Lens for M3
I have recently purchased a Leica M3 with the hope of finding a small unobtrusive camera for candid and general street photos. This one is SN 854238 one of the last double stroke versions.
The camera is beautiful and a real pleasure to work with (although I am having to get used to the smaller negative size). The problem is the Summicron f2 50mm lens that came with the camera has a lot of scratching on the front element; so much so that obtaining a sharp image is compromised.
I am hoping you rangefinder folks could help steer me on what strategies I should pursue.
1. Are there reasonable alternatives for finding a replacement front element for an older lens such as this?
2. What make/model lens would you folks recommend should I replace the entire lens? I am hoping to stay within a budget of $500 - $750 per lens.
I really appreciate you taking the time to consider this question.
May I ask if you are using a sunshade? An older Summicron in good shape has a tendency to flare. The other option is to have it CLA'd. See The Rangefinder Forum for references, and opinions, on polishing and recoating services.
Cosina Voightlander LTM lenses are great bargins and fine optics. See the Camerquest site.
Thanks for the reply, Frank.
Originally Posted by fpjohn
I do NOT currently have a sunshade on this lens, and therefore have been careful with light direction. My problem is that the scratching on the front element is really visible when you open up the lens to f2 and look through it.
I will check out the Rangefinder Forum.
I have ugly lenses, visible coating marks, scratches, etc. that perform well.
Yours may be ok. Are you satisfied with prints from negs taken in open shade?
Even the current Summicron 50mm/2 can be had used but realy Minted at your highest limit of 750$. They usually go for 750-820$ in tha condition, but some patience will pay off finding it for about 750$.
Here on APUG I saw very rarely Leica stuff being sold, however on RFF (ranegfinderforum.com) often godo quality RF stuff is selling, and the 50mm'Cron isn't that rarity there for quite reasonable pricing.
I picked my Summicron 50mm/2 (current version) there for 775$ which I consider very reasonable given its nealry Like New condition.
Photo.net Leica board may also have thing to offer, but prices there are usually somewhat higher..
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An often overlooked 50mm for the Leica is the Elmar f/2.8. I believe it outperforms the Summicron at comparable apertures, and is quite compact when collapsed. Unfortunately, enough people do appreciate this little gem to keep the price up.
With some lenses, the elements are part of matched sets, so simply swapping out the front element will cause more problems than it corrects, because the lens will no longer focus at indicated distances. However, I don't know if this is the case with the Summicron. You might want to contact Leica.
You could try to re-polish the front element. In theory, it slightly alters the shape of the element, but it might be your best best.
Your other option is to simply replace the lens.
My own experience with cleaning marks is that they tend to lower the contrast -- often noticeably -- in the center of the image. If the cleaning marks are really bad, they can degrade sharpness, which seems to be the case with your lens.
ADDED: I also agree that the Cosina Voigtlander lenses are incredible bargains, if cost is a concern.
Last edited by elekm; 02-04-2007 at 06:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.
You also might talk to John Van Stelton at Focal Point- http://www.focalpointlens.com/fp_intro.html. If the scratches aren't too deep he can polish and coat the front element and clean the lens. It would cost less than what you are thinking of spending and could solve the problems you're having. He did a Dual Range Summicron for me and it's now a jewel.
Reply to Frank
I am NOT happy with the lens performance as yet. It has a "soft" look on the negatives which I have attributed to the scratched front element.
Originally Posted by fpjohn
The scatches appear to be much deeper than what I would call cleaning marks.
Thanks for great comments.
I really appreciate the great comments from all. You have given me a lot to go on.