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Searching for Best lens to get vintage looks
Old 09-07-2019   #1
Bornosor
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Searching for Best lens to get vintage looks

So i just bought my first Leica m, a m6 classic and now i want to get a lens and I've read and watched many reviews about all the leica and voigtlander options but still haven't found the answer to my concern.
The whole reason i moved to the M system is my admiration for the works of all the magnum photographers and the overall “look” of the 50s and 60s documentary photography (mostly the ones on 28s and 35s)
So my question is, considering how there weren't any ASPH or super sharp glass back then, what would be the best lens to get that look and not just necessarily the sharpest most distortion free results.
I know that i can get vintage 35 crons but i don't really have that kind of money right now. So if anyone has any suggestions for wide angle lenses with a vintage rendering, that would be much appreciated.
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Old 09-07-2019   #2
Deardorff38
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Summaron 35, either 2.8 or 3.5 will be much cheaper than -lux or -cron. Great character
& build quality.
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Old 09-07-2019   #3
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Canon 35mm F2 maybe... Voigtlander 35mm 1.7 Ultron... 28mm Color-Skopar 3.5 ... not perfect, but cheaper
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Old 09-07-2019   #4
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Empty gearheads talks. Sorry. Until you have it printed.
I have my images printed. Mostly on 40+ YO paper. In the darkroom.
People look at them and saying - it is like old images. Some will ask if it is an old photo.
My main lens is Summarit-M 35 2.5 ASPH. Next to it - Russian Biogon and J-3. Booth are from fifties.
But darkroom prints comes first. This is what you see from HCB and else.
Print, not scan. The rest is empty talk of gearheads.
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Old 09-07-2019   #5
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The best buys for 35mm and 28mm lenses with classic rendering, IMO:

35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic S.C.
35mm f/2.8 Canon LTM
28mm f/2.8 Canon LTM
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Old 09-07-2019   #6
Bornosor
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Oh wow thank you for the quick replies.
Ive never thought about the characteristics that printing brings to the photos, since ive always scanned my negatives with a plustek scanner and uploaded them.
I was planning on getting the new voigtlander nokton classic 35mm single coated lens but i read so many comments about focus shift problems in them that kinda pushed me away from getting one. I will be shooting mostly at f8 or so btw, i dont know if focus shift problems are still relevant at such narrow apertures.
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Old 09-07-2019   #7
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Bornosor, KF is right about output. The print is the thing. The Voigtlander 28, 35 2.5 & Ultron 1.7 are sharp crisp modern looking lenses (i've used them).
Apparently Tom Abrahamsson adopted the 35 1.4 version as his standard lens & liked it better than his Summilux. You mention the Nokton series ll, since you mention shooting around f8.... your results will be modern in character:
"Wide open the 35/1.4 Nokton Classic lens has wonderful bokeh with a moody 1970's vintage look
By 5.6 it sharpens up to look like a modern sharp lens
Its like having two lenses in one"

Summarons & Canons are great lenses late 50s, early 60s sharp enough and 'character'
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Old 09-07-2019   #8
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You can always get a thread mount lens and adapt it to the M mount. For tiny, classic, and great black and white prints, try a 35mm 3.5 Elmar or a 50mm 2.0 Summar, both pre-war and uncoated. For newer lenses, the Voightlander 35 1.4 single coated lens works well, as do early Leica M mount lenses, although they are more expensive.
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Old 09-07-2019   #9
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If you really want a (relatively) inexpensive Leica wide angle the one I would recommend is the 35mm Summaron f3.5. The earliest of these was in Leica Thread Mount so can be adapted (as I describe below). I own an early bayonet version of this lens designed for the M3 and its optical design is the same as the LTM one. The only disadvantage on an M6 is that the M3 (for which the early bayonet one was designed) did not have 35mm framelines so the lens does not have the setup needed to actuate the 35mm framelines on an M6. This is an easy and cheap modification however - most technicians with Leica experience can do it - it just involves filing part of the lens mount (the question is how much and that is where the technical knowledge is needed). Or do as I do and just manually move the camera's frameline lever when you want to compose when using this lens. Or you can use a supplementary finder in the accessory shoe / hotshoe. It is a lens which is MUCH overlooked but which has excellent classic rendering. Just make sure you check for internal haze before buying as some have it due to the specific lubricants used back then and sometimes the haze resists cleaning. In fact mine has a little despite and attempt by a technician to clean it but is still eminently usable. I happen to be a big fan of this lenses rendering.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/13818715853

https://www.flickr.com/photos/369770...7665710811926/ (Mainly in color but it will give you an idea of how it performs)

More generally I can speak of Canon RF lenses - though only really in 50mm focal length . I will put my thoughts here just in case you can be tempted to get a longer lens(which you may wish to do later in any event) . I am very happy with Canon rangefinder lenses in Leica Thread Mount as alternatives to Leica glass. These are easily adapted to Leica M bodies through an (expensive) Leica LTM to M adapter or (cheap) 3rd party version of the same. The various 50mm f1.8 models are amongst the cheapest and the 50mm f1.4 is perhaps widely regarded as Canon's Summilux. However I think these have a touch of modern rendering about them. If you want really classic rendering I would recommend considering the Canon 50mm f1.5. The reason for this is that this lens has a Sonnar optical design. I like Sonnar rendering and this design was very popular in classic vintage lenses it meets your requirements in being sharp enough (but a bit behind the double Gauss lenses that followed) and has nice out of focus rendering that is distinctly classic. You will pay a bit more for this lens than the 50mm f1.8 - about on par I think, with the 50mm f1.4. If that is too much for your pocket you could opt for one of the Russian copies of Zeiss Sonnar lenses which are readily available and very inexpensive though a bit hit and miss in QA.
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Old 09-07-2019   #10
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I'd also recommend the Summaron 35/f3.5. It's a wonderful lens, particularly on B&W film, and one of the most affordable 35mm Leitz options. The f2.8 version is also fantastic, but significantly more expensive and unnecessary if you're mainly shooting at f8.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Empty gearheads talks. Sorry. Until you have it printed.
I have my images printed. Mostly on 40+ YO paper. In the darkroom.
People look at them and saying - it is like old images. Some will ask if it is an old photo.
My main lens is Summarit-M 35 2.5 ASPH. Next to it - Russian Biogon and J-3. Booth are from fifties.
But darkroom prints comes first. This is what you see from HCB and else.
Print, not scan. The rest is empty talk of gearheads.
All well and good, but the simple fact is that many (most) people shooting film today are scanning, not printing. Many (most) will probably never do a darkroom print, and many (most) probably don't have access to a dark room or the skills to use it even if they wanted to. That's the reality of film use in the post-digital age.

This does not make it 'empty gearhead talk'.
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Old 09-07-2019   #11
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Some good advice. That Nokton you like might be the thing. Focus shift is also an internet phenomenon to a great extent and is more noticeable on digital. My Mandler version 4 Summicron 50 was back-focussing close in by 2cm for decades before I noticed it. No focus shift. I do like the screw mount 3.5 35 Summaron. Coolish colours though, uncleaned, slight haze, which I like, and dreamy black and white.
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Old 09-07-2019   #12
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If a lens has "character" it will show on whatever medium you choose to shine light on. Whatever you do from there is up to you.
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Old 09-07-2019   #13
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Kofe is right. Darkroom is where it’s at. I use my scanner as a sort of contact sheet organization as well as use it to plan burning or even get a feel for contrast grading. Not saying you can’t get nice images with the scanner, but fiber prints are just magical in photography. Regarding lenses

35mm 2.8 Summaron is fantastic
35mm Nokton is also pretty nice

Mandler era 28mm Elmarit v3 is beautiful as well.

I think film choice will make a difference as well. Do some research on which grain structure you prefer and then do some experimenting. Have fun and enjoy the journey down the rabbit hole!
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Old 09-07-2019   #14
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Back in the day it was a Tessar lens + Tri-X + Rodinal for that certain look
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Old 09-07-2019   #15
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Summraon 3.5 35mm screw mount.

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Old 09-07-2019   #16
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But then, in line with Ko.Fe's thesis: here is a brand new ZM C Sonnar 50, still cheaper than a Summicron.

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Old 09-08-2019   #17
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summaron, any Canon ltm, in 50's you can try a Sonnar.
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Old 09-08-2019   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bornosor View Post
So i just bought my first Leica m, a m6 classic...
Congratulations on your 1st Leica M! Good choice. Best of luck choosing your 1st lens and Welcome to the forums.
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Old 09-08-2019   #19
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Take a look at the Canon 28 f/2.8 and/or 50 f/1.8 in ltm

I also like the Canon 135 f/3.5 in ltm from 1952/53 if you want to go longer...
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Old 09-08-2019   #20
David Hughes
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Hi,

If you have a Leica, M bayonet or 39mm screw thread, and want to get the look of a 1930's lens then the easiest way is to buy a 1930's lens and, perhaps, an adapter for the M body. Or a 40's lens for the 40's look or a 50's lens for the 50's look or a 60's lens for the 60's look.

There are thousands of them about and - of course - also the USSR made clones; as Ko.Fe says.

I'm none too sure what that look everyone is after is like; here's a photo taken with a Leica II or IIIa using a 73 year old Leica lens to show what I mean.



Regards, David

Last edited by David Hughes : 09-08-2019 at 01:54. Reason: Finger trouble...
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Old 09-08-2019   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bornosor View Post
The whole reason I moved to the Leica M system is my admiration for the works of all the Magnum photographers and the overall “look” of the 50s and 60s documentary photography (mostly the ones on 28s and 35s). So my question is, considering how there weren't any Asph or super-sharp glass back then, what would be the best lens to get that look and not just necessarily the sharpest, most distortion-free results?
If your photographs don't look like HCB's, Lee Friedlander's or Garry Winogrand's then it's because you are no HCB, Friedlander, or Winogrand.

The lens you're using won't make any significant difference. So just grab one and start shooting. If you don't like your results then don't blame the lens but keep practicing.
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Old 09-08-2019   #22
Erik van Straten
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Uncoated lenses usually produce an older look. However, the world around us is no longer the mid-twentieth century. You cannot bring it back.

Erik.
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Old 09-08-2019   #23
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Hear, hear. Messieurs Bresson and Winogrand and many other photographers from that era have expired and, today the darkroom is just another way to create images. In the context of the OP's post, it is more helpful to refer to lenses, some of which were created quite recently, with a bit of character.
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Old 09-08-2019   #24
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A Canon 19mm 3.5 FD with Canon adapter B.
You will get a vintage look.
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Old 09-08-2019   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Empty gearheads talks...The rest is empty talk of gearheads.
And if that is what people want to do here, then they are free to do so. Don't be hypocritical.
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Old 09-08-2019   #26
Dralowid
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Just how vintage do you want? Summar, into the sun, no hood.

CNV00017 by dralowid, on Flickr
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Old 09-08-2019   #27
Erik van Straten
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Michael, with a Summar and no hood it is not difficult to get "vintage". I can do it too.


Erik.
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Old 09-08-2019   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bornosor View Post
(...) considering how there weren't any ASPH or super sharp glass back then, (...)
Currently made aspherical not, but super sharp lenses for the 24x36 format exist since the mid 1930s.

Like some others said : the photos taken by the great XXth century masters you admire (for some good reason) depict a world which is now gone. You won't re-find the Pittsburgh photographed by W. Eugene Smith or the Spain photographed by Henri Cartier-Bresson in the 1930s and Erik Van Straten in the 1970s.

You want a 35mm lens for your M6 ? Get a C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8 T* and enjoy it to death, you cannot find a best bang for the bucks (second hand, they sell for $600, average).

The "vintage lenses rendition" is more a hoax than anything else. Today, mostly because of the "digital vs film" thing, people who talk about "classic" lenses keep raving about some odd concepts which optics engineers from the 1950s and 1960s would frankly laugh at.

Don't start your hobby with fake concepts in your head. Get a good lens matching your budget for your new film camera body and then buy some film and work around your subjects without losing your time with mis-thinking about lenses. And, moreover, quickly learn to master the B&W films processing so that you can develop your stuff cleanly at home and get constant, repetable and consistent results, without anything deceptive like stains, scratches etc.
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Old 09-08-2019   #29
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Some RFF members enjoy trying out many lenses over their past years of photography. It starts with one lens. I started out with 50mm lenses and followed up with 35mm lenses. For my preferences in photography, any reasonably good lens is adequate. Today, I am using a Pentax M 50/1.4. Last weekend it was a CV 50/3.5 and the weekend before it was a Zeiss Hologon 16/8. In your case, I recommend that you first choose your favorite focal length. The rest is easy to do. Many people here at RFF have extensive experience with lenses. Browse through their posted photos.

Good luck.
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Old 09-08-2019   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
And if that is what people want to do here, then they are free to do so. Don't be hypocritical.
I'm just honest. It is main mistake of many of those who thinks what gear is the answer.
"if I'll buy camera with same M letter as HCB did and find retro lens, my scanned images are going to looks the same".
But none of the gear-heads are willing to think more and realize what all of the retro images they are looking at are prints. Prints on single grade, FB paper. The difference between old paper prints and scans is obvious.
I'm big fan of HCB and even more so of GW. I print even if I want just to share it on the net.
GW used different lenses over decades, some were next to mediocre, like Canon 28 3.5, which is visible on the prints. But it is prints which makes it looks as it is.
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Old 09-08-2019   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Currently made aspherical not, but super sharp lenses for the 24x36 format exist since the mid 1930s.

Like some others said : the photos taken by the great XXth century masters you admire (for some good reason) depict a world which is now gone. You won't re-find the Pittsburgh photographed by W. Eugene Smith or the Spain photographed by Henri Cartier-Bresson in the 1930s and Erik Van Straten in the 1970s.

You want a 35mm lens for your M6 ? Get a C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8 T* and enjoy it to death, you cannot find a best bang for the bucks (second hand, they sell for $600, average).

The "vintage lenses rendition" is more a hoax than anything else. Today, mostly because of the "digital vs film" thing, people who talk about "classic" lenses keep raving about some odd concepts which optics engineers from the 1950s and 1960s would frankly laugh at.

Don't start your hobby with fake concepts in your head. Get a good lens matching your budget for your new film camera body and then buy some film and work around your subjects without losing your time with mis-thinking about lenses. And, moreover, quickly learn to master the B&W films processing so that you can develop your stuff cleanly at home and get constant, repetable and consistent results, without anything deceptive like stains, scratches etc.
This is good advice, including that lens.
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Old 09-08-2019   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Michael, with a Summar and no hood it is not difficult to get "vintage". I can do it too.


Erik.
Erik, It is surely hard not to get the vintage look into the sun without a hood!

I forgot to add that a well worn front element, polished over the years by various ties and handkerchiefs adds to the effect.

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Old 09-08-2019   #33
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Honestly, I loved the look my Summar created. Very cool lens that can make great images when in decent condition. I even liked the way it’d flare around bright light sources. About as “vintage look” as it gets, and normally fairly affordable so always worth a try!
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Old 09-08-2019   #34
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Steinheil 85/2.8




Summar 5cm 2



It often is the choice of film and developing that creates a vintage look too.

Same image in B&W:





Ilford HP5




EFKE 25

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Old 09-08-2019   #35
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Leica M2, Summar 50mm f/2, 400-2TMY/Adox MCC 110.

Erik.

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Old 09-08-2019   #36
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I use a Leitz Summar quite a bit, its a typical example of an uncoated lens
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Old 09-08-2019   #37
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Summitar with M adapter is sharp and inexpensive, Summaron has lovely rendering, if not quite so cheap. The Nokton Classic is more vintage in looks, but without the flare etc of age. I have the Biogon C 35mm f2.8 and it is bitingly sharp and contrasty - I'd struggle to say vintage unless you shot it with say Retropan, at which point you've just wasted it.

I'd say film choice has a vital role to play. TriX and HP5 for example have a more old school look. Yet using top grade magical Tmax 400 with an old lens developed the right way can retain the look but add sharpness.

Find one lens and play with film and developer choice, it's taken me 2 years to decide what I really like, and I've still numerous films, developers and lenses to try.
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Old 09-08-2019   #38
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...i know we're quite a ways into the thread, but the OP was looking for a wide angle....
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Old 09-08-2019   #39
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There are many good options. I recommended the Canon 19/3.5.
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Old 09-08-2019   #40
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Quote:
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...i know we're quite a ways into the thread, but the OP was looking for a wide angle....
Good point.

Elmar 35mm f3.5 should also be considered. Uncoated and old school.
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