Vintage Leica Summicron lens

A period-correct vintage lens for my vintage camera body.

As you may have previously read in my post about my Leica M3, I was looking for a proper lens that fits this M body. I bought a Soviet Jupiter-12 lens with an LTM-to-M adapter to have something to experiment with, but a Leica body deserves Leica glass. The problem with Leica glass is… well, it’s hideously expensive. And it tends to stay expensive.

So imagine how happy I was when I saw a period-correct (for an M3) 1st-generation Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 lens up for sale that had been recently serviced but still exhibited rough action while focusing. The seller was letting it go for a bargain price as he considered this a mechanical defect. At what amounted to a 50% discount I picked it up immediately!

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When I received the lens, I had to agree with the seller – the action was really rough and it was hard to focus manually. But I got the feeling that it might just be a case of oil from the recent service that had not distributed evenly throughout the lens. So I picked up a new hobby: every evening, while watching TV shows, I’d play around with the lens, turning the focus ring all the way out and back in again. Non-stop, all the time. For hours every night. I fidget with things all the time, so fidgeting with a camera lens wasn’t really that strange a thing to do. And after about a week of playing with the focus ring, I’m happy to report that it’s smooth as butter now!

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The fun thing about this first generation (or ‘Type 1’) Leica Summicron lens is that it’s a collapsible lens; with a twist motion, you can unlock the front lens element and slide it back into the camera body. The Leica is not a very compact body by modern standards, so let’s not pretend that this really makes the camera easier to take with you. But it does shave off a few centimeters in front, making it easier to fit into camera bags and far safer to stow into your luggage.

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Do note – if you ever fit a collapsible lens to a modern digital M body, never collapse it. There’s no empty space in the digital body where the analog body does have it, and you will damage your extremely expensive camera in a really dumbass way.

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