Review: Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron (Leica M Mount)

With the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron lens photographers are getting a bokeh render that they’re bound to appreciate.

Though I’ll admit that I’m more partial to the Summilux series of lenses, the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron is surely an option that many photographers using Leica or other cameras will want to consider in part due to its pretty darned affordable price point. Introduced just a few years ago, the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron and in general the 35mm f2 lenses from Leica have been a favorite of many photographers for the bokeh. But if you ask me, I’d like to think that the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron isn’t better than the Summilux version and that this option is really just for the film photographer that wants something on the more affordable side. It’s a nice lens for sure; but at the same time, it’s also, well, boring. By that, I mean that I don’t see or feel the magic of this lens that I have with many of the company’s other optics.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Pretty affordable for a Leica lens
  • Fast aperture
  • Small size
  • Well built
  • When attached to your camera, it keeps the entire package down overall

Cons

  • I’m almost 100% sure that most folks wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this lens and that from 7Artisans unless there was a full side by side comparison.
  • I think that it’s time that Leica start weather sealing their lenses in the same way that they’re doing so with their cameras.

Gear Used

We tested the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron on the Leica M10P, Leica CL and the Leica M4p.

Tech Specs

All the technical data for this lens is best acquired from this page on Leica’s website.

Ergonomics

The Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron lens is one that is small, lightweight, and designed to be carried around all day and every day. The front of it is simple just like most other Leica lenses. It gains extra appeal with the lens hood attached.

The Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron is characterized by not only the metal exterior but the aperture ring and the focusing ring. There is a working depth of field scale, a focusing scale, etc. It’s pretty simple to use if you’re zone focusing.

As you can see, the lens isn’t even that large on the Leica CL. On larger cameras, it’s that much smaller too.

Build Quality

The Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron is built pretty tanky. It’s all metal, small, and with the big lens hood attached it will also feel really great in the hands. To my knowledge, the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron doesn’t have weather sealing. Photographers who like zone focusing will find it very easy to do with the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron due to the short focus throw, depth of field scale, etc.

During our testing the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron withstood a number of bumps and kept on clicking.

Ease of Use

When using the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron, please do remember that it is a manual focus lens. With that said, you can sit there cranking away until you think you get the focusing right or you can zone focus. Zone focusing is really the best way to use this lens for photojournalistic work and I’m not sure that sitting there and slowly trying to figure out the focus is the best way. If you’re going to opt for the latter, then perhaps go for the 7Artisans version of the lens and when you master the art, move on up to this lens.

Focusing

Focusing the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron is done manually unless you have an adapter that allows you to use autofocus with a third party camera. As it is, I think that the manual focus nature of the lens allows you to be either super spontaneous or slows you down enough to create better images. Combine this with its small size and you’re going to get a lens that works great for photojournalism.

In very low lit situations, you usually have no choice but to shoot wide open and focus manually until you get the lens/subject in focus. In those situations, it really depends on the viewfinder. My Leica M4p I think works best for my eyes while the Leica M10 I’ve always had a complicated relationship with. Voigtlander rangefinders are still the best thing for my eyes.

Image Quality

With the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron, you’re getting solid image quality for a pretty affordable Leica price point. For the photographer that is bound to stop the lens down and use it anywhere at around f5.6 or so, you’re going to get solid results consistently. If you’re opening it up to f2, then a part of me wants to recommend simply going for a 35mm f1.4 Summilux instead. I’m aware of the price point difference, but that’s how I feel. If not going for the Leica, Voigtlander has a 35mm f1.2 lens option.

Bokeh

When shooting wide open with the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron and focusing closely, you’re  bound to get nice bokeh. I’m aware that lots of photographers will love it. But again, personally, I prefer that of the f1.4 lens.

 

Chromatic Aberration

Considering that this is a modern Leica lens, there isn’t really any sort of chromatic aberration. You should expect top notch quality and that’s what you’re getting here.

Color Rendition

The color rendition of the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron is just okay. I still genuinely believe that the Summilux lenses are better and at this point I’m not sure that anyone can really justify the Leica price tag vs many of the other options out there.

Sharpness

I’ll fully admit to this lens being very sharp; and for the type of work that demands critical sharpness you can expect great results from the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron. Just stop it down, focus and shoot.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size

Dislikes

  • Every time I used it, I yearned for something faster

I’m personally luke warm about the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron. I’m not sure that it’s something particularly special and lots of photographers will probably hate me for that. But in comparison to many of the company’s other lenses, it’s not giving me the colors, the bokeh, the micro-contrast, etc that I get with many other M mount lenses. It’s affordable for a Leica for sure, but again, you’re perhaps best just going for the 7Artisans lens despite the fact that you’ll see better quality from the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron.

The Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron receives three out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon.