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SL 35mm Summicron (Non-APO) ASPH Lens Question


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I just purchased a new SL 35mm Summicron (Non-APO) ASPH lens, which I am thoroughly enjoying. The focus ring is a bit looser than what I am used to on the three SL Varios and on my dozen or so M lenses, however. Does anyone know whether this is common for the 35mm (and/or the 50mm) SL non-APO primes? Thanks very much.

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I don’t have this lens yet but have been seriously contemplating adding it to my kit over the holidays. Other than the issue with the focus ring, how do you like the lens. There’s not much in the way of reviews that I’ve been able to find online - mostly just the apo version. I’m looking for something smaller and lighter for my SL2. Thanks for any input. 

On 11/23/2023 at 7:01 AM, Ken Abrahams said:

I know the 50 Summicron SL non Apo is pretty great for walking around streets as AF lenses go. The 35 Summicron would also be similar. Of course the 35 SL APO is outstanding and worth its weight, one of my favourites and then the M Summilux 35 is brilliant. The 35 AF Sigma F2 is okay, I have tried it a few times but I put it back in the filing cabinet. 
The 35 M Summicron ASPH is great, small and very good on the SL cameras but not getting much use at the moment. 


 

 

 

Edited by NightPix
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I have the 50mm ASPH, a very fine lens.

This review is rather long, but very well done.  Compares the 35/50 APO lenses to the 35/50 ASPH versions.  His conclusion is that the ASPH lenses are very good, with little real world difference to the much more expensive APO versions.

The link is here:  

 

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On 7/19/2022 at 9:50 AM, Photoworks said:

+1 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux for magic

50mm f/2 APO Summicron is for the people that crave sharpness 

NightPix: I love the 35 SL non-APO Summicron. It offers a nice lightweight substitute for my SL Varios when I don't need or feel like having a much heavier (though more versatile) lens on the camera. I recently traded in my Q3 and decided to use the SL2 and the 35mm as an equally good weather-proof, autofocus, and almost as light weight substitute. So far, I have no regrets. In addition, the 35 is as sharp and characterful as the 28 Summilux was on my Q3 and Q2 before that. 

As for the relative looseness of the focus ring: It is not a problem. It is just different from my other lenses.

I hope this is helpful.

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Very helpful, thanks! You are doing exactly what I want to do - use my SL2 with a 35mm autofocus lens as a substitute for a Q2/Q3. I already have a Q2M and love it but I don’t want another Q camera plus my SL2, which is my main camera. I’ve been using a 35mm summicron-m on the SL2, which makes a nice light weight setup, and the images are great, but because it’s manual focus I sometimes miss the shot. Great to hear that the non-apo will work for me. 
 

Thanks also to @lencap for the link to the review. Just what I was looking for!

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Earlier this summer, I tested the Panasonic 35mm f1.8, on which Leica's non-APO Summicron-SL is based, on my SL2-S and was thoroughly impressed by its performance.  I returned it only because I came across a local deal on a used 35 APO Summicron-SL that was too good to pass (it was listed at the same price as a new non-APO).

If I were still in the market for a 35mm SL lens today, I would skip the Leica version and get the Panasonic.  It's been demonstrated by many reviewers to be essentially the same lens minus the metal housing and Leica branding.  At a fraction of the cost of the Leica version and lighter weight (perfect for travel and daily carry), it's a bargain since it performs virtually the same as the Leica ASPH version.  If I didn't find my 35 APO-SL deal, I would still be using the Panasonic 35 f1.8.

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I love the non APO, I owned the APO and yes it's brilliant, but the new 35 cron is awesome too. Smaller, faster focus, creamy bokeh...Really sharp and built like a tank. I understand it was based on the Panasonic design, but it's built just like the APO's I love it. The 50 is not quite on the same level optically, although it's still an awesome little 50.

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I think it is clearly a "what are you doing with the lens?" question. I think both of the reviews are helpful for people who don't have a sense otherwise, but I also found them a bit amusing. The first one starts right out saying that he is not going to test sharpness because the sharpness is unarguably better on the APO Summicrons, and the second doesn't test the APO summicrons at all, just refers to them as being super expensive, all the while shooting the lenses with a mist filter. That is kind of like reviewing a sports car with snow chains on it. By the way, I am not saying the ASPH and Panasonic lenses aren't good or don't have value, but what the reviews listed are doing is basically throwing out the main advantage of the APO Summicrons and then just implying, "yeah, there is no real world difference". It certainly depends on what your real world is, right? I think their bottom line is more or less correct, that for most people there is not a critical difference, but one would hope to see a review that actually demonstrates those differences so you can make an informed choice, especially if they have access to the lenses. Otherwise it is kind of just like, "let me read the spec sheets for you", which is what the second video felt like.

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1 hour ago, Stuart Richardson said:

Otherwise it is kind of just like, "let me read the spec sheets for you", which is what the second video felt like.

I had to block that second guy from my YT feed, because his videos kept getting suggested. He has the algorithm figured-out, but he has nothing interesting to say.

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I also think implying it is an insignificant difference is also a bit disingenuous. It might be if you primarily do portraits without busy backgrounds or never really need your edges, but if you look at the MTF, the 35mm APO is nearly 80% contrast at 40lpmm at f2 in the extreme corners...roughly 40% better than the 35mm ASPH is at ANY aperture, let alone f2. Even if you don't care about the corners, on center it is over 90% contrast from wide open, whereas the 35mm ASPH maxes out at 80%, and is closer to 70% wide open. What does that mean? A ton of crispness and snap to the detail and the overall image, leading to really 3D images where the subject is rendered perfectly, while the background blurs away with zero chromatic aberration, no bokeh fringing or other issues.  Again, a lot of people may not care so much about this, or cannot justify it, which is totally fine, but to imply it is not there is kind of disingenuous to me at least. If you are not going to be using it a lot and you are mostly doing small prints and stuff on the web, sure, save yourself a big chunk of change, but if these are your bread and butter focal lengths and you rely on detail, they are quite different lenses. This is not a "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" question, it is an actual visible difference.

Another thing that is not talked about as much, but is quite important in printing is uniformity. In most cases it is more important to have uniform sharpness than it is to have super high sharpness. So if you are looking at a large print and the center is super sharp but the edges are blurry, that is more disturbing to the eye than if it is less sharp, but equally sharp across the entire image. That is something that the APO Summicrons also do extremely well: they are exceptionally sharp in the center, but they maintain it across the whole frame so when you are looking at a print, everything is nice and evenly sharp and lovely.

Anyway, I will stop now, because it was not my intention at all to rain on people's parades with the ASPH lenses. I think they are great lenses, and likely better than even many Leica M lenses. They are an extraordinary value in their Panasonic guises, and still a great value in their Leica guise. But praising them does not need to mean there is no/minimal difference to the very different APO Summicrons.

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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I have been reading this discussion--which I began with a question about the focusing ring on my 35mm SL ASPH--with interest. I would like to add two thoughts:

First, I agree that the new 35mm and 50mm SL ASPH lenses are not as sharp from center to the corners--and render differently--than their APO counterparts. All of the testing I have read, as well as my own comparisons between photos taken with my 35 SL and my 35mm M APO Summicron, confirm this. I bought the 35 SL to use as a substitute for my now departed Q3--viz. to have a relatively lightweight, compact, weather resistant, and autofocus set-up. So far, I have been extremely happy with this decision.

Second, and more importantly (at least for me), can anyone answer my question: Have you noticed that the focusing ring on the 35 SL ASPH is a bit looser than the focusing ring on other SL lenses? If any of you who have both the 35 SL ASPH and another SL prime could help me with this, I would appreciate it.

That said, let's continue the discussion. Many thanks.

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At the moment, and temporarily, I own both the APO and the non APO versions of the 35 SL and I can confirm that the focus ring of the non APO lens is definitely looser. Not that much as to be problematic at all, neither to move it inadvertently, but the one in the APO 35 is clearly stiffer.

 

I don't own any other Leica SL lenses, so I cannot compare. However, I own some Panasonic L lenses, and the non APO 35 Leica SL focus ring stiffness is quite similar to those.

Edited by sinnicknick
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That's very helpful, and it captures my thoughts as well. The focus ring on the 35 SL ASPH is looser than my other SL and M lenses (I don't have any SL APO primes to compare with), but it is not a problem. I will just have to get used to it. Thanks for the information.

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Thanks for your reply, but now this is more of a mystery. I may take my new lens into the Leica Store SF and ask their advice, as there seems to be some variation among the SL 35 ASPHs. And then there could be a dilemma: Live with it or send it off to Leica New Jersey for adjustment. I appreciate your help. 

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I think you should live with it unless it really bothers you or impacts your work. Leica does not standardize the focusing rings across their lines...different lenses have differently weighted focusing rings. Why that is sometimes makes sense, sometimes not as much. Macro lenses have a long, slow throw, like for example the 120mm APO S or 100mm Macro Elmarit, while some have a very light ring, like the 180mm APO Elmarit R. In my experience, the APO Summicron SL focusing rings were abnormally stiff. So stiff that a number of people sent them back because they would bind a bit or squeak when turned, especially if you gripped them firmly. My 50mm APO was like that, but it loosened up after a few months. I do not often use manual focus, so I just ignored it, for the most part. A trip to Leica service is likely to take months to sort out. Life is too short...

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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I agree with many of the criticisms of the above reviews Stuart has identified.  I also agree there's definitely more similarity between the performance of the Panasonic Lumix lenses and the Leica ASPH analogues than between Leica's own ASPH versus the APO versions.

As with most things Leica, paying more generally yields higher performance.  It comes down to whether paying that premium makes a noticeable difference in one's work...aka, whether it's "worth it."

This video sums up the APO vs ASPH comparison well:

 

 

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