Saturday, June 22, 2013

The 50mm Summarit (The Old, Fast One) - You'll Being Seeing More From This Lens In a Coming Month

One of the lenses that I'll shoot for a month as part of my Whole Lotta Leica series is the original 50mm f1.5 Summarit in LTM. I'm writing about it today because I found a post with some interesting example images.
Shot by raytoei on rangefinderforum, the images simultaneously show some of the quirks and strengths of this classic lens.
(Click Here) to see other Summarit images from raytoei on rangefinderforum, including some that show where the lens excels (hint: not in direct light coming into the front element). The shots in the post are all shot on a Leica M6.
My example of the 50mm Summarit was my very first Leica lens. From the 1950s, mine has exceptionally well-preserved glass surfaces, which is rare for this particular lens. Most of them have "cleaning marks" on the front element. Just in case you're wondering, "cleaning marks" are scratches. I don't care if they got there through someone trying to be nice to their lens or not, they do degrade image quality.
Anyway, mine doesn't suffer much from scratches, but it does have some internal haze. I haven't sent it off for cleaning, mainly because I'm afraid of it coming back worse than when it left. For some reason, the glass on these particular lenses tends to scratch very easily. Instead, I purchased an aftermarket hood from Cameraquest, which helps keep internal reflections down. I also don't rely on mine as an everyday lens; I use it when I'm looking for a particular mood in my images. Here are a couple of my own images from the Summarit:
Nature's Code, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 200, f2, 1/180 sec
Artifacts of Life Past, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summarit 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 200, f2.8, 1/250 sec
I haven't decided when I'll shoot the Summarit for my WLL lens. Probably sometime in the winter.
By the way, this lens is not to be confused with the modern Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5. That is a new lens, made with modern materials and manufacturing technologies; it suffers from none of the fragility or age-related flaws (features) of the older, faster Summarits.
You can buy the modern Summarit 50mm f2.5 (lower cost than a Summicron or Summilux, but yielding excellent Leica image quality) here: