Leica Summarit 1.5 & Canon 1.5 LTM


by Bellamy /

3 min read

Well, it is high time we did a lens test. So here is a good opener
For a while now I have wanted to do lens tests, but have not been able to for a number of reasons. Principally because I have not had access to a digital rangefinder that I could use. Well, now I do. The very kind people at Leica Japan have been nice enough to loan me an M9 for the duration of the workshop that I shall be presenting with Eric Kim.

As a little bonus I have managed to get the camera a few days early, so I have decided to run a little lens test that I have been wanting to do for some time now. As you may know I recently acquired a stunning Summarit 50mm f1.5 Screw mount lens and a Canon 50mm f1.5 screw mount lens, so I thought it might be nice to have a little comparison test to see how they match up against one another.

First up we have the Summarit at wide open 1.5:

As you can see this has a very soft and rich bokeh effect, yet still retains a nice amount of sharpness in the middle. The colour rendition is not so bad but it does fee a little bit washed out. I think this lens would have better tonality in B&W.
Following up we have the Canon 50mm at 1.5

As you can see, the colour rendition is very different, with a lot more blue and red highlights. The Bokeh is not as ‘creamy’ as it were, but the trade off seems to be the colour.
Now the Summarit at 2.8

As you can see the colour is starting to level out on this lens, but there is still a great deal of softness. This would be an excellent portrait lens if used to its full potential.
Canon at 2.8

The canon seems to be smoother at 2.8 and certainly still shows a nice balance of colour. This is a lovely lens to shoot with around the 2.8 mark.
Finally we have the Summarit at f4

The colour is starting to creep in on this lens now and we are seeing sharper background, but it is still a very low contrast lens.
And the Canon at f4

The Canon remains a lot more punchy with regards to colours and does have a smoother graduation from sharpness to background. A very interesting turn of events.

So, there you have it. I didn’t take them all the way to f16 as not only did I not have time, but I didn’t want to have a massive post about a mile long. Perhaps I can make that bit part 2 if people are interested.
I love the smoothness of the Summarit wide open, it has a dream-like effect and such character, but the colour and contrast are sadly lacking. The Canon has wonderful colour and balance. If I were to make a choice it would be the Summarit, as I shoot black and white and I think this lens would shine in mono. But for colour the Canon wins outright.

Let me know your thoughts or experiences with these lenses, and let me know what you would like to see more of. If you would like me to find one of these lenses for you drop me a line and we can do that too.

7 comments on “Leica Summarit 1.5 & Canon 1.5 LTM”

    Bob Rhodes January 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm / Reply

    Interesting post, as I probably will be looking for a Summarit at some point. The bokeh at 1.4 is to die for, but how often I would use it at 1.4 in a street environment is minimal. It would be interesting to see some performance in B/W at f8 or so. Are all Summarits screw mount? (excuse if that’s a stupid question!)

      Bellamy January 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm /

      Thanks for the comment Bob. The Summarit is actually a 1.5 and not a 1.4. It is very soft at 1.5 but around f4 it really sharpens up. Not all Summarit lenses are screw mount. The modern lenses are all M-mount.

    Brian April 7, 2013 at 10:44 am / Reply

    The Summarit is optimized for close-up use at F2.8, and I believe the Canon 50/1.5 is also optimized for best focus at F2.8. Both lenses show a lot of focus shift. The Canon can be optimized for F1.5 be increasing the shim thickness ~0.1mm. The Summarit can be optimized for F1.5 by moving the rear section out by ~0.2mm.

    Victor April 25, 2016 at 2:16 pm / Reply

    Just curious, is there a follow up comparison between the 2 lens in mono performance? Since mono tonality was mentioned a couple of times. :-)

    Scott Edwards August 21, 2016 at 2:49 am / Reply

    Nice post – thank you! Am considering the Summarit for portraiture (primarily natural light and looking for lots of interest swirling around the subject) to supplement a Zeiss Batis 85 1.8 and a Zeiss Sony 35 1.4 Distagon. Shooting with the Sony A7R2. Welcome any thoughts, ideas or updates. Looking further into your site now… thanks again!

    Greg Strizich January 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm / Reply

    Have the canon 50 mm 1.5 on a very rough Vt Deluxe. Can I use the lens on a Sony Nex 5R? If so, any recommendations on adaptor.

    Benson February 19, 2018 at 11:21 am / Reply

    I shoot in a retro, even vintage style, so these lenses are perfect for me. Shooting them with color is crazy IMO. Not to say one couldn’t get cool effects and such if someone likes it more power to them. But these lenses really shine with B&W photography.

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