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First Results: Test of Fifteen 50mm Lenses
Old 11-29-2006   #1
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First Results: Test of Fifteen 50mm Lenses

Hi,



The test is a comparison of my own lenses [and some loaners] and it may not necessarily reflect results applicable to every lens of these types.



I have tested the following lenses:

FSU:
1. J-3
2. J-8
3. Industrar 61L
4. Industrar 50mm/3.5 rigid

Japan:
5. Canon 50/1.2
6. Canon 50mm/1.4 ............... from Mark.
7. Canon 50mm/1.5 ............... from Mark.
8. Canon 50/1.8
9. Nikon 50/2
10. Nikon 50mm/1.4 (separate camera and test) ............ from Kiu.

Germany:
11. Summicron rigid first version
12. Summicron Collapsible
13. Elmar 5cm/3.5
14. Zeiss 5cm/2
15. Summitar
16. Summarit


I started out with a test that Ted (ampguy) insisted on. It was a time consuming focusing test with markers set at 2 inches, 3 inches and 4 inches in front of the focus target and behind it. Ted will let us know why I did this test

To get more out of this test, I arranged a light source for comparing bokeh effect. I feel that sharpness can also be compared.

I used a lens hood for each camera. This was a pain in the ....

Anyways, I use the same set-up as in my last two tests. A Bessa T with Ilford XP2 Super film, stabilized on a tripod and used with a cable release. Results can now be compared to my earlier tests.

Old link: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=20666

I posted the images on PN to allow side by side viewing of over 30 images.

The lenses with max aperture 1.5 or faster were tested at 1.5/2.0/4.0.
Lenses with max aperture 1.8~2.0 were tested at 2.0/4.0
Lenses with max aperture2.8~3.5 were tested at 4.0.

Let me know what you can conclude from this first test. I can see winners very clearly. A pattern is emerging quickly.


Once I complete all testing, I will have a roll of film on the Nikon 50mm/1.4 currently in Kiu's Nikon S2 camera.

I have placed a label with information on lens used and aperture setting for each image. I have also labeled the scanned image so that when you place the cursor over a photo, you will see the information displayed.


Raid

http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=669440

================================================== =

edited: Here are the links for the tests:

1. B&W Focusing Test of Most 50mm Lenses in the Test:
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=669440

2. Color Test of Lenses at 4.0
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=670650

3. Color Test of Lenses at 2.0
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=671321

4. Color Test of Lenses at 1.4-1.5
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=671339

5. Canon 50mm/0.95 on Canon 7s at 0.95
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder....lder_id=672398

6.Nikkor 50mm/1.4on Nikon S2
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=672453

7. Second Roll with the Canon 50mm/0.95
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=674636

8. Nikkor 50mm/1.1
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=679532

9. Nokton Prominent/Nikkor 50/1.4 for the S3/Zeiss Tessar 50mm/3.5
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=679553

10. Leitz Noctilux (hand-held)
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=679571

11. Nokton Prominent LTM/Zeiss Jena 50mm/1.5/ Zeiss C-Sonnar
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=679915

12. Noctilux
http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=683401

Last edited by raid : 01-13-2007 at 12:53.
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Old 11-29-2006   #2
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Raid, another great test. I have quickly looked over the displayed photos, and I agree with your statement that certain lenses really stand out above the others at first glance. One lense was a surprisingly good performer, another surprisingly weak. I have a short list of favorites, but want to do some more examination before posting my choices. Thanks again!
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Old 11-29-2006   #3
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I am impressed by the overall qualities of these vinatge 50mm lenses. Unlike a comparison of modern lenses, there will fewer RFF members taking sides strongly. Maybe this has to do with people spending top Dollars on a new lens, and they want to believe that they got the "best lens". With vintage lenses I think that it is more a mood you are looking for. Maybe it is called a "signature", but I think of it as a mood that a lens gives you.

Learn from the images with labels because the next test will have no lables.

I wonder what we really are comparing in this test. Knowing the factors tested will help us identify and understand differences better.

I focused on the Zeiss paper boxes (on the plus sign). Note that the markers behind the focus point are in focus but the markers in front of the focus point are out of focus. Is this something to expect from the hyperfocal distances or is it a "result"?



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Last edited by raid : 11-29-2006 at 17:57.
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Old 11-29-2006   #4
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I think that test proves how difficult it is to get a 50mm lens that's truly sharp at f2, at least among older lenses.
I was surprised that the collapsible summicron was sharper than the Rigid at f2, and at how well the Elmar/Industar 3.5's performed at f4.

THANKS for performing the test Raid!
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Old 11-29-2006   #5
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I was also surprised at how good a performer the Canon 1.2 is, being sharp even at 1.4.

The J8 has a really nice look to it, but the I61L was a big disappointment IMO.
The J3 also impressed me.

I also preferred the Elmar 3.5 to the Industar 3.5 but there isn't a lot in it.

The Canon 1.8 looks like an excellent lens for so little money.
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Old 11-29-2006   #6
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Wow! Excellent testing Raid. The text reveals sharpness and contrast, and the glass highlights of the cabinet showcases the OOF characteristics. Perfect.

All hail the new King of 50's!
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Last edited by FrankS : 11-29-2006 at 17:53.
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Old 11-29-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid
I am impressed by the overall qualities of these vinatge 50mm lenses. Unlike a comparison of modern lenses, there will fewer RFF members taking sides strongly. Maybe this has to do with people spending top Dollars on a new lens, and they want to believe that they got the "best lens".
I agree with that remark. But I am equally happy with a good picture taken with my Summarit, my "expensive" Summilux, and my "cheap" Sonnar.
BTW, I still can't get to the lens test.
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Old 11-29-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel M.A.
I agree with that remark. But I am equally happy with a good picture taken with my Summarit, my "expensive" Summilux, and my "cheap" Sonnar.
BTW, I still can't get to the lens test.
Gabriel: Why can't you get to the lens test? Must you be a member of PN to see the results?

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Old 11-29-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS
Wow! Excellent testing Raid. The text reveals sharpness and contrast, and the glass highlights of the cabinet showcases the OOF characteristics. Perfect.

All hail the new King of 50's!
Frank: Thanks! You have to be the King of the 50's.

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Old 11-29-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosk
I was also surprised at how good a performer the Canon 1.2 is, being sharp even at 1.4.

The J8 has a really nice look to it, but the I61L was a big disappointment IMO.
The J3 also impressed me.

I also preferred the Elmar 3.5 to the Industar 3.5 but there isn't a lot in it.

The Canon 1.8 looks like an excellent lens for so little money.
i'm familiar with the Jupiters but i just wanna ask, are these Canon lenses screw mount? if they are, they should easily fit a Fed or screw mount Leicas correct?

thanks.
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Old 11-29-2006   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wamjam
i'm familiar with the Jupiters but i just wanna ask, are these Canon lenses screw mount? if they are, they should easily fit a Fed or screw mount Leicas correct?

thanks.
Yes, all the Canon lenses here are screwmount lenses that can be used on any Leica camera and of course on FSU cameras that accept the Leica screwmount lenses.

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Old 11-29-2006   #12
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Hi Raid, great test. To my eyes, it looks like many of your FSU lenses are front focusing more than say the Canons, except for the J3 which looks semi focused, others like the Zeiss lens looks way out of focus to my eyes. What distance was your film plane to the subject you were focusing on?

I'm glad that you put the markers for focus, I really appreciate it.
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Old 11-29-2006   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosk
I was surprised that the collapsible summicron was sharper than the Rigid at f2.
Actually, I wasn't all that surprised. I've got a collapsible that is scuffed & beat & just plain abused, yet it blows away every other lens I've _ever_ used. (Joe, you really should have had this one fixed. It's really that good.) I still expect - and this test helps - to get a Canon 50/1.5 or 50/1.4 eventually, but that's for the speed. Anywhere f2 is appropriate, it's going to be this collapsible 'cron. Around here, I'm known as a major Tessar/Sonnar nut. And while I still love that look, the reality is that I've always gone for the old 'cron fast enough that I sold my Canon 50/1.8 (and it was an excellent sample of that lens) because I just didn't use it after I got that collapsible back from DAG.

I hope this is helpful.

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Old 11-29-2006   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy
Hi Raid, great test. To my eyes, it looks like many of your FSU lenses are front focusing more than say the Canons, except for the J3 which looks semi focused, others like the Zeiss lens looks way out of focus to my eyes. What distance was your film plane to the subject you were focusing on?

I'm glad that you put the markers for focus, I really appreciate it.

Ted: The distance is about 1.5 meters. To my eyes, the Zeiss lens focuses well. DAG gave it a complete CLA plus shimming.

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Old 11-29-2006   #15
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b/w the collapsible and the rigid cron you can see that the location of the identification of the lens is different but the actual Zeiss boxes are not.

The main diff I see b/w these two lenses is the contrast offered by the rigid vs the collapsible.

This, of course, does depend on the fact that contrast can be adjusted via post processing when scanning but in print these may not exhibit the same behaviour.

Excellent tests Raid - as usual the community owes you a big one for going through all this trouble just to appease our sometimes morbid curiosity

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Old 11-29-2006   #16
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great test !! thanks! now i am convinced - that J3 really is great lens. i like his wide open samples best. Summicron Collapsible also gave great results. Summitar and zeis are disappointing to me.
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Old 11-29-2006   #17
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Of course, tastes differ. What I get out of these tests is that everyone of these old lenses can provide ample sharpness at f4 for day to day photography. I see the main difference in how highlights are handled, some render them as if there's a diffusion filter over the highlights. The Summarit50/1.5 (@f4) and Sonnar50/2 (@f2) are most pronounced here. Is this the 'glow'?

Anyway, hats off to Raid for conducting a test like this in such a structured way!
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Old 11-30-2006   #18
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OK...You want sharp? wait untill you see what the 55 year old Nikkor(untested) can do!!

I am still willing to expand this test....I will send Raid My Nikkor 1.1 and my millenium Nikkor if someone volunteers a Canon .95,Leica 1 OH(as chris weeks puts it) or even a Cosina 1.5!!

This is an arm twisting offer, I'll pay for return shipping!!

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Old 11-30-2006   #19
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Funny:
Your test indicates the Zeiss Sonnar 50/2 being considerably worse than the Jupiter-8.
As i mentioned earlier in the first thread, I expected them to be exactly the same if both in good condition That statement was somewhat a surprise to a few people. Now this result is... Surprise-surprise!
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Old 11-30-2006   #20
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Good work Raid. I have no idea which I prefer so far, but the differences are interesting to see.


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Old 11-30-2006   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NIKON KIU
OK...You want sharp? wait untill you see what the 55 year old Nikkor(untested) can do!!

I am still willing to expand this test....I will send Raid My Nikkor 1.1 and my millenium Nikkor if someone volunteers a Canon .95,Leica 1 OH(as chris weeks puts it) or even a Cosina 1.5!!

This is an arm twisting offer, I'll pay for return shipping!!

Kiu

Kiu: Mark has offered me to test his Canon 50/0.95! Will you mail me your lenses now?

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Old 11-30-2006   #22
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Please note that my Zeiss Sonnar is most likely a pre-war version that mechanically looks bad but optically looks great according to DAG [and me] who three times worked on this lens.

Raid

Last edited by raid : 11-30-2006 at 06:26.
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Old 11-30-2006   #23
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Summarit @ f4 shot is very front focused.
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not a surprise
Old 11-30-2006   #24
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not a surprise

The zeiss at f2 is simply out of focus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pherdinand
Funny:
Your test indicates the Zeiss Sonnar 50/2 being considerably worse than the Jupiter-8.
As i mentioned earlier in the first thread, I expected them to be exactly the same if both in good condition That statement was somewhat a surprise to a few people. Now this result is... Surprise-surprise!
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Old 11-30-2006   #25
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DAG adjusted the lens for me, so this is a surprise.

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Hi Raid
Old 11-30-2006   #26
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Hi Raid

assuming your vision and camera system (mount, film plane distances, vf/rf system) are perfect, while theres a slight chance of a minor collimation thing going on, I think it may also be this:

When you focus, can you not turn or nudge the focus nut or barrel or lever a "smidgeon" (1 deg or so) either way, and it's still in focus?

My lenses, even when tripod mounted and I spend minutes composing, are sometimes slightly off so sometimes I will "bracket" moving that smidgeon of play back and forth (especially if digital). I would hazard a guess that if you focused as you normally do, then move some of those a smidgeon, the least possible movement possible, towards infinity, you might be closer to center focus on your subject, all the while with the images still being perfectly focused in the RF/VF.

HOWEVER, since you're using film, and this is time consuming and expensive, PLEASE don't do it for me, only if you are interested in more center focusing your subject yourself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by raid
DAG adjusted the lens for me, so this is a surprise.

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Old 11-30-2006   #27
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It's hard not to like that Canon 1.5. My Summitar gives me a little more detail wide open than the test Summitar did.
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Old 11-30-2006   #28
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Great test Raid! Thanks for taking the time to do this. As for results, it is nice to see two of my recent purchases (J-3 and Canon 50/1.4) performing so well.
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Old 11-30-2006   #29
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I too am impressed by the Canon 50/1.5.
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Old 11-30-2006   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy
The zeiss at f2 is simply out of focus.

Ted and Roland: So this could be due to my focusing and it is not a problematic issue with the lens. Right?

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Old 11-30-2006   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider
The Canon 1.5 is a great lens. And sharper than people usually give it credit for.

Roland.

Roland: I expected it to be softer than the Canon 50/1.4, but it is not. You have build up additional support for your beloved Sonnar!

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Old 11-30-2006   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy
assuming your vision and camera system (mount, film plane distances, vf/rf system) are perfect, while theres a slight chance of a minor collimation thing going on, I think it may also be this:

When you focus, can you not turn or nudge the focus nut or barrel or lever a "smidgeon" (1 deg or so) either way, and it's still in focus?

My lenses, even when tripod mounted and I spend minutes composing, are sometimes slightly off so sometimes I will "bracket" moving that smidgeon of play back and forth (especially if digital). I would hazard a guess that if you focused as you normally do, then move some of those a smidgeon, the least possible movement possible, towards infinity, you might be closer to center focus on your subject, all the while with the images still being perfectly focused in the RF/VF.

HOWEVER, since you're using film, and this is time consuming and expensive, PLEASE don't do it for me, only if you are interested in more center focusing your subject yourself.
Ted: It is fortunate that I have already done two tests on most of my 50mm lenses, including the sharp Nikon 50/2 and the highly acceptable Zeiss lens. Both lenses did well in earlier tests, so this may be my [human] error of getting bored after testing many lenses at different aperture settings. If I had the time, I would shoot an entireroll with each of these two lenses, which happen to be among my favorite 50mm lenses.

Don at DAG made sure that the Zeiss focused accuratelyand he also cleaned it. The Nikon always was sharp and accurate in focusing it wide open. It also came out as the front runner in the earlier test for flare resistance.



I will take extra care with focusing in the next part of this test, and especially with any lens that showed surprisingly low performance in the first focusing test.


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Old 11-30-2006   #33
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Quote:
I expected it to be softer than the Canon 50/1.4, but it is not.
It is, however, softer than the pre-aspherical Summilux 50 wide-open. And of course, the oof look differs quite a bit. Magus would likely say "entirely different"
Attached Images
File Type: jpg test50:1.5.jpg (280.0 KB, 77 views)
File Type: jpg test50:1.4.jpg (272.3 KB, 80 views)
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Old 11-30-2006   #34
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...and here are the 100% crops.

See if you can tell which is which. No fair if I label them for you!
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File Type: jpg test50:1.4:2.jpg (370.8 KB, 84 views)
File Type: jpg test50:1.5:2.jpg (313.4 KB, 72 views)
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Old 11-30-2006   #35
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Akk!

I see that if you roll your cursor over the image the name pops up, and the surprise is ruined.

Just click and look. No fair cheating!
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Old 11-30-2006   #36
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Roland: With 11~12 shots taken at 2.0, it should be then expected to get two shots off; the Nikon and the Zeiss :-)

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Old 11-30-2006   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
...and here are the 100% crops.

See if you can tell which is which. No fair if I label them for you!

Kevin: These photos are from your test, so why don't you tell us what you have concluded regarding these two Canon lenses?

edited: Canon and Leitz lenses.

Raid

Last edited by raid : 11-30-2006 at 11:23.
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Old 11-30-2006   #38
kevin m
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Hi Raid, Sorry to jump on your post, but I thought the info on the Canon 50 f1.5 was relevant.

The two shots I posted are from the Canon 50/1.5 and the pre-asph Summilux 50. Both wide open, near close-focus limit for each. (If you roll your cursor over the small images, you'll see the file names, and that tells you which is which.)

Wide open, the Leica is sharper at the center and has more contrast than the Canon. I also think it renders color more accurately, the Canon being slightly 'cool.' I also prefer the Leica's oof drawing, as it has a more natural look to my eye. The Leica improves very quickly stopped down, with noticeable improvement by f1.7. I find it to be a very pleasant lens overall, with a very 'natural' look to its imaging. The Canon's signature sonnar look is less appealing to me.

The Canon is only technically 'worse' than the 'lux wide open, though. Every other difference is a either matter of taste in imagining, or handling ergonomics. The Canon is an outstanding lens for being 50 years old. I'm half-tempted to get something like a IIIf Leica to use it with.

I still think the pre-asph Summilux 50 is Leica's best-ever 'people' lens, though, despite its detractors and even compared to the new Aspherical 50. The only stop where I feel it can be described as technically weak is f1.4. Again, by f1.7 it improves noticeably. (FWIW, I keep an 8x ND filter in my bag so I can shoot between f2.0 and f4.0 with this lens for wedding work. ) If you shoot landscapes, or subject matter that benefits from a flatter field and a more highly corrected look, and your female subjects are all under 25 with perfect skin, then a Summicron 50 or the new Asph have advantages, of course. Horses for courses, and all that.
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much better than my eyes and focusing
Old 11-30-2006   #39
ampguy
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much better than my eyes and focusing

Roland, that's much better than I can do, probably 50% of my up close wide open shots are out of focus, which is why the R-D1 may pay for itself faster than with other folks who focus better.

Raid, If I attempted what you did with those sequential test shots, I would have been much more off and would have gone through many rolls to get even as good of focusing as you did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider
Maybe yes, Raid. Nikkors are usually very well collimated and you used this lens before, so I assume it is user error.
Happens to me all the time with a 50 wide open and close up, also on the M3 (20% of the shots or so).

Roland.
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Old 11-30-2006   #40
raid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
Hi Raid, Sorry to jump on your post, but I thought the info on the Canon 50 f1.5 was relevant.

The two shots I posted are from the Canon 50/1.5 and the pre-asph Summilux 50. Both wide open, near close-focus limit for each. (If you roll your cursor over the small images, you'll see the file names, and that tells you which is which.)

Wide open, the Leica is sharper at the center and has more contrast than the Canon. I also think it renders color more accurately, the Canon being slightly 'cool.' I also prefer the Leica's oof drawing, as it has a more natural look to my eye. The Leica improves very quickly stopped down, with noticeable improvement by f1.7. I find it to be a very pleasant lens overall, with a very 'natural' look to its imaging. The Canon's signature sonnar look is less appealing to me.

The Canon is only technically 'worse' than the 'lux wide open, though. Every other difference is a either matter of taste in imagining, or handling ergonomics. The Canon is an outstanding lens for being 50 years old. I'm half-tempted to get something like a IIIf Leica to use it with.

I still think the pre-asph Summilux 50 is Leica's best-ever 'people' lens, though, despite its detractors and even compared to the new Aspherical 50. The only stop where I feel it can be described as technically weak is f1.4. Again, by f1.7 it improves noticeably. (FWIW, I keep an 8x ND filter in my bag so I can shoot between f2.0 and f4.0 with this lens for wedding work. ) If you shoot landscapes, or subject matter that benefits from a flatter field and a more highly corrected look, and your female subjects are all under 25 with perfect skin, then a Summicron 50 or the new Asph have advantages, of course. Horses for courses, and all that.
Kevin: Do you consider the pre-asph Summilux to be a vintage lens?
Thanks for your additional information, but we left out any "modern" lenses from this test. Nobody is making claims beyond the lenses included in the test.

Regards,

Raid
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