Summitar Question

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by david_clark|4, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. What is the reputation of the Summitar? Does anyone use this lens with any
    success? They are not very expensive, is that because they are so bad folks
    will not consider owning one - or is it because they are plentiful? Thanks.
  2. Their reputation, as far as I know, is good and I like the tonality and sharpness of mine a lot.
  3. I used one throughout Europe and the U.S. in the mid 80's and it produced a nicely balanced mid-contrast image with a unique way of recording light. Mine did throw a crescent of light onto the neg if I didn't watch my light source.
  4. SCL


    So a search for "Summitar" ---there are 84 threads, but the LONG one from last June is priceless as it wanders about the glow and 3D characteristics of this lens into more esoteric leica mythology.
  5. The biggest downside of the lens is that it has very soft flint (lead) glass for the front element, which is readily scratched with careless cleaning. It shares this downside with the Summar and collapsible Summicron. So many are butchered in this way. It make this a dicey lens to buy on eBay -- I wouldn't buy it without a no questions return policy.

    They come in coated and uncoated, the coated ones are pricier. The coating is the early very soft Leitz coating.

    It was the last 50mm lens Leitz designed without assuming lens coating.

    Lots of collapsible Summicrons have incurable coating damage on the internal elements. Summitar isn't as prone to this. So in that way the Summitar is less of a risk to buy.

    Contrast is low wide open, but increases as you stop down. Astigmatic and somewhat unsharp in the corners wide open, but it cleans up.

    I agree with the notion that it's a wonderful lens for B&W.

    The barndoor hood is plentiful, with patience you can get the hood for under $50.
  6. Ask Les Gediman:
  7. I see a lot more Summars and collapsible Summicrons with scratched front element damage than Summitars. Of course, all of those Summicrons would have had a soft coating on that surface, while only a proportion of the Summitars, and the scratching commonly appears to have destroyed the coating without much damage to the glass. You will have seen the guff about high central resolution & poor corner resolution from Puts and others; I can't comment. They are nevertheless highly regarded. The Summitar and collapsible Summicron are both designs with large front elements to reduce vignetting/light loss in corners.
  8. I just started shooting with the Summitar, and I don't have any great examples yet, but I'd say it does a decent job with color as well as b&w. I haven't noticed any dropoff in sharpness at the corners.

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  9. The Summitar performs one step below the collapsible Summicron.
    That said, it produced very nice results and has a nice vintage signature. Contrast is medium and you will see some blooming around specular points. I own both lenses, so I speak from experience.

    The Summitar delivers the highest performance of the pre-war / wartime Leica lenses.
  10. Hi, dear friends. I own a beautyful Summitar, that i mount on Leica M2 or Bessa R2. The sharpness it's very very good.

    Vincenzo Maielli Italy
  11. I think for the price you can get ($150 to $225 depends) is one of the best 50mm you can have especially the coated ones, I love mine.
    Have this lense on a M3 with 400 ISO b/w ...that's all you need.
  12. Just keep in mind that this is a 1930's design. It has a certain look. Medium contrast, on the
    soft side wide open. It's perfectly capable of making 8x10 prints, but it can't compete with
    the later Leica glass or something like a 1960's Canon 1.8/50 in LTM.
  13. David,
    The lense is very sharp, especially after f4. I also like the out of focus areas (as a point of
    interest mine has the hexagonal iris, and dates to 1951). All my people shots with this
    lense are beautiful. Contrast is certainly better than uncoated, but not as much as modern
    lenses obviously. As other posters noted, the lense is often found with cleaning marks and
    haze. Ebay is very hit and miss - I bought my Summitar from a 100% seller who was selling
    lots of Leica gear - he claimed it was absolutely clear and without scratches. On arrival it
    had almost no cleaning marks, but the haze was substantial. Not a huge deal as it can be
    cleaned for a price - but the Leica technician (a highly regarded repairer) who restored it
    reminded me that there is a risk of the coating thinning or coming off altogether.
    Ultimately, this did not happen to my lense, but note the risk anyway.
    Comparing the lense to my 1970s Summicron or my new Voigtlander Nokton 50, then true
    enough, the lense is not as surgically sharp. Same comment compared against a Zeiss
    50mm Planar. Against a 1930's Zeiss (Contax) Sonnar 50 - the Zeiss is slightly sharper,
    with similar beautiful out of focus areas. But unless you specifically need that level of
    clinical/technical sharpness, I suggest you appreciate it as a classic lense that has a
    beautiful look to the very sharp images it produces. Final analysis: I think it is an unrrated
    lense and despite the other lenses I use with my M, Contax or Blad, I would not part with
  14. "It's perfectly capable of making 8x10 prints. . . . . . ."<p> Up until the seventies many 11x14 and 16x20 salon prints were quite common before the more modern lenses became common. I graduated to the Summicron when I got my M2 more because of accessory compatibility than any of its optical qualities. I could have accomplished the same with the SNHOO but I got a deal on the 'cron that I couldn't refuse. To this day I can't tell the resulting images apart, and I like its images better than the later generation 'crons.
  15. I have a summitar in perfect condition. It is a well made lens but the coating is not so tough. I never clean the lens without very serious reason. As for the quality of pictures it is good if you use the lens with knowledge of laws of optics. ie not wide open photographs of dinstant objects. A cheaper alternative is the jupiter 3 which is an exellent lens in 1/4 of the price. I have them both and I find the J3 to be sometimes more contrastry and as sharp or sharper in some apertures.
    J8 is good if you find a good sample, but J3 50mm f/1.5 is outstanding. For me is the best russian lense ever made for the kiev/contax and LTM rangefinders.
  16. Summitar was a 1939 Max Berek design.

    I got a very clean and coated Summitar with 10 blade diaphram. I love
    this lens.

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