I should start by saying that this is not a technical review of the rigid Summicron; there are no shots of Air Force test charts or brick walls, and no lines-per-millimetre resolution tables, nor any comparisons with other similar lenses. This is simply a brief overview of the lens and a series of photographs of a friend I took last weekend. Technical reviews certainly have their place but, for me, what is important is how a lens performs in real-world situations, so that is how this review is written.
My particular copy of this lens is one of the first 2000 made, and dates from 1956, the year of this model’s introduction. The glass is in very nice condition and not inflicted by the usual cleaning marks on the front element, nor any fogging or fungus. Mechanically, it is also in great shape with smooth focusing and positive aperture click stops.
The Summicron is a compact lens, but no lightweight at 340 grams due to it’s all metal construction of the barrel, focusing and aperture mechanisms. That said, it handles very well on the compact Leica M bodies, with the balance being almost perfect on my M3.
In use, this is an incredibly sharp lens, and has a very distinct way of rendering out of focus areas (bokeh). Overall it gives a very pleasing ‘vintage’ feel to images, particularly in black and white, and is my most used lens for my Leica.
Here are the photos, taken at the Grist Mill in Norris, Tennessee, on Fuji Neopan 400 film.