Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/08/07

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Subject: [Leica] Fw: Summicron upgrade
From: "Erwin Puts" <>
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 10:19:09 +0200

- ----- Original Message -----
From: Erwin Puts
To: L U G
Sent: Monday, August 07, 2000 10:15 AM
Subject: Summicron upgrade

Hans Pahlen wrote in part:
"Maybe the answer is that the lens was upgraded more than once? It would be
very interesting to follow up the article in Viewfinder concerning the
unofficial mid 1960:s upgrade. Maybe the later production rigid and DR:s are
close to the 11817 Summicron in performance?"
When doing research in the Solms archives for my new lens-book (due for
September/October), this question was specifically tackled. There was a
rumor, that some authoritive Leica expert, who refused to state his name,
had identified that the later Summicron DRs were redesigned with slightly
more contrast and slightly less resolution. First of all: if it were true,
why should this person want to stay anonymous?
Now for the truth: there is NO redesign of the Summicron 7 element version
in whatever version. The rigid and the DR are from 1957 till 1969 absolutely
identical in design and construction, glass types and whatever
optical/mechanical parameter you wish to list. If there are differences in
performance sample for sample, they are caused by higher tolerances in the
manufacturing. One sample with a specified serial number  may have a
different fingerprint than another one, but is it rash, and very speculative
to state that this state of affairs indicates a change in design.
There are a few facts the Leica community does not want to hear.
The 7 element Summicron is a good lens, but in all respects of much lower
performance than the newer ones. There are no redesigns in this version, but
against all stories that "they do not make lenses as they did in the past",
the older production technology did indeed allow a higher percentage of
tolerancing in the manufacture. So performance differences are not
redesigns, but just the bandwidth of production tolerances.
Viewfinder has its own editorial policy. When my research indicated that
there is a fourth version of the Summicron 90mm (an early one) and could
document this version with lens diagrams and serial numbers, Viewfinder did
not publish this as my research was inconclusive (they said) and went
against current thinking.
But a rumor, that is unsubstantiated and brought forward by anonymous
sources is published because it fits the Leica lore.
Older Leica lenses are optically very good, and mechanically represent the
pinacle of the classical way of designing and mounting lenses. They have a
very solid feeling and they feel very good. Look below the surface and you
will find a lot of manual adjustments and the level of tolerancing is way
behind current lenses. In Leica Fotografie International I will publish two
installments of an article about Leica lens manufacture that will
substantiate this statement.
You can admire the older lenses, based on its true value and what they stand
for or you can become a spindoctor, who can twist every fact to fit a


Replies: Reply from "Hans Pahlen" <> (Re: [Leica] Fw: Summicron upgrade)