When did Leica resolve lens fogging issue?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Hawkeye, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    I’m looking for a summicron or elmar 50mm for my M2.

    I’d prefer to stay away from lenses that may have fogging issues. I’m assuming at some point in time the fogging issue was resolved. True?

    If true, what serial number (date) should I look for to avoid lenses that may have, or might get, lens fog.

    Thanks,

    Mark
     
  2. AgX

    AgX Member

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    What is lens fogging?

    Condensation of fumes out of the grease used in the lens barrel?
     
  3. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    May be true, however, I have seen fog on other brand lens also. I don't know Mr. Gandy, but he does have an incentive, shown by his additional statement :
    "Now a good case can be made for the inexpensive current production Cosina Voigtlander lens lineup. "

    That said, I would rather have a lens without fog or haze. It sounds like if you have or come across an older lens without fog, it isn't likely get fog so it may be worth considering.
     
  5. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    Any lens may develop internal fog if stored in poor (damp) conditions. I own all the iterations of the 50mm Summicron M and cannot say that any one has a greater tendency to fog (apart from greater age). The position with Elmars is different - this is a Tessar-type (4-element) lens, Leica chose to place the iris diaphragm right behind the first element instead of between elements 2 and 3, this lens, especially in the f2.8 version, is notorious for fogging due to evaporation of oil from the iris. I have scrapped two examples over the years because of this, the very latest version may be better (no experience of this).
     
  6. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Never seen one w/fog & I've seen a lot of them f**ked up with damage to the front elements.
     
  7. Mackinaw

    Mackinaw Member

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    Oh they get cloudy. My old 50mm collapsible Summicron (1954) was so cloudy when I bought it you couldn't see through it. As somebody mentioned above, it's probably due to outgassing of the lubricants. The good news is that most haze is easily cleaned. I had my Summicron cleaned and it's now one of my favorite lenses. As to when the fogging stopped, probably in the 1960's I'm guessing, though you can argue that it's probably still going on, if the outgassing theory is true.

    Jim B.
     
  8. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I would stay away from 50's Leitz lenses - I have had lenses with the 'etched glass' problem - it still cost $100 to get them taken apart and cleaned to no avail. The problem is no recent discovery and has been known for (at a minimum) 20 years.

    You may find a 50's Elmar/Summicron/etc. that doesn't exhibit etching but it is a matter of time and humidity until it does. Not all lenses used the glass formulations that were prone to etching but the early 50mm f3.5 and f2.8 Elmars were a real problem.

    The 80's Summicron is probably the best buy if you want Leitz glass. I am rather blasé about Leitz optical performance: I can't honestly tell the difference between an 80's 50mm f2.0 Summicron and a comparable Nikkor - even with TechPan and a resolution target. There is nothing wrong with the Summicron, but just about all major 50mm f2.0 lenses are superb performers. OTOH, if I look at the build quality between a Summicron and a Nikkor (or any other modern lens) there is no contest: the Summicron wins by miles.

    The advice to seek Cosina/"Voigtlander" lenses is good advice if you are going to use the camera for making photographs and are looking for the best bang for the buck.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2009
  9. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    What you say about the risk of fogging is true, although I have not had any lens develop fogging after a CLA. However, what 50s Leitz lenses have going for them is great resolution and field coverage together with significantly lower contrast, which I personally like in color transparencies. I reserve my latest-model Summicron for b+w, where I find I need to downrate film even further than the usual 1/2-stop and cut development more than I do with other equipment (such as 80s Nikkors and view camera lenses ranging from 1950s to new). I find that the combination of a new Summicron and high-saturation color film gives screamingly high contrast.
     
  10. phc

    phc Member

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    This thread subject sounds like one of those "When did you stop beating your wife?" questions.

    What fogging?

    Cheers, Paul.
     
  11. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    Eh? Assuming you are serious - the fog which many lens users cannot see, which is not apparent if you view a lens by reflected light (light source on the same side as your eye) but which is revealed in its full definition- and contrast-sapping horror when you shine a torch through the lens, and which takes quite a few $$$ to get rid of. If you use only modern equipment and store it correctly, lens fog will hardly be a problem, but if you like to explore the qualities (which are many) of older lenses, you will soon find out what lens fog is!
     
  12. T42

    T42 Member

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    Hi Paul.

    Seemed a bit way out at first glance to me too.

    My 1952 collapsable Summicron 50mm f2 had a bit of fogginess when I bought it used in 1999. A trip to Sherry Krauter at Golden Touch in New York and it is clear again. It may be that the fogging was from lubricant outgassing or some such as mentioned upthread. I like the images that come from the lens, especially with people.

    As to the overall performance of 50mm f2 lenses in general, I cannot tell a lot of difference between the Summicron, a Nikkor H, and a Jupiter 8, all of which I use regularly.

    Henry
    F, F2, M3, Kiev 4a
     
  13. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    Outgassing occurs with petroleum based greases mostly.
    The modern lythium based greases have a lot less of that.

    Peter
     
  14. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Yep. I've used '50s lens for 40 years, no problem. Seen lots of old lenses with no problem. Some lenses (made by EVERYBODY) have a tendency, after many years, and possible storage issues, DO have the inevitable degradation of the lube.

    Linking the issue to Leica lenses, however,
    is due in part to the Internet Echo Chamber,
    and Rabid Leica Deniers.
    .
     
  15. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    df cardwell: try to read it as it was written: in general terms.
    If been into repairs and photography for the past 35 years and have seen a lot of lubrication problems, even with Leica's.
     
  16. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    It wasn't a lubricant problem. Only a minority of lenses suffered from it. And it was due to the glass formulation used. Early 50's Elmars were quite prone.

    That isn't to say that Leitz lenses don't also have fog problems from lubricant and general atmospheric crud, as do all lenses.

    The lubricant fog can be cleared away, the fog due to glass problems can't.

    It seems most fog problems in Leitz lenses are due to lubricant and few people have seen the glass problem.
     
  17. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    For me the difference is in the bokeh.Nikkors are more prone to 'cross-eyed bokeh'.
    The 50 2.8 Elmar is one most inclined to etching but the elements are available and can be replaced.
    Mark
     
  18. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Is there a way to tell the difference?
     
  19. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    I have one 50 2.8 Elmar with a ghost image of the diaphragm blades etched on the inside of the front element
    Mark
     
  20. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The one way I know is you pay a large sum of money to have the 'lubricant fog' cleaned off and find out that it isn't and can't be.
     
  21. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    I can only repeat what I said earlier, based on my current ownership of 5 prewar f3.5 Elmars, 2 Summars and 3 Summicrons (different vintages). I have also owned 2 or 3 Summitars in the past.

    Nuimerous examples of the above exhibited haze on internal surfaces, which was cleaned off at reasonable cost by my usual repair service, Newton Ellis of Liverpool, and has not returned. If any lens is left in a dirty state for too long, the haze may attack the glass and cause pitting, which can be dealt with only by a major stripdown (separating lens groups), regrinding, repolishing and recoating. This will almost always not be cost-effective.

    However, the only Leica lens with which I have experienced this problem on a systematic basis is the f2.8 50 mm Elmar, which, as I said, has its iris diaphragm located immediately behind its first element instead of between elements 2 and 3 as is usual with Tessars. The fogging I have experienced with these lenses I attribute to vapors from the iris lubricant - the fogging seems to be promoted by storage of the lenses on a camera which is lying down with the lens facing upward. Both the examples of the f2.8 50 mm Elmar which I acquired (as part of job lots) were pitted so badly that I simply had to throw the lenses away. I have not experienced this problem anything like as badly with Summicrons of a similar vintage or even Summitars, which are older.

    I have had a problem with mold with 135 mm Hektors - since these are available cheaply, I chose to discard a couple of poor examples and look for better ones rather than consider repair. The only Leitz lens which suffers from serious glass deterioration as far as I know is the f2 Summar. This lens is also often found in poor condition because the glass is soft and does not withstand cleaning.

    In short, I wouild say avoid 50 mm f2.8 Elmars - major risk of problems. There is no reason to avoid 1950s Summicrons, these may need at most a straightforward clean and have lower contrast than their modern equivalents, which gives interesting results particularly with color. The modern Summicron-Ms seem to have been recomputed in the days before high-saturation color film so that amateurs could blow their friends' socks off at the camera club with the "superior" quality (higher micro-contrast) of their pictures - with b+w, the contrast of a modern Summicron needs a lot of taming with extra exposure and reduced development.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2009
  22. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    I agree with Nicholas fully.

    One thing I would like to add: when you buy a used lens you don't know its history.
    Leitz has been using the highest quality greases and lubricants over the years, expensive stuff, verry expensive and verry good.
    If a lens needed a grease-change due to sand/grit and that was done by an independant repairman that didn't use the propper grease, you
    will have a problem sooner or later.

    Peter
     
  23. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    Yes, but ...

    a) Grease needs to be replaced as part of normal servicing, not usually because of sand or grit but because it hardens and dries out with time. The service interval could be anything from once every 5 years for a professionally-used camera to once every 40 to 50 years for a camera subject to light amateur use.
    b) Independent repairmen (at least the ones I use) do use the right materials! The difference in cost between the cheapest and most expensive grease in the quantity needed for one lens is TINY!

    If you buy a lens on e-bay or elsewhere, you will of course ask the seller whether the diaphragm is working smoothly. If it is, no problem - if it isn't you either factor it the cost of servicing or find another lens. The whole point I am making is that 1950s Leitz lenses can be perfectly usable and offer picture-making possiblities that other lenses don't!