In ‘Viewfinder’ 2/16, in my article “Not a Collector”, I told of the consequences of my acquisition, many years ago, of a 28mm Summaron for a Leica IIF that I owned. Imagine my surprise when only a few months after the article was published Leica announced that they were producing a new series of these lenses in the M mount in order to exploit the much loved characteristics of a typical lens from the fifties era!
Although it was introduced very shortly after the iconic M3 became available in 1954, the original 28mm Summaron was only ever produced in screw thread mount. As it was the only 28mm available at that time it was also offered for M cameras with an appropriate screw to bayonet adapter. The lens was then discontinued in 1963 just before the first 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit became available for the M cameras. Total number produced has been quoted as just over 6000 so that the lens is relatively rare and has appealed mainly to collectors. A pity because it is a very good lens and with the ISO speeds available with today’s digital cameras the f/5.6 maximum aperture is no problem for most photographic needs.
With the new Summaron-M, however, we have an unusual opportunity to enjoy one of those earlier Leica lenses and to appreciate not only the characteristic optical style but also the compactness and elegance typical of the period.
MOUNT DESIGN & HANDLING
Courtesy Leica, I was recently fortunate to be able to try one of the new Summaron-M lenses and to compare it directly with my 1956 series lens. There are some minor differences in the construction of the two lens mounts. None of these are of any significance. The only one of any practical relevance is for anyone wishing to use the old A36 size filters on the new lens. The front of the new mount is almost 2mm greater diameter than the old. Not much, but it prevents the old A36 filters from fitting over it. Conversely the lens-hood for the new lens will not fit the old lens. As the old lens-hoods in mint condition are rare and can only be bought for astronomical prices this could be a disappointment for those owners of the older lens who might have hoped to have a source for a replacement. In any case the new hood has a smooth finish rather than the crackle of the original. The new lens has a 34mm screw-in filter size. These may be a little difficult to find but Heliopan make them and a number of dealers will supply them to special order.
The front element of the Summaron is well recessed in the mount and the hood is hardly necessary unless you are using a filter. It is effective but detracts significantly from the exceptional compactness of the lens. It also intrudes slightly into the bottom right hand corner of the viewfinder frame and I found that operating the aperture ring could sometimes be a bit fiddly with the hood in place. Generally speaking I tended not to bother with the hood! The click stops (these are only at full aperture settings) are positive. Focusing is smooth but as was normal for the period the closest focus of one metre needs almost a full 180-degree rotatation from infinity. You also have to remember to depress the infinity catch when moving off this setting! The illustrations of the IIf and the MP each with their contemporary lenses show how in the new iteration of the 28mm Summaron the knurling and lettering style have been very subtly adjusted to match current norms.