Jan 232010
 


Leica 35 Summarit Lens Review - Since I live in the midwest and it just so happens to be January, I have been un-inspired lately to get out and look for things to photograph. On the days when it is not too cold, it is dark and grey. The days where there is some light peeking through the clouds it is too damn cold to go outside! I would rather be sitting in my house writing a review for the site with my toasty socks on and the heat cranked up! But I have been motivated. I recently took delivery of a new Leica lens from Ken Hansen and you know how that goes. Even if it is 10 degrees outside, when it is new lens day you go out and shoot. :lol:

Leica m9 – 35 summarit at 2.5 – converted to B&W with Silver Efex Pro – (vignetting added to this shot)

It’s Small, Light and Affordable (for Leica)

The small and light Leica 35 Summarit was a lens I have always dismissed. I admit, I have always been a speed demon when it comes to lenses. If I could find a way to afford them, the Summilux lenses would always find their way to my camera bag. But…over the years as you get older and wiser things sometimes change. Even though I never thought of buying a 35 summarit, lately I started to think about the benefits of owning this little lens. Also, as money gets harder to come by it’s always nice to have a less expensive option in Leica land. As long as the performance is there then why not spend less?

With that said, the 35 Summarit is one of the least expensive lenses in the Leica lens lineup. At $1695 it is the 2nd cheapest lens you can buy “new” from Leica. The 50 Summarit is the least expensive at $1395. For that reason, you would think that this would be the hottest selling lens for Leica. Cheap, small and a classic focal length that is a must own for any M shooter! But guess what? The summarit line is actually the slow sellers for Leica. I can only imagine that this is because some must think that due to the price that the performance is not there. Let me state right now that this is NOT TRUE. The Summarit line performs just as well as the summicrons and summilux’s in regards to image quality! Again, its just the speed. The 75 summarit I used to own was an AMAZING performing lens at a fraction of the summicrons price.

Did I say this lens was small? Yep! This is the second benefit of this lens. WIthout the hood on (which is an extra accessory that cost $$$) this lens is tiny! So it’s cheap (for Leica) and small, and a 35mm. Whats the catch? Why is it almost 1/2 the price of the Leica 35 summicron?

Well, a couple of years ago Leica released the “Summarit” line of lenses. They created these for all of the people who were just getting into Leica M shooting as a more affordable way to do so. Many Leica M buyers struggle with which lens to get and often times they settle for a Zeiss or Voigtlander lens due to the Leicas being so expensive. Not that Zeiss lenses are bad! Quite the opposite actually. But for many, when they buy their first Leica they want a Leica as their first lens. I understand it myself as I have usually always wanted to stay with Leica glass. I have shot with some fine Zeiss ZM lenses but still, at the end of the day I am a Leica guy. After all, there is nothing quite like a Leica lens on a Leica body. They are a perfect match! But let me state again, there are some amazing Zeiss ZM lenses and a few good Voigtlander lenses for the Leica M mount.

Here is the small and light 35 Summarit on the M9 with the optional hood attached:

Here is the weight of the lens with and without the hood. The lens comes in at 6.9 OZ without and 7.6 with. For comparison, the 35 Summicron is 8 oz without hood and the 35 lux is 8.8 oz.

The main reason these lenses are less expensive than their Summicron and Summilux counterparts is due to SPEED. Yep, the entire Summarit line are F2.5 lenses. This means that they are not as fast as the F2 Summicrons or the F1.4 Summilux lenses. They are also said to not be made as well but from my experience,  all of the Summarits are made beautifully. They are not quite as heavy as the others, and the aperture rings may not be as smooth as the summilux lenses, but in my opinion they are superb in their build and feel. Here is a short youtube video I made on the 35 Summarit lens so you can actually see it. I shot the video with the Olympus E-P2 and 20 1.7 lens.


SO DOES THE IMAGE QUALITY KEEP WITH LEICA STANDARDS?

So what about image quality? We all know that the 35 Summicron ASPH is pretty much as perfect as a 35mm lens can get. We also know the 35 Summilux has some serious magic in its rendering and has that Leica look many of use crave. So where does the little 35 Summarit fit in as far as image quality goes? I have been shooting with one for a while now and I have to say that I find this lens to have a rendering which is sharp but sweet. This is not a clinical lens but it’s also not a dreamy lens. For me, it is the perfect balance between being “too modern” and “too classical”! It’s in between, and with it not being an Aspherical lens, it will not be too modern looking in its rendering or “Draw”.

The bottom line as far as quality goes is that for $1695 you get a 35mm Leica lens that is 93.2% of the summicron. It’s a half of a stop slower and maybe not as perfect, but it’s also not as clinical. It’s a little warmer than the summicron but not as warm as the Zeiss line. It’s tiny, light, and beautiful on the Leica M9 body.

HOW ABOUT WITH THE OLYMPUS E-P2?

Since there is now an E-P2 is the house I bought a Novoflex M to M4/3 adapter and am now able to shoot M glass on the Olympus. No, this will not give you the magic qualities like you get from and M8 or M9 but it is fun to shoot these lenses on the Olympus. With the 35 summarit attached the little Oly feels solid and M like. Unfortunately the image quality is really no better than using the Panasonic 20 1.7. You do get better and richer color but you will not get that amazing bokeh and detail as the lens is limited by the m4/3 sensor. On the E-P2 the 35 Summarit becomes a 70 F2.5 as the m4/3 cameras have a 2X crop factor.

Would it be worth buying the adapter and this lens if you only have an m4/3 body? No. I suggest buying a Panasonic 20 1.7 instead. If you have a leica M body already then it is worth getting the adapter to have fun with your M lenses on the E-P2. It is just not worth spending $1600 for a lens that is limited by the camera you attach it to. Still, I do notice richer color with the Leica 35 Summarit when compared to the Panny 20 1.7. Also note, the minimum focus distance of the 35 Summarit is 0.9 meters, so you will not be able to get close like you can with the m4/3 lenses.

The 35 Summarit on the Olympus E-P2

Olympus E-P2 with Novoflex M to m4/3 Adpapter – 35 Summarit at F2.5

BOKEH, COLOR AND DETAIL. DOES THIS LENS DELIVER?

I am finding that the 35 summarit on the M9 can really give you a blend of Leica magic, smooth bokeh, warm colors, and more detail that you may want in your digital files. I have been shooting this lens mainly wide open at 2.5 and it has been as sharp and detailed as any lens I have ever shot with. It is not any less sharp than the summicron at 2.5. Period. It may vignette just a slight bit wide open but most will not even notice this. It is so slight and I have only noticed it when shooting with a light sky in the background. I have also shot with it on the Olympus E-P2 with an adapter (see the above image) and it has performed well but on the E-P2 it becomes a 70mm equivalent and some of the magic is lost due to that crop and the limits of the m4/3 sensor. Oh yes…this lens SHINES on the M9 in a pretty big way!

Let’s take  look at some images that will show you color and bokeh. I will even throw in a link to a full size original (or two) so you can see for yourself just how sharp this lens is on the M9:

This is a straight from camera image with the M9. No PP. Converted from RAW/DNG in Adobe Camera Raw 5.6. Click image for large 1800 PX wide version, or click HERE for full size.

Wow! Will you look at that detail? If you clicked on to see the full size file you will see how sharp this lens is on the M9, and this image was shot at F2.5. Wide open. You can also see just how slight the vignetting if you look close enough, but again, most would probably not even see it. The lens obviously is sharpest in the center of the frame, but overall its damn good. Again, this lens does not give you a “clinical” presentation like the 35 Summicron. To me, this lens actually puts out a more pleasing look in some ways.

BUT WAIT, THERES MORE!

I am also going to throw in this image showing you how lovely the color, bokeh, AND detail are with this lens!

Another straight from camera RAW conversion. M9/F2.5 and ISO 160. Click image for 1800 Pixel wide version or HERE for the full size file.

So what do you think? In my opinion (and I have shot with quite a bit of Leica glass) this lens delivers in all areas. Bokeh, color and sharpness/detail are all very good. If you are a regular to this site then you know how I shoot 99% of the time. WIDE OPEN! Yes, one of the reasons I love Leica so much is that their lenses are “no compromise” lenses. This means you can shoot wide open, stopped down…doesnt matter. You will get delicious contrast, sublime color and pleasant bokeh at all apetures (unless you are at F11, then no bokeh). As stated above, the lens does lose some of that biting sharp detail as you get away from the center of the frame (when wide open) but this is also what gives it the look it has. It’s NOT a perfect ASPHERICAL lens.

Leica M9 with 35 Summarit at F2.5 – Processed in Photoshop CS4 – Click image for larger version

SO, IS THIS LENS GOOD ENOUGH FOR MY M9?

ABSO-FRIKKEN-LUTEY! This lens is a gem. It’s the sleeper in the Leica lineup and also a bonafide bargain. This 35 will do whatever you ask of it. No, it may not be the best for low light and no, it will not give you creamy bokeh like the Summilux, BUT it is a fraction of the price of those other lenses, and it’s also smaller! If money is tight, or even if it is not then I can easily recommend the 35 Summarit. On the M9 it’s superb, and by the way I have also made it mine! After buying, selling, and trading so many lenses during my 3 month search for a 3 lens kit that I could keep without feeling too bad about the money, I have decided that the 35 Summarit will be my 35mm of choice for my M9. I also bought the hood which is the metal screw in type like the new 21 and 24 summilux’s. It’s just quite a bit smaller than the wide LUX monster hoods.

This lens will be the perfect choice for me when I go out and shoot for my “Rural Landscape” series of broken down homes, buildings and cars. Even at F2.5 it delivers the detail I need for this project. Here are a couple of processed images that I shot with this lens on the M9. Click any image for an 1800 Pixel wide version! All were shot at F2.5.

Here is an old abandoned house that I shot with the M9 and 35. This was converted from RAW and I did some selective sharpening and dodge/burn in CS4.

Another old abandoned house that is just sitting and rotting away. F2.5 with the little summarit. The M9/summarit combo is perfect for these types of images.

This is a new house I found this week while shooting the 35. Again, F2.5 on the M9. Any vignetting you see was added.

As I walked through a VERY old cemetery I saw this odd scene which appeared to be several headstones placed in a pile. Wide open at 2.5.

Yet another old house that I thought was abandoned. I was told by a neighbor that there was an 86 year old man who lives in this house and has for 40 years.

This lens has all of the qualities you could ask for in a Leica lens. Build, size, and image quality are up there with the rest of the Leica lenses, just in its own kind of “flavor” and i must admit, it is a flavor I really like. If you want speed, buy the 35 ummilux. If you want clinical perfection, buy the 35 Summicron. If you want to save some cash and have an all around super performing lens then buy the 35 Summarit. You can’t go wrong with this one. It’s a gem, and a keeper. If you feel the need for absolute perfection and more speed then the 35 Summicron is what you are after (see my review here) but expect to shell out $2995 for that one. OK! On to my Pro’s and Con’s list of the Leica 35 Summarit!

PROS AND CONS OF THE LEICA 35 SUMMARIT LENS

PRO’S:

  • It is small, light and well made.
  • The image quality is what you expect from Leica. Superb.
  • It’s semi fast at 2.5, just a bit faster than a 2.8.
  • Bokeh is minimal, but nice.
  • A perfect match for the M9 and great as a starter lens.
  • One of the least expensive Leica lenses.
  • Super color when you have good light.

CONS:

  • Only comes with a fabric pouch, no leather case.
  • Hood is a $139 accessory. Yep, $139 for a metal screw in hood and cap. It’s nice but not $139 nice.
  • Lens hood easily screws off when trying to unmount the lens. It does not lock in to place.
  • Ever so slightly vignettes at 2.5 but no one would notice it.
  • Not as solidly made as a 35 Summilux.
  • Some slight softness in the corners when wide open, but not enough to bother me.
  • Some CA in high contrast situations but this is more or less due to the digital sensor “bloom” and all lenses do it on the M9/M9 in certain situations.
  • Finally, has some slight barrel distortion. You can see this when shooting straight lines. The $4500 Summilux also has this, so not a major issue.


So there you go! I hope you have enjoyed this review as I had fun shooting for it and writing it. If you want to buy this lens for your M, you can get it at B&H Photo HERE, or you can go to Amazon and pick one up HERE ! Doing so will help me continue with this site!

My lens came from my friend Ken Hansen and he has the lens in stock at all times. You can e-mail him here.

HELP SUPPORT THIS SITE TO KEEP IT GOING AND GROWING!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you!

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitteror facebook! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader!  Thanks so much for visiting my site!

  53 Responses to “The Leica 35 Summarit Lens Review”

  1. Great review, Steve. Your review and images certainly do justice to this tiny little lens. Though I have never owned it (the Summilux stays in my Kit, thanks to you, dude!), I have read a lot, and have drawn a few conclusions

    1. Guy Mancuso at the GetDPI forum raves Raves RAVES about this lens. Some folks over there call it the new bokeh king 35, saying that it renders better than even the legendary 35 summicron v. 4. He has the images to prove this in his “ugly tests” of this lens in harsh contrast settings….definitely worth a read, and made me consider that this may be the small compact 35 to get…..but, alas, the 35 lux asph stays in my bag forever…

    2. My local Leica guru Marc Vercammen at Glazers owns this as his 1 lens kit. He’s a film guy and total purist. He says that the 35 summarit stands tall among all 35′s in terms of its signature, size, balance, and IQ/rendering. He’s the guy I learned all of my early Leica knowledge and the guy who made me lust after Leica gear in the first place, and it’s his lens of choice.

    3 Erwin Puts speaks highly of this lens technical aspects. HE raves that this and 75 summarit come very close or may even surpass, in some circumstances, their summicron asph bretheren. That’s big words, coming from Erwin (though I tend to glaze over when reading his stuff…he is the king of Leica lens knowlege, though, and to some, his words are good as gold)

    4. I have seen some amazing captures in street photography with this lens…you’re images now add to this collection

    5. It is TINY. THough not quite upto build quality of the Summicron or Summilux, it still blows Canon and Nikon out of the water in most cases for build quality.

    6. Personally, if I were getting started with a 1 camera/1 lens kit for a reasonable price, I’d be picking this lens or the 50 summicron as my options….seems like your 3 lens kit is the highest performing, most economic 3 lens solution. You have really gotten it figured out, my friend….

    Okay, that’s a lot of rambling at 11 pm on Friday night….why am I sitting in my room now?!?! HHahhha…Great review, Steve!

    • @Ashwin Rao, nice comment. I also frequent Glazers pretty often, recently acquired a Leica M6 and have fallen in love with it for a number of reasons. Marc is definitely provides a wealth of knowledge up there. Steve, thanks for this review. I was just about to purchase the Zeiss 35mm, but will now compare the two before making my final decision. This was very helpful. Please keep it up. I really appreciate your personable approach and tone in writing.

  2. I started with the 35mm Summarit and I like your description of it having a nice balance between too clinical and too modern. Given the raves about the ‘lux and ‘cron, I somehow still couldn’t bring myself to replace this with another 35. Because I’m not big on biting sharp images as well, this is a keeper for me with its compact size. As a former nikon user, I was pleasantly surprised by the bokeh at 2.5 that it renders and I like the leather pouch too as it doesn’t take too much space in my bag. Another great review Steve, and youre’ right, there’s no such thing as a bad leica lens!

  3. Thanks, Steve, for a(nother) great review. I’m using a CV 35mm lens right now, and had assumed that I wouldn’t be able to afford a Leica 35 for quite a while. But after reading your thoughts on it and seeing your great shots, I think this is the ‘real deal,’ even if it is affordable. I’ll be clicking the link on your site when I’m ready to buy (gotta save a few more pennies first).

  4. Wow, great review and really great shots.

    Before reading this review my focus was on the Summicron and the Zeiss Biogon F2. Do you plan to compare the Summarit with the Zeiss in the near future?

    Thanks in advance!

  5. Great review Steve – you really seem to enjoy this Summarit!

    What I’m always fascinated of, is this kind of 3D plasticity look some of the Leica lenses are capable of! I’ve never ever seen such a thing on any other 35mm system and that’s worth the high price of these lenses for me. This is also why I made a last minute change from the 28 Elmarit to the Summicron.
    One of your best images to demonstrate this effect is the “hydrant” (M9 & 35 Summicron at F2) found on your M9 review – I would like to know how the Summarit compares in this category? There is also some criticism on the web about the built quality of the Leica Summarit range compared to the Summicron and Summilux range . . . I would be very much interested to hear your opinion on those subjects.

    Thanks again for the great work Steve!
    Matthias

  6. Great review Steve, this clearly backs up the views of several Leica dealers I’ve spoken to in the UK who swear by this lens and use it themselves on both M8 & M9 and told me get it over the Cron.

  7. Ashwin, Thanks for the comments. You are right on with all of them.

    KK, thanks! I am happy to see someone else enjoying the lens.

    David, Thanks! Yes, the 35 Summarit IS indeed real Leica quality :)

    Jens, I have a Zeiss 35 Biogon here and while its faster at F2, on the M9 it vignettes quite a bit. I am still messing with the lens profiles though. The Zeiss has a warmer more 3D pop to it but the colors are brighter as with most of the Zeiss line. It is also a great lens but between the two I would take the Summarit.

    Matthias, maybe I will be able to get out and take that same hydrant shot today with the summarit. I will try. Thanks.

    cidereye, Thanks! Yes, I was pleasantly surprised myself. This lens seems to have a little bit of a following from those “in the know”. More M shooters should give it a try. I think the 35 and 75 summarits are the best in the summarit line.

  8. Hej Steve, thanks for your response.

    If I find some gold nuggets which are your favorite lens for landscape shots? Summarit oder Summicron?

  9. Both are fantastic but with the summarit being almost half the cost of the summicron I would say take the summarit. I say it’s just about the same quality as a summicron, others say it’s better. I like its rendering better than the cron, and I LOVED the cron. That says a lot right there!

  10. Thanks for your fast and good response.

  11. Steve,

    Thanks for the offer to take another shot of “the hydrant” – it really is an interesting question to see how this Summarit “draws” in comparison to the Summicron.

    Summicron and Summilux lenses are constructed in a really “exotic” way in reference to the laws of classical optics. They have properties like floating elements, apochromatic correction, aspherical surfaces, unusual glass types and materials, etc. From a physics stand-point I would therefore expect them to also “draw” differently.

    The Summarits are constructed in a much “simpler” way (therefor reducing the cost) – but this does not mean, that they “draw” in an inferior way – just different. And since there are so many open variables in lens design, I expect Leica with its experience to have found a very interesting optical solution for the Summarits. But I rather doubt, that the resulting difference should be seen only in the aperture dept.

    Looking forward to learn on this interesting subject,
    Matthias

    P.S.
    Your Real World Reviews are great for actually getting on the bottom of those questions

  12. Matthias, I did not remember where that original Hydrant was so I grabbed a shot of a different one. Not quite the same due to lighting, or ISO but its a hydrant :) The one in the M9 review was at ISO 2000 in low light and looks like I added vignetting in that shot. Todays light was VERY flat and grey so this kind of comes across in the 35 summarit hydrant.

  13. HOLY COW !
    THAT’S WHAT I CALL A “B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L HYDRANT” ! ! !

    Thanks so much Steve!
    You’re giving “Hydrant Photography” a new kind of quality!
    I do hope it wasn’t too cold to leave the House for this . . .
    And yup, it’s there all right the 3D super-duper Leica look – I can’t believe it’s this Summarit! This lens IS capable of some nice 3D rendering. – Nevertheless it seems to me, that the surroundings of the main subject (our hydrant) at fully open apertures (F2 resp. F2.5) to the edges of the image are optically of a little higher quality in favor for the Summicron . . .
    But, thanks so much again to help me answer this question – I never thought, that somebody over the atlantic would take such a beautiful picture of a hydrant for me, on request within just a few hours – you’re my hero!

    Matthias

  14. Do Leica offer a GPS accessory – might of helped you track down that hydrant ;)

    Hehe – just kidding of course, I know Leica have a GPS division, but I don’t think it would be keeping with their minimalist approach :P Anyway, on to the review, I thought it was very interesting indeed – and I must say, your love of Leica is starting to rub off on me. I’m really tempted to get a Leica setup too now – though I can’t afford an M8 (I wish I could), I’m very tempted by the Digilux 2 or 3, the latter being preferable because of it’s performance and interchangeable lenses, albeit D mount.

    Anyway, I’m still absolutely adoring your reviews and your photography especially – this is no exception. I find the snowy landscape B&W shot near the end of the review to be utter perfection – a dazzling subject silhouetted in an ordinary landscape made extraordinary by a combination of weather, juxtaposition and of course a wonderful lens – beautiful.

    Keep up the good work – even if it is going to cost me a small fortune if I keep reading… :P

  15. Thanks Matthias! No problem!

    Overheat, thanks for the kind words :)

  16. [...] the original here: The Leica 35 Summarit Lens Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS Share and [...]

  17. Steve Huff – Professional Hydrant Photographer – Available for Hire at Reasonable Rates! :D LOL – J/K Steve!

    Maybe this has started a new photo trend? :)

  18. Ha ha..seriously though. I realized yesterday that there are quite a few interesting hydrants around me. Maybe I could start a series and shoot interesting hydrants for the next few years. May be fun!

  19. Seriously, . . . I find the subject not so uninteresting at all – the strong color of the disintegrating paint and the rust, the special form (almost a sculpture) – emphasized in PS together with the 3D look tells a small story . . . I really like it, just can’t make up my mind, which hydrant I like better of these two you shot – they’re quite different after all!

    A Leica photographer finds his/her interesting subjects in the unnoticed of places ;-)

    Matthias

  20. Hi Steve
    How does the 35mm summarit perform with an M8?
    Also, if this lens is part of your 3 lens kit, what are the other 2?
    Marcus

  21. Waiting for comparison with Zeiss 35mm f/2.0.
    Thanks for all reviews!

  22. Hey Marcus, I settled on the 35 summarit, 50 summicron and 90 elmarit. Three sweet lenses. Not the fastest in the world, but I found with the M9 they are a a great mix of sharpness (all three), lovely bokeh (all three) and speed (cron). I love all three lenses equally.

    Jerry, Maybe I can do a comparison today and post it here later. Check back in a few hours! Thanks!

  23. Oh, I also would like to see the comparison with Zeiss 35mm f/2.0. :)

  24. OK guys, I will see what I can do today!

  25. Sounds great! Thanks in advance, Steve!

  26. Hey guys, I just made a new Post with a quick comparison :)

  27. Wonderful review. I’m glad you liked it and can present these gorgeous examples of the lens qualities. I’m also a little relieved, since I ordered on last week. I hope it will deliver!. It was apparently backordered in Scandinavia (no lens on the shelf at the danish distributor) so I don’t know when I will get it. What won me over was the lens signature, your words says it perfectly: sweet and sharp.

    Your superb picture (and fantastic image treatment) of the cat made me think of some tri-x images I’ve seen. Here’s a link to some film based pictures with the summarit 35:

    http://deptfordvisions.com/category/gear/lenses/leica-summarit-3525/

  28. Just a bit concerned about the colours in the fire hydrant photo – the grass seems red/pink in the foreground and green in the background – is this uncorrected Longitudinal Chromatic Aberrations or something else – it is just such a noticeable difference in colour from foreground to background !!

  29. That would be the dead grass by the hydrant which is yellow, not pink. At least on my display it is. Its winter, 20 degrees. Grass dies and changes colors.

  30. [...] ZM 35 BiogonHorea Feier on Quick Comparison: Leica 35 Summarit vs Zeiss ZM 35 BiogonSteve Huff on The Leica 35 Summarit Lens ReviewDamen Stephens on The Leica 35 Summarit Lens ReviewAshwin Rao on Featured Photographer: Megan Baker [...]

  31. I love it when I get to say “I told you so”! This one and the 75 Summarit are wonderful lenses, and I use them more than the 35 and 75 ‘Luxes.

  32. [...] Re: Which 35mm lens is the best for M? Interesting comparison of 35mm Leica M lenses here… Although the cheapest, it seems there is a strong case for the Summarit over its more glamorous cousins.. The Leica 35 Summarit Lens Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS [...]

  33. You said: “But guess what? The summarit line is actually the slow sellers for Leica. I can only imagine that this is because some must think that due to the price that the performance is not there.”

    Nah, I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s just economics.

    I just went to my favorite on-line used Leica store, and they are listing a Summicron ASPH 35mm lens, in “Excellent” condition (which in my experience is about like new) for $1700 and change. And 2 non-ASPH Summicrons for about $1000 each in”Bargain” condition (which means perfect glass and mechanicals, slightly funky cosmetics.)

    So Leica has priced the Summarits such that they are competing unfavorably with their own products on the used market.

    (Just as an aside, I have a V4 non-ASPH Summicron 35 that I bought about 12 years ago for $1000. If it’s still worth $1000, it was a better investment than my 401K. I’ve pretty much taken thousands of pictures with a Leica lens for free!)

    Anyway, back to my point: if I can get a faster Leica lens for the same or less money, then the Summarit doesn’t look so good, despite the fact that it’s a very nice lens.

    I think the slow sales are just the result of a lot of photographers looking at their options, and voting with their VISA cards.

    If the Summarit was, say, $900, (still pretty expensive, for what it is.) it would be different.

  34. Hi Steve,

    First time for me here and i’m a long time user of Leica R6. As the post capture of film is causing increasing problems I have turned to digital. I have found you extremely helpful with the M9 and i’ve learnt a lot which would have taken quite some time to achieve elsewhere as the trade here in the UK is so profit orientated (becoming worse because of the economy). Do you realize just how much cheaper your dealers are in the US? Stock in the UK is a huge problem, if I wanted to go out and buy a M9 right now, it would be a pretty hard search to find anywhere with stock. UK is always 2nd best it seems.
    Anyhow, off the soapbox.
    With regards to the 35mm Summarit being edge soft at 2.5, at which point does this actually disappear when stopping down? One stop, two, three?
    Thanks for a great site and sharing everything with us all in a no nonsense way – real pictures are best.
    Feel free to reply to the email address supplied, happy to talk anytime.
    Regards,
    David

  35. As a Canon DSLR shooter, I have become memorized with Leica’s as of late. It just so happens that your site provided the initial spark that lit the fire: a fire that I’m sure my wife wishes was never lit as I’m glued to the web each night for 1-2 hours reading Leica reviews.

    I’m now on a saving spree which will hopefully culminate in the purchase of an M9 this time next year. Thanks to this review, I will be making this my very first lens purchase as you have reassured me that its low price is not a sign of poor workmanship and picture quality.

    As a side note, thank you for writing reviews with a predominant focus on the end result (the picture) which can be understood by novice and expert shooters alike.

  36. Hey Steve,
    I have been reading your site for some time based on your honest and enthusiasm. Please fight the forces of your looming sponsorship enterprise with regards to this honest being the basis of you loyal readership.
    I am a recent convert to film photography. I think there are a growing number of individual who are not able to afford a M9 and are instead picking up an M6 and viewing film as a hobby. So in reading many of you articles I am left a little bit with interpreting how the review relates to film photography. Perhaps you could help your readers with a essay on how to interpret your reviews in light of film photography, and in my case b&w photography.
    Thanks,
    Brian

  37. Hi Steve,

    I agree with your observation about how easy it is to knock the lens hood, however there is a way to improve the situation. If you purchase a roll of PTFE tape, commonly used by plumbers, you can wrap this arond the thread of the lens effectively packing out the space between the lens and the hood. The tape is like a membrane, non-adhesive, and cheap. Just apply as much as you need, and keep a roll in your bag. When you wish to remove it just pulls free with out leaving any problems.

    Keep up the great work, Andy

  38. Hi Steve,
    Love your lens reviews because they are not packed with technicalities, or just enough, and rather concentrate on the special look and signature of the lens, and your visual emotions with it
    I have an M9,I was looking for my “perfect” everyday 35 mm to pair it with, I shoot street photography but also landscapes. I had the Summicron but found it too “clinical”, I hesitated with VC 35f1.4 because I love the 40mm Nokton with M8. At the moment I shoot with the Zeiss C 35mm and it really delivers with M9, wonderful. But I decided to follow your advice (I know you love the Zeiss lens too with M9) and ordered a mint used Summarit, I’ll tell you which one comes out as my favorite with M9!
    I would be really interested in getting your review of VC Nokton f1.2 with M9, I saw some street photography images in Flickr groups with M9+ Nokton 35 f1.2 and they seemed amazing, vibrant yet classic rendering of colors, some special glow, and wonderful smooth bokeh wide open
    Keep up your great work!
    Valérie

  39. [...] thought of the Summarit – Sean Reid rates it (subscriber review only). Steve Huff also likes it. The Leica 35 Summarit Lens Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS – not a silly review. __________________ Chris Tribble http://www.ctribble.co.uk // [...]

  40. Hi Steve,
    thank you for the informative and emotional review of this little gem. The Summarit seems not to be the right lens for the PEN. Nevertheless may I ask would you prefer this one or a Nokton 1.4 on a PEN cam? Or on a NEX? Keep up the fine work! I always appreciate reading your blog.
    Reiner

  41. [...] serie – Summicron 35mm f2 Asph Giorgio, add the Summarit to your list: – Summarit 35mm f2.5 The Leica 35 Summarit Lens Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS ____________ [...]

  42. WOW! Fantastic shots!
    Since I am making the budget choice (I asked your pal Ken Hansen and he could sell me the M8 for 2100 dollars) I am glad you showed me how nice and sharp the 35mm summarit is! Thank you Steve!
    I would love to see the fire hydrant photo being taken again with the summarit 35mm mounted on the M8 instead of the M9.
    Do you think it would be somewhat as sharp on an A5-paper sized photo?

    • Thanks Axel! I do not own an M8 so can’t do that comparison, nor do I own the 35 anymore but it is a fantastic lens. Its ONLY drawbacks from the cron are its slight barrel distortion and it does not focus as close as the cron.

  43. what do you think would be the best 35m lens for my m6 , iv been looking at the 35m f2.5 ,i do street photography ????????

  44. Erwin Puts in his Tao of Leica website says, “The Summarit performance is of a very high level and certainly equal to that of the [35 f/2] Summicron.”

  45. Hi Steve,

    Great blog here! Was wondering if this lens works fine with the Ricoh GRX?
    Just got the body :) waiting for the 28mm now but also want a nice Leica lens on it since there is a
    M mount available… Do you have any suggestions on this. I am mainly interesting in street photography..

    Thanks in advance. Cheers Jochgem

  46. Thanks for this excellent review. You posted this in january 2010. Has your opinion on this lens changed, or do you still have this one as a favorite 35 lens?

    Armand from Norway

  47. Many thanks for the informative review Steve. I´d rather read and listen to your practical reviews, rather than wade through (thru in your native American English?!) a set of graphs and soulless charts.

    Brian from Iceland

  48. Just bought an M6 with Nokton 50 /1.5 and will add this Summarit 35. The Elmarit 90 is next, and when I can eventually afford it I’ll replace the Nokton with a Summicron to match your 3 lens kit. In many ways it is the same as the 3 lens kit I had with my R6 (35 and 90 Elmarit and 50 Cron) though from what I’m seeing here the 35 Summarit looks better than the 35 Elmarit-R. The 90s and 50 should be about the same.

    My M6/Nokton arrives tomorrow and I’ll have the Summarit by the beginning of next month. Its been a long time since I’ve been so excited about gear. This will be my first rangefinder, and perhaps someday I’ll even add a digital M when MM or M9 prices come down after another generation or so.

  49. I’ve now had the 35 Summarit for five months and LOVE it. Your review is spot-on, it has delicious (though minimal at most distances) bokeh and is as sharp as anyone would ever need, without being clinical. I own four 50mm lenses and always pick one based on what I want it to do (meaning no one lens does it all), but with 35mm I’ve never wanted for anything other than what this Summarit can do.

Don't just sit there! Join in and leave a comment!

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved