Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2007/12/11

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Subject: [Leica] ZM 50/2 planar ? now 50/1.4 asph
From: freakscene at (Marty Deveney)
Date: Tue Dec 11 05:49:38 2007

>I understand also what Marty has said re a theoretical advantage for the 
>Summicron at minimum distances (and add that the little current Elmar 2.8 
>50 is king here). I can 
>only say that I have never identified this in my photographs. I am 
>completely at a loss regarding Marty's comment on more remaining 
>aberrations in the 1.4. Again I have 
>never seen this and I would expect the 1.4 to be superior to the Summicron, 
>when BOTH at f2. It may be that Marty is referring to wide open performance.

The Summilux 50/1.4 asph is the best corrected 50mm f1.4 lens currently 
available.  It is probably the best all-round 50mm lens available, given the 
usual criteria.  I like it because it is very resistant to flare and has a 
fantastically flat field.  It is, however, not perfect.  All lenses are 
loaded with aberrations, including very well corrected ones, including this 

At distances under 1.5-2 m the Summilux asph needs to be stopped down to f4 
or so to equal the 50/2 Summicron and related lenses in a number of ways.  
Note that MTF charts rarely are provided with a distance measurement -  or 
with the number of samples measured provided.  I have used Geoff's 50 asph a 
very little bit (for one afternoon and about 5 rolls of film) and another 
one extensively (25 rolls in a variety of circumstances, including some on a 
test bench).  I'm not sure how representative those lenses are.  Leica's QA 
is very good, so I'll assume these are 'average' samples.  It is also 
interesting that I have never been able to determine if Leica's or Erwin 
Puts' MTF charts are measured or calculated theoretically (I've never even 
checked if Erwin just 'reissues' the ones that Leica publishes).  This is a 
significant difference and needs to be clarified if these are to be 
interpreted properly.  Irrespective of any of this, the comments and MTF 
charts need to be properly interpreted.  None of this matters if you need 

Erwin, who, for once, I agree with, says: "The close up performance of the 
Summicron is definitely better than that of the new Summilux and if you do 
not need the high speed, it still has its virtues" with which I agree.  As I 
said, I can still clearly see aberrations in images from the 50/1.4 asph at 
close range and they are more apparent than with the Summicron or other 
similar lenses.  All my shots with a 50 seem to be done either close up or 
wide open.  As such, for what I do, I'd prefer to work with two lenses - one 
faster and one that is better corrected close-up - so I have a Noctilux and 
a Hexanon-M 50/2.  I'm also interested in trying the new 50 Summarit.

I don't like the newest 50/2.8 - it has several odd characteristics, 
including strange out-of-focus rendition and odd representation of straight 
lines when used wide open.  But it is very well corrected close-up.  I also 
find its collapsibility somewhat exasperating - it was always collapsed when 
I needed it.

These types of distinctions are minimal - I should stress that my main issue 
with Leicaphiles gushing over the 50/1.4 asph is that it is not free of 
aberrations, even though it is very well corrected.  Most photogaphers - 
even careful ones who are interested in lenses, don't know what oblique 
spherical aberration looks like in photographs.  That doesn't mean that it 
is not there, but it also does not mean that it matters.  It bothers me, but 
that won't make my photos any better.  My approach suits me and I'd 
encourage anyone else to find something that suits them.  Just don't fall 
for hype - nothing is perfect.



Most people can only judge of things by the experiences of ordinary life, 
but phenomena outside the scope of this are really quite numerous.
        Shen Kuo - 'Dream Pool Essays'

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Replies: Reply from hoppyman at (G Hopkinson) ([Leica] ZM 50/2 planar ? now 50/1.4 asph)
Reply from kididdoc at (Steve Barbour) ([Leica] ZM 50/2 planar ? now 50/1.4 asph)