The Lens I’ve Wanted for So Long. Leica 50mm f2 Summicron-M Review


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The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M is a lens every manufacturer should pay attention to. There’s no contrast or micro-contrast trickery. There are no aspherical elements. This lens also doesn’t have apochromatic lens elements. What this lens has is a lot of sharpness and character. It’s small too! Not to mention that it’s also one of the most affordable in the Leica lineup. It has a classic design that newer photographers love. Best of all, you can adapt it to pretty much any camera system.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M isn’t the aspherical or apochromatic version. It’s tiny and has beautiful image quality. Also, the bokeh is gorgeous. Most importantly, this lens ends up being sharp without all those extra elements. We couldn’t find any major flaws with this lens. If you’re after lens character, you’ll want this one ASAP. Oh yeah, and it’s around the $2,500 range.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small
  • One of Leica’s most affordable M mount lenses
  • Beautiful image quality
  • Sharp without being overly sharp
  • Nice bokeh
  • Gorgeous colors
  • Truly a lens you want to bring with you everywhere

Cons

Innovations

There isn’t anything innovative about the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M. It’s not a new lens. But if anything, we should appreciate how it’s not overly complicated. It proves that lenses don’t need to be big and heavy with loads of lens elements to be sharp and have beautiful image quality. And if you really want to get picky, this lens has a collapsible lens hood. Others should have that.

Gear Used

We tested the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M with the Leica SL2s.

Tech Specs

Specs have been borrowed from DPReview.

Lens type Prime lens
Focal length 50 mm
Image stab. No
Lens mount Leica M
Max aperture F2
Min aperture F16
Min focus 0.70 m (27.56)
Max magnification 0.087×
Weight 240 g (0.53 lb)
Length 44 mm (1.71)

Ergonomics

The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M is small. Here it is mounted on a Leica CL. The front of the lens has all the information you’d need to know about it.

Up top, you’ll see the focusing range, depth of field scale, and more. The aperture ring is towards the front, and the focusing ring is in the back. In this photo above, you’ll see it has the lens hood collapsed. Yes, the lens hood is a part of this lens.

Here’s a view of the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M with the lens fully extended. When you want, you can just push it back into the lens body. I think more lenses should have a design like this.

Build Quality

Leica specifically says that they don’t incorporate weather sealing into their M mount lenses. There aren’t rubber gaskets or anything like that. But the engineers have all told us that it was considered when the system was created. With that said, I’ve indeed used Leica M mount lenses in the rain with no issues. And when adapted to the SL2s, I haven’t had many issues either. However, again, for the record, this isn’t a weather-sealed lens. So I’d say to be cautious.

Ease of Use

Someone is bound to find the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M too difficult to use. It’s a manual focus lens. So if you hate manual focusing, then stay away or learn to adapt. There’s a full aperture ring and a full focusing ring too. Everyone on staff who’s used manual focus lenses found that they slow us down. But slowing us down is a good thing. It means we can create better images and snap fewer photos. Photography doesn’t need to be a sprint. It’s a marathon. 

Focusing

As stated earlier, this is a manual focus lens. You can zone focus pretty easily with it. The sweet spot for that is around 6 feet away and f8. If you want to shoot portraits, then open the aperture open and focus carefully. For what it’s worth, too, it’s easier to focus the lens with a Visioflex or an EVF than it is with a rangefinder. It should go without saying that zone focusing is the way to go with this lens.

Image Quality

The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M is a stunning beauty in the image quality department. If you’re a pixel peeper, you’ll probably be impressed here. But honestly, this site was designed for folks who don’t pixel peep. Instead, you’ll appreciate how sharp it is without using tricks like contrast or saturation to make it appear sharper than it really is. Sharpness isn’t everything, though. The bokeh is smooth. The colors are beautiful. And, of course, there’s lens character.

Bokeh

The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M isn’t as bokehlicious as its f1.4 brother. But it’s still pretty beautiful overall. You may get some cat’s eye-shaped bokeh. However, I personally don’t mind that all that much in situations like the above. I think it can be pretty cool. And not all bokeh needs to be perfectly round. I’m also of the camp that never cared about onion bokeh. It’s not really a problem at all.

For the record, here are similar shots from other reviews.

Color Rendition

Leica colors are a real thing. We’ve seen and experienced them firsthand when using their sensors. And the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M is no exception here. The colors are vivid, deep, and beautiful. If you like shooting portraits, overexpose the scene a bit. It will lighten up the skin, and you’ll see how much better it looks.

Lens Character

This lens surely has a lens flare. But I can’t sit there and hate on it. I’ve begged Sigma, Sony, and others to bring back lens flare. However, all I hear in one meeting after another is that they’re finding ways to get rid of lens flare. I’m expecting them (other brands) to tell me next that they found a way to completely eliminate the sun’s effects. That’s a joke, of course. Back to Leica, I wouldn’t consider the lens flare a problem at all. I didn’t find much of an issue with fringing or anything.

Sharpness

As I said earlier, I really hate pixel peeping. I’m instead more all about color rendition. But the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M is pleasantly sharp. You’re not going to run into any issues here. And I don’t think you’d buy this lens to compare against the f1.2 autofocus primes on the market. That’d just be odd. But instead, you’re buying it for the pure sharpness. There’s no extra contrast or other tricks involved here.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, the Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. You’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a whole section in our Extra Image Samples area to show off edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Unedited

Edited

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • Image quality
  • Lens character
  • Sharpness without being overly sharp.

Dislikes

This is a lens that I’ve been asking many brands to create. Lots of modern lenses lack lens character and are overly sharp. They’re way too clinical. The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M reminds us that there’s a lot more to a lens than image quality. There’s the small size. There is ergonomic handling and the overall experience. And of course, there’s the feeling that it gives you. You can sit there and scoff at a Leica, but I’d implore you to try one. Anyone that scoffs at a Leica without using them is like a vegetarian giving advice on the best steak to eat. All I’ll say too is that you give it time. You’ll end up loving it. And indeed, this is probably my favorite lens in the Leica M lineup. 

The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M wins the Editor’s Choice award and five out of five stars. Want one? They’re really, really affordable on Amazon.







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