CV Heliar 50mm f/2.0--is it a legend?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by ljsegil, Dec 25, 2006.

  1. ljsegil

    ljsegil Subscriber

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    The Heliar 50mm f/3.5 has been described by no less than Stephen Gandy as legendary. It is no longer available except in Nikon rangefinder mount (if someone has a screwmount they would care to part with, please contact me). The newly released Heliar 50mm f/2.0 in the M mount is now readily available. I would like to hear opinions from users as to the qualities of this lens, particularly when compared to the plentiful choices at this or similar focal lengths and both larger and smaller apertures. Will this lens acquire legendary status? Has CV hit the home run twice? Or is it perhaps a good but unexceptional entrant in a very crowded field?
    I am most anxious for feedback.
    Best regards for the day (and beyond),
    LJ Segil
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    'Legends' are always disputable. I've used the 50/3.5 Heliar and currently have a 50/2 Heliar. Both are very nice lenses and the f/2 is definitely one of the most distinctive 50mm lenses I've used -- but I'd not call either a 'legend' or even (my preferred term) 'magic'.

    A 'magic' lens is one where I can look at my own pictures and say, "I don't think I could have taken that with anything else". That's a small list and includes (for example) the 75/2 Summicron, 38/4.5 Biogon, 58/1.4 Nikkor and 150/6.3 Tessar.

    A lot depends on what subjects you shoot, and what film, and your personal preferences. The 50/2 Heliar might indeed be the perfect lens for some people, but I'd rather have (for example) a 50/1 Nokton or even the humble 50/2.5 Color-Skopar (and I have both of those upstairs too). Indeed I think I'd prefer my 50/1.2 Canon. The Heliar is a lot better at f/2; at f/5.6 they're both very good indeed; and at f/1.2, the Canon wins hands down...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    I had a 50mm f/2 Heliar for a while and was quite underwhelmed by it and sold it. Mine was quite soft wide open and I did not care for how it handled. I never saw any "magic" either. It did feel well made though. I think that what Roger said is very true in that it really boils down to subjects, film, and personal preferences. I much prefer my dual range Summicron, or 50mm Summilux from 1970 to the f/2 Heliar. Good luck in your search, I don't think there are really any bad 50mm lenses in Leica M mount, just different flavors-something for everyone!

    I know it's not what you are asking about, but I also agree wholeheartedly with Roger about the 75mm Summicron. I've had one for about 6 weeks and it keeps amazing me every time I use it, what a great lens.

    Richard Wasserman
     
  4. rjas

    rjas Member

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    Doesn't stephen gandy sell these lenses? I wouldn't take any comments about the lenses too seriously if thats true.
     
  5. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Yeah....Good point!
     
  6. ljsegil

    ljsegil Subscriber

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    Stephen Gandy Bashing

    Please do not use this thread to harm the good reputation of Mr. Gandy. His "legendary" description referred to the screwmount version of the f/3.5; long discontinued and not available for sale from him or anybody else that I am aware of (but would love to know if there are any out there). Stephen has probably done more for the success of the CV product line than any other person in this country, and to a significant extent one could even say that the existance of this forum is a tribute to his hard and honest work.
    LJ Segil
     
  7. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I'll second this sentiment.

    I've dealt extensively with Steve including purchasing two R2S bodies and several CV S-mount lenses (85s and 24s). I firmly believe that Steve has a high degree of integrity and would not "tout" a lens just to sell it. He has too much to lose doing that kind of thing.

    FWIW, I don't know this CV 50/2.0 lens in S-mount since I have several Nikkor 50/1.4's and so have no need of one. But if I lacked a 50mm S-mount for either my R2S's or my S2 and SP I would certainly try them on Steve's advice.

    Just my $0.02
     
  8. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Stephen Gandy does "promote" his products, but I've never seen anything approaching a misrepresentation on his site. I certainly wouldn't call it "overhyping" given what I've seen elsewhere. I took the "legendary" moniker as a reference to the limited edition 50 f:3.5 collapsible Heliar having been touted by Pop Photo as the "best 50mm" they ever tested. And note that Gandy said "legendary", not best ever 50mm. He's a careful writer, and certainly aware that "legendary" can apply equally to Elvis, Bigfoot, and a dual range Summicron.

    If you read his site carefully, you'll find that you can get a generally accurate impression of a lens' performance from his descriptions once they've been out a few months and he's used them and had field reports.

    For the record, I'm a satisfied repeat customer of cameraquest.

    Lee
     
  9. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I'm another satisfied repeat customer of cameraquest and thus of Stephen Gandy. I've always found him to be a person of high integrity.

    BTW, I have severe case of GAS and I own one of the 50mm f2 collapsible CV Heliars, it's a nice lens, with nice bokeh. However, I have not yet done a shootout against any of my other 50mm f2 M mount lenses.
     
  10. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    Hi Roger,

    could you describe with some few words why you personally would prefer the 1,5/50 Nok or the Skopar ?

    Thanks !:smile:

    bertram
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Bertram,

    First, sorry for the mistype: the f/1 should of course have been Noctilux. Probably fairly easy to see why I'd prefer that! Actually I'd prefer the 50/1.5 Nokton as well, but not by as much -- for the speed, and the easier focusing.

    Second, the Color-Skopar is probably the sweetest-handling lens made by Voigtlander, and very compact. Quality at f/2.5 is OK, not exceptional, but it's excellent by f/5.6. The collapsible Heliar is not my favorite lens ergonomically -- focusing ring too small, no focusing spur, and the 'collapsible' feature is (to be generous) marginal because it doesn't collapse much. A spur would transform it.

    But, as I said earlier, the f/2 Heliar does have a distinctive 'signature', easier to recognize than to describe, and I can well believe that for some people it is 'magic'. Just not me.

    Finally, I'll second all the praise that has been heaped upon Stephen. He has indeed done a great deal for Voigtlander and his website is excellent. Disagreeing with his opinion of 'legendary' is a matter of opinion, not calling him a liar or a shill.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  12. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    I see. Not having used it ever myself I don't know anything about the ergonomical aspects.I have to admit that I mistrust those collapsibles a bit anyway, for mechanical reasons (tubus play), wrongly tho as I assume.

    I have only seen pics on the monitor, shot with the f3,5/50 Heliar and my impression was it looks glassclear, extremely precise and very 3D, similar to a midformat lens or the Pan X f4/45.
    The f 3,5 narrows the field of use seriously, even for me ,who, as you know,
    is no fast lens addict !:wink:

    Best as usual,

    Bertram
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Bertram,

    The 3D quality is still there with the f/2 but not the sharpness. As for play in the secondary bayonet, I have never found this a problem and I have used Leica collapsibles going back to 1930 or even a little earlier. But of course collapsible lenses are necessarily heavier and more complex than non-collapsibles, except perhaps with the very simplest, slowest designs such as the f/3.5 Elmar.

    The f/3.5 Heliar is indeed very sharp at full aperture but by f/5.6 I defy anyone to see the difference between it and any other first-class lens, and f/3.5 is only 1-1/3 stop faster than f/5.6 anyway...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  14. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    I didn't read Rjas' comment as "bashing" Stephen. All the testimonials here aside, the fact is that Stephen does sell the product in question, so he has a conflict of interests & cannot be considered objective or unbiased. That's just a fact that Rjas mentioned & it does not impugn Stephen or his character. I'm sure he's a good chap & a fine fellow.
     
  15. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I think it was the post after Rjas' that struck some of us as both ill-informed and a bit of an unfair statement impugning Steve's integrity.
     
  16. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    LOL
     
  17. rjas

    rjas Member

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    Stephen Gandy is a helpful salesman - he offered me lots of help when I emailed him about buying a 28mm lens awhile ago. But the fact is, he does sell the lenses and will never say a bad thing about them. Nothing wrong with that, its just something you should know! I don't expect anyone selling me something to tell me it isn't great, I was merely informing the poster of the thread that he shouldn't take the "legendary" comment to heart. I didn't entirely understand the context of the "legendary" post so my reply was probably not needed now that I think about it. No harm done either way.
     
  18. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    I kinda like this lens with TRI-X. When it is wide open, it gets a little soft. looks good in B+W. I don't like it in color though. Other apertures are really sharp.
     
  19. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Being a good, reputable businessman has nothing to do with being a good writer -- no connection there. He is a good writer, but he's also a businessman, so when he writes about a product and sells it at the same time, he must temper his criticism.

    He can't (or shouldn't from a business standpoint) write that Lens X is a dog and then in the next paragraph say, "Buy it here!"

    So words such as "legendary" or "classic" or other superlatives applied to products that he sells should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

    There is no longer any information about the Zeiss Ikon rangefinder or lenses on his site, because he no longer carries the gear. The appearance is that its removal was motivated by his anger toward Carl Zeiss AG. This is a disservice to those seeking information about these products. But it's his site, and he can post or not post whatever information he chooses.

    While I like the CameraQuest site and have bought several things from Stephen Gandy with great results, I dislike the garish use of bright blue and red (an assault on weary eyes on many days) and the way that certain links pop up in a new window and another window and another window. His methods of linking are nonsensical in popping up new browser sessions.

    But that's a personal dislike for unnecessary window popups. I also dislike dpreview.com's site, which I believe creates extra page views (probably for advertising purposes) by forcing you to click to an intermediate page (often two pages) before clicking to a review or preview. If I advertised on that site, I would complain, because while not fraudulent, it is ethically questionable (advertisers page by page views -- the more page views, the more the bill to the advertiser).
     
  20. Donald Boyd

    Donald Boyd Member

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    Read what Stephen has to write about his lenses. If it's a great lens, he describes it as such. If it isn't a great lens, he doesn't write anything other than a general description. What's wrong with that? He has to keep Cosina happy to keep his business with them. Now with rangefinderforum.com at his disposal, he can convey anything he wants officially and unofficially under assumed "names." I hope he stays in business for a long time. The only thing that erks me is the removed Zeiss Ikon system information.