View Full Version : Voigtlaender lenses on Leica M6 or Summicron-C 2/40mm?
As I mentioned in a post from yesterday I bought a used Leica M6 on ebay and am looking much forward to get it shipped!
As far as I am just starting to use a rangefinder camera and my budget is quite limited I thought of getting Voigtlaender lenses instead of original Leica lenses which I just can not afford at the moment.
For the beginning I am looking for a 35mm and a 50mm lens.
I saw that B&H offers the Voigtlaender Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical for 350 $ and the Voigtlaender Ultron 35mm f/1.7 Aspherical for 390 $.
Can anyone tell me something about the quality of these lenses?
I also found one original Leica lens from 1975, the Summicron-C 2/40mm, which I could get used for about 460 $.
Any suggestions and thoughts would be much appreciated.
Hi Martin, do some searches and you will see that the Voigtlander lenses enjoy many favorable reviews. Remember, if you go this way you will have to buy the appropriate LTM to M adaptors for your lenses so they will bring up the correct brightlines on your M6. The Nokton is looked at as being very good, and at a half stop or so faster than the Leica 50/2, a good low light option for your kit. The Ultron is also generally considered a good lens, but perhaps not as good wide open as other 35mm lenses. I will ask, do you need the speed in both your 50 and 35mm lenses? If not, you would be able to save some $ and opt for the CV 35/2.5 Classic. This lens is considered a very good performer, it is very compact, and right now is only @$220 (USD). It has been recently discontinued I believe as Cosina has now introduced an M mount 35/2.5 Pancake lens. I believe this lens is selling in the $325 (USD) range. You will have to do some shopping, but if you opt for the CV 35/2.5, you may be able to pick up a used Leica 50 Summicron and still be with in your $740 budget. If so, that is the way that I would go. Both of these lenses are more compact than the original kit you asked about, they both take the same size filters (39mm), they are both slower than the Nokton/Ultron combo, but the 35/2.5 is at least optically as good as the Ultron, and although very good, the Nokton is not a Summicron.
Popular Photography Lens Test, July, 2000:
35mm f/1.7 Ultron Results - Minimal barrel distortion (0.30%). Very good exposure accuracy (2/3 stop under at f1.7 due to light falloff, 1/3 stop under at f/2, & 1/5 stop under at f/2.8-22). At closest distance, center & corner sharpness were excellent at all apertures, with optimum performance at f/5.6. Test slides were sharp & contrasty at all apertures, center & edge, with slight softness at f/1.7-2. Flare was very well controlled throughout.
50mm f/1.5 Nokton Results - Minimal barrel distortion (0.45%). Excellent exposure accuracy (within 1/10 stop at all apertures, except f/16 which was 1/4 stop under). At closest distance, center sharpness was excellent at all apertures, corner sharpness was acceptable fromf/1.5-2, good at f/2.8, & excellent from f/4-16. Optimum performance was at f/5.6. Test slides were sharp & contrasty at all apertures, center & edge, except for slight softness at f/1.5. Flare was very well controlled throughout.
General Comments - . . . lenses have a classic, beautifully finished appearance, with all metal barrels & helicals, & grippable, alternately knurled focusing rings. On the compact side for their focal lengths, all are a tad heavier than expected due to their metal construction.
Focusing is extremely smooth with good damping. The nicely milled aperture rings are clickstopped at half-stop intervals (except between f/1.5 & f/2 on the 50mm f/1.5), & . . . lenses have 10-bladed iris diaphragms resulting in more nearly circular apertures that yield more pleasing out-of-focus image quality.
. . . finished in satin chrome, & have lenscaps that only fit when slipped on over their furnished screw-in lens shades, a minor inconvenience. . . . All scales are large & legible with black numerals (footages in red) . . .
Based on our SQF tests, (the) Voigtlander lenses delivered outstanding image quality, placing them among the top lenses of similar focal length offered by Leica, Zeiss, Canon, Nikon, & Pentax. Overall, the image quality . . . rated well above average . . . (They) exhibited virtually no field curvature . . . Light falloff was gone by f/2.8 . . . Distortion, exposure accuracy, flare, close distance, & field curvature results were equally impressive, as detailed in the individual reports.
Conclusion: Combining excellent construction, design, & optical performance, these lenses earn a place in the top tier of today's 35 mm camera optics.
I tend to shoot older cameras and lenses; and have a type 1 Summicron and a Summarit in M-Mount. The Summarit ran me $125 as it needed a CLA and Filter ring straightened. That ran me $90 at Essex. I was very pleased with the results, a great existing light "portrait lens" wide-open, and sharp at F4. I bought a second M3 for the Summicron. I picked up a near-mint cosmetics, needs a CLA Summarit in LRM for $149. I am packing it for Essex to perform the same $90 service. So do not exclude Leica optics from your budget; they tended to "fog" up and require cleaning. As with many items, if it is not ready to go out of the box it goes cheap.
CLA'd Summarit, Wide-open at F1.5; Total cost: $215.
I have the Nokton 50, but never have the Ultron and Leica C 40/2, so I can't tell you much the differences between them.
I've seen Voigtländer lenses got roasted on Leica Photography forum in Photo.net for harsh out of focus blur. Also Voigtländer lenses are said to have inadequate coatings to prevent flare in this forum.
What I found is quite the opposite. I will let you judge yourself. Brian has posted a photo taken by Summarit so you might be able to get rough idea how OOF differs between the two.
This one was shot at f/1.5
Photo with the sun in the frame. To my eyes, there's no flare in this photo but I'm not an expert. If you happen to find that there's flare, let me know how to spot it.
Shot at f/16 without lenshood.
One more thing, people say Nokton produces bluish cast, I find it true.
You definately have to take what is posted at photo.net with a grain of salt. In the Leica forum, any product that doesn't have a red circle on it is automaticly in second place. There are quite a few users of CV lenses there, and I have seen quite a few very favorable comments about the Nokton.
I think that you have just proved that the Nokton is an excellent lens at all apetures! Out of interest, which film did you use for the sunset shot? - the colours really are superb.
Wow, thank you very much for all your thoughts and tips. Appreciate that very much! Thanks also for posting the pictures for comparison.
Brian, I realy like the photo of the small girl. She has such a nice playful look with the water colors in front of her.
I think I will just do some research and then decide which first lens to get!
Greetings from Vienna,
My Opinion: if you want the sharpest/fastest lens available for a reasonable cost, it is hard to beat the Nokton (yes, THIS century's lens). If you want the '50s look to go with your camera, the Summarit is an under-rated bargain.
The Summarit Swirlies: Astigmatism, F1.5 and closest focus. This effect goes away at about 5' or when stopped down.
Martin, forgive me for forgetting to post the best resource on these lenses - Erwin Putts.
When you get to this site, click on Leica pages. Then, on the far right, click on Japan connection. You will find the best reviews of the Voigtlander lenses you are considering.
You can also get additional user reviews on epinions.
Brian, does Summarit has warm tone? Looks like it from your photo. I like lenses with slightly warm tones. This Nokton is too cool for my liking for landscape shots in daylight (I use slide most of the time). Actually this is the first time I see OOF blur so different between that rendered by 50s lens and that by today's lens. I used lenses from 70s but they render OOF blur in pretty much the same way.
David, the film for that sunset shot was Sensia 400, the newest generation which said to be consumer version of Provia 400F. I was surprised too when looking at the result; didn't expect colours that rich.
If a lens proves too cool a 1.5 UV filter should do the trick. The Nokton takes a 52mm filter which is very easy to get and which you may already have on another lens.
Let me step in here...
All the recommendations so far are very reasonable. Now, let me advocate (like Brian) for Leica glass.
No, I have nothing against CV lenses; only some owners' experience documented in the Leica forum at photo.net (where, contrary to popular belief, these lenses rank pretty high). According to one member, the Ultron 35/1.7 has a nasty habit: it tends to fall apart on you; that is to say, the front element can unexpectedly drop on the ground. While the problem is fixable, you need to have the tools (and expertise) to do it yourself, or rely on a technician to do it. The fact that several people complained of this problem deterred me from getting one.
However, the comments on the Nokton couldn't be better, to the point that I have considered getting one sometime in the future, because I'd like the extra stop it gives me.
If you can spend some money on CV lenses... why not get an older Summicron 50/2? As many people say, these are the standard against which other lenses are measured, and if you manage to lay your hands on an old version you won't be disappointed. I used to have one in silver chrome: it was a bit heavy, but the stops and focusing ring were so smooth I was amazed. It's relatively easy to get them used for around $400-$450, and if you combine it with a CV 35mm pancake lens you'll get a winning combination. Just remember that you'll need an adapter ring for any of the CV lenses.
Just to continue Brian's tradition, here's a sample of what you can do with a 'cron 50/2 nicely open.
(Sorry about the size :( )
Originally posted by SolaresLarrave
[B] Just remember that you'll need an adapter ring for any of the CV lenses.
Solares, I agree with your suggestion. Just want to note that no adaptor is needed for the Voigtlander 35/1.2 & 35/2.5 Pancake lenses because they are built in Leica M-mount. As you indicated, all others are LTM screw-mount lenses & do require adaptors for an M-mount camera.
Thank you all very much for your help. Realy intersting thoughts and tips you gave me.
Francisco, the photo you posted is realy nice! Well I just love black and white photography. I do all my photos in black and white.
I started off just as you did, but with an M4. Bought the CV 50mm and 35mm lenses you describe in your post. Well made, nice lenses. Acceptably sharp.
Until I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about Leica glass. So I bought the least expensive Summicron I could find, the 40mm Wetzler Summicron.
I had heard about the '3d' effect on prints but scoffed that off as bragging until I got my store processed Fuji Superia 400 prints of an old, weathered metal door. It almost jumped off the page!
Now I sold the CV lenses and slowly acquiring other Leica or equivalent glass. The only others that I can speak to that are almost identical in quality (both images and build) are the Konica Hexanon.
But the 40mm is a great lens to start with. Depending on the subject matter you like to shoot you will use this lens the majority of the time. In fact, start with the one lens and shoot everything you can until you find yourself really needing the additional wide or tele views. Great discipline and what the better shooters do.
My favorite photographer is a National Geo staffer, William Albert Allard. He shoots Leica, both slr and rf, and he shoots the 35mm nearly 75% of the time. Same with David Alan Harvey.
Good luck and hope you enjoy the ride!
I keep a Skylight filter on most of my lenses including the Summarit; but it is not "cool" without it. What strikes me about the Summarit is its "Faithfulness" in reproducing the scene; to that degree I would call it "neutral". It is one of the few lenses that I have owned that can be used outdoors and yield pleasing portraits. Most of the Nikkor's and other "modern" lenses are too harsh and require fill-flash. The Summarit does not. I have seen a lot of posts in other forums discussing "micro-Contrast" of Leica lenses vs "Macro-Contrast" of Japanese lenses. I prefer terms like "delicate colors and tones" for the old Leica glass vs "picture Post-card color" of the Japanese glass. I have collected an absurd amount of Nikon glass ranging from 20mm to 500mm over the last 27 years and have only started shooting with the Leica in the past year. They have a different and unique personality that must be experienced to be appreciated. And the Summarit is a Bargain in terms of Leica glass.
Just wanted to let you know that I just bought a summicron 2/50 on ebay...
I hope that both, the M6 and the Summicron will arive next week!
Thanks again to all of you and greetings from Vienna,
That's a good choice! Not that there's anything wrong with CV glass... in fact they're good tools for the job, but then... what's a Leica body without Leica glass?
Sorry, but that's my logic. In fact, at one time (two years ago) I considered getting a Bessa R and endow it with Leica glass instead of the CV kind... But then I drove the car into the garage door and that's where my funds went. :(
Congratulations on your purchases, Martin! :)
Congrats on the purchase, Martin. Enjoy it to the fullest!
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