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Thread: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

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    75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I am looking at buying either a used 75mm Summilux or Summicron, and noticed that the prices for the Summicron are often more than for the Summilux. Is that because the Summicron is still in production and has more recent lens technology to make it more of a technically "perfect" lens?

    My main purpose is to use it for candid portraits in low light, so I figured the Summilux may be the way to go for me (I read the version 1 lens is especially nice for portraits)?

    I have the 90mm Elmarit but I think the 75mm might be easier for me to shoot with, and I am looking for a faster lens.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated (or if you have one to sell)!

    Thanks,

    Peter

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    Super Duper
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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Hi Peter,

    A bit short on time at the moment, so my response and comments will be on the brief side. The two lenses in my opinion are especially different in regards to portrait work. The Lux is ideal, especially when used at f2-f4 although it can be used wide open at f1.4 for a very narrow depth of field and a especially diffuse bokeh. At all these f-stops, the lens renders a beautful roundness, yet sharp enough for detail, without being overly sharp for portrait work and has a lovely bokeh. Truly wonderful to use for portaits. Once stopped down to around f4.5 and beyond for general purpose work, it's basically as sharp as most recent Leica longer focal length lenses. The Cron is exceptional too but if you think of the 50mm Lux asph, it's renders very similar to that lens...bitingly sharp at almost every f-stop (including wide open at f2 and is an ideal all-rounder in my opinion as opposed to leaning specially towards portait work at its more open apertures, as the Lux does. The Lux is of course big and heavy in comparion and prices fluctuate...but the Lux is a unique lens thats a bit different than many others and yet quite versitile. Anyway, I'm sure others will chime in with a more detailed comparision.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 2nd June 2011 at 07:21.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I had a 'Lux for a time in the 1990s. A superb lens, can't really get much better in my opinion. Unique imaging signature...

    I'm sure the 'Cron is superb too, and probably a lot lighter. Some day when I dump all SLRs and buy an M again... :-)

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    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    The 75mm Summicron is scary sharp in the plane of focus. I am truly blown away by mine, even if I don't shoot with it very often.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Thanks. I have the 50mm Summilux ASPH, which is also incredibly sharp. In addition, I just bought a Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 just for a different, softer look for portraits and love it (it is very sharp as well stopped down just a bit).

    I think I may go for the 75mm Summilux since I would prefer a more unique, softer look over perfect sharpness for my particular uses for this lens.

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    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Fair enough bear in mind, the 75mm Summicron isn't much bigger than the 50mm Summilux ASPH. whereas the 75mm Summilux, well, it is borderline unbalanced on the M9, let alone a film M.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I have both. I bought the summicron not long after it came out with the intention of selling whichever one I liked better. I have both still, because they are different enough to make it worth having both. As the others have said, the 75/2 is very similar to the 50/1.4 ASPH -- very very sharp, and there is almost no difference in character between the different aperture settings. This is not to say it is harsh -- it has a very lovely look as well, but it is quite neutral...it does not add or subtract anything from the scene in front of you. It is smooth and sharp and shows little vignetting, color fringing or crazy bokeh. It is compact and very easy to handle.

    The 75 summilux is a lens with more of a dual character -- it is softish and romantic when it is wide open, with a very classic look (but not the super softness of the oldest lenses like the summarits. It is still somewhat sharp wide open at the point of focus.), but when you stop it down to f/4, f/5.6 or f/8, it is as sharp as the modern lenses. This is nice, because it allows the lens to do double duty -- it is a painterly soft lens wide open, but a very modern super sharp lens at medium apertures. The biggest penalty for this is size and weight -- it is a rather heavy and bulky lens. Not much worse than a Noctilux or 90 summicron or 135 elmarit though. It works better with a Leica grip or built-in grip case, however. It also has some focus shift, which does not show up much on film, but is readily apparent on an M9...at least if you go looking for it.
    I would not really characterize it as a great low light lens however -- sure, it can be if you get everything right, but since the DOF is so shallow at f/1.4, and it is a rather long focal length, it is harder to get sharp shots at slow speeds than it is with a 50mm f/1.4, or especially a 35mm f/1.4 (the best low light lens in my opinion). It also has some color fringing wide open (more in the bokeh than at the point of focus), as well as some blooming (but this can look lovely...the sort of glowing bokeh). It is not a technically perfect lens, but that is why it's look is so nice. Based on what you are after, I would say the Summilux is probably a better choice.
    By the way, the version 1 and version 2 are identical optically, so don't base your decision on that -- just find a good copy. Additionally, I think the 75/2 is usually a better choice on digital, as it displays less focus shift and color fringing, issues which are less of a problem on film.
    Some shots:
    75/2:

    This will demonstrate the sharpness that you get with the 75/2...this is the 100% crop of the above photo. I believe it was around f/8 to f/11:



    And some 75mm summilux shots (all film)



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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Thank you. Now I am starting to wonder if the Summicron might be better because of the focus shift and fringing issue (I am using an M9). I am pretty sure I would be quite happy with either one.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    My take is that it is better for the images to be on the sharp side than not sharp enough. A little PP work can, up to a certain degree, create that softish look, similar to those taken with an older design, non-ASPH lens. But you cannot sharpen softish original files to look sharp without looking artificial. I know a lot of folks don't agree with that way of thinking and that's fine; to each his own. In addition, I like the close focus ability of the Summicron better. With that said, if you can afford both.... .
    Joshua - M9: Leica-M & Zeiss ZM lenses + Canon DSLR

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    Senior Member CharlesK's Avatar
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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    For portraits IMO the 75 Summilux. Stunning lens and very capable lens for portraits. I have both the 75 Summilux and Summicron AA, which I never intended to own both, but they are so different in rendering and with the present shortage, I decided to keep both, for now anyway

    The 75 Summilux needs to be an excellent copy and very well calibrated otherwise it will lead to frustration getting those sharp shots at f/1.4. The lens is still very sharp at f/1.4 but has the creamy Leica look. Stop it down to f/1.7 - 1.8, a much different lens. Then at f/2.8 a different beast. I am still learning how to use 75 Lux properly, as it is really one of those special lenses you hope to own.

    Both lenses focus to about the same MFD of 0.7m, a plus over the excellent 90 Cron AA.

    Seriously, you cannot go wrong with either lens

    Shots with the 75 Lux, at f/1.4






    Shots with the 75 Summicron AA, at f/2.0



    Charles Kalnins
    Tallai, Queensland Australia.

    http://kalnins.zenfolio.com

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    You may have already seen these, but here are some good reviews:
    http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/0...h-lens-review/
    http://www.shutterbug.com/equipmentr...ses/1005leica/

    I was in the same position and bought the Summicron, but havent used it enough to give any useful input. I also wanted it for portraits and liked that I could go down to 0.7m.

    The sample photos here are phenomenal!

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I don't really shoot portraits, so can't comment on that use - but I love the 75/2. It has lovely color and tonal balance, and aperture is only relevant to DoF. Nothing else is affected by stopping down or opening up. It really brings out texture, but not in a harsh way. There's a lovely softness and accessibility to the images without going overboard into romanticism or impressionism. At least on the M9. (This lens never really came into its own on the M8, and when I got the M9 I rediscovered why I loved it on the M6.)




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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I have both 75's, and won't give up either. For portraits I definitely prefer the Summilux. Yes, there is focus shift, but it is fairly small and it really hasn't been a problem for me.

    Henning

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I had the 75 Summilux for some years and sold it after using it parallel with a 75 Summarit for 2 years.
    Why I prefer the Summarit?
    smaller size,
    faster and more reliable to focus (the 75 Summilux focus thread is long and a little stiffer).
    Also I found f1.4 hard to nail focus and stopped down to f2 or f2.8 often anyways.

    I thought to replace the 75Summarit with a 75cron for some time because when using the 50asph (and the 75cron should be similar) I often feel like the clarity and fidelity is even one small step ahead.
    Specially the shorter focus thread (of the Summarit (and the Cron??) is helping to focus fast which is a big plus for portraits IMO.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Peter, if in that price range, you may as well consider the Zeiss 85mm F2 Sonnar ZM as well. Some samples from a recent Hawaii trip here - Kauai 2011.

    I've had both the 75's you mentioned and all the 90's. None of them really wow'd me, so for portraits I still prefer the Contax 100mm F2 Planar or the Zeiss 100mm ZE (as a second option). The Zeiss 85/2 Sonnar ZM is okay, but it doesn't have the "planar" look.

    Going along with Tom's post, I like the 90mm F2.5 Summarit if you can find a used one at the right price. Portraits are usually shot in conservative lighting, so the lack of a built-in hood isn't that big of a deal IMO.

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Seeing as you have the 50 Asph, I'd skip the 75 Summicron AA and Summilux and head straight for a 90 Summicron. Not the current Asph version but the version just prior to it.

    Apart from the different focal length, 75 v's 90, the Summicron pre asph has the best of both worlds, softer rendition (still sharp) from f:/2 to just shy of f:/4 but then from f:/4 onwards is as good as any modern AA lens.

    Budget price, last time I looked $800-$1200 S/H.
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    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Why skip the 90mm APO if it is in your budget? Just on the merits of having a 'soft' lens for portraits?
    I liked the 90AA for portraits when I had it in R mount, but it is phenomenal when you need something long and crisp to give a great three dimensional look. I owned both the 90 pre-asph and 90 asph in R mount. The 90 pre has inferior bokeh (from a technical 'uniform airy disc' perspective), more purple fringing and inferior resolution.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Good thread! I have a 90 cron pre-asph, and I have trouble focusing it. I may move down to 75. Debating between these two 75's as well.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    The Summicron 75/2 is one of my favorite lenses. However, there are no bad photographs with any lens posted above (90/f2, also). It's clear that other then the 75mm bit, they aren't real comparable, and each has it's merits.

    Cheers, Matt

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I'll offer a dissenting opinion.

    I have the 75 Cron and it's one of my least favorite lenses. The only area where I've found it interesting is for portraits. Otherwise it has always been just 'a lens' to me, without any distinguishing characteristics. I've come to expect something special from a Leica M lens, and of my five this one is the only one that has not lived up to my expectations. Don't take me wrong - it's not bad. In terms of raw optical performance it's quite good, just not special.

    The only exception I've found to that is for portrait use where it can be really really good. I'm however primarily a landscape shooter so I wasn't really looking for a good portrait lens.

    The claim that it's an APO is a bit over the top. It shows LoCA quite often. I've done some side by side comparisons with my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS MkII and the latter showed less CA at 75 mm, f/2.8 and onwards.
    Near MFD the contrast drops significantly and the bokeh is very neutral so it's not particularly interesting as a closeup lens.

    I've used it quite a lot as I've tried to find some use where I would like it. While I have not given up and I'm too stubborn to sell it, it's up to date the only lens I sort of regret buying - of 30 or so lenses.

    The 75 Lux - although I have not used it - seems to have exactly what I find the 75 Cron lacks: a character and a rendering style that is special in some way.

    Here is a pile of all the 75 Cron shots I've posted in the Leica image thread over at FM - sorted in more or less chronological order with the oldest shots first:
    75 Cron image heap

    So to summarize - optically the 75 Cron is a very good lens. I like it as a portrait lens but otherwise it did not quite live up to my expectations. Every other Leica M lens that I have is special in some unique way with the 75 Cron being the only exception. That doesn't mean that it's bad or unusable, just that I expected something more from it.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Denior, love your photographs in the 75 Cron Image Heap link!

    If given the opportunity I will own a 75 cron one of these days.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    For the purposes you state, search out a good copy of the 75 Lux and get one that's 6 bit if possible. I spent over a year finding mine ... a late model German with factory 6 bit coding. In the process of selecting a M75mm I also sent for, tested, and rejected 3 different 75/2 ASPH ... including a new one. All of them needed to be calibrated for focusing, and when focused properly felt to clinical for my tastes.

    So, I subjectively tend to agree with Denoir, and I do not agree that the 75/2 is like the 50/1.4ASPH.

    The 75 Lux has some of the properties of the Noctilux other than bokeh ... like excellent flair suppression in low light with bright areas of illumination or spectral highlights. IMO, the 75 Lux isn't just a portrait lens, it's an excellent pictorial optic with a range of characteristics rather than the same character at every f stop.

    It doesn't require being shot at a close distance to provide those characteristics either. When shooting really close I never use f/1.4, usually f/2 or higher ... but at f/2 shot close, the bokeh is beautiful. At a reasonable distance f/1.4, 1.8, and f/2 provide enough DOF and below f/2 gives you some additional shutter speed to work with in lower ambient when shooting at a distance.

    I use a 1.4X Mag for this lens and the Noctilux. I shoot various f stops depending on the subject and lighting and haven't experienced focus shift when doing so. There is some CA but it is the type easily corrected in post, and isn't any more apparent than with some of my faster "modern" lenses.

    Since there are plenty of good portrait examples posted, here are a few "pictorial" applications of the M75 LUX.

    -Marc

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Wow! Excellent photos, fotografz.

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    Marc,

    These (your images) are not only lovely photo's but illustrate more definitively that I've seen in a long time, exactly the way the 75mm Lux renders an image when shot at the it's open apertures (ie: f1.4 and f2). More times than not, I use this lens for pictorial use as opposed to portraits and I think for that use particular use (pictorial), it has few piers. When stopped down further, it becomes quite a different lens in character. Nicely illustrated!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: 75mm Summilux v. Summicron?

    I have and use both lenses . Really two aspects need to be considered in the context of what you shot and what other lenses you have. (1) Rendering..the character and IQ attributes are what we typically look at (2) Handling ..balance,throw,close focusing,form etc.

    I have had the 75 summiluxes since they came out and its a favorite for its beautiful color and smooth bokeh . Marc s images show exactly why the 75Lux is so well regarded . When you see a cloudy bright or slightly rainy day ...wow . You can dial in the amount of contrast required .

    I do think the 75 summicron is like the 50 lux asph (not quite as nice) but they were designed as a pair (unless my memory is shot). If you want stronger color,contrast the 75 summicron is superb.

    But its in the handling that decides often which lens sticks (gets used). The 75 S is small,light and has a short focus throw . Its a snap to focus quickly . With practice I could follow focus on a person running diagonally across a street . For street work its very nice as it is small.

    The 75L is large ,heavy ,balances poorly and is painfully slow to focus . Like a Noctilux .

    Its really about what and how you shoot as which lens works best ....both are great optics. I use the 90 summicron asph more because I always have the 50 summilux asph on one body . A nice working set is the 21 or 24 summiluxes ,the 35 asph and the 75 lux . Those three on a rainy day are magic.

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