Please help me understand--M 8 Element 35mm Summicron

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by jim_cain, May 31, 2003.

  1. Hi All:

    One of these went for US$1450 last night on Ebay (a mint example). At my hand, is a
    mint example of the same lens mounted on an M7. Our son brought it down to test
    while on a weekend visit with his family. A good friend of his is an heir to a lot of
    good leica stuff and wants to sell it to him.

    This is a beautiful lens. The chrome is from an earlier age--They don't make them
    like this anymore--glass is perfect.

    I'm not going to argue with the market--these 8 elements have exceeded the price
    for a new gray market 35 asph for months! Why? bokeh?- Glow?- Sharpness?- Rarity?

    Why this valuation?

  2. Good question. I wouldn't mind knowing myself
  3. I think this particular case is best explained by the old maxim, "there's a sucker born every minute."
  4. "This is a beautiful lens. The chrome is from an earlier age--They don't make
    them like this anymore--glass is perfect. "

    Maybe that is why.
  5. It's a gem of a lens. My personal favorite. However, the price is way out of line.
  6. rgh


    Its hard to evaluate what the 35mm Summicron is to either collectors or users without
    getting into the realm of what can be described as 'Leica Emotions'. The Summicron
    line of Leica lenses 35/50/90 have all taken on a Legendary status, and we can say
    deservingly so. The 50mm Summicron started it all, and seems will always be the
    50mm lens everything else is judged by. The big 1st version 90mm Summicron I feel
    is one of the best made and most beautiful lenses ever, and although I love the
    photographic 'look'
    of my pre-ASPH 90mm (especially wide open), the new ASPH may be as well corrected
    a lens you will ever

    For many the 'Leica' IS the 35mm focal length. It can do so much, and the 35mm
    Summicron with the f/2 speed and moderate wide/normal angle can be used in
    almost any situation with good effect. I once traveled for 2 years with only an M4 and
    2 lenses, and 90% of my photography was with a 35mm lens, and didn't feel I was
    ever missing that much. The 1st version 8-element can be said to be the best made
    of all the versions, the type of workmanship that the 'Leitz Wetzlar' reputation was
    made with. Its compact and solid and with a beautiful chrome finish (or if you are
    lucky and like, a black anodized/paint). It is well corrected optically and at f/4-f5.6 it
    would be hard to see any difference with the most modern aspherical lens version. Its
    not as high contrast as the 'modern' Leica lens line, and that may be its strongest
    attraction to the 'user', with black and white film particularly it gives a 'classic' look.

    I've had 35mm Summicrons in 'goggled' M3 version, a chrome, black 'paint', and now
    an unusual screw mount in black paint. The normal chrome version was made in the
    thousands from 1958 - 1969, and the M3 version is common also. Not the 'rare' lens
    you would think attracts the 'collector'. So there are 2 reasons I see why this lens is
    commanding such a 'high price'; an older 'classic' lens that is in 'mint' condition - as
    the years go by since this lens was available, fewer are around in this shape. The
    other is just best described as - the Leica Feel/Look - in both handling/built-quality,
    and the photographic quality. And it looks great on a classic Leica camera. A true
    modern classic.

    I am surprised at the prices I've seen lately, but that is the nature of the game. We
    may think its foolish, or just can not understand the reasoning, but if that's what
    people are willing to pay - and this seems to be not out of line with other auctions
    I've seen - then that's the price. Like that 1965 Mustang, it doesn't compare to a
    'modern' sports car on paper or in the street, but it gets you from here to there in
    STYLE. The 35mm 8-element Summicron just has loads of STYLE; in made quality,
    handling, and classic performance.
  7. It is funny how these things go in cycles.

    Now that we have all these new razor sharp ASPH lenses from Leica, the market is
    putting a premium on the old lenses that have "the glow". And wide open, the 8
    element Summicron definitely has "the glow". :). By f4, I don't think you can tell the
    difference from the later pre-asph Summicrons.

    I have one with goggles for the M3 in Exc+ condition that I picked up last year for a
    few hundred dollars. There were tons of these lenses made, so they really shouldn't
    command any kind of market premium for rarity.
  8. Some time back I traded a nearly mint RF-Summicron for a 4th version Summicron. The value of the RF-Summicron was about $650 retail.

    That lens was fine but too warm to suit me and it had lower contrast at f/2.0 compared to later 35's.

    As for the 65 Mustang. I could never understand why anybody would want one. I drove a new 68 and thought it looked tacky not to mention lousy brakes, handling and transmission. I bought a new Firebird. Looking back on it, they were all junk in those days.
  9. <<One of these went for US$1450 last night on Ebay (a mint example).>>

    No doubt to a fondler/collector to whom $600 (the amount by which that price exceeds its market value) means nothing. A user would buy an 8+ cosmetics 3rd-gen 35/2 for $500 and go shoot pictures.
  10. Thanks all. Actually it went for US$1546!
  11. I don't know about eight-element Summicrons, but I learned to drive on a '65 Mustang, guys, and that was a smokin' ride.
  12. Don't waste your time trying to find any logic in something like this. Someone made an emotional purchase and paid too much, which is his business, but it says nothing about the picture-taking value of the lens.

    By today's standards a stock '65 Mustang is a pretty crappy car to drive, BTW. Stylish, sure, but rather slow, SCARY brakes and bad handling.

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