First 50mm lens decision, help!
Old 06-06-2017   #1
Cabledog
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First 50mm lens decision, help!

So I'm waiting on my M4 to arrive and need to buy my first lens. I'm new to the leica world of lenses and perhaps people could help me decide. I have the option to get a summicron m 50 for the same price as a zeiss planar. I just sold my hasselblad 501cm and I miss the creamy tones and pop from my cf lenses. Do zeiss lenses for the leica give similar tones? Should I go summicron? I've been researching for hours and my head is going to pop from information overload.

For $1,000 or less which would you guys choose?
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Old 06-06-2017   #2
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I've also been researching the 50mm c biogon because it's slightly more compact but I'm seeing things like focus shift and CA coming up frequently but overall people like it. Thoughts?
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Old 06-06-2017   #3
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Thoughts?
They're all good and it really comes down to other things. Leica and Voigtlander lenses have 1/2 stop aperture rings, while Zeiss have 1/3 stops. Zeiss have a little focus nub, while the others either have a full tab (v4 summicron) or nothing (v5 summicron). Other things like filter size and the like could sway you if you're going to build a system.
Also you should take a serious look at the Voigtlander lenses, they are excellent, especially at their price.
Above all else, if you get the Zeiss, will you still wonder about the Leica?
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Old 06-06-2017   #4
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Do you have a budget for the lens? It is a personal choice but for creamy tone I would go a lower contrast vintage Summicron preferably a DR.
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Old 06-06-2017   #5
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post a link to some of your favorite images shot in the past with a 50mm equiv and i'll give you the best insight i can on the lens to purchase.
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Old 06-06-2017   #6
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Tough dilemma! For a thousand bucks you could get a 5cm Elmar and a 50mm Nokton and explore classic and modern lenses.
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Old 06-06-2017   #7
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All my images are too large to post haha. My instagram is @thevegasrealtor. I normally shoot medium format, the leica will be my discrete travel camera when i don't want to carry a huge mamiya with me. I was thinking maybe a 35mm lens might fit my style too but I'm trying to limit myself to one lens to cut down on my travel weight. I shoot probably 50/50 bw to color. I was mainly hoping I could achieve that 3d zeiss look I got on my hassy.

Stops aren't a priority nor are filter sizes. And yes I'll probably end up buying a summicron anyways later because I'm very bad about buying gear then selling it after a short time because I get grass is greener syndrome.
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Old 06-06-2017   #8
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Budget wise I'd like to stay at or below $1,000 but if there is some amazing lens that allows me to stick to that just one I would pay up to 1500ish
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Old 06-06-2017   #9
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A Summicron 50 Type 3 is a good choice between modern and vintage. Great for colour, but a nice balance for black and white.

Summicron 50 DR is a very fine lens, specially for black and white - higher resolution.

Otherwise, Planar seems more punchy for colour - why not? I don't like the filter size however.

Don't let the Leica lenses from the 50's stop you in using colour.
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Old 06-06-2017   #10
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Also since this is my travel system compactness would be ideal too. Are those collapsible lenses any good?
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Old 06-06-2017   #11
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based on the images in your IG feed, i think the 50/1.4 Summilux Pre-Asph v2 would make you a happy photographer.

also suggested was the v3 summicron. that would also work nicely.
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Old 06-06-2017   #12
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Thanks for the info so far everyone! This is great stuff. Does anyone have previous experience with the zeiss c biogon 50?
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Old 06-06-2017   #13
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If I am not completely mistaken, the Zeiss C-Biogon is a 35mm 1:2.8 lens. The Zeiss options in 50 mm are the Planar (50/2.0) and C-Sonnar (?) 50/1.5.

I had the Planar, C-Sonnar and various Summicron lenses (50 mm), a Summilux 50mm pre-ASPH, and the M-Hexanon 50/2.0 myself. Regarding Hasselblad, the difference in negative size makes some big impact on resolution and tones when comparing to 135 film.

About the lenses, I ended up keeping the 50mm Summicron vs4 (with tab) not necessarily because it is the "best" lens but I like the handling best (focus tab, small size, E39 filter). Additionally, it compares quite well to my 35mm Summicron lens (vs 3) so changing between 35 and 50 mm focal length on the same roll doesn`t change contrast to much.

You can`t go really wrong with either of the mentioned lenses, some testing might be in order.

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Originally Posted by Cabledog View Post
Thanks for the info so far everyone! This is great stuff. Does anyone have previous experience with the zeiss c biogon 50?
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Old 06-06-2017   #14
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i don't like the bokeh close-up and wide open from the summicrons after the collapsible (and maybe the rigid), so i'd look at the planar and c-sonnar.
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Old 06-06-2017   #15
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I don't know much about the biogon, but what do you want to photograph? The nature of the lens depends a lot on the subject, especially its distance and topology. What are some of your favorite photographs taken with a 50?
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Old 06-06-2017   #16
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Look at the lens diagrams and lean toward the ones with the most curved/least flat surfaces. They'll be 5 group/6 element or 4 group/6 element types, I like the 5g/6e ones. You might find a biometar type, which would be pretty cool.



http://www.klassik-cameras.de/Biotar_en.html
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Old 06-06-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabledog View Post
Also since this is my travel system compactness would be ideal too. Are those collapsible lenses any good?
I highly recommend the Summicron Collapsible. It is high resolution, low contrast wide open, but at f5.6-f11 is great in contrast. It is a special lens, and a treat for black and white, but don't expect the modern look of any Planar, Summicron or any modern Japanese 50mm. Possibly, if I had to live with one lens, it may have to be this one.

It has a peculiar smoothness to the depth of field, probably because of curvature of field. It's look is probably not what your after.

Leica Summicron Collapsible and Velvia 50, 81a Warming Filter



Leica Summicron Collapsible and Tri-X, Leitz Orange Filter


Smoothness example closeup with Tri-X
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Old 06-07-2017   #18
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Knowing what I know now, I would get the summicron. No doubt in my mind.

I'm afraid that after a while of using other lenses with your M4 (if you are anything like most here, myself included) you will get a severe case of GAS for the summicron. It will never subside until you get your hands on one.

You may decide to move on from the summicron after using it for a while...that's ok. But... if you never aquire one there will always be that nagging feeling that you "should have got the summicron!"
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Old 06-07-2017   #19
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Check out the Elmar - M 50/2.8 (the later type), it's collapsible for travel and apart from being 2.8 an all around great lens. It should also be below budget
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Old 06-07-2017   #20
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Check out the Elmar - M 50/2.8 (the later type), it's collapsible for travel and apart from being 2.8 an all around great lens. It should also be below budget
I can vouch for the Elmar, even my beaten up '56 version is a good 'un.
Depends if you want those extra stops to open up...

The Elmars are so cheap that you could get one and a voigtlander and see what you prefer.

I find the summicron really contrasty and slightly too sharp.
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Old 06-07-2017   #21
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Lets clear some miracles first. At 1K$ or less you are not going to get even first Lux. And it isn't lens for travel at 300+ grams weight. IMO.

If you want 50mm lens for travel and discreet, true Leica lens, 3D and such, get Elmar-M 50 2.8 (last version). Those are 700-800$ with original hood caps and box (sometimes). This lens is unbeatable on lightness and not only on this, but it is great Leica lens on film, color and BW.
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Old 06-07-2017   #22
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I'm not in your price field (normally) but my sense has been that someone can appreciate modern, sharp, high contrast lenses (Planar, Summicron and others) or older, less corrected and lower contrast lenses. You then have to chose which corrections you want and which you don't.

For me, I am an old and smooth guy - when it comes to lenses.

So for me, Sonnars match what I like. You can go for cheaper (ex-USSR) versions, old uncoated Sonnars or the C-Sonnar mentioned above. If you tend to cycle, I would suggest try a Jupiter-3 or -8 and then decide whether you want to head for a C-Sonnar for more money or try something else. The Sonnar look is consistent across brands but modern coatings make a difference overall.
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Old 06-07-2017   #23
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The Planar controls flare better than any other 50 that Ive used and Ive used many of them. They're all good lenses and under normal shooting you'll probably not be able to see any difference. I put up a test several years ago with images from zeiss, Leica. Voigtlander and a couple other makers lenses. Not only were they different makers I used different focal lengths and formats of film. I cropped all images to the same aspect ratio so no one could guess based on aspect ratio. I didn't give any hints a to what was what. Guess what, no one got consistently correct answers. Everyone was guessing which proved there are so many variables that any lens signature that exists is over shadowed by lighting, subject, development and printing. Not only could people not tell me what the lens was they couldn't even determine that one image was from an 8x10 contact shot with a 1900's B&L triple convertible Protar. I also threw in medium format.

This test proved that 98% of perceived difference comes down to personal bias and is in the viewers mind. There are differences in lenses but they're very subtle and not always obvious. Really it comes down to you more than the equipment. A good example here is the color shot of the car shot with the collapsible summicron. Typically that lens is said to be low contrast and more pastel. The person that shot the image decided in post to enhance contrast and color to the max giving a totally different rendition than you might expect from reading about these lenses.

Zeiss lenses have the most efficient coatings. They're crazy sharp and very difficult to make flare. I personally like the 1/3 stops. I've owned all the summicrons through the v4. In backlit situations summicrons flare. Their coatings just aren't as good as Zeiss. Cloth are sharp and both will make great images. I have a Planar and a V2 rigid summicron (purely for nostalgia) and if I could only own one 50 it would be the Planar. When it comes to how your images look, it's 98% you and how you manipulate the process.
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Old 06-07-2017   #24
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Let's throw in a couple more excellent choices with the Nikkor and Canon 50's.
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Old 06-07-2017   #25
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Your best bet is simply ignore all the recommendations and pick the lens you really really want. If you don't you'll wind up selling the compromise lens and spending more money on the one you wanted in the first place.

Does it make much difference what lens you buy, no. It's hard to convince people but it's about you and the choices of film, developer and how you print or scan your film. You won't see any difference in 99% of your shooting between these lenses.

Make a choice and buy it then concentrate on refining you skills to get the final image that pleases you. Take the same lens you pick, same film, same developer and let ten photographers shoot the same subject and you'll get ten different looking images.
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Old 06-07-2017   #26
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You're going to get multiple recommendations for every 50 available. Not sure this will really help you make a decision.

When in doubt: Flickr search

And yes, there is no 50 Biogon; Biogons are wide angles.
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Old 06-07-2017   #27
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The summicron v1 rigid, DR or not is definitely my favorite. It is plenty sharp and renders a beautiful creamy background blur if that is what you're looking for.

I also really love the Nikkor 50 1.4 ltm and the Canon 50 1.2 ltm. Each can be had for around 400-600. Some say the canon is soft and low contrast but I love it, It is a great lens for shooting at night (not very compact though ).

Best of luck!
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Old 06-07-2017   #28
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The creamy quality I could see was in chrome 500c lenses. If you saw it in later blad lenses , it may be there. I never used them.

I see the creamy quality with my Nikon lenses. Prints have a soft / sharp quality that I use for people. It is there with older Nikon lenses for 35mm rangefinder. Never tried a modern Nikor RF. I never use Leica for people.

Modern lenses such as Leica have biting hard edges to subject, lots of micro contrast, which makes them great for landscape, not so much for people unless you like bad skin.

Even going back to Summicron 2, DR or Rigid=same optics, it has more contrast than collapsible. Collapsible is soft wide open, sharp by 4 or 5.6, contrast medium, but color saturation low.

I suspect current Zeiss 50 2.0 will be more like the Summicron.

If you want to emulate the old `blad lens look, try a 50 3.5 , Nikkor H 50 2.0, First 50 2.8, 50 2.0 Summitar . But remember all the old lenses can have issues.
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Old 06-07-2017   #29
Peter Wijninga
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There is little not to like about the Zeiss C Sonnar 1.5/50: it's small, fast and robust. If you want serious value for your money, also have a look at the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 1.4/40: smaller, faster and it is available with single and multiple coatings.
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Old 06-07-2017   #30
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As a Zeiss fanboy, I fell for Zeiss before I bought a Leica. So for me it was not a contest. The Leica lenses I've bought have been to fill gaps in the Zeiss ZM line-up where there were no other choices. I have two Leica lenses, and like them less than the Zeiss as the ZM's offer three clicks per stop instead of two (maybe Leica's newer lenses fixed that?). But both are fine and you can't go wrong if you get a good copy.

I find I shoot about 90% with my 35mm lens and use the 50mm rarely. Fills a need. I carry only a 35mm and 90mm 100% of the time and use the 50 almost by accident. Still it's a great lens. Follow your eye on these things. You need fewer lenses with a Leica than you may think. One really will get you through the shots you'll take. This means you can rationalize spending more for the Summi if that's your wish and not feel guilty if you hold to the smaller line-up.

Have fun!
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Old 06-07-2017   #31
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Woops yes my bad 50mm on the brain. I meant 35mm biogon and 50mm planar haha. Certainly lots of info to go off now. Thanks everyone for your time and input!
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Old 06-07-2017   #32
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The "creamy look" will NOT be seen in 35mm.
Medium format, Zeiss Lenses (made in Germany),
smaller depth of field (due to larger format),
Portra Pro Film will all add to that look.
The Collapsible Summicron is lower contrast,
but if not pristine, will be hazy and flare.
Mine does not have haze and less flare after CLR.
Subject matter shall guide to which lenses. 35?50?mm.
I now prefer the 28mm (i don't own one) to my 35mm.
My Summaron is also low contrast and very sharp.
The Leica M is small, easily carried and a joy.
Medium format is a joy when looking at prints.
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Old 06-07-2017   #33
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The Voigtländer Color-Skopar 50mm f/2.5 is an outstanding performer. The lens will fit both your screw-mount Leica and your M-Leica (with an adapter). Very handy lens.

Leica M3, Color-Skopar 50mm f/2.5, 400-2TMY.

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Old 06-07-2017   #34
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Quote:
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Let's throw in a couple more excellent choices with the Nikkor and Canon 50's.
+1

If you are looking for a lens that paints light, classic Nikkor or Leica. I can't speak to Cannon glass as I've never owned any.

From what you have described I'm not sure the new Zeiss glass is the way to go as it may be too sterile.

Perhaps pick up a good Nikkor and Leica and shoot your own comparison. Sell the one don't like or keep them both for different occasions (e.g. Color film, B&W).

B2 (;->
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Old 06-07-2017   #35
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Smile

Yeah I love my mamiya but they are little too sharp and sterile. If I'm gonna go vintage might as well go all the way. Some people have suggested the 50 elmar 2.8, the newer version, I might be leaning towards that cause it kills a few birds with one stone by the sounds of it. I know myself and I will likely end up with the planar and biogon and summicron at some point. I sold my xpan to jump into leica (and 6x17) so I'm pretty committed now



Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
+1

If you are looking for a lens that paints light, classic Nikkor or Leica. I can't speak to Cannon glass as I've never owned any.

From what you have described I'm not sure the new Zeiss glass is the way to go as it may be too sterile.

Perhaps pick up a good Nikkor and Leica and shoot your own comparison. Sell the one don't like or keep them both for different occasions (e.g. Color film, B&W).

B2 (;->
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Old 06-07-2017   #36
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Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
Your best bet is simply ignore all the recommendations and pick the lens you really really want. If you don't you'll wind up selling the compromise lens and spending more money on the one you wanted in the first place.

Does it make much difference what lens you buy, no. It's hard to convince people but it's about you and the choices of film, developer and how you print or scan your film. You won't see any difference in 99% of your shooting between these lenses.

Make a choice and buy it then concentrate on refining you skills to get the final image that pleases you. Take the same lens you pick, same film, same developer and let ten photographers shoot the same subject and you'll get ten different looking images.
This guy gets it.
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Old 06-07-2017   #37
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Well that's unfortunate... Where that dude at that bought my gear? I know you're in here. Give it back But I have seen lots of pics with the leica where it has just dreamy bokeh and contrast and sharp. I want that but I'm also cheap soooooooo

Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
The "creamy look" will NOT be seen in 35mm.
Medium format, Zeiss Lenses (made in Germany),
smaller depth of field (due to larger format),
Portra Pro Film will all add to that look.
The Collapsible Summicron is lower contrast,
but if not pristine, will be hazy and flare.
Mine does not have haze and less flare after CLR.
Subject matter shall guide to which lenses. 35?50?mm.
I now prefer the 28mm (i don't own one) to my 35mm.
My Summaron is also low contrast and very sharp.
The Leica M is small, easily carried and a joy.
Medium format is a joy when looking at prints.
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Old 06-07-2017   #38
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I can already tell opened up a large can of worms here. I just never realized the endless choices of lenses for leica. Having a mamiya, which only has 3 lens options, and a hassy, also limited lens options, this is gonna be tough. I'm very impulsive so having all these options might bankrupt me but i may be in good company on here
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Old 06-07-2017   #39
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Most 50s for Leica mount are great. Choose based on handling, required lens died, and min focusing distance. I was as happy with the IQ of my $20 Industar as I was with the Planar. But at the end of the day, I stopped using both because I much prefer the handling of the Skopar 2.5.
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Old 06-07-2017   #40
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The collapsible lenses are intriguing to me. What's the difference between the elmar and summicron? Lens design?
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