This test is without doubt the least scientific. No tripods were used. Weather conditions were different in each lens test (and as I found them). The subjects photographed were different. There is no uniform aperture. And I was in a different state of mind when using each one. But for these flaws it is a useful test for me. t is as much about how you can use this lens, handheld, focussing and setting the aperture rather on the hoof, as it is image resolution etc, because this is how I am going to use the 50mm lens when abroad sometimes. It won't always be on a tripod and me have lots of time to set up.
All shots were taken in raw mode. The black and white conversions are all done using the same software (Alien skin, Ilford Delta 100), they have been sharpened to exactly the same %, and there is very little other photoshop work.
All three lenses were good enough in this test, and and I would be happy having any of them for black and white work on the GF1.
Each sub-gallery below contains 8 photos selected from those I took with each lens on a particular day in the past 2 weeks. Click on the sub-gallery to see the 8 shots with each lens.
I think if I had to rate them, though, I would have to give this round to the Canon. It was both sharp enough (when necessary) and had an attractive bokeh in the shots with more out of focus areas. I like the 'look' and 'character' of this lens on the GF1. I feel it produces photographs just the right amount of contrast and depth. Also, and just as important to me, it was the best one from the standpoint of using handheld. The lens is heavier and wider than the other two (though it is also shorter than both of them), but its size and design means it is easier to manually change aperture and focus, for me, than with the other two thinner lenses, especially the Heliar which I don't like from a useability standpoint, when on the GF1. The only thing to worry about is the infinity lock (which is useful on a manual focus lens), because it is next to the GF1 M lens adapter release, so you must be careful not to press the wrong button and have your lens fall off the side of a bridge etc!
The Summicron looks good. I felt it lacked contrast stopped down, for the best photos I had to shoot at f2 or f2.8, but then the bokeh is rather in your face and violent for me. Some of the stopped down architecture ones worked very well though, and it is a good lens for portraits, perhaps because if its low contrast (my copy at least).
The Heliar was again pretty flawless, good, tending on the high, contrast. But for me this made it look a bit too much like the modern lens it is. I don't find it has much character, which is what you half want from an M or LTM lens on the GF1. As above, I find the handling of this lens fiddly, and you notice this more when using the lens handheld and manually focusing.
Overall ratings handheld black and white: