ULTRON - a superlative, the best... born in the late 60th with one target: to be the best!
50mm lenses are standard lenses and every manufacture has a really good one. The challenge for speed leads the F - Stops down to F1.2 or 0.95. But this was more a race for theory and paper, the real challenge was to create a lens with a useable sharpness and contrast at open aperture and add some pleasant bokeh to it.
1968 the Ultron was  constructed by Albrecht Tronnier  some internet sources add a bet to its origin. The bet to use a convex front element. 
Maybe this construction or the selection of glass types or the fact that this calculation was the first computer added calculation of the R&D department of Carl Zeiss leads to an outcome that was a clear statement for the best 50mm lens in its time.
Today some 50 years later the technology has changed, an computer calculation is standard and 50mm f1.8  use aspherical elements to elementar every possible aberration.
But are the results different?
Let‘s have a deep dive and have a look of different lens designs and the characters of the legacy lenses vs modern constructions.
I will compare the Carl Zeiss Ultron 50 1.8 M42 vs Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4 CY vs Zeiss Makro Planar 50 2.0 .
In Addition we will have a Look at the constructions from Midland of Leica. The 50mm Summicron and Summilux for Leica R.
And finally we will go to Russia and Japan and take a look to an Ultron inspired lens the KMZ...50 1.9 and the master of light from Japan the Minolta MD 50mm 1.2 and the TAKUMAR legend of the 8-element Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4 with a cemented Triplet as part of the 6 groups. To put these collection of 50mm glass together was a search for many years. This is definitly not a complete 50mm comparison, there are so many more great lenses from different countries and manufacturers.
Please note this work is still in progress....

The comparison is showing the Zeiss at F1.8, a Kamlan 50 1.1 at F2.8 and the Fujinon XF 50 2.0 at F2.0.
The Zeiss can compete at full aperture with the modern Fujinon and the modern bargain the KAMLAN.
build to last - the build quality of these masterpieces is still after 50 years able to impress and fascinate. I use manual focus lenses most of the time mainly because the approach to get a capture is more multisensual  and the tactile experience experience with a soft, smooth and prezise focusing is completely gone with any modern Autofocus lens.
The haptic of the Ultron lens is great. You can feel easily both rings, one for a clickless aperture and one to adjust the focus.
The focus way is about 200 degree and very prezise. The smoothness is one of the best I have experienced so far and on par with my benchmark in this regard the Takumar lenses.
Real life performance.  I use my lenses on a FUJI X-H1. The WYSIWYG   solution of the electronic viewfinder with nearly 4 Mio pixels in combination with the focus peaking.
The legacy lenses need an adapter to bring the lens in the right distance to the sensor. In addition to the adapter there are adapters with high performance glass inside, that give the nearly full frame field of view even on an APS-C or Crop camera like the Fuji X System.
In my comparison I will concentrate on the normal adaption. So the 50mm on the Fuji X-H1 is an 75mm field of view in full-frame terms.
First comparison setup: About 50cm Distance:
The clear winner is the specialist for this and closer distances the Zeiss Makro Planar 50 followed by the excellent Fujinon 50 F2.  But the sharpness variance between the modern 50mm Fujinon and the 50 year old Zeiss Ultron is very low. At the level of the Ultron are the Takumar and the KMZ.
These

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