For a change, I have asked one of my good friends, Kawin Leenutaphong, who is one of Leica maniac to share his rangefinder passion and spirits. He took a while and came up with a great article to compare Summicron 35 v.1 Enjoy!
It's a great honor to be the first guess review in Rangefinder Maniac, first and foremost I am no professional photographer but have been passionate with photographing in the pass 10 years and been even more passionate about rangefinder camera for the past 4 years. The whole reason of this review is to share my personal experiences of the famous vintage 35 Summicron 1st version AKA 35 Summicron 8 elements. I have in my hands both M2 and M3 version of this lens, there is a history to why there is 2 version of the same lens, but I won't go into that. The only difference between the two versions is the extra eye piece in M3 version (I would like to casually call it goggle from here on), the whole purpose is to allow the M3 camera to view 35mm frame line which M3 does not have.
Today's price for 35 Summicron M2 version has been far pricier than M3 version in all markets, at first I was curious to find the reasoning for this difference. Usually this is not the behavior of the Leica society, the production number of M3 version are much less, it can focus closer (65c.m. vs 70c.m.) and it is much harder to find M3 version in a good working condition.
So here I am, having an answer in my hand, I can share my guess why M3 version is cheaper and suggesting how to choose the best condition 35 Summicron v.1 (M3 version).
First the performance of the lens is pretty much flawless for its old age and design, I get a sharp images with medium to low contrast. It may not be much when compare with the latest 35 Summicron asph especially wide open at f2 but once stopping down, it improves significantly. Personally I find the image quality to be very desirable at f2.8 - 5.6, the images are as sharp as I need with minimum glow which I love (personally I don't like the glow at f2 so much...).
Handling is very very important to mention for the M3 version, I find the goggle to be quite distracting most of the time. I always touch the extra eye piece and left my finger print or smudges all over it.... which result in a blurry view. The eye piece actually flares when there is strong light source at the corner, which make it harder to focus accurately. Lastly it is bigger with the goggle on, it weights 150 grams more than M2 version which does not sound like much, but it really takes space in my small bag, plus I have to be more careful handling it since I do not want to damage the goggle. Other than that it's perfect, solidly built as strong as any lens can be and it feels really good in my hands, it's the best built 35 Summicron ever!
I am probably going too long for my own liking now, I want to finish this review with a few points to keep in mind when choosing 35 Summicron (M3 version); first check the goggle make sure there is no crack, separation, haze, fog, fungus, big scratches and you need to mount it with a digital M, make sure the goggle is align correctly and focus accurately. Second check the mounting, make sure the goggle does not come loose even the slightest bit, if it loosens even a small amount, you will get a misalign viewing.
I hope this review gives you some idea of 35 Summicron v.1, This is my very first review ever, I apologise in advance if anyone find this review inaccurate or misleading in anyway. If that is the case, then please feel free to correct.
Thank you so much for spending your time reading my very first review, hope there is more to come!