50mm f/1.4 Shootout

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

Popular Photography Feb 1999 issue tested 50mm f1.4 lenses from Canon, Zeiss Leica, Minolta, Pentax, Nikon etc. The best 50mm f/1.4 lens was Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4 lens, followed by Leica Summilux-R 50mm/f1.4. Both these lenses achieved a maximum resolution of 95 lpmm. Canon EF USM 50 f1/4 81 lpmm, Pentax FA 50/1.4 80 lpmm; Nikkor D-AF 50/1.4 was surprizingly low at 72 lpmm, Minolta Maxxum AF 50/1.4 67 lpmm.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), July 07, 1999


Perhaps this is a confirmation of my dissapointment with the AF-D Nikkor 50/1.4 that I used to own. Normal lenses are my most used lenses but I felt that the 50 lacked punch. Nowadays I'm spoilt by the CF80 standard lens for Hasselblad, the center sharpness of that lens from f2.8 + = is magnificent! I'm looking into the Leica M with summicron 50, would that lens have more punch than the Nikkor in "real picture taking"? (for me it's B&W to 90%).

-- Peter Olsson (peter.olsson@lulebo.se), November 26, 1999.

Yes, the Nikon is a dog until you stop it down to f4 or 5.6. They really should cal it a 2.8. The Summicron f2 Leica lens is outstanding from wide open. You will see a huge differnce at full aperture compared to your Nikon.

-- Henry Ambrose (digphoto@nashville.net), January 14, 2000.

I believe that the Leica R 50/1.4 tested was the old version. A new one is out and it is substantially better, probably the best available. And at the price it had better be.

-- Alexey Merz (alexey@webcom.com), January 17, 2000.

Surely the contrast is also a significant aspect of how "good" a lens is, as well as the colour balance and other values? Sorry to repeat the obvious...

-- Robert Appleby (laintal@tin.it), January 22, 2000.

AMEN! I'm fed up with the over-emphasis on resolution. To paraphrase Leica's response to these tests: "that's fine, if you want to go around shooting optical test targets."

Resolution, contrast, correction (and many other factors) have to be balanced in lens design. Emphasis on one of these factors only comes at the sacrifice of the other factors.

The only important criteria is how the final rendition pleases the human eye. I think Leica, in most cases, has struck a good balance.

-- Ken Shipman (kennyshipman@aol.com), May 26, 2000.

Well, two years after I asked the follow up question above I got my own Summicron 50, a lightweight 1970 one, so not the current version.

I have since reevaluated the Nikkor and I think it is a fine lens. It would have been my most used Autofocus-lens if I had kept it. However, I like the Summicron much more. In black & white it has a special quality that is hard to describe. I have used it a lot to take pictures of indoor horse-back riding in electrical light. Even at F/2 it gives a pleasing image quality. The images don't scream "SHARP AND CONTRASTY IMAGE". However, they strike a very good, should I say "balance"?. Yes, I think "balance" is the best word I can come up with for the moment. Nothing, good or bad, sticks out. The difference between in focus areas and out of focus areas is noticable but still pleasing. The Nikkor images look "harder", as if a subjects natural smoothness hasn't been recorded.

Yesterday I had my first accident with the Leica. I took an embarrassing nosedive while cross country skiing and the lens shade became packed with snow. Thankfully I had a UV-filter on and nothing seems to have been scratched or broken.

-- Peter Olsson (peter.olsson@lulebo.se), April 08, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ