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New Leica Heritage 50mm 1.2

tcdeveau

Well-known member
This is interesting, a new 50mm 1.2 from Leica based on the old one:


there's a black one for $7700 shipping in mid-feb and a silver edition one limited to 100 copies that comes in at a whopping $16.4k....that might take the cake for the most expensive still lens currently produced on the market today.
 

Shashin

Well-known member
This is just an odd thing to do. Leica bills itself on state-of-the-art optics that are the best in the world, yet they release an old design that in the 60s was excellent, but now rather pedestrian. I get nostalgia, but I am not sure the price reflects the benefits of an old optical design that would be cheaper to produce today. But I guess that is where the market is for them.
 
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D&A

Well-known member
Will, not specifically regarding the just announced Noct...but Leica has many legacy lenses that are extremely well noted and highly regarded for the way they draw and most of them are anything but state of the art in optical performance. These lenses are highly sort out and their prices have risen, some to astronomical levels. This Noct is one of them. Another is the made over many years, the common 1st version of the 35mm f2 summicron, called the 8 element Cron. It has a very appealing and well known signature. Until a few years ago a nice sample was maybe $700.00. Many have now reached close to $3000.00 and more. A large number of these unique optical signature lenses were designed by the famed Leica optical designer Walter Mandler. He passed away in 2005 and many of his designs are revered. He could have made even more perfect lenses (didn't use computer design), but his goal was excellent performance but with an artistic signature. Currently Leica's chief optical designer is Peter Karbe and he has a completely opposite philosophy regarding optics. His objective is to make the best, state of the art performing lenses possible (almost at any cost). I could imagine if both were co-heads of Leica's optical department at the same time....they would each have a sword in their hand and dual after 10 paces. That's how different their philosophy is/was with regards to lens design and ultimately how the lens performs and draws. Which one goes down in Leica lore as the greatest, can be debated.

Anyhow, an unknown company in China approx 14 months ago announced they were going to make a replica of this lens (the 8 element cron), which was originally made from 1958 -1969...right down to the original flint glass and other element glass, near identical optical and mechanical design and at a introductory price that was remarkable. There was a delay due to the pandemic but they came through. Mechanically it was a near carbon copy and optically was similar but differences could be detected. Still much of the optical signature is there upon side by side tests. During the recent 4 months, minor changes were made such as evenly spaced aperture number/clicks on the aperture ring (as in the original) and a tweak to the optical formula. This was one of the lenses Leica should have reproduced since many original samples suffer from etched glass and fogging...and yet Leica embarked on two previous lenses for their classic series that not a lot of people wanted. Even this Noct is not known for its unique optical signature but mostly for its rarity in numbers.

Anyhow, this was the 1st time a company outside of Leica that I know of, where a company made a near replica, not only optically but in the unique design of a Leica lens including the focus lock of years yore. I have no doubts Leica got wind of this highly sort after replica lens. Now the same company of this replica lens hinted they were next going to make a replica of the Leica 50mm f1.2 ( the one Leica just announced) and possibly at the $1000-$1200 price point. My guess is Leica took notice and decided to beat them to the punch knowing how well a job they did with the 8 element cron. Many including myself, said if we didn't know, we would have thought the 35mm f2.0 8 element replica cron. was actually made by Leica....as the fit and finish and optics were nearly identical. It's introductory price was $500! Many dealers then scooped up as many of the replica's as they could and were pricing them at $1000, $1200, $1500 and higher and still quite a few sold (up to the present) at these higher prices. So that's what is supposed to be behind Leica's classic series but so far, I believe they missed the mark by a very wide margin by their poor choice of lenses that most want as users.

Just an aside...I've already posted some images from this lens in the Leica forums but as we all know, many times unique optical signatures don't readily show up at web sized images and with regards to that, the ones I posted were taken at f5.6 and f8 where this lens performance is similar to any modern day high level performing Leica/3rd party 35mm lens. My image in the Leica monocrom section titled "The Pearly Gates"? was one such image taken with the replica lens (probably at around f5.6).

Dave (D&A)

P.S. Additional comments regarding Walter Mandler's use of computers in optical lens design is posted in a few posts below>
 
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Paratom

Well-known member
I think it is cool Leica does this. Would I pay this amount? Probably not. But it can be fun.
I do have a lot of fun with the 28/5.6 which is also an old design but I really like how it renders and the compact size.
The Thambar is too special/extreme for my taste.
 

SrMphoto

Active member
This is just an odd thing to do. Leica bills itself on state-of-the-art optics that are the best in the world, yet they release an old design that in the 60s was excellent, but now rather pedestrian. I get nostalgia, but I am not sure the price reflects the benefits of an old optical design that would be cheaper to produce today. But I guess that is where the market is for them.
I think that people are increasingly looking for lenses that are different, not optically perfect.
 

Shashin

Well-known member
I think that people are increasingly looking for lenses that are different, not optically perfect.
Possibly. And there are certainly Chinese lenses out there as well as companies like Lomo, Lensbaby, and Meyer Optic. When you consider that these Leica lenses are expensive, even in terms of Leica prices in general, it is odd that no one is advocating for these cheap lenses, even ones from Zeiss or Voightlander. I seldom see photographers generally at GetDPI, and especially on the Leica forums, lamenting that their lenses are too sharp wide open, particularly in the corners, and that they miss spherical aberration. I mean, I see no rush on ebay for 1970s Vivitar optics. :eek: (BTW, what ever happened to Spiratone...)

I understand nostalgia and also a desire for something special. Still a bit much to drop $16K or even $7K for an old lens design. However, Leica has identified a market, even if it is limited demand.

I have nothing against this. I just find human behavior fascinating.
 

D&A

Well-known member
Ah...Spiratone...used to head over there regularly in my youth. When one had little funds for their photography, they always had something interesting to experiment with :)? Will, you're right, many are not clamoring for vintage 1970 optics in general (except for Leica and some other specific lenses) but Leica users maybe more than others, do seek out lenses that have a well defined optical signature that's not just mediocre optics with lots of Sa and other aberrations, but has a attractive mix of certain aberrations, performance characteristics and secret sauce that present an attractive if somewhat vintage look, often emulating vintage photos from bygone eras. Any old lens won't do. Many test out vinatge lenses from many eras attempting to identify such lenses and thus certain ones get a reputation...such as the Carl Zeiss (CZ sonnars) pre and post war. Again more often than not, its the rangefinder users that are most rabid about these finds and enjoy using them.

Getting back to 1970 Vivitars, the very 1st generation of their Series One lenses were something very special and are still sort after. Some reported to be made by Kino optical. Their 70-210 f3.4zoom was out to be the first telezoom to challenge single focal length lenses. Additionally their original 90mm f2.5 with 1:1 adapter was quite remarkable. Then there was their 135mm f2.3, 200 f2.3 and the astonishing 35-85mm varifocal zoom lens that at certain focal lengths, was maybe produced some of the sharpest highest resolution images in the 35mm format. Their fame at the time was well deserved. There were many others in this 1st generation of Vivitar Series 1 lenses...some excellent and some run of the mill for their time. Sadly as the years went on, the name was slapped on many lenses that really were no different or better than other 3rd party lenses at the time. For a long time, those original Series 1 lenses were sort out till the early 1990's until digital SLR's revealed typical weaknesses such as an abundance of CA and other optical flaws. Even when producing sharp images, some of these lenses had an identifiable look or drawing that was both striking and pleasing.

Lastly some of the lenses like the original Leica f1 Noct., the 35mm f2 8-element summicron and quite a few others, were more in the category of this newly announced 50mm f1.2 Noct. somewhat groundbreaking at the time for optical performance when stopped down a bit but in more recent times for the look of the image they produced when shot wide open or stopped down a bit. It's simply an artist looking for a brush that produces unique brush strokes with the same tubes of paint so that their image can evoke a look of a subject that's both appealing and different than those taken with an optically perfect lenses.

Will, one difference is some of these lenses rangefinder users seek out, often time even now a days are very low in price. Its when word of mouth gets around and people for any number of reasons scoop up good samples, the price rises to the levels we see and then lenses like this 50mm f1.2 are marketed at these astronomical prices.

I realize all I wrote here in this post is well known to most of us.

Dave (D&A)
 
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bensonga

Well-known member
A large number of these unique optical signature lenses were designed by the famed Leica optical designer Walter Mandler. He passed away in 2005 and many of his designs are revered. He could have made even more perfect lenses (didn't use computer design), but his goal was excellent performance but with an artistic signature.
Dave (D&A)
If it is true that Mandler did not use computer aided design for his lenses then this entry in Wikipedia should be corrected.


Gary
 

JoelM

Active member
He definitely used computers in his work though the software was very rudimentary in his day. I have a few Mandler lenses and they are special to me.
Joel
 

D&A

Well-known member
Gary & Joel,

From my understanding and past discussions (as I've had a long time interest in optical development as it related to telescopes and photographic lenses).....I believe in his earliest optical work for Leica, much of his optical computations were not computer aided and certainly not as we know it today. As time progressed, he did become a pioneer in using computer aided design for many of the lenses he designed but as Joel mentioned, it still was rudimentary by today's standards and certainly not what's available to Peter Karbe (referenced above).. I should have clarified these facts in my original posting and appreciate both your pointing this out. Additionally I added a "P.S." to my original post referencing these most recent postings related to this matter. Thanks!

Dave (D&A)
 
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tcdeveau

Well-known member
In case you wanted to pick up the silver version for $16K, you missed you opportunity. Apparently they are sold out and collectors are trying to buy the purchased lenses for up to $32K.

The Limited-Edition Leica Noctilux May Have Already Doubled in Value
There was an original silver one that just hit eBay:


1.174 million dollar asking price....but you can make an offer :)
 

D&A

Well-known member
There was an original silver one that just hit eBay:


1.174 million dollar asking price....but you can make an offer :)
I think even more important, is that it comes with free shipping. It's a bargain if you ask me! :)
 

D&A

Well-known member
But the insurance is a bear, let alone the tax...
Well sadly we needn't worry about any of those factors any more...it's no longer available. The boat has sailed! I knew we shouldn't have hesitated when we had the chance :).

Dave (D&A)
 
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