Leica M10 50mm Summicron

5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

By Luke Kenny

One month after I got my street photography dream lens – the Leica 50mm Summicron Version 4 – I took it with me on a short trip to Venice.

I came upon this lens sooner than I expected. I have always been a 50mm shooter at heart but never really jelled with the TTArtisan 50mm f1.4 that I had been using with my Leica. Although I was always happy with the images it produced, the size and weight always put me off using it and gave me a pain in the wrist after carrying it around for more than an hour. The flare control is poor and the hood adds even more size. I also think it looks ugly on the front of the beautiful M10 – petty I know, but I’m sure I’m not alone on 35mmc, in camera aesthetics being one of the reasons to shoot vintage styled cameras.

All of these negative points were me basically justifying myself purchasing another expensive 50mm lens. After a lot of research, I decided that the Summicron Version 4 was the one for me (due to it being the smallest and lightest Summicron with modern rendering and even a focus tab). I started saving for a future purchase when I came across a deal that I couldn’t refuse so handed over all the money from my piggy bank and I was now owner of the most famous street photography lens there is.

Now I just hoped I could create some images worthy of the expense.

Despite the fact my rangefinder was out of alignment (I discovered this a few months later), I am quite happy with some of the shots I managed to get. Here are five of my favourites:

The traditional shot, framed by some pillars on the famous bridge
Keeping an eye out
A lonely girl, lost in thought
I waited for longer than I should have, waiting for the right person to walk into this frame before the afternoon light faded
My slightly-surrealist take on the beautiful architecture of St Mark’s Basilica

I was shooting at f5.6 or f8 most of the time so the alignment issue’s didn’t seem to affect most of my images anyway. I am regularly impressed by the detail and colours resolved from this 45 year old lens.

As far as I’m now concerned, the 50mm Summicron is the perfect partner to an M camera. The weight and balance is just right, the focus throw is spot on, the frame-lines are not blocked at all and it looks great. Occasionally I put the hood on but I have only noticed lens flare creep into 2 photos in 8 months shooting so far. Please do not let the lens flare naysayers put you off this lens – it really is a non-issue.

I hope I have finally found the one lens that will stay with me for a lifetime and I, if I can find a trusted vendor, am considering getting it serviced and 6-bit coded soon.

I am very happy with my purchase. There is only one problem – that 50mm Summilux ASPH tempts me with her crazy subject separation, built in lens hood, crazy bokeh and artistic lens flares. I know the Summicron is the perfect street photography lens for me but that doesn’t stop me wondering…

If you like these images, please check out the rest of my street photography project of shots from Italy, titled “La Bella Vita” at my website www.lukekennyphoto.com

Or find me on Instagram @Kickstand

Thank you,

Luke

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About The Author

By Luke Kenny
Street and occasional portrait photographer based just outside London.
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Comments

Gary Smith on 5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

Comment posted: 17/03/2024

I usually end up buying a 50mm lens for whatever new body I purchase. The same was true for the Leica IIIc (I ended up with the collapsible Summicron). I love your shots Luke, the first one is great!
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Luke Kenny replied:

Comment posted: 17/03/2024

Me too, it’s always the first lens I think of on a system and I have way too many 50s in my collection than I should. There is value in having a consistent look to your work though, and I usually know what a 50mm photo will look like before taking it.

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Eric Charles Jones on 5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Hey Luke,

Nice captures. I especially like your framing.

You have inspired me to do some street shooting but I still need to find some extra money to have the Minolta CLE CLA'd.

PEACE
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jason gold replied:

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Leica or Minolta versions are simply not reliable! Save and trade for real M! What is cost? My M3 is now 57 years old..

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Luke Kenny replied:

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Hi Eric, thanks for the positive feedback. Venice is one of those places that we’ve all seen hundreds of pictures of, so I find being a bit creative with framing is a good way to produce something slightly fresh. Do you use a 50mm on the CLE?

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Dan Castelli replied:

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

My M2 was manufactured in 1964. Still in beautiful shape. I also own both a Leica CL & the Leitz-Minolta CL. Excellent cameras, as reliable as my M2. I use the CL's w/a 35mm f/2.5 color-skopar PII. I found the key to work with these cameras (CL's) is to fit them with a good half-case. It adds a layer of padding and serves to muffle the slightly sharper report of the shutter. Lightweight, doesn't scream "professional" camera - just another white-haired senior snapping away.

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Eduard on 5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Hi Luke,
Thanks for sharing your experience and images. I too was saving and preparing for the day I would buy one M camera. Basically I started purchasing M lenses (that I shot adapted on my Nikon) until I found a good deal. And that day came unexpected, when I found a M10 and 50mm Summilux at a price I couldn't reject. I have to say there's something special about the Summilux, a mix of sharpness and character that makes you dream about the images when used correctly. Keep an eye on it!
Thanks for the article
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Luke Kenny replied:

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Thanks for the message Eduard. Ahh that Summilux - yes, I’m still guilty of regularly looking up images taken with it. The combination of subject separation, sharpness and unique flare means it would surely be the ideal portrait lens on an M. But I love the Summicron’s size and weight for street and don’t often shoot it wide open so I wouldn’t want to part with one for the other. Is two world class Leica 50mms too many? I don’t know. I will continue to keep an eye on prices.

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jason gold on 5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Excellent image making! I went to your Blog etc. Really nice photos! I love my 50mm Collapsible Summicron f2! Yet in street shooting often use my 35mm Summaron f2.8.
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Luke Kenny replied:

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Thanks for checking out the blog and the kind words Jason. I have yet to try a 35mm lens on my M10 and I’m a bit scared to incase I like it, which will lead to more cost and indecision about what to shoot with!

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Dan Castelli on 5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Luke,
Nice work. My 50mm lens of choice is the Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Planar fitted to my M2. I also like Franks Hot Sauce better than Tabasco Sauce. Personal preference.
I'm glad you included people in your shots. Even though I enjoy all these articles, I find most postings lacking any people in the photos.
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Justin Kingery on 5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

Comment posted: 18/03/2024

Great shots and great scans!
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Reefer on 5 frames in Venice with the Leica 50mm Summicron V4 on a Leica M10

Comment posted: 19/03/2024

My 'Cron 50mm Ver 5 is on my black M10 95% of the time when I go out. They were made for each other.
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