Beautiful, Sharp, and Modern! Leica 75mm F2 APO ASPH Lens Review

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The Leica M-mount system is often revered as a benchmark of aspiration and a defining line in the sand of having made it. For decades, M-mount lenses have been championed for their dreamy lens quality. However, as they have adapted to the general market demands of all things sharp, they have also been criticized for losing that romantic appeal that sets them apart and becoming desiccate. Enter the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sharper lens at its widest aperture with this unique focal length. However, if you’re looking for one of the most accurate representations of what’s seen through the viewfinder, look no further. It’s perfectly sharp through the frame and offers beautiful bokeh ideal for portraits. Combined with its telephoto capabilities, this becomes a strong contender to be an essential workhorse in your camera bag.

The words cheap and Leica might as well be antonyms in a thesaurus. Priced at $4,995, the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH is at a lower price point and one of the most technically superior lenses available today. But, is there still some of that Leica M-mount romance alive within the lens? Has it become too clinical in the search for perfection?

Too Long Didn’t Read

The Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH is a small telephoto lens among the Leica lineup. It makes up for its departure from the timeless Leica M-mount lens character with unrivaled sharpness, painterly bokeh, and accurate captures.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Very sharp from edge to edge when wide open
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Very compact
  • Quick to focus
  • Beautiful image quality
  • Highlight fringing is non-existent

Cons

  • It can look too modern or clinical in comparison to its predecessors.
  • It’s heftier than many of the Leica M-mount lenses. For anyone looking to add this lens to a body from a different manufacturer, it’s much smaller than other lenses available.
  • It takes time to become accustomed to the 75mm frame lines.

Gear Used

We used the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens with the Leica M10-r body. We used the Broncolor Siros L 800Ws when utilizing studio lighting as well as the Broncolor Para 133 when inside the studio.

Technical Specifications

All of the tech specs were provided by Leica.

  • Angle view: 32°, 27°, 18°
  • Number of lenses/groups: 7/5
  • Focal length: 74.98mm
  • Position of entrance pupil: 30.1 mm (related to the first lens surface in light direction)
  • Focusing range: .7m to infiniti
  • Scales: combined meter/feet graduation
  • Smallest object field: 169 x 254mm
  • Largest reproduction ratio: 1:7
  • Setting/Function: With click-stops, half values available, manual diaphragm
  • Lowest value: 16
  • Bayonet: Leica M quick-change bayonet with 6 bit lens identification bar code for digital M models
  • Filter mount: Internal thread for screw-in type filters E49, non-rotating lens mount
  • Lens hood: Built-in, telescopic, lockable
  • Length: 66.8 mm (2.63 inches)
  • Largest diameter: 58mm
  • Weight: Approx. 430g (Approx. 15.17 oz or .95 lb)

Innovations of the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH Lens

The Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens isn’t new amongst the M-lens lineup: it’s been around for a while. However, the lens is one of the first to produce a near-perfect replication of a scene. The APO glass makes color aberrations and fringing a thing of the past. It also corrects aspherical distortions to the point that any auto-correction in an editing program is barely noticeable.

Ergonomics

Leica has one of the most compact and ergonomic systems money can buy. The Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens sits comfortably in the lineup weighing 0.95lb and measuring 2.63 inches. However, it’s on the heavier side for a rangefinder lens, and it’s light enough for those long shoot days.

The lens rests comfortably in your hand. Its compact size makes it easy to carry in one hand. When attached to the Leica M10-r, I didn’t find it front-heavy or beefy: it feels solid.

The depth of field ring is positioned closest to the lens mount and is made of smooth metal. The focus ring is in the middle of the rings, and although there is no finger rest, there is a textured grip for added comfort. The click-style aperture ring is on the further edge of the lens dials and still only about ⅔ down the length of the lens.

The built-in lens hood is an added convenience and is located at the end of the lens. Lift the end of the lens and twist to lock it into place. It’s nearly half the length of the entire lens and still fits snugly in your hand in the extended position.

The different textures of the depth of field, focus, and aperture rings with the smooth feel of the lens hood take the guesswork out of recomposing an image. It quickly becomes second nature after only a few minutes with the lens. The proximity of these rings to the camera body also made shifting viewpoints a swift experience.

Build Quality

There is nothing entry-level about this lens. The Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm lens is what we expect from Leica. It’s similarly designed to the 50mm Summilux ASPH with all metal components and floating glass. These materials will withstand the elements, and the lens feels like it’s built to last. And, except for some of the potential paint-wearing, it should.

Leica lenses aren’t weather sealed in the traditional sense. But Leica says that their lenses are designed with weather sealing in mind. Don’t expect rubber gaskets or anything like that though. I did encounter some rain while shooting with this lens, and never once did it harm the lens’s performance. On the same note, I wouldn’t take my chances and subject it to very inclement weather.

Focus

Like all Leica-M lenses, the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens is a manual focus lens. It takes me back to my film days of fewer frames and more joy. I enjoy the human element in a world that favors automation. I appreciate being able to slow down, breathe, and become a part of the experience.

For close-up images, the lens can focus as close as 0.7 meters (about 2.29 feet). This vantage point is an excellent distance for detail shots as well as the more intimate close-up portraits. It’s not as quick to shift from closer-up to those further away as I found the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm to be. However, that doesn’t mean it’s sluggish either. On the contrary, it provides adequate time to breathe and develop a rapport with your subject while recomposing.

On the other hand, shifting from a close-up focus to that of an infinity focus is very quick. Therefore it’s an excellent lens for landscape and nature photographers.

Ease of Use

I found the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens very user-friendly. There was a short adjustment period. However, once I became re-acclimated to manual focus, it felt second nature. My biggest struggle was becoming reacquainted with the 75mm focal length as I primarily shoot with a 50mm lens and an 85mm focal length. The Leica lens sits right in the middle and feels like a more intimate 50mm experience.

It also took some time to become accustomed to the 75mm frame lines. It feels akin to using a full-frame focal length on a crop sensor for the first time. However, the frame lines are beneficial in the beginning when learning to compose an image properly.

Once the nuances are out of the way, this lens is very versatile to use in various applications. The depth of field guidelines are beneficial and aid in shifting focus efficiently.

Image Quality

The Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens produces some of the most technically sound images. Images are sharp and full of detail. The micro-contrast is ideal for portraits when working with strong light.

Bokeh

At f2, the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens is not the widest lens at this focal length in Leica’s lineup. However, we found that it produced similar quality bokeh to what we have come to know from Leica M-mount lenses. When shooting portraits wide open, the background becomes as smooth as a watercolor painting. We found desirable results with enough separation of the subject from its background, even when stopping down.

This lens doesn’t fall victim to the onion-ring effect. Instead, the bokeh circles are less pronounced and tend to melt into the background.

Sharpness

The sharpness provided by the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens is so sharp that it has been accused of bordering on clinical by Leica shooters. When shooting at f2, the image is sharp through the edges of the frame. Even when missing focus slightly, the image quality is on par with what many mainstream DSLR companies provide on their tertiary focal points, and it is every bit as usable.

The sharpness is further accentuated by stopping down. The Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens easily holds its ground in an environment where sharpness is used as the epitomizing example of quality in a camera system.

Lens Character

The Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPHm lens is technically precise, and it’s a modern departure from the classic M-series look. Vignetting is minimal, the micro-contrast is beautiful, and the recorded image is a very accurate rendering.

There is minimal barrel distortion, and image fringing is nearly non-existent with this lens. But, at the same time, this isn’t a lens choice for those who love sun flare.

Clinically speaking, I found it to strike a harmonious chord between bokeh and the sharpness of the subject. It does what it’s designed to do in a modern environment. One could easily reach for the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH when meeting the demands of fashion time and time again. However, if I wanted to incorporate the Leica look into my work, this would carry more weight in my decision to buy this lens.

Color Rendering

In a real-world shooting environment, the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens produces very true-to-life colors. I can usually tell a Leica M-mount lens by its greens and yellows, and when it comes to this lens, what you see is what you get.

As a result, many Leica users refer to this adage when they say it’s missing the character of traditional M-mount lenses. However, it’s something that can be created in post if so desired. For today’s environment, where most publications do little to differentiate themselves, this isn’t a problem.

Extra Image Samples

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

Edited

Unedited

Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH Lens Review Conclusions

Likes

  • I really like the build quality and timeless look of this lens.
  • It does exactly what it’s been designed to do.
  • The 75mm is sharp and creamy where it needs to be.
  • It’s a versatile lens for a variety of applications.
  • The micro contrast is beautiful.
  • It’s very compact and ergonomic, especially for a telephoto lens.
  • Leica has the smoothest focus of any manufacturer.
  • The $4,995 price point is much more attainable than the $14,295 price point of the 75mm Noctilux.

Dislikes

  • The technical precision comes at the cost of lens character.
  • The 75mm frame lines take some getting used to.
  • It lacks true weather sealing.

The Leica-M APO 75mm lens is a small telephoto lens that brings heat. It makes up for its departure from the timeless Leica-M lens character with unrivaled sharpness, painterly bokeh, and accurate captures.

This lens is a perfectly versatile lens choice for fashion, beauty, portrait, wedding, product, landscape, nature, and street photographers. If Leica were to revisit this lens, we’d love to see them add a touch of the classic Leica-M characteristics back into it. Other than that, this is a technical beauty, and for that, we are giving it four out of five stars. Be sure to check it out on Amazon.

Brittany Smith

Brittany is a commercial fashion and portrait photographer working in Montana and NYC. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local artisan coffeeshop, writing for photography education sites and publications, teaching fitness classes, or baking something fabulous.