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Alternatives

With 50mm lenses being the staple of camera world, you have one of the widest selections when it comes down to finding an alternative to Summitar. If you're after the old look and feel, then Leica Summar 50mm f/2, original Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 and its Russian copy Jupiter-3 50mm f/1.5, all in LTM mounts, would be the lenses to consider. The modern Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 in M mount, designed to replicate the old, 'classic', feel but with a much more robust coating is also a very interesting choice. Then there's obviously the numerous versions of Leica's ubiquitous Summicron 50mm f/2 and Summilux 50mm f/1.4. Somebody with a lot of cash to spend might want to even consider Leica's Noctilux 50mm f/0.95. Voigtlander's 50mm primes, such as Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Nokton 50mm f/1.5 LTM and Nikel Heliar 50mm f/2, are a much more cost-conscious options and have a fairly strong following among rangefinder users.

 

Recommendation

Leica's Summitar 50mm f/2 is, in my opinion, quite an interesting lens that deserves a consideration from someone looking to produce photographic look and feel of days past. It is a very unique lens in this regard that would probably frustrate many users looking for something generic. It is by no means a sharp lens - it reaches its best performance around f/5.6-f/8, but is a sub-par performer with wider apertures, specifically those of you looking for stellar corner performance should simply stay away from this lens. Lower contrast might also displease some users, although I found lower contrast fairly easily fixable with this lens in most situations. Tendency to blow out highlights and flare is a different story, and here you just need to be careful in choosing your composition angles and environments. Bottom line, with a price of ~$300, it is certainly worth trying out and if you don't like the rendering style of this lens, selling it back would not pose much problem and would not cause you any major financial loss since prices for this lens are fairly stable.

 

Sample Images