I tried out 3 50mm leica lenses today; the f/1 noctilux (not sure which version), the f/1.4 summilux asph and the f/2 summicron-m ver.4/5 (non asph apo).
All 3 are amazing any of them would be a great 50, maybe the only 50 you would ever need. I’ve been in pursuit of “the one” 50mm lens for a while now. Thought I should share my experiences with these lenses.
50mm summicron-m f/2.0
The smallest and lightest of the 3, but this does not affect performance at all! At f/2 it appears to be the sharpest. I really like the way that the summicron renders images. The colors, sharpness contrast everything is great. The pull out hood is nice too, but it does not lock like the summilux. There is no focus tab but I feel like it’s not necessary for this lens. The focus ring is really fast smooth and accurate, but still a focus tab would have been nice. The aperture ring is my favorite of the 3, a little more firm. The small size also makes it great for street or travel. I think f/2 is perfect, it won’t let you go too crazy with DOF and is good enough for low light(with modern digital cameras at least). The size, weight and feeling of this lens is also great! Also its the cheapest!!
50mm summilux asph f/1.4
This is really the all in one 50, it sits in the middle of the summicron and noctilux. Not as big as the noctilux but bigger than the summicron. Also price wise is in the middle. Build and appearance are similar to the summicron-m but with a focus tab and longer/bigger. Strikes the right balance and probably the best one lens setup for anything. Not as sharp as the cron but wide open it looks amazing! Would be a great portrait lens as well, bokeh is beautiful. If you can shoot street at 1.4 you would get amazing shots but id go with the cron for street. This is really the jack of all trades 50mm. I really like the focus tab,but the aperture ring is a little too smooth. It won’t move out of place, it’s just too smooth for my taste. Over all great lens, would love to have one!
50mm noctilux f/1
Largest of the 3 lenses but also the fastest. “Fastest” as far as aperture but the focus is not as fast as the cron nor the lux. The closest focus distance is also a bit farther. Not the best for street photography for sure. This would be a great portrait lens but is not as versatile as the other 2. It is a specialty lens for sure. Not as sharp as the cron and probably matches the lux at some apertures, but we all know this lens is all about being shot wide open! Haven’t shot this at night but I’m sure its great, I could hardly shoot at f/1 iso 160 during the day. Not available new but certainly a great lens that holds its own next to the new cron and lux.
For me the summircon was the best. The size weight price and fast aperture (f/2 is still fast!) really make it an appealing do anything 50. Would have loved a focus tab but it doesn’t really need it. In general a good choice. The summilux is great too if you need f/1.4. Sharp enough light enough it would make a great single lens set up for travel. The noctilux is too specialized for me. The images you get from it at f/1 can’t be replicated by the other 2 but it’s not as practice as the others.
samples shot on an m9 not wide open, these were the only pictures of the same subject with all 3 lenses.