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Review: The Leica Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 ASPH. by Jonathan Slack


jonoslack
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Jono,   Thank you for writing your review and providing the photographs.  I am sure others will appreciate your review as well.  These minor changes IMO, cause me to wonder if this is place holder until a fielding a new 35 Summilux lens in a year or so.  The 35 Summicron comes to mind with the changes made to that lens.  Then Leica fields a new 35 Apo Summicron.  Just a thought. IMO, it makes no difference because the 35 Summilux FLE II is another excellent lens for my bag.  r/ Mark

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I still own a pre-FLE because I never liked the bokeh from the FLE, so I'm glad Leica have corrected that.

Purely by coincidence, this month I bought a 10mm extension tube for use with live view because I found I was really missing close up ability. Again, a smart move by Leica.

I won't be buying the new lens immediately because I'm already very happy indeed, but I imagine many will. 

However, I am personally most delighted by the fact that Leica have done their due diligence with this lens and are happy to release lenses with close focus abilities beyond rangefinder close focus limits. I am still dreaming of an M telephoto macro of around 200mm and max aperture of f/5.6 suitable for macro and landscape use along the lines of the old mountain elmar. Whilst this previously was more of a pipe dream for me, after the release of this new 35 FLEc, I now see it as quite likely. Fingers crossed....

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So I posted the following think through on the pricing on reddit, and posting it here as well, since the pricing question keeps coming up. ^

It's only priced lower in US dollars, it's actually priced more in euros. So they raised the euro price and set the US dollar price at roughly the same total price you could buy it from overseas if you're in the US. Due to the stronger dollar, that final US price is less than it was for the FLE (which they haven't adjusted the US price for, probably to not piss off people who bought it at the higher US price).

Consider: The new silver model is priced at 5850 Euros, which is about 4875 euro ex-vat when buying from the US. 200 euro shipping from most camera retailers like Meister Camera = 5075 euro = $5440 @$1.07=1euro (current exchange rate). So you can buy it from Meister Camera at $5440 or $5600 from a US retailer. That's close enough for everyday fluctuations.

When the old FLE came out, the exchange rate was $1.25-1.30. The old FLE silver retails for 5450 euro. Using the same above method but at a $1.25-1.30 exchange rate gets you to about $5950-$6300 from-Germany price. And of course it's priced in the US at about $5950.

When thought about like this (that Leica's pricing is Euro first), the US pricing for the new Summilux makes complete sense.

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if i may be so bold -- this to the Leica Forum moderators

your use of the word "Review" for anything Mr, Slack writes about Lelca is at best misleading.

i would strongly suggest that you use the word "Overview" instead.

a "review" is objective, an "overview" is descriptive. 

from my distant point of view, Mr. Slack appears to be deeply aligned with Leica, if not in their pocket, and cannot risk the objectivity required to write an actual review, but from his position, he is uniquely qualifed to write an overview. 

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It would seem to me that Ausdlk missed an important part of Mr Slack's introduction where Mr. Slack wrote "At any rate, here are my thoughts on the new lens; this is rather a work in progress, so please revisit for more thoughts and pictures later in the week."  He does not claim to have written a "review", but offers his thoughts on the lens. As to his relation to Leica, he makes that very clear in his reviews on his website. I would suggest you read his disclaimer. 

  Perhaps the Forum Editors should change the title to "thoughts", but the tile does not change the helpful and honest writing of this highly respected man. 

Sorry for the changes in fonts!

 

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If you make these requirements, you would have to rename most of the movies on Youtube that call themselves review. Everyone knows today that a review can mean anything - from an objective test with scientific measurements to pure advertising.

But apart from that: Jono discloses his relationship with Leica, everyone can know about it. The fact that he didn't explicitly write anything about it this time may be due to the fact that he was surprised by the release date. And: Jono can be very critical of Leica. For example, he revealed that the 100 ISO on the M10 is not a true 100 ISO and can lead to eroded highlights; also, something important about the M9, but I can't think of it at the moment. 

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2 hours ago, Ba Erv said:

Oddly enough, the US retail price is cheaper than the FLE...of course you won't be able to find one for 2 years so I'm not sure that matters.

Mine shipped from Leica Manchester today. I just ordered it yesterday. Call Leica stores in the US and abroad. There's lenses.

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1 hour ago, elmars said:

If you make these requirements, you would have to rename most of the movies on Youtube that call themselves review. Everyone knows today that a review can mean anything - from an objective test with scientific measurements to pure advertising.

But apart from that: Jono discloses his relationship with Leica, everyone can know about it. The fact that he didn't explicitly write anything about it this time may be due to the fact that he was surprised by the release date. And: Jono can be very critical of Leica. For example, he revealed that the 100 ISO on the M10 is not a true 100 ISO and can lead to eroded highlights; also, something important about the M9, but I can't think of it at the moment. 

your YouTube argument does not apply, in my opinion. YouTube and The Leica Forum are very different beasts. it is very doubtful that anyone on YT is even remotely affiated with or stands to lose anything from what they write about, particularly films.

my suggestion of "overview" instead of "review" is a very simple change and, in my opinion, more accurately states what Mr. Slack's contributions, here and elsewhere, are to the Leica universe. 

i know this is not going to happen but still it seems a bit more of an honest word to use. that'all and i won't comment on it again.

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7 hours ago, jonoslack said:

I've been shooting with the new 35 Summilux since February, but I wasn't aware of the launch date until the day before we came to Crete. So I've been shooting the M11 with the 35 Summilux almost exclusively since we arrived;  we've become the best of friends. Mostly just using the rangefinder (with Live view for the odd close up shot) but sometimes with the EVF. It's a little like shooting a 35mm Q2 on steroids! However, the upshot of this is that quite a lot of this article has been written on an iPhone mini whilst sitting on the beach. At any rate, here are my thoughts on the new lens. 

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Since the early days of 35mm images photographers have been divided as to whether 35mm or 50mm is the real 'standard lens'. Of course there isn't a proper answer, it depends on what you shoot and your personal preference. 

What certainly is the case is that since the arrival of the first Summilux lens in 1959 (the 5cm Summilux in 1959) the Leica Summilux has been the workhorse lens for photographers around the world. The first 35mm Summilux arrived in 1961 (the 'steel rim') and is still a lens prized by collectors and photographers alike.

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The first Aspherical 35mm arrived in 1991, but less than 4000 copies were made, perhaps due to the difficulty in manufacturing with its two aspherical elements, it was replaced by the 35mm Summilux Asph in 1994 (with one aspherical element). This was in production until 2010, a fantastic lens, but rather subject to focus shift. 

To solve the focus shift issue, Leica introduced a new  35mm Summilux with a floating element in 2010. Generally known as the 35 FLE, this lens has been the centre of many photographers arsenal  for more than 10 years.

Admin advice: You can finde the article with more pictures in higher resolution on Jonos Website too!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

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The Leica Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 ASPH.  (Close Focus)

When the FLE was released the M9 was Leica's flagship camera. There was no Live View or electronic viewfinder, so there was no incentive to improve on the close focusing limit of the Rangefinder (0.7 metres). 

By the time the SL2 and the M10 were released, times had change, and there was a real possibility of making M lenses with closer focusing. The 35 APO Summicron was the first lens to support this newly designed 'double cam' focusing mechanism and the new 35 Summilux CF allows you to focus down to 0.4 metres. The focusing throw has been almost doubled to 176 deg and there is a clearly felt resistance at 0.7m beyond which you need an EVF, live view or Leica Fotos for precise focusing.

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Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Although the screw in lens hood of the FLE was a definite advantage over the clip on (drop off!) offerings of earlier lenses, it still added considerably to the bulk of the lens. The new slide-out lens hood is better still, and seems to be just as successful at reducing flare. The result of these changes is that the new lens as about 1mm shorter than the old one, and about 1mm fatter, not something which will be easily detected. 

The FLE had 9 aperture blades, which helped to produce its great bokeh, the new lens has 11 blades improving the bokeh for all apertures smaller than f1.4 (where the aperture is round for both lenses).

Performance

I've been using the new lens since February, largely with my M11, but also with the SL2. I've carefully compared the performance with my 35 FLE, and it does seem that the new lens has a slightly more relaxed and gentle bokeh. 

Like the FLE, the new lens is prone to a small amount of Chromatic Aberration with high contrast edges, especially at wide apertures  (think tree branches against grey sky). This is easily fixed in Lightroom or the processor of your choice. 

Close Focusing

The new close focus option is lovely to use, and also creates great photo opportunities. I have been using it mostly on the M11 - both with Live View and with the EVF.

I’m writing this from Crete where the high contrast and bright colours make for lots of opportunity to use the close focus. Here the electronic shutter really comes into its own, making it possible to shoot wide open without using ND filters. 

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

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Conclusion

This lens has three benefits over it's predecessor:

  • Close focus opportunities
  • Newly designed body with twist out lens hood
  • 11 as opposed to 9 aperture blades for better bokeh

The optical formula is the same as the FLE (no bad thing). It comes in black and silver anodised versions which weigh the same. 

If you already have the FLE, then the new lens might not be a compelling upgrade, but Leica have made some real incremental improvements to what was already a great lens. If your principal camera is an M11 or an SL2, then the upgrade may seem quite compelling.

Personally I've found that the combination of the close focus, and the excellent EVF on the M11 together with the improved ergonomics has made the 35 Summilux remake a lens to fall in love with. 

 

7 hours ago, jonoslack said:

I've been shooting with the new 35 Summilux since February, but I wasn't aware of the launch date until the day before we came to Crete. So I've been shooting the M11 with the 35 Summilux almost exclusively since we arrived;  we've become the best of friends. Mostly just using the rangefinder (with Live view for the odd close up shot) but sometimes with the EVF. It's a little like shooting a 35mm Q2 on steroids! However, the upshot of this is that quite a lot of this article has been written on an iPhone mini whilst sitting on the beach. At any rate, here are my thoughts on the new lens. 

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Since the early days of 35mm images photographers have been divided as to whether 35mm or 50mm is the real 'standard lens'. Of course there isn't a proper answer, it depends on what you shoot and your personal preference. 

What certainly is the case is that since the arrival of the first Summilux lens in 1959 (the 5cm Summilux in 1959) the Leica Summilux has been the workhorse lens for photographers around the world. The first 35mm Summilux arrived in 1961 (the 'steel rim') and is still a lens prized by collectors and photographers alike.

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

The first Aspherical 35mm arrived in 1991, but less than 4000 copies were made, perhaps due to the difficulty in manufacturing with its two aspherical elements, it was replaced by the 35mm Summilux Asph in 1994 (with one aspherical element). This was in production until 2010, a fantastic lens, but rather subject to focus shift. 

To solve the focus shift issue, Leica introduced a new  35mm Summilux with a floating element in 2010. Generally known as the 35 FLE, this lens has been the centre of many photographers arsenal  for more than 10 years.

Admin advice: You can finde the article with more pictures in higher resolution on Jonos Website too!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

The Leica Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 ASPH.  (Close Focus)

When the FLE was released the M9 was Leica's flagship camera. There was no Live View or electronic viewfinder, so there was no incentive to improve on the close focusing limit of the Rangefinder (0.7 metres). 

By the time the SL2 and the M10 were released, times had change, and there was a real possibility of making M lenses with closer focusing. The 35 APO Summicron was the first lens to support this newly designed 'double cam' focusing mechanism and the new 35 Summilux CF allows you to focus down to 0.4 metres. The focusing throw has been almost doubled to 176 deg and there is a clearly felt resistance at 0.7m beyond which you need an EVF, live view or Leica Fotos for precise focusing.

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Although the screw in lens hood of the FLE was a definite advantage over the clip on (drop off!) offerings of earlier lenses, it still added considerably to the bulk of the lens. The new slide-out lens hood is better still, and seems to be just as successful at reducing flare. The result of these changes is that the new lens as about 1mm shorter than the old one, and about 1mm fatter, not something which will be easily detected. 

The FLE had 9 aperture blades, which helped to produce its great bokeh, the new lens has 11 blades improving the bokeh for all apertures smaller than f1.4 (where the aperture is round for both lenses).

Performance

I've been using the new lens since February, largely with my M11, but also with the SL2. I've carefully compared the performance with my 35 FLE, and it does seem that the new lens has a slightly more relaxed and gentle bokeh. 

Like the FLE, the new lens is prone to a small amount of Chromatic Aberration with high contrast edges, especially at wide apertures  (think tree branches against grey sky). This is easily fixed in Lightroom or the processor of your choice. 

Close Focusing

The new close focus option is lovely to use, and also creates great photo opportunities. I have been using it mostly on the M11 - both with Live View and with the EVF.

I’m writing this from Crete where the high contrast and bright colours make for lots of opportunity to use the close focus. Here the electronic shutter really comes into its own, making it possible to shoot wide open without using ND filters. 

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Conclusion

This lens has three benefits over it's predecessor:

  • Close focus opportunities
  • Newly designed body with twist out lens hood
  • 11 as opposed to 9 aperture blades for better bokeh

The optical formula is the same as the FLE (no bad thing). It comes in black and silver anodised versions which weigh the same. 

If you already have the FLE, then the new lens might not be a compelling upgrade, but Leica have made some real incremental improvements to what was already a great lens. If your principal camera is an M11 or an SL2, then the upgrade may seem quite compelling.

Personally I've found that the combination of the close focus, and the excellent EVF on the M11 together with the improved ergonomics has made the 35 Summilux remake a lens to fall in love with. 

Thank you Jonathan! Hope to have it soon.

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33 minutes ago, KateStarr said:

@Jeremy Bunting Keep us posted on whether or not you have to pay customs on that lens. If not, that's quite a deal with the strength of the dollar.

 

We'll see. The language in the U.S. tariff schedules is in dire need of a refresh (and I'm a lawyer), but based on what I'm seeing, it looks like a photographic lens could be subject to a 2.3% fee per line 9002.11.90. See page 6: https://hts.usitc.gov/view/Chapter 90?release=2022HTSARev9

The fee is assessed based on the declared value in the currency of the country of origin, which should be £4125 (as it would not include VAT). So, I could be looking at a ~$95 tariff, which would bring my all-in cost to $4910. That's based on the actual exchange rate I got from using my Chase credit card, which is generally not so favorable. I probably could have saved another $75 or so if I had paid via bank transfer. Still a great deal relative to the US price+sales tax.

Edited by Jeremy Bunting
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6 hours ago, tom0511 said:

Thank you Jono!

SO - where do you see the differences between the new FLE 35 and the APO 35mm? Where do you see the strength of each lens?

Hi Tom

They are the same as the differences between the Old FLE and the APO 35 (except for the close focusing). I don't feel that the balance of power/performance has changed!

best

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7 hours ago, jonoslack said:Performance

...I've carefully compared the performance with my 35 FLE, and it does seem that the new lens has a slightly more relaxed and gentle bokeh. 

I'm assuming you're talking about bokeh when stopped down, since wide open the bokeh should be identical due to the same optical formula. Or are you seeing differences wide open? That might mean a change in the coatings to reduce contrast or a change in the physical properties of the glass used for the lens.

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14 minutes ago, Jeremy Bunting said:

We'll see. The language in the U.S. tariff schedules is in dire need of a refresh (and I'm a lawyer), but based on what I'm seeing, it looks like a photographic lens could be subject to a 2.3% fee per line 9002.11.90. See page 6: https://hts.usitc.gov/view/Chapter 90?release=2022HTSARev9

The fee is assessed based on the declared value in the currency of the country of origin, which should be £4125 (as it would not include VAT). So, I could be looking at a ~$95 tariff, which would bring my all-in cost to $4910. That's based on the actual exchange rate I got from using my Chase credit card, which is generally not so favorable. I probably could have saved another $75 or so if I had paid via bank transfer. Still a great deal relative to the US price+sales tax.

Incredible and hardly logical but I guess you know the US tariff system better. When we in EU order something from USA, Asia or any non-EU country, we can easily count on one third of the paid price (INCLUDING shipping) upmark in taxes and customs fees.

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Just now, hdmesa said:

I'm assuming you're talking about bokeh when stopped down, since wide open the bokeh should be identical due to the same optical formula. Or are you seeing differences wide open? That might mean a change in the coatings to reduce contrast or a change in the physical properties of the glass used for the lens.

Exactly - I did try to say that, but perhaps I wasn't clear enough - more aperture rings wide open makes no difference!

All the best

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