Lens review – Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH

I was lucky enough this week to be able to buy a new Leica Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH. These are like gold dust and I had been on the waiting list since June 2010. Thank you Mr. Sunil Kaul for your help.

I took the lens out for a walk this morning. Just a leisurely stroll with my wife. I chose the M9 body so I could see the results later rather than wait for film to be processed.

I was surprised at how small and light this lens is. The aperture ring has a nice action and doesn’t seem to shift once set. The focus ring is perhaps a tad stiff but I got used it very quickly. You get a full field of view in the viewfinder. Just to be clear, what I mean is that you don’t need an external viewfinder but part of the view is obscured by the lens, just as with the Noctilux but not so extreme. You quickly get used to this. And the lens hood is actually useful, something I can’t say for all the Leica lenses. No flare visible.

The morning was bright but overcast so not good light in some ways. A bit too flat and not great contrast. Skies look unappealing in this light. Here are four images, pretty much unprocessed except conversion from RAW to jpeg and some very minor tweaking – no cropping, no unsharp mask, no contrast adjustment. Just a little check on the colour balance (pretty much none needed) and some modest exposure fine tuning. They don’t immediately exhibit the glow I get with the 24mm Summilux but they are beautifully clean without being too ‘antiseptic’.

Dog of the day – definitely not a basket case

this old dragon boat drum has seen better days [F1.4]

At the local garden centre the stone monks were very fruit focussed [F2.8]

Drying fish are a common sight and smell in the town [F2]

Now you know what happened to Happy Feet – he’s in Sai Kung. [F1.4]

There’s no technical analysis here. Just some examples of what the lens produces unadjusted. You be the judge. By no means cheap – they are list price HK$42,000 here. (Divide by 7.8 if you want US$. If you are lazy I’ll do it for you – its about US$5,384).  I can’t say whether or not it is good value for money – depends on your pocket but it completes my set of Leica lenses of desire – the 0.95 Nocti, the Summi 24, the Summi 35, and the Cron 90. I have a couple of other crons (35 & 50) too but the first 3 will always be my lenses of choice. The Nocti is a monster but you get used to it. I suspect this new Summilux will be my day to day lens. I like 35 or 50 as a focal length but the 24 produces glowing images wide open.

So there you are. I’d love to try this as a landscape lens but it will be a superb street lens on the M9 or M3. I can’t wait to try it in better light.

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3 thoughts on “Lens review – Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH

  1. What a collection, you have. I just got Canon’s 35mm f/1.4 and am still getting used to the focal length (most of my street shots are 50mm and longer). I will be curious to see how you put the Summilux to use!

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

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