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Alternatives

Depending on whether you view the C Summicron 40/2 as a normal-ish or wide-ish lens, your selection of alternatives will vary to some extent. Either way though, you should start first by taking a look at Minolta's discontinued Rokkor 40mm f/2, which is effectively a direct copy of C Summicron. Another option is the current version of Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4 (single coated or multi coated). For wide angle options, take a look at the usual suspects like various versions of Leica's Summicron M 35mm f/2, or Summilux M 35mm f/1.4. Carl Zeiss Biogon M 35mm f/2 as well as Voigtlander Nokton 24mm f/1.2 and Nokton 25mm f/1.4 are other possible options to consider. For 50mm options, lens choice is even wider, with Leica's current versions of Summicron 50/2, Summilux 50/1.4 and Noctilux 50/.95 and Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 50/1.5 and Planar 50/2 being the most popular alternatives. Voigtlander's Nokton 50/1.1 and Heliar 50/2, as well as the now discontinued Nokton 50/1.5 LTM would round up the options.

 

Recommendation

In the otherwise overpriced Leica world, I am rather surprised by the fact that C Summicron 40mm f/2 has remained unnoticed for so long. Overshadowed by its 35mm and 50mm versions, this lens has, for no good reason, remained a poster child of sorts in the photographers' community. In real life, C Summicron is a fairly good lens, certainly as good as the twice more expensive 50/2 Summicron Rigid. The lens delivers very solid image quality on APS-H camera - while borders are a little bit soft at f/2 it is no worse than with most other fast 35mm lenses out there. The two main weaknesses, flare and some color fringing should not be a major issue in most real-life situations IMO. That leaves the rendering style - I can't really say that C Summicron awed me in any particular area here, but it did not really leave me with any negative impressions either. Overall, a solid every-day work horse that leaves in the shadow of much hyped and over-priced modern Leica lenses. Get this lens if you manage to find a good copy at bargain prices - if nothing else, I think the price for the 40mm C Summicron is due for correction.

 

Sample Images