35mm for street photography 35mm Zeiss ZM f2 or Summaron f2.8

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by joe_quiogue, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. Good day everyone! I am now in the position that a 50mm Summilux cannot cut my street photography needs, so I am in search of a quality 35mm lens with great Bokeh in the $500-750 range. I have narrowed down my choice to either a 35mm Zeiss ZM f2 or 35mm Summaron f2.8. I have been reading reviews on them, and they are both highly regarded. I guess what I need is a push on which one to choose. I shoot with an M5, and most of the time use black and white. If you have any other lenses in mind, that would be helpful as well. Thanks for your help, and suggestions.
  2. There is the 35 Summicron, of course. But between the two you mentioned keep in mind that the Summaron is an older lens, and the
    focusing action of the Zeiss, even if used, is more likely going to be smoother. Zeiss ZM lenses are excellent, and in
    general render images with stronger contrast than Leica optics, which may or may not be to your preference.
  3. I am using both the 35/2 Biogon and 35/2 Summicron on a digital M8. My Biogon is considerably sharper than my Summicron for landscape work. For near focus work they're equally sharp but I prefer the Summicron's rendering. The Biogon is an excellent lens.
  4. That Zeiss is a great lens. I am totally satisfied with mine.
  5. SCL


    I used the 35 Summaron 2.8 for a number of years and truly miss it - but the 35 Summicron ASPH renders scenes with wonderful crispness. Having said that, you would be hard pressed to go wrong with any of the more modern 35 lenses, Leica, Zeiss or Voigtlander.
  6. The 35 Summaron recently replaced my 35 Summicron-M 3rd. Sharper at all stops, wonderful bokeh, about the same weight, and very smooth focus - it's made of brass, not alloy. Old fashioned Leica quality. You won't regret it.
  7. The Summaron has a longer focus throw giving an expanded DOF scale. This makes scale focusing easier where rf focusing isn't always possible in street shooting situations. The Summaron while sharp, has more curvature of field than the ZM lens. This may work to your advantage in street shooting with the Summaron. Also consider the ZM 35/2.8 Biogon. It's less conspicuous, cheaper and optically as good or better than the 35/2 Distagon.
  8. I have both, and while the Biogon is a better lens under all aspects, the Summaron renders B&W in a special way, with a typical, somewhat articulated bokeh, which can add interest to many photographs. For the street, the Biogon is more practical, but it is also twic as big.
    Here are some shots to give you the idea about the different rendering -
    Biogon 35/2:
    Summaron 35/2.8:
  9. You just cannot beat the 2.8 Summaron IMHO.
  10. I just scanned some negs from my 35 Summicron (4th version) and as always, they look incredible. I love my 21 Zeiss
    too, and have owned a 35 Summaron which was wonderful, but if I were to pick just one lens it would be the 35 Summicron. Stephen's
    comment is quite correct- you can't go wrong with any of these choices.
  11. [​IMG]
    35mm Summicron w/M8
  12. [​IMG]
    same lens w/M7 & Tri-X... but hey... it's really the subject, light, exposure & processing that's most important...
  13. Another vote for the Summaron. If you can find one in good condition you won't be disappointed.
  14. Stop down to f:8 and it won't make any difference.
    My own preference is the little 40mm Summicron -- just enough wider than the 50mm to be great for street shooting. Also, the 35mm frame lines are actually more accurate for a 40 at real working distances.
  15. Thank you everyone for your helpful suggestions. With regards to the Summaron, is there any difference with the one with goggles, and the one without? Is there any difference optically or if I mount them on a M5? With regards to the 35mm Summicron, now I'm really confused. Just saw one in EBAY go for $800, that's only $50 over my budget. Very tempting. Decisions....decisions.
  16. SCL


    I don't recall, it being over 40 years since I used both the goggled version along with the newer, non-goggled version of the Summaron, whether or not there was a noticeable optical difference in the pictures. The real trick, as I recall, was the viewfinder on your camera. I used the goggled version on an M3 which belonged to a friend and the goggles "fit" the proper frame in the viewfinder and filled it with the image. When my M4 body arrived, the goggles provided the wrong magnification factor and I slid them off, as my viewfinder was filled at 35mm. After several weeks, my new version, sans-goggles arrived, and as I recall, it was less clumsy to use. Sorry I can't be more specific. I think, of course, the non-goggled version is easiest to use, in that it is lighter without the optical apparatus attached, but you need to have the proper viewfinder magnification on your body to fill a 35mm frame. Also, since you aren't viewing thru an additional layer or so of glass, the view is brighter than with the goggled version.
  17. I have a 1956 SOOIC Cron I understand draws similar to the 35/2.8 Summaron. One 5x7 B&W image from the old Cron looks like medium format; sharp/smooth. The image was shot up-close at f/2.8 or 4. Street photography shot at f/8 will render most of the background in focus. The reason for the Summaron is the way it draws the OOF area and its sharpness up close. As for a 40, I have one and it works great with the smaller M6 35mm frame coverage. What you get on film using a 40 with M6 35 lines is close to 100% coverage. The 40mm will be more accurate on the M6/7/MP finder vs a M4/5.
  18. I own the 35mm Version I and Version IV Summicrons. You won't find those in any kind of decent condition for $750, as they are more than double that; but what you could find would be the version II or version III, within that budget. And while they may not have quite the performance of the I and IV (I've never owned the II or III, but they only have six elements and are not thought to be as well corrected as the others), they should be very adequate for street photography. You will probably stop down to f/5.6 or f/8 anyhow.
    That said, the Summaron has a lot to recommend it. It renders, or "draws" the image in a very smooth, pictorial way. It is plenty sharp enough. And the front element is set well back behind a black stepped lenshood-like retaining ring. That makes it pretty well shielded from stray light, so you can often get away without a lens hood. That's nice when you want to be in stealth mode. I used to have a Summaron, and I miss it!
    The goggled versions make the camera clumsier to handle, and more conspicuous. They do have a redeeming feature: they project the 35mm field of view within the camera's 50mm framelines, making the 35mm frame fully visible at a glance for eyeglass wearers. Oh, and they trade for less money than the non-goggled ones.
  19. The summicron type I is considered by many one of the greatest B&W lenses. The summaron, however, comes close to it or surpasses the summicron at some apertures.
    see link: http://www.antiquecameras.net/35summicronmlenses.html
    I think these lenses are about the best built quality ever ( I have both and other Leica and VC lenses). The summaron is an opportunity the get the best B&W quality (if you like that look) for a reasonable price, since the summicron I, especially Wetzlar made, is rather steeply priced and not necessarily better.
    If you can get a good one, you bought yourself a keeper for life.
  20. Thank you everyone for your help. I have decided to go with the Summaron M2 version no goggles. The Summicron is above my price range, and the Zeiss seems interesting, but I do prefer that B+W glow. Lastly, other than the extra stop. What are the pros and cons between the f3.5 and f2.8 Summarons? Is one better than the other or are they optically the same? Filter sizes are 39mm for both? Thanks again gents.
  21. The 2.8 Summaron is a better lens overall according to Leica experts. Mine is indeed quite sharp, which is impressive considering how old this lens is.
  22. Isn't 2.8 a little slow?
  23. 2.8 isn't slow for typical street photography, you'll probably be shooting apertures smaller than that until sunset. If conditions are cloudy or darker than normal, shoot 400/800/1600 film, whichever you think suits conditions. I think "bokeh" is overrated, one man's "wonderful bokeh" is another man's "this looks like crap".
    When I chose a 35mm lens, I checked pretty much all there was available. What I was looking for was something compact, with the M mount, and not outrageously priced. I also wanted something which could provide the same "character" I get with my other, older Leica lenses. The best lens which met the criteria was the Summaron 35/2.8. If I want clinically sharp images and/or wider apertures for low light, I'll simply use my SLR gear.

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