50mm lenses.

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by kevin_thompson|3, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. Hi there,
    I have bought a Leica M6 body and I am looking for a good 50mm lens for it. As this is my first Leica, I am not sure which type of lens I should buy.
    Sorry if this sounds a silly question.
  2. There aren't really any bad choices; your options range from decent (oldest, cheapest lenses) to cutting-edge excellent. What type of photography will you do with it, and what's your budget?
  3. The classic choice is the 50 mm Summicron f2, optically a very well balanced and excellent lens, with used models from about 1980 having the useful focussing tab. Recent versions are very expensive, but you should be able to find an older 1980 to 1990 one in near mint condition for about five hundred dollars. The more recent Zeiss-Cosina 50 mm F2 Planar is supposed to be as good or better and about the same price used. If you don't need speed and like a compact camera + lens, the recently discontinued (a few years ago) collapsible 50 mm Elmar-M f2.8 lens is also priced in the same range for a mint example and is an excellent performer. Those are the three I would go with, although there may be something to be said for a 50 mm f1.5 Nokton, which requires an LTM to M mount adapter (the whole, new, for about the same cost)
  4. Kevin, there are a number of good 50mm lenses. Considerations are speed (maximum aperture), price, and size. All of these criteria come second to image quality. One of the best sources of information about image quality (IQ) is Irwin Puts. imx.nl/photo
    The three brands to consider are Leica, Zeiss, and Voigtlander. The very best at any price are the newest Leica. After that, the new Zeiss and Voigtlander often top the charts when compared to vintage Leica. I would consider a Voigtlander f1.5 nokton, a Zeiss f2 planar, or one of the used Leica f2 summicrons.
    Good luck.
  5. Don't forget the Konica Hexanon 50mm f2, which is probably the best buy of the f2 or faster lenses. M-mount. Build quality rivals Leica and tops the Cosina built Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses. (Not to say those lenses aren't built well, but they're not as solid as Leica or Konica. The Zeiss lenses are prone to developing the "wobbles.") Many would argue image quality rivals the current production Leica Summicron. And it can be found for about $400 used.
    If you want a more classic "look" as in lower contrast, softer wide open, etc, there's tons of choices from Leica and screw-mount lenses from Canon (the 50mm f1.8 is very good for $200) and Nikon (the 50mm f1.4 is a superb lens).
    There's tons of great info at Stephen Gandy's site, cameraquest.com.
  6. I used many FSU lenses and found them to be very inexpensive and really quite good! You can use them with an adapter to mount on M cameras (my favorite was an Elmar copy f3.5). My other choice for bargain lenses would be Canon LTM again with M adapter(my favorite is a 50mm f2.8). The only VC lens I own is a 15mm Heliar LTM on a BessaL so can only comment on that lens... excellent super wide even shooting wide open at f4.5!
  7. For B&W and colour shooting, you will probably be better off with one of the lenses mentioned above - I believe that performance/price wise, Zeiss Biogon is certainly difficult to beat. However, in B&W you might enjoy a lens with a lower contrast, and some older Leica lenses are exactly that, with an added bonus of a particularly interesting out of focus rendering - I would recommend in particular the Collapsible, rigid or DR Summicrons.
  8. ...while the DR 'cron recommended above is a beauty, and my favourite all-rounder, be careful mounting it on the M6. at least some M6 variants won't like the extra flange. start with the focus at infinity and proceed very gently to move it closer... anyway, even without mounting it, you will see where the problem lies

    best of luck with your search!
  9. I'm a big fan of the summilux pre-asph. A great lens at a great price...
  10. Lots of opinions here, I'll just add mine. I would stick to Leica lenses. You won't go wrong with any of the Summicrons but the later ones are all better than the early colapsible one. The 2.8 Elmars are fine lenses with the newer one reported to be a bit better than the original. The older screw-mount lenses would not be a first choice. Save your money and get the best one you can afford. The "street shooters" here seem to prefer the 35mm lenses but you will get a better perspective for portraits and people pictures with the 50mm lens. Good luck with whatever you get and welcome to the fold.
  11. At f2.8, you'd have to have super vision to see any difference in identical shots made with the various 50s made by Leica. The 50 'cron has two more aperture blades, making it more user-friendly, I'd say. The 50 Elmar-M only has 6 blades and will not adjust as closely as the 'cron or 'luxes. My Gossen meter reads in 1/10 stops, so I like to have a lens that adjusts as close to the meter reading as possible. I've experimented with 1/10 stop differences and sware I can see a difference!
    To me, the 50 Summicron, in like condition, is worth another 25-30% over the 50 Elmar-M for the above reason.
  12. I would for sure recomend a Leica 50mm - other brands might be just as good (or even better) - but for a first 50mm the only choice IMHO is a Leica.
    Then any in Leica 50mm decent condition will do! Like some suggested a Summicron will be an excellent choice. The newer the better but any will do.
  13. Depending on your budget think Summilux or Summicron. Both will give you the performance expected from a first Leica.
    If you spent all your money on the body, and don't have $1000 for glass right now. Look into the thread mount older glass. Used 50mm Elmar's , Canon's or new Bessa/Cosina glass can be had for $200-400.
  14. Thanks for all the replies. I have just ordered a used 50mm Summicron-M (latest type).
  15. Correction to Frank's post re. the 50mm 2.8 Elmar. The one I bought new in 1967 has at least 12 diaphragm blades, not 6. The close focusing distance is about 3 feet - not sure how that compares to the other 50s.
    Good luck with your Summicron. You made a good choice.
  16. Aaron,
    IMHO having used Zeiss lenses on my Leicas for more than a year, and have found them to be as robust and as easy to handle as my Leica M lenses; the latter are primarily of current vintage. The Japanese made Zeiss lenses are worthy of the Zeiss name and are indeed Zeiss lenses (not to be second-guessed as second-rate simply for being built at Cosina's plant under very strict Zeiss quality control).
  17. Kevin,
    IMHO the Zeiss 50mm f2 Planar is the best 50mm f2 lens currently available. I suggest you take a very good look at it before considering a 50mm Summicron. I think its contrast and resolution is better than the Summicron's. Even Erwin Puts agrees with my assessment, which you can read about over at his website:
  18. All aperture mechanisms Leica ever used on their lenses are adjustable are free of calculation errors. Frank, your six aperture blade lens was simply out of specs; the number of blades has no effect on the amount of light transmitted at a given f-stop.
    My two Gossen meters indicate 2/10 _apart_, consistently across the range. In a subsequent comparison, Gossen vs. Sekonic, it was 3/10 and 1/10 respectively. All of them are the ± latest electronical models.
  19. PC B- I did not say that the f-stop clicks were not accurate. They are probably set right on. When you get above f8, and the meter says f8.2, it is difficult to set the lens that closely, as it wants to drop into f8. Between f11 and f16, you have more trouble. It is not a real bad problem, however. My 50mm Elmar-M only has 6 blades. Older 50 Elmars do have the old style 12-blade apertures and I am sure they take a closer setting than the new Elmar-M. Still, it is a very high quality item, the likes of which has not been made in USA for decades.

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