Summaron 2.8 vs. C-Biogon
Old 05-09-2016   #1
squirrel$$$bandit
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Summaron 2.8 vs. C-Biogon

I had the C-Biogon for a short while, then ran into some financial difficulty and had to sell it. Later this spring, though, I should be able to afford a 35 again, and was thinking of buying another C-Biogon. But I'm also interested in the 2.8 version of the Summaron. Does anyone here with experience of both lenses comment on their relative strengths? Maybe show some pictures? Thanks!
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Bio or Summo
Old 05-09-2016   #2
Dektol Dan
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Bio or Summo

I own both the 2.8 Biogon and Summaron 35s. If you are looking for a f2 Bio comparison I can't help you. But, I did not choose the f2 model because it's WAY too big for this boy, my kinds of subjects, and my style of in your face shooting.

I'd be happy to post some comparisons. I've owned my Summaron from the time I bought it new, and quite frankly I like it better, BUT one must be practical in choosing an old lens vs. a newer one.

My Summaron lives on my Monochrom; my Biogon lives on my M6. There you have it!
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Old 05-09-2016   #3
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Something tells me I'll end up that way too, eventually! Anyway, what do you like better about the Summaron?
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Old 05-09-2016   #4
mfogiel
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I have the Summaron 2.8 and Biogon 2.0.
Both very rectilinear lenses, Summaron much smaller and more solidly built (also quite heavy). The main difference is in coatings and contrast. Biogon much more contrasty with higher both the macro and the micro contrast, also sharper at every stop, although both lenses are more than good enough. The first impression on Biogon is that it has more "bite" and "gloss", while Summaron is more analytical and with broader nuance of greys. I only shoot B&W film BTW. The bokeh is good on both, with more gaussian type on the Biogon and more Leica paintery type on the Summaron.

Biogon
2008030114 by marek fogiel, on Flickr

CLOUDS, BURAGO by marek fogiel, on Flickr

07110222 by marek fogiel, on Flickr

BACK, SAINT GEORGES DE DIDONNE by marek fogiel, on Flickr

Summaron

20095513 by marek fogiel, on Flickr

20097801 by marek fogiel, on Flickr

20104712 by marek fogiel, on Flickr

20094513 by marek fogiel, on Flickr

From what I've seen around, C Biogon has even higher macro contrast. In practice, this comparison would be very similar between the Rigid/DR SUmmicron and Planar 50.
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Old 05-09-2016   #5
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I think that some people are referring to their Biogon 35/2 while other mean the C Biogon 35/2.8. I have the Biogon 35/2 and I like using it for the reasons mentioned above.
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Old 05-09-2016   #6
squirrel$$$bandit
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Yeah, I'm specifically referring to the 2.8 Biogon! But this is all good info.
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Old 05-09-2016   #7
Ruhayat
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I had the 35mm C-Biogon and 3.5 Summaron, not the 2.8, but not at the same time. For what it's worth, this is my take:

C-Biogon if you want: Zeiss colours, "pop", modern rendering, sharpness. The C-Biogon look approaches the smoothness and fidelity of medium format.

Summaron for character, especially in black and whites, old school/world charm, the "Leica look". On a digital camera it is particularly good, I find, as it helps tame some of that "digitalness".

Summaron is slightly smaller but not much of a difference once either lens is on a camera. I remember the Summaron felt weighty in the hand, like a solid lump of bronze.
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Summo Cum Laude
Old 05-09-2016   #8
Dektol Dan
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Summo Cum Laude

Summaron:











Biogon:









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Old 05-09-2016   #9
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IMO, the C Biogon is the best 35mm lens I've ever used. There is something in that 3D Zeiss way of drawing that transports you into the photograph. Also, it's the perfect size.

35/2.8 Zeiss C-Biogon Flickr set

Sample pix:


Tasha, Stagecoach State Park, April 05, 2015 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


The Happy Corner, April 02, 2015 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


MCB And The Con Air Fairchild Provider, Wendover Field, Wendover, UT, July 21, 2014 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


Wendover Field, Wendover, UT, July 21, 2014 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


Soaring, Saltair Pavillion, Utah, July 21, 2014 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


The Second Line, Paul McKay Memorial, November 16, 2013 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


The Astoria–Megler Bridge, September 24, 2013 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr
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Old 05-09-2016   #10
pechelman
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never used the biogon-c, but for me, it just doesnt appeal to me. It's a bit too modern, contrasty, and saturated. Many of the Zeiss lenses "scream" while other lenses, especially some classic ones, are a bit more of a "whisper". Again, for me.

I also really dont like 1/3rd stop diaphragm increments. I also much prefer the focusing tab to the speed bump and more standard 39mm filter size. Overall the lens is smaller, and while the biogon-c is by all accounts very flare resistant, due to the recessed nature of the front element of the summaron, it really doesnt even need a hood for either flare protection or regular protection from bumps of finger smudges.

If you're after a more technically perfect lens, go with the zeiss. Otherwise, I like the Summaron.

I am somewhat reluctant in describing it this way, because it means different things to different folks, or to some even having no meaning, but the summaron to me renders a very cinematic scene. I think Dan's comparison pictures up there help differentiate the 2 different looks, but here are a few of my favorite summaron pictures;


L1000608
by pechelman


L1001689-Edit
by pechelman


L1001170
by pechelman
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Old 05-09-2016   #11
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I'm inclined to go with a Summaron, eventually...the Zeiss certainly isn't clinical, but I like the lower contrast and vintage look of the Summaron pics...

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Old 05-09-2016   #12
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my 35 biogon c is the only 35 I have now. I had all the leica 35's at one time or another and this is the lens I prefer, awesome. I use it on my M4 and M9.
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Old 05-09-2016   #13
giulio stucchi
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One thing I like to consider when comparing lens apart from the rendering is the ergonomics.

In my case I simply adore the smooth focus action on my almost 50 years old summaron, the focusing tab that allow me to know at which distance I am focusing without looking at the lens and the oustanding building quality.

I never used the biogon but I had a zeiss sonnar zm and I could never get used to the focusing "bump" and the 1/3 click stop.

For me the less I like the ergonomics the less I use a lens even if I like the rendering.

Summaron samples (on tri-x and neopan 400):





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Old 05-09-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giulio stucchi View Post
I never used the biogon but I had a zeiss sonnar zm and I could never get used to the focusing "bump" and the 1/3 click stop.
Actually, the one thing I didn't like about the C-Biogon was the feel of the focus ring. It was a bit gritty and poorly damped. I sent it to DAG, got a CLA, and still didn't like itI prefer a heavier lens, I think. But perhaps I had a weird copy.
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Old 05-09-2016   #15
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Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
Actually, the one thing I didn't like about the C-Biogon was the feel of the focus ring. It was a bit gritty and poorly damped. I sent it to DAG, got a CLA, and still didn't like itI prefer a heavier lens, I think. But perhaps I had a weird copy.
You'll love the Summaron, then. It's the approximate density of a black hole.

I'm 100% with Giulio. Could never get along with the bump and the 1/3 stops of ZM lenses. The bump is a matter of staste, and the 1/3 stops make sense when thinking of the Ikon's AE, but on nonAE bodies, the 1/3 stops slow you down.

I sometimes regret selling my Summaron, because the BW rendering is something that's very noticeable in side by side comparisons with other 35s. I swear that lens has night vision capabilities for its ability to distinguish gradients of gray where other glass just paints pure black.
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Old 05-09-2016   #16
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I love the Summaron 35/2.8. I think it has the best tonality of any lens for black and white. It's small and it's sharp. I agree with mfogiel about the character description. I used to have three. Sold them all and I'm back looking for one again for my M2.

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Old 05-10-2016   #17
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All great shots, Helen, but man, I love the Summaron shot of the guy in the snow.
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Old 05-11-2016   #18
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Besides everything Giulio said about ergonomics, the Summaron 35/2.8 has the best aperture ring of all Leica lenses (design shared with the 'cron 35 v1). Being slightly oversized and with milled edges, it comes instantly to hand and feels great. I also prefer the full-aperture clicks which, along with the focus tab, allow sightless operation. Performance is excellent from wide open. The only downside is flare resistance: in that way it is the polar opposite to the CB35.
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summaron
Old 05-11-2016   #19
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summaron

I vote for the summaron. Nice tonality in black and white. Comparable to the DR Summicron.

Price is higher than the c-biogon... but looks great on my M2

Here are some recent samples on Eastman 5222

Oh and greetings from Manila, Philippines



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Old 05-11-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
I had the C-Biogon for a short while, then ran into some financial difficulty and had to sell it. Later this spring, though, I should be able to afford a 35 again, and was thinking of buying another C-Biogon. But I'm also interested in the 2.8 version of the Summaron. Does anyone here with experience of both lenses comment on their relative strengths? Maybe show some pictures? Thanks!
C-Biogon, every time. Like it very much for digital, and film too. 3D fullness, fine sharpness fall-off, deep blacks, checks a lot of my boxes. Had 'em both, though not simultaneously. I'll see whether I can locate some pics to compare, but the fine examples above pretty much say it all. You want classic, take the Summaron. You want modern, take the Zeiss. Re: C-Biogon focus ring roughness, once I had my copy relubed and used it awhile, it improved. My view is that ZM lenses seem to show certain issues irregularly (wobble, poor lubrication, focus ring play), a number of mine needed service, it's part of the price of using them. I believe the more recent production copies are better than the earlier ones.
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Ultimatley Why You Want a 2.8 Summaron
Old 05-11-2016   #21
Dektol Dan
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Ultimatley Why You Want a 2.8 Summaron

I love my 2.8 Biogon too, but it comes to subtleties, not micro contrast (whatever that means), the Summaron just can't be replaced:

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Old 05-11-2016   #22
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I have the C-Biogon, 2.8 Summaron and a 35 ASPH Cron. Optically the C-Biogon may be the best 35 optically I've used. I had DAG remove the focus lock and CLA the summaron 15-20 years ago. My Summaron is amazingly sharp, but not as contrasty or flare resistant as the Zeiss.
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Old 05-11-2016   #23
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Looking back at the images here it becomes apparent the biggest difference is not in the lenses but the individual processing technique, exposure of the film, the scanner and scanner profiles and post processing. If they're from wet prints it in the printing more in the film, exposure, processing and printing, scanning and post processing. I think we see what we want to see. I'm going to guess the majority of viewers don't even have a calibrated and profiled monitor. It's near impossible to critically evaluate anything on the internet.
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Old 05-11-2016   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
Looking back at the images here it becomes apparent the biggest difference is not in the lenses but the individual processing technique, exposure of the film, the scanner and scanner profiles and post processing. If they're from wet prints it in the printing more in the film, exposure, processing and printing, scanning and post processing. I think we see what we want to see. I'm going to guess the majority of viewers don't even have a calibrated and profiled monitor. It's near impossible to critically evaluate anything on the internet.
I agree and suggest that handled with skill, any of them can be used to produce wonderful photos. That said, I would likely choose the Biogon first, then the Summaron. But I would prefer to have both.
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Old 05-11-2016   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
I'm inclined to go with a Summaron, eventually...the Zeiss certainly isn't clinical, but I like the lower contrast and vintage look of the Summaron pics...

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Old 05-11-2016   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
Looking back at the images here it becomes apparent the biggest difference is not in the lenses but the individual processing technique, exposure of the film, the scanner and scanner profiles and post processing. If they're from wet prints it in the printing more in the film, exposure, processing and printing, scanning and post processing. I think we see what we want to see. I'm going to guess the majority of viewers don't even have a calibrated and profiled monitor. It's near impossible to critically evaluate anything on the internet.
I agree about the ability to judge a lenses from small images on a forum, and that processing and developing play a big role in the look of an image. For instance, Helen's snow picture, which is a masterpiece, is not what I would point to as an example of Summaron goodness because of the high contrast of that particular image.

Still, I will attest that the Summaron can produce images with more delicate BW tonality than other lens I've owned, and with a high degree of center sharpness. The difference was not subtle and hard to spot. It was immediately evident from when I developed and scanned my first roll.
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Old 05-19-2016   #27
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I had the C-Biogon and it's a really terrific lens, however I do agree with the idea that it's a little TOO modern for my tastes.

The problem with the Summaron is that finding a good copy puts you into Summicron (V2 or V3) price range. That's actually how I ended up with a Summicron. At $1000, I can't think of too many reasons to choose the Summaron over the Summicron, but both are fantastic lenses.
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More Comparisons
Old 05-19-2016   #28
Dektol Dan
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More Comparisons

I like both lenses, for the practical lens buyer the Biogon is it, but the ultimate for the craftsman is the Summaron. An experienced photographer reads the light of his shot like an instruction manual.

A comment was made about image size and here is a larger example of the Summaron in bright light, followed by shots from the Biogon first in bright light then shade. The Biogon is almost out of control in bright light contrast wise. For optimum post processing it is better to add contrast than try to take it away.

Familiarity with both lenses makes both winners.







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Old 05-21-2016   #29
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Smile

My 3,5/35 Summarons are my favorite film lenses for b&w in the 35mm format. As to why, it is something intangible, something artistic.

One is goggled, the other is LTM+adapter. And both ran $250.00-$300.00 in excellent condition.

I do not like how they deal with color though. For that I have something else.
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Old 05-22-2016   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
I sometimes regret selling my Summaron, because the BW rendering is something that's very noticeable in side by side comparisons with other 35s. I swear that lens has night vision capabilities for its ability to distinguish gradients of gray where other glass just paints pure black.
I'm treating it well, Federico. It's still my favorite lens on the GXR!

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Old 05-22-2016   #31
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Summaron is typical of 1960 image quality. Biogons are more modern and snappy.

My Summaron was not sharp at 2.8 and 4. Others have reported better results, other same as mine.

Ability to distinguish greys is because contrast is low.
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