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Alternatives

The good news about the Leica system is that there is a ton of alternatives available for pretty much all focal lengths. And 50mm has probably the widest selection. Start by taking a look at other Summicron 50mm variants - if you/re looking for a low contrast lens, than the first generation Collapsible Summicron might be of interest to you, otherwise go for the latest generation (Type 3 or Type 4) Summicrons. Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZM is an excellent lens that competes with the current generation Summicron head to head. Another possible option is the Summilux 50mm (current or previous versions) as well as Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 50mm f/1.5 ZM (somewhat of a specialized lens, created to reproduce the look and feel of fast lenses from 60s and 70s, so it would be an interesting lens to compare against the Rigid Summicron). Voigtlander also offers a number of good 50mm lenses, including Nokton 50mm f/1.1 and Heliar 50mm f/2. You might also want to try older screw mount lenses, including Leica's own Summitar 50mm f/2 (the precursor to the Summicron lineup) as well as Summarit 50mm f/1.5. Voigtlander's ASPH Nokton 50mm f/1.5 is also an excellent lens, and is a bargain compared to many other choices. A more exotic, but also risky option would be to try out one of the old Russian 50mm Sonnar copies like Jupiter-3 50mm f/1.5 or Jupiter-8 50mm f/2 (finding a good quality copy, however, would prove the hardest part here).

 

Recommendation

I kind of already gave out my personal feeling about Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 Rigid, but let me reiterate it here again - the lens is certainly an interesting choice for anyone looking to reproduce the aura of days past. It is a prime example of the generation where photographers were more than happy with lenses that were not ulra-sharp and ultra-contrasty throughout the entire aperture range. While not quite a slouch in pure resolving capabilities, with decent center but super weak corner performance at wide apertures, Rigid Summicron would not stand a chance against modern lens samples like Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZM or Leica's own modern Summicron Type 4 (again, in terms of contrast and resolution at wide apertures). The lens is prone to flare and you would make a wise choice by investing in a lens hood. Overall, however, the lens would be a nice addition to someone who already has a general purpose 50mm prime and is specifically looking for a lens with 'softer' touch. If used as a general purpose 50mm, the Rigid would require moderate amount of post-processing work to bring up all the detail it hides at wide apertures,,and hence is probably not a good candidate for mainstream users these days, considering the plethora of other choices.

 

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