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Leica 35mm APO Summicron M


brickftl

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wondering what people think of this lens. I know it's hideously expensive, but should I ever get a wad of cash burning a hold in my pocket, would it create magic compared to the very competent, small/lightweight Voigt 35/2 ultron that I'm using on my M10.

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7 hours ago, brickftl said:

wondering what people think of this lens. I know it's hideously expensive, but should I ever get a wad of cash burning a hold in my pocket, would it create magic compared to the very competent, small/lightweight Voigt 35/2 ultron that I'm using on my M10.

No, not for the mainstream kind of work you do with a 35, like street photography. The Ultron ii is a great lens and noticeably better than the Summicron 35 iv. The surplus value of the APO is not so much that it is the best of all 35’s for the M, which is in practical work often only with a small edge. The real plus lies in its versatility with the minimum distance to object of 30cm and the macro work that can be done with it handheld with LV. In that sense the lense is expensive, yes, but can stand in for a lot of more weight on extra gear. And it certainly gives you more resolution with macro work than with a Q.

Here’s an example of that (this one with table tripod): 

 

 

 

The surplus value

Edited by otto.f
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I don't have the ultron to compare, but I really enjoy the 35APO. Sharp, small, versatile, etc... Magic is not something that comes from the lenses, just use what you like to use. Something that you can use without interupting your flow and that brings the results you like. The noctilux 50 I had before was a very nice lens, but too bulky for me, and although I liked the OoF rendering, I didn't like the in focus part.

Maybe rent one to find out if it works for you.

Best regards,

Marc

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9 hours ago, brickftl said:

wondering what people think of this lens. I know it's hideously expensive, but should I ever get a wad of cash burning a hold in my pocket, would it create magic compared to the very competent, small/lightweight Voigt 35/2 ultron that I'm using on my M10.

IMO, the Summicron-M 35 ASPH would create magic and it is a tiny lens. If you are more into the vintage stuff, try the Summicron 35 , any version...
For my eyes, all these lenses show their Leica signature on all apertures compared to the Voigtlanders, and rightly so, because they are more expensive, even when bought used.
YMMV

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Brickftl,  I use the 35 Apo Summicron for my landscape photography.  Its one of my key go to lenses.  Its simply stellar for its color, resolution, almost no aberations and delivers the rendering that I like for my genre of photography.  Its close up capability is most useful too.  The only 35 slightly better is the SL 35 Apo Summicron.  But on an M camera, the 35 Apo Summicron M is IMO, exactly the tool I needed.  The good news, you have choices.  Here is a link that will give you an idea how the lens renders.  r/ Mark

Try:  https://onfotolife.com/lens_sample_photos?lens_id=4280&page=1&focal_min=0&focal_max=800&aperture_min=0&aperture_max=32

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It seems to make the smoothest bokeh I've ever seen on a 35mm M lens. This, along with the compact size, are among the features that make this my dream lens, if I can ever afford to buy it. The wide manual focus ring also looks very tempting.

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I've owned the APO Summicron 35mm since it was introduced. I also owned the Summilux 35mm ASPH FLE which I traded for the new Summilux 35mm (with close focusing capability). After shooting 10s of thousand of images with these lenses, the APO Summicron 35mm remains my favorite lens, not only for its excellent image quality, but also because is small and light.

This is my "desert island" lens, full stop!

If you can find one, buy it! This is definitely a "buy once, cry once" purchase.

Regards,
Bud James

Please check out my fine art and travel photography at www.budjames.photography.

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I would have to rent or borrow an APO Summicron-M 35mm ASPH, to personally create images with it, for it to become eligible for “grail-quest” status. I try to be practical about things, but, now and then, will yield to “the heart wants what the heart wants.” Several of my M lens choices have been made, simply by looking at others’ images, posted on-line. I am not yet feeling that strongly, yet, in the case of images captured with the APO M 35 ASPH. It is not that the posted sample images have not been wonderful, but a matter of my not feeling of a need to go forth, and do likewise.

Leica “magic” is largely due to choices made by the design teams, over time, in engineering optical corrections. My eyes see more “magic” in the Summilux and Noctilux images. Generally, Summilux lenses are rather large, but, pre-aspherical 35mm Summilux-M lenses were made quite small, and the Re-Issue Steel Rim Classic Summilux-M 35mm lens is also quite compact. When I had an rare opportunity to add a Re-Issue Steel Rim to my shopping cart, at the end of June 2023, I opted to do so. Had I been able to to the same with an APO Summicron 35mm ASPH, I doubt that I would have done so, even if the price would have been the same.

I might want to acquire an APO Summicron-M 35mm ASPH for landscape photography, but really should, first, make sure that I will become more serious about landscape photography. If gasoline remains relatively stable, in price, I hope to travel both eastward and westward, in separate trips, starting in April 2024. 

As for the Close Focus feature, well, it is rare that I want to use 35mm lenses at close range. Plus, I and my wife have some of the most serious close-range and macro SLR lenses available, formerly for evidentiary/forensic purposes, and, since we have retired, for plants, fungi, insects, and other wee beasties, in the citizen scientist role. Some of these lenses have manual aperture rings, so could be adapted to M cameras, and focused with Live View. (Focusing any M lens, closer than 0.7m, requires using Live View.)

To go a bit further into the Close Focus rabbit hole, there is the matter of the Magnification Factor. The APO Summicron 75mm ASPH has a notably high magnification factor. I have an APO M 75, for which I paid about half as much as an APO M 35 would cost. My Leica Macro Adapter M would allow the APO M 75 to get closer. A relatively inexpensive Leica ELPRO would increase the Magnification Factor. So, I could remain a Leica M purist, to perform serious close-range work.

I do understand that the heart wants what the heart wants. I scuttled plans to buy a “grail quest” super-telephoto Nikon lens, to enable me to afford to buy into the Leica M system, in April 2018. In mid- to late-2019, I acquired my most expensive M lens, a Thambar-M 90mm, very much a lens with “character” and “magic.”

 

 

Edited by RexGig0
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I've read about and seen some images from Leica lenses (don't remember which ones) that supposedly have a certain "character". Regarding the pre-aspherical 35mm Summilux-M lenses, I'm wondering how their images compare to more modern ones.

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2 minutes ago, brickftl said:

I've read about and seen some images from Leica lenses (don't remember which ones) that supposedly have a certain "character". Regarding the pre-aspherical 35mm Summilux-M lenses, I'm wondering how their images compare to more modern ones.

I test-shot a Version II, Sixties-vintage Summilux-M 35mm pre-aspherical lens, at Houston Camera Exchange. The lens elements were VERY clean and clear. This was a collectors’ lens, by appearance. Images were quite soft, at f/1.4 and f/2. Images were quite sharp by f/4. Softness can be seen as character, but, to my eyes, softness can go a bit too far. At the same time, I test-shot a demonstrator Summilux-M 35mm ASPH FLE. I preferred the character/magic, and the ergonomics/handling of the FLE. As for bokeh, well, appreciation of background blur is a very individual thing, but I had my Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 ZM with me, and the Zeiss “beat” both of the Summilux lenses for the character of the background blur. (The Zeiss Distagon 35 ZM is quite large, by M lens standards.)

A few months later, when I had my Re-Issue Steel Rim Summilux in-hand, it behaved much like the Version II, pre-aspherical Summilux 35, except that it was not nearly as soft at f/1.4 and f/2.

It is not difficult to find comparison images, at the Fred Miranda forums, where Fred Miranda, himself, and several other members will shoot and post some well-done series of test images.

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1 hour ago, brickftl said:

I've read about and seen some images from Leica lenses (don't remember which ones) that supposedly have a certain "character". Regarding the pre-aspherical 35mm Summilux-M lenses, I'm wondering how their images compare to more modern ones.

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/288041-35mm-14-summilux-pre-asph/

Take a look at this thread. It's very soft wide open, but already at f/2 it's much sharper, almost like a completely different lens! At f/2.8 it has all the sharpness I could wish for, at least in the center. The corner sharpness gets better as you stop down further. But I think it retains its classic charm, no matter how much you stop down.

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I owned the 35mm Leica APO but sold it. All my photos looked like they were taken with an iPhone on steroids and I couldn’t justify the cost for it to sit on the shelf for the odd occasion I would use it, I prefer a vintage lens for everyday. Now if Voigtlander introduce a smaller Apo 35mm, which is now looking possible, I would buy one for the times I want a perfect image. 

Edited by costa43
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For me, technical perfection is way down the list. Much more important are size, design and tactile feel. But the 35mm APO-Summicron also seems to possess all this, and a side effect of the technical perfection is nice and smooth bokeh, which I also appreciate. So all in all, this is a lens I'd still like to try if I ever get the chance.

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The best modern Leica 35 mil lens Leica has made, but not the best 35 mil lens Leica has ever made, the original Steel Rim and the Doube Aspheric have arguably more pleasing rendering and in the case of the Steel Rim, the form factor, it's ergonomic feel is way more pleasing. .

It is definitely worth the price for me yet for what I enjoy shooting most, street photography - I prefer smaller 35 mil lenses.

Close focus is nice to have but I seldom used it.

I strangely prefer the New Steel Rim as a great modernist lens for street than the 35 APO. Yet my APO 35 M is my desert Island lens, not the New Steel Rim, it is a can do everything lens.

I really like how it handles against the light, there is no other lens like it. However when showing the same photos taken with a 35 Cron V4 and the APO 35 to 3 of my staff and my wife, they all preferred the rendering of the 35 Cron V4 over the APO 35, go figure. 

Technical perfection comes at a price, too clean of a rendering 

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I own 28 Summilux, 35 apo and 50 summilux (new version).

28 Lux is for awesome wide angle, 50 lux is for bokeh, portraits, nice character.

35 apo is like Zeiss - smooth, clean, perfect, but i'd say 'faceless' which can be good or bad depending on what you want. I probably wouldn't buy it again, i'd go for 35 lux. 

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13 minutes ago, Steadimann said:

35 apo is like Zeiss - smooth, clean, perfect, but i'd say 'faceless' which can be good or bad depending on what you want.

Probably a good lens to combine with the 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH, because they couldn't be more different. 😉

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44 minutes ago, evikne said:

Probably a good lens to combine with the 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH, because they couldn't be more different. 😉

I am not sure I need another 35 :D For my personals needs (which I use my M) i could easily get away with 28 and 50 :D 

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