In my view, the 35mm Summicron is the sharpest lens made by Leica. Hands down. I’ve made some samples available in full resolution to show off the power of this lens.
It is a classic. Particularly for street photography. In classic Leica M style, it has a focusing tab, is pure metal, and the hood is detachable.
- F2.0 to F16
- 63° Angle of View
- Bayonet Hood
- 39mm Filter Size
My 35mm Summicron is silver. It came to me as a part of the Leica MP Safari set, so I’ve also got the vintage style metal vented hood. Uber cool!
Being Aspherical, the rear element of the lens sticks out quite a way, and caution should be taken when attaching or detaching the lens so as not to risk damaging it. Could (as in certainly would) be costly.
The nice thing about the 35mm field of view is that it is wide enough to take a lot in, but being F2, you can do a lot with moving in close to your subject, and the lens’ minimum focus distance is 70cm.
Physically the lens is heavy. There is a lot of metal in it, and a lot of tightly packed glass. It has a tough feeling to it, but it is so small at the same time. The aperture ring clicks round confidently, and you know it has shifted when you turn it, and it won’t move accidentally.
How I tested it
I took the lens out and tested it over a few years taking street photos. I don’t do random technical tests, I prefer to enjoy testing lenses in the field and sharing results.
How does it feel to use?
I love the feel of the focusing ring/tab – this lens had a traditional Leica lens finger tab. Firm but smooth, and easy to move into place, and it will stay in place. Cool.
Being F2, the low light performance is super. So colourful, and I love the way it renders light on the street at night. I reckon there is a nice amount of contrast in this lens, enough but it’s sue not overdone. A bit of post processing and it really comes to life with shadows and sparkles to be had all over the place in the types of pictures I like to take.
There is not as much bokeh to be had in this lens as there is in say the 50mm Summicron. But what is there is usable. And you sure can get the almost 3D, Leica pop out effect.
Framing this lens is fairly easy on a 0.68 viewfinder. As a glasses wearer I do struggle with some lenses with wider frame lines, and the 35mm field of view certainly gives you that. With a 35mm lens on a rangefinder, to get close, you have to physically move in close. But the medium wide that the 35mm makes available is simply to die for.
Is it worth it?
It is not cheap. If you are getting into Leica though, and perhaps considering a few Summarits or Elmarits etc, I recommend not doing that and just get the 35mm F2 Summicron. It is so versatile, and the picture quality improvement and the improvement in what you can do as far as being artistic with subject isolation with improved bokeh is very noticeable. You’ll also notice the significant improvement in build quality.