Thread: Need new 50mm - Zeiss vs Leica

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  1. #1 Need new 50mm - Zeiss vs Leica 
    Hey all,

    I'm looking for some opinions. Right now my workhorse is the trusty Sigma 18-35mm/1.8. I'm looking to add something a bit more "cinematic" to the line-up around 50mm. I'm thinking some vintage glass might do the trick. I've seen various reviews of the Zeiss Contax 50mm/1.4 and the Leica R Summicron 50mm/2, but can't make up my mind. Based on what I've seen, focus breathing seems ok on this focal length on both lenses. I've heard that the Leica has a long throw of the focus right, which is nice. I can't find much about the throw for the Zeiss. I'll probably have a cine-mod done on whatever I get at some point. Price-wise, the Zeiss Contax lenses seem about 1/2 the price of the Leicas, which would make building a full prime set down the road a bit lighter on the checkbook. Would love to hear some thoughts.
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  2. #2  
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    I own the leicas, pretty happy with them. But do miss 1.4 sometimes. But the summiluxes are so pricey.
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  3. #3  
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    Itís apples and cars. The Summicrons are about 3x the price, the Summiluxes are 10x the price of the CY. The CY can be declicked and Leitaxed pretty easily. I donít remember what the focus throw was but itís a full manual lens so itís somewhere between auto and cinema. Long focus throw, imho, can be too much of a good thing. I have to take the hard stops off my follow focus on one of my lenses because it requires about 540 degrees of rotation from end to end.

    As much as I like the CY I think youíll be disappointed with the performance compared to the Sigma. Consider a modern lens that matches the Sigma then knock them both down with a little filtration.
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  4. #4  
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    An excellent 50mm CY is going to be $350 to $400 so pick one up put a $15 Fotodiox adapter on it and see what you think.

    It is a lovely image.

    If you don't like it pm me with pics of the len, receipt from where you bought it and I'll likely take it off your hands.
    I am in a rental market in Argentina that prefers this to the current glass.
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  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by Howie Roll View Post
    Itís apples and cars. The Summicrons are about 3x the price, the Summiluxes are 10x the price of the CY. The CY can be declicked and Leitaxed pretty easily. I donít remember what the focus throw was but itís a full manual lens so itís somewhere between auto and cinema. Long focus throw, imho, can be too much of a good thing. I have to take the hard stops off my follow focus on one of my lenses because it requires about 540 degrees of rotation from end to end.

    As much as I like the CY I think youíll be disappointed with the performance compared to the Sigma. Consider a modern lens that matches the Sigma then knock them both down with a little filtration.
    Yes, I agree about long focus throw. I threw in the Sigma for comparison sake. You move a millimeter and focus changes drastically. I don't need full 300 degree rotation, but something with a little longer throw would be nice.

    I'm curious as to what you mean about being disappointed with performance.

    While the Sigma is a workhorse, I'm not happy with the image. That modern flat look is what's bothering me. Otherwise, I'd just grab the 50mm Art to match my 18-35mm.
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  6. #6  
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    I think both the Contax CY & Leica-R lenses have a lovely character - especially on digital sensors.

    I have a Contax CY 50mm f/1.4 & Leica Summicron-R 50mm f/2 - both with Leitax mounts. The build quality on both are excellent and made to last. Both have a low contrast look that grades a lovely organic feel. Neither are as sharp at the Sigma, but are still plenty sharp enough. For my tastes, this demand for sharper & shaper lenses is a waste of time. The character of lens is more important - and sharpness is only one character in a list of potentially many.

    If you're after something that will 'feel' more organic, then either will do the job. The Contax are probably better value for money - cheaper, faster and probably just a tad sharper. Though does get a slight 'glow' when wide open - which can be magical.

    BTW, I have a spare Leica Summicron-R 50mm f/2 I've been meaning to sell for a while. It excellent condition. Let me know if you're interested.
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  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by trispembo View Post
    I think both the Contax CY & Leica-R lenses have a lovely character - especially on digital sensors.

    I have a Contax CY 50mm f/1.4 & Leica Summicron-R 50mm f/2 - both with Leitax mounts. The build quality on both are excellent and made to last. Both have a low contrast look that grades a lovely organic feel. Neither are as sharp at the Sigma, but are still plenty sharp enough. For my tastes, this demand for sharper & shaper lenses is a waste of time. The character of lens is more important - and sharpness is only one character in a list of potentially many.

    If you're after something that will 'feel' more organic, then either will do the job. The Contax are probably better value for money - cheaper, faster and probably just a tad sharper. Though does get a slight 'glow' when wide open - which can be magical.

    BTW, I have a spare Leica Summicron-R 50mm f/2 I've been meaning to sell for a while. It excellent condition. Let me know if you're interested.
    That is my feeling as well. I'm not a fan of the flatter/sharper modern look.

    I've heard that the Zeiss' mix better with other lenses, but then again, I'm not sure I buy that it matters as much as it's made out to be.

    If I'm being honest, the Zeiss hasn't really inspired me much. I like hearing other people's experiences, as there are many factors to consider. My thought is that whatever I get, that's the system I'm going to buy into over the next year or so. I'm leaning towards the Leica based on the samples I've seen, but the price difference is a consideration.
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  8. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mralmostpopular View Post
    That is my feeling as well. I'm not a fan of the flatter/sharper modern look.

    I've heard that the Zeiss' mix better with other lenses, but then again, I'm not sure I buy that it matters as much as it's made out to be.

    If I'm being honest, the Zeiss hasn't really inspired me much. I like hearing other people's experiences, as there are many factors to consider. My thought is that whatever I get, that's the system I'm going to buy into over the next year or so. I'm leaning towards the Leica based on the samples I've seen, but the price difference is a consideration.
    Yep, that's why I sold all my Canon L glass and inversted in vintage Contax, Leica, Canon FD & Mamiya Sekor-C 645. All manual. All vintage. All built to last a LONG time.

    If you haven't already done so, here's probably the best resources around discussing the Contax CY & Leica-R lenses.

    Contax Zeiss CY:
    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthr...Survival-Guide

    Leica-R:
    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthr...n-RED-Pictures

    Get on the forums and ask questions. There's loads of users of both systems that can answer any questions you have.

    Ultimately, you will be creating great images with either lens system.
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  9. #9  
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    You do realize the Contax lenses were made by Zeiss, and are very close in IQ to the original Zeiss ZF/ZE series lenses. The Contax lenses are very nice IQ wise, loved them on my Contax cameras.
    Cheers
    Last edited by Denny Smith; 11-08-2017 at 12:53 AM.
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  10. #10  
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    I don't think anyone here is questioning the quality of the CY lens but I don't think it would pair well with the 18-35mm, nor would it be a good replacement. If you want something classic/vintage to replace the Sigma look at the CY Zeiss 28mm F2.0.

    Good Luck
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