Discussion Forum Leica M System M Lenses What's your favorite 50mm M lens?
  • #401
    David Farkas

    Leica 50mm M lenses are legendary for their performance and character. Which is your all-time favorite?

  • #436
    etrigan63

    Sadly, I have had incredibly limited experience with Leica glass. The few times I’ve gotten to use them, they have been unbelievable. Although some shots i took with a Noctilux were rejected by iStockPhoto due to “unacceptable blue chroma”. :confused:

  • #442
    Pham Minh Son

    Over the years Leica has offered more choices to one of the most popular focal length, “normal” 50mm. They all have their unique contribution to the functions from optic to ergonomic; a difficult choice to pick. However if I had to pick one or two, my choice would be the Noctilux F1 for black and white film and the 0.95/50 for the digital camera.

  • #453
    Riccis

    Whichever is currently mounted on my camera 🙂

  • #502
    thomasw_

    This my favourite focal length, and these 50mm lenses are preferred for various reasons:
    noctilux f1, v2 summilux, asph summilux and the DR summicron. Definitely Mandler’s designs appeal to me.

  • #526
    Jonathan SlackJonathan Slack

    Hi there
    Well, I don’t think it’s fashionable to say so, but I’m a fan of the modern Peter Karbe lenses. So, although I’ve owned an older 50 ‘cron, the f1 noctilux, the 50 ‘lux asph and the .95 ‘lux, it’s the latter two which are still in my collection.

    My favorite is the 50 ‘lux – it’s so small and neat, it focuses to .7 of a meter, and you don’t even have to think about how you’re using it, it’s perfect at all apertures in all situations.

    If I had one M9 body I think it’d be my most used lens, however, with two bodies I tend to use a 28 ‘cron asph on one body and the lovely 75 ‘cron asph on the other.

    all the best

  • #629
    koala54

    the 50 summilux is very good

  • #632
    Doug

    Are we talking Leica-branded lenses, or M-mount lenses? I didn’t have a 50mm at all for many years, using just the 35 Summicron and 90 TE on my M2. Now I have several 50mm lenses but none are Leica.

    The first time I used a 50 on the M2 was somewhat of a revelation. I could see easily outside the framelines… which I never could with the 35, and for the 90 it was immaterial because nearly everything was outside the framelines! I never have used the 90 much.

    So, now I have choices… C-Sonnar, Planar, f/2 Heliar collapsible, Skopar, and a pair of nickel Heliars, one f/2 and the other f/3.5. The first three have been coded and focus-checked by DAG; I most often pick the C-Sonnar or black Heliar to use.

  • #686
    ka7197

    I am always astounded (in a negative way) how people pretend the Summarit-M line of lenses just didn’t exist. With the limited choice of options, the poll above (or the result thereof) will be pointless and distorted.

    Currently I have two 50 mm M lenses; the Summilux-M 50 mm 1:1.4 Asph and the Summarit-M 50 mm 1:2.5. If I was limited to one then I’d keep the Summilux. Still, it’s the Summarit that gets more use due to smaller size and weight, unobtrusive appearance (makes the M9 look like daddy’s old point-and-shoot), and rendition. In comparison to the Summilux-M Asph, the Summarit-M has nicer foreground bokeh and a more natural rendition of the sharp-unsharp transition at the depth-of-field (DOF) limits. Furthermore, it has more DOF and less blur outside DOF at the same apertures. However the rendition of the far out-of-focus background at full or near-full aperture (f/2.5; f/2.8) is less favourable; it tends to double lines (at f/4, it’s as smooth as the Summilux’s).

    If you want selective focus and narrow DOF then the Summilux is to be preferred. It does not only open wider (1.4 vs. 2.5), at also has less DOF and more blur beyond the DOF area than the Summarit at the same aperture. The difference is equivalent to, say, 2/3 or 3/4 of an f-stop—i. e. not huge but significant. But usually, I want some DOF. I don’t subscribe to the currently fashionable mania of minimal DOF at all circumstances—at times, yes … but not always and for everything.

    I really wonder where these two lenses’ differences in DOF and backbround blur are coming from. Sure, the exact focal lengths are slightly different—Summilux is 51.4 mm; Summarit is 50.1 mm—but that’s not enough to explain. When eyeballing the entry pupil’s and exit pupil’s sizes then they are slightly but significantly wider in the Summilux … but then again: why? The focal length difference is approx. 2.5 %, i. e. insignificant, so it cannot fully explain the phenomenon.

    Anyway, I keep using both. Bottom line is, I don’t have a favourite. By the way, when I want perfect corner-to-corner sharpness then I’ll reach for the Apo-Summicron-M 75 mm Asph. In fact, I am using it more often than both 50 mm lenses. To me, it’s a longish standard lens, not a short telephoto. So if you’re asking for my favourite standard lens then this is it—even though I don’t like the ridiculously short focus throw and the ineffective telescope hood. There is always a fly in the ointment or two … sigh

  • #688
    David Farkas

    ka7197, welcome to Red Dot Forum and thanks for posting.

    The omission of the 50 Summarit was a simple oversight on my part when setting up the poll. I’ve fixed it and added the option.

    The Summarit is certainly no slouch of a lens. As I tell people who are new to Leica, there are no bad Leica lenses. In the world of Canon or Nikon, a faster aperture lens is almost always universally a better lens than a slower lens in the same focal length. The fast lenses are the “pro” lenses and the slower lenses are the “entry-level” or “consumer” lenses. This is just not case when talking about Leica lens choices. In some cases, like the new 21 Super-Elmar, the slower lens is actually optically superior to the faster, more expensive Lux. Of course, there is more to choosing an M lens than pure optical perfection and the 21 Lux exudes character – the Noct of wide angles, if you will.

    I’m intrigued by your findings that the 50 Summarit offers more DOF than the 50 Lux ASPH at equivalent apertures. Optical physics should dictate that the DOF would be the same on any 50mm lens on the same camera. Looks like Josh and I have some testing to do on Monday. 🙂

    Also, interesting that you prefer the 75 APO. It is a stellar lens, no doubt. The 75 APO and 50 Lux ASPH are essentially the same optical design with the 75 dropping one element due to slower aperture requirement and slightly longer focal length. Back at Photokina 2008, I had a very interesting chat with chief optics designer Peter Karbe who explained his design philosophy of these sister lenses, among other things. You can read the highlights here: Photokina 2008: Day 2 – Taking it easy and getting an education

    Again, sorry for omitting the 50 Summarit from the poll and thanks for participating.

    David

  • #692
    ka7197

    David Farkas;420 wrote: In the world of Canon or Nikon, a faster aperture lens is almost always universally a better lens than a slower lens in the same focal length. The fast lenses are the “pro” lenses and the slower lenses are the “entry-level” or “consumer” lenses.

    This distinction between ‘pro’ and ‘consumer’ lines of lenses emerged together with the advent of autofocus systems. Before that, in the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s, lens manufacturers produced their slow lenses to exactly the same optical, mechanical, and manufacturing standards as the faster ones. A slower lens was just slower, but not worse in any way. This changed in the ’80s and apparently keeps becoming worse every year. If you want a good lens then you have to get the fastest, even when you don’t want the bulk or weight associated. Leica (and I guess Zeiss, too) is one of the few companies who didn’t adopt this two-class lens manufacturing.

    David Farkas;420 wrote: As I tell people who are new to Leica, there are no bad Leica lenses.

    Exactly. Still, the Summarit-M line has a poor reputation. I guess mostly it’s due to the pro-vs-consumer dualism found elsewhere. The fact that the Summarits look different than Elmarits, Summicrons, or Summiluxes reinforces the impression of apparently being inferior … and Ken Rockwell’s lunacies aren’t helpful, either. :rolleyes:

    David Farkas;420 wrote: I’m intrigued by your findings that the 50 Summarit offers more DOF than the 50 Lux ASPH at equivalent apertures. Optical physics should dictate that the DOF would be the same on any 50mm lens on the same camera. Looks like Josh and I have some testing to do on Monday.

    You may start your research with Leica’s own tech specs which you can find on their homepage. There’s a PDF document for each lens for download, and these include depth-of-field tables. There you can see that indeed the Summarit-M 50 mm has more DOF than, say, the Summilux-M 50 mm Asph. In actual pictures, the difference in DOF is hard to see—but along with wider DOF comes less background blur, and that is pretty obvious. Also note the varying character of the out-of-focus rendition in the foreground, in the near background, and in the far background at various apertures.

    One—widely unknown—factor that affects DOF, besides aperture, focal length, distance, and image format, is pupil magnification. All other parameters being equal, greater pupil magnification means less DOF. However the effect on DOF is significant only at (very) close range. At normal (non-close-up) distances it’s insignificant, and at or near infinity the effect is virtually zero. So pupil magnification cannot explain the Summarit’s DOF difference. After all, there is hardly any difference in pupil magnification berween Summilux and Summarit to begin with … but as I said, there seems to be a difference in entry and exit pupil sizes, which is strange.

    By the way, a similar difference in DOF and background blur also can be found in the pair of Summilux-M 35 mm Asph and Summarit-M 35 mm, albeit to a lesser degree than in the 50 mm lenses. My hypothesis is, the aspherical design somehow amplifies the difference between in-focus and out-of-focus … but that’s just a speculation of mine, taken out of thin air.

    David Farkas;420 wrote: Also, interesting that you prefer the 75 APO. It is a stellar lens, no doubt. The 75 APO and 50 Lux ASPH are essentially the same optical design with the 75 dropping one element due to slower aperture requirement and slightly longer focal length.

    Yes, I am aware of that. And if you look at the MTF diagrams in Leica’s tech specs then you’ll see the the Summilux-M 50 mm Asph’s curves, high as they are, take a drop in the farthest corners (even at f/5.6) while the Apo-Summicron-M 75 Asph’s don’t—the later has an uncannily high level of performance across the whole field including the farthest corners, even at full aperture. And it shows in the pictures … umm, sometimes. Still, the main reason why I often prefer the 75 over the 50 is not corner sharpness but the fact that I simply prefer a slightly narrower field-of-view. Most rangefinder users prefer 35 or 50 mm as their ‘center of gravity’ of lens choices—for me it happens to be 75 mm.

  • #715
    Farnz

    For me, 50 Summilux asph no question.

    But I do have a soft spot for the humble 50/2.8 Elmar (no pun intended:rolleyes:)

    Pete.

  • #1022
    ericorlang

    I have to say my favorite 50 is the one I currently use now. A summicron rigid from the mid 50’s. Hard to believe that its been around twice as long as I have. I acquired with an M6 earlier this year for only $300 (not including the M6). I actually bought the body apart from the lens and didn’t have one until the guy that sold me the M6 LOANED me this summicron. Hard to believe someone would do a kind gesture such as this but I plan to pay it forward. I would like to get a new Summilux ASPH chrome for my next 50, but this is why my current ‘cron is my favorite 50!

  • #1040
    akitadog

    Hello All,

    Well I have had a number of Leica 50mm lenses, so I will list them and why I like or Don’t like / have them anymore.

    Leica 50mm f/2 Summicron Collapsable: Good Lens. Low Contrast. Liked it for B/W but didn’t like the bright chrome finnish.

    Leica 50mm f/2 Summicron Version 4: This was a great lens. I have never seen anything as good. Great contrast and saturation. Relatively small . This is the lens I should have kept, but I wanted a Summilux, so it was sold.

    Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux ver 2. This is a very nice lens. No doubt that the more modern leica Summilux lenses are better, but this is the one I could afford. I like the look I get with this lens. It has good contrast, excellent saturation. I shoot mainly colour film and print 16×20 Inch prints, and this lens has a wonderful look that I like. My Nikon or Mamiya lenses simply don’t look as nice.

    And yes, I can make excellent images with my other camera equipment, but I love the look of the Leica lenses, and particularly the Summilux Ver 2.

    Regards,

    akitadog

    This and my 35 Cron ver4, are my main lenses I use.

  • #1780
    simonrodgerson

    I like the pre-asph 50 1.4 . Mine is the later one with the lens hood. This one is sharp enough wide open. I had this Lens in the older body with a clip on lens hood a few years back. Serial no. 24xxx or something, and I seem to recall it had more character, so I liked it more. The bokeh to my eyes was just so special. People say the later one should not be any different ..they’re essentially the same lens in different clothing. Anyway the 50 1.4 pre is to me perfect. I had a norton voightlander. Also nice. Very sharp, but the bokeh was not so nice.

  • #2530
    jazz

    I have 50/2 Cron Rigid, love it.
    If I have big money in my pocket: 50/1,4 lux ASPH and ZM 50/1.5 Sonar

  • #2534
    Jack MacD

    The only 50mm I have is a modern Elmar 2.8 collapsable. so it would be my favorite. There was some question as to it being safe to use on an M8 or M9 but it seems to have adequate clearance from the shutter when collapsed. I suspect that concern was about an older model? If I am not correct, someone on this forum might tell me?

    I rarely “see” in 50mm so my favorites are wider lenses.
    Jack

  • #2741
    Delfi_r

    My fovourite 50 mm: those I have now. I’ve sold 6 of them, none bad, but…. The Summicron (I) was the first that came and the first to go. I’ve adquired up to seven 50s and I’ve sold them to pay a Summilux ASPH. After that I’ve kept the Dual Range Summicron (II) for the chrome M4-P.

  • #2770
    gogopix

    The 50mm cron APO ASPH (I can dream, no?) :p

    Victor

  • #2774
    Paratom

    David Farkas;420 wrote: ka7197, welcome to Red Dot Forum and thanks for posting.

    The omission of the 50 Summarit was a simple oversight on my part when setting up the poll. I’ve fixed it and added the option.

    The Summarit is certainly no slouch of a lens. As I tell people who are new to Leica, there are no bad Leica lenses.I’m intrigued by your findings that the 50 Summarit offers more DOF than the 50 Lux ASPH at equivalent apertures. Optical physics should dictate that the DOF would be the same on any 50mm lens on the same camera. Looks like Josh and I have some testing to do on Monday. 🙂
    ….Again, sorry for omitting the 50 Summarit from the poll and thanks for participating.

    David

    David- I once compare a Noctilux 1.0 and a Summilux asph and a Summicron and also had the impression that there are slight differences in DOF even at comparable f-stops.

  • #2775
    David Farkas

    Paratom;2854 wrote: David- I once compare a Noctilux 1.0 and a Summilux asph and a Summicron and also had the impression that there are slight differences in DOF even at comparable f-stops.

    Tom,

    Perhaps it is the differences in microcontrast and bokeh rending that gives the impression of more/less DOF…. Basically, just a different optical fingerprint.

  • #4474
    redhawk

    Every 50 Leica has made is special in my opinion but the Lux ASPH stands out for me because it’s such an amazing performer in so many different situations. It’s got the speed for low light. It has amazing sharpness. It is very well corrected and it has delicious bokeh. The pre-ASPH Luxes are also wonderful, with amazing bokeh and character, but the ASPH pulls off next-level sharpness and pop at every aperture.

    The rigid and dual-range Summicrons are very close behind. They require no introduction. They were the resolution benchmark for decades. They possess unparalleled build quality, they have great character and bokeh, and after all, they built some massive pillars that Leica stands upon to this day. Sure, the new lenses are superb but my rigid Summicron and M3 are my favorite pair of jeans, my chicken soup. Never mind the analogies about it being an extension of yourself. Some things they just got right the first time and the M3/Summicron combo is one of them!

  • #4894
    cobbu2

    I’ll have to go along with Jack MacD on this one for the 50/2.8 collapsible Elmar-M (modern version). I’ve been a big fan of the collapsible lenses with my LTM and M bodies as they truly make the camera literally pocketable, or at least fit with lenses in the small Lowepro case I use on occasion. I usually have the Elmar-M mounted on my M6 or M4-2; on other occasions I actually have a Summitar (with the LTM adapter) on one of those Ms.

    The modern Elmar provides superb sharpness and contrast in such a small package, it’s the only modern M lens I use. Cheers, Allan

  • #4895
    PebblePlace

    The 50/2.8 Elmar didn’t do much for me. I found its wide open sharpness lacking, contrast slightly washed out (at F2.8) and some CA. For a F2.8 lens, I expect it to be quite good wide open.

    My vote goes for the 50 Lux ASPH. Once an expensive lens, but now with a $8000+ 50 APO above as well the Noc ASPH, now the 50 Lux ASPH looks like a bargain – it’s all relative 🙂 The 50 Lux ASPH has a very distinctive draw at F1.4 to F2 and it’s wide open sharpness and lack of CA are impressive. My only niggle is the corners – they can come up short in sharpness, and in the case of the bokeh, the bokeh (in the corners) can get busy with a double-image rendering. Neither are show stoppers, but it is something to keep in mind at times.

    I’ve owned the Noc F1, Noc ASPH, 50 Lux ASPH, 50 Cron, 50 Elmar and 50 Lux Pre-ASPH. 50 Lux ASPH wins in my book. Some day I hope to try the 50 APO to see if cleans up some of the 50 Lux ASPH shortcomings.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.