I would perhaps try a Summitar. I've been shying away from Leica LTM lenses because they're more problamatic in regards to haze/fungus and most agree that Japanese LTM's are usually safer in this regard.
The Nikon lens that I own is more than decent for me; I just have this this curiosity in trying out a Leica lens. I will, eventually, just not now unless I get an incredible deal. Leica LTMs still interest me so I may go that route, and from a reputable seller.
That's a good idea. Most of my Leica glass was patiently obtained at good prices but with moderate issues. i.e. my Summitar has a tiny amount of coating separation on the edge, no affect on performance that I can see and I got it for a song. My 'cron DR some boob crossed the threads in screwing the front on. It made the preivous owner create a new mark for where the f/stop is but it has zero affect on performance. As mentioned it's one of my all-time favorite lenses and I got it for about 40% less than most Summicron DR's go for.
Originally Posted by msbarnes
Sit tight and watch and good bargains will come along if you're not looking for collector's peices.
If the Nikkor is clean, keep it. You really aren't missing out on anything. I used to have a Summicron with my M3 but I moved on and I don't miss it. Frankly between the two i would rather have the Nikkor. I have several 50's now but I use two old Contax Sonnars, one coated and one uncoated, with an adapter. Basically the same as the Nikkor. The Summitar that Thomas mentioned is a nice lens too.
Remember that the limitation lies within not without.
I think a Summicron is something everybody should try if they have an M Leica. The point is you will never know for sure if you don't. I would recommend a newer rather than older lens, so you can at least experience the maximum available from a great lens at all apertures. Older Summicrons are less contrasty and not so well corrected, which can be good, but for that sort of look I would say a Summitar is king.
My Summitar is a 1946 coated example with a coating mark on the front element that I don't believe makes any difference to the image. But it has an amazingly weird yet attractive bokeh wide open, and gives a really nice gentle look to modern contrasty colour film like Ektar. It may or may not be 'better' than the Nikkor (I think a later Summicron would be) but they are real character lenses. Get a cheap Summitar-to-39mm adapter from Ebay to use modern filters and lens hoods.
A collapsible 50/2.0 Summicron came with the M3 I bought back in the mid-1990's. It's like most fast lenses of that era, a tad soft wide-open sharpening up nicely as you stop down. I really don't consider it to be a "special" lens and it doesn't give my pictures a "special" look. Actually, I rarely use it now, much preferring my LTM Canon 50/1.4 or my 50/2.0 LTM Nikkor.
I have a Summicron 50/2 and I can't say that it has changed my life... photographically speaking. It is just not the decisive factor in my creating a photographic print that I like. Don't get me wrong, it is a great lens and I really like how it renders low-light scenes. However, I wouldn't feel as if I were missing out on anything if I were to replace it with another lens.
You might also consider the Zeiss Planar T* 2/50 ZM lens - very comparable to the Summicron but much more affordable.
It's been many decades since using a 50mm Nikkor LTM. It seemed good at the time. A five element 50mm f/2.8 Rokkor was better. My 50mm F/1.4 Canon isn't very sharp wide open. It's better to use faster film and a Summicron.
i usually tell people that just about every lens made for the better cameras around are really really good, and that Nikon should be.
Think of it this way: If Perfect is 100, then the lenses made by leica and nikon in the 1050s were probably 95 or 96.
Modern computer generated optics are probably 98 or even 99, but that's still an awfully small difference. The difference between that Nikon and a Summicron might be less than you imagine since, if they were made at the same time, the Leica optic probably was assembled using Leica's famous tree-sap glue (really!) which may not have aged as well as whatever Nikon was using.
When pondering the difference between a lens that rates 95 and 96, keep in mind that the quality of the glass is only about 5 perent of the deciding factor of whether your images are any good. You are the other 95 percent.
So, go shoot, and be at peace.
I had a couple Leica M3s. I had, or had the chance to use, Summicrons, Summarits, Summitars, Elmars, Canon LTM via adapter, and a couple I've forgotten. They didn't make my pictures one bit better. Just put a lens on the thing and take pictures.
Originally Posted by mhanc