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APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2 appreciation thread


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To my surprise, I did not find a specific thread for the Leica Summicron-M 75mm, one of the best lenses I have ever used.
I had this lens in my kit for about 8 years and still think it is the greatest lens I have ever used. So let's have a conversation and maybe share some photographs.

Specs:

Number of elements / groups: 7/5
Focal length: 74.98 mm
Minimum focus distance: 0.7m
Highest reproduction ratio: 1:7
Internal thread for screw-on filters size E49, non-rotating
Built-in hood, telescopic, lockable
Length: 66.8 mm
Largest diameter: 58 mm
Weight: approx. 430 g

Handling:

As far as Leica M-glass goes, this is not a small and light lens. It certainly is front heavy and exudes the "looking into the eye of Sauron" feeling when facing the E49 glass front. Of course, comparing it to other manufacturers' lenses it is still by no means big or heavy. But if covert and unobtrusive is what you are going for, this lens may not be the ideal everyday carry for you.

The focusing mechanism offers a continuously smooth operation. Focusing close will increase the length of the barrel quite a bit (insert pun about erection here).
I have owned two copies and both were spot-on and a breeze to focus with the range finder and good eyesight. The helicoid resistance is just right for precision focusing, which it needs to be given the rather short focus throw.

Aperture clicks are, in my opinion, quite modern. There is very minimal play between the clicks and the turn is smooth and satisfying but not what I would describe as assertive. There is a risk of accidentally switching aperture but I found it to be a non-problem most of the time. I actually prefer this "happy medium" which allows for quick aperture operation without having to properly grip the focus ring.

The built-in lens hood is *chefs-kisses*. I like the way it slides out and can be twisted into place. I often find myself thinking that these little things are the unique selling points of the Leica options compared to the increasingly competitive und much cheaper alternatives.

The design language of this lens is impeccable. It feels and looks compact but powerful and that is precisely how I would describe it.

Focal length and use-cases:

For most photographers, 75mm is a bit of a no-man's land. Neither here, nor there. Not quite 85mm portrait terrain, but too narrow to be considered normal, like a 50mm.
To me, this lens is a compliment to a 35mm (or any other "every-day" lens you may prefer) and not a standalone lens that covers all my needs. I see it (and use it) as a speciality lens.
And that is unfortunate and entirely due to the focal length that I personally find uncomfortable. I rarely shoot humans, which is where the lens excels at. 
Its effortless resolving power and gentle contrast lend itself to all sorts of photography and embodies, to me anyway, the Peter Karbe look. Gentle, almost shy in its character, never noisy or distracting but precise. You can also call it clinical, if you lean the other way.

With it's MFD of 0.7m, the reproduction ratio is 1:7. Not macro, to be sure, but *much* better than what you get with the standard 50mm at 0.7m or even worse a 35mm.
This has guaranteed the lens a permanent spot in my roster for the past years because there just was no getting around it, if I wanted to pick out details in the crowd or smaller objects.
Equipped with a FLE, close-up performance is fantastic.

Optical performance:

This lens is a beast. It is, hands-down, the best performing lens I have ever had for my Leica cameras (I have not been so lucky as to try the elusive 35mm APO or 50mm APO).
There is a gentle and effortless rendering that is both relaxed and yet detailed, which is difficult to reach. Of course, the Summilux 50mm ASPH, which its design is supposedly based on, provides a similar look. But for me, a 50mm must be small and light, which I found the Summilux not to be.

I routinely find myself zooming in to 200 or even 300% and still find interesting and clear detail.
 

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Some more samples (all images provided were shot wide open)

 

 

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And last batch

 

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I lied. Here is more

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(Shot stopped down with Macro adapter)

 

 

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I have this lens too and it fits perfectly in my 21 SEM, 35 cron, 50lux, 75 APO cron, 135 ApoTelyt set up

Lov the 70cm minimum focusing distance, it makes it more useful to me than its 90 APO bro sibling (that I am now trying to sell)

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This was probably my favourite M lens when I had the M9 and M240, but I sold it when I moved out of digital M. I bought it from a forum member who didn't get on with the focal length. I agree with all you write except about its weight and size: I never found it so. In fact I thought it compact and well-balanced, especially compared to its big brother, the Apo-Summicron-M 90 asph.

I used it for both street and portrait. I would describe its view as "showing you what has caught your attention" i.e. not a broad view (35mm), nor a general locality (50mm), nor a specific detail (90mm) but what the eye and brain are naturally engaged with: a person and their immediate surroundings or some particular activity around you.

Now that I have a film M again, I have acquired a Summilux-M 75, which I also use on the SL2-S for portraits. I did think of reacquiring the Summicron, but I'm now more likely to use this focal length for portraits, where the Summilux's character comes to the fore. The Summicron still has a large soft spot in my heart though!

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1 hour ago, LocalHero1953 said:

I would describe its view as "showing you what has caught your attention" i.e. not a broad view (35mm), nor a general locality (50mm), nor a specific detail (90mm) but what the eye and brain are naturally engaged with: a person and their immediate surroundings or some particular activity around you.

That is a wonderful description of how I feel about the lens, too. Thanks for putting it into those words.

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I would even extend LocalHero1953's explanation to landscape photography. The main usage of my 75 APO is for landscape photography, like this in northern Norway:

 

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vor 4 Stunden schrieb LocalHero1953:

This was probably my favourite M lens when I had the M9 and M240, but I sold it when I moved out of digital M. I bought it from a forum member who didn't get on with the focal length. I agree with all you write except about its weight and size: I never found it so. In fact I thought it compact and well-balanced, especially compared to its big brother, the Apo-Summicron-M 90 asph.

I used it for both street and portrait. I would describe its view as "showing you what has caught your attention" i.e. not a broad view (35mm), nor a general locality (50mm), nor a specific detail (90mm) but what the eye and brain are naturally engaged with: a person and their immediate surroundings or some particular activity around you.

Now that I have a film M again, I have acquired a Summilux-M 75, which I also use on the SL2-S for portraits. I did think of reacquiring the Summicron, but I'm now more likely to use this focal length for portraits, where the Summilux's character comes to the fore. The Summicron still has a large soft spot in my heart though!

You give a wonderful description of what you would use the 75 for. This encourages me just to put that lens on for a few weeks and just leave it on and see what happens.

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vor einer Stunde schrieb Robert Blanko:

I would even extend LocalHero1953's explanation to landscape photography. The main usage of my 75 APO is for landscape photography, like this in northern Norway:

 

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This is a very nice angle of view to me. By no means too narrow. 

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I've had this lens a couple of times and sold it. I think mainly because its a bit heavy to carry round and I use 75mm so infrequently that its hard to justify the cash tied up in it. I shoot an M10-P, 35 Summilux and 24 Summilux that I'm very happy with. The 'after that' is always the issue... 50 is a very boring view for me and when I've tried with one I never like the images. 90 is just too tight and 75 would probably be my sweet spot, but probably only 5% of images. I'm toying with the idea of a Voigtlander 75mm f1.5 in 2024. Does anyone have experience of this lens in comparison to the APO summicron?

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  • 2 months later...

I’m in the process of swapping my virtually unused 50 Lux for the 75 Apo. 
 

Since I got the 35 Apo, I’ve not even taken the 50 out of my bag. I concluded I needed something with a more obvious difference in focal length instead. 
 

Came across a mint pre-owned example at my dealer and couldn’t resist. 

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i also fell in love with this lens

 

this is my favorite shot so far (i think)

 

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  • 2 months later...

Absolutely love this lens. I get why some people see it as an "in-betweener," not a 50, and not a 90. But it's spectacular. This was shot on the SL2-S.

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An absolutely flawless lens, both for studio portraits (zoom in)...

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...and landscapes as well.

NYC

 

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One more. Here is a photo of my lens.

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