The most recent version of the Leica Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH. ($5,395 for the black model, $5,595 for the silver version) is a compelling replace to a favourite prime for documentary, slice-of-life, and different frequent rangefinder topics. Highlights of the brand new model embrace a handy built-in hood (the earlier version required an add-on) and a a lot shorter working focal distance for close-ups. Very good wide-open decision and the bokeh potential of an f/1.4 lens additionally add to the attraction, particularly because it’s fairly a bit smaller than the older, Editors’ Selection-winning Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm F1.4 ZM ($2,390). Nonetheless, the Zeiss is optically stellar and prices lower than half as a lot, so it stays a worthwhile different.
A Summilux by Any Different Title
Not counting the unique, short-run Aspherical version, the 2022 launch is the third model of the Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH. The primary was on sale between 1994 and 2010, whereas a second model, which started manufacturing in 2010 and continues to be out there at many retailers, launched minor adjustments to the optical method, together with a floating lens component (FLE) that prevented aperture adjustments from inducing focus shifts (an issue with the earlier iteration). Due to this defining attribute, many individuals seek advice from the second ASPH. merely because the FLE model.
This third version is a bit bit inexpensive than the earlier 35mm Summilux FLE, which prices $5,695 or $6,195 relying on whether or not you go for the black or silver model. The FLE bought for $5,150 once we lined it in 2015, however Leica often will increase the costs of its lenses over time. (DPReview’s Richard Butler describes Leica gear as a Veblen good, a luxurious merchandise for which its excessive value is a part of the attraction.)
We cannot faux that new Leica tools is not a high-ticket prospect should you fall outdoors the one %. For those who’re searching for up-front worth and nonetheless need Leica glass, the used market is the way in which to go. At press time, used copies of the FLE Summilux-M 35mm go for round $4,000. For those who insist on a brand new lens however do not wish to spend fairly a lot, Voigtlander and Zeiss promote entry-level and mid-tier M lenses, respectively, whereas newer names like TTArtisan and 7artisans cowl the funds house. The Voigtlander Nokton Classic Line 35mm F1.5 Aspherical VM appears like an fascinating different at $899, it has an analogous optical method and close-up focus, however we’ve not examined it.
The Summilux is mild for an F1.4 lens at 11.9 ounces, and its 1.8-by-2.3-inch (HD) barrel is about the identical dimension as earlier variations. Moreover, the swap to a intelligent built-in lens hood makes the lens successfully smaller and fewer of a nuisance when it comes to viewfinder blockage. As talked about, the earlier model required an add-on hood.
How a lot of the optical viewfinder a lens blocks is one thing you will need to take into account on rangefinder cameras. On this case, the Summilux’s barrel barely cuts off the view of the decrease proper nook. Most rangefinder lenses do that to some extent, nevertheless, and the quantity of blockage is not offensive right here. It is actually not as dangerous because the Zeiss ZM 35mm F1.4, which has an extended (2.6-by-2.5-inch) barrel. If you would like a 35mm with much less blockage, you are higher off with the Summicron-M 35mm F2.
Dealing with and Controls
The Summilux-M matches up with different Leica lenses in design language and primary controls. The aluminum barrel consists of an aperture ring that goes from f/1.4-16 with half-stop clicks and a handbook focus ring. Like most M lenses, the main target ring has a finger grip protrusion; it’s a necessity right here as a result of the main target management ring is slightly slender and tough to seek out by contact.
M lenses are absolutely mechanical, so there aren’t any electronics or communication with the digital camera except for a 6-bit coded mount. That is Leica converse for a collection of black and white marks on the mount which the digital sensor on the digital camera physique reads to find out the hooked up lens.
The Summilux-M 35mm itself is not weather-sealed within the conventional sense, however the M (Typ 240) and newer our bodies characteristic some dust-and-drip safety, so you may nonetheless use the package below grey skies. We have requested Leica if it has added anti-smudge fluorine to the lens coatings for this version, however haven’t but heard again.
The 35mm focal size lends itself effectively to zone focus work, a handbook focus approach that requires stopped-down apertures and from-the-hip seize. The lens features a printed distance scale with depth-of-field markers, helpful for photogs who take pleasure in this model of pictures.
As talked about, the built-in steel hood is an enchancment over the outsized exterior one. It cleverly retracts and extends into place with a twist, plus makes it easy to put in or take away 46mm protecting or inventive filters.
The Summilux-M 35mm focuses as shut as 0.4 meters (about 15.8 inches) for 1:8.9 macro copy. With mainstream mirrorless techniques, this is not something to crow about, however most M-mount lenses do not work at distances nearer than 0.7m and easily match the capabilities of an M digital camera’s optical viewfinder. Whenever you go previous that restrict, you could swap to dwell view to make sure focus. Helpfully, there is a slight little bit of resistance and a satisfying click on as the main target ring passes over a detent that marks the 0.7m focus level to assist point out that you could change over. It is simple sufficient to adapt this lens to make use of with an EVF mannequin just like the SL2-S or a digital M with a dwell view, so this is not essentially a serious concern.
We do not count on many cinema customers to go for an M lens. In any case, Leica has a line of cine lenses with geared focus and aperture management, and lots of current M cameras are stills-only. For those who do plan to make use of the Summilux for video, pay attention to some respiration, an impact that adjustments the angle of view together with the aircraft of focus. This could distract from rack focus pictures.
Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH.: Within the Lab
I used the 35mm Lux with two cameras within the subject: the Leica M (Typ 240) for colour photographs and the M11 Monochrom for black-and-white pictures. For lab checks, I principally caught with the 60MP Sony a7R IV (with an adapter) to get an excellent baseline for comparability and make sure that I had focus spot-on—lab work requires exact focus and I did not have a Visoflex 2 EVF on-hand for the M11.
When it comes to resolving energy, the Summilux excels. At f/1.4, its central decision exhibits as a lot distinction as you may count on from any 60MP digital camera, an impressive 5,400 traces. The curved subject of focus brings down the common rating, nevertheless, with a little bit of softness within the outer edges and corners of the body. Virtually talking, these fall outdoors the focal aircraft of many wide-aperture photographs although.
Edges get higher as you improve the aperture. The sting-to-edge readability panorama photogs chase is current from f/4-11. Diffraction cuts into decision should you cease the lens all the way in which all the way down to f/16, and the lens additionally exhibits stronger mirrored ghosts right here. On a extra constructive be aware, the 35mm Summilux can produce pleasing sunstars at f/11-16 in the proper conditions.
The lens does a greater job with backlit topics when its aperture is open wider. We nonetheless see some flare at these decrease apertures, however distinction holds up effectively, so you may domesticate the search for impact as desired.
Optics present a slight quantity of barrel distortion (lower than 1%). Adobe gives a correction profile to compensate, although it appears to merely be an instructional quantity of correction primarily based on my A/B comparisons. Usually, Adobe profiles match in-camera corrections for JPGs, however M cameras do not apply them. We cannot fault Adobe customers who wish to reap the benefits of any out there profiles, although that is not essentially a strict requirement.
You may wish to brighten corners and edges when processing, as we observe a vignette from f/1.4-2. That is a matter of choice, nevertheless, and I selected to not make that change. Illumination evens out by f/2.8, so you do not have to fret a couple of vignette on the f-stops you are probably to make use of for landscapes and cityscapes.
The Summilux would not use a completely apochromatic method, so it isn’t proof against false colour results like longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCa). However LoCa is not a serious concern; I may barely spot any in typical drawback areas. Lateral chromatic aberration additionally is not a priority. There isn’t any signal of purple fringing round in-focus tree branches, energy traces, or related torture checks for the impact. In case you are after a lens that is proof against LoCa solely, Leica sells the APO-Summicron 35mm F2 ASPH. on this focal size for $8,295; we have not examined it, however the APO-Summicron 50mm from the identical collection is one in every of Leica’s greatest technical achievements.
As for bokeh, the Summilux is an all-star. With out an excessive amount of false colour and customarily soft-edged highlights, backgrounds soften away into nothing. That is very true should you work up shut. Defocused highlights present a little bit of the cat’s eye impact towards the sides at f/1.4, however the 11-blade aperture closes them all the way down to circles at narrower settings. After a couple of weeks with the lens, I am able to say its character is true according to the primary version, a lens that I shot with for a couple of years (together with an M8) in my youthful days.
Considerate Enhancements to a Traditional
The most recent model of the Leica Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH. is each bit as beautiful a major because the final. Defocused backgrounds are merely superlative, particularly as a result of this model focuses fairly shut. Moreover, its photos stand as much as scrutiny on demanding 60MP cameras and nonetheless retain a wealthy character. There isn’t any query that you simply pay a premium for lenses like this (versus a $1,400 Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM, as an example), however, as we touched on, premium-grade pricing is a part of Leica’s cachet. We absolutely count on Leica to slowly improve the worth over time, although the Summilux does at the very least price lower than the earlier version for now.
In case you are strapped for money, the larger (however improbable) Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm F1.4 ZM continues to be in the marketplace for a extra palatable $2,390. We have not tried it on a high-megapixel digital camera, however favored it sufficient to call it an Editors’ Selection winner in our 2015 assessment. For those who desire to stay with Leica glass, the 35mm Summicron-M F2 ASPH. can also be an choice for $3,895, although you may probably get it for much less as a result of it has been in manufacturing for 1 / 4 century.