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Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
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Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH F/1.4
 
 
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
   
 
   

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 and
Leica 35mm Summilux-M f/1.4 (non-ASPH)

By: Thorsten Overgaard

 

Summilux = "Highest light lenses"
"Summilux" refers to the maximum lens aperture - in this case the f/1.4 lenses from Leica. "-lux" means light, and "Summi-" probably comes from Latin summum, meaning "highest." The first Summilux lens introduced was the 1960-model of the 50mm Summilux f/1.4 which was a screw-mount lens (before then the most lightstrong lenses were the 1935-1950 Leica 50mm Xenon f/1.5 lenses), and not till six years later, in 1966, would the Leica marketing department (or whoever make up the names) discover that the "highest light lenses" was surpassed by the even higher light lens, the first Noctilux f/1.2 "Light of the Night" lens.

But the first 35mm Summilux lens was the 1961 (non-ASPH) lens designed by Dr. Walter Mandle for the M mount.

The protoype for this lens was named Leitz 35mm Campolux, but when it went into production, it was named Summilux.

From 2014 it is again available in silver finish.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 and 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (V), 800 ISO, 1/60 second in Amsterdam 2010.

But well, f/1.4 is not bad either. Leica Camera AG now have at least two absolutely outstanding Summilux lenses in the shape of the current Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 and the brand-new 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (Version V, released May 2010). They have other outstanding lenses, such as the 21mm and 24mm Summilux-M lenses, but the 35mm and 50mm are standard lenses.

The lightstrong Summilux f/1.4 lenses to some mean that you can take pictures with less light, to others it's an invitation to play with depth of field, selective focus and bokeh. In fact you can do it all, though it should be used fully open - at f/1.4 - to utilize the unique look for a Summilux lens. You may even consider getting ND (Neutral Density) filters for daylight photography. 3X and/or 6X for sunshine and strong daylight.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
My un-scientifical test of the bokeh and dep-of-field of the new Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. Leica M9 with Leica Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (New Version V) @ f/4.0, 80 ISO. Los Angeles, 2010.


And here a 100% crop of the above file of
Leica Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (New Version V) @ f/4.0, 80 ISO.

 

A workhorse and a moneymaker

Though the 35mm focal length has always been the most sold Leice lens, and therefore the standard lens for the Leica rangefinder cameras (unlike in the SLR segment where 50mm is the standard lens), I have always preferred working with 50mm on my Leica M9. I've found that 35mm was too sloppy for me, I got too much in the frame, and lines would very easily start "falling". I like the compact tunnel look of 50mm and how easy it is to create "straight" images with straight lines.

But after having played around with the new 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4, I changed my mind. It really is a versatile lens and a moneymaker in the hands of a professional. As soon as you get a grip of making extra sure the camera is kept in an upright vertical position so as to ensure that lines in the image are straight, you can do almost anything with this lens.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V, 800 ISO 1/750 second. Shooting portraits for American SKY Magazine, Denmark, 2010.

It sits very comfortable on the Leica M9, the size is right and the balance of camera and lens is perfect.

The amount of detail the lens captures in shadows, and the overall detailed sharpness make it almost impossible to shoot an assignment and not get the shots. That's what I mean by moneymaker: You can always get the job done with this lens on the camera.

Old or new 35mm Summilux-M ASPH..?

One of the reasons for the new 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (model V) in 2010 was to introduce floating elements and thus handle some focus shift issues with the previous model IV. Focus shift is when you focus at something, but then the use of a different aperture than f/1.4 shift the focus.

But if you always shoot fully open at f/1.4 you won't have a focus shift issue with the lens anyways, and you may consider saving a little money and buy one of the second-hand Version IV that floats around. And if you consider this, have a look at the slightly different bokeh of the two (meaning the out-of-focus areas; the Version IV might be softer and more even than the Version V). The Version V is a very sharp lens, and so is the bokeh that can have a tendency to make sharp edges in the out-of-focus areas.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/90 second. Kenzo backstage, London 2010.  

 
  Leica lens hood 12 466 for the 1994-2010 35mm Summilux-M ASPH
   

One of the things that characterize the new Leica lenses is their ability to seperate light from shadow. As in the above where there's a strong flood light behind the model, and very little "overflow" of light in the overall picture. Had I shot this with my usual weapon of choice, the 1962-model 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 (II) that has very little coating, the image would have been allmost all white. I tend to clasify lenses in the Mandler era (soft sharpness with a 70ies look and light floating over the frame) and the Karbe era (very sharp lenses with high contrast and tight control of light rays). The Mandler/Karbe era, named after the two lens designers, is true for many Leica lenses, though the previous 35mm Summilux may fall in-between; after all it has been an ASPH design since 1990.


One thing that speak for the previous 35mm Summilix-M ASPH [11874] is that the Leica lens hood 12 466 fits onto it (fits the current 28mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 [11604] and the previous 28mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 [11809] as well).

35mm Summilux-M types

Summilux-M
f/1.4
Version I
1961-1966
11869
Summilux-M
f/1.4
Version II
1966-1995
11 870
Summilux-M
ASPH f/1.4
Version III
1990-1994
11873
Summilux-M
ASPH f/1.4
Version IV
1994-2010
11874 Black
11883 Chrome
Summilux-M
ASPH f/1.4 FLE

Version V
2010-current
11663  Black
Silver (from 2014)
Titanium (500 pcs w/the M9 Titanium)
Serial 1 827 001
to 2 236 500
Serial 2 236 501
to 3 730 290
Serial 3 503 151
to 3 644 475
Serial 3 644 476
to 4 xxx xxx
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
12 506 hood
E41 filters
12 504 hood
E41 filters
12 587 lens hood
E46 filters
Clip-on 12 589
or 11 874
or 12 466 shade
E46 filters
Built-in shade
E46 filter holder
0,7 m - infinity 0,7 m - infinity 0,7 m - infinity 0,7 m - infinity 0,7 m - infinity
7 lenses in 5 groups 7 lenses in 6 groups
9 lenses in 5 groups
with two aspherical surfaces. Inward curving front lens.
7 lenses in 6 groups with one aspherical surface. Inward curving front lens. 9 lenses in 5 groups including two lenses in floating element. Inward curving front lens.
245 g 245 g 310 g 310 g 320 g
f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4
14 143 front cap 14143 front cap 14 231 front cap 14231 front cap 14 040 front cap
Walter Mandler Walter Mandler Walter Mandler Walter Mandler Peter Karbe

 

The Thorsten Overgaard Photography Extension Course 2010

 

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/250 second. Kenzo backstage, London 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/90 second. Kenzo backstage, London 2010.

 

 

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/125 second. Kenzo backstage, London 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/180 second. Kenzo backstage, London 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/750 second. Kenzo backstage, London 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/60 second. Evening photo outside the Leica Store Paris 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/60 second. Birgit Krippner giving interview in Paris, 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/45 second. Shooting atmosphere for Christmas in Denmark, 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/45 second, closest focusing distance 70 centimeter. Shooting atmosphere for Christmas in Denmark, 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Workhorse;; there's nothing you can't do with this lens. Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/125 second. Shooting atmosphere for Christmas in Denmark, 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Workhorse;; there's nothing you can't do with this lens. Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/45 second. Shooting atmosphere for Christmas in Denmark, 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/12 second. Shooting atmosphere for Christmas in Denmark, 2010.


Bokeh to die for. The focus here is crisp, and the background with a nice crisp and sparkling bokeh. There's a perfect balance of putting focus and attention to the foreground (or anything you want to focus on), and let the background be slightly gone - yet there is enough to tell the story. It's the perfect reportage lens for all-round work. Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/45 second. Shooting atmosphere for Christmas in Denmark, 2010.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Handling highlight and shadows - and reflections too: Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/45 second.

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Handling highlight and shadow details - and reflections too: Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 800 ISO 1/25 second. Amsterdam, 2010.

The Lightroom Survival Kit

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample
Crisp and clear colors. Leica M9 with 35mm Summilix-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V 200 ISO 1/1500 second. Demonstration for Human Rights in Münich, 2010. Here is a detail look:

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version V sample

The Leica Blog has an interview with American street photographer Chris Weeks on his experiences with the prototype and the final new Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4.

Erwin Puts have written two articles about the Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4: Part 1 and Part 2. Amongst ohter intersting things, Erwin Puts write, "The new SX35FLE is a definite improvement over its predecessor. But the main advantages are to be found in the focusing range from 1 meter to 3 or even 4 meters. There the performance gain is visible and to be appreciated. If you already own an SX35 ASPH and work mainly at larger distances, you might not see much improvement. For closer range subjects it is a matter of critical distinction. If you did not find faults with the SX35ASPH image quality or do not need the ultimate in quality, the urge for an upgrade is less pronounced. If you own a non-asph 1.4/35 or even an 2/35ASPH and want more punch wide open and up to f/4, the new SX35FLE is a very tempting proposition."

LFI issue 5/2010, May 2010 deals with the 35mm Summilux-M You can get hold of LFI backissues at www.LFI-Online.de

 


   
   


 

    Thank you
For help, corrections and information to
Erwin Puts
Justin Scott



   
    – Thorsten Overgaard, March 17, 2011
Last edit Jauary 2012
   
     
The 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 seem to be the perfect reportage lens. You can do anything with it, anywhere, under any conditions.  


Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4

New Leica Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 with floating elements
Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 BUY NOW

2014 Leica Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4  silver with floating elements
Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 BUY NOW

2014 Leica Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4  silver with floating elements
Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4
with the lens shade
BUY NOW

 

Also visit:
"Photographer For Sale"
Leica Definitions
Leica Lens Compendium
Leica Camera Compendium
Leica History
100,000 Exposures Later
Leica Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R ASPH f/2.8
Leica Digilux 2
Leica M9 digital rangefinder
Leica X1

Leica S2 medium format dSLR
Learn from Thorsten Overgaard

Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or onlline. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

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