Leica coatings: when did they get better?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by msbarnes, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    OK so this is probably not a simple question.

    I'm interested in some Leica lenses but I fear that finding clean samples of some lenses that I want is going to be more difficult.

    I have a Leica 50mm f2.0 DR Summicron (late), 35mm f2.8 Summaron, and 90mm f2.8 Elmarit. They are all more or less fine in terms of haze/fungus/scratches. Were these coatings "soft"?

    I am looking for a collapsible 50mm but I wonder clean samples are more difficult to come by. I'm interested in the Summitar/Summicron/Elmar. Were those coatings worse than the lenses that I own?
     
  2. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Rough date of better lens coatings was just before and during ww2.
    Summitar generally have softer coatings and as a result it's hard to find copies that don't have some cleaning marks.
     
  3. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Rough date of better lens coatings was just before and during ww2.
    Summar (some were uncoated)/Summitar generally have softer coatings and as a result it's hard to find copies that don't have some cleaning marks.
     
  4. Farkle-Mpls

    Farkle-Mpls Member

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    I read somewhere (Putz?) that Zeiss developed more sophisticated lens coatings during WWII but those lenses were mostly reserved for military applications. Coating of lenses didn't become popular in the consumer space until after WW II and I believe Zeiss held the patents for those -- later taken by the Allies as part of war reparations. Because of that Leitz -- in Germany (and somewhat ironically) -- couldn't use those proprietary coating techniques until sometime later. Now ... all this is based off memory from a posting a read a couple years ago so take it with a grain of salt, unless someone can validate it.
     
  5. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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    The DR 50 should be fine as long as you don't see existing problems; check for separation (in the rear). The Summarits were problematic as were the collapsible Summicrons. The 90 Elmarits I've seen have a nice durable coating.
     
  6. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I wouldn't say worse, but softer. The Summitar has a reputation for having quite soft coating that can come off apparently quite easily.
    The Summicron (collapsible) has a soft front element - I've seen many, many examples with lots of scratches.
    I think the Elmar has soft coating too, but I'm not sure.

    In my neck of the woods, many lenses I come across are hazy. Even if a lens can be cleaned, dealers just don't want to pay to have it done. I'm not sure if that's a worldwide trend, or just here in Japan. At any rate, in my experience generally the older the lens, the harder it is to find a clean example.
     
  7. jochen

    jochen Member

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    The anti reflex coating was indeed developed by Zeiss (Smakula) shortly before WW II and in parralel by Kodak in the U.S. Both patents were classified as military secrets. Large U.S. warships has their own high vacuum "coating equipment" onboard for the re-coating of the optical gun direction equipment and the rangefinders as the coatings were very soft and not resistant against the rough environmental conditions. The Summitar (as well as the Xenon/Summarit) was in production during and after the war, the older lenses were uncoated, after the war since about 1948 they were single coated (blueish shine). Zeiss Jena began to coat their lenses e.g.for the Rolleiflex about 1948 too. Most lenses of that day had front lenses from rather soft glas types. In the following years also the coating layers became more resistant.
     
  8. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Hi

    Leitz did not use the Zeiss hard (or similar) coating process for some time, they used a softer coating process, and some of the optical glass types they used were soft.

    Don't think Leica went to a hard coating until '50-60...

    Many type I Summicrons and 3.5 Elmars are badly scratched, but if you use a hood this is not terrible unless you are a collector. The area of scratches is small (normally)... The collectors put a large premium on boxed kit, waste to take it out and use it...

    If you are a shooter most people use a CV LTM or M lens anyway, if you wanna collect pay the money, if you only want to shoot dont.

    Ive touched the asph apo 5cm, nice lens, but could you tell the photo was taken with one?

    Noel
     
  9. philipus

    philipus Member

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    My 10-blade Summitar is from 1950 and is single coated I believe. Also the Hektor is from 1950 and has the same blue coating.
    [​IMG]
    Still it handles flare rather well, if pushed.
    [​IMG]
    I think the Summitar is one of the better deals out there for fast light-weight screwmount lenses. They're comparably inexpensive and easy to find in quite ok condition. I use my Summitar as much as I use the 50 Asph and have never noticed that the coating would be soft. I don't even have a cap or a filter on it.