Inexpensive LTM lens recommendations

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Ken.Cartouche, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. Ken.Cartouche

    Ken.Cartouche Member

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    In less than a year we're going to be going "on the road" full-time, and so lots of things in the house have got to go. That includes most of my cameras. I'm clearing my camera closet and am going to reduce my (personal) cameras to just one or two bodies and one or two lenses for each. In the interest of size and weight, and because I like shooting them, I've decided to go with rangefinders. And, after a few years of reading and research, I'm going to start with a Canon P as my main camera. I may add something like a Leica IIIc down the road, just because I really like shooting with older cameras like that.

    Now, I just need a 50mm lens to go with it. Cost is an issue, so new, modern LTM lenses are out unless someone just gives me one. I'm looking for something in about the $100 to $150 range. I've looked into the Jupiter-8, which seems to be in my range, as well as the Industar lenses. I really like the look that the Summitar lens has, but a.) it seems to be out of my current price range, and b.) it won't safely collapse into the Canon P body. Ditto for the Elmar 3.5. Any thoughts on those, or recommendations for others?
     
  2. illumiquest

    illumiquest Member

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    I used a Nikon 50 f/2 which was relatively cheap and did a great job. It's not a summicron but still nice.
     
  3. mablo

    mablo Member

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    In my Canon P rangefinder years I used a lot of Canon's LTM lenses. The Canon LTM 50mm/1.8 is a great lens for black & white photography and costs like $150. It's a lot better lens than a J-8 just because the old FSU lenses were not really manufactured according to the LTM standard.
     
  4. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    I saw IIIC and Elmar sold for 250 dollars here. If you give an ad at classifieds , I bet you can buy an elmar for your IIIc under 150 dollars. Dont invest on japanese lenses for your Leica.
     
  5. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I'd take a Canon 50mm 1.8 over any Leica lens you could get at the same price unless you are specifically buying for the compactness of an Elmar (which is about the only Leica lens you which regularly sells in good condition closet to that price). Its very well balanced on a Canon P as well.

    I'd also take the Canon over a FSU lens unless you can specifically test the FSU lens before buying. They can be excellent - I have a collapsible Industar which is close enough in performance that I don't have a need for an Elmar. I had a Jupiter 8 which was excellent but it took me 3 purchases to land on one that worked well and focused correctly. That was an excellent lens and at time I wonder why I moved on to anything else. :smile: If can can pick up one which has been tested with Leica and you appreciate the results, go for it.
     
  6. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Me too. It's an adaptation of the 6-element Sonnar design, same as the Jupiter-8; the 50/1.4 Nikkor is a version of the 7-element Sonnar, but quite a bit more expensive. I think the situation is the same with the Canon 50mm lenses---one of each Sonnar "flavor".

    In my experience, the 50/2 Nikkor is a nice, workmanlike lens, quite respectably sharp but not Summicron-sharp, with a pretty neutral character. It tends to get out of the way and let you take the photo you see. Very good bang for the buck, even if the aperture ring *is* backwards.

    -NT
     
  7. Ken.Cartouche

    Ken.Cartouche Member

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    I hadn't actually considered the Nikkor lenses, but if the 50mm f2f.0 is in my price range, I would definitely consider it. I have that lens on my Nikkormat FT2, and I've really liked it.

    And I appreciate the suggestions to look into the Canon lenses, too. Should I look at the Canon named lenses only, or are the Serenars okay to consider?
     
  8. 02Pilot

    02Pilot Subscriber

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    The Canon 50/1.8 is probably your first best choice, but it's going to be at the top of your price range or beyond unless you get lucky. Canon and Serenar lenses are optically identical.

    FWIW, I happily used a Jupiter-8 on my Canon P for a while before I got a Canon 50/1.5. Buying from a reliable seller (Fedka is one that has an excellent reputation) should ensure you get a good one. The discrepancy between the Leica standard and the Soviet (Contax) standard (described well by Dante Stella - worth reading if you haven't already) is very minor; on an f/2 lens like the J-8 you will likely never even notice it, and if you do it will only be wide open and close up. Within your desired price range, the Jupiter-8 is what I'd go for (and I did).
     
  9. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    I'd recommend getting a good (read: as deep/big as practical/possible) for any lens you end up with. Arguably will make as much of a difference as changing lenses.

    If you mostly shoot stopped down, look at the Industars, some folks say they are sharper than the Jupiters and go for even cheaper, plus they have aperture click stops. 52/53mm f/2.8, the L/D version has lanthanum glass for even better performance. I had a regular I-61 on my first RF, a Fed 3b and the J-8 I have now does nothing better except f/2.0.
     
  10. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    The 50mm 1.8 is a good buy as others have said. The general internet reviews point to the black barrel version being the sharpest but I think the chrome serenar does just as well and looks great with bw film. If you want a summitar look the 50mm 1.9 is a very close version to it. Collapsible as well but it won't fit into your P all the way. Also unlike the summitar the coating is harder and you can find versions with the front elements in much better condition. I like both, the 1.8 is sharper wide open and more contrasty the 1.9 is softer with lower contrast and smooth tones.
     
  11. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    If you are going to spend $150 on a lens you could probably get a Leica III ('c' probably) with a lens for $250-$300. But the Canon P may be a better idea anyway. And irrespective of it being a Canon lens the f/1.8 50mm would be my choice as well.

    Steve
     
  12. momus

    momus Member

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    I did a little shootout some time ago w/ an Industar 22, a J-8, and an Industar 61LD. To be honest, all were excellent! The J-8 was better wide open w/ creamy bokeh, but there was pincushion distortion on several shots that featured a horizon line or railing near the bottom of my shots. The 61LD was easiest to shoot because it had click stops and made very sharp photos (but not as good wide open w/ it's 2.8 aperture). The I-22 I liked the best. Really nice lens, and in a small package. With your budget, there's plenty of money to buy an I-22 AND a J-8. The I-22 for out-and-about shooting at larger f stops, the J-8 for lower light and close ups.

    Having said that, if I were to go back to rangefinders I'd look for a Leica Summar. Occasionally you can find them in your price range, or at the $200 mark. If the front element is not too bad and there's no haze between cemented elements, they're easy to CLA yourself (there's the usual black paint pieces floating around in there that flake off). A good Summar will give a Summicron a run at f4 and above, and I prefer its old time Leica lens signature. As stated, a good hood is mandatory on any of these.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2013
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    The 50/2 Nikkor H for the Nikon SLRs is a 6 element double Gauss type, and is excellent. The 50/2 Nikkor H-C for rangefinders is not the same lens, it is a Sonnar clone.

    Edit - As for the Industars, the I-50 is an improved version of the I-22, both are f:3.5 Tessars. The I-61LD is an f:2.8 Tessar using a lanthanum glass element for better correction.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2013
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  15. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    Keep in mind that some collapsible lenses hit the internal light baffling of the Canon P. I tried a Summar with one which knocked the rangefinder out of alignment. I'm not sure what lenses do and don't work with it. There are forum posts all over the place about specific combinations so it may be worth searching Google to check others experiences with that combo.
     
  16. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    I am pretty sure there is more variation between one lens and another in the same serie than from an I-50 and an I-22... If you can't collapse the lens in your camera for whatever reason, I would choose the I-61 (whatever flavor) or even the dispartaged I-26. Too both I-61 and I-26 are easier to use with a filter (try to change the I-50 aperture with a filter in place... :blink:).
     
  17. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    The Jupiter-12 has the same clever design. I haven't used mine in a while, but if I remember correctly, it's possible on that lens to apply a little lateral pressure to the filter and get the aperture to move---but still pretty tricky to see *what* aperture you're selecting! Did the original Biogon have the same feature, or was it a Soviet innovation?

    -NT
     
  18. Ken.Cartouche

    Ken.Cartouche Member

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    You know, it's funny that you mention the difference between those two Nikkor lenses. I had gone to my copy of The Nikon Manual earlier in the day to reference the specs page on the F-mount Nikkor-H 50/f2, and I noticed that it was a double Gauss design, and not a Sonnar like I had understood the rangefinder version to be. That double Gauss design is a Planar, is that right?

    I had known that the I-22 was a Tessar f3.5 clone, and I had known that the I-50 was an improved I-22 (though I'm still not clear on how it was improved), but I did not know that the I-61 was a Tessar f2.8. I've read that f2.8 is about the limit of the Tessar design, and that it's really better suited as a f3.5; does the lanthanum glass make an improvement on that?

    And, did Zeiss ever make a Tessar in LTM?
     
  19. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Actually the Planar (a trade name) is a dG. The dG can be traced back to a telescope objective designed by K.F. Gauss. The lanthanum glass Tessars can be very very good - another example is the f:3.5 version on the Rollei Ts, I had one that was really superb. But f:2.8 is asking a good deal of the Tessar design, regardless of the glass used. I prefer the F;6.3 Tessars for large format (such as the Commercial Ektars).
    The only Zeiss lenses (AFAIK) made in LTM were made during the war, they made the 50mm Sonnar(s) in a very small series.
     
  20. Ken.Cartouche

    Ken.Cartouche Member

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    You know, I think you're the first person I've ever heard recommending the Summar! All I've ever read (outside of Leica literature) has little good to say about the lens. Granted, no one has ever said, "This is a God-awful lens and I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole," but what they do talk about is low contrast, poor edge sharpness, and how there are other, better lenses out there. For that reason I've never really considered one. I may have to look at the Summar more closely, then, if it's in my price range.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Whenever you hear opinions on old lenses, take them 'cum mare salis'. Those lenses are not likely to be as they were when new. They may have haze (has no effect), fungus (also has no effect), cleaning marks (no effect), decentration (no effect, even though the front of the barrel is folded flat), or all of the preceding. And it's interesting how many fail to see these problems. I use old lenses from before the war - before the War to End All Wars, not the one after. A few light cleaning marks will have no discernible effect, but a fine network will spoil the definition beyond the ability of a hood to prevent. Haze is common, and can be surprisingly hard to see. Fungus affects the lens like a combination of haze and scratches, if it is ignored long enough it can actually remove the coating and etch the glass. Decentering is the result of dropping the lens, or taking it apart without knowing what you are doing. I will not buy a lens which shows signs of impact damage or careless/unskilled dis - and re - assembly.
    Also, don't expect old lenses to perform like modern lenses, they aren't and they won't. I used to have a prewar Contax with an uncoated f:2 Sonnar. Comparing that lens to my beloved f:2 Nikkor Hs, it wasn't that great. But looking at 8x10 prints of negatives I made under existing light in a machine shop, using Tri-X at 800, the old Sonnar was lovely and I wish I'd kept it.
     
  22. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    ...and later in the same post:

    I'm confused. Are you saying that they do affect the lens (second excerpt), or that they don't (first excerpt)? I feel I must be misunderstanding you somewhere.

    I agree with the general sentiment, though---you rarely know much about the samples of old lenses on which people are basing their opinions, and there are lots of different criteria on which to judge. One person's "soft" is another's "glowing", and whatever you call it, it works in some images and not others.

    Stephen Gandy says good things about the Summar too, IIRC.

    -NT
     
  23. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    It's sarcasm.:wink: Rather heavy handed at that.:laugh:

    Read some feepay ads, nothing seems to affect a lens' performance unless it's been squashed in a hydraulic press.
     
  24. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    If you are going to shoot people, the Sonnar clone from Nikon will be really good. It is optimized for closer focus. If you mainly want to shoot general things like landscape, the Canon 1.8 will be the best bang for the buck. If you want a modern sharp lens, the Voigtlander Skopar 2.5 is really good but it will cost you about another $100 or so I think.

    The I-50 is a nice lens, but I wouldn't want it for my only lens. I would skip all the old Leica lenses unless they are optically perfect, which just will never be the case.
     
  25. Ken.Cartouche

    Ken.Cartouche Member

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    Thank you for all of that. Don't worry, I'm under no illusions about the capabilities and limitations of older lenses. I wouldn't expect a lens from the 1940s to perform like one from last year. Even sparkling clean, they just won't be quite the same. And that's good, because I like older lenses because they give a look that I like. I enjoy shooting with older equipment because it makes my photos look the way I want. And because there's a certain, viceral enjoyment I get from the feeling of an old camera. For me, they're just more fun to shoot.

    I got my first Leica about 20 years ago. I was working in a camera store that allowed me to support my photography habit...er, hobby. I couldn't afford an M3 by a long shot, and I couldn't even afford a IIIf or a IIIc. The folks at a used camera shop let me have a IIIa with an uncoated, pre-war Elmar 50/3.5 at a price I could afford, and the service guy we used got it cleaned up and adjusted for me at a very good price. But the lens was always kinda low-contrast, compared to the modern SLRs I was used to shooting, and I sold it after using it for about six months, disillusioned with the "Leica mystique." I suspect now that the lens probably needed a good internal cleaning, and that, having had no previous experience with uncoated lenses, I wasn't taking the care that I probably needed to be taking to avoid things like flare. But even though I was generally underwhelmed with the photos I was taking with it, that little IIIa felt so GOOD to shoot. It had a...feel...that few cameras I've had since have had. My Nikon F came close, my Nikkormat FT2 is close, too, even though it's "modern" by my tastes, and my Zeiss Ikon 532/16 was also very much like it. As tiny as it was, my little Voigtlander Vito II folder from 1950 had an unmistakable build quality that was like that Leica, more so than the Vitomatic II I had that was made about 10 years after it. These old cameras just feel more right to me than any of the digital cameras in our closet, and I really love the way they render their images.

    I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent that I hadn't expected. Sorry. That's what happens when you start writing about something you love, I guess. :redface:
     
  26. Ken.Cartouche

    Ken.Cartouche Member

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    I love shooting people; they're so interesting! But, I also love shooting ANYTHING interesting, and that includes a lot of things that are NOT people. I'm getting the sense, though, that both of those lenses are good all-around shooters and that I would be happy with the results of either one.

    The Russian lenses seem like they're a bit hit-or-miss; maybe you get a good one right off the bat, maybe you have to try a few before you find a really nice one. I've got my (lens-less) Canon P, and I think I'm going to hold out and find either a Canon 50/1.8 or a Nikkor-H 50/2.0 that's in my price range. I've still got some cameras (and other items) that I haven't sold, so perhaps once I sell off a few more things my budget will increase a little.