Japanese Summilux


A few weeks ago I won an auction on Ebay, a Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM lens. Nickname: Japanese Summilux.

Basically, when Canon decided to make rangefinder cameras they used the LTM screw mount and made several lenses, and one of them was so good to compete with Leica lenses. This one is the best screw mount lens Canon ever made. Many would argue that the 50mm f/1.2 is better, but I beg to differ, at least on film.

Anyway, fast forward to present time, I received this little marvel and I posted some pictures to show how it looked gorgeous on my M6 and my first impressions. After two weeks of intense shooting in Italy, Ireland and Paris, I can say it is the best choice for film. I’m a film shooter, not a pixel peeper, so forget about 100% crops. If you want some, email me and I will send the original DNG so you can do it by yourselves.

Back to the lens, I can tell you the my opinions:

PROS

  • Price is very reasonable – average is around €200 (I’ve got mine for less than that) and LTM to M mount are very cheap (voigtlander or fotodiox please)
  • Sharp
  • Good Bokeh
  • It’s a 50mm f/1.4, a stop better than a Summicron
  • Image quality is on par with a Summicron (I can’t talk about Summilux because I’ve never had the chance to use one) when shooting at f/2
  • No finder blockage

CONS

  • Aperture is in 1 stop clicks, no half stops
  • There is an annoying infinity lock (that can be removed)
  • Focus throw is very long, which albeit being useful to nail focus at f/1.4, it takes ages to turn from infinity to close focus
  • Some chromatic aberration on digital (see pictures)
  • It’s obviously not 6-bit coded, so you need to manually change it. I used non-aspherical summilux preset.

Truth is, none of the above does matter if you don’t like the look. Jason from aperturepriority.co.nz published his own review while I was writing mine. He’s a better photographer than me, so I trust his judgement and skill about results with digital. My conclusion about this lens is that it’s perfect for my M6, but has something I cannot identify that makes me dislike M-E pictures. I strongly suspect my lack of experience with a digital M, but is that all?

Let’s see some samples I took:

See what I mean? While M-E should have better resolving power than my cheap Ektar development (and scan) the M-E picture exhibits chromatic aberration on the exhaust and a soft glow I don’t have on film.

The lack of microcontrast puzzles me, yet it gives this lens a character that makes me prefer it over my Summicron, which I’m still keeping in my bag because it’s way faster to focus.

This Canon lens is a chisel, when you need to nail perfect focus it beats all Leica Summicron and Summilux.

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One response

  1. Hi there, thanks for link and also for your very kind words!! 🙂

    I picked up a 6-bit coded adaptor and just blacked out to suit the 50/1.4 code, no need to mess around doing the white ones, just leave them silver. Here http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-news/leica-lens-codes/ saves altering manually as I would often forget….Thanks again. Jason

    June 13, 2013 at 05:04