Black and White Photography · Leica Camera · Lens Review · Rangefinder Camera · Riding In Cars Series · Vintage Camera

Riding in Cars with Film – the Leica Summitar 5cm f2

In my quest to find a working Leica IIIF, I shared my thoughts on the Leica Summitar 5cm f2, and my decision on whether or not to keep it. I did end up keeping the lens because of the difficulty I had in finding one that wasn’t in horrible condition, as well as the compact design being perfect for my needs.

Recently I’ve started to lean a little more towards the 50mm focal length while shooting from the car. This triggered a new quest to chose a 50mm lens for my Leica M mount cameras because my M6 is the camera I mainly use from the car. Then I saw prices and that quest ended quickly.

the Leica Summitar 5cm f2
Leica M6 Leica Summitar 5cm f2

However, it wasn’t over. After a conversation with Johnny Martyr, he gave me a ton of great information on different lenses as well as opened my eyes to the world of adapters. He pointed out that I should try the Leica Summitar 5cm f2 on my M6 because of the light and compact design, plus I already owned it!

the Leica Summitar 5cm f2 on my M6

After reading Johnny’s article on adapters, I was able to chose which one was best for me. I chose the older Leica adapter because that would allow the focus ring to still lock in place. Once it arrived from eBay, I put it on my Leica M6 and took it with me on a drive to a doctors appointment to properly test it out.

the Leica Summitar 5cm f2
hallway at my doctors office

The 50mm focal length is definitely better suited for what I like to shoot lately. It’s interesting how tastes can change. Last year I was all about the 35mm focal length.

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Riding in the Car with Film

The Leica Summitar 5cm f2 doesn’t have the coating a more modern lens has, so right off I noticed the lack of contrast in my photos. It has a very distinct look unlike any of my other lenses that really lends to its age. As a huge fan of black and white television and movies, I really like it.

the Leica Summitar 5cm f2
Leica M6 Leica Summitar 5cm f2 Ilford HP5 400 at 800

The compact design of the lens really helps me personally in respects to weight and handling because of the pain I have in my right shoulder. It hasn’t been easy shooting from the car over that shoulder, so it helps. The focus ring turns really quick which is also great when needing to shoot quick. My only complaint would be the aperture ring doesn’t click and isn’t fast, but when I am shooting out the window I’m usually set to infinity focus and f16.

the Leica Summitar 5cm f2
Kelsey’s Pregnant Belly
the Leica Summitar 5cm f2
Church in Stuart Florida

Final Thoughts

In the end I liked using this lens while shooting from the car. It handled really well in that situation. I am not used to the lack of contrast, even with these photos being pushed to 800, you can see it still lacks contrast. However, it isn’t a big deal to me personally and my style.

The focus of this lens is a bit soft which isn’t always great when shooting from a moving vehicle, but I think it’ll suit me fine. I’m really grateful to Johnny for his help. It saved me a lot of money. A $100 adapter is better these days than a $3000 lens in my opinion. You just have to get to know the quarks of the lens and work with it.

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Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

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8 thoughts on “Riding in Cars with Film – the Leica Summitar 5cm f2

  1. Ilford films can be a bit too contrasty for my taste, I think this lens helps tame that beautifully; something tells me this will really shine in bright sunlight! I was shooting Double-X with an old Leitz lens a few years ago for muh the same aesthetic. Don’t forget you can always add a bit more contrast later on!

  2. Aly, thanks for sharing your thoughts and your experience with your setup—I find it interesting and fascinating to learn about your process and how you’re shooting. Loved seeing the images that you shared and appreciated and liked the look they had. I know you mentioned the lens caused them to have low contrast and personally I found them beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us!

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