Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

 

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

(Hasselblad 501C + 50mm, 60mm, 80mm, 120mm, 150mm lenses)
(Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens)

Intro

Firstly, sorry for the delay on this!  I know a few of you asked me about it weeks ago and I said then I’d share my thoughts soon.  At least waiting til after two trips overseas using the Mamiya 6 I can now give a fair writeup  versus my Hasselblad 501C.  As a quick recap I recently bought the Mamiya 6 to provide a smaller alternative to my 500 series Hasselblad for trips abroad (especially).  Both cameras are 6×6 medium format film cameras taking 120 film.  Both camera are roughly the same price with the Mamiya 6 probably costing slightly more here in the UK due to there being not many Mamiya 6 cameras on the market.  My Hasselblad 501C was my favourite camera before buying the Mamiya 6 so expectation was very high.  Both cameras seem to receive positive reviews from reading prior to my purchase so without further ado lets crack on.

Size Comparison – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

I love the modular 500 series Hasselblad cameras but I only use mine with a prism viewfinder which unfortunately adds both size and weight.  I wish I could focus accurately without the prism finder but I really cannot see properly with Acute Matte non-spot screen glass.  It is perhaps my biggest disappointment with the Hasselblad as I love the waist level viewfinder view / experience on my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera.  The Hasselblad 80mm kit lens is the most compact followed by the 100mm from those I have owned.  My go to lenses are the 60mm Distagon (second shortest of my Zeiss lenses and gives a very usable field of view) and 120mm Makro-Planar for close up portraits and ultimate image quality (more on that to follow below).  The Hasselblad has the advantage of a removable film back so I can use two film backs and have colour film and black and white film running side by side without having to finish a roll.  My Mamiya 6 has the 75mm lens which is the smallest of the 50mm, 75mm and 150mm lens line up.  The Mamiya 6 design allows the lens to partially retract when not in use making the camera small enough to fit in my Leica M camera bag. The bag I use is a Billingham Hadley Digital and the Mamiya 6 will just fit with lens down into the bag.  The size benefit of the Mamiya 6 is not to be under estimated.

Ease of Use – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Being ‘Mr Leica’ is it perhaps no surprise that I love rangefinder style cameras.  The Mamiya 6 like the Leica M cameras is a rangefinder focus design and I love the fact that I have a definitive focus confirmation regardless of the F stop.  I am a little short sighted and wear prescription glasses for driving but not when using cameras.  As such I enjoy knowing that a subject is in focus with a rangefinder when the subject is further away.  That said my biggest complaint of rangefinder cameras is I cannot focus as close as I would like.  Leica M cameras are my bread and butter so it is just normal for me to not be able to focus at a distance closer than 0.7m.  If I then add a Hasselblad 501C to the mix you can imagine my joy when I can focus in really close, especially with the Zeiss 120mm Makro-Planar lens.  I love nothing more than viewing subject through the big bright Hasselblad viewfinder.  If I could see every day life with the same view the Hasselblad gives I think the world would be a more beautiful place!

The Mamiya 6 rangefinder design lets me work at slower shutter speeds / lower light levels at the same aperture as it has no mirror to flap inside causing vibration.  I have shot the Mamiya 6 at a shutter speed of 1/8-1/15 and got a decent photo handheld.  I tend to use the Hasselblad handheld too for ease and shoot normally at a shutter speed of 1/60-1/125 with the light levels I am in.  That said, if I am honest to myself I think I can get more and sharper photos if go back to using a monopod.  I plan to try using a monopod again to compare results. Sometimes I am not sure if I moved or the model moved when using a very shallow depth of field and the eyes are not as sharp as I want.  I find the Hasselblad tends to pull me in perhaps too close at times resulting in many close up portraits.  The Mamiya 6 on the other hand let me work easily at a distance giving images with a different style and lets me make better use of the location.

Image Sharpness – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

The main section of this post and to me what it all boils down to is image quality and more specifically for me image sharpness.  The Hasselblad had set the bench mark very high so the Mamiya 6 had a lot to live up to.  When I read ‘film vs digital’ reviews online the film camera used is often a Mamiya 7 as perhaps the best example camera film can offer in terms of sharpness, say (excluding large format).  To my knowledge the image quality of Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 lenses is not noticeably different.  As such I expected very good results from the Mamiya 6.  To explain further and to cover myself, the Mamiya 6 photos / experience / review is based on the 75mm lenses I own.  The Hasselblad has an advantage as I have the Zeiss 50mm Distagon CF, 60mm Distagon CF, 80mm Planar CF, 120mm Makro-Planar CF and 150mm Sonnar CF lenses.  I have also owned the Zeiss 100mm Planar CF lens.  If I have to place these lenses in order of sharpness I would say 120mm first, 50mm/60mm/100mm about equal (without thorough testing), 150mm and lastly  the 80mm.  I am rarely happy with the results from my 80mm lenses.  The 150mm Sonnar gives a completely different look to the other lenses, a less fine more buttery smooth image.  My conclusions of the Hasselblad 501C performance is based on the 60mm/120mm lenses that I use most often.

So how does the  image sharpness compare between the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6.  The Mamiya 6 does produce fine grained (if I can describe it like that, regardless of film stock) sharp images with lots of detail captured, with the lens shot wide open or stopped down.  It is perhaps comparable to a sharp digital image in that the image is flat but sharp.  I find it good for further away subjects especially like full body shots.  The Hasselblad 501C and it’s Zeiss lenses produces a different sharpness.  The next few sentences may make some readers cringe as they have read it a 100 times but I cannot describe it any more accurately.  The Zeiss optics on the Hasselblad camera make an image ‘pop’.  There is a lot written online about the mystically Zeiss 3D pop look but it is just fact in this instance.  The Mamiya 6 photos are very flat and to me lack the wow factor.  They are documentary style photos accurately capturing the detail in the scene but they lack the zing.  I don’t take photos to capture ordinary.  I try to create the extra-ordinary as cheesy as that sounds!

Fluff aside, how do the Hasselblad photos differ and perhaps why?  It seems the Zeiss optics have greater micro-contrast which helps give the apparent additional sharpness.  The Zeiss optics focus closer which gives a shallower depth of field at the same given aperture helping to give the 3D look.  Focusing closer can increase image distortion with wider lenses which can also give a kind of 3D look to an image.  Focusing closer to a face naturally lets me see every eye lash and skin pore using the Hasselblad that I can’t see as closely with the Mamiya 6 as I am too far away.  As such the Hasselblad photos look sharper to my eyes.

With all the excuses aside, I am 99.99% sure that my Hasselblad photos are a bit or a lot sharper than the Mamiya 6 photos.  Some Hasselblad negatives need no additional sharpening after scanning whereas I think I always boost sharpness with the Mamiya 6 film scans.  I tend to process all my film scans to bring out the sharpness in a image regardless of the camera I use.  All the example photos below have been processed but it is worth noting that each photos is probably as sharp as I can get it without introducing additional grain / over doing it (too much)(to my eyes / taste).

Conclusion – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Based on the cameras and lenses I use and the resulting photos I would say the Hasselblad 501C camera images appear sharper that the Mamiya 6. I will also say the Hasselblad Zeiss optics render images in a much more pleasing way, to my eyes and taste.  I prefer the Hasselblad camera for close up portraits and when working within up to say 1.5m distance.  The Mamiya 6 for me is still a keeper due to it’s compact size, rangefinder focus system and being sharp enough for me to use happily.  It is not always possible to carry the Hasselblad with me when working with models overseas so the Mamiya 6 is my next best option.  If carrying gear was no option I would take both cameras to a shoot and use the Hasselblad for <1m photos and the Mamiya 6 for those at a greater distance.  I would perhaps get the Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lenses for wide shots and have the 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar on the Hasselblad.  This combination would also suit me well for film wedding photography for my style of working.

I am not interested by a Mamiya 7 as I prefer the 6×6 film format of the Mamiya 6 (versus 6×7) and the retractable lenses of the Mamiya 6.

Below are lots of example images using the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 with different models, different film, different light so you can make up your own mind on what camera produces the ‘nicer’ images to your taste.  I have also included a sneak peek of a few images to come from my Poland and Ukraine trips as I didn’t have enough examples photos from the Mamiya 6 in the UK.

Thanks

Hasselblad 501C Portraits

Hasselblad Portrait
Hasselblad Film Portrait
Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6 !!
Hasselblad Fashion
Hasselblad 501C + Delta 100
Flashback
Hasselblad + Zeiss Sonnar 150
Hasselblad Double Exposure Fashion
Hasselblad 501C
Hasselblad 501C + Sonnar
120 Ilford Pan F 50
Hasselblad + Pan F 50
Haselblad 501C Portrait
Hasselblad + Fomapan 100
Hasselblad Studio Session
Pageant Girl
London Model Shoot
120 Ilford FP4+
Zeiss Planar 80mm

Mamiya 6 Portraits

Mamiya 6 + 75mm Lens
Mamiya 6 Sharpness
Mamiya 6 + 75 + Tri-X
Fomapan 100@800
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Summer Vibe
Mamiya 6 Rangefinder
The view from my hotel, Ukraine

Related Posts

 

Advertisements

Hasselblad Camera Cafe London

Hasselblad Camera Cafe London

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

November 2015

Camera Cafe

In September this year I bought my first Hasselblad camera and now I cannot image life without it. As someone that has probably always sounded like a Leica fanboy, I never expected to like the Hasselblad camera system so much.

When I get into something I go all in. I bought my Hasselblad 501C medium format camera with the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 kit lens and also got the Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 and the Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 lenses at the same time. In my head I then wanted to get a longer lens for the Hasselblad, such as a 250mm. I searched online and found there was a place in London specialising in Hasselblad equipment called the Camera Cafe. I buy most of my camera equipment online but loved the idea of bein able to try a lens before I buy. I’m sure the later is the norm for most sain people!

On my next model photography trip to London I made some time to visit the Hasselblad Camera Cafe. It ticked all the boxes as I could refuel with a nice cup of coffee and chat cameras / try lenses all at the same time. I arrived with both my Hasselblad 501C and Leica M240 + Noctilux setup and soon got chatting with the staff. I had just come from their sister store, Aperture Photographic where I get my cameras repaired and had just collected my recalibrated Leica M3.

Here is a photo I took while I was drinking my coffee. There was not a huge amount of light so I used a shutter cable release and shot at 1/8 with the camera rested on the table.  This is my original Hasselblad camera and kit lens.

  • Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8

20150927-002332.jpg
Leica M3 Calibration

I then asked if I could try a few of the Hasselblad lenses they had in stock and here are the resulting images.

  • Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 4/120 CFE

CarlZeiss120mmv2
Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 4/120 CFE

I tried some longer lenses but the likes of the 250mm are not really practical for day to day portraits and travelling around as it is so big and heavy.

  • Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss Sonnar 250mm f5.6 CF

zeiss250mm2
Zeiss Sonnar 250mm f5.6 CF

Hasselblad Camera Cafe

  • Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF

sonnar180mmv2
Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF bokeh test

As I was on a roll trying the different lenses I then asked to try a Hasselblad super wide fish eye lens

  • Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss 30mm f3.5 CF F-Distagon

Distagon-1v2
Zeiss 30mm Distagon Fish Eye

*All photos shot on 120 Fomapan 100 Classic film (developed in Xtol)

The lens that won my heart on the day was the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 and I soon added that to my camera bag (as you may have seen from my Poland trip!).

I really enjoyed my visit to the Camera Cafe and met some fellow Hasselblad enthusiasts, both staff and customers. I will be back again soon and I highly recommend to anyone else with Hasselblad interests. For most other used camera brands such as Leica, Nikon, Canon, Mamiya etc I would recommend the Aperture Photographic store.

Thanks Camera Cafe!

Matt

Related Links

 

Leica – Hasselblad Wedding

Leica – Hasselblad Wedding

(The Ultimate Partnership!)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica.com

September 2015

Intro

Yesterday I had a special wedding to photograph in London. Every wedding is special but for the camera geeks among us this was special on a different level. I was chosen by a fellow Leica M 240 photographer’s wife to cover their wedding as I use a camera they both know and trust. In the lead up to the wedding I was looking to buy a Hasselblad medium format film camera so asked them if they would be happy for me to use it on their wedding day. It turned out the Leica shooter was actually a previous Hasselblad nut and had all the best equipment, bodies, lenses, finders and even a digital back! Not only that but he was selling it all to concentrate on Leicas. To cut an even longer story short, we agreed that the wedding payment could made in a currency I know well… Cameras!!

My new Hasselblad camera kit

  • Hasselblad 501C body (mint / boxed) + WLF + A12 film back + Hood
  • Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens
  • Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF lens
  • Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF lens
  • Hasselblad PM 45 degree prism viewfinder

Meet the gang! My new Hasselblad trio - 50mm, 80mm, 150mm. Fresh back from yesterday's wedding in London! #hasselblad #hasselblad501c #zeiss #distagon #planar #sonnar #prism #filmcamera #filmwedding #film #mediumformat #6x6 #cameraporn #ilovefilm #ishootf

I knew the wedding venue was going to be a low light affair as I had visited in advance to meet the couple. ISO 800-3200 using available light. I was glad I had upgraded my Leica M body from the M9 to the M 240 with its higher usable ISO. That said I was worried that there would not be sufficient light to handhold the Hasselblad camera without motion blur.  With that in mind I treated my new Hasselblad rig to a lightweight monopod and head.  I already have an aluminium Manfrotto monopod but find it too heavy to lug around with ease so it tends not to get used. I read various monopod reviews and the clear winner to me was the Sirui.  As such I bought –

  • Sirui P-326 carbon monopod
  • Manfrotto 234RC quick release tilt head

Wedding macro photos

Leica cameras are not ideal for macro photography so when I take more than one camera to a wedding I like to have the option to shoot close up with the second camera.  As such before my Hasselblad arrived I bought a 21mm Hasselblad extension tube.  Used on the 80mm Zeiss Planar it lets me get very close to my subject and on the 150mm Sonnar something inbetween the Planar with the macro extension tube and the lens without.  I fitted the 21mm extension tube to the 80mm for a few wedding detail photos during the day so it was money well spent.

Cameras for the wedding

Camera bag. My kit could be split into 2. The Hasselblad camera kit bag and the Leica M camera kit bag.

Hasselblad camera kit

The Hasselblad kit consisted of the items listed above but with the addition of a loan lens for the day, the amazing Zeiss Distagon 40mm f4 lens for the wide angle shots. I used this instead of my new 50mm Distagon as I needed the extra width indoors.

Leica M camera kit

  • Leica M240 digital body (mine)
  • Leica M240 body (loan from groom as backup camera)
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v2
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 (not used)
  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5

Film choice

I knew I needed a film that I could push up to ISO 1600 and maybe even ISO 3200. My first plan was to buy Ilford Delta 3200 film but then I noticed on Flickr that people push Ilford HP5 400 film +2 stops to ISO 1600 with ease and even +3 stops up to ISO 3200.  Delta 3200 film can be quite grainy even in 120 format and is more pricey than HP5.  HP5 400 film loks like it can be pushed +2 stops to ISO 1600 and still get reasonably clean (low grain) negatives. As such I bought a supply a 120 Ilford HP5 film for the wedding. Luckily we had some sun outide so I was able to expose the HP5 at ISO 800. I used a shutter speed of 1/60 where possible and 1/30 where insufficient light. When there was even less light in the evening I added strobe light to boost light levels.  I used all lenses at their widest apertures with the Hasselblad on the new monopod and with a shutter cable release.  I also used the 45 degre PM prism for all photos as find it much easier to focus.

Tonight testing the new #hasselblad ! 😊 #hasselblad501c #mediumformat #film #ilford #hp5 #120film #6x6 #ilovefilm #filmisnotdead www.MrLeica.com

Reality check

At times like this it really makes me appreciate my little Leica M3 rangefinder cameras. With a f1.4 lens I could have shot at the equivalent of ISO 200 (vs Zeiss Planar 80f2.8)(2 stops brighter) and handheld the camera for still photos at 1/15 (vs 1/60 with Hasselblad) giving me the equivalent of a useable ISO of 50 on the M3 vs ISO 800 on the Hasselblad.

The Wedding

  • Digital Leica M 240 – provided the practical, quick response, portable, non-imposing camera setup for when the wedding was moving at a faster pace.
  • Hasselblad 501C – brought the fun and excitement when the pace was slower and I had the time to carefully craft my images.
  • Leica M3 film camera (or perhaps the Nikon F4 SLR) –  offer the perfect middle ground being both fast and film. Win win (but not present on the day).

The Results

I’m looking forward to reviewing the digital images from the wedding but I absolutely can’t wait to develop the Hasselblad film negatives to see how I got on.

Special Photos

It is nice to think that the Hasselblad 501C camera that the groom had bought new over 19 years ago (and that the bride remembers him using while she waited!) was used to photograph part of their wedding day.

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR Lens

I have always had the old Leica Summicron 50f2 DR (“Dual Range”) lens on my ‘to try’ list despite owning a modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.

New lens :) #Vintage #Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR with goggles for close focus. Looks beautiful on the #leicam3 :) #leicacamera www.MrLeica.com

When considering new glass my first reference point is Flickr. I ask myself ‘do the images with this lens have something special about them, regardless of the subject matter or talent of the photographer?’ My modern Leica Summicron 50f2 v5 lens is my least used 50mm as I tend to favour the Leica Noctilux 50f1 or Leica Summilux ASPH 50f1.4. The vintage Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 creates beautiful images but flares easily so not for all occasions. I sold the Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 and Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 but I don’t think I fully appreciated the strengths of the Sonnar until after it was sold. With the 50f1 Noctilux normally living on digital Leica M9 body I wanted another 50mm lens to live on the Leica M3 film camera. I shortlisted either another Zeiss Sonnar 50f1.5 or a vintage Leica Summicron 50f2 DR. I did a quick reality check for the usefulness of the two 50mm lenses.

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5 vs Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5

  • Fully functional on all my Leica M camera bodies
  • Modern lens coating so less prone to flare
  • Zeiss ‘3D’ pop look wide open
  • Sharp wide open
  • 50f1.5 is almost 1 stop brighter than 50f2 DR so more useful in low light
    BUT
  • Close focus only 1m (the reason I sold my first ZM Sonnar lens)
  • Some copies of the lens are said to have focus shift issues

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

  • Can close focus at 0.5m (0.478) when using goggles attachment
  • Sharp images wide open
  • Images have a signature ‘DR’ look that I dont see with the modern v5 Summicron lens
    BUT
  • Lens only functions at a range of 1-4m on my Leica M9 and M8 (no close up or infinity focus ability)(*note lens is fully functional on my Leica M3 and M2)(and non-TTL M6)
  • Have to attach-detach goggles every time you want to go from close focus (0.478-0.88m) to 1m to infinity

I was keeping my mind open then on a recent trip to Munich Germany I visited the Leica Munich store to say hello and to see if they had a Leica Summicron 50f2 DR lens in stock to try. Sadly they didn’t have in but instead kindly recommended a shop that may have one. I found the shop and my luck was in! They had two 50mm DR lenses. One copy of the lens was cheaper so I tried that one first. It was not calibrated with my Leica M9 so I tried the second copy and asked the store if I could take it out the shop to try in the street. I left the Noctilux lens with them as a small deposit and they smiled and agreed. What struck me most was the sharpness wide open at f2 and the beautiful way it rendered out of focus areas. It took maybe five test photos and that was all I needed to see. Sold to the man that has enough lenses already but felt a need for one more!

#cameraporn #leicam3 #leicacamera #rangefinder #vintagecamera #leica #summicron 50f2 DR + Goggles - www.MrLeica.com

I will sell my near mint modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens with box if anyone is looking buy one? I know many Leica shooters swear by them but I dont use it enough to keep.

Eager to try the Leica Summicron 50mm DR to its full potential I fitted it to my Leica M3 and shot half a roll of black and white Kodak T-Max 100 film which was already loaded in the camera. It was sunny and I felt I was missing out by not shooting colour during the golden hour. I had no 35mm colour film with me in Germany,  only 120 Portra for the Mamiya 645 Super. Luckily I discovered a small camera shop when out exploring and when I asked for colour film they opened a box of the old Kodak Portra 400 VC that they must have had in stock for years. I’ve only ever used the new Kodak Portra so was interested to try the older 400 VC Portra. The model had cancelled for the afternoon shoot so I took the opportunity to set myself a challenge.  Shoot a 36 exposure roll of film in one afternoon of anything and everything using the strengths of the Summicron 50 DR lens. To me this meant mostly shooting wide open at f2 with plenty of close ups and considering the out of focus areas for colour and bokeh. Results to follow!

#filmchallenge 1x roll of Kodak Portra 400 VC (36 exposures), 1x Leica M3 rangefinder film camera, 1x Leica Summicron 50f2 DR, 5 hours of walking the streets taking photos of anything that caught my eye and finished off with 1x KFC meal :) #kodakfilm #lei

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR vs Mamiya 645 / Mamiya RZ usage

My most used non Leica camera is currently the Mamiya 645 Super.  What I enjoy most about the Mamiya 645 and even more so the Mamiya RZ 67 (and Rolleiflex SL66E) which use bellows, is the ability to focus close to my subject.  To me that is one of the biggest weaknesses of the Leica M system, the 0.7m rangefinder closest focus distance. Now my Leica M3 will focus to 0.5m at f2 I am excited to try the Summicron 50 DR for my portrait work. Again, results to follow!

I feel the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR is the perfect lens for my Leica M3. The combination look beautiful together and function is on a par with form. If the combination looked pretty but wasnt capable of taking good images it would be worthless to me. I buy vintage cameras to use not to polish.

I hope to try the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR on both my Leica M9 and also Leica M3 this weekend so sample images coming soon.

Here is a test shot SOOC from outside the camera store.  Leica M9 JPEG

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR - SOOC

Ken Rockwell is a big fan of this lens. More tech detail here – http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/50mm-f2-dr.htm

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared

Leica M Mount 50mm Lenses Compared
MatthewOsbornePhotography – Leica Photographer

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared

As a Leica photographer I have now collected quite a few 50mm Leica M mount lenses. I am always interested how one lens performs against another and until I can decide my favourites I am not selling any. I thought it might be useful to do a quick comparison of 8 50mm lenses, 7 of which I own and 1 I was able to use for a day to try (Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95). I explain my thoughts, pros and cons of each lens based on my own experience and taste and using the lens copies I own. My findings may differ from your own or from comprehensive technical reviews that have been performed for each. I have included a sample photo from each lens to give you a real example but if you want to see more please visit my Flickr stream where I have an album set up for each lens I use –
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/sets

50mm Lemses – Pros and Cons of Each:

Zeiss ZM Planar 50f2:
Pros – Very sharp and contrasty. Focuses at 0.9m
Cons – Too sharp for some subjects! No built in hood.
Thoughts – Apparent clinical sharpness/ high contrast and unflattered for anything other than baby like skin
• Example Photo using a Leica M9
Leica M9 - B&W Film Look

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5:
Pros – Sharp in the centre and contrasty at f1.4. Nice rendering of OOF areas/ bokeh
Cons – Closest focus 1m. No built in hood.
Thoughts – Good apparent sharpness (high contrast) shot wide open with nice rendering. Fine for most portraits.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50/1.5 Portrait

Leica Summilux ASPH 50f1.4 (Lux 50):
Pros – Edge to edge clinical sharpness at f1.4. Focus at 0.7m. Built in hood.
Cons – Bigger than the Cron and ZM lenses. Modern look.
Thoughts – Sharpest 50 but lower contrast vs Zeiss. Best 50mm up close.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica Engagement Photography

Leica Summicron 50f2 v5 (Cron 50):
Pros – 39mm filter thread and built in hood. Focus at 0.7m. It does nothing badly
Cons – It has no one character to lift it above other 50s.
Thoughts – Great all rounder. It does nothing particularly well (vs. other 50s that each have a strong point) yet does nothing badly either. My least used 50 (excluding Jupiter 3 – has some focus shift to account for so not used much)
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica Summicron 50

Leica Summarit 50f1.5 (1950s):
Pros – Vintage look from the camera giving photos with that Leica glow. Cheap
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Soft, low contrast and prone to flare
Thoughts – Creates beautiful glowing portraits if used to its ‘strengths’ (Cons).
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Street Portrait

Leica Noctilux 50f0.95:
Pros – Edge to edge clinical sharpness at f0.95. Good subject background separation
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Very expensive. Heavy. 60mm filter thread. Modern look
Thoughts – very similar to Lux ASPH 50 in all respects but cannot focus at 0.7m.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica Noctilux f0.95

Leica Noctilux 50f1 v2 (1981):
Pros – Unique look images created – can resemble medium format/ large format film
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Expensive. Heavy. 60mm filter thread, Soft, Low contrast
Thoughts – Softer and lower contrast than all lenses list except Summarit 50f1.5. Nicest bokeh and rendering IMO.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica vs Mamiya RZ!

Russian Jupiter 3 50f1.5 (Zeiss Sonnar Clone):
Pros – Cheapest and great value for money. Contrasty giving apparent sharpness
Cons – Closest focus 1m, soft focus and prone to some flare
Thoughts – Similar to Leica Summarit in all respects but more contrasty
• Example Photo, Leica M9
M9 + Jupiter 3

Conclusion

What is my favourite Leica 50?

It depends on the task –

Lux ASPH 50 if I want tight crop headshots or edge to edge sharpness.
Noctilux 50 f1 if I want to create ‘better’ than reality photos and bokeh
Summarit f1.5 if I want a more vintage look from camera with lots of flare
ZM Sonnar for sharp environmental portraits
ZM Zeiss for the sharpest possible image

But if I could only own one 50mm lens?

• Noctilux 50 f1 – It can produce images like no other.

I hope you found it useful even if you do not agree with some of my findings. (I know the Leica Cron 50 is a very popular lens).

Matt – MrLeica.com

 

Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

Leica Lux ASPH 50/1.4 ..and compared to Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5

Here are a few examples with my most expensive Leica M mount lens, the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 (‘Lux’). I bought a used Lux on eBay really to see if all the Leica hype was justified. To be honest I had no real emotion or excitement in buying the lens or even holding it when it arrived. It had to impress me first with its capabilities. I have other nice lenses such as the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s on the Nikon D800 and the Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 and Zeiss ZM Sonnar C 50mm f1.5 for the Leica M9. The Lux had to beat these at its high price tag to secure a price in my Leica camera bag. I am almost pro non-Leica glass as like anyone I like to back the underdog. I use Russian lenses such as the Jupiter 3 50/1.5 (Soviet clone of the 1930s design Zeiss Sonnar) and Voigtlander glass such as the great value for money CV Nokton 40mm f1.4.

Can the Leica Summilux really be that good?

I took 3 lenses to London for some model test shoot street photography. I tried to rotate the lens I was using through the day however there are no real side by side comparison shots as I still had the fashion shoots to do. The 3 lenses selected were the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4, the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 and for wider shots the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii.

Results!

Once I got back I selected some of my favourites from the thumbnails images to post. I did not check the EXIF data until afterwards. Of the 17 photos taken so far 10 of those were with the Leica Lux ASPH, 4 with the ZM Sonnar and 3 with the CV Nokton 35/1.2. I think I was hoping the Zeiss ZM Sonnar would win but no, it seem the LUX ASPH 50mm is as good as the rave reviews make out.

Leica Summilux ASPH vs Zeiss ZM Sonnar – why is the Lux good?

1) The Summilux will focus slightly closer than 0.7M whereas the minimum focus distance of the Zeiss ZM Sonnar is 0.9M. This gives a more shallow DOF and nice bokeh.

2) Edge to edge sharpness across the image

3) Very sharp at infinity

4) No focus shift issues so can be used at ease at any aperture and can be relied upon.

5) Leica lenses hold their value.

6) Built in hood.

Leica Summilux ASPH vs Zeiss ZM Sonnar – why is the Sonnar better?

1) The ZM Sonnar is 2.5x cheaper yet produces just as good a Lux photo at 0.9M when shot wide open. I found it very difficult to tell what lens I had used for most of the photos.

2) The Zeiss ZM Sonnar is smaller and lighter and does not block the bottom right hand corner of the viewfinder.

3) Zeiss ZM lenses give photos a sharp constrasty look with a 3D pop subject-background separation and nice rendering from the softer corners of the image.

Thoughts so far..

I need to conduct some more scientific tests with side-by-side examples but at the moment I am very happy with the results from both the ZM Sonnar and Leica Summilux ASPH 50. Both lenses are very capable but as I like shallow depth of field images the Leica is winning at the moment. The Lux bokeh reminds me of the bokeh from the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s where is can appear to swirl behind the subject and change shape at the image corners. The Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s also produces this bokeh look.

Leica Wedding Photography

I feel I could rely on the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens for Leica wedding photography on my Leica M9. I would not need to worry about focus shift found on the Zeiss ZM Sonnar.  For documentary style wedding photography edge to edge sharpness shot wide open is great as the subjects are often not in the centre of the photo.  The fast f1.4 aperture makes the Lux great for low light photography when shooting by available light such as during a wedding ceremony.  The Zeiss ZM Planar 50/2 has similiar sharpness wide open however in low light f2 is often not bright enough for UK Leica weddings and the CV Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens is not as sharp wide open.

Example images with the Leica Summilux ASPH 50/1.4 on the Leica M9

Environmental Portraits – Models Angelique and Valentine

After Hours

Leica Summilux ASPH Bokeh

Summilux ASPH 50

Summilux ASPH 50/1.4

Other examples

Leica Summilux ASPH

Leica Summilux ASPH 50 is sharp!

London

Leica Street Photography

Clothes Show 2013

Clothes Show Live

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Wedding Photographer

Related Posts

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 C

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

Leica Wedding Photography

Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s

Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50/1.5

The sometimes under-rated Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm..

How would I describe the look of the ZM Sonnar.. I would say it is like a CV Nokton 40mm f1.4 but sharper and smoother yet just as much unique character.

I took the Leica M9 to London to meet two models for a day of on location enviromental portraits, shot on the street using available light. I wanted to test the Carl Zeiss ZM Sonnar C 50mm f1.5 against the almost 3x more expensive Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 away from the studio.  The Zeiss Sonnar is lighter and more compact yet feels just as well made.  The ‘Lux is known to have edge-to-edge sharpness whereas the Sonnar’s 1930s design is sharp in the centre and softer at the edges.  Perfect for Leica portrait photography.

This is the first of several posts showing a few examples using the Zeiss ZM Sonnar on the Leica M9.

First impressions from the location shoot photos I have looked at so far are I am extremely pleased with the results from the ZM Sonnar. The lens is sharp, with beautiful rendering and gives the subject that Zeiss 3D pop look with great subject-background seperation. I shot the Sonnar wide open most of the day but even with it stopped down to f5.6 on occasion I did not have any focus shift issues.

Here are a few more examples. I will add to the post so feel free to check back. Model Angelique

London Street Photography
River Thames

Here are a few Zeiss ZM Sonnar samples from the studio – Model Gina
Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50/1.5
Leica M9 + Sonnar
Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 T

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer