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LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm Guide
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Leica has made the superb LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2 lens in several iterations since 1953. It has always been the reference against which the rest of the world judges lenses.

Here is a compilation to all the various versions, first as a summary table, followed by a chronicling exposée.

Click any image to enlarge, or to go to its specific detailed review. See the individual reviews and my LEICA 50mm SUMMICRON basic information for more technical details, and see below the table for a discussion.

 

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Janaury 2014     More Leica Reviews       Leica Lens Reviews

 

Anno
1953-1960
1956-1968
1956-1968
1969-1979
1979-1994
1994-2013
2013-
  LEICA 5cm f/2 collapsible LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2 50m DR Leica 50mm f/2 50mm SUMMICRON Leica 50mm f/2
 
Hood
Latch-on A42
Latch-on A42
Latch-on A42
Latch-on A42
Latch-on A42
Built-in
Built-in
Street name
Collapsible, Type 1
Rigid, Type 2
Dual Range, DR, Type 2
Type 3
Type 4
Type 5
Type 6
Mount

M39 screw

M bayonet

M bayonet

(M39 screw is rare)

M bayonet

 

M bayonet

 

M bayonet

 

M bayonet

(M39 screw, rare, made in 1999 only)

M bayonet

 

Made in
Germany
Germany
Germany
Germany, later Canada
Canada, later Germany
Germany
Germany
Color
Chrome
Chrome
Chrome
Black
Black or Chrome
Black or Chrome
Black
Infinity lock
Yes
Yes
no
no
no
no
no
Focus
Button and thin ring
Button and ring
Ring
Ring
Tab
Ring
Ring or tab
Optics

7/6

unique

7/6 neue

same as --->

7/6 neue

<--- same as

6/4

unique

6/4 neue

same as --->

6/4 neue

<--- same as

8/5

ASPH Floating

Performance
Very good
excellent; high-resolution
<--- same as
higher contrast with less resolution then before
extraordinary
<--- same as
Diaphragm
10 blades
10 blades
10 blades
10 blades
8 blades
8 blades
Close focus
1m
1m
1m and 478mm
0.7m
0.7m
0.7m (1.0m in M39)
0.7m
Collapsible
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
Filter
39mm
39mm
39mm
39mm
39mm
39mm
39mm
Weight
216g, M39 Screw
234g, M Bayonet
251g
339g + 53g finder attachment
200g
195g

242g, black
335g, chrome
325g, M39 screw

300g

 

See also: LEICA 50mm SUMMICRON basic information

 

1979-today: LEICA SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2

1994-today

LEICA 50mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2. enlarge.

This is the current model SUMMICRON, made of anodized aluminum. It also comes in chrome-plated brass.

It adds a built-in telescoping hood for the first time in a 50mm SUMMICRON.

 

1999

LEICA 50mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2, M39 Screw Mount. enlarge.

In 1999, a special silber chrom screw-mount version was sold only in Japan. It is the highest performance 50mm lens ever made for Leica's screw-mount cameras.

 

1979-1994

50mm SUMMICRON

The -M was added to SUMMICRON to differentiate it from Leica's discontinued "R" SLR system.

This lens is the first to employ today's optical design.

It has a focus tab instead of a focus ring.

Early versions are made in Canada, and later ones from about 1991 are Made in Germany.

 

1969-1979: LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2. enlarge.

This lens uses a simplified 6-element design.

It has similar overall performance to the previous version, with lighter weight due to its mostly aluminum body.

It has higher local contrast in exchange for lower overall resolution.

It was made in Germany, and later in Canada. It is a performance bargain used, selling for only about $400.

 

1956-1968: LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2, Rigid. enlarge.

This SUMMICRON has a slightly revised optical design from its collapsible predecessor, still with 7 elements but with superior performance.

This non-collapsible, or Rigid, version came in both screw and bayonet mounts.

It is made from aluminum.

 

50m DR

LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2, with near-focusing range (shown without near-focusing attachment). enlarge.

The bayonet mount version also came in this special version with an additional near-focusing range, which required an included auxiliary viewfinder attachment.

This version with the near-focusing range is made of solid brass.

The rigid bayonet version, with or without the near-focusing range, was wildly popular.

 

1953-1960: Collapsible LEICA SUMMICRON 5cm f/2

LEICA 5cm f/2 collapsible

LEICA SUMMICRON 5cm f/2, Collapsible. enlarge.

This 7-element lens was first introduced for screw-mount cameras like the stunning LEICA IIIf, and also available in the new bayonet mount for the LEICA M3 starting in 1954.

This, as all SUMMICRONS, was very popular.

The only caution about shooting or buying this great lens today is that its front element is made of glass as soft as chalk, and most have been damaged by careless cleaning over the years. It is very unusual to find one that passes the flashlight test.

 

See also: LEICA 50mm SUMMICRON basic information

 

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November 2010