Another vote for the Summitar. It's an amazing lens and quite reasonably priced.
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"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera".
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Originally Posted by MDR
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
Don't rule out the Canon RF cameras. The L series(L1,2,3) were similar sized cameras but had a lever advance rather than knob.
Heavily sedated for your protection.
Leica thread mount lens buyer's guide:
Stay away from Russian lenses.
My recommendation would be a coated post-war Elmar.
This lens is much easier to find in clean condition than a Summitar, Summarit or collapsible Summicron, which are often plagued by haze, scratches and coating damage. Stopped down a bit, the Elmar is a very decent performer.
Bigges drawback are the ergonomics (aperture ring).
Modern collapsible alternatives are the CV Heliar 3,5/50, which has excellent optical qualities, but is difficult to find, as it was a kind of limited edition item. Another very compact (but rigid and relatively heavy) alternative is the CV Skopar 2,5/50, which is infamous for its sample variation (I can testify from personal experience). A good copy is a decent performer, but nothing spectacular.
There are more rigid alternatives, but they are big/heavy, like the Nokton 1,5/50, or almost impossible to find (= expensive) because of their scarcity like 1999 special edition version Summicron/Summilux in M39 or the first rigid Summicron in M39.
This is a blanket statement made without a single supporting piece of evidence to back it, and is thus not very useful.
Originally Posted by mnemosyne
There are plenty of people, as even the most cursory search will show, who have had no significant issues in their use of Soviet LTM lenses. The limitations are well-known, and certainly they are not without some degree of risk (which can be mitigated by purchasing from a trusted source, as is the case for any used equipment), but they are not universally poor by any stretch of the imagination.
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Continued thanks and serious food for thought.
Summitars are softish at 2 and 2.8 as we most lenses of the era. The performance is superb at 5.6 and 8.
3.5 red scale elmars are also nice stopped down. Mine performs better than my two Summitars at 3.5 and 4. It is the most collapsible Leica lens.
Summitars have odd filter threads so you need an expensive adapter or dedicated Summitar filters. The lens shade is a big barn door one or you have to cobble something. Try heavystar on ebay.
All tend to be foggy and have soft coatings.
The big question is whether you believe (like Dante Stella) that the Soviet focusing helical dimensions were slightly different from Leica's, or (like Karen Nakamura) that it's just sample variation and a good Soviet lens is dimensioned correctly. It probably does make sense to do some testing of specific lenses with specific bodies in any case.
Originally Posted by 02Pilot
My own experience with them has been good, but the only Soviet lens I've used much on a Western body is the 50/2.8, where a slight difference wouldn't necessarily be obvious.
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You are quite correct that, if one is planning to use a Soviet lens on a non-Soviet LTM body, individual testing is the best route. I tend to accept Dante Stella's argument (I seem to recall among his sources documents detailing the specified dimensions), though the nature of Soviet QC makes it difficult to know anything for sure.
Originally Posted by ntenny
Let's not forget that the OP was also talking, at least initially, about collapsible lenses, and that no specific body (Soviet or non-Soviet) was mentioned. Given that the only Soviet collapsibles are the 50/3.5 I-22 or I-50, any minor focus variation should be a non-issue regardless of the body.
lots of slid advice here, but have you considered a rollei 35 or a kodak retina iic/iiic?