I’m a day late, but this is a good one 🙂 The Leica 50mm Summicron Dual-Range is a masterpiece vintage lens that you can buy used for a low price. OK by low price, I mean by Leica standards. But what is it? Ah it is basically an M mount 50mm f/2 lens that works on Leica rangefinder cameras like the M3. But what separates it from every other 50 Summicron is the dual-range ability. This lens originally came with a set of ‘goggles’ that when clipped to the lens would cover the rangefinder and viewfinder windows. The lens can then be moved in to a close up range allowing you to focus roughly twice as close to about 20 inches. The parallax is corrected and the rangefinder remains coupled.

The Achilles heel to 1950s and 60s rangefinders was the inability to focus close. Leica had the Visoflex device that converted the rangefinder into a defacto SLR but that was clunky and awkward to use. This dual-range lens gave M users the opportunity to focus as close as SLRs standard 50mm lenses could. The lens remains sharp and contrasty in the close range as well. So all you M mount users take note this is a gem of a lens.

Leica Closeup Goggles

Now this translates well to using the lens on a modern digital mirrorless camera. As many of you are aware, I use a close focusing M mount adapter on my mirrorless bodies that allow a regular 50mm Summicron lens to focus much closer, I get about 17 inches MFD instead of about 32-39 inches depending on the vintage of the lens. But this lens in the closeup range combined with the close focus M adapter reduces the MFD to an amazing 10 inches! You know me, I like getting close and blowing out the background and that’s exactly what happens with this scenario.

I bought mine from Seawood Photo. Seawood will of course be at the next PhotoFair show on March 25th at Newark Pavilion. A little Pluggy McPlugerson for the show and Seawood; Hmm I should bill them 😉 Anyhow Seawood had two of these lenses one was very clean perhaps excellent plus condition with the box and the googles and they were asking $1000 for that one. It sold immediately. The other one I bought a week later after it sat on their shelf for a while. They were asking $900 on that one. It had no box and no goggles, so the Leicaphiles were not interested. This one was in very good condition. I bartered a bit with Seawood offered a trade on one of my Chiyoko lenses and we came to a fair and amicable deal. Effectively these lenses in good to very good condition without the googles are available in the $700-$800 range and at that price they are a steal of a deal.

The bokeh on this lens exhibits some suggestions of swirling and is fairly smooth. It always seems to have some motion when the background has a lot of highlights. It can get a little harsh at times but not to the detriment of the overall image. In general I give this lens a 7 out 10 on bokeh.

100th sec @ f4 cropped from 1:5 to 1:1.6

I can’t see any severe optical issues with this lens in the normal range compared to a standard vintage 50mm Summicron. In the close up range the lens doesn’t exhibit any significant aberrations aside from some occasional color fringing. I’m sure you can find a YouTuber that has tested it on a chart but just looking through the images, it performs brilliantly even up close and even closer than Leica intended when coupled with the close focus adapter on my R5. That camera has 45mp and is a solid test for a vintage lens; this lens delivers delicious results. I have a photo of a US Quarter Dollar which is roughly one inch in diameter. At the closest focus with this Leica lens in close up mode and coupled with my close focus adapter on my R5 at about 10 inches I got an image which presented the quarter at a size where roughly 20 of them could have fit inside the image. That works out to about a 1:5 reproduction ratio which is similar to a macro mode on a consumer grade zoom lens. Not bad really. I cropped the image tightly taking the 45mp original to just 7mp and the detail holds up well.

Here are some images I made with this lens while setting up for the PhotoFair YouTube video I also have posted below.

@ f/2 focus point in the center of the red mass, this was more of a background bokeh image, EOS R5
@ f/2 focus on left eye, EOS R5
@ f2 EOS R5
@ f2 EOS R5
@ f2 very near minimum focus, this is a small wooden wishing well, EOS R5

Do you like the wide panoramic style of shooting? Do you like to shoot on large format cameras? Are you a bit of a masochist? If you answered yes to the first two the third is almost certainly a yes as well 😉 I am a massive fanboy of wide panoramic shooting. I have often thought about getting a Fuji 6x17cm until I come to my senses about spending that kind of money on a hyper-specialized camera I’d shoot once or twice a year. I do own a 4×5 view camera, a Linhof Technika III mk V with a graflock back and the Horseman 6x12cm roll film adapter was always on my radar. These units tend to be spendy fetching north of $700 on Ebay and at camera shows like PhotoFair.

Back in September at the PhotoFair in Portland, OR, I managed to get my hands on a nice Horseman 6x12cm roll film adapter and have taken it out a few times since. In the past I would load a full 4×5 sheet of film in a holder and then crop the image to the format I wanted. This offers some creativity as to the image ratio but also requires shooting an entire 4×5 sheet to get what typically was 4-6cm x 12cm. The roll film adapter allows you to load 120 film in the adapter and shoot 6, 6x12cm images on the roll. No pesky sheet film holders, loading in the dark, unloading in the dark, yada, yada. Nope, just the glorious convenience of shooting 120 roll film. But unlike traditional 120 formats like 6×4.5cm, 6×6 cm, 6x7cm or 6x9cm you get to use the full width of the 4×5 cameras coverage. You end up with a pleasing 2:1 aspect ratio that generally prints well, frames well, and doesn’t over play the wide format look.

I do a lot of cityscapes and some landscapes as well and the 6x12cm format is well suited to the task. Horseman has always made nice quality products that were expensive but not out of reach like Sinar, Linhof, and a few others were back in the day. This Horseman roll adapter is well made, has good flat film handling, solid and reliable registration, and is fairly lightweight. Now I only have a few images through the adapter and I only had Ilford XP2 which is a C41 based B/W film. But I got a few images to show the image format and how it plays into landscape and cityscape images. I’ll be using this again in the springtime with HP5 or FP4 and I suspect the images will be better.

I have been known to trim my Vancouver USA skyline panoramas out to 4:1 but that is mostly due to Vancouver’s shorter high-rise buildings spread across a long waterfront. Taking the rig across the river to Portland would yield images in this format with a little more vertical interest as they have substantially taller high-rises in the Rose City. But in either case the 2:1 ratio is pleasing and still looks like a photograph rather than a constructed image.

2:1 is also becoming very popular in Hollywood for filmmaking and it seems the allure is just a tasty when the picture is moving. Below I have a few images I made before the holidays. As I mentioned above these were all on Ilford XP2 and I used a copy stand and my EOS R5 to digitize them for this post. This is not ideal but it worked well enough to try out the new gadget in my large format kit.

Cape Horn Overlook: Linhof Technika III with Schneider Symmar 135mm f/5.6 @ f/8 on Ilford XP2
Vancouver USA Waterfront: Linhof Technika III with Schneider Symmar 135mm f/5.6 @ f/8 on Ilford XP2
Vancouver USA Waterfront Park: Linhof Technika III with Schneider Symmar 180mm f/5.6 @ f/8 on Ilford XP2
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