Leica 50mm Summicron F/2 Rigid
The Leica 50mm Summicron v2 or Rigid is one of Leica's most renowned lenses for being the kit lens on the legendary M3 and excellent performance, which is still one of the best Leica lenses even to this day. I got this lens with a Leica M3. This set up was a vast departure from the Leica M5 and Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 I was using previously. This version of the 50mm Summicron is often pictured with the Leica M3 as they came out during the same period.
The Leica 50mm Summicron v2 was produced between 1956 and 1968 and was produced in both the new Leica M mount as well as a handful in the preexisting Leica M39 screw mount. The lens has ten aperture blades with full stop clicks from F/2 to F/16 and seven elements in six groups. As this lens was designed around the same time as the Leica M3 it has a minimum focus distance of 1 meter which was changed to the standard 0.7 meter in 1969 with the introduction of the version three Summicron.
While using this lens, it was paired with my Leica M3 and Ilford HP5 film which combined with this lenses classic characteristics gives some of the images a timeless quality to them. This lens renders images with low contrast due to the lack of modern coatings. The contrast can be adjusted either in editing software or in the way the film is developed so I don’t see this as being a big issue. My version of this lens was built in 1960 and apart from a small scuff on the front element it performed as it did over 58 years ago, with a smooth focusing ring and a clicky aperture ring. In the images above and below you can see how the lens is optically perfect with no distortion and razor-sharp images.
Though I really fell in love with this lens at the time I was mainly shooting with my 28mm nine times out of ten so decided to sell in return for store credit which meant I didn’t lose that much money. I sold this lens in 2016 and have owned several 50mm lenses since then and only the Voigtlander 50mm F/1.5 Nokton rivals this lens. Though the Voigtlander is a modern lens it is based on an older design so performs very similarly to the Leica Summicron v2. The only issue I ever had with the Summicron v2 was the infinity lock, which I personally didn’t like the addition of, but this was common among lenses from the 1950’s and 1960’s. If you are looking for a classic 50mm lens it doesn't get much better than the Leica 50mm Summicron v2, though there are a few things to note before buying this lens. Firstly, as s stated above the minimum focus distance is 1 meter compared to 0.7 meters of newer lenses. Secondly, because of the age of these lenses it can be hard to find them in good condition with haze, fungus, scratches and stiff focusing all being common problems in poor examples of this lens. Luckly this lens is very easy to service meaning most Leica technicians should not have an issue in fixing it. In 2016 when I sold this lens the camera store went on to sell it for £599 and since then the prices have skyrocketed with most v2 summicrons selling for upwards of £800 and the special black paint models selling for upwards of £7000. I would advise anyone who is interested in one of these lenses to pay the extra for a good copy with no issues as the prices will keep on climbing.