Black and White Photography · film photography · Leica Camera · Lens Review · Rangefinder Camera · Vintage Camera

Summitar 50mm f2 – To Keep or Not to Keep

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I have been having quite the experience with a Leica IIIF I purchased from KEH. To get the whole story you can check out these articles here. In the meantime, I had purchased a Summitar 50mm f2 collapsible lens for the IIIF.

At first, I was using my Canon LTM lenses with the IIIF until I could figure out if it was a camera I wanted to own in my collection. Despite all the troubles I was having, I eventually knew I would want one in my collection. Whether that would be from KEH or somewhere else is a different story for a different article to come.

Summitar 50mm f2

I’ve been searching for a Leica screw mount lens for a while now, and I read that it wasn’t easy to find one that didn’t have fungus or haze, and the glass tends to be extremely delicate on these older LTM lenses.

I regularly kept an eye on KEH, but the LTM lenses they had were always graded with their Ugly grade. That meant it was in rough shape and couldn’t be returned. So lens after lens I passed on until finally a Summitar 50mm f2 collapsible lens came up with a bargain grade. I couldn’t pass it up.

Keep in mind, I bought this before the issue with my IIIF was discovered so literally as the lens was coming in the mail, I was returning the first copy of the IIIF I got from KEH. Again you can read those details in other articles.

Canon 7 Ilford HP5 400
Canon 7 Summitar 50mm f2

I started to get really discouraged and had to really decide if I wanted one of these cameras. If not, would I keep the lens and use it on my Canon 7, or just send it back?

When it arrived, I was thrilled to see it was in beautiful condition, and the glass was clear. The only issue was the aperture was extremely stiff, which I read is common with this lens. However, after researching, I decided to wipe a small amount of Ronsonol in the crack between the aperture and the lens barrel. This immediately loosened it up.

Now I know this is only a temporary fix, and the fact that it was stuck in the first place means it needs a good CLA. However, after all the time and money I’ve put into this setup, its just not an option at the moment.

Canon 7 Summitar 50mm f2

Should I Keep the Summitar 50mm f2?

So to keep or not to keep? Once I developed this test roll, I immediately fell for this lens. The depth of field, and softness it seems to give its subjects is not like anything I’ve ever seen with lenses I own. It seems to be a vintage look that only a vintage lens can give, or maybe I’m just blinded by love haha.

Canon 7 Summitar 50mm f2

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Canon 7 Summitar 50mm f2
Canon 7 Summitar 50mm f2
Canon 7 Summitar 50mm f2
Canon 7 Summitar 50mm f2

Final Thoughts

In the end, I’ve decided to keep this lens. After experiencing the difficulty of finding one in this nice of cosmetic condition, I wasn’t willing to send it back. I love how compact it is when compared to the large Canon 50mm lens I was using before, and as I mentioned, I love the character it brings to a composition. So, for now, this is the lens that will live on my Leica IIIF.

What do you think of this lens? Do you have a favorite LTM lens? Let me know in the comments.

To buy your own Summitar 50mm f2 from Ebay click here.

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7 thoughts on “Summitar 50mm f2 – To Keep or Not to Keep

  1. Wow those photos turned out great! I’m just getting into film photography and I keep reading about old lenses having character. After seeing these photos I understand what they’re talking about. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but they’re all very lovely.

  2. My favorite LTM lens is a Canon 50mm f1.4. It takes beautiful photos and shares 50mm duties on both my Leica iii and M5. I also have a trio of FSU lenses: Industar 50, 61L/D, and 26m. The 61L/D is the winner of the FSU lenses just because it has a clicked aperture ring. I also have a 35mm Summaron, but it is badly in need of a CLA.

  3. I’ve been shooting 3 different 50’s on my Leica iiia. The lens that came with the camera is a Leitz Xenon 50mm f/1.4. It is in beautiful condition, low contrast and soft at the edges. Once stopped down it is awesome. Wide open the center is beautifully sharp and stopped down the edges are sharp too.

    I also have a Canon 50mm f/1.4. I love this lens, sharp and contrasty, a bit soft on the margin wide open, but one stop and it is also beautiful. A bit larger than the Xenon but they both weigh about the same.

    My last 50 is the same lens you have a Summitar 50mm f/2. Mine is in mint condition, but I paid $550 for it. I love the collapsable feature, it makes the iiia a pocket camera for me.

    Honestly; the out of focus/bokeh is most pleasing on the Canon. It is a fantastic lens and the cheapest of the 3. I paid $250 on eBay and it is in mint condition. From what i’ve read the Xenon is a bit rare. I’ve only seen two on eBay, one is trashed and in the UK (~$1000), the 2nd copy is in very good condition (~$1800) in Korea (I think).

    I have shot all three adapted to my Sony a1 and if you’re interested I can sent you examples.

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