Oly 45/1.8 vs Leica Summicron 50/2

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by phdezra, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. phdezra

    phdezra Mu-43 Stalker

    Dec 6, 2011
    New York, NY
    Hi all. I'm happy with my E-P3 and 25/1.4, but for my next lens I'm torn between the Oly 45/1.8 vs a Leica Summicron 50/2 (M39--the 'radioactive' kind for $900, not the newer one for ~$3000). I am strongly leaning towards the Oly ($400, AF, sharp) but am considering the Leica (superb colors though MF, approx $900 used). I will readily admit that my days of MF shooting are mostly over (since my SLR film days), but with a good M-adaptor, I know I can get the Leica lens to work some magic.

    I wonder if anyone else has considered these two? I am leaning heavily towards the Oly 45/1.8 (cheaper, AF, excellent images) so perhaps this is moot... however, does anyone have thoughts on color rendition/other comments on the Summicron vs the Oly 45/1.8? For non-pro work, I doubt the Summicron will have any meaningful difference over the Oly for me. Just curious...

    Oly 45/1.8: Amazon.com: Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8
    Leica Summicron 50/2: Leica Summicron 50/2.0 (sample ebay listing)
  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I dont know the Leica at all, but every legacy lens Ive tried tends to be really soft when used with a digital camera, when the aperture is wide open, effectively forcing you at least a half stop and often one stop up to get acceptable performance. Not sure how the Leicas do in this regard, but Ive had this issue with Takumars, OM, FD and Rokkor lenses.
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  3. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    My experience too, with Nikkors, Zuikos and Voigtlanders.

    Older designs generally are fairly low contrast wide-open. If you're interested in crisp image, you're forced to stop down fairly significantly.

    The other issue is MF. A good EVF helps, but it's still a frustrating process.

  4. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Real Name:
    Having shot with both ( but owned neither), I'd get the Olympus. It treally is very very good.

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  5. WJW59

    WJW59 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 20, 2011
    Exactly the reason I decided I had to have the 45mm. The eyes just don't handle changing focus as well as they used to and AF systems have improved.
  6. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    I haven't used the leica lens, but I have other legacy lenses in the 50mm range and to be honest, I think 45mm beats them all. I use it mainly for portraits and couldn't be happier with the buy. I'd suggest you to spend $400 on this and buy a different lens with the money you save.
  7. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Well, of those two I'd get the Olympus...if I wanted a 50 lens that was very close in performance to the Olympus I'd probably go with the OM50/1.4. Like most legacy glass it's a bit soft wide open but stopped down a bit it is rally quite nice and at $100 for a nice one it's a terrific bargain. That said, my eyes are also not what they once were and AF is pretty nice. I also find the legacy glass+adapter is a pretty big package to set on a Pen or even RF style Panasonic cameras. The Summicron won't have that problem.

    Another option is the Pen-F 40/1.4 (also really nice) but a bit more spend at around $250 and to be honest I'd probably still go for the Olympus 45.
  8. blacvios

    blacvios Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 16, 2010
    This is what the rigid summicron can do if you get the focus right(GH-2 base iso RAW). Haven't got the oly 45mm but instead just received the LEICA DG macro-elmarit 45mm over the weekend which will be compared with the cron later.


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  9. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Real Name:
    I have a Summicron 50/2. There were five(?) slight variations over the years that a Leica-phile can tell you all about. They are all quite similar. This and a few other old Leica lenses is why got into m4/3.

    It's a wonderful lens. It's sharp at f/2. It "draws" a beautiful image. The bokeh is good, but not Leica's best. For me it's slow to focus. It makes candid portraits difficult for me.

    I really want an Olympus 45/1.8. The images I've seen here show me it's as good as the Summicron. It has it's own character and the bokeh is nicer to my eyes. And it auto-focuses fast. And the f stop is displayed in the finder. I use a G2, maybe glancing at the lens isn't an issue with E-3.

    I'll keep the Summicron because I love it, but the 45/1.8 is next on my list when my budget allows.

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  10. phdezra

    phdezra Mu-43 Stalker

    Dec 6, 2011
    New York, NY
    Thanks for everyone's comments and thoughts. I am going to buy the 45/1.8. Ergo, I'll be removing all those Leica 50 Summicron "watch list" items on my ebay. :)
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  11. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Real Name:
    50mm Summicron versions:

    1. Collapsible - v. low contrast - 1953-57
    2. Rigid - slightly more contrast, sharper wide open - 1957-68
    3. Dual Range - prety much as the rigid with a close focussing attachment, usually more expensive than v2 (only for film Ms really) 1963(?)-1968. Should be the same formula as the rigid but many claim to see a difference in results.
    4. 1st aluminium alloy body, black finish, no infinity lock, focus by ring only - The '69 'cron. Much more contrasty than other versions, not so favoured by Leica enthusiasts. 1969-1979
    5. Tabbed focus mechanism, current formula 1979-1990
    6. Current version, same formula as previous but no focus tab and a built in sliding hood.

    I've owned versions 1, 5 and 6. They are all excellent but the modern formula is sharper wide open at the cost of some softness to the bokeh. If I had to live with one lens for life it would be a 50mm Summicron but I would use it with 35mm film, an M9 or maybe a Summicron-R on a Canon 5D. Versions 2,3 or 5 would be my picks. For :u43: I love my 45/1.8 and can't think of a legacy lens I'd rather use instead in the 40-50mm range.

    Collapsible 'cron @f2.8, close to minimum focus, Leica M2, Ilford Delta 100, lab scan.

    Doorbells, Florence by Mark Bowerman, on Flickr

    Edit: posted after your decision.
  12. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    It's one of the either or propositions that I don't want to take up. I love the 45, and haven't desired another lens in that focal length, but today I opened up an early birthday gift and inside the package was a very nice 50mm LTM Summicron f2, sent I know for my 1938 Leica camera, but I had to test it on the E-M5. I just shot a few test shots around the house, but my initial impression is that it is as sharp as the native lens. Sometimes I just like going out with manual focus lenses on my digital camera, and when I do this lens will undoubtedly go with me.

    Now if it stops raining I'll throw it on the Leica IIIb that has Ilford FP4 film in it, rated at iso 80, and I'll shoot up the rest of that role and develop it this evening. Can't wait. But even though it was sent for my film camera, I just know I'll play with it on the E-M5.
  13. brutto

    brutto Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 17, 2011
    Couldn't resist doing a quick test. Collapsible Summicron 50/2 vs Jupter-8 50/2 vs Zuiko 45/1.8All jpeg sooc at 1/400 @ f2.8. I don't think any of them disgrace themselves. The Jupiter-8 is pretty good for a £10 lens. The no-brainer pick is the Zuiko - edges the IQ (maybe) and it is auto-focus.



  14. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Of those images I find the Summicron to be the most pleasing. It has a wonderful 3D quality that really jumps out at you. I notice it most in the flower that is pointing downward. The Jupiter is a close second and the Olympus still very good but a bit less so. They're all very sharp. The bokeh is very nice on the Summicron. Of those three the Jupiter really jumps out as by far the best bargain. Of course the Olympus is AF and on m43 I would likely choose it over either the Summicron or Jupiter because I don't find m43 to be a particularly good platform for using legacy glass.
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  15. brutto

    brutto Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 17, 2011
    I wouldn't argue with any of that. The Summicron is from 1955 - not bad for a 57-year old!
  16. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    The Oly 45/1.8 is a no-bainer. I own many Leica lenses, including the 50 Cron. There is nothing special about this lens, it's not a bad performing lens, it's just that you can get equal or better for much less money. Of all the Leica lenses I own, the best one is the ridiculously over priced 100mm/2.8 APO macro. If you own a Leica, and have use for it on that camera, then get the lens. Don't be fooled by the Leica name, they excellent lenses for their respective cameras, but on the m43 they don't live up to their reputation. The 45/1.8 is hands down, a better lens for m43 cameras.
  17. chasm

    chasm Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2010
    I really don't see it - perhaps it would be different if you'd put "clickable" pictures up so one can see fine detail, but for me the Jupiter wins this one, and for exactly the same reason as I love my 85mm f2 - eloquent and romantic without in any way lacking precision. The Leica is a close second and the Olympus 3rd.

    I tried the Olympus at a dealer and while it's incredibly impressive for size/weight/sharpness/AF speed I don't find its rendition that engaging. The 75mm, however, is a different story... :rolleyes:
  18. brutto

    brutto Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 17, 2011
    I couldn't disagree, there's something I like about all three and the Jupiter-8 does have that certain something in the way it draws the image. The lens I lust after is the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 which has that same something in spades.

    One small problem with the Jupiter-8 is that the oof is really fugly at f2 - and not in a good way.

    I do find the 45/1.8 a bit clinical sometimes but its balance of qualities combined with autofocus makes it my go-to lens. The others get used when I have the leisure to manual focus. If Olympus were to introduce focus peaking of some sort it might be a different story.

    Btw, the images are clickable now but only to 2,048px jpegs - sorry, I didn't upload bigger.
  19. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I went back and looked at them and I prefer the Summicron as it has a tiny bit more contrast but the Summicorn and the Jupiter are very close. Personally I am always on the lookout for a decent Jupiter-*. I think it would match up really well with my NEX.

    FWIW I had 2 45/1.8's and never really got on with them. I too found the rendering a bit sterile at times but mostly I found that I like a bit closer focus ability than the 45/1.8 offers so I was constantly feeling frustrated by that. Not really the lens's fault but just me wanting something it didn't do. I sold it and decided to go with a PL45 instead. It arrives Tuesday. I'm interested to see how it does rendering wise. I have heard it is quite nice.
  20. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Real Name:
    If you will be shooting mostly static subjects where it's relatively easy to focus manually, and focus isn't changing constantly... it's a tougher call... however, if portraits make up much of what you will use the lens for, get a native 45 (either Oly 45/1.8 or PL 45/2.) for the AF. It's MUCH easier to create good portraits, with shallow DOF if you like that, with AF, especially if your subject is moving around a bit. The 45/1.8 would be arguably slightly better suited for portraits than the 45/2.8 due to the slightly shallower DOF capability.

    I do prefer the bokeh in the Summicron in the examples above. I really wish those samples could have included the PL 45/2.8 to see how it would render the same scene in comparison - all shot at f/2.8.

    As for color rendition... I feel that was a bit more significant issue in the film days when we had much less control over color rendition and contrast. With digital capture and PP apps like LR, one can do a lot to adjust contrast, sharpen images, and tweak color renditions... and it's very quick and easy to do.

    For me, in your shoes, this would be a no brainer. I'd go with the Oly 45/1.8 or the PL 45/2.8 - either one is a very good lens in that focal length. You can get a little bit shallower DOF with the 1.8, if that is something that matters to you. And you can get awesome macro capability and very good sharpness with the 2.8 - possibly a better lens for landscapes and general subjects, perhaps, than the 1.8. Either one will be a good portrait lens. And the PL 45/2.8 is likely to be a bit better with close-in AF, as some folks have experienced some issues with AF hunting using the 45/1.8.

    So.. 45/1.8 if portraits are more important to you and 45/2.8 if general use and macro performance is more important to you. Either way, take your pick of these two native lenses and you'll be very happy, I'm sure.