Leicamania: Summilux 50 f1.4 ASPH: Yes?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by luigi v, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. And so, after acquiring a 75 f2 APO Summicron M (and being very very happy about it),
    and owning already a 50 f2 Summicron 50 Jahre edition (optically the same as the current
    version) and a 50 f1.4 Summilux last pre asph version,
    my Leica addiction is driving me towards the newest Summilux 50 f1.4 ASPH...
    I know I don't really need it, but I know that, should I really want to try it, I could sell some
    of the above mentioned 50mm I own and go for it...but is this lens in your opinion really
    worth the extra money that I will have to fork out? Or should I just be happy with the
    previous non ASPH version that I own and enjoy already if the difference in pics quality will
    not even be noticeable?
    I've seen some pics taken with the ASPH Summilux and they do look really nice, very sharp
    indeed but still with a nice bokeh and I like that...All the reviews I read (including Mr Putts')
    praise and rate the lens capabilities very highly...But, from some users point of view, I
    heard complains about the "cold" feeling they get from this lens thus prefering the
    "warmer" effect of the previous non ASPH version to it...Not disputing the high technical
    level of the lens, I just wonder if the upgrade of my Leica line up is really worth.
    .................Or should I buy my third Noctilux again..............?
  2. You should look around and try to buy a 50/1.4 Nikkor and an M bayonet adapter.
  3. I traded my Noctilux and a 50mm Summicron for a new 50mm LHSA Asph Summilux.

    I am happy with my decision, but I would advise anyone else to look at results first. If you're happy, then do nothing and remain satisfied with what you have.

    I have to admit I do miss the Noctilux. It was just allot of fun to shoot with.
  4. Al, do you mean I can use an SLR lens on a rangefinder body?
    Pardon my amateur ignorance...
    I actually own (and use and enjoy and like it very very much...) a Nikkormat body WITH a 50
    f1.4 Nikkor...I didn't know I could use the lens on a Leica M body via an M adapter...Will I
    need a special M adaptor or is there just THE M adaptor?
  5. Lu you're out of control man. You just got a beautiful 75 cron. If you want sharp you already have it. And another Nocti? I'm still learning how to use your last one! Come and see me at the stall and I'll try to talk some sense into you. (coming from a man who has three 50s)

  6. Bill, how/where can I look for "results"...?
    And what difference do you mainly notice between the Lux ASPH and the Noctilux (besides
    the obvious difference of size/ease of handling?
  7. "...if the difference in pics quality will not even be noticeable?"

    IMO, unless you shoot slides and view them through a lupe on a light table or enlarge your prints to 24"x36" you will not notice the difference ...at least not enough to justify the difference in cost.

    "Or should I buy my third Noctilux again..."

    Very tempting!
  8. Seb, nice to have you here...I am off to Italy (again) next week but I shall be back very soon
    and may be we can do a week swap on the 2/75 and the Nocti if you wish, so just to try the
    Nocti "again" (I never really manage with its size...!).
    And I have not forgotten your box.....
  9. "...besides the obvious difference of size/ease of handling"

    That's just it. I never shot my Noctilux side-by-side with my new Summilux, but I keep all of my pictures. I can only tell you what lens I used based on memory, not because there is a striking difference in the results.

    And I will tell you when I had the Noctilux I never used my Summicron (not even once).
  10. Bill, that's a high praise for the Noctilux, isn'it? (Considering the Summicron's greatness...)
  11. Seb, you tried the 50 f1.4 ASPH as well, haven't you?
    Any comments?
  12. I never had much use for a Noctilux until I actually owned one. I just liked the way it balanced in my hand against my M body. IMO, the only things that takes some getting used to is the long focus-throw.

    ...not gospel, just my opinion.
  13. "Considering the Summicron's greatness..."

    At a full two stops faster the Noctilux is in a league of itメs own.

    My motivation in getting the Aph Summilux was to land in the middle - one stop under and one stop over when compared to the Noctilux and Summicron, respectively - and end up with better glass. At that point, with the Summilux in hand, it didn't make sense to keep either any longer.
  14. Luigi, I would buy one but I don't own one yet. You have to remember the asph model weighs heavier than the pre-asph model. There are several guys on leicacamera.com showing off their photo capabliites with the lens and sure is a pleasure to veiw. I think it is worth it.
  15. I really like the 50 asph. I used the pre 1.4 for a long long time, and miss it sometimes, but
    not for portraits, and not wide open. It was great in strong light at f4-11. The new 50 asph is
    really, really different, but let's put it this way: I'll never shoot with a 'cron again!
  16. If you like the 75 APO, the new 50 ASPH is a perfect match.

    If you d not use wide stops often, all are waste of money and size/weight.

    Al means a LTM Nikor 1.4.
  17. Luigi,

    I agree with Ronald, that Al is referring to the much older Nikon 50mm f/1.4 LTM lens with screw mount plus an M adapter.

    I like to use older Leica lenses, and older Canon lenses on my Leica M2. For what I want, they are very fine, but if you want the newest in lens technology, and, that Ok, get the best you can. I can't afford it, and I'm not sure such will give me what I want sine I use Leica for B/W only.

    Also, I do think that you might want to review your 50mm lens collection, do some comparison tests, and sell a few.

    No personal offense intended, but, there is MUCH more to a fine image than the lens specs and price.

    I get very fine images (for me at least) with a $50 Yashica Electro GT and Yashinon lens, my OM-1 SLR system, and with a fine $30 Yashica-A TLR!

    Working on technique and visual imaging is far more important than what equipment we have, IMO.
  18. Like Bill I also got the 50 Lux LHSA ASPH in chrome, have only shot enough to know that it is at least equal to the current 50 Cron at f:2.0.

    Once I'm certain (as the reviews suggest) that the Lux ASPH does everything the Cron does and more, I will sell the Cron.

    The chrome LHSA version has all the traditional look and feel of the classic Leitz lenses, with the state of the art optics.....an interesting combination. People often complain that the build quality today isn't up to traditional standards, this is one lens that fully lives up to the very best Leitz tradition.
  19. Nikon got there first big exposure outside of Japan when photojournalists covering the Korean War started putting their lenses on Leica III-C bodies. The 50/1.4, 85/2, and 105/2.5 were especially prized. They had nice hard coatings, were extremely sharp. The 105 was the same optic as the F mount, the others weren't. They were made in mounts for Leica, and Contax and Nikon rangefinder cameras.
  20. "The new 50 asph is really, really different, but let's put it this way: I'll never shoot with a 'cron again!"

    At least on paper, the MTF profile of the 50mm aspherical lux is at least as good, if not better, than the latest summicron formula except at the extreme edge of the field, where the difference may not be that noticable. Even at wide open, the MTF profile at f1.4 looks better than the Summicron at f2, except at the very edge of the field.

    Maybe MTF profiles aren't real photographs, but I'd be willing to bet that in practice, the 50mm apsherical lux would indeed make the Summicron redundant. The only reason for the Summicron to hold ground is cost. That extra stop and quality have such a high price tag.
  21. Maybe a couple of samples would help guide the discussion.
  22. Frederick, lets face it, the current Summicron is a 27 year old design, that has been the comparison standard for all other 50mm lenses.

    The 50 Lux ASPH supposedly does everything the Cron has always done (resolution and contrast at any aperture, and any focusing distance) in a compact 1.4 design.......the perfect lens.

    Pricey.....you bet, what is performance worth?....depends on the individual.
  23. I currently use 35mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH as my everyday lens. Before this 'lux I used VC 35mm Ultron 1.7 ASPH as my everyday lens. VC lenses are just incredible performers for the money. But boy do they fade in comparison to Leica glass. I must say that I have never seen such sharp images as the ones taken with my 'lux.
    It's an excellent high-rice lens, a bit heavy and big but otherwise impressive.
  24. Well David, I just picked up a used 50mm Lux Aspherical ... I couldn't justify the cost of a new one. So I am looking forward to putting it through its paces. When I first picked one up, I was stunned by how small and light it seemed relative to my Titanium pre-aspherical Lux. If the asph is as sharp as promised, the two may make a perfect combination. One for sharpness, and the other for glow and softer portraiture. We shall see. If the asph is as sharp as people say, and as the MTF's promise, it will be far too harsh for portraiture.
  25. Sure. Buy more from Leica. They need people like you to keep the company going.

    I agree that excellent pictures can be taken with average equipment, that the photographer's skill is more important than the equipment, etc.

    However, the enjoyment of photography is not just in the results, but also in the process, and part of the process is in the buying of equipment, handling of the equipment, marvelling at how beautifully machined it is and how well it handles, and the satisfaction one has from owning a fine piece of equipment.

    In other words, you can drive a Buick or you can drive a Bentley. Both will get you to your destination, but one gives you so much more pleasure than the other during the journey.
  26. "Sure. Buy more from Leica. They need people like you to keep the company going."

    Man, they don't see a dime from used sales. If they went bust tomorrow, there might be fifteen hundred or so of those babies around with almost zero float.

    "drive a Buick or you can drive a Bentley. Both will get you to your destination, but one gives you so much more pleasure than the other during the journey."

    But it takes a Ferrari to get you there at 250 mph. :)
  27. Luigi, are your current images not sharp enough for you, or, do you simply have too much money to spend on gear?
    I went through a phase of having the latest and best until I realized that it was just gearomania...sold most of it and have now never been happier with just a 50/2.8 Elmar from 1960 or so and a 90mm Elmar 4.0 from 1957.Together they cost me about $550.
    I recognize too that my photographic ability and skill level is in no way improved by having the finest glass, this is a very humbling experience and I am convinced that many on this forum have gone through the same.My 2 cents therefore for what it's worth is forget the ASPH summilux and spend a couple of hundred on an old piece of glass..it is more fun and very very much cheaper..lots of money left over for the important things in life.:)
  28. Lu
    I took the nocti into Richard Caplans and shot some frames with the nocti and the new Lux to see if there was any difference. The shots were outside in daylight so the apertures were not wide. It was very hard to see any difference. Wide open there is nothing to compare with the effect a nocti can create but then there is the smaller size of the Lux to consider. I was going to sell my pre asph lux but actually withdrew it from sale after flicking through my album and realising what a great lens it is so whatever you do don't sell that.
    My person opinion of the new Lux is that it is TOO sharp. But I like taking pictures of people and I don't necessarily need to see all their blocked skin pores. Maybe if you were a scientist or naturalist or something...
    Anyway with your current lens set up I think a nocti might be a worthwhile addition.
  29. 1. by asph summilux 50
  30. 2. pre asph summilux 50 (chrome version)
  31. 1. asph lux 50, again, now in 510 pixel.
  32. 3. rigid summicron from the golden 60s. the first two are shot wide open at 1.4, (or perhaps 2), can't remember now, the last one of course at 2.
  33. there is also a meanful discussion at here: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21474 together with a last tango with the 510 pixel rule.
  34. 4. more fun
  35. 5. fun again
  36. Darn sharp lens corner to corner.
  37. I have had three 50 Asphs. Stunning performance unfortunately coupled with mediocre
    focusing action. The focus action is not smooth and consistant in both directions nor even
    through the range as it is with other M lenses. It is not a severe problem but it is there and I
    instantly notice it everytime I use the lens.
  38. I agree with John. The focusing is stiff, maybe the floating elements thing requires thing? the LHSA one is nice though and comes with a decent hood too.
  39. The focusing action on mine is perfectly fine. Very nice, smooth throw, even through the range, so long as I use the focusing ring and not the focusing tab. The tab isn't quite as smooth, but no worse than using the tab on some other Leica lenses of mine.

    There were reports of a loose aperture ring, and I can see why others might think that. The aperture ring on mine isn't really loose per se ... what I notice is that the aperture click stops feel shallower than they are on other Leica lenses. This might pass for looseness, but I don't think it is. Because the click stops are shallower, it's easier to move the aperture ring, perhaps even unintentionally.
  40. The 50 Summilux-ASPH is just a spectacular optic. If I owned only one Leica 50, that would have to be it. Screen resolution just can't do justice to it, or to how it compares against the others. Wide open until around f/5.6 it so outclasses the previous Lux it isn't even a contest. The Summicron (latest) is a strong contender but the Lux-ASPH bests it too if you're really looking critically. And of course, the Cron is only f/2. But there's a catch-22. With the disappearance of <ISO100 film and the Leica's 1/1000 top speed, the opportunities for shooting it at 1.4 or 2 in daytime are minimal. Put a ND filter on it and you degrade the optics. In really low light situations, with fast film and slower speeds, and handheld, you never see its full potential. So the lens itself is as good as it gets, the problem is getting out of it the all the good it has to offer, and that you paid mucho diniero for.
  41. Vinay,
    very interesting point...
  42. Vinay, the highest resolution slide film is K64, and if you believe Kodak, it's going to be around for some time to come.

    If you also believe that digital capture is going to get better every year (that has been the trend so far), then in the future you are going to need the best lenses money can buy. So, what is the best high speed lens available today.....,my vote would probably be the 50 Lux ASPH.
  43. Hi David. @ ISO 64, in "sunny-16 daylight", f/1.4 would require 1/8000 shutter speed. So in order to shoot the 50 Summilux-ASPH wide open on a Leica M you would still need to put a 3-stop ND filter in front of that expensive Leica glass. Even if you have K25 in your freezer you'd still need an ND or confine shooting to overcast days or in the shade. If someone buys this lens because of its corner-to-corner sharpness at f/1.4, it would only be exploitable with a distant scene like a landscape (which brings up the daylight issue), or a flat subject nearby like a painting in a museum, due to the D.O.F. It's a fabulous lens and I'm glad I bought it, but I'm being realistic admitting that as far as getting my money's worth in performance-to-dollar, it's only on a small percentage of shots.
  44. Vinay,

    You wrote: "Wide open until around f/5.6 it so outclasses the previous Lux it isn't even a contest."
    What exactly do you mean by outclass? If the sole object of a lens is to help the photographer create aesthetically pleasing images, then what criteria are you using to make this assertion?
    Why do some people turn Leica photography into an incredibly expensive game of Top Trumps? The beauty of the Leica cult is in it's long lineage of lenses offering different, not better, signatures. You can get a 200 dollar Elmar and use it to create an image that might be more beautiful than the same shot with a different, more recent 50 in the hands of the same photographer.

    Regards, Seb.
  45. Sorry, I meant to also respond to your other point. Yes, if digital keeps getting better...but the M-D is starting out with less resolution than a Canon 1DS or 5D and about equal to the D200, and what's the chance of Leica upgrading it any time soon? Plus, much of that corner sharpness, where the 50-Lux-ASPH excells, will be cropped out by the sensor.
  46. It looks sharper, but you just know these small posts won't do it proper justice. I'm going to go back and read Erwin's articles on sharpness. He had written something about how Kodak had done studies that indicated the effective resolution was a function of the resolution of the film and the resolution of the lens. Apparently, to get an effective resolution that was equivalent to the resolution of the film, one had to use a lens that had something like 3 times the resolving power of the film. So you really need sharp lenses to take advantage of sharp film. I remember there was also this discussion on how fine the human eye can resolve because of the physical spacing between rods and cones in the retina and so on. All great stuff, and I'm sure there's some juicy arguments in there as to whether we are really getting what we paid for.

    But what the heck, it's a great lens, totally fondle-able, and, like my old uncle used to ask, "Does it take good pick-chers?" Uh, yep, I guess it does. :)
  47. Vinay, I guess I think of fast lens as an available light lens, don't really think of shooting wide open in bright sunlight. But then again maybe the MD will have 1/8000th.

    Just another thought, if all the gloom and doom stories come true, and Leica goes under, a 50 Lux ASPH may truly be a limited edition lens :)
  48. Lu

    Check out The Classic Camera site. They have the new 50 lux in chrome. I thought they only did the LHSA retro one in chrome but this is the regular new Lux in chrome. Would look great on that M7.
  49. Yes, David, me too, I think of a fast lens as being for low light. But for low light I also use at least 400-speed film, and usually 800-1200 or more. But shutter speeds still hover in the 1/30-1/60 realm, only rarely getting up to 1/125. Even with every body-support trick in the book, short of a tripod, I'm sure that even the shots that turn out "publishably sharp" aren't exploiting the full capabilities of that lens. It's a luxury acquisition for me.
  50. Wide open at f1.4 on Superia 400. Asph or Pre-Asph?
  51. After more than a year, my impression is that it is very very sharp.. so much so that wide-open it leaves you very little room for error on focusing. Wish I had a little more barrel travel. On the noctilux you have a huge travel on the focusing barrel, but at F1.0 you really need it.

    FWIW ..It's not a substitute for a NOX..keep both.
  52. No reason to get the new 50 1/4 ASPH unless you just want it. But, hey, there is not a thing in the world wrong with that. Its what drives the retail business, want not need.

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