Leica Showcase Canon 50mm F2.2

This is a rare lens, made from 1/1961 to 6/1961 and sold only in Japan. According to Peter Kitchingman's authoritative book, serial numbers ran from 10000 to 13381. This is the 89th lens produced, and is in beautiful condition. Glass is near perfect, focus is smooth, and there is no play in the movement. Focus is spot on with my M9. This was not a popular lens, as the Canon 50/1.8 was one of the best lenses of the day.
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This lens was billed as an "Economy lens". The 50/2.2 is a 5 element in 4 group lens, a 1-2-1-1 layout. The rear doublet of a traditional double Gauss 1-2-2-1 layout was combined to an element of higher power. In 1961 it was 40% less cost than the 50/1.8 (6 elements in 4 groups) and 25% less than the 50/2.8 (4 elements in 3 groups) as priced in 1959. The rear element of this lens is a proportionately large diameter, about the same as the front element, compared with most double-Gauss lenses.

I do not have the "prescription" for this lens, which would be in the patent. BUT- I am guessing that it uses less expensive glass than the special high-index of refraction/ low dispersion elements found in the later Canon lenses. Maybe that's why the inner surfaces are in such good condition, often not the case with other Canon lenses.

Very overcast today, but wanted to get a quick test in. Next sunny day, will get some better images with this lens. I also have my recently acquired clean-glass 50/1.8 to compare with.


To add- 10 years ago this lens sold for $750 or so at some auction sites. This one is in top condition, and was ~$100 shipped from Japan. I've picked up several lenses out of Japan this year at a fraction of the cost they commanded a few years ago. Maybe the new generation is inheriting collections and selling them off? I don't know, but it's given me a chance to grab some lenses that were way to pricey not long ago.

All wide-open, out of necessity. It was a dull-gray day.
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M. Valdemar

Veteran
Location
New York City
I think the answer to lowering Japanese prices is the fact that the older camera collectors are dying off and their kids have no interest in their collections. There is a glut on the market. If you go to Tokyo you see camera stores packed to the rafters with unsold old gear.

There is also somewhat of an extended economic downturn in Japan.

The really enthusiastic collectors are now mostly in China. There is a huge interest in older lenses among Chinese youth. Not just collecting but modifying, shooting them digitally. The Chinese have the appreciation for older photographic equipment and now have the money to acquire what they want.
 
I've seen a number of lenses hacked into Leica mount coming out of China for a lot of money. I figured there was high interest in older lenses there. Lenses that used to be considered "junk", such as the Wollensak 51mm F1.5 Raptar go for more than Summarit 50/1.5's. I'm surprised that more shops do not convert the pre-war Sonnars to Leica mount.

I have several one-of-a-kind lenses, and rare lenses. When I retire- will probably do more lens hacking.
 

M. Valdemar

Veteran
Location
New York City
I do not read Chinese but I do follow several Chinese forums dedicated to lens hacking and old lenses. (using Google Translate)

The amount of effort and attention to detail is simply amazing. Discussions go on for weeks about every nuance of every optical quality. The Chinese are fascinated with old optics and they dive in with no reservations.

There are DIY instructions for lens hacking and converting to Leica mounts. If you search eBay, you can find several Chinese sellers who sell these hacked lenses for what I consider insanely high prices, but someone must be buying them.

Like Brian said, there are some lenses that used to be worth next to nothing, but now have achieved "cult" status and prices go stratosphereic.

Brian, you can probably start a very profitable second career when you retire....:thumbsup:



PS: For example, here's an eBay seller who specializes in pricey hacked lenses:
 
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Splashes of color- wide-open,
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Overall impression of this lens- center sharp even wide-open. Noticeable vignetting at F2.2, gone by F4. Much sharper overall at F4- like most lenses of the day. Some "swirlies", typical of Planar type lenses.

But the Bokeh on this lens is very smooth. Most 50mm lenses are over-corrected for spherical aberration, meaning the out of focus circles are edge-weighted. This lens has a nice Gaussian blur for the OOF objects. The Nikkor 10.5cm F2.5 was designed to give a similar look, undercorrected for spherical aberration. I'm seeing more of these lenses popping up on Ebay for reasonable prices. Considering that ~3500 total were made, getting a good one for under $200 is a "steal" compared with some other lenses out there. The rendering on this lens is very uncommon, and has a very pleasing quality to it.


Full-res images uploaded to Flickr.
 
The Sun came out close to sunset today- time for a quick walk, grabbed the M9 with the 50/2.2 on it. The trees in the neighborhood are blossoming. I forgot to set the lens type in the Menu setting- so Exif is wrong. All shots wide-open, catching the last rays of the sun.

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I really like this lens. It is rare, but prices are back to Earth on it. It is an unusual 5 element, simplified double-gauss. You can see "Swirlies", but otherwise- the out of focus areas are smooth, well corrected for spherical aberration.
 

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