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The 50 APO-Summicron-ASPH As Used With A Monochrom


johnbuckley

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On May 10th, when the APO-Summicron-ASPH was announced by Leica, it took me all of about two seconds to email the Leica Store in DC and ask to be put on their list. It took a week or more to make the decision also to buy the Monochrom. Why did I want this lens?

 

Two reasons, perhaps contradictory. First, I love using the Noctilux and the 50 Summilux ASPH for very different reasons, and believed that if this lens were as described, it would likely take the place of my Summilux, and be the all-around lens I would use most often, while still retaining sufficiently good bokeh. Second, because that first time (circa 2007, with the M8) that I looked closely at a 100% crop of a Summilux image taken of St. Peter's Square taken from the top of St. Peter's, and saw how amazingly precise the resolution was of all the tiny elements of the photo, it blew my mind. The APO seemed, if you will, a stronger hit of that stuff.

 

Having taken possession of it an hour or so ago, and having stopped on my way home at a favorite place to try out new cameras/lenses -- the Dumbarton Cemetery at the top of the hill above Georgetown in Washington, near my home -- some things quickly became clear.

 

The bokeh at f2 has that old Leica magic. And at f/8, this lens is very, very sharp and the details and highlights are what I expected. Moreover, while I was shooting in black and white and purple fringing/CA was less of a problem for that reason alone, I found that, even when the sun was bright, I could shoot almost directly into the light without an issue. (I'm sure some will say you can do that with a Summilux, but that hasn't been my experience, when compared to the APO.)

 

Is this lens, as Mark Norton asked yesterday or the day before, worthy of trading in your Summilux for? I can't at this moment really say. But I am very happy with the way details are rendered. I also found ZERO problem focusing the lens, and find the discussion of focus throw to be even more mystifying having used the lens than I did before I used it -- if concerns about focus throw are what's keeping you from getting one, I believe it's a non-issue.

 

Below are a number of images taken on my way home. They are all taken with a yellow filter. They are either f2 or f8 -- you'll figure out which is which. In one instance, I have put a 100 percent crop immediately following the main image, so you can get a sense of the detail rendering. In another instance, I have taken identical photos at f2 and f8, so you can see how the lens draws differently. Yes, they are all of a cemetery, and such photos only take you so far, but I wanted people to have a sense of what this lens is like on a Monochrom, on a cold, windy day with variable light, and it was an easy place to stop and fiddle with camera and lens.

 

I can predict some will react: nothing there worth the money. You may or may not be right, and I may come to that conclusion in a few weeks. But I am betting, based on early indications, that this is going to be a special lens, not because I spent so much to buy it, but because I immediately love the way it draws, and can't wait to take it out with the M9 to see how it draws in color.

 

All images processed in LR4, usually with just adjustment to highlights and slight sharpening, then sent over to Silver Efex where in most cases I simply use the High Structure preset (because I like the way it looks.) I hope you find this helpful. JB

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I fear that the closer a lens becomes to perfection the more the images will be a true reflection of what you see and the less lens 'signature' and 'character' there will be.....

 

These images look absolutely fine .... and I suspect no amount of pixel peeping will find much to grumble about.... so I suspect there will be a lot of 'what have you got for the extra money ?' ..... when in fact the the money is spent on what isn't there....

 

I have yet to find any fault with the MM' s output and I suspect this will be a match made in heaven...... If the pictures are crap then it is definitely your fault ... ;)

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... I also found ZERO problem focusing the lens, and find the discussion of focus throw to be even more mystifying having used the lens than I did before I used it -- if concerns about focus throw are what's keeping you from getting one, I believe it's a non-issue...

That's what i suspected, thanks for confirming.

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I fear that the closer a lens becomes to perfection the more the images will be a true reflection of what you see and the less lens 'signature' and 'character' there will be.....

 

indeed it is so. but it is also useful when you want the image to retain its original vibe rather than distorting its look. luckily, the choice between the two is as simple as switching for older lens. both has its use at times.

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That sounds right to me. I'll tell you one thing, also, I discovered last night when looking at a number of pictures taken with the APO, where I was shooting wide open. Whereas we tend to discuss the characteristics of a lens's Bokeh, we assume that what is in focus is sharp. I found myself looking at what was in focus, and seeing how preternaturally sharp it is compared to the OOF area, and it leads me to believe that in addition to being a very sharp lens, which will serve as a welcome companion to the MM and to the M-240 and its grandchildren, this lens will have a Bokeh signature, based on what is IN focus, that will be seen as very pleasing.

 

(And Lou, so happy you got yours, or will have it when the FedEx truck arrives!)

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