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M-Hexanon 50mm vs. ZM Planar 50mm
Old 11-04-2007   #1
drjoke
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M-Hexanon 50mm vs. ZM Planar 50mm

I only see comparisions of M-Hexanon vs. Summicron 50mm.

Now that the Hexanon's price has increased a lot on Ebay putting it in the same range as the Planar, how do the two lenses compare in terms of resolution and performance.

I think the MTF of M-Hexanon looks a little bit better, but how do they compare in real life.

I already have the M-Hexanon, but I do not have the Planar. Can someone share a real-life experience?
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Old 11-05-2007   #2
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Sure Here is my real-life experience:
At one point I had them all - Summicron 50 rigid, Hexanon 50/2 and Planar 50 ZM.
I like all of them, but for different reasons. But when it came down to selecting just one ( more so cause i just wanted to downsize), I kept Hexanon. Rigid Cron went first - it was great for B&W, but I didn't like they way it did colour. Plus it's heavy and I didn't care for it's long focus throw and a focusing tab.
Planar sold later, with more difficulty, as it's an awsome lens. It's sharp, very good bokeh and flare resistance. Good, but not perfect handling for me - that little focus bump, while not terrible, kept getting in a way. I also was not too crazy about how it did with B&W, yet I didn't test it too much. It did well on colour.
And finally Hexanon. I kept it as I absolutely love how it handles. I also find it to be a great balance for the way it does colour AND B&W. Great sharpness without being clinical. Great bokeh. I just can't find a fault with this lens. Plus for a vintage look I have other older 50s, like Summitar, for instance.
here is Hex:

here is Planar:

and here is Rigid Cron:


All just my opinions. I think it really does come down to personal preferences as all are great lenses.
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Old 12-04-2009   #3
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bump to a very old thread with an interesting question....
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Old 12-04-2009   #4
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Krosya didn't keep his M Hexanon for ever, and I can testify to its excellent performance. At that level, differences between lenses are negligible and can safely be ignored.
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Old 12-04-2009   #5
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Good question indeed.

Guess I will be able to put some Hex 50/2.0 shots in this weekend, shot on Ilford FP4. But, I do not own a Planar. I was however considering swapping the Hex for a Sonnar, so I shot it today to see how I feel about it on BW film... I'll post here on Sunday I guess.
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Old 12-04-2009   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by payasam View Post
Krosya didn't keep his M Hexanon for ever, and I can testify to its excellent performance. At that level, differences between lenses are negligible and can safely be ignored.
In a certain way, I agree, we are really in the hair splitting danger zone.

Nonetheles, I can easily point out obvious differences between otherwise top of the shelf lenses:
I had internal reflection problems with a late cron 50, and the build of the Planar had often been criticized while the build of the Hex seems to be very good.
There are the ergonomics, the hood etc...

etc, etc...
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Old 12-04-2009   #7
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Yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to ergonomics. Some people can't stand focusing bumps or levers, others love them. Some want a shorter throw, others longer.
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Old 12-04-2009   #8
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I've owned both lenses. Image wise, there is very little difference. Both are excellent. Very sharp, great flare control, etc. I don't go out of my way to examine bokeh, but both lenses seemed fine in that department.

Where there was a noticable difference (keep in mind I owned one sample of each) is build quality and design. The Hexanon is smoother to focus, has a built-in hood and generally feels nicer.
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Old 12-04-2009   #9
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The Hex will not start to wobble. And has a decent built-in hood.

Note that v3 Summicrons are in the same price and performance range - well built and smaller.

The rigid/DR Summicron is more prone to flare. But beats all of them wrt center resolution, beautiful bokeh
and built quality

Roland.

Last edited by ferider : 12-04-2009 at 09:20.
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Old 12-04-2009   #10
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I owned M hexanon 50, 35, 28 and summicron Current. They are wonderful lens. There are no perfect things though.
The 50mm hexanon is as good as 50mm summicron. The 35mm/f2 hexanon is my favarate lens, but it flares easily without hood. It's size is also too big with hood on.
Kept 35mm UC version for a while, it is a little harsh compared to 35mm/f2 and can only focused to 0.9m.
50 hexanon is the best buy.
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Old 12-04-2009   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
The Hex will not start to wobble. And has a decent built-in hood.

Roland.
My guess is that if you threaten a Planar with a spanner wrench, it will behave.
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Old 12-04-2009   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by payasam View Post
Krosya didn't keep his M Hexanon for ever, and I can testify to its excellent performance. At that level, differences between lenses are negligible and can safely be ignored.
Actually I did - one I sold to you was one of the 3 I had.I still have Hex 50/2 as well as Hex 50/1.2. But I'm glad that you enjoy yours
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Last edited by Krosya : 12-11-2009 at 11:50.
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Old 04-01-2010   #13
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Reconsidering the question....
slight bump for anyone wishing to contribute.
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Old 04-01-2010   #14
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I don't think there is much of a vs question to be answered. Both are evidently superb. The Zm probably has somewhat higher contrast and if one compared Putz comments of the cron vs Hex with the same comments on the cron vs planar, the planar is possibly a hair sharper wide open, but not something that would necessarily be visible.

I reckon it would come down to budget, look, handling etc.
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Old 04-01-2010   #15
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I can't offer any comments on the Planar since I've never shot with one, but as a proud Hexanon owner I will say that you would be quite happy with this lens. Incredibly sharp through all apertures with pleasing bokeh, superb construction with buttery smooth focus and effortless aperture adjustment. Nice indeed.

Oh.. and no focus issues on either my M3 or M4-P.

Here are some examples with slower film, where you can really see the crisp qualities of the images.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/drasticgroove/3956542706/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/drasticgroove/3955805213/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/drasticgroove/4444724580/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/drasticgroove/4442554128/
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Old 04-11-2010   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CLE-RF View Post
Good question indeed.

Guess I will be able to put some Hex 50/2.0 shots in this weekend, shot on Ilford FP4. But, I do not own a Planar. I was however considering swapping the Hex for a Sonnar, so I shot it today to see how I feel about it on BW film... I'll post here on Sunday I guess.
I am considering buying a Sonnar too. But I think the Sonnar is such a different animal that you can easily have both the Hexanon and the Sonnar. Unless you need the money from selling the Hex. to get the Sonnar. My philosophy is that I buy lenses and never sell them again. I am now saving up to buy the Sonnar. It will cost me some years of my life in which I get to know the Hexanon better and enjoy using it...

My 2 cts...
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Old 08-15-2010   #17
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bumping this interesting thread as I have the same dilemma -- if it helps, at pretty much the same price (400+ euros). would be specifically interested on experiences regarding how well they do on digital M bodies...
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Old 08-15-2010   #18
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This would be the Planar, wide open.



I don't quite see the harshness others attribute it. I think it's a superb lens, great rendition, sharpness, 3d "pop" and tonality. It's a great all-rounder and I wonder if I will not part with my Sonnar. We'll see, I have been separated from my Sonnar for months now and I'll have the opportunity to give it a whirl again in a couple of days.

I don't think you can go wrong with either the Hex or the Planar.
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Old 08-15-2010   #19
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In the end I sold my M-Hex 50/2.0. Not because I did not like it anymore, but because I shifted to LTM lenses.

Recently I found an L-Hex 50/2.4. I'm in the process of shooting that now, and getting to know it. I still have the Sonnar (wartime LTM lens) to shoot beside it, depending on subject.

BTW, the L-Hex 50/2.4 is a Planar optical design, how about the M-Hex 50/2.0?
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Old 08-15-2010   #20
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From what I understand Hex 50/2 is basically a copy of Cron 50/2. which I think is a version of a Planar design too, or did I get that wrong?
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Old 10-11-2010   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasw_ View Post
I think the M-Hexanon 50/2 (40.5 mm filters) has a bit less girth than the ZM Planar (43 mm filters). Not sure about length...can anyone?
Thomas

Both lenses have almost the same length and diameter.
In the hex, the filters sits in an inner ring to allow for the built in hood to extend. That explains the smaller filter size.
I think that the major size difference is with the hood.
The planar hood (which is BTW beautifully designed and crafted) makes the lens much bigger. On the other side, the built in hood of the hex might not be everyone's cup of tea...

[edit]: Yes, I ended up with both. I have a hard time to part with either . Great lenses...
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Old 02-24-2013   #22
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Good time to bump this with the 50mm Zeiss Planar thread going strong.

I love my 50mm M-Hexs and use it mostly when reaching for this focal length. The f/1.2 is large and I'm prone to leaving it at home. I haven't other 50mm 'M' mounts, but do have a Zeiss 50mm Planar in c/y and 45mm Planar in Contax G mount. I've not carefully compared these and haven't really used the c/y lens much, but the Contax 45mm is a wonderful lens.
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Old 02-26-2013   #23
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the following is the result of a lot of investigation I have done recently.

I've owned the ZM only, so I will keep the following to only what you can observe from measurements and then provide my analysis / commentary on them. that means I will not discuss relative build quality, ergonomics, etc. which I have no insight on. well, other than to say I like the ZM and having a recent example I am hoping that the newer grease formula that they supposedly began using will mean my lens will last through the next 5 years with light use.

Anyway, on to the technical bits.

So first of all between the V4/5 50 Summicron, the 50 ZM Planar and the M-Hexanon, in a perfect world the Summicron is in fact the sharpest. Looking at the relative MTFs, I would guess the Zeiss would edge out the M-Hexanon for terminal resolution, too.

This is assuming a lot. Firstly, that focus is equivalent. Secondly, that the sensor / film / bench is of sufficient resolution to tell a difference. Finally, that we are looking at a representative example of each and not one in the top / bottom range of performance. Those are pretty big assumptions.

What it boils down to for me is this: the finer the structure you are looking at the more the Summicron differentiates itself from the ZM Planar. At MTF50, for example, the Summicron decimates EVERY current Zeiss 50 at f2 and f2.8 and the Summilux ASPH is better even than the Summicron (AT THIS MEASUREMENT). Please reference the LensRentals 50mm shootout for the measurements.

What effect, then, does this have on us end users? Almost none. In the regions that actually matter for reasonably sized enlargements all of these lenses are so close that it makes no difference unless you shoot subjects with exceptionally fine textures. In fact, if you look at a portrait by the Summicron and the Planar that are somehow identically focused at f2.8 you might think the Planar is sharper because the eyelashes and the details of the eye will look really sharp and the summicron is going to show you similar "detail" in the skin but it's going to look harsher because skin is such a fine texture. This is my experience, which I think is supported by the graphs.

It just so happens that I really like to shoot textures, so for me the V4 summicron would be ideal. But it's too big of a price difference for me to go from my ZM Planar to a V4 cron at this time. The Planar can also be shot into the sun and IMO handles OoF a lot better. So, for now I will wait.

Now, as far as the Hexanon goes, when I look at the MTFs I see a similar situation, which suggests that the Hexanon is generally speaking about the same as the Summicron and the Planar for the vast majority of things (as in, pick one of these three at random and you are unlikely to see much difference). Pick between the ZM and Hexanon on ergonomics and which one you can get a good price on, IMO.

Now, before you say that this was an overly technical explanation without much value, let me just say that lens choice is personal and the lens with the highest resolution is not always going to be the best choice for everyone. But this information has proven useful to me and I hope it will to someone else, as well.
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Old 02-26-2013   #24
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When something as beautiful (overall) as a Rigid Summicron exists, why bother with any other lens?

I am still favoring my mint Rigid Summicron, after having the pleasure to evaluate 25-35 50mm RF lenses over the years. It has superb resolution in the center, as Roland has said above.
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Old 02-26-2013   #25
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Quote:
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When something as beautiful (overall) as a Rigid Summicron exists, why bother with any other lens?
Shorter focus throw? Lighter weight? Smaller Size?
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Old 02-26-2013   #26
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well personally when I bought my planar the price was still 781 new and a DR/rigid cron from KEH was going for 1000 in BGN.

it didn't make sense to spend 200 more on a quite old used lens when a flat field to the edges is important to me (I dont care about corners, but I care about edges). if the DR cron was going for less than the planar I would definitely have bought one.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #27
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Has anyone compared the Hexanon 50/2 with the Hexanon 50/2.4?
Is one lens somehow "better" than the other at apertures 2.4 and smaller?
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