Leitz Summarex 1.5/8.5cm black paint, 1943

Leitz Summarex 1.5/8.5cm black paint, 1943
Leitz Summarex 1.5/8.5cm black paint, 1943 — Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica

The Summarex was the first high speed medium focal length lens for the Leica. It was a complicated, 7-element design in 5 groups with a maximum aperture of f/1.5. Earliest samples of that new lens were prepared in 1941 and still are named “9 cm Summar”. First lenses of the 8.5 cm Summarex were delivered in 1943 for military applications. Early experiments with lens coatings also included those wartime Summarex. Finally, the Summarex was commercially introduced to the civilian market in 1949 under catalogue code SOOCX.
From the beginning, lenses so far produced were finished in black paint. Within the same year and first serial number batch, however, the finish was then changed to silver chrome. The total number of black Summarex lenses produced was less than 300.

Therefore, today it is difficult to find a black paint Summarex in original and clean condition.
Interestingly, the change from black to chrome finish also included a re-design of the large sunshade supplied with the lens, as well as of the cap. Accessories from the later chrome finish version cannot be used with the early black lenses, and so a black Summarex lens with its original accessories is extremely scarce. The Summarex remained in the Leitz catalogue until as late as 1962, after a total production of only 4,342 pieces.