Which R 35 Summicron is really best

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I've read a lot on the lists about various 35mm lenses for the M cameras but not as much about the 35mm lenses for the R system. I own the current version of the 35 f2 but have heard good things about the first version and the 35mm 2.8 Elmarit. Can anyone compare these lenses and the 35 Summilux? Remember, we are talking about R lenses.


-- kirk (kirktuck@kirktuck.com), May 15, 2002


I have owned and used both versions of the 35/2, the last 35/2.8 (E55), and the 35/1.4. There seems to be a lot of difference of opinion about these lenses. Erwin's compendium gives a very confusing report on the current 35/2- R, it's hard to tell if he thinks it's better, worse or the same as the 1st version, but what is clear is that he is not heaping praise on either, as he does on the current 35-70/4. This is in conflict with just about every other review or comment I've ever read about the current 35/2-R and certainly in conflict with my own findings, and I own the 35-70/4 also.

In my experience the 1st version 35/2 is almost the equal of the second version, with just a tad lower contrast and a tad greater tendency to flare with point sources. Likely this is due more to the coatings than the optical design, which seems to have been redesigned more for weight reduction than optical improvement. In addition to being somewhat heavier, the 1st version takes a clip-on hood and 48mm filters making it ergonomically less convenient. There is a substantial cost differential and if you don't shoot it wide open in daylight with color slide film the second version offers virtually no image-quality advantage.

Think of the late version (E55) 35 Elmarit-R as a current Summicron-R minus the f/2 stop and half the weight and bulk and cost, and you've got a very accurate description of what I consider to be the best value in that focal length across all manufacturers. The only reason I sold mine for a Summicron is the R (including R8) screens are so grainy that the extra stop makes focusing much easier for me.

The 35/1.4-R is a huge, heavy lens compared to the Elmarit and significantly larger and heavier than the 35/2. It is almost identical to the 80/1.4 and seems to use most of the same barrel parts. At f/1.4 there is significant vignetting and field curvature especially in close range. It falls way, way short of the 35/1.4ASPH- M lens. My lens also tended to suck in dirt like a Hoover. I sold both the Elmarit and Summilux for a Summicron, which I feel is the best overall compromise between size, cost and performance.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), May 15, 2002.


How do you compare the 35 f2 and the 35-70 f4 shot at f4? I have the zoom and think it's great, but have been thinking about a 35 prime when I need the extra stops. Though to be honest, I think the zoom with a 50 lux makes the perfect small walk around R kit.

-- Mark (acerview76eus@yahoo.com), May 15, 2002.


The focal lens of 35mm is a technology display for Leica.

According to the R7 book by Arthur Linn, the fast lens are noted a bit lower than the less fast lens. However, 35/2 becomes very similar to 35/2.8 at ... 4

Keep your lens, buy some fim and have fun. Xavier.

-- Xavier d'Alfort (hot_billexf@hotmail.com), May 16, 2002.

Mark: At f/4 the 35/2 is equal in sharpness and contrast to the 35- 70/4 but without the very slight distortion evident in the zoom. Also the 35/2 can be polarized, which is almost impossible with the zoom at close range at 35mm unless you handhold a larger one in front of the lens.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), May 16, 2002.


I owned a 35mm Elmarit (first version) and liked it a good deal, but it was not up to the equivalent (first version) 50mm at f2.8. The current Elmarit is better I understand. Personally I would always take the Summicron as it is a stop faster and for a standard-type lens speed is always nice to have - particularly when there is no performance debit. Jay's experience of the 35 1.4 is interesting, as I have heard that it is superior to the Summicron at f2-2.8 and particularly close up with floating elements. I think it is a better lens than the original Summilux 35mm M, but of course is not as good as the current ASPH. I handled the lens and it is huge, but is very nice to use on the camera - it woudl be great on an R8. Certainly I think that the 80 and 35mm Summiluxes would be a great two lens kit for the R. I didn't buy one in the end as it is still expensive and I was not looking for more weight to carry. As Jay says it is pretty well the same size as the 80mm. I like the current Summicron 35mm very much - it has a beautiful imaging qualities. Are you unhappy with yours?

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), May 16, 2002.

Apropos above comments. Of course the current Summicron 35 is not as good in the corners as the current 50mm Summicron either at f2.8...

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), May 16, 2002.

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