In my review of the NEX-5N with non Sony lenses, I explained why my Leica Summicron-R 50/2 may well be my least favourite lens, in spite of its almost legendary reputation: while technically perfect, it doesn’t do much that moves me. The little Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 35/2.5 PII draws in a wonderful classic way while still being sharp and competent, for example. Not so the Summicron. It’s like a very good student with no imagination. Uninspiring.
But that’s not entirely fair. While a very caracterful lens can be a single trick pony, the Summicron is actually very versatile. And while out of camera pictures are a bit bland, the high optical quality and the Sony’s rich files make them very suitable for a bit of manipulation. Black & white pictures are stark and sharp but never blow highlights (look at the plumes against the sky, at top right, and how well separation is maintained betweem close highlights). And colour photographs can be tonaly bent without breaking up. That’s at least as much the camera’s achievement as the lense’s but the two work very well together in this regard.
The picture above was taken close to sunset and digitally enhanced for stronger blues and greens (plus vignetting). In the one below, the warm light was acccentuated.
Bokeh can be slightly busy (see first picture), but is generally pleasing. And sharp zones are very pleasing: detailed but smooth with absolutely no harshness. This is one of my favourite pictures made with the NEX-5N. The gradations in the clouds and the oblique sunrays are preserved very naturally. And the backgroung trees on the hills behing the cane plumes show separation in a way that very few lenses could render. All this contributes to make a natural but moody atmosphere that lesser lenses would have altered. Quite brilliant.
More anecdotal, the 50mm focal length is really nice for landscape panoramas with the camera in a vertical position. Obviously, hat would be true of any 50mm, but I must say this one works well for that use.
All in all, I still find it a pain to have to change adaptors between the M-mount leses and this, but at least I enjoy using it a bit more. Now, if someone could lend me a Summicron-M or ZM Planar …
Note: If colours look like a cat’s been sick, you are not using a colour-aware browser. Chrome is the worst. Firefox is waaayy better in this respect.