Home LensesLens Tests In Depth Lens Tests: Leica Summicron-C vs Cooke S4 Mini

In Depth Lens Tests: Leica Summicron-C vs Cooke S4 Mini

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

Today we are going to test the Leica Summicron-C lenses and the Cooke S4 Mini lenses. These lenses are in the same price range, so it will be good to see how these lenses compare side by side. The Leica Summicron lenses we will be using are the 21mm and 75mm, and the Cooke S4 Mini lenses will be a 25mm and 75mm. Since we are comparing a Leica Summicron 21mm to a Cooke S4 Mini 25mm lens, there will be a little bit of a lens shift of 4mm. Even though there’s the shift, I’ll do my best to look at how the lenses compare.

Leica Summicron-C 21/75mm vs Cooke S4 Mini 25/75mm

Here are the specs of our lens test today:
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Let’s take a look at our ungraded wide lenses:

Leica Summicron 21mm, ungraded

Leica Summicron 21mm, ungraded

Looking at the Leica Summicron, I’m seeing a less dimensional background. The Leica Summicron lenses are designed to be flat, and I can see that here. Look how close the background looks to the foreground.

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, ungraded

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, ungraded

With the Cooke S4 Mini, I’m seeing the Cooke look that we saw with the Cooke S4 in a previous article. The background seems to be pushing away from her and there is a three dimensional quality to the image.

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both ungraded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both ungraded

Even with the 25mm Cooke S4 Mini being 4mm more than the 21mm Leica Summicron, the distance between the background and foreground seems to be the same amount of distance for both lenses. With a 25mm, that background should definitely seem like it is coming closer to us than it is with the 21mm Leica Summicron, but the distance from the background and foreground in both images seems about the same.

Now here are our color graded versions:

Leica Summicron 21mm, color graded

Leica Summicron 21mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both color graded

Everything is obviously a little bigger with the 25mm lens, but the Cooke S4 Minis do the same thing as the Cooke S4 lenses. Although the background looks pulled back, Monette looks thinner because that is a Cooke look, and there is a more three dimensional quality to the Cooke S4 Minis, just like the Cooke S4.

Looking at the ungraded images, you can see that the Cooke S4 mini also has a little more yellow than the Leica Summicron, just like the Cooke S4.

Leica Summicron 75mm, ungraded

Leica Summicron 75mm, ungraded

If you look at the Leica Summicron, the image is more white compared to the Cooke S4 Mini, which has more yellow.

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, ungraded

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, ungraded

It’s apparent in the ungraded Cooke S4 Mini that there is more yellow in this lens compared to the Leica Summicron. You can really see this in the side-by-side comparison below:

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both ungraded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both ungraded

Looking at Bokeh

With the graded version, let’s take a look at the bokeh over her right and left shoulders, first with the Leica Summicron. With the Leica Summicron, the bokeh is rounder because the lens has more blades. With the smaller amount of blades, you get more stop signing and less round bokeh.

Leica Summicron 75mm, color graded

Leica Summicron 75mm, color graded

Looking at the bokeh of the Cooke S4 Minis, I can see that it’s much less round. There are edges to the bokeh, and there’s a stop signing effect because the Cooke S4 Minis have fewer blades in the iris.

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Minis share this characteristic with Cooke s4 primes. Both of these types of lenses have less round bokeh.

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini, both color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini, both color graded

Notice the different bokeh

Notice the different bokeh

Looking at Color and Contrast

Now we take the lenses to the backyard by the flowers so we can see the colors and highlights. We look at our ungraded images first:

Leica Summicron 75mm, ungraded

Leica Summicron 75mm, ungraded

The Leica Summicron looks neutral and is overall a neutral lens.

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, ungraded

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, ungraded

Looking at the Cooke S4 Mini, I can see a bit of red and yellow.

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both ungraded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both ungraded

Notice that she has more red and yellow with the Cooke S4 Mini lens

Notice that she has more red and yellow with the Cooke S4 Mini lens

Looking at the lenses side by side, I can see that the Cooke has a little red and yellow in it. The Leica Summicron is more neutral and has more white in it. Our graded versions help us see how the lenses handle the highlights:

Leica Summicron 75mm, color graded

Leica Summicron 75mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini, color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both color graded

The highlights of both the lenses look about the same, and in the detail, it seems like both lenses are showing about the same amount of sharpness. However, if you look at the contrast in the side by side, it looks like the Leica Summicron is showing a bit more contrast. The background behind her is a deeper black with the Leica Summicron, than with the Cooke S4 Mini. If you look at the flowers in the background, the flowers with the Cooke S4 Mini look further away than the flowers with the Leica Summicron. The Cooke S4 Minis aren’t as extreme with creating depth as the Cooke S4 though.

5_S.cron&CookeMini

Taking the Lenses into a Less Controlled Environment

Let’s take the lenses out to the corral to see how they do in an environment with less light control. The deck reflects light and Monette stands in broad daylight. This way we can see how our lenses handle highlights in this situation.

Leica Summicron 21mm, ungraded

Leica Summicron 21mm, ungraded

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, ungraded

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, ungraded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both ungraded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both ungraded

Both of the lenses seem to be holding the highlights well. If you look at her hair, it’s not burning out. Let’s take a look at the graded versions to better analyze the highlights.

Leica Summicron 21mm, color graded

Leica Summicron 21mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 21mm and Cooke S4 Mini 25mm, both color graded

Looking closely at the color graded versions, the Cooke S4 Mini seems to be holding the highlights better than the Leica Summicron.

Moving on to our close ups, we have a slight two thirds stop difference because the minimum t stop on the Cooke S4 Mini is a t 2.8, and the minimum stop on the Leica Summicron is a t 2.

Leica Summicron 75mm, ungraded

Leica Summicron 75mm, ungraded

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, ungraded

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, ungraded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both ungraded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both ungraded

Next, we’re going to look at the graded versions. I want to see if she’s going to look any younger, or if there are any other unique characteristics to the lenses.

Leica Summicron 75mm, color graded

Leica Summicron 75mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, color graded

Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both color graded

Side by side comparison, Leica Summicron 75mm and Cooke S4 Mini 75mm, both color graded

Looking at the side by side, both lenses are pretty similar. The face structure is about the same, and Monette looks about the same age with both lenses. The Cooke S4 Mini still looks like it has more of a yellow color, and the Leica Summicron still looks to be more of a neutral lens.

Conclusion

To sum this lens test up-

Leica Summicron-C Lenses:

  • Flatter
  • More neutral
  • Doesn’t hold highlights as well as the Cooke S4 Mini
  • Has more contrast
  • Bokeh is rounder

Cooke S4 Mini Lenses:

  • More three-dimensional quality; the background is pulled from the foreground.
  • A bit yellow and red color
  • Has less contrast
  • Bokeh is less round, more of a stop sign effect
  • Shares characteristics with the Cooke S4 lenses
  • Holds highlights a bit better than the Leica Summicron lenses

All videos were edited on HP Z840 workstations using HP Z24x DreamColor monitors.

Product Links:

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1 comment

Nick July 5, 2017 at 7:59 AM

Thank you for the information

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