35 & 50 lux vs cron

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by anam_alpenia, Feb 11, 2002.

  1. Okay, here is a questions. I'm joining the force, and switching to
    the Leica M6 system. Should I get a 'lux in my outfit of 35mm
    and 50mm, or will the f2 crons do the job? Available light
    shooting is a primary medium for my (amateur) work (metro
    stations, cafes, street lighting). I have never used anything
    below f2, and this seems to work fairly well.
     
  2. I have never used anything below f2

    <p>

    I think you have answered your own question. The 'crons will certainly
    do the job.
     
  3. A thousand bucks for one stop? Think it over man. Buy film.
     
  4. I thought about this problem last fall and bought the 35mm 'cron
    instead of the 'lux. Given the the discounts and rebates last fall, I
    paid for slightly more than half of my 28mm 'cron with the
    savings from not buying the 'lux. I know that the two lenses are
    close in focal length but I love them both - certainly the two best
    lenses I've ever owned.
     
  5. > A thousand bucks for one stop? Think it over man. Buy film.

    <p>

    jeff, explain your logic? there's just no way around it. you'll
    always be a stop faster no matter what film you select. save yourself
    some money, drill a hole in the body cap and shoot EI64000 film?
     
  6. perhaps you meant save the $1000 and buy film with it. much better.
     
  7. If money is no object, then go with the 'Luxes. Or, take the middle
    road and decide on which focal length you're most likely to use in low
    light, and buy a 'Lux in that focal length while opting for 'Crons for
    the other lenses in your kit. Or, pinch money wads (pinching pennies
    with Leica is an oxymoron ;-) ), and go with all 'Crons.

    <p>

    The extra stop is certainly convenient, but think of it in terms of
    amortizing that extra $1K over the number of shots where it will be
    essential.
     
  8. I also never used anything below f2...that is until I bought the 35
    Summilux ASPH. Now that I have it, I find myself using it often.

    <p>

    When I bought my M6, I knew that I wanted one of the famous fast Leica
    lenses. With the Noctilux being so specialized (and expensive!) I
    decided on the 35 ASPH. I'm pretty confident that I'll never own a
    Noctilux, and don't especially want one at this time.

    <p>

    If you're like most people here, you're going to lust over over a fast
    lens sooner or later. Why not get a 35 Summilux ASPH (which is an
    excellent "everyday" lens as well) and get it over with now?

    <p>

    Just my two cents worth, but I had to say something as I just love this
    lens!

    <p>

    Good luck,
    Luke
     
  9. Thanks everyone! Mostlikely I will do the 35 lux and the 50
    cron....if I can find the money!
     
  10. Daniel-

    <p>

    Seriously, how often do you "need" to shoot at 1.4? All I'm saying
    that $1k is big bucks for a "just in case". You're right, I should
    have written buy more film. I shoot in similar situations to Anam
    with the 50 Summicron and rate HP5 at 320, I haven't missed the extra
    stop at much as I would have missed the grand. I guess that $1000
    dollars paid for a bunch of my film.
     
  11. I've got a 35 f/2 Canon, which is a skosh smaller than my 35 Summilux,
    and a 50 Summilux and a 50mm f/2 Canon Serenar (essentially a well
    made Sonnar copy). At f/8 I can't tell them apart.

    <p>

    I've learned that when I shoot at under 1/30th second, unsharpness is
    caused by camera shake. I therefore will shoot wide open whenever I
    can get away with the narrow depth of field.

    <p>

    If you've never experienced f/1.4, its twice as sharp as f/2, in terms
    of camera shake. I've even acquired a Noctilux, for yet more speed.
    Optically, these lenses are fairly sharp wide open. You can see a bit
    of vignetting, especially in the Noct, but I don't find it a problem.

    <p>

    If you're picky about optical quality, and regularly mount your camera
    on a tripod, and tend to shoot at f/5.6 or smaller, then the
    Summicrons are a bit better than their higher speed bretheran. Then
    if you go to all this trouble, why not get 4x5 view camera, with it's
    swings and tilts and sharpness that will blow the doors off any 35,
    even Leica.

    <p>

    I use the f/2 50 for daytime trips (it collapses, making the M3
    pocketable. The 50 Summilux is my favorite, it's ergonomics
    (reversable hood, large lens mounting dot) and optics are superb, and
    finally, the noctilux goes with me when I know I'll need that extra
    stop and don't mind the bulk, such as a wedding or theater.

    <p>

    You'll have to find your own way here. I started with the cheaper f/2
    lenses, and wound up with the faster ones, as that hand shake (or
    subject shake, if you're photographing people, is very real).

    <p>

    BTW in the Washington DC metro stations, the light underground is
    1/30th second at f/1 with ISO 200. You'll need all the speed you can
    get.
     
  12. Thanks, Tom. That does help considerably.
     
  13. I would go with a set of Crons you can buy a 90 with the money you
    save and you can easily turn your f2 Crons into Luxs for about eight
    bucks - just buy a roll of 800 ISO film instead of 400 ISO.
     
  14. Only you can say how much you need the extra speed (check the
    archives for extensive discussions of other point of comparison).
    You can accomplish a lot w/f/2, but, as Tom Bryant points out,
    when you need that extra stop, you need it. Also, in my
    experience w/street prices, the 35 'lux is *not* $1000 more than
    the 35 'cron, more like a "mere" $600 (although I lucked out &
    only paid $275 more).
     
  15. Many people trade their Cron in for a Lux (35), and NOT many
    people vice versa. Nuff said.
     
  16. Your need for the extra stop may not be the issue. You might "want"
    toshoot at 1.4.
     
  17. I drive a Mustang Cobra. Do I ever use all 320 HP? You bet. Would I
    use F-1.4 or F-1.0 if I had it and could afford it, you bet.

    <p>

    Regards,
     
  18. Anam,

    <p>

    I just refered to a Pop Photo review of the 35 and 50 mm Lux's (this is from 1994, so I am not sure what versions these are) but Pop Photo gave them both FAILING marks at the wider apertures! Granted, these would be for the equivelent of 16X20 enlargments. IF you are only going to make 6X9 or 8X10 prints, the point is mute....but if you find that truly GREAT shot (remember RFK on the floor after being shot) then it MAY make a difference.

    <p>

    Then again, the RFK shot wasn't set for correct exposure...the neg is VERY thin. I think (was it Bill Eppridge?) was in the right place at the right time, lifted the camera and shot at whatever was set on the camera.

    <p>

    Perhaps the newer versions hold up to the magazine "tests" a little better.....but I think the "Crons would do just fine!
     
  19. Todd,
    I'm familiar with that test, and because of it, I bought a Canon F1, with a 50mm f/1.4 FD lens (among others), instead of a Leica, thinking that it was sharper than a Summilux wide open. It wasn't. It was the sharpest 50mm f/1.4 lens I'd ever seen on an SLR (vs Nikon, Pentax, Minolta) but it wasn't sharper than some older shots I'd done with a Summilux.
    It turns out that Pop Phot does their tests based on imaging properties of a flat surface, not a more real world curved surface. Canon knew this and designed their lenses to pass this test. Leica knew that most photographers rarely shot flat walls at 5 meters distance, so they allowed it to have a significantly curved image plane, and corrected for other, uglier, abberations. The Summilux also has the very real advantage that it can shove its rear element back to within 3 cm of the film plane. An SLR lens, whose rear element must clear the mirror, does not have this luxury. This constraint cannot make for a sharper lens. These minor details perhaps explain why the real world performance of Leica glass, at least in focal lengths less than 60mm or so, have that marvelous "glow" that the others can't match, wide open.
    It took me two years to realise my error.
    Now, here's no way I'd choose the Canon 50 over the Summilux, except if I was photographing the night sky. And then, I'd use the Noctilux! (Or better still, a Schmidt camera).
    Beware of Pop Photo tests. While they do not lie, they do distort!
    What is said here of the 50 is also true of the 35.
     
  20. Tom,

    What you say makes sense....and not having shot a Lux at maximum aperture (or shot a Lux at all) I can't dispute your conxlusiions. I have read about Pop Photo and agree with you on their tests. I will have to try a Lux at 1.4...or maybe Contax G will answer the 1.4 challenge?!?!
     
  21. Okay; here I go with my answer, not only super late but also a bit off the way it was asked.
    The crons will do the job as far as light is concerned. But apart from the extra stop; the luxes are designed differently than the crons and the difference (in my stupid way of explaining things) can be seen in the colors and the realism of pictures taken with the luxes.
    The crons are designed to be sharp, but in realizing that; certain subjects tend to look flat. If you photograph flat walls a lot no big deal, since your subject is supposed to be flat anyway. But if you photograph subjects where you want to appreciate depth, this is where the luxes really shine. Maybe they sacrifice a little bit of sharpness but the realism and color of the pictures is just unreal (by color I don't mean "vivid" but "real" as you can get vivid color by using velvia film with just any fine lens).
    And I happen to know that most people who shoot available light or, wide open even with flash will be shooting subjects with a lot of depth and not flat walls.
    So... if you want good to great pictures definitely the crons will do the job. But if you want excelent pictures that you wont get tired of looking at or, wont believe you took, then the Luxes are the way to go.
    A thousand dollars more? Yes! but well worth it and wont regret it.
    Take care.
     
  22. Ok my answer for what it is worth...

    Yes and no. I think, if you like available light shooting, or if you just carry one lens, you owe it to yourself to have AT LEAST ONE F1.4 lens for low-light, so when you need it, you won't be caught with your trousers down.

    I am amazed that the 35mm lux entail no major visual sacrifice in sharpness, contrast and saturation if I shoot it wide open. I have both the 'cron and 'lux (both ASPH and the previous generation) but if I need to be assured I have the wherewithal to get the job done, I carry a 35 F1.4. Even for the Nikon I have AIS 35F1.4 manual lens, probably the only manual Nikon lens that I have. All the others are AF.

    Why 35mm F1.4 as opposed to 50mm F1.4? Well, in Leica world the 35 ASPH is better. Also, think about this. Yes, you may have to step closer with a 35mm than with a 50mm, but you can handhold this at least one stop slower. Furthermore, artistically they are different. Even when light level is OK, with a 50mm F1.4 wide open, you have a normal perspective lens, with very narrow depth of field - sometimes too narrow to be useful. With a 35mm, the dof is more reasonable - ie you can get the whole face in focus, but at the same time, it yields a substantial separation from the background which is normally impossible to obtain with a wide angle. I like this effect, but it is a personal taste.

    For me, the 50 F1.4 would be a luxury. In fact, although most of my shots in broad daylight are done at the 50 focal length, and I have quite a few normal Leica LTM and M-lens, I don't have a single 50 Summilux. I don't have a 50mm F1.4 for even for my Nikon SLR system (aside from the 50 F1.4 for my Nikon rangefinders because they are de facto standard equipment). For my Leica, the fastest is a Summarit, but I hardly use it.

    Yep, buy the 50mm 'cron and use the money saved to buy film. Or another body. Better yet, do as I do and put it in the fund for a Noctilux (which is a special lens).

    Johnson
     
  23. Something that may be worth mentioning is that, although a new 50 Summilux is expensive, approximately $1,750 at full price with warranty or about $1,400 on the grey market, a used one can be had for much less. Buying used lenses needs care but, if you get one from a reputable source with a return policy, it's not too risky; there's much less risk involved with a used lens than a used camera.

    Also, unless you need to focus closer than 1 meter, you can save even more by buying the previous generation 50 Summilux, with the detachable circular perforated shade. The optics are no different to the current version, although there may have been unannounced improvements to the coating over the years. I bought my 1973 50 'lux for $650 from a dealer a year ago and it's as good as new. I'm very pleased with it and it's nice to have f/1.4 when I need it, which is quite often.
     
  24. I have and shoot with both the 35s. In every respect I prefer the images
    from the Lux over the Cron. IMO, the advantage of a Leica M is speedy
    lenses. Without them I wouldn't have the camera at all, because many
    very good ( far less expensive) alternatives exist @ f/2 or 2.8.
     
  25. The differences between f/1.4 and f/2 cannot be mitigated by film speed
    alone. If you do a lot of environmental portraits with the 35mm where you get
    quite close to the subject in the foreground, the wide open looks of the 'lux
    and 'cron are quite different. On the other hand if your subjects are nearly
    always 5 meters or farther away then speed doesnt' matter as much. I
    suppose this is a bokeh thing.
     
  26. The best way to save money is to just buy one lens to begin with. After using that for a hile you will see if you need something faster or wider. The cheapest way to start is to get the 2/50. And it is one of the best, if not the best, lenses in the lineup so you can't really go wrong.

    But what was the most used lens in your previous system? If that was 35, or its equivalent, then I would get a 35 (as I did myself) to start with the Leica.
     

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