Best 50mm lens for Leica

Best 50mm Lens for Leica M Camera x20 (Leica M3 Female Portraits)

A new Leica M3 photographer contacted me from Singapore to request a Zoom call to discuss the best 50mm lenses for Leica M cameras. I thought it might make an interesting YouTube (and blog) topic. Here are my 10 most used 50mm lenses on my Leica M3 camera(s) with sample photos plus 10 more 50s. Comment below your favourite 50mm lens!

Best 50mm lenses for Leica M cameras (Some of my favourites)

In no particular order here are some of the 50mm lenses I’ve used the most on my Leica M3 camera. By far my most used lens is the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH. Photos are shot with leica M3 cmeras. Click any photo to see the film used and film developing details.

1. Leica Summilux-M 50mm f1.4 ASPH

The Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens is not cheap but it is one of few lenses that is excellent even when shot wide open at f1.4. When shooting film in low light this is so valuable to have.

Leica M3 + Leica Summilux 50mm Portrait
35mm Kodak TMax 400 Portrait
Modern Vintage
Leica M3 Single Stroke
Leica M3 Film Portrait
Leica M3 B&W Portrait
Summilux 50mm Film Portrait

2. Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM

Some call it the Japanese Summilux, the Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM lens is much cheaper than a Leica and offers good sharpness from f2. This is a screw mount rangefinder lens so you need a Leica M-LTM adapter to use on your M camera.

35mm Potsdam 100 Portrait
Canon LTM 50mm f1.4 Portrait
Potsdam 100 Portrait

3. Leica Summicron-M 50mm f2 v5

The Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 that I owned was a nice size and with a built in pull out lens hood. Smaller and lighter than the Summilux lens but for low light portraits the Lux was better so I eventually sold the 50mm Cron.

Leica M3 Portrait
Film Boudoir Photography
Kodak TMax 400 Review

4. Nikkor S.C 50mm f1.4 LTM (Or Nikon-S via Adapter)

The Nikkor S.C 50mm f1.4 lens was not on my radar until years after buying my Leica 50mm lenses. I didn’t even know Nikon made rangefinder cameras like my Nikon S2. You can find the Nikkor S.C 50 1.4 lens in LTM mount but mine is the Nikon-S mount. Screw mount versions often cost more but you have the advantage of being able to use them on all L39 screw mount film cameras. Amedeo adapters offer Nikon-S to Leica M so that is what I use. Great lens and sharp at f2.

Leica M3 Candid
Leica M3 Portraits
Leica M3 + Nikkor 50mm f1.4
Leica M3 + Nikkor S.C 5cm f1.4
Leica M3 Portrait
Leica M3 Portrait
M3 + Nikkor S.C 50mm f1.4 @ f1.4

5. Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 VM

A popular current production lens is the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 VM. Shot at f2 this lens is plenty sharp enough.

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2
Leica M3 + Voigtlander 50mm f1.2
Voigtlander 50mm f1.2 Portrait

6. Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM

Another great vintage 50mm lens is the Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM. Smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Canon 50mm f1.4 version, it is the cheapest 50mm lens of the 10 listed. Impressive sharpness even wide open. I shoot it at f1.8 or f2.

Ilford Pan 400 Portrait
Voigtlander Perkeo 2 Action Photo!
Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM Portrait
Leica M3 + Canon 50mm f1.8
Canon 50mm 1.8 LTM Portrait

7. Leica Summicron DR (Dual Range) 50mm f2

The Leica Summicron DR lens or Dual Range is a special lens. It’s the only 50mm lens listed here that focuses closer than 0.7m (via the Leica close focus goggles). A sharp lens at f2 but with lower contrast compared to modern lenses.

Leica M3 + Ilford Pan F 50

Ilford Delta 100
Leica Summicron DR 50mm f2 + Close focus goggles
CineStill 800 Daylight Portrait
Ilford Delta Fashion
Summer Love
Leica M3 + Kodak Portra Fashion

8. Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2

This lens probably needs no introduction, the famous Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens! A valuable lens to own if you work in extremely low light. A little too soft at f1 for me when shooting film. I tend to stop the lens down to at least f1.2 if I use on film. Your Leica M camera rangefinder calibration must be spot on if you want to accurately hit focus with this lens.

Leica M6 vs Nikon F5!
Leica M6 Portrait (Noctilux)
FilmIsNotDead :)

9. Voigtlander Heliar 50mm f3.5 VM

Perhaps an unlikely candidate for a 50mm portraits lens. The Voigtlander Heliar 50mm f3.5 is a current production lens and focuses to 0.7m. The lens is very sharp even at f3.5 so helps to capture sharper images when shot on film. (Some of the examples photos below were when I had a hole in my Leica M3 shutter curtain so please excuse the marks).

Leica M3 Light Leak (YouTube photo flare series #3)
Voigtlander Heliar 50mm Portrait
Leica M3 + Hole in the shutter curtain

10. Voigtlander 50mm f2 APO-Lanthar VM

My latest addition, I got the current production Voigtlander 50mm APO lens specifically to shoot on film. Very sharp even wide open at f2, this lens will capture better 35mm negative detail when compared to many 50mm lenses. (I love the look of film but it frustrates me if there is insufficient detail captured. This lens resolves that problem).

Leica M3 + 50 APO Portrait
Leica M3 + 50mm APO
Leica M3 + APO Portrait

Want to find models to photograph with your favourite lens?

Get my FREE 19 page eBook

MrLeica FREE eBook

Wait there more! 10 additional 50mm lenses for Leica M mount

Again in no particular order –

11. Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 M

If you love a compact camera lens combo then you will appreciate the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens. Made in LTM and M mount is collapses to give a pocket size camera. If used with Leica close focus goggles you can focus the Elmar at less than 0.5m (the same as the Leica Summicron Dual Range but different goggles).

12. Leica Summitar 50mm f2 LTM

One of my favourite lenses for photographing models with digital cameras, the Leica Summitar 50mm f2 LTM lens gives a vintage Leica glow look shot wide open. By f3.2 it becomes much sharper. A screw mount lens that I prefer using for digital photos, than film.


13. Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5 M

This lens probably should have been in my top 10. The discontinued Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5 lens is small yet sharp lens, excellent shot wide open or stopped down. It balances really nicely on Leica M cameras.

14. Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.0 VM

The fastest Leica M mount lens from Cosina Voigtlander is the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.0 VM. From my testing the rendering is very similar to the Nokton 50mm f1.2 so I would use that instead. The f1.2 lens is smaller, lighter and cheaper than the f1.0 so suits the small form factor of Leica M cameras.

15. Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 M

The Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 is a cheap alternative to the early Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 Pre-ASPH. Soft and glowy wide open with great bokeh. Gets sharper as you stop down. 1m MFD limit.

16. Voigtlander Heliar 50mm f1.5 VM

The new Heliar Classic 50mm f1.5 from Voigtlander. It produced great images on digital with as the name suggests a classic style rendering. I’ve not tried it on film yet.


17. Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 (Modern M mount or vintage LTM/CRF mount)

In the past I owned a current production Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 ZM (M mount). Very nice lens but with 0.9m MFD. I sold and have struggled to buy a good copy since (as many are not calibrated to be sharp at f1.5). The vintage Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 LTM mount (or Contax RF mount as I have) is impressively sharp at f2.

18. Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 VM

There are a several versions of the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 lens. The current production lens, “version 2” is beautiful and compact but a little soft wide open at f1.5. The older Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 ASPH lens is excellent and from my testing gives a look similar to the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH. Very fine detail rendering compared to other 50mm lenses I use.

19. Leica Elmar 5cm f3.5 LTM (50mm)

The smallest Leica lens for your camera. A vintage screw mount lens but will fit on Leica M cameras via a simple L39-M adapter (Cheap on eBay). I use it mostly on Leica iii cameras but it would be fine on my Leica M3 too.

20. TTArttisan 50mm f0.95 (Need to calibrate, hence not in my top 10)

Brilliant lens on mirrorless cameras such as my Leica SL but it doesn’t come calibrated out of the box so it’s not in my top ten. Also it is a very big lens for M mount so it causes viewfinder blockage and makes a Leica M camera very front heavy.


Leica repairs and servicing

If you have a Leica camera in need of repair, a CLA or servicing check out my directory –

Can’t afford a Leica camera?

No problem. I also use a cheap Kiev 4a camera and it can achieve very similar results.

Remote Learning!

Click Here ↗

Leica+Model Workshops

Click Here ↗

Want Help?

Click Here ↗

Monthly Updates: Videos+Blogs

Click Here ↗


You may also like – Leica M3 videos

6 thoughts on “Best 50mm Lens for Leica M Camera x20 (Leica M3 Female Portraits)”

  1. Hi Matt,
    I have read your overview of 50mm lenses. Besides the APO Voigtländer 50mm 2.0 my favourite 50mm lens is the Konika Hexanon 50mm 2.4, a retractable six-lens. It has a similar construction to the Summarit 2.5 and is very sharp when fully opened. I usually use it on the M3, sometimes also on the SL2. Unfortunately, only 2000 of this lens were produced from 1996 onwards. If you can ever buy one, you should definitely snap it up.
    Best regards

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Thanks Jorg, Konika Hexanon 50mm 2.4 – nice. I know it but haven’t used it yet. Noted thanks!

  2. Matt: the 50mm f2.8 is a lens I use quite a lot, however I have a 40 f2 Leica lens too. That produces excellent images and I use it as a 35mm. As for portraiture, why all the girls? I’m gay and like taking pix of men. Yes, there’s an erotic element to photographing scantily clad girls, but a lot of guys are highly photogenic. I was out only recently with my Leica M3 and encountered a big black guy who was very friendly. We talked about photography and it turned out that he was in a class at school. I mentioned that the emphasis seemed mainly on women and he agreed. So I asked him if I could take some shots of him and he whipped off his rugger top. Boy did he look good. Regrettably married and straight but with an amazing sense of humour. I got some great shots of him and later sent him some by post. So I’m thinking that the camera club members would be horrified by the suggestion by a gay male member that they engage a male model next time? Well, the rampantly heterosexual married man wouldn’t even get his camera out.

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Thanks David, I just replied to another similar comment you made. If I see a guy that looks good I ask them to pose too.. I interupted a photoshoot in the street in Warsaw a few months back to shoot the guy with my Barnack (despite not speaking the language). If someone looks good i’m happy to photo them. I’m less interested in asking them to take their clothes off as that’s not my interest. It’s good the guy had some humour. This is common for girls shooting girls, they play the girl card and can get all access much easier. I think men don’t care like girls so most will get their top off if you ask. I went through a phase of walking round night clubs with no top on in my 20s and it attracted all the men no the girls haha.

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hi Demosthenes, thanks. That adapter is for Leica iii cameras (LTM) and will not fit Leica M camera. It is for Elmar LTM mount lens. Hope that helps. Matt

Leave a Reply