About making pictures   - Summicron 35 f2.0  by  Waeshael

 

Summicrons

I don’t own a 50mm Summicron, but I do use a 35mm Summicron. 

I prefer to use the 50mm Summarit f 1.5 for portraiture, and as my general purpose walk around lens because I can change its characteristics by adjusting the aperture. Wide open for portraits and at f4 for landscapes.


The 35mm Summicron is made in Canada in the Leica factory. It was identical to the German made lens of the same era. The Canadian Leitz Company was formed in 1952, with incentives from the Canadian government. The first lens here was the Summarit 50mm f1.5, followed by the 35mm Summicron. here the Leica M4-2 was made. In 1990 the factory was sold.

The name Wetzlar on a lens increases the price for collectors.


The benefit of the Summicron to photographers is that it is a proven design whose quality is attested to by dozens of top flight professionals. You can’t go wrong with this lens in any of its focal lengths. The later designs using aspherical elements front and rear have marginally better performance wide open, and are more expensive. If you find one that is in mint condition in its original packaging, put it in the bank and hold it as an investment. In ten years you will be able to sell it to buy an electric car! Leica lenses in mint condition appreciate faster than gold ( over the last ten years.) Prices have risen by 5 times in the last decade. Today a boxed Summicron costs $3500. There are some very old Summicrons being auctioned for more than $20,000 on E Bay.

You can find a used 50mm Summicron M for less than $1000, or a Leica R Summicron which is a bit bigger - designed for Leica SLR cameras - for under $600. Both require an adapter to mount on a mirrorless camera ($250 from Novoflex.)


There are older Summicrons, usually brass housings and they are heavy but this is okay as you hold the lens to support the camera. The older Summicrons sometimes have soft lens coatings, and it this is often damaged due to cleaning. Some have fungus in them, or fogging . And some have oil on the blades of the iris. Any Summicron can be cleaned by a good Leica repair shop for about $150 (there is one in NC.)  Despite any fogging and fungus, the lens retains its ability to capture detail, the contrast will be low, and this can be compensated for in the camera or post processing. If you find one for $400 or so, with some fogging and fungus, and cleaning marks, as long as there is no physical damage to the lens, snap it up, send to the repair shop, and enjoy.

Summicron 35mm f2.0 on NEX-5 body.  This is pre aspherical design - 1969. Available used for $1500 + on Ebay. asph design +300. New  $3,000.

Taken with Summicron 35mm f2.0 on NEX-5 body. ISO 3200 hand held, natural store lighting.

NEX-5 camera


The SONY NEX-5 camera can manually couple to all Leica lenses - LSM (screw mount) M, and Leica R. You will need M to E adapters, LSM to M adapter, and R to E adapter (Cameraquest.com)  SONY also makes a series 3, 6, and 7. All these work with Leica lenses. The advantage of the NEX-5 and 5R is that they also accept the Fauer finder which is machined to mate with the lower hump on the body. More on this finder later.

Lens “colors”

When you look at pictures made with Summicrons, you will notice a similarity in the colors and the mood of the picture. You can see this if you visit Leicaimages.com which allows you to select all the pictures made by a particular lens.


If you move a lens from camera model to camera model even of different manufacturers, you will see a similarity in the look of the pictures.

After looking at the pictures made by a single lens design for a while, you will be able to pick out other pictures made by that lens.

Two cameras viewing the same scene will make different pictures unless they have the same lens design. Professional and serious amateur  photographers have experienced this, and they will pay thousands of dollars to get a lens that will make the colors and affects they are looking for.


Leica lenses sell for a premium. But they are not all expensive, even though they were hand-tuned in the same factory and look to be made of similar materials. Those lenses that produce the best image - according to the professionals - are more expensive.

If you want the look of a Noctilux 50 mm 0.95, you will have to stand in line - they are backordered at B&H - and have $11,000 cash in hand (or at least credit.)  A new Summicron 50 f2.0 is around $7,000.  And I quote from the manufacturers blurb:


“The lens' design is based on that of its predecessor, with the 50mm focal length and maximum f/2.0 aperture serving as the foundation for the rest of the development. With a compact body only slightly longer and heavier than the Summicron-M 1:2/50mm, and with an almost identical diameter, this lens delivers noticeably superior image quality. In the 30 years since the launch of the 1:2/50mm, Leica has accomplished a lot--but this is certainly one of their crowning achievements.

This groundbreaking lens is the culmination of 150 years of hard work. The APO-Summicron-M 50mm owes its unparalleled performance to the perfect interaction of all design and construction elements--from optical calculation to selection of materials to highly sophisticated and elaborate manufacturing and finishing.

Constructed completely by hand in Germany, and composed of only the best materials, the APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2.0 ASPH Lens is a testament to the amazing achievements that are possible when advanced technology, vast knowledge, and meticulous, expert craftsmanship collide.”