Leica 50mm woes

What? No love here for the superb — and cheap! — Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm ƒ/1.8?

That lens gets a lot of high marks from reviewers, and can be had for US$20 or so.

Another candidate: the Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm ƒ/3.5 Macro. By at least one test, this is regarded as the 4th sharpest OM Zuiko ever produced — and it can be had for under US$50!
I had an OM-1 set, including a later 50/1.4 multicoated lens, 135/3.5, and an Olympus wide. Traded all for a Contax IIa and 50/1.5 Sonnar.

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I prefer the Konica 50/1.7, just as cheap and sharper. Quality up there with my Summicrons.
I'm not sure how many other Leica shooters converted their Konica 50/1.7 to RF-Coupled M-Mount. I did.

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The largest measured differences: flare and transmission.


(Tangent- the Konica 28/1.8 has got to be one of the most over-hyped lenses in the series. I have one on mint condition, the Nikkor 28/2 is much better and 1/3rd the price)
 
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William Lewis

Veteran
Location
Hayward WI
Real Name
William Lewis
My newest 50 is the Chiyoko Super Rokkor 50/2 C. Now that's a sweet lens, much like a Summitar. I got it after BrianS suggested it and it was a great reminder of how well he knows what he is talking about. Love the bokeh...
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And simply the way it draws in general.

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Location
Switzerland
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Matt
Guys, what I'll say now isn't exactly news, but: Whoever's unsure what M mount 50mm to get, take heed: The Voigtländer APO-Lanthar is it.*

I've elaborated a bit in a different post because I had promised I would (and did so with relish!).

But I'll repeat it here: You can't go wrong with the APO-Lanthar, and you can't really do any better for that kind of money.

N.B. This is the first lens I've used on the M10 with which using any lens profile will actually be clearly *detrimental* to image quality ...

M.

*Except of course if money's no issue - get the APO-Summicron-M if you don't mind spending more than five times the amount of money.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
So, is the Leica 50 Summicron suddenly feeling threatened or what? :) You mentioned in the other post that it finds a new place on a secondary camera but do you think, based on these initial impressions, that the Apo will provide enough features, opticala performance and character to take over the duties of a f/2 fifty?
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
So, is the Leica 50 Summicron suddenly feeling threatened or what? :) You mentioned in the other post that it finds a new place on a secondary camera but do you think, based on these initial impressions, that the Apo will provide enough features, opticala performance and character to take over the duties of a f/2 fifty?
In brief: Easily. The Summicron-M was "threatened" by the Nokton 50mm f/1.2 already - but the Summicron's small size, good sharpness and nice rendering made that match kind of a draw, with the Nokton being the better lens stopped down, but not quite at f/2. The Summicron is a classic with impressive optics for its vintage - but that's it. Truth be told, for most of my shooting, I actually preferred the little old Nokton 50mm f/1.5 already, but I know that that's just me ...

The APO-Lanthar essentially does everything better than the Summicron-M; well, the bokeh side of things is subjective, but the APO-Lanthar is clearly more predictable, and I like what I see, even if it's not totally smooth at close focusing distances (not to mention that the Summicron's bokeh has its quirks as well - LoCA ...). Sharpness, contrast, correction - the Summicron-M is weaker there. The Leica rendering is nice, but I prefer the clearer, more refined images coming from the Voigtländer.

M.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
Interesting. Have you used either the Zeiss Planar 50/2 or Sonnar 50/1.5 on your M's? If so, how would they compare to the APO?
No, I haven't. The Sonnar is a different kind of lens, though - while indeed interesting, this wouldn't be a fair contest. The Sonnar has a unique rendering, but otherwise is a bundle of quirks, loveable though some may find it. But its size and style make it desirable for some - it's just not a universal choice. The APO-Lanthar certainly is.

The Planar is known to be optically fantastic - but it's no APO lens, and while it may win a direct comparison with the Summicron-M (many think so), it would definitely have a hard time to beat out the APO-Lanthar. That said, I'd certainly be interested in a side-by-side of those two - they're about the same price (around here), with a little advantage for the Zeiss in that respect. However, I've already mentioned that the APO-Lanthar tops the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S - and that lens leaves the Summicron-M in the dust, full stop. So ... well, I'd be very, very surprised and immensely impressed if the Planar actually held up.

It's actually hard to believe and somewhat difficult to show, but if you capture tiny detail (and get your focus right on the M), it's just - there. Clean, precise, but not harsh or exaggerated. It's uncanny. I've captured a few tiny flowers yesterday, and while the images weren't the best in terms of composition and framing, the minute lines and folds held up at 100%, no issues, no outlining (the Z 50mm can show some), wonderful natural sharpness fall-off ...

The APO-Lanthar has two "faults": Swirly bokeh at close distances (but not otherwise nervous or harsh), and quite heavy vignetting wide open. But *that's it*!

I love my Zeiss 35mm lenses - both are extremely well corrected, too, and sharp as anything. And their rendering is great, too. So, the Planar may well be competitive.

M.
 
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William Lewis

Veteran
Location
Hayward WI
Real Name
William Lewis
Thank you for your thoughts. I do have my Nokton 50/1.5 and it's a very good and well behaved lens so that I get more tempted by lenses that are, shall we say, a bag of quirks. If I actually had toy money to spare, it would be a hard choice between the APO-Lanthar and the Planar. As it is I am more likely to find a used Sonnar type (be it Zeiss ZM or older Canon & Nikon) because of the special rendering those lenses have. Still if the money and a copy of the APO-Lanthar coincide I'll likely find myself very interested :drinks:
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
The APO-Lanthar has two "faults": Swirly bokeh at close distances (but not otherwise nervous or harsh), and quite heavy vignetting wide open. But *that's it*!
How's flare?

A lot what you describe seems to apply my 50 Heliar which has the sole fault of having pretty bad flare resistance. :)

Would be interesting to arrange a comparative shootout.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
Thank you for your thoughts. I do have my Nokton 50/1.5 and it's a very good and well behaved lens so that I get more tempted by lenses that are, shall we say, a bag of quirks. If I actually had toy money to spare, it would be a hard choice between the APO-Lanthar and the Planar. As it is I am more likely to find a used Sonnar type (be it Zeiss ZM or older Canon & Nikon) because of the special rendering those lenses have. Still if the money and a copy of the APO-Lanthar coincide I'll likely find myself very interested :drinks:
I own two Sonnar-type lenses (a surprisingly usable Jupiter-8 L/D and a great Nikkor-H*C 5cm f/2 I was able to source from Brian!) and know exactly what you mean. I'm certainly not against quirky lenses. But that's not the point when talking about the APO-Lanthar. I too like the Nokton 50mm f/1.5, btw. - it's been one of my most-used 50mm lenses so far, in fact, at least on the Ms. Just a nice bag of tricks, and it is sharp where it usually counts.

M.
 
I'm glad you got the APO-Lanthar, and agree- it is optically the best lens of all that I own. I learned to turn off the lens profile on the M Monochrom and M9. Not needed!

With that stated- I bought the 50/1.2 Nokton, will be taking it out this week. It's on the M9. I plan on going out with the Canon 50/1.2 and the Nokton. Focus was spot-on out of the box.

For me, it needs to be 50mm WHOA! I have some 70 of them in Leica mount.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Location
London
I'm glad you got the APO-Lanthar, and agree- it is optically the best lens of all that I own. I learned to turn off the lens profile on the M Monochrom and M9. Not needed!

With that stated- I bought the 50/1.2 Nokton, will be taking it out this week. It's on the M9. I plan on going out with the Canon 50/1.2 and the Nokton. Focus was spot-on out of the box.

For me, it needs to be 50mm WHOA! I have some 70 of them in Leica mount.
I’d be interested to see how you get on with the Canon Brian. There’s one going for a giveaway price at the minute which I haven’t succumbed to as like most of us I have enough 50s atm (well maybe…). And on the on the other side of the coin, I went into a camera store today to look at their used gear. There was my Nikon Pancake 50 F1.8 for £120 next to a Noctilux iv 50 F1 which was going for £5,200.
 
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I’d be interested to see how you get on with the Canon Brian. There’s one going for a giveaway price at the minute which I haven’t succumbed to as like most of us I have enough 50s atm (well maybe…)
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This one is my third- and this one has perfect glass. It is made in 1957, came with a Vt Deluxe. I had two prior, both had some coating damage to the surface being the aperture. This one is early, maybe Canon changed the lubricants later in the run.

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This lens is amazing, the first F1.2 lens for 35mm cameras. If the glass is clean- grab it and keep it. If the glass has some damage, and the price is right-

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I'd grab it. First 3 shots with perfect glass, the third shot: I built this lens out of two parts lenses, $90 total. Glass behind the aperture was damaged.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Location
London
View attachment 270879

This one is my third- and this one has perfect glass. It is made in 1957, came with a Vt Deluxe. I had two prior, both had some coating damage to the surface being the aperture. This one is early, maybe Canon changed the lubricants later in the run.

View attachment 270880

View attachment 270881

This lens is amazing, the first F1.2 lens for 35mm cameras. If the glass is clean- grab it and keep it. If the glass has some damage, and the price is right-

View attachment 270882

I'd grab it. First 3 shots with perfect glass, the third shot: I built this lens out of two parts lenses, $90 total. Glass behind the aperture was damaged.
Noted, many thanks
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
I keep seeing things in this thread that make me think I should try to get to know my V1 Nokton 50/1.5 better. Perhaps if I use it for October? Hmm...
I think it's an exceedingly nice and rewarding lens - if you don't crave perfection, that is. I really like the results.

There's a (sort of orphaned) showcase thread for it:

The only thing that bugs me about the lens is the focus ring - it's *not* comfortable to handle, and focus is not the smoothest ... If I try to adjust focus quickly, I'm prone to slipping or even hurting my fingers. But truth be told, this is extremely rare - usually, I'm not bothered by it while shooting.

M.
 
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