50mm Upgrade from a Zeiss Planar f/2 ZM
Old 02-06-2018   #1
olisones
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50mm Upgrade from a Zeiss Planar f/2 ZM

Hi all,

Having been umming and ahhing about getting a 35mm 2.8 for my M3, I now think it would be best to trade my current 50mm lens for something a little meatier, as I can shoot 35mm on other bodies and might as well use the M3 with a lens that's a natural fit for it!

As such, I wonder what a good upgrade would be to the Zeiss Planar f/2 I currently have. I could trade up with some extra cash to hit where I need to be.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks!
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Old 02-06-2018   #2
aizan
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not much “higher” to go aside from 50mm summilux or summicron asph. maybe the c-sonnar.
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Old 02-06-2018   #3
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Meatier? I don't know what that means.

The Planar that you have is probably one of the sharpest 50's you can get. I'm not sure if you are trying to downgrade or what.

Also do some research, the M3 doesnt have framelines for 35mm. You will need to end up with something that has goggles or use an external viewfinder. But the leica option would be the Summaron 35 2.8 with goggles.
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Old 02-06-2018   #4
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Originally Posted by BLKRCAT View Post
Meatier? I don't know what that means.

The Planar that you have is probably one of the sharpest 50's you can get. I'm not sure if you are trying to downgrade or what.

Also do some research, the M3 doesnt have framelines for 35mm. You will need to end up with something that has goggles or use an external viewfinder. But the leica option would be the Summaron 35 2.8 with goggles.
'Meatier' was the wrong word - I meant Leica glass.

That's why i was thinking just investing in 50mm rather than 35mm due to the goggles or viewfinder. I want to keep hold of the M3 rather than move to an M2/M4 to shoot with a 35mm lens. I can shoot 35mm on my other bodies and keep the M3 for 50mm glass.
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Old 02-06-2018   #5
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On a purely objective level your Zeiss is as good as it gets. Perhaps consider a collapsible Summicron or Summitar for a different look.
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Old 02-06-2018   #6
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I wouldn't bother upgrading from the Planar. Summicron isn't much sharper if at all. It's arguable.

Summilux I feel like you are paying for the speed. I can't see it being any sharper than the summicron but I'm sure others can help you with that. I don't know too much about the summilux, too rich for my blood.
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Old 02-06-2018   #7
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Thanks all. Good to know. I will likely stick with the Planar!
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Old 02-06-2018   #8
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Any move from the 50 Planar will be lateral or backwards.
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Old 02-06-2018   #9
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IMO.
In 2017 I had LNIB Planar 50/2 ZM with original hood and filter. It is best neutral 50mm lens I ever used for B/W. And silver Planar is nice on M3.
By same time I owned Nokton-M 50 1.5 ASPH and I find it superior to Planar for B/W. A lot more character (Planar gave none in my hands) and no focus shifts just as Planar. Film and digital BW, Nokton-M 50 1.5 ASPH is lovely lens. Dare I say, classic.
But...
Both were weird on handling for me, never impressed me on colors with M-E and I sold both to get Cron 50 IV. This lens is not sharp comparing to Zeiss and Viogt on M-E, it has focus shifts. It is just as Planar on BW, so-so. To be honest, I'm not impressed with this lens on BW film at all... Sharp and this is it.
But it is incredible on color. Especially on digital M. It renders colors naturally, but punchy enough. Bokeh and OOF transitions also makes this lens outstanding. And it has much more acceptable handling for aperture and must have to me focus tab without too long focus throw. Currently it is 1K$ lens on the market...

Where are some less expensive Leitz and Leica made lenses to consider for M3.
Speaking from my own use, M3 included for some of them, or on M4-2:

Collapsible Cron in M mount. Probably best BW film lens I ever owned. Sharp and CHARACTER. But I never tried it with color film.

Rigid Cron was even more sharp on BW, yet less... lees pleasing. Very close to Cron IV I have for now. But it was amazing lens on color film. Very sharp and not flat at all.

Elmar 50 2.8 v1 and 50 2.8 v2. I had V2 which is also called Elmar-M. Tessar rendering on BW film. Punchy and contrasty. Outstanding on darkroom prints, just as collapsible Cron, just more modern in character. But.. it was too tessarish on portraits for me. And I didn't liked handling. Collapsible Cron is more compact then in use and has better build, IMO.

I also had original Summarit 50 1.5 on M3. Probably most toughest build lens I ever have and most softest (for scratches) glass I ever touched to deal with one fungus spot.
Results were usable at 1.5 if object is in the middle. From f2 it was fine Leitz lens on BW and color film. Enough sharpness and contrast and it was visible what it is Leitz lens. Not Jupiter-3, which I keep as alternative for any Leitz, Leica 50 1.5/1.4 ever build. For BW film, of course.
I gave up on Summarit 50 1.5 on M3 because it was too heavy.
IMO.
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Old 02-06-2018   #10
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As others have said, move up? No. But nothing wrong with considering a different 'look' in a 50. I have both the ZM Planar and ZM Sonnar.
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Old 02-06-2018   #11
David Hughes
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Hi,

Stick with the ZM and remember that you have to do a very large print to see differences in "sharpness" but other lenses give a different look that's difficult to describe and even harder to decide on without a lot of experience of the lens.

Regards, David
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Old 02-06-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olisones View Post
Hi all,

Having been umming and ahhing about getting a 35mm 2.8 for my M3, I now think it would be best to trade my current 50mm lens for something a little meatier, as I can shoot 35mm on other bodies and might as well use the M3 with a lens that's a natural fit for it!

As such, I wonder what a good upgrade would be to the Zeiss Planar f/2 I currently have. I could trade up with some extra cash to hit where I need to be.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks!
All the lenses you mention are excellent.

But... I suggest that you get the 7Artisans 50 1.1 (and keep the Planar). It is excellent, gives a gorgeous look wide open and is super cheap in the Leica world.
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Old 02-06-2018   #13
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Do you use more BW film than color? If so, some older Leica glass will give you high resolution with better shadow detail. Usually, that will come at the expense of contrast and less flare protection.

The Planar is a great all-around lens, but on a meterless body, you might come to appreciate the convenience of a lens with 1/2 f-stop clicks vs 1/3. Also, not sure if you like tabs, but some 50s offer them so that can be a consideration.

You might have to try a few slippers before you find the one that fits, and you might end up with a couple of pairs in the end! I sold the Planar and snagged a Skopar 2.5 and I'm happier, but I think for most people here it would count as a backward move.
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Old 02-06-2018   #14
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I'd agree that you're not going to upgrade beyond the Planar. I've owned and used all the Summicrons except the v4 and as good as they are they're not as good as the Planar. The Summicrons from my experience are subject to veiling flare i a light source is just out of frame or behind the subject. The Planar is extremely hard to make flare.

In a f1.4 I'd say the Summilux ASPH. I owned two, one bad and one good, and the good one was on par with the Planar.

Vintage lenses, The 5cm f2 Nikkor LTM is on par with the v2 Rigid Summicron with slightly better contrast. I compared the two that I owned side by side.

Stick with your Planar.
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Old 02-06-2018   #15
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As others have already mentioned stick with the Planar, it is positively one of the best 50mm lenses around.
If you do insist on an upgrade and Leica glass ...of course there is the 50APO 'cron.
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Old 02-07-2018   #16
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The 50mm Apo-Summicron ASPH would be an upgrade, but at a steep price. I find mine on my M240 outresolves my eyes by a significant margin.
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Old 02-10-2018   #17
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Here's my own theory on this type of stuff -- creative people get bored easy. That's just a truth. Google it. That's one reason people cycle through different lenses of the same focal length; they are looking for new and different experiences. Couple solutions -- get a couple different lenses and rotate through them, or take your old lens and go to someplace new (either different time of day or someplace geographically new). If you shoot analog, try a different film, or developer.

From what I read and see, the Planar is an outstanding lens. Lots of bang for the buck. Not sure what you mean by "meatier." The v4/5 Summicron is also a great lens, but they've gone up in price a lot in the last years. I owned the 50 Summmilux Asph and the 50 Summicron from '05-'12, and I ended up using the Summicron more, largely because of size and weight considerations, but the Summilux was outstanding (and costly). Almost too sharp; analogous (I believe) to the Planar. Only have a DR Summicron now, but with Leica stuff, if you buy carefully, used, you'll likely get your money out of it if you sell (or close to it). The 50mm ZM Sonnar is another lens with tons of character, but I've always been partial to Sonnars.

My feeling today (it may change tomorrow) is that sharpness has diminishing returns after a certain level. After a certain level of sharpness, I'm looking for lenses with character.
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Old 02-10-2018   #18
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Quote:
Here's my own theory on this type of stuff -- creative people get bored easy. That's just a truth. Google it. That's one reason people cycle through different lenses of the same focal length; they are looking for new and different experiences. Couple solutions -- get a couple different lenses and rotate through them, or take your old lens and go to someplace new (either different time of day or someplace geographically new). If you shoot analog, try a different film, or developer.
What an interesting theory/response! Not sure why I never thought of that... but those are some good suggestions. Though now I worry that you've given a good reason to give in to GAS as a sign of some latent inner creativity... (Who knows, maybe it is!)
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Old 02-10-2018   #19
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there's no generalisation about creativity - and certainly no proven link between being creative and buying new gear. Works for some but it's probably the minority.

Planar is a great lens.
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Old 02-10-2018   #20
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That's just a truth. Google it.
I never realized that discovering the truth was so easy. I always thought that Google was just good at helping you find what you were looking for.
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Old 02-10-2018   #21
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there's no generalisation about creativity - and certainly no proven link between being creative and buying new gear. Works for some but it's probably the minority.
You missed the point. Creative people get bored easily. That's a truth too big to deny. Just google it. That's what leads to new and novel stuff. Hackneyed is not creative. The greats in every art field are doing stuff different, because they're not following the herd. One way to shake things up is to try a new piece of equipment, or a different format, or a new developer ect., but as I allude to it's not the only way (obviously). It may be as simple as going on your same walk at a different time of day, when the light is different. And yes, I do believe photographers should focus on light, and think in terms of light, instead of equipment, because that's what really makes good pictures, but not everyone can get out early morning, late afternoon, ect.
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Old 02-10-2018   #22
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Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
I never realized that discovering the truth was so easy. I always thought that Google was just good at helping you find what you were looking for.
Ha! And the exact opposite...

Regards, David
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Old 02-10-2018   #23
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You missed the point. Creative people get bored easily. That's a truth too big to deny. Just google it. That's what leads to new and novel stuff. Hackneyed is not creative. The greats in every art field are doing stuff different, because they're not following the herd. One way to shake things up is to try a new piece of equipment, or a different format, or a new developer ect., but as I allude to it's not the only way (obviously). It may be as simple as going on your same walk at a different time of day, when the light is different. And yes, I do believe photographers should focus on light, and think in terms of light, instead of equipment, because that's what really makes good pictures, but not everyone can get out early morning, late afternoon, ect.

You're suffering from confirmation bias. Creative people look for new ideas - not new gear. You're mistaking being an artist for being a consumer.

I've seen this over and over; I work in the creative industries. In music, where I've spent a lot of time, I can tell when kids, for instance, are jonesing over getting new gear, rather than making new sounds with what they've got, that they won't put the work in to achieve.

Sure, creative stuff can come from playing with new gear and discovering new looks or sounds. But that's a million miles away from "buy a new 50mm, it will make you more creative." No it won't. Same as using google doesn't automatically make you smart.
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Old 02-10-2018   #24
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You're suffering from conservation bias. Creative people look for new ideas - not new gear. You're mistaking being an artist for being a consumer.
Exactly.

And this also ties into the explosion of cat photos in the digital era.
"Look at what my new lens does!

"Dood, you just took a photo of a cat"

The idea comes before the equipment.
The equipment does not come before the idea.
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Old 02-10-2018   #25
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You can be creative with anything.

But the Planar is a damn good start if you like to take 35mm photos with a Leica.

You are the one that takes the photo, not the lens. The creativity is inside you but you have to work hard, really hard, to get it out so others can see it.

Stick with the Planar and buy some more film. Save your money so you can print more often. Spend time contemplating your own work and then working hard to improve it.

Olympic class skiers don't get there by buying new skies.

Of course, if all you wanted was to spend some money, then go for it.
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Old 02-11-2018   #26
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I'v had the planar for 3y. while a great lens something bothered me. it was too sharp , too much contrast.
I replaced it with a Hexanon 50 M. a little better build and the rendering is more gentler.
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Old 02-11-2018   #27
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For overall performance, the ZM may be all that is needed, but for additional enjoyment there is always room for additional 50mm lenses.
I recently added to my long list of 50mm RF lenses a Hexanon 50/2.4 ltm. It is a very sharp lens. I have been thinking of getting the 50/1.5 J-3+, but I have not done it yet. If you don't have a Zeiss 5cm/1.5 Sonnar, then maybe you should give it a try. Most will be sold in Contax mount, so you would also need Contax to LTM adapter. The Sonnar 5cm/1.5 is one of my all time favorite lenses.

Have fun!
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Old 02-11-2018   #28
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I have a Summicron V.4, a Summilux V.2 (for the extra stop) and a Rigid Summicron (cos, well--you got to, right?). And I can't say that any of those would be a "step up" from a Planar in terms of image quality and bang for buck. Maybe you can find one, especially the latter two made to Leica's legendary standard of chromed brass, that's better built. But I can't believe that a Planar would have to take a back seat to any of those in terms of the images it produces.
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Old 02-11-2018   #29
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Well, I do have multiple lenses because I like to have some variety in life and choose among them for something new that day.

If the OP can swing it, I would very strongly recommend keeping the Planar as we've already learned its a fantastic lens. I would then add to the lens options (yes, I'm saying you should own two 50's). The collapsible summicron has been mentioned -- excellent choice and not too spendy. The elmar-M has been mentioned, another interesting lens and a little more spendy. Summiluxes of any version are more spendy. The non-ASPH summiluxes are interesting, with v1 and v2/3 having different characteristics. But spendy. Perhaps the best suggestion was the 7Artisans 50/1.1 because it happens to be one of the cheapest options (~$325?), and has a lot of creative potential. If the OP hates it and still wants to upgrade to an APO-Summicron, he (she?) can sell 7Artisans and not be out much money at all.

In Leica M, I only lust for the e46 pre-ASPH summilux. That's my "upgrade", or should I say "addition". But I'm in no hurry; got lots of lenses to cycle through already and that's not exactly a cheap lens.
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Old 02-11-2018   #30
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I hear the cries of too sharp, no character, too clinical, too hi contrast
but for me 'she' has rendered quite Beautifully

A Bitter Sweet day... by Helen Hill, on Flickr
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Old 02-11-2018   #31
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Does not have to be hi contrast...

Subway mexicana by Helen Hill, on Flickr
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Old 02-11-2018   #32
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as for an upgrade 50... not sure what will really Please You
But I suppose whatever brings a Smile when You shoot with it
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Old 02-11-2018   #33
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Summicron ASPH or current 1.4 lux. Otherwise save your cash
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