Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2011/03/22

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Subject: [Leica] IMG: Comparison of Canon and Leica lenses - a lens test
From: lrzeitlin at (Lawrence Zeitlin)
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2011 14:42:54 -0400

In 1968 I bought a used Canon VT Camera with a Canon 50 mm f1.2 lens. I was
curious to find out how this lens stacked up against the older Leica lenses
I owned at that time, a 1954 50 mm f2.0 Summicron and an uncoated pre-WW2 50
mm f3.5 Elmar. So I ran an informal lens test.

Here is a very bad landscape picture of my house in full sunlight taken with
the Canon f1.2, wide open, without a sunshade. Obviously it is full of flare
and quite overexposed. The picture is of no account but merely serves to
show the stone fireplace chimney that was the subject of the test. But
clearly, the Canon lens is not the best to use at full aperture for brightly
illuminated landscapes. The remaining pictures are taken of with my Leica M3
camera on a tripod.

Canon 50 mm f1.2 lens.

Summicron collapsible f2.0 50 mm lens.

Elmar 50 mm f3.5 lens.

The Canon lens surprised me because it is almost a match for the Summicron
at smaller apertures. It is extremely difficult to tell which lens took
which picture at f4.0 and down. The Summicron appears a bit better than the
Canon at f2.0 but not by much. Both are clearly better than the Elmar,
Leica's mainstay for several decades and the one that built it's reputation.

Naturally lenses bearing the Summicron name have improved since the '60s and
the results of my informal test have little relevance today. Except for the
conclusion that the Canon f1.2, while not a Noctilux, is not such a dog as
some photographers make it out to be.

Even wide open the Canon takes likable portraits in dim light. Here is an
unflattering picture of my wife, taken in 1969, with the Canon lens at f1.2.
The film was relatively slow Plus X and the restaurant was much darker than
it appears to be in the picture. Don't anyone tell her I posted this picture
on the LUG.

Larry Z

Replies: Reply from photo at (Nathan Wajsman) ([Leica] IMG: Comparison of Canon and Leica lenses - a lens test)