The Cost of Being Different. Leica 75mm F2 SL Review

This is probably the best portrait lens the L Mount has.

It took me a while to figure out the right headline for this review. The Leica 75mm f2 SL is a beautiful lens with wonderful image quality. Technically it’s not an odd focal length. If you put a 50mm lens on most APS-C cameras, you’ll get a 75mm focal length. If you’ve used Leica lenses for a while, you’ve probably used a 75mm lens. This is one of my favorite lenses for the SL lenses. In my mind, it’s one of the best portrait lenses for the system. Make no mistake; comparatively speaking, you’re probably paying quite the premium. But, at the same time, this lens has no comparison.

Leica 75mm f2 SL Review Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Beautiful image quality
  • Small size
  • Lightweight
  • Solid build quality
  • Close focusing for tighter portraits

Cons

  • It’s over $5,000, but you can probably find it cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
  • No lens hood included

Gear Used

We tested the Leica 75mm f2 SL with the Panasonic S5 and the Leica SL2.

Tech Specs

Tech specs summarized from the Leica 75mm f2 SL listing on LensRentals. Try before you buy.

  • F2 aperture
  • Weather sealing
  • Metal body
  • 2.9-inch diameter
  • 4-inches long
  • 67mm filter thread
  • 9 groups in 11 elements
  • 1.6 feet close focusing. Nice for portraiture that’s tight!
  • L mount
  • 1.58 lbs

Ergonomics

The Leica 75mm f2 SL looks a lot like many other modern lenses. It’s got a simple design on the outside. The body’s exterior is mostly metal, and there’s a little bit of a rubber focusing ring. That’s really all there is to it.

The front filter thread of the lens is a 67mm in size. That’s putting into perspective just how modest this lens is.

When you hold the lens, be sure to grip the rubber area tightly. The body is otherwise very smooth.

Build Quality

The Leica 75mm f2 SL is weather sealed. Leica’s SL lineup is generally very well built. Their cameras are some of the few with actual IP ratings. And the lenses are built to work with that system. No matter the situation, we’re sure this lens will hold up to whatever you throw at it. 

Better yet, it’s a prime. And it’s got a nice balance of being lightweight while solidly built. Personally speaking, this is the most pleasingly built lens for the SL system I’ve used. I like it even more than Leica’s 35mm f2, which makes no sense to me as to why it’s so large.

Ease of Use

Slap this lens on your L mount camera, and you’ll see it’s a simple lens to use. Point, focus, and shoot: that’s all you need to do. Otherwise, there are no controls on the lens besides the focus ring. If you want to switch the focus to manual focus, then you need to do that via the camera’s menu.

Autofocus

The autofocus performance is a mixed bag. Mostly, it’s positive. On the Leica SL2, it’s fast to focus but not always the most accurate to focus. To get accuracy, it’s going to take a bit longer. But overall, there’s about a 90% hit rate in good lighting. This performance rate goes up immensely with the Panasonic S5. 

In the pandemic, it’s been very difficult to test lenses. So some of this was done in my own apartment. Using the Leica Fotos app, I found the self-portraiture process to be really fun. The coolest thing is finding out just how close the lens focuses. It can create tight headshots! Indeed, the Leica 75mm f2 SL is very versatile with autofocusing. 

Image Quality

The Leica 75mm f2 SL has SPECTACULAR image quality. Part of this is because of just how versatile this lens is. However, there’s a lot to really like about the Leica 75mm f2 SL. It’s got nice bokeh, is sharp, really beautiful colors, and there are no optical issues with it. Best of all, it’s an odd focal length. So, it means you’re working in a different way. But at the same time, it’s not that unusual of an optic.

Bokeh

One of the coolest things about this lens is the bokeh. It’s nice and smooth. Yet, in some ways, it’s also sort of hazy. You’re not going to get the beautiful smoothness that you will from a faster lens, but the quality is surely there.

Technically speaking, this lens doesn’t really have any comparison. But I did some digging through our reviews. The Fujifilm 50mm f1 R WR is probably the closest thing. And that will have a 75mm f1.5 equivalent render. Here’s what that looks like.

Crazy to think that a lens that’s much more affordable can hold its own with the Leica! In the two photos above, you can see the framing is similar enough. It’s easy to like Fujifilm’s render a bit more.

Chromatic Aberration

Luckily, we didn’t find any issues with chromatic aberration and fringing with this lens. It’s also controlling distortion incredibly well.

Color Rendition

Colors with the Leica 75mm f2 SL look like old Sony. They have a slightly purple tint to them, but they also very vivid. I can’t complain about this look at all. It’s got the character and liveliness that’s been missing from cameras and lenses for years now.

Sharpness

The Leica 75mm f2 SL has to be one of the sharpest lenses in the L mount alliance as of January, 2021. It can hold its own with Canon, Sony, and Sigma easily. And if you’re a portrait photographer, you’ll probably really like that. 

Extra Image Samples

Leica 75mm f2 SL Review Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • Good image quality
  • A different focal length
  • Weather sealing
  • Built very well
  • Fast-focusing

Dislikes

  • No lens hood included
  • It’s over $5,000. But you can probably find it cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
  • They couldn’t make it an f1.8?

Objectively speaking, for what the Leica 75mm f2 SL is, it’s a fantastic lens. It’s small, lightweight, incredibly well built, and has great image quality. It’s overall a very solid lens, and Leica should be proud of it. But at the same time, who is going to pay 5 grand for it? I’m not sure I could justify that price tag. Maybe there’s something about it that is incredibly special, but I can’t figure it out. If this were an M mount lens, I’d say the price is a tad high, but reasonable. 

Would I buy this lens? No. The L Mount alliance still has some cleaning up to do. But there’s no denying that this has to be one of the best portrait lenses on the market.

The Leica 75mm f2 SL receives five out of five stars. Want one? Leica 75mm f2 SL is over $5,000. But you can probably find it cheaper on Amazon or eBay.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.