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Summicron 50mm Versions

All 50mm lenses are fine performers. All have very high resolution. Generally speaking, the older ones were optimized more for B+W than color, and have slightly lower contrast. But in practice that may make little difference. The rigid Summicron, for example, still produces excellent color pictures despite being 50 years old. (The designation Summicron-M actually came in from the next model.)

Summicron 50mm Versions

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This is not quite precise as what you refer to as the 2nd is the 3rd design. The first design was only around between 1954 - 1957 and was replaced by the 2nd version (Two mounts - DR and Rigid) in 1956-57. Still 7 elements but different optical layout as becomes apparent if one looks at the design. Erwin Puts has tested them and desctibed the differences. The 2nd version was replaced by the 6-element 3rd version in 1968/69 and in 1979 the 4th and current optical version was launced. Of course the current version has also been around in two mounts, if you disregard the special versions. The 2004 50 years jubilee edition has the mount of the rigid but current optical design.

One of my youngest workshop students with a Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 Rigid (Series II) on the camera. 15 year old Emily Russell who already works as a professional photographer. Website:

Simplicity: Even the 24MP digital rangefinder camera Leica M 240 looks like a good old classic camera with the Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II rigid and the original lens shade, model 12.485.

Here is a Leica Summicron M 50mm f/2 Rigid Black Chrome made for Leica M4 black. It's not a black paint model but a kind of prototype made for the last version of Leica M4 Black paint, and Leica M4 black chrome.

This lens has slightly different shape of barrel before/after this model , something like between black paint 50mm and black chrome 50mm lens. The barrel looks like old version II of the Summicron 50/2, with 7 elements, but on this there is no infinity stopper, and this lens has 6 elements. This lens with serial number 2269476 was on sale on eBay for $5,400 in 2014.

The seven ounce Summicron permitted focusing as close as 28" (0.7 meter) on the Leica M4 and M2. An infinity lock was eliminated. Heavy (coarse) focusing mount knurling was fitted as employed on earlier seven element 50mm Summicrons no. 11117 and no. 11118. By 1970 (possibly earlier) the knurling had changed to a smooth uniform motif more economical to produce.

The 2018 special LHSA version of the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 no 11186 is very similar to this lens in the design of the barrel, (but not at all in terms of optical design).

The ELCAN (276) was made for themilitaryLeica KE-7A which was supplied to US Military by contract. Only 460 sets were produced for this purpose (serial numbers 276-0001to 276-0509) while another 55 were sold to the public. The lens is suitable for extreme use, it has non-cemented glass; less problems in high temperatures and nearby explosions. Some chrome versions exist as well, looking exactly like the 50mm Rigid, but with ELCAN engraved and serial numbers 132-000x.

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This latest version of the lens is also widely known as "Type 5" with the Leica catalog number 11826 for the black and 11816 for "silver" chromed brass, plus there are some other custom versions and special editions.

Black and silver versions of the lens were originally sold, but the silver seems to be discontinued. The black lens is made of anodised aluminum resulting in lower weight than the silver version made of brass. The black version is more prone to showing scuffing and wear.

Compared to other lenses using the double-gauss design, which includes most 50mm lenses ever made, the Summicron 50 generally performs on a much higher level. The design has been stretched to its absolute limits during more than a century of refinements and the Summicron 50 is one of the best performing lenses in this extensive family. Faster alternatives generally perform on a lower level with more aberrations.

This being said, I'm ready to put down some money for a Summicron 50mm. However, there seems to be many versions available. I would like one made in Germany, but don't need the newest version. I have approximately 1200$ I want to spend (give or take a few hundred here).

Another question concerning the 50mm Summicrons - is the Bokeh that bad? KR (I know...) doesn't seem to give it an overwhelmingly good review in this aspect, but I don't know what we're comparing to here. For example, I have the Zeiss F1.4 for my Nikon SLR. At F2, does the Zeiss have smoother Bokeh than a Leica Summicron? I thought the reasons Leica class were so coveted was that they had such great transition between in focus and out of focus areas, as well as being well corrected.

Firstly, limiting yourself to a German made lens is not necessary. German lenses are slightly better built, but the Canadian lenses are also of higher build quality than pretty much anything, you will have no probelms with a cared for Canadian lens. The 50mm Summicron was made in Canada for many years, so drawing this out will limit your choice without any gain.

A budget of $1,200 will be more than enough for a nice used 50mm Summicron. The 2/50 summicron has great bokeh, each version is a little different, but all good. Are you confusing these lenses with the 1.4/50 Summilux Asph? The asph lenses are reputed to be not as smooth as the 'pre-asph' lenses.

The versions of the 50mm Summicron include collapsable (chrome), dual range (chrome), rigid (chrome), III (black), IV 'tabbed' (black), and the current version. The chrome lenses are from the 1950s-1960s, and are lower contrast to a modern lens, but still excellent, so long as you find one without fogged glass. The third version is reputed to be not as good as the others, though I have not used it. The fourth/current lens is outstanding, excellent resolution, sharpness, bokeh and character.

The e43 'pre-asph' 50mm Summilux averages around $1,200 from a private seller, and can even be had for a little less if you're not so worried about cosmetics. This lens was largely unchanged from the 1960's until the 1990s, and is an excellent performer. They're plentiful, and all made in Germany. This is the lens I have, not quite as sharp as the summicron, resolution is not quite as good, and it's a little bigger and heavier, but not by much. I do prefer the character of the summilux, it's smoother and gives nicer tones (to my eye), has excellent bokeh, and is more resistant to flare. There's really not a lot in it though, both are outstanding lenses, and it really comes down to personal preference.

The 'asph' version costs substantially more. Not sure of exact prices, but I doubt you'd get one under $2k. This is reputed to be an absolutley stunning lens, though is also the lens which has drawn criticism for the bokeh being less smooth than older versions.

My first experience with Summicron Rigid was in 2014. At that time I only look at Summicron collapsible (Radioactive) or Summilux 50mm f1.4 V2 and seems I always missed out this Summicron Rigid and Dual Range (DR). I did some research then I decided to try this lens and looked for a type 1 for my first purchase.

The later versions (with the installed lens hood) are much better than the older ones.It doesn't matter if you use a German or a Canadian model.With a correctly manufacutred adapter there should be no problem to use any of those lenses on a 5D.The Summicron on a 5D is a real dream team!ages ago(permalink)

CPYLeitz. I think with today's editing software the difference between a multicoated lens and single coat can be blurred. The only real significant difference I know about with the older CL lens and the newer R lens is the multicoat (correct me if i'm wrong.) I own both versions of this lens. I prefer second version because of it's form and utility (sold on the sliding hood.) Developing my own film and making my own pictures, I have to use less red filters with the newer lens to make a punchy black and white. But I do prefer the older design for black and white application. Though if you are not the one developing your own pictures, the quality of the black and white can be lost rather quickly from a one stop shop quick store develp and print. ...If you are shooting digital I think this conversation is a mute point.ages ago(permalink)

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