The Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM review

Ever since investing some of my hard earned money in some Leica gear, I of course started researching good lenses for the system. Knowing that native Leica lenses are sublime, they are also wickedly expensive, so I tried to widen my horizon and look beyond the german wonders.

One name kept popping up when researching fast fifties. “The Japanese Summilux!” – The Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM.

Build

Introduced in 1957 (type 1) and discontinued in 1972 (type 2), the 50/1.4 LTM was part of Canons rangefinder line until they started investing into SLR systems. The Serial number of the type 2 starts at just around 29.700.

The lens consists of 6 elements in 4 groups. This is true whether you buy a Type 1 or Type 2.

Close focus ability is limited to 1m. This is true for most of the older rangerfinder lenses.

I found a type 2 in near mint condition from Japan on eBay. It cost me $299.

When it arrived it took my breath away! – Such a gorgeous piece of gear! The seller did not lie. There was not even signs of use on the external barrel. Incredible! The glass itself was spotless. I got lucky I think, but normally in this price range you get great condition versions.

It has an infinity lock which can easily be removed if it doesn’t suit your tastes. The lens is heavy! Almost 250g – Metal and glass – ALL the way.

Aperture clicks to the firm side, but mine has actually loosened considerably with use. Same can be said about the focus ring. A bit stiff in the beginning, now smooth as butter!

The lens mount is the Leica 39mm screw mount. I bought a small ringadapter that makes it an m-mount lens. This mounts totally rangefinder coupled onto my M8 and M9.

On the Fujifilm X-series I use the Kipon Helicoid adapter which allows me to focus closer than 1 m. This is a GREAT invention and I really advise you to check it out if you use M-Mount rangefinder lenses on your Fujifilm X-series setup.

DSCF0151
XT10 + Canon @f/1.4

Image Quality

HOLY SHARPNESS BATMAN! – This lens renders in such an amazing way. The nickname certainly holds true. I have never used vintage lenses other than Zeiss and Leica that keep this kind of sharpness wide open. Not like the modern day aspherical lens, but it has PLENTY of sharpness when shot at f/1.4! – It really delivers great sharpness.

Image contrast is also leagues ahead of any other 1950’s/1960’s lens in this price range. It actually has some microcontrast when given the right light. It retains great shadow detail, and delivers that great smooth vintage lens look.

DSCF0335
f/1.4 on the Fujifilm X-T10

Bokeh is nice and clean wide open.  Not busy. Well defined, yes, but not busy. You actually get a little bit of swirly bokeh which I’m a HUGE fan of!! (Helios 44m-4 58mm f/2 anyone?) Stepped down to f/5.6 you get some really funky specular highlights in the OOF areas because of the shapes of the aperture blades. It almost gives a star shaped appearance. Whether you like this or not, is up to you. I don’t like it all too much.

Samples

I have been using this lens almost non-stop since I purchased it 6 weeks ago. On the M9 its a 50mm, on the M8 its a 65mm and on the Fujifilm X-bodies it equals a 75mm. Shooting style of course differs accordingly, but I’ve gotten pretty used to this by now.

Samples are a little bit of everything. I processed them to my liking in Lightroom 6. This of course limits the samples to  show what I use this lens for and what I pull from it. If you are looking for full resolution RAW files to pixel peep at, they can probably be found elsewhere 😉


On Fujifilm X-Series


On Leica M9

Conclusion

This lens is the best vintage lens I have ever mounted onto my cameras. Its sharp, it has character, it has oldschool swirly yet nice bokeh, its built like a brick, it looks amazing, and it costs 1/10th the price of a Leica 50mm Summilux.

It is a no-brainer for me to recommend this lens to anyone looking to add a new 50mm vintage lens to their setup.

jr050680

30 thoughts on “The Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM review

  1. Heya … so if i understand you right, you do have a m39 to m-mount ring adapter and from there you go from m-mount to x-mount to your Fuji?

      1. yes thats why i was wondering since there is no m39-fx adapter 🙂 so i guess the two adapters still work well together. Nice review as always 🙂 Nice piece of glass also … looks impressive!

        1. There actually is an m39-fx adapter (I got one from Amazon for $20) and it’s quite small actually – though the 1m close focusing limit does get a little frustrating.

  2. Hello,

    Just got mine from my father old Canon AE-1. It needs a little refurb (Some sort of fungus but it’ll be ok). Can’t wait to get my adapter !

    Thank’s for the post, it gave me the idea to test it…

    Paul-H

  3. Nice post !
    I have Two 50mm
    50 mm 1.8FD from my canon AE1 and
    50 mm 1.4 EF
    What’s your advices for a adapter ? What’s the best choice for my xt1? FD or EF ?

    Thanks

  4. Great review – I make the same experience every time I use my X-T1 with an fotodiox-Adapter and the Canon FD 1:1,4. Portraits in black & White are unique…

    1. nope. I have tried comparing it to the Leica Summilux 50 f/1.4 pre-ASPH and the Voigtländer 50mm f/1.5.
      The Canon is about the same as the ‘lux. Voigtlander is better than both of them

  5. hello jonas follow your blog in a while, I find magnificent your work and how you share with those who love your old lenses and fuji opioniones thanks.
    I have a problem, I bought a lens canon Ltm 50 1.4 but do not choose which adapter for my fuji XT1 .. I have some in my amazon but not which is right I would like you to help me, I leave the links:
    http://www.amazon.es/dp/B008BBI7HS/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1VBI2OLTORXCT&coliid=I3DLQKXOQ1H01S
    http://www.amazon.es/dp/B00GS5W7SO/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1VBI2OLTORXCT&coliid=I1STRIB917U794
    http://www.amazon.es/dp/B00EDIJTAC/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1VBI2OLTORXCT&coliid=I3JVQFQGC1UNX4
    thanks for all

  6. Hi Jonas! Nice set of photos you’ve got there! Your color grading, pure awesomeness! I’m also eyeing for this lens. How was it compared to takumars 50mm f1.4? Thanks!

  7. Hi Jonas,

    I have been in love with fuji and Canon LTM because of you and it is a compliment.

    btw quick question, i have got my canon LTM without cover for front lens, any idea where to buy the cover?

    i have been bringing the lens only with loose cover and duct tape.

    i searched on eBay but i can find it, it is 49mm isn’t it?

    thank you so much for your concern

    regards,

    A

    1. Hello Andreas,
      It is a 48 mm. For mine I use a generic 48 mm center pinch lens cap. This lens is mounted to a Leica IIIf.

  8. excellent shots. loved em. thanks for the review. was considering getting a leica m39 mount but now am convinced to get the stock lens for the canon p. cheers.

  9. Hey Jonas, I use only primes on my XT10, but went the Pentax/Asahi route. Great primes for a fraction of the price. I have a 50mm f1.7 and a 28mm f2.8. Both great lenses, I picked them up for 150euro for the two (basically for the price of the Kipon Helicoid adapter you use!).

    Great photos, as always!

  10. I got mine four years ago in Osaka where I live by chance while looking for something else for close to $200! It’s an amazing lens and incredibly sharp! It has an f1.2 sibling too which costs an arm and a leg if you can find a copy …

    1. Its 48mm i guess so there are B+W or rocolax, both cost the same price c.a. 50$ each. Most ppl say that B+W 468M is the best for CCD sensosrs

  11. Hi Jonas,

    Following your recommendation I purchased a Kipon Helicoid Macro adapter from Adorama (Kipon’s distributer in North America). Unfortunately none of my Leica M lenses (vintage or new), Zeiss M or Voigtlanders fit the adapter. The lenses would not rotate and lock in the adapter. I purchased a second adapter after returning the 1st one, same issue :/ Did you have any issues with yours? Is there a way to adjust the clearance of the bayonet mount? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Love your website – artful photography, concise and thoughtful reviews!

    Sina

  12. Nice post. Do these lenses fit straight into the Leica iii without adjustment. I read somewhere that some lenses need adjusting.

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