Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/05/02

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Subject: [Leica] best all round 50 mm??
From: mark at (Mark Rabiner)
Date: Sun May 2 14:35:52 2004

On 4/30/04 9:04 PM, "Ruben" <> wrote:

> I use my 35 mm summicron (non asph, ca. 1990)  85% of the time and my 90 mm
> 15% on my M6. I never used normal lenses much, but by using them in
> medium-format I found that I am beginning to like them more and more. Since
> I never tried a normal 50 mm on my M6, and since I would probably not use it
> more them say 15-20 % of the time (time mostly taken by the amount I would
> have used the 35 mm) I do not want to use a fortune on a lens - I dont need
> the noctilux F 1.0, but I would like go for a lens of max F.2.0 like the
> summicron. Question ?? some of you shooting a lot of 50 mm with experience
> of different optics - what would be the best 50 mm allround optics, with an
> image quality like my 35 mm summicron - would some of the olde optics be as
> good - and what about voigtl?nder? I shoot a lot of pictures with little DOF
> so i prefere not to have optics showing pantagon/hexagon shaped highlights
> in the background
> ruben

I have found that in medium format an 80 mm lens has the strange ability to
always get the shot.  Hence the long standing reign and reputation of the
twin lens Rolleiflex. A camera which went out on many a job with no thought
as to wide angle or tele. Until those Rolleiflex wides and tele bodies came
around... To compete with that pesky burgeoning Hasselblad "system".

The ability of the 80mm lens with a 6x6cm square format to be right for the
job 99.99 % of the time goes against of course all known rules of
In terms of horizontal angle of view an 80 matches up directly against a
50mm lens in 35mm photography. Only an 80 on a square gives you that 40
degree angle up and down as well as left to right. IN 35mm photography you
get a third less filling from top to bottom. It's photography Lite.
Just means you can shoot more without the filling.
Don?t ask me about carbs.

An 80 is also seemingly more useful in medium format because in medium
format we are less compunctious about putting the thing on a tripod. Thus we
get our foregrounds in focus and make the whole thing just more doable.
People dance around inside the frame and we just let it happen.
In 2 over 3 we want to follow them.

Also in some way a square is though of being less formal. Less of a format.
It's freely chopped into horizontals or verticals or trapezoids down to the
smallest chip of image in that square. Half frame say. 18x24mm. I'd not be
at all surprised if Avedon took a half frame sized image out of one of his
Rolleiflex negs and had them blow it up 10 feet high to hang up in the
metropolitan museum of art. Loren Hutton. A little grainy a little soft but
what the hey!? Those Zeiss optics on Plus X hold up pretty well to scrutiny.

My first lens was the 50 Summicron new 11 years ago just before the built in
shade. It was my only lens for quite a while.
The Summilux 11 years ago had a close focusing issue. I liked the way it
looked but it cost a little more than I had to spend. Also for years it was
drilled into my head the catch phase. "Summicron"!
Summicron, Summicron, Summicron!
And then more Summicron.
And when you're done with that Summicron give me more Summicron!
Kind of like "Julie Andrews" in Bedazzled.
Kodachrome, Kleenex, Sony, Summicron, Hellmann's.
A MARK to be recoded with.
"Summilux" sounded to much like something they came up later.

The "mystique" of Leica and it's main mark IMO "Summicron" can not be
compared in any way to the wonderfull products coming out of Cosina with the
Voigtl?nder label. I'll admit I also got into Leica because of the mystique
of the whole thing. Zeiss I can also get into and am into. Get the old Zeiss
lens HCB used can you get those? Or another old classic like the dual range.

If you are a night person get a Noctilux. Great for shooting the nights of
Canada. I used mine extensively there last week and those negs were the ones
that grab me on the light table over the other 4 lenses I used. Those will
be Photoshoped first.

Mark Rabiner
Portland Oregon

1. The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including
the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and
2. The theoretical or first principles of a particular discipline: the
metaphysics of law.
3. A priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scientific
observation, analysis, or experiment.
4. Excessively subtle or recondite reasoning.


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