This is the second 50mm M-mount lens I've ever owned. The first dual-range 50mm Summicron does not play well with the M9, so I've sold it to buy this lens. Now that I'm pondering on a 50mm Summilux ASPH, I figured I better write something to document this lens before I'm forced to sell it. I know I will miss it, for its small size, light weight, and the most wonderful bokeh. The lens is not without its faults, which I will cover and share my experiences of how to deal with them.
When I was researching for a replacement for my 50mm Summicron, I was looking for a newer, faster lens that still has the classical rendering. From the reviews that I read, this lens seems to have a split personality: at wide open, it gives wonderful bokeh and "glow" which is perfect for portraits, and when stopped down, it can be bitingly sharp. Since I could only afford one lens, this was perfect for me since it's almost like having two lens in one.
Focus Shift. Yes, it exists for this lens, which means when I focus something up close at f/1.5, even if I'm spot on in my focus patch, the resulting image will show that my focus is off by about an inch. When this lens was originally released, the lens was optimized for f/2.8, but later production copies are optimized for f/1.5. Many people will suggest to have it optimized for f/1.5, but I disagree. Their argument is that since you'll most likely shoot a lot at f/1.5, you should have it optimized for that aperture. However, once optimized for f/1.5, it simply causes focus shift problems to appear at smaller apertures like f/4 and it'll fixes itself at f/8 because the depth of field is wide enough to cover the subject again. This disruption of focus in the middle of the aperture range is, in my opinion, much harder to learn to compensate then when it's at the wide end. Unless you get this lens to purely shoot at f/1.5, I think it's easier to learn to compensate for the shift at f/1.5 and not worry about it when it's stopped down. In real life, I haven't had much problems with it even at f/1.5 because I'm not shooting at the minimum focus distance all the time, and to me, focus is secondary to content and composition.
Sold separately, there is a vented hood that goes with this lens, and with it on, there isn't a lot of finder blockage. Once the hood is place on properly, it will lock in place by a springy mechanism so it won't easily rotate off. You'll have to push the hood down on the lens in order to rotate it and take it off the lens. If I have the means to keep this lens, I will never sell it, because having been using it for the past 6 months or so, I know how to work with it to give me the creamy bokeh when I want it, how to get that classical glow on my subjects. Check out some more shots of this lens below:
My Journey into Leica...
A path not to be taken lightly, not without reservations, and not without dedication, but the results can be sweet, OH SO SWEET! This is a documentation of my trials and tribulations into the world of Leica Rangefinder Photography, and I hope you'll enjoy coming along with me.