Comparing German Rangefinder 50mm f/1.5 lenses from the 1950s


I’ve been collecting some old (1940s / 1950s) rangefinder lenses to use on my Fuji cameras, and I mostly did this comparison to help me figure out what the “best” is so when I’m just grabbing one lens, I know which one to go for.

I compared the Leica Summarit 50mm f/1.5, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 (old Prominent mount, not the modern version), Contax Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5, and, for reference, I threw in the Leica Summitar 50mm f/2

All shots were handheld on my Fuji X-T1 at 200 ISO. This was by no means scientific - I just wanted to see the difference in bokeh as well as a general idea of center sharpness.

For editing - I converted the raw files to DNG with Iridient X-Transformer, then in lightroom applied the standard Fuji profile - just so they’re all roughly the same. No further editing was done (no contrast / levels / etc). These are more or less how they’d look if you shot JPG (which, for this test, why didn’t I just do that in the first place?)

Anyway, for the results, I have a full photo as well as a center crop showing center sharpness. The results were a bit surprising. Everyone loves to hate on the Summarit, but I think I like it the most out of all of them…

I’ll leave it to you to make your own conclusions. I personally prefer the bokeh of the Summarit. For being the rarest / most expensive - I was hoping for a better showing from the Nokton, but the bokeh is a little too busy for my taste.

I’ll be doing more tests of these lenses as the weather warms up - this was just an initial baseline.