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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I love my copy. I shoot it all the time on my Canon P and M6. Great write up
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?
Exactly! You could just use an m39-fx adapter. But I haven’t seen a helicoid variant 🙂
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!
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.
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…
Hi there, can’t we use directly this adapter: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kipon-Camera-Adapter-Fujifilm-X-Pro1/dp/B00GTE3LQ6 ? 🙂
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 ?
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…
Hi Lutz. Thank you! Yes, the files turn out amazing! Just something “less-digital” about them. /J
Great.. but have you ever try compared this lens with Leitz Summarit 50mm f1.5 ?
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
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:
thanks for all
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
I got mine four years ago in Osaka where I live by chance while looking for something else for close to $200! It’s an amazing lens and incredibly sharp! It has an f1.2 sibling too which costs an arm and a leg if you can find a copy …
What filter do you recommend for this lens?
Its 48mm i guess so there are B+W or rocolax, both cost the same price c.a. 50$ each. Most ppl say that B+W 468M is the best for CCD sensosrs
thanks, good review by the way
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!
I have one for 100 euros, I use with my Leica M3 black 1965 and my Sony A7 R2.
A marvelous lens.
Just go !
hey Jonas quick question…where did you get the Kipon helicoid close focus above ? a link maybe ? thank you 🙂
Nice post. Do these lenses fit straight into the Leica iii without adjustment. I read somewhere that some lenses need adjusting.
This lens will work on a Leica III without adjustment, assuming both camera and lens are in Spec. This is a fairly big lens, uses 48mm filters- will block the lower part of the viewfinder on the Leica III.
It is the Russian lenses that need adjustment to use on a Leica.
I decided to go for it and it works perfectly on my Leica…bought an adapter to try it on a Nikon.
A very good review with beautiful photographs to back up every statement made.
Canon used a new type of glass for this lens, and the their other lenses with Black barrels starting ~1956. This is one of the few 6-element in 4-group “classic Double-Gauss” lenses made, most used 7-elements. The design was possible because of the new type of glass used. When buying the lens, be careful of etched glass and coating damage on the surface behind the aperture mechanism. Canon used “some lubricant” during part of the production that reacted badly with the glass. With that stated- I just picked up a perfect-glass 1957 V1, and it is great. Be sure to have an inspection period when getting this lens, and really most lenses of this age, when buying.
Just received mine from Japan. It is actually later than yours at SN 67148, near the end of the run. It is gorgeous and I would grade it at LN, even better than mint. Plan to use it on my Canon 7, M3 and X-T2.
Hi Jonas — can you please clarify the Fuji “focus by wire” on XF vs. using vintage lenses? Does this Canon 50mm LTM focus by wire on Fuji or is it a real manual focus lens?
Someone knows if it will work ok with Sony A7II?
I have heard that some M39 lenses do not work so good on different Sony A7
Hey 🙂 great post, thank you. Have you ever tried to adopt this lens to GFX? If not, could you recommend any lens with similar character (i like the swirl too!) that works well with GFX?
Great post as always Jonas. With over 300 lenses, the Canon 50mm 1.4 LTM is my favorite all around lens. I’ve got many that do certain things really well and some the do a lot well. But this little lens makes me smile every time I use it no matter how I’m using it. Also has a very unique and special quality of bokeh that I love for macro work where it’s sharp and pretty linear in central focus at 1.4 and the combination of coma and astigmatism increases as focused rays fall off giving a sharp focal point with almost impressionistic out of focus surround.