adapters, lens

60 year old lenses on Mirrorless and Leica Digital

The famed “Japanese Summilux”.

Recently I purchased from a Japan used camera dealer, a mint copy of the famed Japanese Summilux 50mm f/1.4 lens made by Canon in the late fifties and early sixties. This lens is revered by many as a close copy of the Leica Summilux from the same time period. It is sharp, without being clinically sharp and is wonderfully smooth on out of focus areas and skin.

Leica M10-R with Canon LTM 50mm f/1.4 – Japanese Summilux.

Canon 50mm f/1.4 Leica Thread Mount Japanese Summilux

To use the older style Leica Thread Mount lenses, you can purchase adapters via B&H Photo, Amazon or CameraQuest. CameraQuest carries RayQual adapters, which are made in Japan and definitely a step up from the adapters made in China. I used this lens on my Leica M10’s and on a Fuji XT-4 with a Leica M to Fuji X adapter made by Novoflex. (high-end German manufacturer)

Portrait of photographer friend/photo editor Alex Snyder was made with this lens in a Alexandria, Virginia rental studio. Processed straight in Capture One using a the Fuji Acros film simulation.

Alex Snyder photographed with the Canon 50mm F/1.4 on a Fujifilm XT-4. The XT-4 is an APC sensor, which makes this lens an equivalent to a 75mm.

Yesterday, my wife and I took a long walk along the Potomac River south of Alexandria. She took her binoculars for bird spotting and I brought along the M10 with the Canon lens. (She spotted a bald Eagle, Red Shouldered Hawk and a Green Heron)

Hiding the sun behind a tree.
Straight into the sun the lens flares quite a bit – if you are into that sort of look.

The lens is prone to flare, which makes it unique and desirable for lifestyle, wedding and engagement photographers – not really my style but fun to play around the low contrast, low saturation files the lens produces.

Shot wide open the lens produces a unique look favored by many photographers.
Expect massive vignetting when shooting wide-open.
Our Maine Coon Cat, Fergus. Background separation is good when close to the subject. 1 Meter is the limit for close-in photographs.

There are several in-depth video reviews by photographers on this lens. On Youtube type in Japanese Summilux. My favorite is by Matt Osborne, who calls himself Mr. Leica. He shoots primarily black and white portraits and is based in the UK.

There are quite a few of these lenses on eBay from Japanese camera stores. The range in price and condition. Mine was the cleanest of the ones up for sale that week. It is an old lens, so look out for fungus, scratches and loose elements.