The 35mm focal length is fast becoming my go-to for fashion and portraiture. It is great for storytelling and produces fantastic images. Leica would be my preferred camera system if money weren’t an issue. Photographing with a Leica M is a luxury that allows you to slow down and take it all in. And the new Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux M is no exception.
The newest Summilux builds on the success of its predecessor and adds a few upgrades. One of the most notable of those is the improved minimum focusing distance. Photographers can now get about two feet closer to their subject for beautiful macro frames. Leica’s 35mm Summilux creates editorial-quality images without needing to edit.
Is it worth the $5,395 price tag? Yes, if you can afford it, there’s no question about it. The reduced editing time will pay for itself in a world where time is money. It’s more than a status symbol. Keep reading to find out more.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
The new Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux M takes what we loved about the previous generation and makes it better. It now features a built-in lens hood, which is more in line with the recent lenses. Most notably, photographers can now get even closer to their subject. But don’t worry, it’s still quintessential for street photography and an excellent all-around lens. It’s a joy to use.
The lens is weather-resistant. However, there isn’t an actual rubber gasket like what other manufacturers use. We tested it on a snowy -20 degree day, and the manual focus lens performed effortlessly. Images were vibrant, sharp, and required minimal editing.
The 35mm f1.4 Summilux M is an ideal focal length that is meant to be your go-to workhorse. It is an excellent choice for street photography, portraits, landscapes, urbanscapes, fashion, commercial, and photojournalism. And now, photographers can get closer and capture some fun macro images too.
- Beautiful images
- Lovely colors
- Incredible sharpness
- Great all-around lens
- Lightweight and compact
We tested the Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux lens with a Leica M11 on loan from the manufacturer.
The 35mm Summilux features Leica’s new built-in lens hood. More importantly, photographers can now focus on their subject from a little more than a foot away. This marvel may not seem like a big deal, but it is quite a feat for the engineers at Leica. Previous models had a minimum focusing distance of about three feet.
Leica’s newest 35mm f1.4 Summilux M lens features a minimal blueprint. It is lightweight and compact. The lens compliments any M-series body and is comfortable to photograph with all day.
Boasting Leica’s classic design, the focus ring is closest to the mount and features a depth-of-field and distance scale. Next is the click-style aperture ring. At the end, Leica has included the newer, refreshed built-in lens hood.
The Leica 35mm Summilux boasts a premium all-metal design. It looks and feels solid. The focus ring glides effortlessly, and the lens hood twists smoothly. It is a gorgeous lens.
Leica does not provide any rubber gaskets in any of its lenses. However, it performs flawlessly in moderate moisture and subzero temperatures. That said, I wouldn’t recommend getting in the habit of using it in inclement weather.
Focusing is done manually with this lens. It is fun to watch the image glide into focus within the viewfinder. Photographers will also appreciate the magnification and focus peaking when paired with an M11. They are an excellent convenience for close-up images and stressed eyes.
Ease Of Use
Photographers accustomed to manual focus will feel very comfortable using this lens. The Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux M isn’t a beginner lens. But, it can be learned, and once acquainted, it quickly becomes a natural extension of yourself.
It took me a few missed frames to get used to seeing close-up focal points slide into focus. Bright light and backlit images can be more challenging to navigate successfully. However, focus peaking and magnification make it easy to accomplish.
Newer photographers should utilize these features until they become well-versed with the lens. It doesn’t take long to become acquainted with this lens and feel comfortable capturing candid street photographs.
The new Leica 35mm Summilux M produces sharp and beautifully vibrant images with an editorial flare. Imperfections are minimal and corrected in post. You could even skip editing altogether if you want.
Leica’s 35mm f1.4 Summilux M lens produces buttery bokeh that melts away from the subject. When stopped down, it also creates desirable background separation for memorable environmental portraits.
One of my favorite things about Leica is its editorial color palette. The vibrant colors are true to life, yet better. Winter’s pastel golden hour hues are accurately presented. Skin tones are accurate and do not require editing. And neon lights pop and add life to an otherwise ordinary scene.
Images created with the Leica 35mm Summilux are sharp throughout most of the frame when focused at infinity. Only the outermost edges and corners are soft at f1.4. Stop down if you want to extend the sharpness closer to the edge of the frame.
I appreciate that Leica didn’t opt for clinical sterility while minimizing distortions with this newest lens. The 35mm Summilux M offers plenty of character. It accurately depicts all lighting conditions. Lens flares and light flares are possible with this lens. Fringing does occasionally happen, but it’s not a problem. Any imperfections are minimal and easily adjusted in post.
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. 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.
Who Should Buy The Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux M Lens?
Anyone who appreciates the Leica M-system and can afford it should buy this lens. If I had the means, I would buy the Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux as my primary lens. It would stay on my camera most of the time.
I appreciated the newer style built-in lens hood and had a lot of fun with a closer minimum focusing distance. It’s nice to photograph your intended crop.
As excellent as this lens is, it’s not perfect. The lens isn’t fully weatherproof. While it handles magnificently well in subzero temperatures and moderate moisture, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking it out in a downpour. But it does everything else extraordinarily well.
The 35mm Summilux M produces exemplary images with an editorial flare. Its vibrant colors add impact to an otherwise mundane scene. It also creates spectacular black and white frames. The best part is you can skip editing altogether if you want. Leica’s 35mm focal length is an excellent choice for a variety of applications. It is an excellent choice for portraits, street photography, urbanscapes, landscapes, photojournalism, commercial, travel, and fashion photography.
Tech specs are from the Lensrentals listing.
- Angle of View: 63°
- Aperture Blades: 11
- Aspherical Elements: 1
- Autofocus: Manual Focus Only
- Brand: Leica
- Filter Size: 46.0mm
- Focal Length: 35.0-35.0
- Groups/Elements: 5/9
- Hood Included: Built-in
- Image Stabilization: No
- Item Type: Lens
- Lens Type: Wide Angle
- Max Aperture: 1.4
- Mfr. Model Number: 11726
- Minimum Aperture: 16.0
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.3feet
- Mount: Leica M
- Weight: 0.7 lb.
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