Cheap Leica lenses

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by BetterSense, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I'm looking at an M2 body locally, but I'm trying to get a sense of what the total leica package will end up costing me. What's a cheap, but not bad, 35 or 50mm lens that fits the M2, and how much do they cost? My lens standards are low and uncoated is fine. I don't have to have the best lens.

    Also, in my estimation the M2 seems like just about the best Leica. The later ones with meters are expensive and the early ones have two viewfinders and shutter speed dials. Am I smart in going with the M2 or should I consider something else?
     
  2. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    M2 or not M2

    I have the M3, in nice condition with just a few bright spots where the first owner mounted the leicameter DON'T GET A LEICAMETER AND MOUNT IT.

    use a handheld or the voigtlander meter that doesn't crap up the top plate.

    The collapsible Summicron 50mm seems to be the least esteemed of the 50mm, but I love mine... absolutely love it. It is therefore the least expensive of the Leitz 50s of the M(odern) era.

    I have a 35 f/3.5 Summaron with eyes that I don't use much... you would buy the version without eyes since the M2 was designed to include 35mm in the viewfinder (as everyone on this page knows the M stands for the German word for rangefinder and 3 means the 3 focal lengths 50-90-135 which the M3 is designed to take without further adaptors) .

    If you are not going to use Leica glass why bother, just get a Voigtlander
    but I suppose you could explore the quirks of the Russian stuff.. I have a nice Jupiter 8 9also a 50mm f/2 which is interesting but I feel.... dirty... putting it on my Leica so I put it on my Voigtlander. But I feel... disloyal.. not using my M3... it is sooo much better than anything else I could afford. So I use my M3 and 50 and 90 and it works for me which is all I could ask.

    David
     
  3. lns

    lns Member

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    1. If it has to be a Leica, I'm thinking you can get an older but not ancient 50mm Summicron for $500 to $600. In the 35mm focal length, I like the Summaron f2.8, which is very nice and maybe $600 to $700. Check KEH maybe? If your lens doesn't have to be a Leica, I would investigate Cosina Voigtlander lenses. New ones are very reasonable (used ones of course are even cheaper) and many are quite good. Or consider Zeiss ZM lenses, more expensive than CV but really, really wonderful.

    2. I love my M2. So I think it's a smart choice. Framelines for 35mm, 50mm and 90mm -- to me, the essentials. No clutter in the viewfinder. If you don't like the 35mm focal length, but do like 50mm, you can't beat an M3, which is very similar but in my subjective view, even better built somehow.

    -Laura
     
  4. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    If old and uncoated is ok, you can pick up a Leica 50mm Summar or Summitar (I think those are the name) for around $200 if you look around. You'll need a screw mount adapter too. Or look for an old Canon or Nikkor screw mount 50.

    Alternately, find a newer used Cosina Voigtlander lens. You might be able to swing one of those for $200ish.

    The cheapest though would be a Jupiter lens. Look on ebay. You might have to buy a couple though.
     
  5. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I used an LTM 50mm Summitar until I was able to pick up a new Nokton 50/1.1. The screw mount lenses mount nicely with the adapter, I also have a summaron 35/3.5 LTM which I have used on my M2. it is now back on the IIIf. It too is a very good lens.
     
  6. Mike Richards

    Mike Richards Member

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    Get the Summaron

    The f2.8 Summaron on the M2 make a great package. Well balanced, easy to handle, and produces excellent images. You get the full Leica experience.
     
  7. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    If you want cheap but still reasonable quality, you can always get an FSU lens. Shouldn't cost more than $20-30 bucks for a collapsible I-10, I-22 or I-50. I like the I-50 the best. You will need a screw to M adapter which will set you back another $30. There are also the Jupiter lenses which are about twice to three times the price of the Industar 50s but vary more in quality. A lot of people will say they ain't too good, but for the bang for the buck FSU lenses can't be beat.

    I think the M2 is the best older body. I have a M3 and would prefer a M2, but I have sentimental attachment to the M3 so I keep it.

    Edit- You could also pick up a Canon 50 1.8 for a little over $100 bucks. You are getting into Leica territory with that one. A lot of people think it is just as good as the Summicron of the same age. I don't know if I would go that far, but it is a great lens. If you get the older chrome version it would go great with your M2 as well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2010
  8. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    You know, if you're going to pay that much for a USED Leitz lens, then you really owe it to yourself to take a look at the Cosina/Voightlander lenses. I'm telling you, these lenses are GOOD. I mean really good. I've compared side by side images made with both brands and damned if I can see the difference. Build quality is good too. Maybe not up to Leitz standards, but certainly way better than good. On Russian lenses? Well, sometimes they're OK optically, but the build quality leaves a lot to be desired. I haven't seen one yet that has a truly smooth focusing mechanism. I've seen more than a few that squeal to high heaven when you operate the focusing mechanism, and feel like there is sandpaper lubricating the helicoid. They may be cheap, but they're not at all what I'd call good.
     
  9. luvcameras

    luvcameras Advertiser Advertiser

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  10. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    I used to have a Summitar on a IIIc. I liked the results, although I later sold the IIIc and got rid of the lens. Some of the FSU lenses are very good.

    Contrary to most people whenever this topic comes up, I generally haven't had bad issues with build quality. I've had 2 x Jupiter-8s [one silver, one black], 1 x Industar 61, a Jupiter-9, Jupiter-11 and Jupiter-12. All but one took excellent pictures and the build quality was fine. The J-9 I had had slightly stiff focus, but the 2 x Jupiter-8s and the Jupiter-12 were all very smooth in use. The J8s, in particular, took very fine photographs on my IIIc. I did, however, have one Jupiter-11 [the 135mm] which didn't seem to focus accurately on my IIIc or on an FSU body, so that's one bad sample out of half a dozen or so lenses -- I presume it needed shimmed. I've also owned a couple of FSU medium format lenses, and again, they were fine.

    I'm in exactly the same situation as you -- I've recently bought an M3, and Leitz long lenses -- Elmar 9cm, Hektors, etc -- are cheap, but I've not been able to find a Summicron or similar at a price I can afford. So, for the time being, I'll be using a J8 with an adapter, and waiting until I can find a Summicron or modern Voigtlander at a price I can afford.
     
  11. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    Dual Range (DR) Summicron 50 mm lenses can be had for US $300 if missing their goggles (expect to pay $500-600 if with the goggles) and make a superb normal lens for an M2.
     
  12. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    If you're looking for a modern lens the Elmar-M 50/2.8 is of impeccable quality and a real bargain- $600-$700.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    My understanding is that the Soviet Jupiter-12 lens, in particular, is a good bargain, if that's what you want. You can do a Google search to find reviews. My understanding is that it's a clone of the pre-WWII Carl Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2.8 for the Contax. I've got one of these but I don't use it much, simply because I don't use my rangefinders as much as I use my SLRs, since changing lenses is much more of a hassle with a rangefinder. A practical tip: The rear element of this lens sticks way out and is therefore susceptible to damage when it's removed from the lens. You can cut down a Kodak plastic film can to use as a rear lens cap; it's just the right size to slip over the rear element and fit snuggly. Other brands' film cans aren't quite the right size.
     
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  15. BobD

    BobD Member

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    Just get a Bessa R or Canon RF, etc and use tons of inexpensive M39 lenses.
    Many of them are quite good.
     
  16. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I'm with those that, accepting your lens criteria, go with Soviet-era screw thread lens and an adapter.

    The 53mm 2.8 Industar 61, "radioactive" lens on my Fed 2 is as sharp a lens as I could wish for. I have a 50 mm 2.0 Summicron-M on my M6, btw.

    If you be interested, I will shoot a coupla frames of my favorite brick wall with the Industar and snail mail you the negs.
     
  17. blind_sparks

    blind_sparks Member

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    My vote would be for the 5cm ƒ2 Summitar. They can be had in good condition for about $200, and is easily adapted via the LTM->M adapter. My advice though is to try to buy a lens (really any lens) locally, where you can inspect it and whatnot. The Leica glass in the older lenses is easily marred by cleaning, and it can be challenging/next to impossible to find an older lens that hasn't been scratched. Having said that, my Summitar has coating damage on the front element and is slightly dusty internally, but still gives top notch results. There is the issue of filters, being that the Summitar uses a special thread. But some looking on evil-bay will turn up a bunch, though they are overpriced for what they are.

    In terms of soviet 50mm's, the I-61LD is probably the more highly regarded of the bunch. It was the lens on my Leica for a long time before I found the Summitar.

    The M2 is probably the best long term choice in terms of durability/affordability if you mainly use 35mm and 50mm lenses, unless you want to deal with the goggles/aux finders needed to use 35's on the M3. But if you're like me and only use/can afford 50's, the M3 takes the cake.
     
  18. Ezzie

    Ezzie Member

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    Why not check out the Cosina Voigtlander line-up? Leica included, I think Cosina are now the make with the most comprehensive range of RF lenses, mostly Leica LTM or M, but also Contax/Nikon RF mount, and even SLR lenses for Nikon and Canon. I´ve 5 lenses in all from CV, and happy with the, all.
    CV Color Skopar 21/f4, CV Ultron 28/f1.9 (a real stormer of a lens), CV Ultron 35/f1.4 and 1.2 lenses and CV Skopar 50/f2.5

    The Skopars are tiny little things, but well built and great optics. The 35/1.4 is also rather compact. Its main issue can be a tendency for focus creeping, but otherwise a cracking lens. The 35/1.2 is BIG, in fact so big I hardly use it. Shame, because its a very good lens. The 28/f1.9 is on my camera most of the time. A brilliant lens and the fastest 28mm RF LTM/M lens ever.
     
  19. luxikon

    luxikon Member

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    After the war the soviets got the concession to copy this excellent lens. I've got mine for 50$. I use it very often for street photography. Very sharp with hardly no distortion.
     
  20. Karl K

    Karl K Subscriber

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    My 2 cents: M2 over M3 because of the 35mm frame and cleaner VF; 50mm Summitar (cheap and plentiful) or 50 Elmar 2.8 (not as cheap and less plentiful), but inspect for internal fogging and external excessive cleaning marks; 35mm f/2.8 Summarons are superb and getting more expensive, but the 35mm f/3.5 Summarons are cheaper and almost as good; 90mm Elmars with the E39 front are cheap and excellent for portraits even at f/4.
    Here are some prices: M2 user about $450-650; Summitar $200-300; 50 Elmar f/2.8 $350-450; 35 f/2.8 Summaron $400-500; 35 f/3.5 Summaron $250-350; 90 Elmar E39 $200-300. Good luck.
     
  21. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    1)Go directly to the disciplinarian's office & tell her you used "cheap" and "Leica" in the same sentence. You deserve a spanking. They are either inexpensive or conservatively priced.
    2)Even an old 50/3.5 Elmar is pretty good. It really depends on what focal length you like. The 35 Summaron without goggles is very popular. 35 Summicron or Summilux go for premium prices. I've got two Summicrons, one collapsible and one DR with out the goggles.They are both fine. The collapsible is very early with the Thorium front element(radioactive) it's like having a light yellow filter on the camera all the time because the glass is discolored.
    There's a rumor going around(for years) that Leitz picked the best optics for the DR since they consider that lens their hallmark.
     
  22. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

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    I would look at the Voigtlanders if you need a modern lens, my personal favourite is the Canon LTM 35mm F2 it is very comaparable to the CV Skopar (I think the CV is a derivative) and actually pretty good even compared to the Leica 35 F2 Summicron.
    Here below is a 1960's rigid 50mm Leica Summicron
    [​IMG]

    And below is the Canon 50mm F1,8
    [​IMG]

    Here is the Canon 35mm F2
    [​IMG]

    Obviously the 35mm has been blown up more, all pictures were taken on the same body with the same Fuji neg film within a 5 min period, so the lighting was similar (sun went in on the 35mm shot).
    Hope this helps
    Mark
     
  23. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    The lens that I've been using nearly exclusively is the CV Nokton f/1.4 40mm single coated. It was made for the Japanese market, but it's available in the US and most likely other places, too. The export model is multicoated.

    I've had a DR 50 mm, which was a stupendous lens, and I think the Nokton is very close to matching the quality. I know it may not be QUITE, but I think it is rare that the difference would ever be noticed in practice. I say this because I can't always tell which negatives were made with the DR, but there was one (in ten years) that absolutely sent me into orbit. Orbit is not a place I spend a lot of time. It still stands out as so great, it almost seems freakish. If that's what the lens would always do, freakish would be fine, but, as I say, I don't have other examples that are such clear evidence.
     
  24. macrorie

    macrorie Member

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    Before leaping for any of the vintage lenses, research how easy it is to find filters or lens hoods for them. E.G. Summitars are great lenses, but getting a decent hood for them can be problematic and/or expensive (I had one of the appropriate box hoods, and eventually sold it because it was just too odd looking in use). One thing to consider about Soviet lenses is that they were apparently set for a slightly different focusing calibration and therefore can mis-focus at close distances. I have a Summitar, a black Jupiter 8, a Jupiter 12, and an Elmar 90mm 4, and they all perform quite well on a IIIf. But I avoid close compositions with the Soviet lenses. When my budget will allow it I will probably get a Canon 50mm, because their online image examples (like the above) usually seem quite good.
     
  25. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Reputable information on this point seems conflicted---IIRC, Dante Stella and Karen Nakamura have both done experiments with Soviet lenses on Leica bodies and gotten different results. It might be sample variation rather than a systematic difference, I guess, though I don't quite see how sample variation would affect the alignment of the focusing helical.

    For what it's worth, I've found that my Industar-26M seems to focus all right, even wide open and close up, on a Bessa-R. If there's an alignment problem, it's obscured by my own technical failings (which admittedly can hide a lot of crud sometimes).

    -NT
     
  26. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    And there you have it. Seems to me that the "sample variation" on FSU lenses is pretty high, and tilts the odds of getting a good one less in the user's favor. Sure there are good ones out there. The odds that you may get a good one may be better than 50/50 in your favor; but I don't think so. At least with the CV lenses, anything you're likely to find is relatively new and easy to accessorize, likely not to be beat up all to hell, and manufactured on a production line that practices high standards of modern quality control procedures.