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50mm lens conundrum

Discussion in 'Leica Camera Chat' started by John Tarrant, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. John Tarrant

    John Tarrant Member

    For many years I have been a 35mm lens user. Currently my favoured kit is an M1 with a Voightlander 35mm lens. However being a Cartier Bresson fan I thought that I ought to return to using a 50mm lens. So: using a "Barnack" body I took to using a Summer f2 lens. Very interesting. As long as I took care to keep the lens well shaded I got lots of interesting and sometimes very rewarding results. Mjor problem: the scales on the lens are tiny and very difficult to read. Nonetheless combination of camera and lens very unobtrusive and pretty successful, the results often achieving a "retro" look.
    Moving on to my trusty M1 I fitted a 50mm Elmar. (the very lens that is shown in the M1 instruction manual!). A really nice lens: the camera emains compact and the lens provides excellent results. Problems? I tend to forget to focus it! No rangefinder on the M1 of course.
    Next up a Summicron. This is surely the definitive Leica lens. Sadly mostly unaffordable! However I did mange to acquire a collapsible version at an affordable price and used it on an M4: I was not going to have the Elmar problems here! Alas I was a little disappointed, I struggled to get good results with this lens, often too soft I thought. However a review of my shooting technique(using faster shutter speeds essentially), taking greater care with processing and using FP4 rather than HP5 suddenly brought about substantial improvements.
    Finally I "accidentally bought a Nokton f1.1 50mm lens. Then I read a terrible review of it. Actually it performed pretty well. The real problem with it was the size and weight. Suddenly My Leica felt like a dslr with a giant lens and my camera bag caused my shoulder to droop alarmingly!
    All things are subjective of course but the Nokton has the classic japanese contrasty attributes which give the effect of sharpness much loved by photo journalists (As I think my 35mm lens does. However I like the compactness of the Summicron, but it needs to be treated with respect in terms of film and processing to produce results to do it justice. So I wonder what other folk like in a 50mm lens?
  2. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    In 35mm film terms, I expect most of my shots were taken with the 45mm Tessar in my Contaflex (bought in 1958) quickly followed by the 55mm F/1.7 Rokkor with my SRT101, bought in 1959. Only relatively late on did I actually have a nominally 50mm lens in use on a 35mm film camera, and that was around 1995, with Canon's 50 F/1.8 FD. Then in Spring last year I bought a Leica M6 and partnered it with an old 50mm F/2 DR Summicron. This gave me some pleasant shots.


    Fairly quickly I added a modern Voigtlander 35mm F/1.4 Nokton Classic, and I like its feel and compactness. However, I thought the reviews were somewhat worrying, so I sought out what I thought would be a good subject to show its poor drawing, and found a metal wire fence with near enough a square grid of fence wires. I don't have any shots taken with Leitz lenses for comparison, but my Nokton results seem more than good enough for my type of street-photography. Time passes, and I started reading superlative comments about the Leica 28mm F/2.8 Elmarit M Asph, and yesterday a used copy was offered for what I thought was a fair price. By the time, I'd checked the web site again, it had gone. I have however, bought my M6 a Leica case, so my worries about scuffing the near mint body of it, has reduced quite a bit. I've had ERCs before for 35mm cameras, but none with the thick base in Leica's M6 case. Must be a reason for it.

    Sadly, although I still have full darkroom facilities at home, I've done much less 35mm film photography over the last year than I expected. Digital is simply too convenient!

    Let's hear how you get on.
  3. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    I've corrected the SRT101 purchase date - it was a decade too early.
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear John,

    1,5/50 C-Sonnar. Fast, compact and I like the look -- much more than I did with the 50/1.5 Nokton, which I sold because there didn't seem to be much advantage in having two 50mm f/1.5 lenses as well as an f/1.2 Canon at the same focal length.


  5. John Tarrant

    John Tarrant Member

    Well Roger I seem to have reached a similar conclusion! I have acquired a Sonnar and ergonomically it is excellent and the size is perfect: it has returned my Leica to the compost size that it should be the giant Nokton is now reserved for special occasions when its ultimate speed is necessary! Once upon a time I had a Contax G2 with Ziess lenses so I feel quite at home using Zeiss glass and it is at least a little less expensive than the Leitz option. I am now avoiding buying any more hardware and concentrating on using what I have. My real problem now is cataloging and indexing my negatives which is a vital but time consuming activity.
  6. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    So that will help with recycling it when the time comes... :confused:
    peterba likes this.
  7. John Tarrant

    John Tarrant Member

    AH! The joy of spell checkers and sloppy proof reading! I have not yet recycled my camera but `i have learned to spell compact even if the computer has not!
    peterba likes this.

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