View Full Version : Mid price 50mm lens advice please

03-08-2005, 03:59
Hi, I'm looking for a good 50. I realise that's a very personal thing :D

I'd like something for portraits and tight environment shots. I'm thinking of used f2 summicron, and wondered if there was a particularly good model to look for, considering the DR of the R-D1. Ideally moderate contrast and lots of detail.

By the way, I've read that the anti-aliasing on this chip is a bit overdone, killing of the high frequencies. Does this mean there is less benefit in going for the asph?

Last thing... are the collapsing 'crons ok on the R-D1?


ps I've got the 40mm Nokton at the moment, but I haven't got any magic out of it yet, so maybe it's my lack of technique that's the problem!

03-08-2005, 04:20
You may be surprised by the jupiter-3 50/1.5 which I find produces extremely good B/W files in particular with great Bokeh.

03-08-2005, 04:57
Im going to listen in on this thread if you dont mind. ;)

Since my rigid summicron has had a premature death, Im searching the market as well. Ive been considering: canon 50/1.2 and 1.4, summitar 50/1.5, another rigid summicron, nikon 50/1.4 and new lenses such as: CV. 50/1.5 nokton and the 40/1.4 Nokton - maybe some of these would interest you as well?

This is mainly for B/W and available light shots.



Huck Finn
03-08-2005, 05:15
It would be interesting to see how the 50/1.5 Sonnars from the 1950's by Zeiss, Nikon, & Canon would do on the RD-1.

03-08-2005, 06:03
Phil that's a smashing avatar you have there! :) If you're looking to use the lens for portraits I would not suggest the Summicron, at least the current one. I've had two of them and they are painfully sharp. I think the suggestions about Sonnar-type lenses make sense, the Zeiss designs in general appear to be kinder to people than Leica lenses, but you can also stop them down and get the kind of detail you want.

I have a Jupiter-8 (50mm/f2) - a great lens but build quality is very inconsistent/dodgy - mine is optically excellent but mechanically just OK. A little soft wide open, sharp as a tack two stops down with lovely OOF areas. You might also want to consider a Leica Elmar 50mm/f2.8 provided it will collapse properly into the RD-1. Based on another Zeiss design, the lens is warmer in color rendition than the Summicron, sharp (but not too sharp!) and with good contrast. I use a current Elmar-M and at f8 the prints are indistinguishable from a Summicron in terms of resolution.

FWIW, results with film may not make sense if you're using a digital cam, but I've attached 2 scans from my last two rolls, the first one shot with the J-8 and the second one with my Elmar-M, both using apertures of f4 so you can see the "look" of both. No post-processing and unfortunately the films are different, the first is shot with Ilford HP5+ and the second with Fuji Neopan 400.

David Kieltyka
03-08-2005, 08:04
It's a delicate balance: high frequency detail vs. aliasing. I'd say Epson got the AA filter right with the R-D1. Any weaker and we'd have frequent moire issues. As it is I sometimes see moire with the CV 15mm Heliar, a lens that generates lots of high frequency image info.

If you're refering to Erwin Puts' recent evaluation of the R-D1, I think Erwin simply misfocused the test chart photo. The photo should show some aliasing near the upper limit of the sensor's resolving capability. But it doesn't.

I think any of the 50mm Summicrons will serve you well. I'd go for the 1950s vintage rigid or the Dual-Range myself. These have a high-res, moderate contrast optical design. And they're beautifully built, IMO better than anything made today.


03-08-2005, 09:07
Since my rigid summicron has had a premature death, Im searching the market as well. Ive been considering: canon 50/1.2 and 1.4...

I don't know much about the other lenses you mentioned, but of the Canons:

-- A lens you omitted from your list, the 50/1.8, is probably more "Summicron-like" than the two you mention, so if you liked that look you may want to search for one of these. It'll probably be significantly less expensive also.

-- The 50/1.4 is a solid performer if a bit low-contrast by today's standards. Aperture for aperture, it isn't quite as sharp at wide lens openings as the 50/1.8, but you'd have to look hard to notice the differences.

-- The 50/1.2 is an "interesting" lens that gives distinctive results on the R-D1, with attractively smeary out-of-focus areas. At wide apertures it isn't as sharp as either of the other two mentioned above, and highlights tend to bloom a bit at f/1.2; this may be desirable for some pictures but undesirable for others, so you have to let your own tastes be your guide here.

03-08-2005, 10:35
Jlw - thankyou

I fear I have been a bit too hasty - replying to this post originally, as Ive just realised, that Ive ended up on "the other side of town". I dont own an RD-1 (wish I did though!) I unintentionally focused on the titel of this thread - and neglected to notice the forum it was in.

I apologize for that - and also to pfogle for jumping in on his thread.

However, with that being said - I think your advice is good and Ill be looking a bit more at those Canon lenses. - I guess that in general, a lot of it also applies to using thme on an Ol' Leica M3 like mine ;)

Thanks again - I better get back on the other side of town now....... ;)



Brian Sweeney
03-08-2005, 11:27

I have a number of '50s, and have shots posted in my Gallery sorted by lens. Many of the famous lenses from the '50s are there, including the Canon 50mm F1.2 and 50mm F1.4; Leica 50mm F1.5 Summarit; Nikkor 5cm F1.4; Summicron Type I Rigid and later 6-element Summicron; 50mm F1.5 and 50mm F2 Sonnar; Jupiter-8 50mm F2 as well as some others.


03-08-2005, 15:01
thanks to everyone for your suggestions.

David... I think you're right about the AA filter... the chip's apparently the same one as the D70, and that does have moire issues at h/f. Of course, the filter may well be different. I shouldn't pay so much attention to reviews!

Peter... thanks for the two scans. The elmar shot looks immediately superior to me. I have had the elmar before, on an M3 and it was great. I'm hoping an older 'cron will have a similar look with another stop. I like to shoot wide open.

Also, I have had misgivings about the build quality of the russian stuff. Your pix pushed me towards Leica.

The best lens I ever had was a Sonnar f2 on an old CIII, but I lost it in a divorce! Here in London, I haven't seen any Canons or CZ lenses for a while.

Summilux... thanks for the offer, but I'm not based in USA. :(


Jim Watts
03-09-2005, 01:29

Jessops Classic Cameras had a number of Canon 50's when I visited a couple of weeks ago and at present are listing the the 50mm f/1.8 at 149 and the 50mm f/1.2 at 199. They also have quite a number of early Leica 50' s and some Russian stuff. I tend to think they are a little expensive but they will haggle a little.


03-09-2005, 01:34
thanks, Jim,

I was in Jessops myself last week, but must have looked in the wrong cabinet! Doh. I'll have to go back for another look.

Still, I got a nice uncoated Summar that I paid 80 for (they were asking 100), so I won't be needing soft-focus filters!


03-09-2005, 01:45
I picked up my Jupiter-3 with 3 others for $100 optically all are fine, 2 have smooth focussing and aperature rings, one does not. A lot of fun though for such cheapo lenses. These pics were both taken at 1.5 IS0 200 with the Jupiter.

03-09-2005, 01:54
Vincenzo- those J-3 images look good... I'll see what's around.

Meanwhile, it looks like a '50s summicron rigid or D/R, or the Canon 1.8.

As soon as I get my camera back, I'll try them out and put some pix up.

By the way, Brian, your gallery was very interesting - it would be great if you could stick some of that glass on the R-D1 so we could see what they do there!

Brian Sweeney
03-09-2005, 02:14
Vincenzo: Nice J3 shots! I will be adding one to the fold.

Phil, I would be happy to borrow an RD-1!

All things considered, a lens with less contrast like the early Summicrons are probably a good bet for the RD-1. Look at Sean Reid's threads about the RD-1.


The lenses with lower contrast, such as the Canon 35mm F2.8, prevent "clipping" by the digital sensor. The type I Rigid Summicron 5cm F2 would be my choice if I had an RD-1. For a fast lens, I would "personally" go with the Summarit 5cm F1.5 (low contrast, soft close-up and wide-open) or the Canon 50mm F1.4. As the sensor on the RD-1 is about 1/4th or so the resolution of film, the softness of the Summarit wide-open "may not" be a big deal.

Using the LTM lenses on my D1x with the L-to-F adapter would not be reasonable. The focus is about 6", way beyond the window that the lenses were designed for. May be fun though.

03-09-2005, 05:27
This one may be a winner.


03-09-2005, 10:23
Cheers! Its turning into a fetish for me this Ruski-Rd-1 combo) I just gota Jupiter-9 85/2 from Kiev as soon as I've fixed the focussing ring I'll let off some steam and post a few pics using this brute!

03-09-2005, 10:26

I've just found a J-8 f2 in shop, I should get it in the post tomorrow. Also, I accidentally put a bid in on ebay on an Industar 55mm f2.8, which I might win, so I'll let you know how I go with those two.