The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH on the Leica M9

It’s a muggy Thursday night here in Phoenix, AZ (at the time of this writing) and instead of sweating outside I am inside where I just sat down with a fresh tall glass of water and decided to write an article on the legendary, magical, super fantastic, FOREVER OUT OF STOCK Leica 50 Summilux ASPH! Yep, this is the one lens that has been out of stock ever since the M9 was announced. Some of you know why this is, while others may be sitting there scratching their heads wondering how a $3700 50mm lens could be sold out for such a long period of time. I am not going to sit here for 8 hours and write a long techincal boring review. Instead I am just going to write about how I feel about the lens on the Leica M9, and show some samples. Just words from the heart.

My son looking like a troll doll – 50 ASPH at 1.4 on the M9

I have reviewed this lens before on my old site but at the time of that review, the M8 was the current Leica digital so there were no results with an M9, which as you may know is a full frame camera and therefore exploits the full capabilities of this lens. My history with this lens dates back to even BEFORE the Leica M8 was released when I was burning through a few rolls a day with my M7 and and also on digital with the Epson RD1. I paid $1800 for one of these lenses brand new back then and LOVED it to death but when I sold all of my Leica gear due to a family emergency in 2004, I also sold the 50 ASPH. I ended up buying another one in 2009 (that had focus issues) and then just two weeks ago I finally was able to secure another. I have been wanting to shoot this lens on the M9 since day one and I finally got a hold of one right after I reviewed the new 35 Summilux ASPH II.

The M9 with the 50 ASPH at 1.4 and ISO 2500

So the new 50 summilux ASPH arrived and caused all kinds of trouble. I was all set to buy the new 35 Lux ASPH II but I started enjoying this lens so much on the M9 that I decided to buy it over the 35 Summilux ASPH! I could not afford both, and it was a tough choice (and still is as i keep going back and forth) but when it was all said and done I had to go with this 50 due to its unique character and possibilities. It is one of the best lenses for unique/artistic shallow depth of field effects and it is also great for low light. The shot above was taken in a VERY dark room. There was ZERO light on the the subject but this lens somehow seems to create its own light. Shooting with this lens at ISO 2500 in dark places somehow just “works”.

Since owning the M9 I have had ALL of the 50’s through my hands. The 50 summicron, the pre-asph 50 Summilux, the 50 Noctilux F0.95 and F1, the 50 Summitar, 50 Summarit, and even the Zeiss 50 Planar and Voigtlander 50 Nokton. I have shot with all of these lenses extensively and feel that I can now write about this Summilux ASPH on the M9, which many feel is the BEST 50mm lens ever made PERIOD. I can give my opinion because I have used all of the above 50’s on the M9 and know the character of each of them. So….

Is it the best 50mm Ever?

So, is this 50 Summilux ASPH the ultimate 50 for your M9? Well, that is not as easy to answer as some may think. At $3700 it is NOT cheap and it is almost double the price of a brand new 50 Summicron, which I ADORE on the M9. As a matter of fact, I will go on record now and say that in my experience with all of these lenses, the sharpest I have ever shot with on the M9 is the 50 Summicron and the Zeiss 50 Planar. Those two lenses are similar and totally different at the same time but both are razor sharp (at least they were on my M9) and give a sharper image at F2 than the Summilux ASPH does at F2. The 50 Summicron is a favorite of mine when paired with the M9 or the MP, no doubt about it.

So again, is  this the best 50 ever??? That all depends on what you shoot I guess. If you like shooting with a fast aperture lens, meaning 1.4, then this lens would be perfect and my #1 choice. If you desire sharpness more than creamy/dreamy bokeh than something like the 50 Elmar 2.8 would be fantastic as you still get great performance at a fraction of the price. Also, the Summicron is pure classic Leica and if you want to save some cash it would be a SUPERB 50 for your M.

But you say you want the BEST of the BEST! Well, if that is the case,  the 50 Summilux ASPH would be the “best” 50mm lens EVER created for any 35mm system, even surpassing the $10,500 Noctilux just due to the fact that the Noct is so big and heavy. END OF STORY!

The Noct has an even more unique look to its images, and is pure magic but the Summilux is SMALL and can be used at ANY aperture with fantastic results. It’s a lens that can be your everyday lens or even your ONLY lens. The Noctilux may be better as a specialty lens but for an everyday lens the Summilux wins out IMO.

I have shot with just about every 50 for almost every 35mm DSLR out there and I have never experienced another lens like this one. It can do anything you ask of it and it will never let you down. Wether it is on the M8, M7, Mp or M9 it is fantastic.

At 1.4 this lens can be jawdropping! Excellent contrast, great color and sharp as can be at the point of focus. M9 at 1.4. Click the image for a larger/better view!

My Nephew and my Son after watching a Zombie movie…50 ASPH at 1.4 on the M9

Even on the M8, it is beautiful with its rendering and glow…from 2007, f1.4

and from 2009 on the M8 at 1.4

No matter what camera you mount this lens to you are bound to find some magic. M7, MP, M8 or M9. It just delivers.

It’s NOT all about Sharpness with the Summilux!

Just because a lens is sharp does not mean it is a great lens. Hell, any 50 can be sharp but what I always look for is “character” and the character of the 50 Summilux is unmatched with ANY lens I have ever shot with. The only lens that is somewhat similar is the newest $10,500 Leica Noctilux. While the 50 Summicron is sharp, AND has great classic character, the 50 Summilux is still sharp but in a different way. When shooting at 1.4 you have the ability to have your subject in sharp focus while the background just melts away into a gooey creamy blur. This lens is the “King Of Character” when shooting wide open (which is how I shoot it 99.8% of the time). The 50 Summilux ASPH does not have the same look of the cron, but it has its own special look. Once you use this lens on a full frame M, it’s tough to go back to anything else. I would say the Summicron is more of a flatter/sharper kind of look and the Summilux is more of a 3D/creamy kind of look.

M9 and 50 Lux ASPH at 1.4

“Cracked” – M9 and 50 Summilux ASPH at 1.4

But It’s Plenty Sharp!

I call the sharpness of the 50 Lux ASPH “Creamy Sharp”

Click image for full size OOC shot to see how sharp the point of focus is…

So I will wind this down now and realize this was more of a rambling than any kind of review but in my final paragraph I will state that if you want the most beautiful lens for your Leica M, and you enjoy the 50mm focal length AND you can handle the price tag, then the 50 Summilux ASPH is the KING. I ended up buying this one in chrome because I prefer the build and feel of the chrome lenses (they are heavier as they are brass) and I never have focus issues with the chrome lenses. Still, after shooting with it for a while I feel I am still more of a 35mm guy and there is a little voice in my head that keeps telling me  I should have stuck with my 35 Summilux ASPH II order. I just wish I was rich. If so, I would own both as I feel the they are the two best overall lenses in the Leica lineup, and they are the two workhorse focal lengths for many shooters. What will I finally end up with? I am not sure but I do know it would be very hard to give this one up AGAIN, especially when shooting it on the M9.

Yea, this 50 Summilux ASPH is legendary and there is no way it would disappoint ANYONE as far as build or performance goes. It’s magic and there is a reason there are huge waiting lists for this lens 🙂

Why this is such a great lens:

  • The build is perfection, especially the chrome version. You just do not see lens quality like this these days.
  • You can shoot this lens at 1.4 and get scary good results. There is no other 50 1.4 on the planet as good as this is at 1.4 (maybe the Noctilux 0.95)
  • The lens is semi contrasty but not overly contrasty. Great color that leans on the warmer side of neutral.
  • Bokeh is nice and smooth, an improvement over the 50 Summicron if that is your thing.
  • Easy to focus but uses a tab, which I am not a huge fan of, but I will gladly deal with it to get these results.
  • It focuses as close as any Leica lens can at 0.7M.
  • Will be the last 50 you would ever need to buy for your Leica M.
  • Would make a great one lens kit.

Where To Buy:

B&H has been sold out forever but they occasionally get one or two in. You can check their stock status HERE for the lens in Black, or HERE for the silver chrome version.

Ken Hansen also sells this lens but he may have a waiting list. You can check with him by emailing him HERE. I bought mine from Ken.

Here are a few more images with the Leica M9 and 50 Summilux ASPH 🙂

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69 thoughts on “The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH on the Leica M9

  1. Hi Steve, I love all of your reviews, especially about M9’s comparison between Summilux 50 vs Noctilux 50. I planned to have Nocti, but just didn’t afford the price. And read your review here, I think to go with Lux 50. I just worried getting wrong decision about the difference about lux vs nocti’s dreamy bokeh. Thanks for your great review!

  2. Someone already asked this but I didn’t see a response: Do you put filter on your summilux f1.4/50mm ASPH lens?
    Which one do you use if yes?
    Thanks

  3. Hi Steve,

    How’d you compare the character of the Panasonic Leica 24/1.4 Summilux to the Leica 50/1.4 Summilux?

    Have you shot any comparisons between the two?

    Thanks!

    1. Well, they are quite different IMO. One is a full frame lens, one is a micro 4/3 lens. The 50 Lux is gorgeous. The 25 is as well but it is a bit more “hard” – hard to explain but a 50 Lux on an M9 is astonishing (when all is calibrated correctly). The 25 is a 25 not a 50 so behaves like a 25. Thus, different looks.

  4. hi steve

    AGREED with all ur comments on the 50lux! The Best 50 in the world 🙂
    Just a question, would u recommend a place where i can fix my dented hood (the sliding built in one) on the lens? should i send to Leica solms or someone else in the US or UK? It cant slide back in due to the dent on the rim.

    cheers
    chuan

  5. Steve….did you all the sudden become ‘rich’ as you say to afford all the extra lenses? 🙂 I would use what you like and not worry about anyone else’s opinion, or how much it costs, to determine your choice.

  6. Steve… thanks for the real life reviews. I seriously thought about buying the Zeiss 50 yesterday but your review and comments from others have me decided to somehow fund the Summilux which should arrive in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I told my dealer to go ahead and put up my black M8 up for sale in order to soften the blow when the ‘Lux arrives. I too wish that I was rich and can find a way to get all the other sweet Leica lenses.

    Am I just nuts in trading in equipment over and over??
    Not just a cameraholic but a serious case of lens lust.

    1. An update… the ‘Lux arrived today. But I am torn and looking for advice from the regulars on this site. I picked up a used ‘Cron” – silver, last week. Love the size and images. Would you trade it out for the “Lux”?? Any input would be appreciated. My dealer is holding it for me until tomorrow.

  7. Elaine – I would highly recommend checking out the 25mm Zeiss Biogon if f/2.8 is ok. I used it on my old M8.2 (33mm equivalent) and use it now on the M9 and it is super-fantastic-outstanding lens.

  8. Well…..thanks Steve. Waving the 50 lux in front of those of us still waiting for one. Yeah, I know you said production should be releasing some soon, but it doesn’t help. 🙂

  9. Hi Elaine,
    I hear you on the 50 Lux ASPH. It’s very pricey and I must say that when I had the M8 and all of the lenses became different focal lengths, my least favorite conversion was that of the 50 which became some sort of nebulous 67 or 69 (I can’t quite remember). My favorite focal length of all is a 50 so I was none too happy with the cropped sensor for that reason.

    Okay, now on to the positives of the cropped sensor M8. My favorite conversion was the 24 (Elmarit at the time) because it essentially filled the frame and was therefore very easy to use (I think it ended up at around 28~30mm but not sure….before someone jumps down my throat with some ‘Leica Holy Trinity’ mythology on cropped sensor conversion lengths) and also because that lens in particular is a VERY GOOD lens as far as optics and size are concerned. I have the later Summilux version but in some ways prefer the smaller, lighter Elmarit. That said I don’t use either much anymore because I don’t like external VF’s….a luxury of the M9.

    I don’t know whether the 28 would give you anything drastically different to your 35 in terms of actual usage but you’ll be the judge of that.

    ‘6’

    1. I agree with the 50 not being what I’d choose for the M8.2 or M8. I use a 35 cron at the moment.

      I don’t want to use an external viewfinder either. I agree on that.

      I’m holding off. I think I’ll just use the 35 cron on my M6 for now. I have a load of film in the fridge waiting to be used.

      Thanks for the info, ‘6’.

  10. Wow. Interesting and amusing responses to this article and the holy trinity. LOL!. I turned down my pre-order of the 50 Lux. If I had a M9, I would think about getting the Pre-Lux 50, but as I have the M8.2, I’m thinking of a wider lens, maybe a 24mm or 28mm. I currently have a 35 cron ASPH and an older 50 cron. Sweet enough for my M8.2 and M6, but I’d like to definitely get a wider angle on the M8.2. Anyone have suggestions? (I don’t want to use an external viewfinder. I would imagine I could guess the framing without one. Hmmmm…)

    Anyway, thanks guys for the bantering. It’s entertaining, and informative. I’ve heard both sides about the “holy trinity”, but can concur that when I spoke to a few dealer, they said 28-50 and 90.

    Leica people are so passionate about their gear! I friggin’ love it.

  11. I’ve just seen a Noctilux 50 going for 2900 euro in the local shop window… I imagine this is an insanely low price (even though it’s second hand) please correct me if I’m wrong… sorry if it’s a bit off topic 😉

      1. It’s in Innsbruck where I’m living. It looks brand new through the shop window but it was shut this evening so I’ll pop in on Monday. It’s also a commission sale so the shop will be taking it’s cut out of that price. Anyway, I can’t afford it even if it’s ‘cheap’ lol… but be happy to put anyone on Steve’s site onto it once I’ve checked it out.

  12. ps….first impressions…alot heavier than I expected….feels as heavy as my 90mm elmarit
    only a couple of dinks…tiny but well looked after….clean glass…i got a bargain for sure!!!

    focus tab is totally in the wrong place…not as natural placing as my 35mm ‘cron and will have to get used to this

    and just did a little research…these lenses have had a few issues with the focus ring being “stiffy” if that’s the right word so for smoothest have to use two fingers…this is getting quite a sexual paragraph! will have to send to leica to adjust eventually

    can’t wait to see images out of it. i am shooting in old street, london on the set on my…er…cooking chat show…so will grab celeb’s when i can

    for those interested am also directing the titles on canon 7d with my old nikon primes and the sponsorship bumpers on an olympus i-speed 3. with the nikons as well…this sucker can shoot upto 105,000fps or something crazy…i am only shooting 1000fps

    will post up everything when done….

  13. Thanks ‘6’. I do have a 50 lux pre-asph of the sliding hood version, and it has overtaken my 35 cron asph as my everyday lens. But I often wonder if I should “upgrade” to 50 lux asph. I mostly shoot with Leica M6 and b&w films ( have not used M8 in fields for months), from the sound of it, the difference between the two won’t be so obvious, if at all, on film.

    1. Hi Allen,

      If I only could keep one 50, it would be the Pre-ASPH one that I have. It’s not really any less sharp, it looks and feels better than the newer ASPH (subjective opinion) and it has smoother transition (non-subjective). So if you have the pre-ASPH then you’re not missing out in my opinion. The only thing that others may say is a negative is that the built-in slider hood does not protect the lens from unwanted direct sunlight as well as the later ASPH. But Leica lenses in general are pretty resistant in that respect.

      Again, these are just opinions based on my non-professional experiences with these lenses so don’t take my word for it, see if you can borrow an ASPH before you buy one.

      ‘6’

  14. Err… Chris Moss,
    If the Leica “Holy Trinity” (not quite sure exactly what that means) is 35, 50 & 90, then why is it that perhaps the most coveted Leica three lens set, (Titan M7 50 year anniversary edition of which there are only 50 in existence…I happen to own the year 1975) consists of a 28 Summicron, a 50 Summilux and a 90 Summicron?

    Mate, not wishing to start an argument here, I’m merely trying to help provide correct information for anyone trying to decide which set to by by reading the posts here. But both you and Edwin are incorrect. I even just called Stefan Daniel who apart from being one of my dearest friends, ( he just attended my wedding vow renewal) is also, in case you didn’t know, the head of all things ‘M’ at Leica, to ask him the somewhat rhetorical question and of course he confirmed what I said. “The preferred three lens kit of Leica which is in keeping with every three lens offering they’ve ever sold is indeed the 28, 50 & 90. The reason he gave is that the 35 is too close to the 50 and the 50 is too close to the 75. So seeing as their golden standard was and still is the 50 Summilux, the telephoto option is the 90. The 75 only became popular when the M8 came out with the crop sensor.

    That being the case, you have to work backwards to cover a good focal range with spacing. So that would leave you with 90, 50 & 28. 🙂

    ‘6’

    1. I am entirely aware who Stephan Daniel is, and I also understand the use of an argument from authority. Long before Stephan was on the scene at Leica, there was the Holy Trinity, of 35-50-90. Not a Leica label, but one from the users. The ones who actually buy and use the cameras. God’s Trousers, Seal, do I have to keep arguing with you wherever I go on the internet?

      1. No Chris, you don’t have to argue with me wherever you go on the Internet and what kind of a ridiculous statement is that anyway? Think about what you’re saying before it leaves your brain because it just sounds unintelligent.

        So let me get this right. I tell you that the head of the M division at Leica tells me that the standard, suggested and most common three lens set is the 28,50 & 90 (and btw, he’s been there since he was fifteen, he’s now 47), and you start banging on about “the people who actually use the cameras”? You’re implying that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he merely designs, makes, produces and controls the quality of what we all end up using!!

        Then you have the audacity to ask me why you always have to argue with me wherever you go on the Internet? If you cannot remember what you said then at least read the the correspondence….it’s utterly comical that you think I’m being the argumentative one when quite clearly every Leica set that has been sold as a kit has included the 28, 50 & 90, yet you still bang on about some mythical holy Trinity! Honestly mate, you’re sounding like an amateur!

        I certainly do not come here looking for a confrontation, Steve and his family are very close friends of mine and I only want the best for him and therefore his site. But shy away from uninformed dribble, I certainly will not do that.

        Bottom line is if you want to avoid confrontation then A) don’t take yourself so seriously, B) think about what you’re saying before you say it and C) make sure what you’re saying is correct before you post it because it influences others to buy what they are thinking is the way to go. Camera equipment in general is very expensive and Leica gear is just absurdly so. Post responsibly and don’t write things based on what you read in on sites such as DP review or RFF.com, post based on fact.

        ‘6’

        1. This argument is very amusing. It’s a shame I discovered it so late.

          While it’s true that the “holy trinity” has always been 28-50-90, not just in leica land but in all of 35mm cameradom, there is a case to be made for what Chris is saying.

          Back in the days of the M3, you had a .90 finder with frame lines for a 50 and 90 (I may be off a little on the particulars here). The 50 was obviously the most common lens in use, followed by the 35mm, which was used with goggles. The 28 was not as common at the time. So the de facto kit on the M3 probably would have been 35-50-90, and as we all know, the M3 has always been the gold standard. So you both have a case.

  15. Hi Steve, I’m a big fan of your sites and reviews which I find extremely helpful when comes to choosing the right lens for my M9. After much research I decided to invest in a 50 lux 1.4 ASPH in additional to my current 28 cron 2 ASPH collection. Lucky enough I mange to secure a piece from one of the few camera shops in HK that carries it. Been owning the lens for almost 2 weeks now, shoot quite a few photos with it then realized my lux has this characteristic where the photos tends to appear slightly blur and mushy when shooting at wide open and it become much obvious when viewed in Lightroom2 at 1:1 scale. Attached are some photos taken with the same focus at different aperture, is this the creamy sharpness characteristic for 50 lux or something is wrong with my lux? should I send it back to Leica for repair & service? Thank you.

    [img]http://lh4.ggpht.com/_uD_R_R3-B_Y/TCulgeJbi1I/AAAAAAAAAHo/X8_F-7FhOLU/L1000766.jpg[/img]
    f/1.4

    [img]http://lh6.ggpht.com/_uD_R_R3-B_Y/TCulhDreQkI/AAAAAAAAAHs/pvvMY7hWCy4/L1000767.jpg[/img]
    f/2

    [img]http://lh4.ggpht.com/_uD_R_R3-B_Y/TCuliWBr6eI/AAAAAAAAAHw/9SRMzzwFyqk/L1000768.jpg[/img]
    f/2.8

    [img]http://lh5.ggpht.com/_uD_R_R3-B_Y/TCuljIoNKiI/AAAAAAAAAH0/LXzRD5ifm1g/L1000769.jpg[/img]
    f/4

    1. Steve, nice review of this neo classic. I agree with you on all your findings. When I decided I wanted the M9 some 5 months ago I also ordered the 35 ‘cron Ashp and 50mm ‘lux asph. The M9 and 35mm ‘cron were delivered promptly 2 weeks later and I got a 50mm Noct f/1.0 as a temporary substitude of the unavailable ‘lux. The character of the 35 ‘cron was of course completely different to the noct. I believe the noct is a very special lens, but with limited abilities.
      Finally, after about 2 or 3 months waiting, my ‘lux arrived. This was absolutely the best 50 I have ever owned and I owned about every interesting 50 ever made, including all the more recent leica 50’s and -second best- canon L-50’s (FD and EF).
      One thing I noticed was the soft rendering when close focusing at wide apertures. After some quick checking I found out that the rangefinder was backfocusing a bit. On a 70 cm focus setting the actual focus pane was about 2 centimeters in front of the subject. When I compensated for this the results were perfect. I checked my just aquired 90mm elmarit and found the same. I sent my camera with the three lenses back to Leica in Solms and they should have corrected the adjustments by now. At this moment I’m eagerly awaiting the return of the set. I have high hopes the results will now be perfect and I will be very happy with my 50mm ‘lux asph, the best LENS I ever owned.
      At the moment I own (besides canon EOS’s and Rolleiflex TLR’s) the M9 with elmar 24 asph, 35 cron asph, 50 lux asph, 90 emarit and 135 tele elmar. For practical leica-photography I decided to sell the 24 and 135 again and concentrate on the classic 35-50-90 setup that is the classic leica combo for good reason. And the 50 will be my main lens with the other two only used when needed. Besides these three, other focal lengths are better off on SLR camera’s, IMHO.

      1. Hi Edwin,

        Not that it matters (as things like focal lengths tend to be subjective) but the ‘Classic Leica focal length set isn’t 35, 50 & 90 as you stated. It is 28, 50 & 90…fact! Personally I prefer the latter because the 35 is too close to the 50.

        ‘6’

        1. If it doesn’t matter I shall point out that the Leica ‘Holy Trinity’ has always been held to be 35-50-90. I agree it doesn’t matter at all if one prefers the 28. Lately I have settled on keeping a 35 on one MP, a 75 on the other, and either a 24 or the 50 Lux that this review is about on the M9.

  16. @’6′ I agree on the framing, this can be too sharp for portraits. Here are a couple of slide (Ektachrome and Velvia). Nature…well, that is something else.

    I also attach a shot of a model I took on Tri-X at a fashion show a few months ago. Probably too sharp and needed some post proscessing but I sometimes like to let this lens off the leash 😉 All on my M7.

    [img]http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4050/4443502711_4fdfdd86e9.jpg[/img]

    [img]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2694/4271902689_f31bcbc367_b.jpg[/img]

    [img]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2733/4532478318_14e5fa64a4.jpg[/img]

  17. Peng,

    The Zeiss Sonnar (f/1.5 I believe, could be mistaken) is a brilliant lens albeit a bit over contrasty for my tastes. However this tends to be the character of Zeiss glass in general and if you don’t mind that, then it’s a great alternative. I have an S mount version that I use on my Nikon SP. I prefer that lens on film rather than digital where if you are comparing X & O’s…it just isn’t in the same category. I had an ‘M’ mount version for the Leica M9 and ended up sending it back because great as it was, it was NOT the 50 Lux.

    ~’6′

  18. Vlad,

    I disagree with your comment, “The 50lux still won’t give you the INSANE bokeh of the 50noct”.
    I think you may be confusing bokeh with isolation which can be misleading. The 50 Lux will give you every bit as smooth a bokeh rendering as the Noct 0.95 and in fact, I’d go as far as to say that I even prefer it (I have both so I have no agenda). Yes the 0.95 widest aperture of the Noct is impressive but it comes at a price (and I don’t mean a financial one either). Wide open and up until about f/4, the Noct has a unique character where certain aspects of a frame (foliage behind a subject for example) can get a bit lets say…busy to the point of being distracting. Whereas with the Lux this just isn’t the case…it is smooth and buttery at any aperture. Admittedly the old Noct exhibited this ‘busy’ character more so than the new one but it is there nonetheless.

    ~’6′

    1. I agree with your assessment. That is exactly the reason why I own both lenses. However, the way the Noct.95 renders the OOF areas wide open. Annoyances is the strong CA in high contrast situations.

      [img]http://imgur.com/Z18MH.jpg[/img]

  19. Hi Steve,
    LOVE , LOVE, LOVE what you have to say about this lens. You know my feelings as we’ve waxed emphatically on many occasions. It is the only lens I cannot do without.

    Allen, I have the last pre-ASPH before this 50 in question and I can tell you that it is sublime. If you can even FIND one, I would jump on it and not look back. The reason I say this is because the 50 Lux is one of those focal lengths that has just been perfect from day one. I also love the design of the pre-ASPH with the built-in hood which extends from the inside of the barrel as opposed to the outside. It also has the scalloped focusing ring (my favorite) instead of the tab. As for it’s rendering, it is every bit as sharp by comparison, just with the typical pre-APH glow wide open as opposed to the razor sharp ASPH look wide open.

    There is always a trade-off when you make a lens aspherical, yes you get cuttingly sharp images wide open because the lens is essentially being corrected, but you give something up by way of the ‘smoothness of transitions’. Mind you, in Leica world “giving something up” is like going from orgasmic to just simply breathtaking, they’re both buttery smooth and light years ahead of anything else.

    If I were framing a portrait of a woman (my wife for example), I would almost always use the pre-ASPH which incidentally is made from brass so it has the heavier feel to which Steve refers. The one I have was a personal gift from Mr Daniel after I begged him to sell it to me because I’d been looking for one for a while. It was his own that he’d had since it came off of the production line so it is perfectly worn and simply perfect. 🙂

    Hope this is of some help,

    ~’6′

    1. “As for it’s rendering, it is every bit as sharp by comparison, just with the typical pre-APH glow wide open as opposed to the razor sharp ASPH look wide open.”

      So now the question is pre-ASPH or ASPH…Steve, which would you opt for if supply and $$ were not constraints??

    2. Hi all,

      My first post on this terrific site that I have been following for a couple of years now whilst dreaming of owing a Leica M. Well I’m sitting here with the biggest grin on my face staring at my brand new M9.

      Now I need to choose A lens. I’m a single lens sort of guy and 50 is my preference for focal length. I also love fast lenses and available light shooting. I like good bokeh and sharpness. Sounding so far like the 50 cron or lux.

      The above article is very informative and I have a great deal of respect for what Steve and you other enthusiasts write here. So to get just one lens and the best lens not worrying about price this article is leading me towards a new lux asph.

      That was until I read this comment above. The thing is I love photographing people (portraits, fashion, weddings, travel, anyone really). So given how hard it is to find used equipment, especially here in Sydney, Australia I feel that I am back to square 1. Cron or Lux ASPH? Steve doesn’t really help saying his preference is the cron but the lux is better ;).

      ~’6′ if you had to choose between a cron or a lux ASPH to photograph your wife which would it be?

      Thanks for any replies,
      Brendan

  20. I’d like to know how does it compare with the 50mm lux pre-asph since I don’t think that I can afford $3700 for the asph one. Steve or Ashwin, will you be able to summarize what your thoughts on 50 pre?

  21. I just got one a brand new one thanks to Ken Hansen about a month ago and i echo everything that Steve says here. This lens is pure perfection. For those interested, popflash photo has this lens listed in stock as of right now according to their website.

  22. Great review, Steve! I already want this camera, and this just fuels the desire. I suppose I’m going to email my dealer and get on a waiting list. The rendering of this glass is incredible.

  23. COmpletely agreed, on all accounts. Great review. I think a 50’s article is in order to compare…Lots of good 50’s. I have owned the 50 f/1, 50 f/0.95, 50 f/1.4 pre-asph, 50 lux asph, 50 elmar, and 50 cron, and I concur that the 50 lux asph is the best price-performance-size package of them all. I still own the Noct 0.95, which is AMAZING, but huge, but the lux asph is much more practical. For different look, any of the others are great.

    1. The 50lux still won’t give you the INSANE bokeh of the 50noct. If weight is an issue, I suggest repping a few curls daily! 😉

    2. IMO the best price-performance-size package is the CV 50/1.5. 90-95% of a 50 Lux’ performance at 11% the price. Just wish it wasn’t so ugly looking!

      1. To my eyes, the 50 mm f/1.5 Nokton is a better match for the look and performance of the 50 Summilux pre-asph. I have the Lux pre-asph for the different look, but the Nokton compares very favorably there. I don’t think the Nokton can hold up to the lux asph’s performance, but they are very different beasts.

        In the real world, when stopped down, none of it matters. Wide open, the 50 lux asph is in a world of its own, well maybe only matched by the Noctilux 0.95…but that’s another story…

        I do agree with Armando that if price is the utmost issue, the Nokton is the best option….an amazing lens for the price…but less good looking, less well built, and not quite as nice transitioning from focus to oof areas….close though, and a steal for its price…

        1. Agreed! Great bang for the buck. But if money wasn’t an issue, I’d be all over the 50 Lux. And 35 Lux. And 21 Lux. Oh, and Noctilux too!! 🙂

          1. Well… I think the best “bang for the bucks” is the 50mm Zeiss Sonnar ! Excellent at all apertures, with an incredible 3D rendition wide open, and from 1.8 on a perfect balance between contrast and sharpness. I would not trade it for a summicron (in fact I trade my summicron for it) or a Summilux.

  24. OMG, Steve, I almost ordered the ZEISS 50 SONNAR 1.5 after I read your review last week. I really love that exaggerated color from that lens. However, now. I really do not know which one to buy. Stop eating for the Leica 50lux or just buy the ZEISS…. Tough choice…….

  25. I bought my 50 Lux from Ken Hansen about 3 months ago and absolutely love it. It is simply one of the finest made lenses in the world at the 50MM focal length. You will not be disappointing if you purchase this lens as you standard lens for the M system. Highly recommended.

  26. @Steve – The third photo from the top, the one shot at ISO2500, was that in DNG then converted, or was it straighth out of camera JPG black and white? Very nice graining on that one!

      1. Wow, the OOC B&W jpg on the M9 really rocks at ISO 2500! Finally used my M9 that way last night, and I really like it!!! Never thought I’d like anything at 2500 on the M9, especially jpg’s!!

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