Am I wrong to want this?

I’ve been wanting to use this lens for a while.

I’m still resisting it.

Ouch, it hurts.

—Peter.

Leica 50mm APO-Summicron

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42 thoughts on “Am I wrong to want this?

  1. Go for it. Your talent deserves this lens.

  2. To tell you the truth Peter, I stopped Wanting things a long back. I came to realise that we don’t need anything, its just our inner Gadget Addiction Syndrome. Is spending that much cash, worth the extra sharpness!. And mind you, 95% of people would not see the difference, is those pixel peeping people would know. So is it worth it.!!! I still have my M9 and my 50mm lux and it does just fine.

  3. Linden says:

    Before I move on to my actual comment on this, perhaps have a read of this, 😉
    http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/03/04/10-tips-on-how-to-cure-yourself-of-gas-gear-acquisition-syndrome/

    I currently have both this and the 50 Lux.
    Pros –
    True Barnack camera size and form
    Outstanding optics, and a true testament to the Leica ideal of the best possible within a small form
    OOF doesn’t lose its shape, it just goes soft. That gives the effect of a painting. I think it is in the OOF areas that this lens shines.
    It’s quite planar

    Cons –
    The price makes me baby it a bit, and worry a little about where I take it. That will wear off, but it is so expensive it is a bit scary.
    It will show your mistakes as clearly if not more clearly than your successes. The falloff from in focus to OOF is precise and dramatic. That means a misfocus will be obvious.
    It’s quite planar (you are someone who knows how to use curvature of field to effect in portraiture)
    50 Lux is already very sharp for portraiture at f/1.4. The 50 APO penalises you a stop.

    Neutral –
    50 Lux can seem light and airy in image look, in contrast to the APO’s look which is richer and denser. Depends what you like aesthetically.

    Timing –
    These are seemingly in good supply now. The Hong Kong grey market tells you quickly whether a lens is in plentiful or short supply. This lens has now joined the other Leica lenses in being offered here at a discount to list price. You may find a deal.
    Some in the Leica community here think this lens may go the way of the 35 Lux Aspherical (AA, 1991-1994), but who knows.

    Send me a note if you want me to check with dealers here on stock and price.

    Selfishly –
    I’m curious to see the magic you can bring from this lens with your lovely family portraits, and on CCD. Most images we see with this lens are on CMOS or the Monochrom.

    • Linden,

      Your summary is spot on. Even though I haven’t used it, I’ve studied its images closely and I’d have to agree with everything you wrote.

      The other thing that I find philosophically appealing is summarized by your statement “a true testament to the Leica ideal of the best possible within a small form”.

  4. We only live once Peter! I’m not going to my grave “wishing I’d …”

  5. PI says:

    I have also seen very good results with the 75 APO coming in somewhat cheaper, however the 50 is a gem.

    I agree with others it would be interesting to see what you could do with the 50 and the M9, although I sense that lens was designed for the M240.

  6. Linden, thank you for pointing out the article by Eric Kim. This one is so true:

    “10. Realize a lot of gas is just bragging rights”

    Yep! Just like a kid who wants that latest Voltron to show off to his friends… and then gets bored of it after a week. This is why I’m tempted to use nothing but the iPhone (plus a Schneider iPro lens kit – not everything can be done with just one lens!). If people see you taking photos with something like that, they won’t even think twice. You’ll be left alone, for the most part. They’ll just think you’re taking a memento to post on Twitter. I have taken amazing photos with my iPhone, though sometimes I do use a supplementary lens.

    Peter, the 50/2 APO is actually a smart purchase. Much smarter than those ‘stupid’ lenses like the Noctilux or 75/1.4 (my opinion, needless to say). The classic 50/2 is actually a beautiful lens, but has focus shift. Were it not for that, one could argue that the APO version is superfluous. Well, okay, maybe not.

    Then again, here’s the kicker: a sharp lens is probably worth more than a high resolution sensor. Many people who have 36 or 50Mpx cameras don’t have the lenses to match. How many lenses can make use of a 36Mpx sensor, let alone a 50Mpx one? Not the $100 Nikon 50/1.8, or the $1,700 Nikon 58/1.4, and definitely not the Noctilux. Pixel count, even without a great lens, does help with big prints, but otherwise… there is little point.

    A further thought: the 50/2 APO might actually be exactly what you need to prevent GAS. The sharpness in your photos will be so improved that you won’t lament the ‘mere’ 18Mpx sensor. And if you ever sell it later, the depreciation will be trivial.

    So, that does not answer your question. But it gives you even more to think about. But whatever you do, measure twice, cut once.

  7. Leonardo says:

    It is already difficult for me to justify my Leica gear. My 50mm Lux is handy in low light situations and has a pleasing bokeh without sacrificing image quality when shoot wide open. That makes me think it is worth it.
    Most people with non-trained eyes would not recognize and/or appreciate the difference between the 50mm APO to a budget DSLR with kit lens. This is going to be a very personal decision since it will not change the perception most people has about your images. In the other hand, I have also the opinion that a photographer’s gear can be an important inspiration to create great images, if this decision will positively influence your photography, this lens will be worth every penny.

  8. A.Hackauf says:

    A nearly perfect photographer should have nearly perfect equipement Period! Peter, your heart knows what to do and you should focus on how to get the seven thou rocks! When my guitar and photo GAS-Fever raises I do some extra emergeny service, so what!

    Peter, caress your present equipment and sell nothing- grit your teeth and get it over with and spend some weekends in hospital..sick people need your help-for your inner wishes your family will and can miss out for some days, or?!

    Peter, be a man, be a APO-MAN, you deserve it!..and your “people” are agog for the sure wonderful results!!!

    So Peter, fight and go for it!

  9. Gavin Pitts says:

    If you can afford it Peter, then I say do it. After all, we photograph mostly for ourselves. The important thing here is that you’ve already made up your mind that you want to try this lens. I should imagine that curiosity won’t be going away until you’ve tried it. You can always sell it if it doesn’t work out and move on.

  10. Alex M says:

    Hi Peter,

    thought this might interest you ( it is not me selling it – just passing by the info 🙂 )

    http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-m-lenses/363234-if-anyone-market-50mm-summicron-apo.html

    Best regards / Alex

  11. Aivaras says:

    You are one of rare people who could make real difference with this lens. Life is short. You know the drill. 🙂

  12. Antonio says:

    If you have the cash then you should go for it IMO!

    Listen to Sergio Larrain:

    “First and foremost, you have to have a camera that fits you well, one that you like, because it’s about feeling comfortable with what you have in your hands: the equipment is key to any profession, and it should have nothing more than the strictly necessary features.”

    http://fotografiamagazine.com/letter-by-sergio-larrain-to-his-nephew/

  13. bijansabet says:

    I’ve been researching that lens as well. Such a brilliant work of art.  Trying to research how it performs with film. Have you seen any examples of the Summicron APO with color or black and white film? 

    -bijan

  14. -N- says:

    This makes me think you have lost your fascination with the DP3 . . . .have you?

  15. David says:

    I totally appreciate and understand what you are going through. There is only one solution and escape from this all-consuming urge: Buy it as soon as you are able. You owe it to your self and to your photography and you will most likely save the planet from untold disaster too.

  16. andygemmell says:

    You know it’s not “if” Peter….it is really just about “when”……;-)

    Let light start to come back into Toronto, the snow to start melting….AND HIT THE BUTTON!!!

  17. Mattias says:

    Well, I remember an article Mike Johnston once wrote on the 50mm lens and metaphysical doubt. While I am full of respect and admiration for your abilities Peter, I personally find perfect to be boring. As in perfect lens, perfect sharpness, perfect OOF area. But go with your heart.

  18. greg g49 says:

    Minority opinion (devil’s advocate version 2.0): yes. Given your northern latitude and your devotion to the CCD with its ISO limitations losing that stop of light is like taking seven kids to soccer practice in a Ferrari, you can do it, but the tool is not really suited to the task. Couple that with your expressed financial concerns, the Lux is a better choice for you. Given your assessment, selling everything else for a marginal gain seems unwarranted. If you’re not selling everything else, just spending the money, taking the family to warm weather for a few days seems a better option.

    Having said all that, I’ll be interested to see if my Philistine eye can tell the difference once you start posting with it. 😉

  19. sgoldswo says:

    Peter, I bought one about a week and a half ago. I wish I had done so earlier. It’s about as close to the perfect lens as I’ve ever come across. I’m very much glad that I went for the APO cron vs the Otus on my D810. Optically the APO is extremely impressive, but what’s really great about it (aside from the resolution, microcontrast and lack of CA) is that it doesn’t need to turn the global contrast up to 11 to achieve the desired result. It’s also a reasonable size and nothing needs to be said about build quality.

    One point to note if you are thinking about using it on the M9 though – it’s so sharp in the centre that it can result in aliasing where less sharp lenses would not result in/contribute to the same consequence. If that’s true of the 24mp sensor in the M240 ( I suspect this lens is good enough for a much higher resolution sensor than 24mp), it will be even more true of the 18mp sensor in the M9. That said, I doubt anyone who dreads moire uses Leica digital rangefinders.

    For anyone who cares, the results from this lens look absolutely staggering on a 5k screen too.

  20. Nicholas Rose says:

    Hi Peter,

    Firstly I love your work!

    I took the plunge and got this lens, and sure it is expensive but that is Leica, and in reality it holds it’s value so you could use the investment angle to help come to rationalise it, or if it came to it sell it, more then the crazy bank rates will currently give you leaving it in the bank!

    But and a big but, every picture I have taken with this lens (with 240) reinforces and put a smile on my face and I truly can’t put a value on that!

    It not about simply sharpness which is quite exquisite, the colour and shadow depth are at a new level. When you print you really do understand the difference, even at A4 it holds new depths. If the lens is used correctly their simply is no distortion!

    The reality is and I do get some peoples comments that they cant see the difference to justify the cost, then and to be blunt it is wasted on them and the quite correctly should not purchase this lens.

    To me glass is always the most important thing when it comes to capturing light, and if you can justify spending 5k on the body then to match the lens to the same value is easy to justify.

    The APO will last a life time the camera body wont and I simple wont question the value that comes from each image I capture with this lens, I have never had so much satisfaction for any other purchase I have made when capturing light!

    Best

    Nik

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