've been following this blog for years, so you've definitely biased my purchases in this regard. What you say is a good summary of my experience as well. Maybe I should share a little more about other experiences.

I did try the vintage 7 element Summicron 50 which I bought for a song, but I couldn't get along with it at all. It has a grease problem so is hard to focus and the aperture stops are non-linear - usability is a huge black spot. It would randomly turn and collapse as well, so I taped it fixed with gaffa tape. Front element was heavily scratched, so I hand polished it clean and image quality is better than I imagined. On a M9 sensor (which was very contrasty), the low contrast of this lens was actually a good pairing. I got some great images from this lens and the low contrast and softness wide open gave it character. A shame I couldn't get along with it. Maybe I'll open it up and regrease it and retry.

I have a modern 50/2 non-asph special edition in E39 screwmount, which I added a M mount adapter to make it work. Except that it doesn't work because focusing was a pain because it was slightly forward focused. The front element was strongly convex, hard to clean in the field and would collect a lot of dust because the dust cap is unusable because it falls off easily (can't put a cover cap due to the built in hood). Also, these modern 50s also have a front element that loosens over time - so you have to tighten it yourself (accessible on the back. Compared to the 35/2 asph it is a pain to focus because there's no focus tab. I put up with a lot of these problems and used it a lot, and even dropped it and got it repaired. The images it gave were spectacular. But it doesn't see much time on my camera now because modern sensors gather enough pixels that cropping is acceptable for me.

I had a Canada Leitz 35/2. It was soft, sharper when stopped down. But the aperture ring was tiny and somewhat loose so I couldn't feel set it easily (i.e. I had to look at it). And it had a slightly oily aperture blades and I think also a slight scratch on the front element -- didn't ever impact image quality, but I kept thinking that it might have. It was a perfectly fine lens actually, but I never really liked it compared to the modern ASPH.

I did some googling: slight correction on the Ur Leica lens, it was a 42.5mm.

"The first stage of work on the Ur Leica was to look on the lens which to my surprise, and that of Dr Wangorsch, was a 42.5mm, f4.5. It was a wide field Summar (a 6-element variant of the original Zeiss Planar) that had been designed by Carl Metz."


The collapsible 50 Summicron was my first and for a long time my only real Leica lens. Lots of glow and probably a need for a little expert care, but it has produced a few pictures that I treasure. Recently I was in the right place at the right time and got your "top choice." The designation is justified:
https://flic.kr/p/2njExr9 -- here's just a snap. It's a surprisingly oldfashioned design, tiny and even has a hint of moustache distortion. No digital tricks (to be cleaned up in post-processing; this is a film lens!

Slightly late to the party here but I own both the 35 Summicron v4 and the Voightlnder 35 1.4 Nockton II, both of whic I use on an M6 TTL. Of the two, the Summicron is much better handling lens. The aperture ring on the Nokton is controlled by two tabs set 180 degrees apart, whereas the Summicron has a ridged ring that runs almost all the way around the lens. The problem with the Nokton is that changing the aperture while the camera is to yuor eye is very fiddly as the tabs are at different positions depending on what aperture you atre set to - infuriating! Whereas the ribbed ring of the Summicron is always at your fingertips...

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