Leica 50mm woes

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
Lexington, VA
Real Name
Steve
I hate the term "clinical" because I often like images described that way. It's like referring to all film images as "soft".
I think part of the joy of the Summilux is finding you actually managed to focus manually at 1.4 !

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I also have the Zeiss 50mm 1.5 Sonnar and I think I prefer it's bokeh. The Summilux bokeh can be nasty at times I'm afraid. I try and find an example!
That second shot is marvelous. My hand automatically moved toward the screen to pinch her cheek.
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
Lexington, VA
Real Name
Steve
Round three: Leica Summilux-M 50mm ASPH.

So I occasionally practice this "bidding in support" in some auction sites. I was looking for something else in eBay and while there, I found this good looking Summilux ASPH and I bid on it just for fun and to show support to the seller. No GAS really involved in that decision! But I made the grave mistake of not checking what these lenses actually go for. I assumed for a pristine 6bit-coded Summilux ASPH it'd be around 3k easy. I made a bid of €2.4k and went about my day.

As the closing time closing in I became nervous about not getting any "You've been outbid!" emails. 😰 Turns out € 2.4k is a pretty normal price for this lens on the ebays. 😵

Now you gotta realise I didn't have real GAS over another fast 50, not at least this soon! I mean, I had the Nokton for the entirety of 2 days before performing this stupid stunt. Nokton performs stupendously well for a 430-eur-used lens. Smooth to focus and very lovely rendering -- extremely perfectly sharp at all apertures on the center.

Of course, Summilux ASPH/practically-APO is in its class of its own. While I'm waiting for it to arrive from Ireland I'm starting to wonder if it's too perfect a lens? What I mean in this case:

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These (all are in this post) pics taken with Nokton are extremely lovely. Sensational quality and rendering for a 430-eur-used lens. But just "expected" and "appropriate for the money paid" for a Summilux? Taking these sorts of shots with lenses a fraction of the price feels more fulfilling, satisfying. I hope that's not going to be the case in the long run.

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Both these lenses are sharp and probably clinical to some eyes; perhaps the Nokton being 1/8 of the cost and performing a touch softer in places where it helps sounds like a real winner? Nokton does have some midfield/edge softness when shooting wide open. Then again, it's perfectly understandable ESPECIALLY when the vastly more expensive Leica gear behaves exactly the same, having midfield dips and whatnot. I'm not going to fault these lenses for copying the winning rendering recipe to a fault. :)

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I don't deny: pretty much everything that I've read about the Summilux ASPH sounds like a winner to me. "The best bokeh in a fifty", that eye-piercing 3D pop at any aperture, all the talk about it being actually sharper than the 50 Summicrons (non-APO). For a fifty shooter, this is the desert-island lens.

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And Nokton's not entirely perfect. The biggest issue: the bokeh balls have ugly nipples in them. Will definitely prefer a plain bokeh ball or a soap bubble.

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Consider this post your regular "buyer's remorse" post and also a serenade to Nokton 1.5 ASPH! During the immediate aftermath of winning the bid I returned the Nokton back to the store as I had the option to. I think the 48 hours with it will leave a permament good memory.
I'm not sure I could ever be 2.4K supportive. 🤑 There's something really good in that rendering of the Sportster.
 
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mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Ok the Nokton's back and I'm so happy about it. It's a tad lighter, its features are better for fast shooting (longer throw, good ring) and it's just a well made piece of gear just as the Summilux is.

Now I'm able to see how Nokton features some glow wide open but it's very sharp and usable at close distances.

I'm not too huge on making A/B comparisons on the go (you know me, I don't really like changing lenses) but I would like to get to the bottom of the reasons why Nokton resonated with me so much, and why I perceive the Summilux being clinical. I might begin on a new thread about that later on.

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mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
There's no Summilux equivalent for this but this quickly focused and shot casual Nokton shot well reflects my past experience. No matter how and what I shoot, the bokeh will be sexy and characterful. And with Summilux I'm guessing (no proof!) this would have been so smooth and tidy, nobody would complain. But I would!

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If you keep saying that Mandler-era Summilux lenses do this on the regular, hell yeah I'm interested. Then again, I have this here Nokton right in my hand, do I really need a Red dot brand lens that's ~ thrice the money and supposedly has some mild focus shift? :)
 

christilou

Legend
Location
Sunny Frimley
I can't find a thread for this so it may be slightly off topic ..... however, I keep trying to put into words how I feel about the M + 50mm Summilux. Here I used the M10 and 50mm Summilux ASPH and then switched to the Sony A7RIII 35mm 1.4 ZA and took two almost exact same photos. I cropped the 35mm but even so, when I look at the output from the two cameras (same processing) I still get something richer looking from the M + 50mm Summilux combo.

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mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Rendering, it goes a long way :)

For example, I don't think any of my fifties can match the Heliar 50/3.5 at f/3.5 in rendering, which the Heliar does which such ease and softness, yet everything focal plane is tack sharp of course.
 

William Lewis

Veteran
Location
Hayward WI
Real Name
William Lewis
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.

If you decide you want a Leica lens let me suggest the single finest one I ever used - The Summitar 50/2. Summicron like stopped down, capable of almost crazy and soft wide open. I regret selling that lens more than any other.
 

akuiper

Regular
I like the Canon a lot, in low light.
Out in the field it has the Gaussian characters: small and thin focal plane wide open, with a lot of attention to the smallest artifacts of the skin, somewhat like the last generations of Leica lenses.
Follow the finger


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She helped me a bit :)
The lens was adjusted (full CLA) at Will's Kamera Service in Zoetermeer NL, you can appreciate yourself if he did an outstanding job
 
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