35mm Lens options for Leica-M

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by brian steinberger, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I'm about ready to purchase an M6. I'd like to use just one lens, a 35mm. I know there's f/2 Summicron's both ASPH and pre-ASPH. I'm just going to be shooting black and white, but still want an excellent lens. Is the ASPH really worth the extra cash? Also, is see there is an f/2 Biogon ZM T* made by Carl Zeiss. How does this lens compare to the ASPH and pre-ASPH lenses?

    Thanks
     
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  2. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    If you're looking for razor sharp detail and rendering, look at the Zeiss -- it'll be less than a Leica ASPH, which also is similar in sharpness, detail, etc.

    No Leica lens is ever really 'bad', just subtly differing character. I have an older v1 35 'cron and like it a lot, but I'm guessing it has a bit more 'glow' or what have you than a v4 or ASPH.
     
  3. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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    Short answer-Buy the Aspheric if you can afford such a thing (and stand to part with the $$'s).

    There weren't any bad 35 Summicrons. The Aspheric is as good as it gets. I have the old 8 element Summicron, and am very happy with that. Not as zingy, but a great lens (to me, the best b&w lens). Unfortunately these are overpriced collectibles now. The 7 element pre-aspheric was the one called "the King of Bokeh"; it is a fine lens, but not quite the cult lens it once was, so down in price a bit.

    Personally, the 6 element version is my least favorite. It is a great lens, but more emphasis on contrast, and less on edge sharpness (compared to its 8 element predecessor).

    I have no personal experience with it, but from everything I hear, the Zeiss is a great lens and a great buy. Maybe the best choice in the current market if you don't want to spring for the aspheric Summicron.
     
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  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Hi Brian,
    Over at RFF there are about six hundred threads with this question.
    I think it would be safe to say there are subtle differences between the lenses. If you read tests and filter the opinions
    around the interweb. None are bad, but this one is best. Something about opinions & body parts everybody's got one.
    Without trying a couple of them you're not going to know which version you like. I can't tell 'em apart
    so would look for the best deal I could find. I doubt that I'd ever pop for the aspheric though.
     
  5. segedi

    segedi Member

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    The Zeiss Biogon-C f/2.8 gets a lot of praise. I have a Summarit and really like it. My go to lens in 35mm is the MS Optical Super Triplet Perar. At f/3.5, it's a bit slow, but it gets 50% of my shots in any focal length. I think you'll need to creep on Flickr and search for photos from various lenses to see what photos you like with them. I don't think you'll be disappointed in any of them though, from Voigtlander up to Leica.
     
  6. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    Whether Leitz/Leica or Zeiss is not the question or issue. Any of the 35mm Summicrons will provide sharp results as well as the newer Zeiss. The issue is really age of the lens and whether there is any mold growing, de-cementing of elements and other age related issues. I had an 8 element Summicron RF Leitz lens with googles for my M3. Compared it to my Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH at 5X with K64 and could not see the difference.
    Purchase the newest version of whatever lens you decide on and purchase by condition for the money rather than any other attribute.-Dick
     
  7. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    I'm currently using the 35/1.4 pre-ASPH and the 35/2.0 Zeiss. I had the 35/2.0 ASPH for years. I dislike the Zeiss as it is too big IMO, especially with the hood. I'd suggest taking a peek at examples from the various options on FLickr, plenty to see there from every M lens. I like to scan through the thumbnails and pick stuff of similar subject matter to what I shoot. As Dick says- final print size also plays into the quality you'll need, though there are some pretty clear differences in the out of focus rendition of the older and newer lenses- and that is taste. Don't rule out the new Summarit if you can deal with f2.5- a friend of mine has one and it delivers very fine images.
     
  8. presspass

    presspass Member

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    Don't forget the Cosina/Voightlanders. The Nokton is a nice lens and at 1.4 gives you an extra stop if you need it. New it's probably less than a used Summicron. I use a 1.7 Nokton screw thread with an adapter and it's a nice lens, even wide open. When it comes to 35s, the list is almost endless.
     
  9. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I have a Nokton 35/1.4 on my M2. I wanted, and still want an ASPH Summilux, but there is no way I can afford one right now. I have been happy with the Nokton. It was a great value.
     
  10. chioque

    chioque Subscriber

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    I have the 35 'cron ASPH, but for shooting black & white, for which I do 99.9% of the time, I prefer the older less contrasty lenses to it. The first version 8-element 35mm summicron is very good for B&W but is very expensive now. The 35mm summaron, for me is very nice for shooting B&W. And not forgetting the 35/1.4 SC Nokton.
     
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  11. bill h

    bill h Subscriber

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    Don't overlook the 40mm Summicron C, an f2 beauty. And the Summaron.
     
  12. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    As many mentioned, there are many choices out there, most of which are good, albeit in different ways.

    I'll put a plug in for the last pre-asph Summicron (yes, it's the proverbial recommendation of the "lens I have", though I have to say that I tried many before choosing that particular one).
    Not the very sharpest or fastest or cheapest out there, but it does hit a sweet point in all parameters: especially size, weight & ergonomics work very well. It's also very flare resistant (very important for me).

    While you could hardly do wrong getting almost any of the lenses mentioned if they come up at a good price, the "Summicron IV pre-asph" does pretty much everything well.
     
  13. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    This one looked great because it's so small and it's still an f/2. The problem is, on my M6 you'd have to select the 50mm framelines, which is still doable but I would think would become an annoyance over time.
     
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  15. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Just curious, I see there is both a Carl Zeiss 35/2 and a 35/2.8. You can purchase both brand new for a rather good price, $800 for the 35/2.8 and $1000 for the 35/2. I like the idea of the smaller f/2.8 but would love the extra stop of light afforded by the f/2. I have heard that the f/2 intrudes into the viewfinder framing. It's a tough call.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Brian,

    I can't say much for the 35mm focal length Zeiss or Leica. But I have nothing but amazing things to report about the 35mm f/1.4 Voigtländer Nokton. Wide open it's gorgeous, and with a 25mm aperture you're right on for portraiture. Then, stopped down it's just incredibly sharp and makes perfect negatives to print.

    All I'm saying is to not discount it. I've used one now for a few months, and am in love. It makes pictures that strongly remind me of the 80mm Hasselblad Zeiss Planar.

    - Thomas
     
  17. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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    The Zeiss f2 should be a great lens. Your save a chunk of change over the Summicron Ashperic, but pay for it a bit in size and weight. I regularly use f2 on my Summicron and personally wouldn't give up a full stop of speed. Often you don't even notice slight blockage in shooting, but if the finder blockage ends up being a problem I'd sure look into a used Summicron before loosing half the speed with the 2.8 Zeiss. If your shooting style doesn't emphasize available light, then your conclusion may well be different.

    The 6 element Summicron is tiny and the most affordable. I know of one locally if you are interested (think it is still around).

    BTW, my impression has been that the 40 Summicron (that you mentioned in another post) is based on the 35mm 6 element design. The designs look virtually identical and pererformance is very similar except the edge performance is slightly better on the 40 due to the longer FL. I've had more than one of each over the years.
     
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  18. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    I have been very happy with my older 35mm f2 Summicron. I have no idea about what model it is but it is one of the 1913 - 1983 aniversary specimens. I bought it slightly used together with a new M6 in 1986
    Don't use it much these days but it is just one of those cameras/lenses that will go when i go.
     
  19. M. Lointain

    M. Lointain Member

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    I had a Summicron and a Biogon and kept the Biogon. You can buy a Biogon brand new for less than a used Summicron these days. The performance of the Biogon is pretty spectacular too. It is practically optical perfection. I took a lot of the same images with both lenses and the Biogon was crisper, had more even illumination and was better corrected for distortion.

    There are a lot of choices and the reality is you would be fine with almost any of them. As they say, so many choices, so little difference.
     
  20. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I'm still torn as to which Biogon to get, f/2 or f/2.8. My instinct is to get the 2.8. It's smaller and the reviews I've heard are just fantastic. The thing is, I was hoping to do some low light photography with it, not serious low light stuff, but stuff like indoors without flash photography. Could I get away with the 2.8 in most circumstances like this with, say, pushing Tri-x to 1600?
     
  21. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    When I shoot outdoors, at night with only street lights to aid me, or indoors with only indoor lighting, I use 3200 film shot usually around 6400 with an f/1.4 lens wide open unless someone is close to a light source.
     
  22. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Thomas, do you have any examples shot this way? You think maybe I should go for the f/2 Biogon rather than the f/2.8 if I intend it to be my only lens?
     
  23. MDR

    MDR Member

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    The 35mm Summicron Asph. is of course the cats meow but as has been previously stated don't discount the Summaron (2.8 or even 3.5) under the right conditions it has pretty much the Summicron look and is a lot cheaper to buy.

    Dominik
     
  24. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I just purchased a used Carl Zeiss 35/2 Biogon ZM T*. I figure the extra stop of speed could be beneficial if it's my only lens. I've heard reports of the f/2 being slightly soft wide open, but to me getting the shot and it being a little soft is better than not being able to get the shot at all.
     
  25. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Now you have to go make pictures.
    Put all the opinions out of your mind. You have an excellent lens and don't need to be curious about other opinions.
     
  26. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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    I think you're gonna be happy that you didn't compromise on lens speed. That's the kind of thing that can nag at you later (especially with a Leica). You may get the Summicron urge somewhere down the line, but I doubt it will be for softness wide open. There should be far more than adequate sharpness at f2 for the types of pictures a person will usually shoot at that aperture.

    Enjoy the lens and don't fret the details.