The One You Want. Leica 28mm F2 Summicron SL Review

We’re amazed at how well the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL lens performed.

The Leica 28mm is something to behold. One of my favorite lenses is their 28mm f1.4 for M mount. So when the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL, I was incredibly intrigued. Leica started off by making some massive claims about autofocus speed. That one raised my eyebrows. Autofocus speed has been a huge problem for Leica for years, and now it seems they’re taking it more seriously. On top of that, they’re packing in a ton of aspherical lens elements. For a long time, I’ve wanted them to make faster lenses than f2, but in this case, I’m delighted.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Leica 28mm f2 APO Summicron SL lens is positively fantastic when it comes to performance. And this is the fastest focusing Leica lens we’ve used to date. But it’s also pretty large.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The fastest autofocusing Leica lens we’ve used to date.
  • Great colors
  • Keeps distortion down
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Does a nice job with portraiture

Cons

  • I’m still not totally sure that I’d use it for street photography.
  • For a 28mm f2 lens, this is pretty large, but we can sort of understand that, considering the elements inside the lens.
  • It’s about time that Leica starts working with a third-party flash company to take full advantage of what this lens can offer buyers.

Gear Used

We tested the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL lens with the Leica SL2s. A Flashpoint R2 light was used off-camera.

What’s Innovative?

This is a 28mm f2. It’s taken me a while to truly understand their pricing. But the deeper I dive, the more it makes sense. This is the only 28mm lens with six aspherical lens elements on the market. Plus, it’s weather-sealed to be in line with the IP-rated SL series cameras.

Tech Specs

Specs are taken from the original news post

  • 28mm f2
  • L mount
  • 13 elements in 10 groups
  • 0.24m minimum focusing
  • 6 aspherical elements
  • 67mm filter thread means this lens won’t be that large
  • 102mm long without the lens hood
  • 700 grams without the lens hood. That’s around 2x as heavy as a can of soup and 1 and 1/10ths as heavy as a basketball.

Ergonomics

The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL is a fairly large lens. In terms of being a 28mm f2, folks expect something much smaller. But when you consider all the extra lens elements inside, you understand why it’s so large. This lens is defined by a metal exterior and a giant rubber focus ring.

The front of the lens has a 67mm filter thread. So you’ll use it for those sized filters when you need them.

On the exterior, the lens doesn’t have any sort of switches or other controls. So again, it’s a straightforward lens. However, the giant rubber ring is large. This helps with the ergonomics and gripping the lens.

And, of course, the lens becomes much smaller without the lens hood. However, I think I’d prefer the hood to be on, if anything.

Build Quality

The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL is a solidly built lens. The exterior is all metal except for the rubber focus ring. Leica products are very well built, to begin with. Their cameras are IP-rated and are among some of the few cameras to have such a thing. Of course, that means the Leica 28mm f2 APO Summicron SL ASPH is just as durable.

Weather resistance aside, this lens is also nice to hold. It’s not their largest of the f2 Summicron SL lenses they have. And luckily, it can fit into a camera bag while attached to a camera.

Ease of Use

Overall, there isn’t much about this lens to master. The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL has no external controls aside from the focusing ring. Want to go to manual focus? You’ll need to do so from the camera. But if you simply slap it onto the camera and shoot, you’ll be doing just fine.

Autofocus

This is where I was most surprised. The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL was claimed to have some incredibly fast focusing speeds in the press release. And luckily, Leica was true to their claims. Leica went as far as saying that it could travel the entire focusing range in 250 milliseconds. While we didn’t specifically clock that, it’s surely impressive. And the Leica 28mm f2 has to e one of the fastest focusing L mount lenses available. This was a big complaint of ours for a while now. But Leica has addressed it. We assume this was done with a major motor upgrade. And if that’s the case, Leica should be commended.

Image Quality

What’s to hate about the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL’s image quality? Honestly, nothing. Leica’s colors are always outstanding. The bokeh from this lens is beautiful, and it also surely has a bit of character. On top of that, it’s an incredibly sharp lens.

Bokeh

This is a 28mm f2 lens. So, by all means, the bokeh is delicious due to the closer focusing. However, I still want more as I think this is good but not incredibly fantastic. To date, there also are no 28mm f1.4 lenses for contemporary mirrorless cameras. Considering this, the bokeh is still wonderful for a mirrorless camera. When a 28mm f1.4 hits the market, things are going to change.

For the best results, I honestly recommend using a flash. This, combined with the great colors, will make the bokeh stand out even more.

Leica 28mm f1.4

This is a photo from the Leica 28mm f1.4 for M mount. See how nice the bokeh is there? Granted, that lens can’t focus as close as the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL. But just imagine if it could. We’d get something far better.

Color Rendition

Here’s one of my most favorite things about this lens. The colors are just vivid and gorgeous. There isn’t much to complain about here when it comes to colors. 

Lens Character

Overall the lens has a bit of character to it. It doesn’t look incredibly clinical. In fact, if anything, it sort of reminds me of a Canon’s lens’s output. Again, it doesn’t look as clean, artificial, and manufactured as some lenses. But it also doesn’t boast any major traditional problems.

Sharpness

The Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL is incredibly sharp. The best sharpness comes when you use a flash to get specular highlights. In that case, you’ll be really amazed at what you get. Of course, stopping the lens down also yields you great sharpness.

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 edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions

Likes

  • Image quality
  • Sharpness
  • Bokeh
  • Build quality

Dislikes

Let me be frank here. The Leica 28mm f2 APO Summicron SL is an overall excellent lens. The image quality is stellar for what’s on the market, but I am yearning for more. It’s built very well. And most importantly, it’s the fastest focusing Leica lens to date. There isn’t a lot to hate on here. But the price tag is pretty steep. Is it worth over $5,000? Well, for a lens with this many aspherical elements, pretty close focusing, and weather-sealing? I’d sure say it should be a pricey lens. But at the $5,000 point, I’m still not even sure. However, I’m sure this is an overall very good lens.

The Leica 28mm f2 APO Summicron SL receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check them out on Amazon.

Chris Gampat

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