Leica Summarit 50 1.5

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  • tsinik55

    In Soviet Union its exact copy was produced as Jupiter-3 up to 1988, in M39 and Contax versions.

    • Brian

      The Jupiter-3 is based on the Zeiss 5cm F1.5 Sonnar, completely different formula and character compared with the Summarit.

  • Thanks for the comprehensive and thoughtful review! Stopped down, I think that any shooter will appreciate the sharpness and separation with creamy bokeh that the 5cm 1.5 Summarit offers. But no, the flare and softness at full aperture are not typically what an available light shooter is looking for. I find that shooting in contrastier light with a contrasty, high accutance film/developer can really lend some help at 1.5. The crescent shaped out of focus points of light and slight swirlios really give this lens character that, for me, compensates for its shortcomings. I also enjoy the size and weight of this lens. It feels a bit heavy for my IIIc but fits great on my M6 TTL and finder blockage is minimal even with the original hood mounted. Admittedly, however, I switch to a modern 50/1.5 when I want that sharper, more glassy look at full aperture. Anyway, here are some of my results with the Leitz 50mm 1.5 Summarit.


  • Brian

    I’ve taken 5 of these apart, each one was scribed “51.1” internally, less than what the Leica RF is calibrated for. “Why would they do that”…The lens is optimized for F2.8 when used close-up, and optimized for F1.5 for infinity. This is one way of dealing with focus shift on a rangefinder camera. I modified one of mine, increased the focal length by backing out the rear groups via a 0.2mm shim. It is optimized for F1.5 across range. The Summarit, and other Leitz lenses of that age had soft inner coatings that were subject to haze. Most benefit from a CLA.

    ANYWAY: some shots with the modified Summarit here:


    • Since the lens was actually built by Taylor Hobson, maybe it was calibrated for a different camera and Leica didn’t bother to changes this? Thanks for providing your insight!

      • Brian

        I believe that the 51.1mm focal length was the designer’s method of dealing with Focus Shift- The Summarit as made is optimized for F2.8 at 1m and F1.5 at infinity. The lens is over-corrected for spherical aberration, meaning at F2.8 the Summarit is closer to the 51.6mm standard. The lens is set in it’s focus mount (no shim used) to agree with the Rangefinder at F1.5 at Infinity. It’s the reverse of what I do when Shimming a Zeiss 52.4mm Sonnar to be accurate wide-open and close-up, and at infinity at F2.8. Focus shift for over-corrected lenses is towards infinity. Over-corrected lenses: the focal length at the center of the lens is greater than the focal length measured at the edges, stopping down gets rid of the shorter focal length component..

        The Xenon 5cm F1.5 uses the Hex shaped double-aperture similar to the Summar. This is another way of dealing with focus shift- it gradually cuts out edge components as you stop down. I picked up a clean copy of the Xenon, cleaned the haze from between the elements- much better that the reputation would have you believe. Of course, the Bloom on the elements makes it better than new.

  • Wilson Laidlaw

    Having recently acquired an LTM 1957 one of these, in lovely condition with very unusually, an unmarked front element, I was a bit taken aback by the lack of contrast at f1.5. There seemed to be a faint grey fog over everything. I will probably send it off for a clean, as it has some quite large particles of dust and debris in it and I am sure the elements either side of the diaphragm would benefit from a clean. If I compare the Summarit with my slightly earlier (1954) f1.5 Opton Sonnar, as far as contrast is concerned, the Sonnar wins hands down. The Summarit has slightly nicer bokeh and its field seems maybe just a touch flatter than the noticeably curved Sonnar’s focus field. I was doing the try outs on my Leica SL digital, so no aperture shift to take into account. I am sure it will be just fine with film on my Model III Leica, which is what I bought it for, so that I can move the Hektor 5cm/f2.5 from the III to a II, which currently has a dead Elmar on it, that is not worth repairing.

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