A Lens with Qualities

Diffraction stars at f/3.4. Wait, what?

Diffraction stars at f/3.4. Wait, what?

Uh-oh!

En route to a workshop in Neuss, I went by the Leitz-Park again.

En route to a workshop in Neuss, I went by the Leitz-Park again.

In the Leica Store on the premises, they had a used Summarit-M f/2.5 50 mm that I couldn’t resist buying. It is the old version with a different lens hood than the current one and a different take on the open aperture. Same optics, I believe.

f/4.0

f/4.0

In the focus plane (or slice, if you’re so inclined), it is sharp without fail.

f/3.4

f/3.4

If there is a wide distance between subject and background, bo’keh can be quite pleasing. There is not such a sharp transition (the Leica “Pop”) as with the 35 mm Summicron. It’s more like it’s easing into the out-of-focus areas.

f/4.8

f/4.8

Same goes for front bo’keh.

f/2.8

f/2.8

With a continuous transition and high contrast, bo’keh can get ugly, too. On the other hand, I wonder if I can get it to swirl? We’ll see …

f/3.4

f/3.4

This one took me by surprise. It is the shot which you see at 100% in Lightroom in the screenshot that makes the lead image of this post. When have you last seen an aperture star at f/3.4? Looking into the lens from the front, one can see that even stopped down only one f-stop, edges between the aperture blades appear. No effort has been made to round them out.

So, first impressions: the Summarit M f/2.5 50 mm seems a traditional optical construction like in the Mandler era with modern sharpness added to the focal plane.

I’ll try and do some more pictorial examples this morning before the workshop starts. Stay tuned.

So, back from my morning constitutional:

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The lens produces vastly different qualities of bo’keh, all at f/2.5. It’s an enigma! Stop it down to about f/4.0 and it pulls in detail that surpasses the Monochrom’s sensor. Plus, in high-contrast scenes (the steps), it saves a lot of highlights and shadows. In a word: quirky!

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