35mm f3.5 Summaron for M3 tested

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andrew_schank, Aug 4, 2000.

  1. This lens came as part of a package, so I ended up taking some shots with it, and was very impressed with the image quality. You don't here much about the older, slower M lenses, and I know this lens isn't regarded as one of Leica's best formulas. I like the small size and the 10 bladed aperture that makes almost perfect circles at all the f stops. I also like that it focuses to 24 inches on a rangefinder, with full parralax correction. I was so surprised at the quality, that I decided to check it against my 40 Rokkor and 50mm Summicron on a lens test chart just for fun. Wide open it wasn't bad, but it did not do nearly as well as the Summicron and Rokkor at the same f3.5/f4.0 setting. The sharpness got much better by f5.6. By f8, it was able to resolve over 70 lines per mm center and 60 edge, which was as good as the 40 Rokkor, and only slightly less than the 50mm Summicron. (By the way, these absolute numbers are not as important as the comparisons from lens to lens. Using a higher contrast light source and sharper film than the 100 speed slide film I used will raise all of these numbers up). Here's is where it got interesting. At the smaller f stops, f16 and f22, it still resolved 70 LPMM center and edge, while the f2.0 lenses both fell to 50 and 50. This makes it a very usefull landscape lens where you can get everything in very sharp focus at high resolution from about 3 feet to infinity. I think it performs at the small apertures significantly better than the more modern, fast lenses, which are optimized for f8 and wider. This fact was born out in my field tests of the lens as well, and I made a 16 X 20 of My 1960 red Alfa Spider parked out along a grassy ridge at f16 that almost looks like a medium format shot.
    I'm keeping mine! I'd like to here any comments about this lens or other "sleeper" Leica lenses or Leica mount lenses others are using and happy with.
  2. Andrew,


    Your results are the same as mine. I used a non-goggled version of
    this lens on my M3 for years. It was harder to frame, but moving the
    eye around the finder, it could be done. I got mine very cheap as it
    had obvious element balsom seperation, and I didn't expect too much
    in the way of results... but I was shocked at how good it was.


    When I got my M2, life was great! The summicron is better at the
    wider stops, but there is an intangable look that really is special
    with this lens. I use mine when I don't want to risk the expensive
    equipment... and sometimes can't believe how good everything looks on
    the light table when my slides come back. In theory, the color
    shouldn't be this good with the primitive coatings, but it is
    shockingly vibrant. Maybe we put more stock in "new" things than is
    justified. New is great, but just a few years ago, people would have
    killed for lenses that we ignore now.


    If you see one of these on the shelf, and the price is right, grab
    one. It can be your foul weather, high crime area lens. Or it just
    might be your 35mm lens of choice.
  3. You are perfectly correct. Any of the old M lenses, in good
    condition, will deliver outstanding performance at f5.6 (except
    perhaps the 21/4). A few of the earlier designs, as you have
    found with the 35/3.5, really come into their own at the smaller
    f-stops as well. Another good example of this is the 135/4.5
    Hektor which is stunning at the smaller apertures but only OK
    wide open. The later 135/4 T-E was stunning wide open but its
    performance fell off at the smaller stops. Quite a few of the latest
    generation lenses are not only amazing wide open, but, also
    stay that way all the way through the aperture range. Good
    examples of this are the new 135/3.4 and 90/2.8,. So if you shoot
    mostly stopped down, the newer lens have little to offer over the
    older lenses and cost a whole whack more to boot, however,
    when the lights go down, the new generation of lenses are
    simply amazing wide open. If you have never tried a 35/1.4 asph,
    go to the dealer and try out a roll or two. You will be in for a real
  4. I can't add much to the other replies except to say that I think the
    Summaron 35/3.5 is an excellent lens that I have made many 16x20
    prints. The only drawback being a little on the slow side, but, it is
    not that often that I need a 'wide-open' lens. Also, I find that the
    Summaron compares favorably with my current Summicron 50/2.0 as far as
    resolution. BTW I also have a Summilux 35/1.4 but still use the
    Summicron regularly.

Share This Page