The 50 mm lens is considered standard – perhaps even quintessential – when it comes to prime lenses in a photographer’s bag. This focal length offers just enough zoom for portraiture and photojournalism, while also accomodating some freedom to frame the environment around the subject.
The Zeiss 50 f/2 Planar ZM (Leica Mount) is a highly efficient and reliable lens for the Leica M-mount system. It is an exceptionally sharp and accurate lens for colour accuracy and contrast, surprising considering it originally released nearly 15 years ago.
I have enjoyed using this lens on both a Leica M9 and Leica M3, with the latter combination having been used to shoot the majority of my street photography and photojournalism since 2014. As with the Zeiss 35 f/2.8C, the Zeiss 50 allows for a highly portable and impressive system with low-light capabilities.
The lens is well made, and my copy exhibited no issues focusing on selecting apertures. Focus is incredibly smooth, and predictable enough that zone focusing becomes almost instinctive. Part of the lens slightly blocked my Leica M3’s viewfinder, which may be a negative for some users.
I highly recommend this lens to anybody with a Leica M3, or otherwise; The price-to-performance ratio cannot be beaten (in my experience), and you cannot go wrong purchasing this lens if you’re trying in the market for a budget-friendly lens for M-mount bodies.
I have included images below taken with the Zeiss 50 and my Leica M3 with colour film.
Bryce Wilson is a photographer, filmmaker, and freelance photojournalist from Melbourne, Australia.