Collapsible lens options
Old 02-28-2019   #1
lrochfort
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Collapsible lens options

Hi all,

I'm going to buy a Leica III of one kind or another, and have a few collapsible lens options, all of which are online order, so I can't try before I buy.

They are:

Summitar
Elmar 3.5
Elmar 3.5 "red scale"
Elmar 2.8 (early because single distance scale?)
Summicron collapsible with "cleaning marks"

All are "clean" bar the Summicron front element cleaning marks. All similar money.

I've trawled through Flickr and to be honest there's so image much variation even within a given lens type it's hard to get an idea of how they vary.

So, perhaps my question is whether the Summicron is generally regarded as so much better (by whatever measure) as to be worth trying out.

I know with lenses this old that individual samples vary more than anything else, but all opinions are welcomed. I tend to favour less contrast, but really the only lenses I've ever actually not liked were some of the new VC lenses.

What about usability and size when collapsed?

My current camera is a FED 2 with an Industar 50 collapsible, and a Hasselblad with an 80mm planar. I like both the Tessar and the Planar very much but would really like to try a Leitz lens, hence the new purchase.

Cheers!

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Old 02-28-2019   #2
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I presume you mean Summitar as opposed to Summarit?
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Old 02-28-2019   #3
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I would definitely go with the 3.5 Elmar! A great lens that feels so right on a Leica III.
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Old 02-28-2019   #4
David Murphy
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I'd avoid any lens with significant cleaning marks. Some serial number ranges of collapsible Summicron's are radioactive (I would not recomened those either). Otherwise a clean non-radioactive Summicron is a superior lens to all others on your list, and many other 50's to the current era.

The Elmar or Summitar are great choices too, and usually somewhat less expensive.
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Old 02-28-2019   #5
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If you can get a good example, don't overlook the Summar. Tiny, f2.0 maximum aperture, and much underapprecited. Look for sample shots in the Summar thread in the ltm section.
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Old 02-28-2019   #6
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Don’t forget filters. Some of those have standard sizes, some are oddball.
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Old 02-28-2019   #7
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Also some Summitars are coated, some not; some have 10 blades, some 6 with a hex opening
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Old 02-28-2019   #8
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I would recommend the Summitar 50mm. Its the predecessor to the Summicron 50mm f2 and the successor to the Summar 50mm f2. It is in between the two in image quality and most people seem to like it. I know I do.

I found the Elmar pretty good being a 4 element lens (and hence fewer glass / air transitions which was a real issue back in the days before modern coatings). But I never the less found it to be a little limiting due to its maximum aperture. It is down to personal preference however and it will turn in nice images that I can promise.

If you take this advice about the Summitar make sure its a post war (coated) Summitar and I would suggest opting for the version with the round aperture - some had a strange aperture / iris with funky double blades which produced a hexagonal aperture. The rounded one should give better OOF. You will find plenty of image samples on Flickr if you do a search within Flickr.

PS as always with these old lenses use a lens hood. A cheap metal aftermarket one is fine but the Summitar will in addition require a special adapter due to the way their filter threads work, which last time I checked, are also available in cheaply from Chinese after markets. Original leitz ones can be pricey though.
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Old 02-28-2019   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrochfort View Post
Hi all,

I'm going to buy a Leica III of one kind or another, and have a few collapsible lens options, all of which are online order, so I can't try before I buy.

They are:

Summarit
Elmar 3.5
Elmar 3.5 "red scale"
Elmar 2.8 (early because single distance scale?)
Summicron collapsible with "cleaning marks"


So, perhaps my question is whether the Summicron is generally regarded as so much better (by whatever measure) as to be worth trying out.



What about usability and size when collapsed?



Cheers!

Sent from my Nokia 7 plus using Tapatalk
The main advantage of the collapsible Summicron is that it is one stop faster than the 2.8 Elmar. It will also hold up better into the edges and corners than the 2.8 Elmar, at f/2.8 and f/4. There's nothing wrong with the Elmar's definition in the central region, however, even wide open. The Summicron won't really be noticeably sharper than the Elmar from f/5.6 and smaller.

The cleaning marks on the Summicron can cause some veiling of the image when there is strong backlight. Otherwise, not a big deal.

The 3.5 Elmar is a little better than the 2.8 Elmar when both are at f/3.5. By F/4 and smaller, the 2.8 Elmar is just as good or a little better. I prefer the 2.8 Elmar to the 3.5 because I prefer its aperture control. The little aperture tab on the 3.5 is fiddly! You have to take the filter off to reach it! And, of course, it's faster. But the 3.5 Elmar is the most compact of the three when collapsed.

I have the collapsible Summicron in both M and LTM. It is a favorite for its rendition: a little "soft-sharp" and romantic wide open, and tack-sharp stopped down a bit.
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Old 02-28-2019   #10
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From your proposed options, I would go for the Summicron if marks aren't that great. Otherwise, the Elmar 3.5. for sizer and compactness.

Own both. My collapsible Summicron is LTM and front element don't have marks. Great lens that is good on either the M or LTM leicas.


Usually go for the Elmar 3.5 when traveling though, for compactness. Summicron is small but not much pocketable

Regards

Marcelo
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Old 02-28-2019   #11
Ko.Fe.
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Summar and Elmar rings the bell as collapsible.
HCB told what Elmar is more than enough for amateur.
Summar is very distinguishable lens on rendering.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kf095/...-rTHAje-tfKG9K
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kf095/...bH6yGs-2cP7Cp8


Summitar is huge lens.
https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_...&text=Summitar
Cron is less.
Cron V1 is superior lens on bw.
https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_...%20Collapsible
After it Crons were less and less appealing on BW, with v4 degraded as no name lens on BW (IMHO).
Just as Summitar, v1 Cron is collapsible, but not really compact as 50 3.5 or Summar.
For Summitar you will need to find normal filter adapter ring (original are not as good as modern filters). Without filter this lens is jeopardy, because glass, coating is soft.
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Old 02-28-2019   #12
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My favorite 50 is a CLEAN summicron Collapsible, but I would have to have a FANTASTIC deal to buy one with a lot of cleaning marks.

I have a red scale Elmar that would be my 2nd choice mainly because of its size. Even though the 2.8 Elmar is small, the 3.5 is like a lens cap when folded.

Just get the cleanest one, check for haze, separation, and oil. You’re likely going to buy them all at some point anyway
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Old 02-28-2019   #13
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It’s not an easy decision.

The Elmar is tiny but fiddly with aperture and filters make that even more clunky. On the other hand it’s tiny!

Summitar is under rated but has an oddball filter. If you shoot wide open there is no difference between the 10 or 6 blade, but there can be hex effect at other apertures

Summicron has standard filter, and let’s say the easiest ergonomically.

All of these are subject to the usual caveats common to all Leica glass: haze, scratches, sometimes fungus. Light ‘cleaning marks’ usually have no effect, as do dust particles. Too many scratches is another story, as are sellers that use the term ‘cleaning marks’ as a euphemism.

The key here is patience. There are lots of fine lenses out there, it’s juat a matter of being patient until the right one comes along at the right price.

Personally I love LTM collapsibles and have slowly acquired the following for not much cash outlay:

50/2 Nikkor
50/3.5 Nikkor
50/3.5 Elmar (later f-stops, coated)
50/2 Summitar (uncoated)
50/2 Summicron (radioactive)

All are clean with no haze or scratches.

I’ve also had a Fuji Cristar 50/2 but it rendered almost identically to the Summitar and was worth too much for me to keep. Also sold a coated Summitar after I came across the Summicron. Some years ago I had a 2.8 Elmar but I think it was bayonet.

Will eventually pick up a 50/2 and/or 50/1.9 Canon...

Good luck!
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Old 02-28-2019   #14
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Not Collapsible, but have you taken a look at the Color Skopar 50 2.5? It’s very small and well made. There’s a couple good threads on here with it featured
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Old 03-01-2019   #15
David Hughes
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Hi,

You've far too wide a choice and it does confuse, doesn't it? Here's my 2d worth;

Elmar f/3.5 come coated and uncoated; both are small, neat and loved. Lots available and reasonable prices.

Elmar f/2.8 coated and often over looked but a very nice lens.

Summar f/2 quickly replaced and hard to find in good condition. Usually uncoated but some were coated later.

Summitar f/2 a distinctive lens, they say, but my coated one seems normal. It was the father of the

Summicron f/2 there's a lot of these and several variations. All coated and you can get into a fine old row saying one version is better than another.

Edge definition counts if you print 12" x 8" and then go over it with a magnifier but most people print at 10" x 8" and that means the edges get chopped.

Filters, I don't do much B&W work so haven't bothered with them. Somewhere I've a yellow-green for clouds etc but can't remember using it. For colour I use the lens without a bit of non-Leica glass in front. People talk about UV for protection but are you going into a war zone?

Lens hoods, they are all available in screw in and slip on. The Chinese make a lot of nice screw in ones and there are dozens - if not hundreds - of slip on ones available at all sorts of prices. The Summitar takes a 42mm slip-on lens hood, which is what prompted this paragraph.

Lens cap, front and rear, check you get both with the lens; especially if it is being posted to you. A genuine blacken brass rear lens cap and a black front lens cap for a 1930's Elmar will/can cost more than the lens. So do a bit of research and decide what you want or need...

A Leica model III is great with the contemporary lenses, meaning the f/3.5 Elmar or the Summitar but the lenses of that era were uncoated. (A decent hood usually get round that problem.)

Another important point is that the III and the Elmar will seldom over balance and tip forward...

Lastly, if you buy a good one, all Leica lenses are good. Look at the samples from 1925 and 1926 ones that are scattered about the internet.

Regards, David
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Old 03-01-2019   #16
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On the subject of the Summitar blade shapes and their potential impact on images, the thread linked below has a photo taken with the Hex bladed one. While I like good bokeh as much as the next guy I am seldom too picky about bokeh quality as long as it is not too intrusive. But boy is the bokeh of the lens with that iris noticeable in a way which dominates the photo....... in fact the bokeh looks like it fell out of the proverbial ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. The round bladed version is much more respectable speaking from personal experience.

https://www.photo.net/discuss/thread...al-iris.88525/
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Old 03-01-2019   #17
lrochfort
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Thanks very much for all the comments, everyone.


David is right, the choice is a bit paralizing. If they were all in one shop and I could strap them to a digital camera and compare there and then it would be easier. Perhaps the easiest thing is to try to exclude the uncoated lenses.


Part of me thinks I should buy a Zorki 1 to go with my Industar 50 and be done with it!!




Joking aside, I've looked at lots of Flickr now and I like all of the example images I've seen of all the lenses, and find them all different enough from my Tessar/Planar/Sonnar lenses to be worth buying.


I imagine I'll ring the shops and ask for their appraisal of the glass on each lens, and go with which sounds best.
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Old 03-01-2019   #18
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You should look at lots of examples of each lens images, just google "summitar flickr" for each of your lens of interest and get a good feeling for how each lens works in practice.
If you buy one in good shape, even if you don't end up liking it, you can usually sell it with little or no loss. I find trying out gear is half the fun of photography, and selling it on is very satisfying.
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Old 03-01-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
On the subject of the Summitar blade shapes and their potential impact on images, the thread linked below has a photo taken with the Hex bladed one. While I like good bokeh as much as the next guy I am seldom too picky about bokeh quality as long as it is not too intrusive. But boy is the bokeh of the lens with that iris noticeable in a way which dominates the photo....... in fact the bokeh looks like it fell out of the proverbial ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. The round bladed version is much more respectable speaking from personal experience.

https://www.photo.net/discuss/thread...al-iris.88525/
The Summitar has, shall I say, ‘curious’ bokeh. With some backgrounds it works well, others not so much. It also varies from center to edge. The reference image was apparently shot wide open so either count of blades would have produced that look.

Lots of good photos in the Summitar the Star thread, that will give a good representation.

This one was with my coated hex blade:

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Old 03-01-2019   #20
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If you are going to shoot black and white film, don't disregard the uncoated lenses. They will handle contrast quite well, give plenty of detail in shadow and highlight, and the results are easy to scan or wet print. If you want to see what an uncoated lens can do, look for James Ravilious' work on the internet or get one of his books.
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Old 03-01-2019   #21
David Hughes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrochfort View Post
Thanks very much for all the comments, everyone.

David is right, the choice is a bit paralizing. If they were all in one shop and I could strap them to a digital camera and compare there and then it would be easier. Perhaps the easiest thing is to try to exclude the uncoated lenses.

Part of me thinks I should buy a Zorki 1 to go with my Industar 50 and be done with it!!

Joking aside, I've looked at lots of Flickr now and I like all of the example images I've seen of all the lenses, and find them all different enough from my Tessar/Planar/Sonnar lenses to be worth buying.

I imagine I'll ring the shops and ask for their appraisal of the glass on each lens, and go with which sounds best.

Hi,

Your post rang a warning bell. Do be careful, you are standing - perhaps teetering - at the top of a very steep and slippery slope.

Worse still, jokes are often a harbinger of lurking thoughts. So your joke about the Zorki means you must tread carefully and - remember - the Zorki came with an Industar-22 or else a Jupiter-3 or else a Jupiter-8. (See the 1954 instruction manual for this comment.) So next you'd need something else for the Industar-50 like a Zorki-2 or 2C. And the FED-2 will need an Industar-26 or 61 etc. Authenticity can be very expensive...

Now apply that to the Leica III which will need a lens depending on the year it was made...

Here's a sample from an uncoated 1926 lens, a test shot hence the comments:-



and here's a coated 1946 Summitar shot:-



Regards, David
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