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Leica 50mm woes

mike3996

Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
I think I'm ready for a 50 mm lens for my M. The problem is of course how many options there are to choose from!

Money being no obstacle, I'd probably go for Leica Summilux 50, the newest. I like focusing tabs and speed!

Money being an obstacle, I'm very much drawn to the exotic Voigtländer 50 Heliar. They say it's got that biting pop and sharpness while retaining "non-clinical" rendering. But at f/3.5 the widest it's not an all-year-round lens option, not at least with my M240-P. But it surely looks creamy smooth stuff. The other downside is that I'd have to buy it new because the owners apparently love it so much they never sell them.

Another super interesting option is "the perfect budget 50", surely the Zeiss 50 Planar. Now, this is everything I love about a lens, and probably more. But there's the discussion about clinicality and character look -- I get it a little bit with my 35 Summicron ASPH and the thing about clinically rendering lenses is that you get those for every platform with autofocus and all.

I could also be going for 75mm but I don't know just yet.


Ah, screw it. Let's skip the usual grazing over the lens options for a week, my usual MO, and let me announce I just placed on order the 50 Heliar and the new 21/3.4 Color-Skopar.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
I could post some shots with the Canon 50 F2, F1.9, F1.8, F1.5, F1.4, and F0.95. I sold the F1.2. There is also the 50/3.5, 50/2.8, and 50/2.2- but I do not have those.

I just received a collapsible Industar-50 today, took it apart to clean, lube, and shim for the Leica. I'll be testing against a post-war Elmar.
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
I chose a different Voigtländer - the new Nokton 50mm f/1.2 is an astonishing lens, to say the least ... that said, I love tiny lenses, and, what with me being a Tessar buff, the Elmar-M 50mm f/2.8 is still one of my favourite lenses on M mount (it lives on the M6, but pairs well with the M 262 specifically).

Enjoy your Heliar ...

M.

P.S. *Don't* try the Summarit 75mm f/2.4 - or you'll end up buying one :wink:
 

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Sep 14, 2012
124
Texas
Don
Certainly there are a lot of options for 50mm with the M mount. I have a very nice summicron. Not the fastest but very satisfying. I think you made a great choice!
 

mike3996

Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Yes, I was just about to suggest a Canon LTM
I could post some shots with the Canon 50 F2, F1.9, F1.8, F1.5, F1.4, and F0.95. I sold the F1.2. There is also the 50/3.5, 50/2.8, and 50/2.2- but I do not have those.
I've read so many good things about the Japan Summilux but ultimately it might have too long of a focus throw to be enjoyable for me. But what great pictures it produces! If this fifty kicks off I might start collecting.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
Long focus throw- think of it as having a long rangefinder baselength. The movement from 3ft to infinity is just a few millimeters from the image plane. A long focus throw is more precise when focusing a fast lens. I wish the 50/1.1 Nokton and 50/1.1 7Artisans had 180degree throws.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
I made an Astigmar 50/2. I used the front section of a 5cm f2 Sonnar with the back section of a 5cm f2 Retina-Xenon mounted into an I-61 focus mount, RF coupled. It was wild. I gave it away to a friend.
 

Peter Klein

Regular
Dec 31, 2014
18
Seattle
Peter Klein
The first thing to ask yourself is: "What kind of pictures do I want to take?" Then also, "How much size and weight am I willing to put up with?" And, "Is there some kind of rendering that I really like?" Go for a lens that "sees" like you do, and handles the way you want. Try out different lenses if you can. At least, go to flickr and search for groups devoted to the lenses you are considering. See what other folks are doing with those lenses.

I'm with MoonMind on the new Voigtlander 50/1.2. I am very, very happy with mine. Though it's primarily a high-speed lens, it also it quite nice stopped down for all but the most critical edge-to-edge landscapes. The designers mitigated the one thing I didn't like about its predecessor, the 50/1.5 Nokton, which could give jarringly edgy bokeh wide-open when focused close-in. The 50/1.2 has a very nice balance between modern aspheric sharpness and the "rounder," smoother classic rendering.

I tried the current 50 Summilux ASPH for a day. I loved the pictures, but not the price. I also was surprised to find that I didn't like using the focus tab, and I like focus tabs. But the focusing mechanism didn't move smoothly and comfortably with just one finger. Anyway, if you love speed, the 50/1.2 Nokton is probably the next best thing to the Summilux.

For all-around use if you don't need faster than f/2, pretty much any 1960s or later 50 Summicron will give you Leica-quality joy. I have the 1980s tabbed version, and when I'm not going to shoot in available darkness, it's my go-to lens. Beyond that, there are so many good 50s. They are all a little different, but almost all Leica-compatible lenses of the last 40 years are more than good enough. The Zeiss Planar is a fabulous lens. It's rendering is different from Leica's, which some people like. Then there's the Sonnar, which is... well, if you read this forum, you already know.

Good luck on you journey. Take your time. You can't have everything, but if you choose wisely, you can have most of it.

--Peter
 
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mike3996

Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Good luck on you journey. Take your time.
Thanks Peter.

It's true, you may have read, that I like to see the world in 35 mm. Fifty hasn't been my favorite, ever. I find my compositions in fifty are much too clinical. Now that I got myself a fifty on the way, I don't expect to become a religious fifty fan from my little foray. But who knows, if I find myself suddenly preferring 50 over 35, that means good things. Absurdly wonderful selection of lenses, for all crop factors, for instance.

I expect to use my fifty first and foremost to detail shots, textures. Knowing more about composition and having more will to experiment, fifty could become a good friend to my street shooting as well.

Landscapes as well, who knows. With landscapes I've been satisfied with 28+70 angles of view and 50 is a fall-in-betweener but perhaps 21+50 is the new 28+70.

If I knew deep down I loved fifty, I'd probably gone for a Summilux, no doubt. It's not perfect but it's everything a fantastic fifty can be. It's the epitome of Leica look, to me. The good bits, at least.
 

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