In March, I wrote three paragraphs about the V3 Summicron 50. That was a mistake. This lens deserves more. And, it deserves to be shot by a better photographer than me, and to be written about by someone that both understands and loves words more than me.
It is my favourite lens of all time.
It is small. It is sharp. It is light. It is contrasty, warm, smooth, and beautiful. It makes the nicest bokeh I've seen of any moderate-speed 50mm lens I've used, and rivals the best out there at any speed.
Best of all, it is one of the least-popular Summicron 50s out there, and as such, can be had for a few hundred dollars less than its modern rivals. Add to that that its focus throw is long, it lacks a focus tab, and its focus ring is ribbed for your pleasure, and you get a lens whose only drawback is the limits of rangefinder coupling.
Which, to be honest, can be a bugger. 70cm is roughly 52% longer a minimum focus distance than the 46cm of a 50mm SLR lens. And if you're a crop fanatic, more than double the minimum focus distance of a 35mm APS-C lens.
Coincidentally, I wrote about that in this article: Reach: APS-C's biggest advantage over FF.
Its coatings look fantastic under both controlled and natural lighting, and its barrel shape is typically rangefinder-esque, looking fantastic on a Leica M240:
My wife and I took a small trip to Nagano, Japan, for a bit of hiking, bicycling, swimming, and confronting idiotic salaried party goers whose dream it is to take their paralytic party to mother nature. (Unfortunately, this sort of behaviour is the norm here in Japanese campgrounds.) The lens I took along was the V3 50mm Summicron.
I even left my tripod at home.
But that's okay. This is just a pictorial essay. And the below is mostly praise.
NOTE: click images to open in a light box.
What I love most about this lens's bokeh is that it neither exhibits onions nor pin cushions. Neither are its cat eyes too pronounced. Both foreground and background bokeh is smooth, though background bokeh will, at times, swirl, just not madly like the Summilux-M 50 pre-asph.
I'll have to admit: this lens sometimes outputs images more contrasty than my preferences. It's from 40 years ago, but blacks fall off as fast as a modern lens.
The silhouetted images above are images I took of a group of enthusiastic film photographers out on a morning shoot. They carried a twin lens Rollei, an Olympus OM, an instant camera, and a Fujifilm 6x7 bellows rangefinder.
While it doesn't produce awkward polygons, or stripes, the V3 50 Summicron has a singular, bad habit: producing a horizontal stripe across the top of the frame when the sun is positioned just a few degrees outside of the frame. This phenomenon can be seen in the 2nd image in the above series.
Images I can't classify:
The V3 checks all of my boxes. If you're into bokeh, it may check yours, too.