USER REPORT: The Japanese Summilux – Canon 50/1.4 LTM
By Jason Howe
Hi Steve, hope your well and enjoying the combination of MM and M240, I was pleased to see you got the latter back and I look forward to you slowly convincing me that I need one………..anyway I’ve been taking a look at a lens I’ve had for sometime and I’ve recently seen cropping up a little bit more than usual, the Canon 50/1.4. I’ve done a full write up on the Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM which can be found HERE but I thought I’d give a small taster of the images in this post as I really feel the lens is, well pretty awesome!!
Note: Processing in LR4 and Silver Efex Pro 2
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The Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM first caught my attention quite by accident, whilst researching my purchase of the Leica 50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE I stumbled upon references to a lens some referred to as the Japanese Summilux. Intrigued by this reference and fueled by my natural curiosity I took the plunge and picked up a perfect copy of the Type II version along with original Sl39.3C UV filter and Hood.
I’m fortunate to have some pretty amazing glass and I always seem to have a perpetual que of lenses waiting to get quality camera time. Because of this and despite me being happy with my initial testing of the lens the Canon 50/1.4 never really spent a prolonged period on any of my cameras.
Surprisingly there is not a huge amount of information around about this lens, certainly less than I anticipated. Therefore, having received several email requests for my opinion about it I decided that it fit’s the profile of my User Reports, by that I mean it’s not really mainstream or fashionable……..it is however very capable on the Leica M9, M Monochrom and film M’s and offers the user another cheap fast 50mm option.
If you’ve read my User Reports on the 50mm Jupiter 3 or Voigtlander 15mm Super Wide Heliar you will already know that I don’t go for overly technical write ups. I prefer, if I can to let the lens do the talking.
On the M Monochrom
Off the Rails – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 160 1/500 Sec
Rebel – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 320 1/500 Sec 4x ND Filter
Sound of Silence – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 160 1/2000 Sec
The Urban Jungle – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 320 1/180 Sec 4x ND Filter
On the M9
Alicia Sim 1 – Leica M9 – ISO 500 1/1500 Sec
Trapped – Leica M9 – ISO 400 1/750 Sec
Yours Truly – Leica m9 – ISO 160 1/3000 Sec
Alicia Sim 2 – Leica M9 – ISO 640 1/125 Sec
On Film M’s
A Long Day – Leica M3 – Fuji Provia 50
Golden Moment – Leica M3 – Fuji ASTIA 100F
The Navigator – Leica M6 – Fuji ASTIA 100F
First Light – Leica M3 – Fuji Provia 50
If you’ve got the Leica M Monochrom and your taking an interest in vintage glass, the Canon 50/1.4 is certainly a great place to start and you won’t find better bang for your buck at around US$400.00. On the M9 and Film M’s its still a very worthwhile proposition if you want to get your hands on a good, sharp fast 50 for relatively little. I’ve gone in to much more detail on my User Report but hopefully this will have piqued your interest in this awesome lens.
I find it fascinating that on a photography site that is hosting a review the first 20 comments or so are about the graphics – nothing to do with the photography….says a lot about the readers….perhaps they should ( for a drastic change ) actually go out and take a photograph….just sayin’…..
amazing photographs Jason, keep the posts coming
I dont know why you guys need to get into debating about history. Leica is from Germany, the land where amasses Nazis, and Fuji, Canon or Nikon from Japan who invaded most of South East Asia. So what? Nothing to do with photography!
Love, love, love “The Navigator!” 😉
Than you haven’t read much, have you? Nazis are the NSDAP = National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party)
Hi, thanks for writing the review’ or rather your feedback and impressions on the lens. It was interesting.
Unfortunately a whole debate was kicked of about the supposed Japanse Flag that offends , how ridiculous.
Some people really have time on their hands to bitch about BS.
Overly concerned about political correctness etc, and missing the review it would seem?
I say if the shoe fits” … In every society/culture/country/and People there are the retarded, that cannot take each thing on its own merit, but has to generalize.
I wanted to read about the feedback(photographically regarding the lens), and Not a so called lesson in/about the Swatztika, or Rising sun,
Seemingly a picture of a red dot(flag in this case) merits some grown ups to act like retarded children
all pretty sad censorship police
And here I was thinking you were talking about the Pentax FA 31 Ltd.
Wonderful pictures Jason. Love to see more of your work.
oh ya! where did that rhino come from ;-)!
Really enjoyed the photographs. Great lens, but as can be seen, the person behind the lens makes the photographs what they are. Thanks
I really like “A Long Day”. Reminds me of something that Erwitt would have shot, had he used color film.
Great photos. It would seem you have bonded quite nicely with the Canon lens. Makes me want to go out and make some photos. Which I cannot think of a better compliment. Thank you for your efforts.
Sorry you had to endure all of the negatives about the use of the rising sun flag. I actually thought it was a pretty cool way (albeit commercial) to open up the review.
Also went to the link for the full review, if anything to see more of the shots you made. Great stuff.
I really appreciate hearing that, taking photos is what it’s all about!! 🙂
I’ve never previously sent Steve a title page for a post but I figure as he’s busy I’d save him the hassle…….I’ve now sent him an alternate one.
I’m also delighted you made it to the full report, thanks again.
The flag is really offensive!
Nice photos, interesting lens. Btw I’m Italian, my granddaddy family suffred horribly from WW2, but if you had posted a review on an italian-made lens with the Fascist Flag as caption I would just said “Hey man, the lens was not produced in the forties, the flag is incorrect…”
I hope that all this “sensible” people will show in real life the same outrage seeing how homeless people, war widows and african “child soldiers” are exploited just right now while we chat about photography…
Jesus Christ – this is still a Side about Photography if you want to troll around join a Kindergarden.
OMG – thats a German Word !! Maybe evil ? Maybe Nazi ? Did you ever spell LEICA backwards ?
I think the most of the People having bad Thougts about everything should buy political correkt
wich means – just buy American Produkts like M4 or M16………….
Besides that, I loved you photos. Great job.
What offends me is people getting offended for idiotic reasons.
Not to put all americans in same bag, far from it, but why so many americans become so “offended” so easily ?
That reminds me a hot discussion on DPR where a guy uploaded a picture of a little girl playing in the street. So many people became hot on this saying they would hit him if it was their daughter etc. I didn’t get why they were so angry until I realized they were thinking the photographer acted like a perv. Hey ! That was just a candid picture of a playing child. Sit down and relax guys…
There is a video of Bruce Gilden shooting in the street where he says he was once called a “perv” by someone in the street because he took the picture of some children. What did he respond: “I THINK YOU ARE THE PERV”.
Well, I kind of agree. If people think about perverts things or are offended for such basic things of Life they are probably the one who have a problem and not the other way around. I don’t aim to lower the horror related to this flag in the PAST history but hey…just give me a break that is just a cool looking flag and we are almost 70 years away from this tragedy now. Turn the page.
Why do you think that those that posted they were offended were American? This is an International site, comments from around the world. I’ve found that more Europeans seem to be offended at any symbol of Nazi Germany, which got carried over to some pictures of German airplanes in the Smithsonian that I posted on another forum. They had Swastika’s on the Tail of the airplane, some did not like that. No one ever took offense at the Japanese aircraft.
ANYWAY: Jason replaced the Imperial Army Battleflag. So the war should be over.
Wow. Ignorance of history is not a defense. There are still people alive that suffered directly at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. To hold that symbol up as “cool” is offensive. People wonder why we never learn from history and keep repeating the same thing.
I think you’re pushing it by calling reasons idiotic. Regardless of how you feel about the flag, you can’t really speak for others. The flag obviously stirs a lot of emotion in some, I have no resentment to any country for their history and I love spending time in Japan as well as have many close friends of Japanese decent. In saying that, I’ve never met any of my grandfathers as they passed away when my own father was still a boy because of the war. I visited my home town in China about a decade ago and heard stories from that time that made my blood boil too. We are all human and different things trigger different emotions in us.
I found the pictures fantastic–with or without comments. The film ones are phenomenal…especially “Golden Moment”. You continue to inspire–thank you.
All the best,
Notwithstanding the comments about the Japanese flag, Jason did a fantastic job here. I find the bokeh a bit distracting, esp. in “The Navigator” photo but it’s 1/10 the price of the Summilux 50 f/1,4 ASPH.
Jason – I feel like I’ve seen the Rhino picture somewhere? Anyway, great job and thanks for sharing this lens with us.
Thanks, again I’m not saying these are the best photographs I’ve ever taken but that the lens is well worth considering especially if your on a budget.
Rhino picture on facebook, 500px or Flickr maybe?
While I’m nearly certain that Jason meant no offense while using the Rising Sun flag in this post, the fact of that matter is that it is incredibly offensive to many. The negativity that comes with with seeing a Nazi flag being witnessed in parts of Europe and America is no less than that of seeing the Rising Sun flag, especially in parts of Asia. I find it quite hard to believe that anyone would accept a Nazi flag on a post here on Steve’s site (well, depend on the way it is shown, Ex: in a documentary style photo-post). I feel that same should go for the Rising Sun.
It’s unfortunate that this otherwise great post has that as its’ cover image. Personally I think it should be removed but I’ll leave that to the author and/or Steve.
With regards to the lens- wonderful shots, Jason. Keep it up and keep posting!
Thanks I really appreciate that, and you can be completely certain about the flag…..
Whilst I don’t share the sentiment that the cover image should be replaced I do accept that some people are offended and I have provided Steve with a replacement to use if he wishes.
Here’s an image – http://www.flickr.com/photos/52590822@N05/9039678530/ Is this offensive? Surely the issue is context or are we totally PC?
Thanks again, Jason
Thanks for the response and I commend you on the change, it definitely shows a strong sense of character.
Hopefully I didn’t upset you by making my comments and I know that these days, being PC can be frustrating, especially when errors are made innocently.
Again, thanks for changing and I look forward to more of your articles! ^_^
I thought this was buddies thoughts on the canon 50mm f/1.4? Yu guys are way too serious. He didn’t mean to offend anyone. Just read and look and comment on the subject. Frik.
Pictures are well exposed, and clearly the artist has thought about them, but I would say this: pictures that need a caption to cement their meaning are fairly average at best, and these are them. Try harder Jason, I know you have better vision in you.
As for the lens. It’s okay. The background in the “Navigator” really distracts, and otherwise, it’s back to the same old adage: it’s not the lens, it’s the composition. In this case, good try, but no cigar.
Don’t mean to be negatie, but think honest feedback is useful.
No offence taken. I’ll just add……
In terms of the caption – I choose to add it for reference more than anything else, images without title or numbers on my blog makes life difficult. Sometimes however they do hold meaning and I personally think they can add value.
I’m always trying harder, haha. Putting something together about a specific lens and trying to find and make the best images ever could take me years. For the same reason, Steve will go out and shoot his yard or a local event in order to get content up in a reasonable time frame, this should be viewed in the same context. I’m not saying here are 12 of the best photographs I’ve ever taken, I’m saying buy this lens you won’t regret it.
The film images are family holiday shots that I’ve chosen the share, for me the point of interest is my son, the background I actually find pleasing because I enjoy the rendering of this lens especially on film.
All taken in good faith and I totally agree about feedback.
mmm….I’d disagree with you Nick. A photo is a very personal thing. It’s created by one person behind the camera. That person is letting you into their world. So if someone add’s their thought process and feeling in a word or two I find it endearing and let’s us see what they might be thinking or had in mind with that image.
A strong image stands on it’s own with or without a caption. This is just personal choice which makes sense for Jason.
Regardless of the titles here I think there are some stronger than others, and the title or naming did not come into it all!!
sorry meant to say in last sentence “stronger images”
Okay… Nick? Seriously? Are you going to critique photos in a lens post? Jason is a complete gentleman in his reply above.
Will you please give us your credentials and a sample of your work? Your “honest feedback” is simple preening narcissism. Please give us all a break.
A different Brian…
It’s a great lens, and unlike the Summilux, it is 6 elements in 4 groups double-Gauss. One of the only 50/1.4 lenses to pull that off, most had to add an extra element. Canon developed a new type of glass, high-index of refraction/ low dispersion that have them a big advantage over the competition. Totally different character from the 50/1.5 Sonnar formula lens that it replaced.
I really like the film pictures!!!
I like the lens’s character. Definitely showing the character of a lens that had more lead in it(which I like).
But- what’s going on with the photo of the car? It looks like there are some big, weird marks in the photo made by spot removal/adjustment brush in Lightroom/photoshop.
And as for the flag- I much prefer the regular Japanese flag over their military flag. But that’s just personal preference and I don’t find it ‘offensive’.
Hey Brian. On the right wing? Just dirt and reflections.
It’s a pity the flag thing is taking away from the topic of discussion and thats the lens not the history of the country that produced the lens. In saying that, it was a bit hard to ignore for me to when I first opened the article, and as mentioned Jason had no intention to offend.
I’d like to point out that Jason H and I are friends and again reiterate that there was no intention to offend, the image is something I and many others would immediately associate with Japan and nothing more. It really was all about the lens……
I really liked the urban jungle and golden moment photos.
This lens is far more useful and versatile than the so called dream lens that Steve reviewed last week. That one was a one trick blurry pony, which i guess is why Steve sold both his copies after the novelty wore off. It’s kinda like trying to use a fish eye lens for every shot!
rising sun flag offended me as well. Nothing wrong with not knowing the context but like others mentioned above, it is as offensive as putting nazi flag to represent a german summilux.
Nice pictures Jason, especially “the golden moment” , great light and color.
Agreed. And that one was taken on film, no less!
Now that the debate on the X Vario came to an end we could start pondering more relevant topics like: Should you keep the left eye open when photographing with an M or not 🙂
Sorry, first thing I noted when looking at your impressive images. Great lens, wonderful subjects and a photographer who is up to his task. Thank you for sharing.
Man oh’ man, so many great 50mm lenses out there. And here I am with a birthday coming up!
Beautiful images. I love the picture of the dry leaves stuck to the fence.
Great images 🙂 Looks like a very capable lens.
capable photographer as well…….!!
Very nice article Jason. Can I ask on what machine you scan your negs ?.
ps You weren’t in Canterbury UK for a hockey tournament last year were you ?.
The top film image was scanned on the Reflecta Pro 7200 which is a great scanner.
The three images below it were all done on the Canoscan 9000f which I was never happy with and have since sold. I also use the Epson V700 for MF scans and eventually my LF stuff.
I will be doing some analysis of these machines and also the Canoscan FS4000US which I picked up, whilst old this is still an exceptional scanner IMO.
Hope that helps.
Thanks Jason, a scanner review would be awesome. Kia ora Bro
The lens looks like a good buy if you find a good used one. New lens are better for color, in general. Do to new coatings and disign. These old Canon may have had multi coating or not.
A long time ago I saw a test in one of the mags. It showed a three element pop up Leica 50mm f3.5(?) killed any lens put to it in lines per mm, the only fault was it was unable to take a color picture. Some of the older lens maybe B&W killer lens. Compromises were made for better color and coma, ect. in the new lens. This may cut down on line per mm. This old Canon looks like a jewel good for color, killer for B&w.
You know the american flag was used during – like every war in the past decades,…?! Childish thinking.
The link for the Canon 50 1.4 is dead
There is no link for the 50 1.4? If you mean the link to Jason’s site for more, it works for me. Just tested it.
You know the flag was used during Pacific war include Pearl Harbor. It’s not respectful for the people who died at that war. It’s like Nazi flag. Just saying.
The Nazi flag was for the Nazis. The flag of Germany is for the modern German people. During WW11 the same flag was used as it is to day. It is time for peace, it came to an end, let it end.
Same flag was used for Japan today as for WW11. Clearing that up
No they are not the same flag. The Rising Sun flag is still used by right-wing extremists in Japan today. It would be like using Neo-Nazi flags to represent Germany today. It is terribly offensive to East Asian and Southeast Asian civilians, those who fought in the Pacific theater of WWII, and esp Japanese who would like nothing more than to distance themselves from right-wing extremists.
Richard Greenstone’s ref to Wikipedia is very helpful.
Lot’s of people quoting Wikipedia on here so I’ll do the same, however I’ll focus on the less negative uses and connotations…….
“The Rising Sun flag also appears on commercial product labels, such as on the cans of one variety of Asahi Breweries lager beer. The design is also incorporated into the flag of the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun as well as banners called Tairyō-ki (大漁旗 Good Catch Flag?) flown by fishermen.”
Surely the issue here is one of context……from my own perspective there was no intent to offend and I have to wonder how anyone that is offended makes it through a regular day!!
I don’t recall seeing that flag on anything here in Japan. And yes, when I pulled up this article my 100% native Japanese mother in law saw it as well as my 100% Japanese wife and they said something about the flag. They basically said it reminds them of war and doesn’t bring up good feelings.
You know why? The Germans learn right history about what WW II was while Japanese history tells differently. They still phrase for what they did on that war and no recognition on the pacific area for any respect. August 15th is in Japan is war memorial day. And Korea is independent’s day. I’m sure that day means something for other south east Asia as well. Because those Asahi use this for commercial, it doesn’t offend anyone.
The Swastika is a symble of darkness. The “Sun Rise” flag is something out of the 16th Cent.. Japan no longer flys it, but it is not a symble of evil.
Sorry Karl, but a symbols meaning is not an inherent attribute, so its meaning could be good, evil or neutral depending on the context and people’s individual experience and cultural background.
The Swastika is actually an ancient Hindu symbol that has been used for hundreds of years – mostly as a symbol of good luck. If that’s not ironic enough, it actually symbolizes the sun and has been used by many cultures throughout history: from Chinese, Indian, Medieval Europe & Ancient Rome, even Native American (Hopi tribes).
Sadly, this once positive symbol was appropriated and bastardized by the Nazis …and the rest is history. So for most Western peoples, the symbol will forever be linked to the ‘darkness’ of the Right.
Therefore, the Rising Flag may have a similar negative meaning for some, so it’s probably worth exercising a bit of cultural sensitivity.
While you are giving some interesting lessons on history riddle me this.
Since when are socialists “darkness of the right”, you do know that nazis are socialists?
Nazis are socialists? That is the most dumb thing I’ve ever read. EVER!
The Rising Sun Flag is the military flag of Japan. Interesting article on it in Wikipedia:
In any event, wonderful photos!
And in that Wikipedia link it says that the flag is quite offensive:
‘it is considered offensive in South Korea and China, where it is considered to be associated with Japanese militarism and imperialism.’
I don’t use so much 50mm focal length because i tend to photograph landscapes but when I do is lovely to make an intimate photograph. And that was what I thought when I saw your photographs 🙂 They’ve a nice sense of intimacy. My favourite is “golden moment”; the Astia colors are softly wonderful and the light has a dreamy gradation, and I think require much more concentration taking a picture that has to be perfect since the first moment and not to lie in postproduction. “Sound of silence” is very nice, almost zen.
Said that, I think is a bit disrespectful ignore a great article and concentrate in nonsene. In south America there are enough people who see (not me) U.S. flag as an evil symbol for their support to inhumane dictators and we have seen the stupidity of war both in pearl harbor as in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. But there are more people who believe (me too) that no one human in the world is perfect, everybody has done something shameful and the best is pardon to ourselves. The Japanese flag send me a message that perhaps is an old lens, nothing more.
Gosh darn it…That flag is good looking that’s all. Most 39mm LTM lenses were manufactured pre or early post war. It reminds people of Japan, henceforth the “Japanese Summilux.” We’re talking about lenses. Not flags. Nor war. If that does matter, for those offended, try looking forward to your tomorrows and not the days that are long past you were even born, it’ll brighten your day, pinky promise.