35mm R lenses

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I have recently bought a 80mm Summilux lens and I am enjoying it very much - have not had enough use out of it yet to comment on its performance, but it is a beauty to use. I am now thinking that a 35mm lens would go very well with this. I am thinking Summicron-R, but I hear good things about the 35mm Summilux-R and a wider aperture is always nice. Anyone have any comments on either of these lenses? The downside of the Summilux is its large size (it is the same as the 80mm 'lux). I hear from some quarters that the 'lux is the sharper lens. The 80mm is such a beauty I might be prepared to go for the 'lux, despite its size and weight. The Elmarit is good, but too slow for me.

Any comments on this dilemma 'cron versus 'lux? Thanks.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), July 23, 2001



I use Nikons for my SLRs, but if you don't mind some opinions, here are mine. I switched from the 35mm f/2.0 Nikkor to the f/1.4 model, and I never regretted it. Here are some of the benefits:

Focusing- Unlike a rangefinder camera in which a f/3.5 lens focuses as easy as a f/1.4, the viewfinder of the SLR works better with the fast lens. This is especially true as you go down from about 50mm, where lenses start to have deeper depth of field. The faster lens has both a brighter finder and less depth of field, so focusing for me is more precise with the f/1.4 lens... even if you are shooting at f/5.6.

Filters- I like to use polerizer filters, and when you consider that at maximum filtration rotation, you can loose over two stops of light, the faster lens still gives you a brighter finder to work the composition.

Low light / selective focus- I use my lens at f/1.4 a lot. It is very clear that the intention is a sharp subject within a soft environment. With slower lenses, or when the faster lens slightly stopped down, there is enough residual sharpening that the intent might not be clear... Not everything is sharp, yet it is not quite blurred, and the picture just looks slightly soft overall. If I can't go to f/5.6 and get some deep focus, I shoot wide open to make the main subject pop from the background for a more effective shot.

Hand holding SLR vs. Rangefinder- With the lack of mirror slap and other mechanical actions, I recon I can hold the rangefinder camera one stop slower than the SLR. Therefore in terms of real world handholdability, the fast SLR lens puts my handholding on a par with my M6 and 35mm Summicron.

One good thing about the Nikon is that it is the same size and uses the same 52mm filter as the slower lens, so the only factor was the price doubling for only one f-stop. I put it off for years, but since I have lived with the faster lens, I would never go back to the slower model.

-- Al Smith (smith58@msn.com), July 23, 2001.


I think I agree with you a priori. Being Leica, the Summilux is heavily (over) engineered so I need to look at both lenses to decide which I prefer. I am intrigued that the Nikon 1.4 has only a 52mm thread - the Summilux is 67mm! - from this I might assume that the Nikon design has greater vignetting - who knows??? Mind you the 'lux is a floating element design - is the Nikon? This may require a larger front element. Interestingly though this is the same filter size (67) as the 80mm Summilux, so the two lenses were perhaps designed to be a pair. The Canon and Nikon 85mm/1.4 equivalents have 72-77mm filters if I remember rightly. The Summicron 35mm has 55mm filters. Thanks for your thoughts!

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), July 23, 2001.


Yes the Nikkor f/1.4 has floating elements, (Nikon calls this CRC for close range correction), and while the lens is about the same size as the f/2.0 model, it is much heavier, containing a lot of glass. I have not found the vignetting to be a problem. I even shoot at f/1.4 outdoors with my 1/8000th shutter, and the sky doesn't look too dark. This lens does have a bit of field curvature at f/1.4, but I make it work for me, giving the illusion of even less DOF than the a flatter field lens. The peripheral area falls farther behind the plane of focus.

If you think the Leica lens is big, look at the new series L Cannon EOS 35mm f/1.4... it is huge and has a 72mm filter ring.

-- Al Smith (smith58@msn.com), July 23, 2001.

I have owned four 35mm R lenses: 35/2.8 E55, 35/1.4, 35-70/4 ROM, and 35/2 E55. I sold the 35/2.8 when I got the zoom as it was only 1 stop faster and though the zoom has a bit more distortion it is sharper and more contrasty than the Elmarit. I bought the 35 Lux thinking it would complement the 35-70/4 in the same way my 35/1.4ASPH complements my Tri-Elmar, that is, for night photography; however, the performance of the R version wide open is nowhere near the M-ASPH, and the size and weight of the lens are almost as much as an M body + 35 Lux ASPH, so I sold the R lens. I stil wanted a faster 35 for the R system, so I purchased the 35 Cron, which is really a nice all-round lens. However, I do not plan to own an 80 Lux (my 90/2 suits me fine)but if I did I would buy the 35/1.4 to have a standard filter size and because it would give me access to the fastest apertures available in the R line. In my case, should I ever decide to get a super-speed R lens (doubtful) I would most certainly get the latest version 50 Lux, which offers truly outstanding performance wide-open, outclassing both the 35 and 80.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), July 23, 2001.

Yes, the Nikon is small with 7 elements I think, the 'lux has 10 I think and the Canon L has 11. But the Leica is still the heaviest by a 100g (3.5oz). The Nikons and Canon focus to 12 inches, the Leica only to 19 inches (the Summicron focusses to 11.5 or thereabouts). Of course Leica stuff is still all metal and brass and includes a sliding lens hood which I really like. The 'lux had better be good! I will have to try them out.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), July 23, 2001.


Thanks for your helpful thoughts. I agree that the 50mm 'lux is great and this is tempting, but I would have to buy new and that is expensive. Also, when I use the 80mm I feel the 35mm is perhaps a better match. The 50mm seems too close. I think the M-ASPH is a phenomenal lens and wish it was available in R-form.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), July 23, 2001.

Robin, the 50/1.4-R ROM is $1428 @ deltainternational.com just now, which is only a few hundred more than a used 35/1.4. As far as the spread of the focal lengths, I agree. With an 80 your're better off with a 35 in tandem. Personally I'd sell the 80 and go with just the 50...but in fact I made another decision, which is to always take one M6 with the 35/1.4 for night photography even if I am carrying the R system.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), July 23, 2001.

A personal view is that the M6 with 35 Summilux asph. is unbeatable if you want a 35 lens. I use it 90% of the time (in preference to a 50 or 90).

Why settle for much inferior performance by using a 35 Summilux R lens? None of the 35 R lenses have good reviews in terms of great image quality. I know the "theoretical" reviews are not definitive and "in use" is the real test. I acknowledge also, however, that if you need precise composition, for uncropped colour slides for example, then reflex is the way to go. (M finders are good but not absolutely precise). The latest 28 R lens is reputed to be great, but again, not quite up to the M versions.

How about an M6 with the 35 Summilux asph. plus an R body with 28/2.8, 50/1.4 and the new 135/2.0 Apo(gotta be on the way)?

How about I sell my house to pay for it all.

-- wayne murphy (wayne.murphy@publicworks.qld.gov.au), July 23, 2001.

Thanks, Wayne and Jay

Well I am loath to buy an M6 and Summilux-ASPH for $3000 odd right now. I have a CL, but again the 35mm ASPH is still a bad price and I would have to use a viewfinder to get accurate framing. I am indeed largely taking slides and so I do want accurate framing. I also tend to dislike carrying two systems around with me - this inevitably leads to two cameras around the neck at once etc, which makes me look even more intimidating than I do already. I already have a 28 Elmarit-R and it is indeed excellent.

Wayne is overstepping the bounds of reason to imply that it is impossible to take great pictures with any 35mm-R! They might not be the ASPHs, but until the early '90s Leicaphiles the world over have been going on about how great the non-ASPH 35mm-Ms are. The Summicron-R is of a similar vintage to these and I therefore suspect that it is still an excellent lens by any reckoning. The 'lux-R might indeed be better than the 'cron-R according to some reports I have read from LUG.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), July 24, 2001.

In my experience the 35/1.4-R is not better than the 35/2 or 35/2.8, the only real differences are the maximum apertures. The 1.4 does tend to vignette more at 2 and 2.8 than either of the others. The 1.4 requires less stopping down in the near-focus range due to the floating element design; however recognize that the closest distance on the 1.4 is 0.5m versus 0.3m for the 2 and 2.8. Bottom line, get the Summilux *only* if you will be shooting it wide open a lot of the time. Otherwise save about $500, get the Cron.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), July 24, 2001.

In the end I bought a nice 35mm Summicron-R from Ebay at a good price. If I really need the 'lux I will have to get it later. I will try to get to like the 35mm focal length now....

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), August 13, 2001.

Has anyone had any experience between the two versions of the f/2.0 Summicron-R? My primary 35 is a pre-ASPH Summicron-M but I would like to pick up an inexpensive 35 R and the early version would work on both the SL and SL/2.

I'm especially interested in any differences in color rendition.

-- Bud (budcook@attglobal.net), November 02, 2001.

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