COATED! LEITZ 1938 2.0/50mm SUMMAR LENS Yes that is correct, a coated 1938 Leitz Summar lens!
Leica camera not included!
This is a COATED example of the famous Summar lens designed and produced for the prewar Leica screw mount cameras. The Summar was of course Leitz’s first “super speed” lens and it was the top of the line lens for the prewar Leica. (Followed by the f2.5/50mm Hector and the 3.5/50mm Elmar.)
This particular lens was produced in 1938 and what is unusual is that the glass is coated. (Please see photos) A normal Summar lens was of course uncoated because the coating process was proprietary technique invented by Zeiss and used on optics during WWII. After the war however and through the 1950’s it was possible to return cameras and lenses to Leitz for an upgrade. It was expensive but cameras could be upgraded to the latest specifications. And if desired, lenses could be disassembled, cleaned, coated and reassembled. I’ve been told that because of the complexity and high cost, relatively few lenses Summar lenses were coated. As a result coated Summars are very difficult to find. The nice thing about all of this is that the coating doesn’t change the optical signature of the lens, so you end up with a lens with produces an attractive vintage look but is easier to use and less likely to flare. This makes it an ideal lens for a photographer (such as a WWII reenactor) who want to work and shoot with a vintage lens regularly.
The 2.0/50mm Summar lens was a popular choice for a Leica and was often used by photojournalists and artists when a 3.5/50 Elmar simply wasn’t fast enough. Now-a-days, owners like to shoot the lens up close and wide open. The results are often praised for its soft Leica glow. In the hands of a skilled photographer it can be also used effectively as a portrait lens.
Naturally this lens was intended to be used on a Leica screw mount camera but it works well on other film based rangefinder cameras. I should also mention that many owners enjoy using their Summars on mirrorless digital cameras by simply using an inexpensive adapter. (These are easy to find on eBay).
Cosmetically this 80 year old lens has some signs of use of course but most collectors will agree that it’s a very lovely example. (Please see photos.) The glass is very clean. Focus and aperture adjustments function smoothly. The aperture blades are clean. There are no scratches, separated elements, crystallization or other problems. And it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
All in all, a very lovely, hard to find coated Summar lens. It offers plenty of performance while still fitting easily into a pocket. An impressive lens for your classic Leica when a 3.5/50 Elmar simply isn’t fast enough…I’ve been collecting classic cameras for over 40 years and in that time I’ve only come across three or four coated Summars. So if you’ve been looking for one, then your search is over and I’m sure that you’ll be very happy with it. The lens is nearly 80 years old and shows obvious signs of work but for a 75 year old lens this old it’s in pretty good shape. As you can see in the photos it looks nice mounted on a Leica. The glass has some fine scratches and there is some light haze but you’d have to look at it pretty carefully to notice it. Focus and aperture adjustments function smoothly. The aperture blades are clean and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with that classic Leica look. All in all a lovely collectable lens that offers a lot of prewar performance while still fitting easily into a pocket. An impressive, super speed lens for your classic Leica when a 3.5/50 Elmar simply isn’t fast enough…