Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/01/23

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Subject: [Leica] 50 mm M lens comparisons (long)
From: Alfred Breull <>
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 01:42:07 +0100

Erwin & others,

I hardly understand all your arguments on Leitz's/ Leica's
50 mmm M lenses, which take one aspect only into account most of
the times.

But, the stuff that really annoys me, is that the differences
between Leitz's/Leica's 50 mm M lenses are almost as strong as 
between different focal length - and hardly anyone cares for 
the differences.

In example:

You will find no other 50 mm M lens which handles high contrasts
like the old Summar, additionally exaggerating bright lights.
Moreover, the Summar's over-pronounciation of bright lights -
in common with its softness in the out-of-focus area - agrees to 
old 1940 Hollywood portraits of movie-goddesses. 

Different, the Summarit, which is soft, but has a mixture of
flat, low-contrast and 3D out-of-focus rendition.

The Summitar and coll Summicron agree - maybe at f 2 or f 2.8, 
but not above. While the Summarit's rendiction compares to the 
1.9/73 uncoated Hektor, the coll Summicrons rendition gets 
close to the rigid chrome Summicron (=NF Summicron). 

Different again, the chrome Summicron and the black Summicron.
You will find no other 50 mm Summicron, which is a low contrast
lens but shows so many grey tones as the rigid chrome Summicron. 
The black Summicron is a middle to high contrast lens between f 2 
and f 4, but a low contrast lens above.

The current Summicron impresses with it's extreme sharpness, but
has an unlucky out-of-focus rendition above f 4.0 (which is 
easily surpassed by any other 50 mm M lens from Leitz/leica). 

Further, I never found a middle to high contrast 50 mm M lens from
Leitz/ Leica which could compare in the middle or high contrast
rendition with the Summilux. 

Additionally, we all know, that the Noctilux has a special fingerprint,
reducing contrasts and showing a white-yellow neutral-warm rendition.

And, all the Elmars, which show their "best" performance between
f 5.6 and f 8. While the old Elmars create some kind of "glow" -
at least in b/w photography - the current Elmar's rendition (at least
it's sharpness) agrees to the current Summicron's rendition at these 

All the 50 mm M lenses are so different as different focal length.
To concentrate on one aspect only (e.g. sharpness or micro 
contrast) comes - in my mind - close to ignorance.

But, keep in mind also: if you are not honored by the Pulitzer with a 
Disneyland-Leica, you won't get it with an M6 ESL either.