sharper(sharpest) lenses for the M

Discussion in 'Leica M and LTM Lenses' started by aaronz28, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. aaronz28

    aaronz28 Leica Place Regular

    63
    Dec 17, 2014
    i've been thoroughly enjoying my 240 - but i've been shooting with vintage glass - which i also have been thoroughly enjoying...

    but i'd like to look into something that will get crisp images like that from my Nikon glass.

    i'd really like to not spend 3-4000$ if possible - so i'm curious what options i might have?
    Thanks
     
  2. Mijo

    Mijo Leica Place Veteran

    272
    Apr 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    The sharpest M mount lens that I've used has to be the 75mm summircon. IMO, this lens is too sharp and very unflattering when used as a portrait lens. When I owned the 75 cron, I preferred to use it for landscape as a short telephoto but ended up trading it for the previous version of the 90mm ME for additional reach. I regret selling that lens, it's images really stand out in terms of sharpness.
     
  3. Peter Klein

    Peter Klein Leica Place Regular

    59
    Dec 31, 2014
    Seattle
    Peter Klein
    Any 50 Summicron from about 1983 or later will be very sharp. As will the 35 Summicron ASPH, though that's in $3,000 territory. I don't have personal experience with the current Zeiss lenses, but I've heard very good things about the 50/2, 35/2 and 2.8. The Voigtlander 28/3.5, which I own personally, is astoundingly good. And don't discount the current Leica Summarits.

    If you want both lens speed and "so sharp your eyeballs will hurt," then be prepared to pay, because you probably will want a current Leica ASPH. If an f/2 or 2.8 ish lens is enough speed, then one of the late Mandler-design lenses with the later coatings may keep you perfectly happy. Or the equivalent in Zeiss or Voigtlander. Check with people who own a specific lens that you're interested in.
     
  4. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Which Nikon lenses are you shooting with that you want comparable performance? There is a wide range in performance. The Voigtlander 50/1.5 Aspheric Nokton compares with most of the Nikon normals. The modern 50/1.5 Nokton LTM version is a bargain, and uses 52mm filters.
     
  5. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    50mm Summicron (1979 to present, all the same optics) is extremely sharp. Until the $8000 APO Summicron came out it was often described as the sharpest lens one could own. At less than $2500 it is a bargain. You could pair it with a 35mm f/2.5 Summarit (exactly what I did) and still be well under $5000, or just over $5000 if you want the new f/2.4.
     
  6. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    You have an M240- are you using any of the Nikon lenses on it with an F->M adapter and the EVF?

    There are some lenses that come "insanely close" to the Summicron at a fraction of the cost. The Konica Hexanon 50/1.7 is one of them. I need to redo the RF coupling on mine, the original one that i made had some paint flake off. Of course, with the M240- you do not need to make an RF coupling.

    8286132860_8c7418657f_o. Hexanon 50/1.7, RF Coupled by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    8286132992_4305fb25e8_o. Hexanon 50/1.7, RF Coupled by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr
     
  7. aaronz28

    aaronz28 Leica Place Regular

    63
    Dec 17, 2014
    Brian - yes I have a rather inexpensive coupler - but i really like using the rangefinder
    i have both an old Nikon 85mm and 105mm which are super sharp =
     
  8. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    The original Nikkor 85/2 and 105/2.5 are both Sonnar formula lenses, available in LTM. The SLR version of the 85 is a Planar formula, I have the 85/2 and 85/1.8 in F-Mount.

    The Zeiss C-Sonnar 50/1.5 will give the classic Sonnar look, and by F2.8 is very sharp- I use it on thr M Monochrom often. That would be my suggestion for a modern lens that is sharp, and gives the look of the Nikkors mentioned.

    If you have the later Nikkor PLanar formula lenses: the Nokton 50/1.5 Aspheric is the best value/performance lens.

    The modern Summicron and Asph Summilux will be sharper, but much more expensive.
     
  9. uhoh7

    uhoh7 Leica Place Regular

    163
    Oct 14, 2014
    Think 21 SEM or CV 15mk3, 28 Elmarit, and some summarits, which are pretty darn sharp. The ZM lenses are pretty good too :)
     
  10. aaronz28

    aaronz28 Leica Place Regular

    63
    Dec 17, 2014
    what do you guys think of the 50 Summicron? I can get a pretty good deal on S/N 2610140 its made in Germany - but if i date it correctly - its 1979? thanks
     
  11. Peter Klein

    Peter Klein Leica Place Regular

    59
    Dec 31, 2014
    Seattle
    Peter Klein
    According to Erwin Puts' "Leica Lens Compendium," that serial number is from 1973. That would make it Version 3. It's still a fine lens, but the version four (1979 and onwards) is a bit better.
     
  12. Peter Klein

    Peter Klein Leica Place Regular

    59
    Dec 31, 2014
    Seattle
    Peter Klein
    Also, the Germany versus Canada thing is just something collectors like to argue about. I have a version 4 summicron with the focusing tab, made in Canada, and it's one of those lenses I would probably never give up.
     
  13. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    17004155050_b01619686a_b. Mt Vernon, Camera Obscura by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    I uploaded a full-sized image taken with the C-Sonnar 50/1.5, above with an Orange filter.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/90768661@N02/sets/72157651581689747/with/17004155050/

    The album is shot with the Nikkor 10.5cm F2.5 with Y52 filter, and the C-Sonnar with Orange filter.

    The C-Sonnar is sharper than the Nikkor 5cm F1.4, and even sharper than my perfect-glass wartime Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm F1.5 Sonnar T. The latter has the Nikkor beat.
     
  14. aaronz28

    aaronz28 Leica Place Regular

    63
    Dec 17, 2014
    ok, so i tried the 1973 50mm Summicron this weekend - and its about the same as the 1936 Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5cm I got from Brian - the 5cm 1.4
    I actually like the Zeiss better as it seems to have less flare, and the colors are just great. ITs just a tad soft.

    I'd rather have razor sharpness and be able to soften in LR or PS than the other way around :D

    I guess I'll try to find a 79and newer 50 or 75 -
     
  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    214
    Feb 18, 2015
    The Zeiss ZM 50/2 Planar is very sharp. Zeiss ZM 35/2 is very sharp as well, and I hear the Zeiss ZM 35/2.8 is even sharper. Those are the sharpest sub-$1000 lenses I have tried for the M.
     
  16. aaronz28

    aaronz28 Leica Place Regular

    63
    Dec 17, 2014
    i'll look at those Zeiss lenses again - I'd love to get a 50/2 and a 35/2 - and then eventually something like a 90 for closeups....thanks for all the great advice
     
  17. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    I uploaded a full-resolution image taken with the C-Sonnar at F4, on the M Monochrom.

    16583631533_10d3871731_b. L1005085 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    Red filter. look at the names of the boats. This lens can out-resolve the M Monochrom at F2.8.
     
  18. raid

    raid Leica Place All-Pro

    Apr 12, 2013
    USA
    Raid
    I bought the CV Nokton 50/1.5 LTM for its sharpness and modern coatings.
    I prefer the Rigid Summicron 50/2 for its overall qualities. It is a high resolution lens.
    I like the 74/1.4 Summilux as a fast portrait lens.
    There are several very sharp LTM or M lenses that people can get.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. rbelyell

    rbelyell Leica Place Veteran

    202
    May 25, 2014
    yes, what he said! and ditto for the 21&28 biogons. i love leica lenses, but imo a lens from the '80s will not be sharper than the modern zeiss zm's. (please note i did not say better, i said sharper) you can get 3 for less than your $3000 and you will be very pleased if sharpness is your primary criterion. as an ancillary benefit you will also get the zeiss 'pop'. i agree that the 75 lux is an 'insane' performer, but then so is the price.

    were it me, for $3000 and sharp, i'd go biogon 21, zm 35/2 and summarit 75/2.5, a very very underrated lens.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  20. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    For my $3000 I'd go 35/2.5 Summarit and 50/2.5 Summarit, both gently used. Sharp, beautiful rendering, flare resistant and modern, coded Leica lenses. Used you could even move up to a current generation 50 Cron with the 35/2.5 Summarit and still be right there under budget.