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35 or 50


Hi to all,
I just got my first M6ttl .72 in a mint plus condition from a collector who is moving to digital. I have been a Nikon user for 7 years now. I started with FM2n and barely a month ago bought an FM3a. Traded the FM2n with cash for the Leica. Having a complete Nikon system at this point and the dwindling budget because of my latest acquisition, I can only afford 1 lens for the M6. I will be using it more for candid people shots most especially with my kids. I will greatly appreciate any input.
Best Regards,


Welcome Edwin

You have just asked one the most difficult questions to answer when it comes to fitting out a new M6 body. Some prefer the 35mm focal length, and then others the more traditional 50mm.

The 35mm lens does give you a little more flexibility, but a 50mm lens on an M camera is also a very useful tool. If you asked me I would lean toward the 50mm focal length. But that’s my personal preference. Its a hard decision to make.

And then the question arrises do you need f1.4 or is f2 fast enough. So you also need to ask yourself do I go broke and get a Summilux or leave a few cents in the piggy bank and go for the Summicron.

The new generation of Leica ASPH lenses produce super beautiful results with a sharp crispness that that has to be seen to be beleived, and well worth the expense if the budget stretches that far.

regards and enjoy the Leica



Well-Known Member
You will certainly receive as many opinions as there are members on the thread. My suggestion is the very affordable, light, and available 35mm summicron from about 10-20 years ago. I am sorry that I don't have the exact model designation, but I am sure that others on this list can be more specific.

Best of luck.


Well-Known Member


The old school is that the 50mm is close to the angle of view of the human eye and as such 28mm, 50mm, 100mm, and 200mm is the progression. If you need a wider field of view then the 35mm is wonderful, but if you can give up a little field of view for a larger image size then the 50mm. I would choose the 50mm unless you have a lot of children and need to take large family portraits.



Hi Guys,
As what Craig just said this is indeed one of the most controversial questions in cameradome :) I have been thinking about this for quite a while myself. Thank heavens forums like this exist. Personally, I have been leaning towards the 50f2. I have seen the 50th Anniversary 50mm Summicron f2 on the web and it is beautiful! Considering also the learning curve that I will go through, this being my first RF, I think a more familiar focal lenght like the 50 will be very Ideal. I plan to use it more on the streets so I think the f2 will be more than adequate.
Here in the Philippines I don't think that there are a lot of Leica users because I rarely see a Leica. This makes the used lens market for Leicas almost none existent! Nikon lenses are not a problem. I think this is a 90% Nikon country. I am thinking of going the e-bay route but I am a little uneasy about paying top $$$ for something that I know will be hard to return if something went wrong. Return freight plus insurance to the U.S.A. is a little expensive over here. The only best option is to buy new.
The guy that sold me the M6 has a 90mm Summicron also in mint plus condition he is willing to part for $850. Now what photographic opportunity will a 90mm give me? Anyone of you guys shoot at this focal length all the time ;-)
Thank you Craig, Dr. Puritz, and Gilbert for your replies.



Hello Edwin -- I would resist going for the 90mm Summicron, as it is a gigantic, heavy piece of glass. I would instead opt for the Elmarit 2.8, which is only one stop slower but much smaller and easier to handle. I have the pre-ASPH model, which I was able to buy on ebay for under $400 (which was admittedly a steal). If you look hard enough, you can find one for a decent price. Another alternative is to try the earlier 2.8 Elmarit (not the tele-Elmarit, which to my eyes gives a "softer" look to the tictures), made in the 1950s. Quite small, light, and great glass. In fact, some folks (not me) claim the newer Elmarits are less preferable to the old one, claiming the newer ones are "too sharp" to render flattering portraits. You can pick one of these older ones up probably for under or around $400, but you must be sure the glass is clean, with no haze or fungus. If the glass is decent, it is a great lens. Cheers, Andy.


"...made in the 1950s"

Oops, should have said late 1950s to 1960s. I have found I now use mostly the 35mm and the 90mm. I keep the 25 summicron on my M4 and the 90mm on my M3, since the viewfinders match these lenses quite well, respectively. The 90 is quite useful for portraits, and for close-ups on the street.


> [dear friends:

I own a like new M6 0.72 non TTL and a M2 and I'm happy with both. But yesterday I find an M3 like new, with a 50 mm Summilux first version, like new, pre 1.844.000 serial no. I'm thinking in change the M6 for the M3. It's a good idea? I will appreciate any comments.

thanking you in advance.

(sorry for my english)



Why would you prefer the M3 to the M6? Do you use mainly 90 or 135 and you want the bigger viewfinder &lification? Don't you use the through-the lens light meter in the M6?



> [I mainly use 90, 50 and 35 mm and of course I use the through-the lens l= ight meter. But for me is not the most important. I strongly believe that the M= 3 is better built than the M6.

The following is a text I extract from a well known photography magazine:

=ABThe M6, in our opinion, is not manufactured or finished with quite the sam= e fanatical and uncompromising attention to details as previous M-series such as the M2, M3 and M4.=BB

=ABThe general concensus among knowledgeable repair people is that the M6 is not quite as durable as classic meterless M-series Leicas and that the finish on some internal parts is merely very good rather than stupendous=BB]


I have not used any of the metered Leicas. I used an M3 (both with an attached MR meter and a hand held meter) for over 25 years, without problem. I recently added an M4 as a second body, since I wanted the 35mm frameline (didn't like using the "goggled" M3 versions of the 35). I keep an MR meter on the M4. I personally love the sold construction of both the M3 and the M4. I love the uncluttered M3 viewfinder, and I'm still getting used to the "slightly" cluttered M4 finder. TTL metering is not an issue for me, as the MR meters work fine and don't really take a great amount of time to master. IMHO, if you need to meter at lightning-fast speed, you probably need an auto-focus SLR for focusing speed as well.


> Dr Edwin: IMO the 50 is (still) a incredibly under-rated lens. It's an excellent quality lens especially for people and the longer focal length helps you avoid unwanted background clutter, but does require more discipline in composing tighter shots - which is not a bad thing. The 50 is also surprisingly useful for landscapes for the same reason.

OTOH, a 35 first generation Summicron is also brilliant and very useful for travel, buildings, cities. I used to have an old Summilux and found it soft wide open. Which 35 for an M3? Now there's a question? I wonder, does anyone actually like the old 35 with "eyes"?

To Patricio and those enamoured with the M3: I couldn't agree more! I actually went back to the M3 after using the M6 (the M6 needed adjusting). Though the M6 is undeniably a superb camera, more practical perhpas with its built-in meter, I just missed the "feel" of the M3.

How about an M2 to go with a 35? I saw one recently in tip-top condition, and combined with the original 35 Summicron it seems amazingly compact! Choices, choices! Trouble is, when you see one Leica, you want them all! Anyone agree!


> [thank you david!

as Craig J. Hoehne-Smith write sometime: "I would hate to have to choose one over the other". I'll try to get the M3 additional to my M6 and M2.

(I use the M2 with the 35 summicron as the main lens)

best regards.]


Active Member
I rarely use anything above a 50mm on my Leica and Nikon rangefinders. I have a 90mm and 135mm but I maybe use them one or two times in two months. When I need a portrait lens, I usually pull out my Canon.

Rangefinders are available light, street cameras. Get up close and personal with them.




>I have the 35mm f/2.8 Summaron with Eyes for the M3. It is a fine lens. It uses the 50mm framelines in the viewfinder and is easy to focus. If you don't need the extra stop, this lens performs very well - very sharp at f/4.0. I like it so much that I bought the same lens for my M6 (without the eyes, of course). They both perform beautifully.



Active Member
hmmm, enjoy the viewpoints greatly, verifies a lot of what I have come to feel through experience. I shoot an m6 with 50mm and love it. Realizing my need for a wide angle, I borrowed a nikon with a 24mm lens. I feel it is too wide. One, it is too strident in it's distortion for my taste and practically I felt I was moving too close into the scene to form my composition. My next lens will be 28mm. I don't feel the 35mm is enough of a "jump" to be fully useful. Also, I wear glasses and find the 35mm frame hard to use. So I would use the 28 with a viewfinder on top. I think an m4-2 or p would be a good choice for the body as it is most similar to the m6 for less cost. I would not miss the meter as I have one on the m6 and am tempted to go to a handheld meter anyway as I find the meter most useful for verification anyway. It makes me kind of neurotic twiddling the knobs when the camera is to my eye.

I also use an old canon slr with a135mm that is indispensible for photographing speakers in particular. I also find long lenses meritable in their own right for the highly compressed compositions. The 135mm 2.8 with goggles is on my list. I'd really rather have a 90 f2 for taking more intimate headportrait but the extra reach of the 135 has proven more useful. While the SLRs may be better with longer lenses, I desire the M lens so I can stay within a system and I do not use it all the time. Thus, two bodies and three lenses seems to make an elegant system.

I think the most valuable insights come through experience and the more you do your thing the more you'll realize what tools you need.


I find the discussion 35 vs. 50 very interesting. I had been taught that 50mm was the "normal", that 35 was not wide enough and that the 50-28 combination made more sense.

However, by accident I got an M3 that had had the viewfinder-rangefinder replaced so it shows the 35 and 135mm frames (I don't know what viewfibder it is-- certainly not M2 (it has the 135mm), M3 or M6 (it does not have the 75mm))-- and I was amazed of how much I liked the extra room of the 35mm view!

Now I am trying to get a 35mm without eyes for this camera, as it is already set up for it, and I want to use a 35 for a while as my "normal" lens. I think it is really a matter of taste, but in my case I regret not having tried a 35mm earlier...




It is a myth that the acceptance angle of the 50mm lens corresponds to the human eye and I can do no better than quote Erwin Puts LEICA LENS COMPENDIUM page 111: “The focal length of 50mm is accepted as the ‘standard’ for the 35mm format. It is derived from the notion that the standard lens should have a focal length equal to the diagonal of the negative area. For a 24x36mm negative the diagonal is exactly 43.27mm. In reality most standard lenses of 50mm focal length are closer to 52mm. That is a difference of almost 10mm on the diagonal and too large to be inconsequential. A second and related explanation has it that the angle of view of the standard lens (about 47 degrees) correspond with the natural viewing angle of the human eye. That again is a myth and cannot be supported by research. The angle of view of the eye at which good discrimination of details is maintained is about 20 degrees.â€

Therefore IMHO the reference focal length should be 100mm from which we widen or narrow the acceptance angle depending on the application.

Food for thought.



Dear all

I use the 35 Summicron with eyes for the M3 on a regular basis, and quite enjoy it. The original Summilux 35s are nice compact lenses and do perform very well if stopped down a few steps.

In relation to the 90 focal length, yes the old 'cron 90 is indeed a huge beast of a lens which doesn't balance well with M cameras. The original Elmar (f4) 90mm IMHO is a much underrated lens. You can usually pick one up that is in good nick for a very small investment. At the other end of the spectrum the Summicron 90 Apo ASPH is a superb lens and a nice addition to any kit, if you can afford one.

Patricio, if I have a choice over which camera to use I always pick up the M3. Try to hang on to the M6 if you can. It looks like your M3 has been fitted with the M4 viewfinder. Hope you enjoy using it. Well, I’m very sure you will.

Regards Craig