Where have all the pre-ASPH 35mm Summiluxes gone?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by stuart d, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. (Actually, what is the plural of Summilux? Summili?)

    I love my ASPH 35mm Summilux, but sometimes when I'm travelling, I
    wish I had a smaller lens with a similar maximum aperture. So I've
    been looking casually for a pre-ASPH 35mm Summilux for about 4 months
    now, and I'm amazed at how few I have seen on the used market.
    Having checked the usual suspects repeatedly, I can count the non-M3
    goggled versions on one hand. Two were Titanium, and the others were
    well over $1000. Right now there is only one on ebay, with an
    opening price of $999 and a BIN price $200 higher.

    Given that the 4 versions of the pre-ASPH 35mm Summilux were in
    production for 30+ years, and that the optical performance of the
    ASPH is reported to be so much better wide open, I'm at a loss to
    explain why there is a dearth of them on the used market.

    Can anyone shed any light on this phenomenon?

    Thanks, Stuart
  2. Well, as for me, after having re-sold two of them and regretting it twice... I'm holding on to my third. ;-)
  3. I think you have it nailed, Stuart. I like mine because of its compact size and speed. It is a little soft wide open, but for me it is a reasonable compromise with its small size. A few of my favorite travel photos would not exist without this lens.

    Have you tried Jim Kuehl in DesMoines? I bought mine from him.
  4. The reason is that it was a very low production lens. Heck one chap told the story of
    ordering the lens from his dealer and Leica phoned him up and tried to convince him
    to go with the Summicron. He did manage to convince them to sell him the lens after
    he explain he knew what it was like wide open. It is a great travel lens as long as you
    view it as a great F/2 lens with a very soft and flare prone F1.4 for emergency use.
  5. Could it also be that the market has new Leica lens prices stuck in its collective craw, and people just want to hold onto perfectly good pre-Asph lenses and use them rather than sell them and have to plow more cash into the "newest and greatest"?
  6. And also, what's the deal with f1.7 aperture (35/1.7 ultron)? Is it so close to f1.4 that its not worth worrying about, or is it so close to f2.0 that its not worth being swayed by the extra half stop?

    Besides the Summilux, what other choices are there for the f1.4 aperture for either 35mm or 50mm (pref. 35mm)?
  7. I bought one about 30 years ago not realizing just how bad it was at f/1.4. Even at f/2 the 8 element Summicron was better. I was able to sell it and get my money back out of it, but I don't know why anybody today would even condider one. Tri-X is not as grainy as it was 30 years ago and can easily be pushed a stop, and ISO 800 color films can be bought just about anyplace. There's no need to put up with the flare, coma and general unsharpness of the old 35mm Summilux.
  8. Adnan Abbas asks Besides the Summilux, what other choices are there for the f1.4 aperture for either 35mm or 50mm (pref. 35mm)? Aside from the C/V lenses, there are the Canon 35/1.5 (uncommon, rather expensive, and not so highly regarded) and the Canon 50/1.4 (plentiful, not expensive, and highly regarded). I've never used either.
  9. Al,

    I can't explain it and I don't know if others have similar experience but early chrome
    ones especially the OLLUX ones are very poor performers. They are unsavory at any
    speed. However the later black chrome ones are very good and as good as the
    contemporary Summicron by f/2.8. As far as I know the formula was unchanged.
  10. Where have all the 35 f/2 luxes gone?
    Long time....
    Remember that Vietnam ditty?
  11. m_.


    I am also keeping mine. You can't talk me into selling it. :)
  12. I may be in the minority here, but personally, I would opt for a current Summicron Asph. if your looking for a second 35mm (compact) lens. The pre-Asph. 'Lux, is categorized as a "soft-focus" lens. If you’re used to the outstanding performance of the Asph. glass, you’re bound to be disappointed. I've had two of them. That was enough for me to determine them to be worthless at any stop.

    However, if you plant the focusing tab into the carpet just right, they make a damn fine door stop.
  13. I have been using mine for a year now (35 1.4) and I really enjoy it I tend to use it for
    the majority of my shooting and love the contrast and quality it gives. to each his
  14. well, i have a 35/1.4 pre-asph, and i keep wondering why folks say it's not good wide open. mine, for the record, is FINE. maybe it's because mine is a late issue 35/1.4 pre-asph. don't know, don't really think much about it (except when i see postings about the lens saying it's flare-prone or extra soft wide open). i own the 35/1.4 asph and also the 35/2 pre-asph, and i find them ALL wonderful lenses, if with somewhat different footprints.

    won't be selling mine, that's for sure....
  15. I'm still hanging on to mine, and evidently lots of us are doing that. It's not a lens you'd walk across the street to find, if the intention is to use it at f/1.4. But I like what I get with it, from about f/2.8 and smaller. I still use it at times, or else my 8-element version I Summicron. For use at wide apertures, I use my ASPH, which is stunning, even wide open. I keep it because it's compact and nice to shoot with. It actually is fairly sharp wide open, in the center of the field--or out to "an image height of 12mm" as Erwin might say.
  16. >Albert Knapp MD  , jan 21, 2004; 09:54 p.m.
    >Where have all the 35 f/2 luxes gone? Long time.... Remember that Vietnam ditty?

    Isn't that really a World War I ditty?

  17. Plural of Summilux: Summiluxes. :)

    I don't own two (let alone one) but I sure know how to say it!!
  18. Try a search in the archives (there's link on every page) - make it "summilux 35" and don't forget to put the "'s - this topic has been discussed ad nauseam... Here's my 0.02 mantra again: @ f/1.7 this lens is not to be compared with any other, bokeh- and tonalitywise, leave alone to be beaten.
  19. You can pick up that extra stop just as well hand holding a questionable speed slower, where you at least get a chance for a sharp photo, rather than using the old 'lux wide open where the blur is guaranteed. I forget to bring a fast lens on a recent trip to Tbilisi and shot a roll in a dark restaurant with 160 film and a VC 28/3.5, and got many keepers, shooting down to 1/4 sec. For travelling, a pre-asph 'cron would be great, or even more compact (and cheap) a 40 'cron C. The VC 35/1.7 is also not too bad for this, but rather less compact (nothing like your 'lux asph bazooka, however).
  20. Stuart: The non-ASPH 35 Lux may have been in the catalog for a long time but it never sold in huge numbers oweing largely to its poor performance wide open that made it basically an expensive Summicron (which are better at f/2 than the Lux also); and to a marginal extent by the ridiculously overcomplicated filter situation (E41 on the early ones and *no* threads on the later ones, which required fitting Serie filters into the shade). Mint ones are on the shelves of collectors, there are a few die-hards who use them, some obviously went to the big display case in the sky, some are lying in gadget bags in attics waiting for someone to discover, and a few are in constant circulation due to people with exactly your needs who buy them and then discover the small size is not a fair trade-off for the sub-Leica performance.
  21. Thanks everyone - I had no idea that it was such a low volume lens. That would explain why so few of them seem to be in circulation. However, the comments about performance differences between the early and late models are consistent with everything I have read about the pre-ASPH 35mm Summilux.

    Lutz's results contained in posts I found in the archives before I started this thread are beautiful, but the swirling lights on Greg Choong's (?) Christmas tree photo also show the lens' limitations wide open.

    The first Leica lens I tried was a late pre-ASPH 'lux. Being my first experience with a rangefinder, I found focusing with a tab very awkward. I also struggled with the small aperture ring. I had the lens and camera for a long weekend, which really didn't give me much of an opportunity to evaluate the results. But 3 years on, and 2 years after my SLRs started gathering dust, using rangefinders with small lenses has become 2nd nature to me. I'd like to believe my technique and results have improved, and that I'm now in a better position to evaluate the pros and cons of different lenses.

    My own preference has changed from the latest & greatest lenses to those with a unique optical character. One of my current favourites is the 21/3.4 Super Angulon, although my 24mm Elmarit is far sharper.

    You've given me food for thought on different choices for a compact 35mm lens, but the jury is still out. At $1000+ for a pre-ASPH Summilux, I'm leaning towards a slower travel lens and faster film. I almost bought a Voigtlander 35/2.5 Pancake until Rich Pinto increased the price of his remaining stock by 50%. Sure, $300 is still cheaper than a Leica, but it's the principle...

    Does anyone out there have a user 35mm cron or lux for sale? If so, please contact me directly.

    Cheers, Stuart
  22. I have one and I'm kicking myself for not getting one earlier. It's really gives the results that people think about when they think Leica. It's becoming my favorite lens challenging the spot currently held by the 50mm 'lux. (which is another lens that gets a bad rap)
  23. cameron, i know you are aware of this fact and that this thread is about the owners of the lens who are equally aware of the facts, and i am not dismissing your photo because of it, but man, if i had a lens that flared that bad with two candles on a table, i'd ebay it.
  24. 3 years later. Still got the lens. Still one of my favorites. It's the lens of choice on my R-D1 now and will be on the M8(assuming I get one).

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