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


jonoslack
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My impression from comments and reviews over the years has been that the lens formula for the pre FLE 35mm 1.4 ASPH, the FLE 35mm ASPH and the newest 35mm 1.4 ASPH are the same, only the mechanical parts had been changed, Leica's MTF plots for all three are very similar (see attached).  Given all the changes in Leica's optical designs since the non-FLE model was released, Leica , must conclude the decade old optical formula is good enough.  I virtually never use my 35mm lens for closeups or even portraits, so the old design meets my needs.  Summilux-M35-TechnicalData.pdfSummilux-M_35_mm_ASPH_Technical_Data_en.pdfpm-82885-EN_Datenblatt Summilux 35 - 2022_0.pdf

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It would be interesting to compare a pic using both lenses, under the same conditions that prompt the somewhat ‘nervous’ bokeh with the first FLE. And perhaps one exhibiting flaring differences given the different hood designs. I’m satisfied with my FLE, but just curious. I guess that would make this more of a review. 😉

Jeff

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Not sure why people think that “nervous bokeh” will go away. It became more apparent with the floating element and has nothing to do with aperture blades. The pre-FLE Summilux only has 9 aperture blades (just as FLE does) and people rave about its bokeh.

11 aperture blades will not fix this nervousness. It’s pure marketing.

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Thank you, Jono, for the nice impressions from Crete with the new Summilux!
 

Regarding the close focus photos, I have the impression that there is hardly any area which I would consider sharp, even when viewing the version on your website on my iPad. Maybe it is an issue of downscaling? Does the sharpness come close to that of the Q2 when set to about 0,3m in macro mode? My Q2 seems to deliver much better results in said respect, at least when comparing to the photos in your review on my iPad.

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2 hours ago, Robert Blanko said:

close focus photos, I have the impression that there is hardly any area which I would consider sharp

Agree. I have the impression that the close focus of the APO35 is more convincing, as I’ve seen in Sean Reid’s review and also in Jono’s if I remember well. But if every close focus photo in the recent overview has been done handheld in the wind, then it’s quite understandable with 60Mp. 

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5 hours ago, roma said:

Not sure why people think that “nervous bokeh” will go away. It became more apparent with the floating element and has nothing to do with aperture blades. The pre-FLE Summilux only has 9 aperture blades (just as FLE does) and people rave about its bokeh.

11 aperture blades will not fix this nervousness. It’s pure marketing.

I agree and I'd love to see a side by side comparison between the two FLE lenses. It's something that can happen mainly in corners with a lot of background highlights, backlit foliage etc. so the review shots with a clean background or at close focus distances (not much of an issue that close) wouldn't really show that anyway. But who knows, maybe there's been some slight repositioning within the FLE part of the lens that does address it? The 9 vs 11 blades is much less of a big deal even at f2 or f2.8 to me, the bokeh on the FLE actually smoothes out in those 'busy' scenarios when going a stop or two down...9 was fine.

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18 hours ago, Artin said:

The 11 blades will not make a difference wide open , but it will make a difference when stoped down to 2. Or to 2.8. 

Maybe if you zoom-in to 300% it’s possible to see something in the highlights. I used pre-FLE for years and printed lots of 16x20in prints. Those 9 blades never interfered with bokeh areas no matter what aperture I used. However, things changed when I switched to FLE (also at all apertures).

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19 hours ago, Artin said:

The 11 blades will not make a difference wide open , but it will make a difference when stoped down to 2. Or to 2.8. 

It also makes "bokeh balls" perfectly round. This is another aspect of bokeh which some people look out for, apart from "nervousness", which by the way, can be avoided if you're carefyl about your backgrounds.

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On 9/16/2022 at 6:41 PM, Herr Barnack said:

 

On 9/17/2022 at 7:41 AM, roma said:

Not sure why people think that “nervous bokeh” will go away. It became more apparent with the floating element and has nothing to do with aperture blades. The pre-FLE Summilux only has 9 aperture blades (just as FLE does) and people rave about its bokeh.

11 aperture blades will not fix this nervousness. It’s pure marketing.

This is an interesting subject - I always wonder about the reputation of different lenses and their bokeh . . . it seems to me that the general opinion has much more to do with phrases or words which become attached to them . . . for instance I've always found the 'Bokeh King' to have rather nervous bokeh, and I've never thought that the 75 APO was remotely 'sterile'. But these labels stick, and there is no way to change them!

18 hours ago, archive_all said:

I agree and I'd love to see a side by side comparison between the two FLE lenses. It's something that can happen mainly in corners with a lot of background highlights, backlit foliage etc. so the review shots with a clean background or at close focus distances (not much of an issue that close) wouldn't really show that anyway. But who knows, maybe there's been some slight repositioning within the FLE part of the lens that does address it? The 9 vs 11 blades is much less of a big deal even at f2 or f2.8 to me, the bokeh on the FLE actually smoothes out in those 'busy' scenarios when going a stop or two down...9 was fine.

I liked the bokeh in the flower picture as well, but I think that it was a good subject for nice bokeh. On the other hand I DID find the bokeh from my FLE to be nervous and I have not found this new one to be . . .  but I did not compare them side by side (really hard without proper terms of reference!) . . Is this difference because of sample variation? subject variation? my mood? there are so many variables which don't really relate to the optics of the lens!

all the best

Jono

 

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1 hour ago, andy.we said:

Here is an advice for everybody to make true Reviews - the Brick Wall Test 

Selecting the Proper Brick Wall for Photographic Tests

I'll never be any good at lens testing - clearly as a result of living in a property which as rendered brick walls - and consequently I cannot evaluate lenses properly and will simply have to hope that photographic content is good enough to usurp any failings in my lenses

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6 hours ago, jonoslack said:

… for instance I've always found the 'Bokeh King' to have rather nervous bokeh, and I've never thought that the 75 APO was remotely 'sterile'. But these labels stick, and there is no way to change them!

 

Jono, the guy who created the ‘King of Bokeh’ term (Mike Johnston, now publisher of The Online Photographer…TOP) agrees with your assessment and has since written about his regret over the term. The term first appeared in a picture caption in the photo magazine he edited at the time.  But he hadn’t used the lens at wide aperture or close distance. BTW, he was also the first to spell out the term ‘bokeh’ to help readers with the pronunciation of the Japanese term ‘boke,’ from which it derived. He now dislikes that overused term, too, and prefers ‘out-of-focus-blur.’  You can read all the background in various articles he’s since written at TOP.  Despite his retraction and regret, the terms have indeed stuck.

Jeff

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