A Look at The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Black Chrome Special Edition

A Look at The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Black Chrome Special Edition. Beautiful!

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Ahhhh, gorgeous! Recently I was able to get a hold of a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Special Edition. This is the beautiful matte black edition of this legendary lens with a different design (from 1959) and even smaller filter size (43mm vs 46). The last time I had a 50 Summilux ASPH that looked like this was during the M8 days when I bought the LHSA Special Limited Edition version, which was exactly the same as this one, just in black paint (also came in Chrome) instead of matte black chrome. That lens..I paid $3600 for back then and sold it for $8000 later on as it appreciated like mad. Even today that version of this lens sells for $7500+ USED. It came in Black paint of Chrome. Take a LOOK HERE at a used LHSA 50 Lux on B&H. $7500. It is exactly the same as this new limited edition inside and out! Design, hood, everything. SO why would one pay $7500 for a used version of this lens when you can get it new for $3900 or so? Well, if you are a hardcore collector and want the LHSA edition for the LHS name (on the box) then maybe you would. If you want to use the lens, this new Limited Edition is the way to go over all versions of this lens, IMO.

My video showing you this lens and why I think it is the best 50 Lux you can buy today..

To date I have tried around 8 50mm lenses on the Leica SL and Sony A7RII so far and my faves have been the 50 APO cron and now this 50 Lux SE (others are the Zeiss 50 Planar, Zeiss 50 Sonnar, Voigtlander 50 1.5). But for me, this Lux Limited Edition makes much more sense to be my main 50 for my SL and my Sony as only 500 were made, and it is a lens that will go up in value instead of down like all other lenses today. Just like the limited number LHSA edition that even today sells for $7500 used ($4k more than it sold for new), this version should creep up over the years, not down.

50 1.4 Lux ASPH LE at 1.4 – click it for better version – All images here shot on the Leica SL

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This one was sent to me by Ken Hansen to try out and what a beauty it is. The lens has a heft to it that makes it feel UBER solid. Much more solid feeling than the standard 50 Lux. The focusing is also smoother, and no focus tab which is a plus for me. The scalloped focusing ring is easy to twist and dial in. This and the LHSA edition are the most beautiful 50 Lux ASPH’s I have seen, and I also have one more reason I prefer it to the normal Lux. Overall Quality.

For some  reason when I used to own the LHSA LE edition of the Lux ASPH it was sharper and performed better than the standard Lux ASPH I had at the time. Same here, this Limited Edition is PERFECT and seems snappier and crisper at the focus point than the standard Lux I have here. I feel that these limited runs may be made to a higher standard as I have now experienced this TWICE. I feel these LE’s may be assembled with a little more perfection as they are a limited run. No other way to explain it.

Must click images to see them correctly – always best on large screens!

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Sof or the obvious reasons of beauty, construction, perfection and the fact that this lens will not go down in value (as it is a limited edition) means this will be my main go to 50mm on the SL or A7RII for me, and after testing all the 50’s I had interest in for my SL, this is the winner even though the 50 APO is technically perfect (this one is a better deal IMO at half the cost) It just feels so good, looks gorgeous and is much easier to focus without the tab (some may prefer the tab though). It has a serious little heft to it but as you know, it’s small. This lens also comes with a very nice and solid brass hood and cap (black chrome) and it sticks to the old 1959 version in all ways having to do with looks and design, but with modern internals. This means no slide out hood, instead you must attach it on and off manually.

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Here is what Leica has to say about this Special Edition:

Resembling its predecessor from 1959, the black-chrome edition Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. Lens features a unique matte black finish along with a classic exterior design akin to the first production run of this renowned lens. While recalling its past on the outside, this edition is also characterized by its contemporary optical design that incorporates one aspherical element and one floating element, as well as elements made from anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glasses.

This sophisticated construction helps to reduce chromatic aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing and aperture ranges, which contribute to high overall sharpness and clarity. Further benefitting the lens’ overall versatility, the fast f/1.4 maximum aperture also aids in working in difficult lighting conditions as well as offers greater control over focus for shallow depth of field techniques. Pairing a classic outer design with innovative optical components, this black-chrome edition is the epitome of Leica’s penchant for mixing both form and function.

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As part of a limited edition of 500 pieces, this black-chrome finish Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens features a matte black exterior as well as an outer design that resembles the first edition of this lens from 1959. Other distinct design elements include a scalloped focusing ring, red-colored focusing distance scale in feet, and a finely-knurled aperture ring. In addition to the unique appearance of the lens, this edition also includes a metal front lens cap as well as a metal round lens hood.

One aspherical element and one floating element are incorporated within the optical design, along with anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glass elements, to control aberrations and distortions at all aperture and focus positions.
Fast f/1.4 maximum aperture benefits working with selective focus and shallow depth of field techniques, as well as working in difficult lighting conditions.

Manual focus design provides a minimum focusing distance of 2.3′ (0.7 Meters) with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:11.3.

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WHERE TO BUY…NOW..for a NORMAL PRICE!

If you want this lens do not pay $5,6 or 7k on E-Bay where sellers are trying to take advantage of the limited edition name tag on this lens (it is limited to 500) Ken Hansen has a few IN STOCK NOW. You can e-mail him at [email protected] if you want one! Tell him I sent you! He has only a limited few left!

PopFlash had one. It seems to now be gone.

B&H has them IN STOCK as well.  Normal retail price of $3950

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35 Comments

  1. I had my regular 50 Lux Asph calibrated to my M240 a couple of years ago. It had some shifting in the focusing mechanism which turned to be an issue only with the 50 and not the body of the camera at all. They changed some parts on it and I can tell you it is very sharp in the center wide open. I recently read articles about the 50 APO and Lux and what I did noticed on quite of them is that their 50 lux is not focusing properly. So I really doubt if this special edition is sharper. I tend to think the old one might have had some issue during the assembly.

  2. I love that lens but I can’t seem to find it for less than just shy of $4400 or thereabouts. Where could I get it for $3900/-
    Thanks

  3. Steve, When using the lens with my new SL I am struggling with the Aperture setting. I have the camera set in “A” and when I change the setting at the front of the lens it does not translate to the camera or even the picture. Thoughts on what I may being doing wrong? Also trying to figure out which lens profile to select in the SL menus as this model is not listed.

    Loving the new experience of manual focus and the thought process that goes along with this level of control.

  4. Steve, thank you for the introduction to Ken. I have purchased this lens and wanted to know if it has the (6 bit coding) that is supported with the latest firmware upgrade for the SL.

    • All current versions of this lens for the last several years has 6 bit coding, including this one. It’s been plastered to my SL for a while now 😉 You will love it!

  5. I purchase this lens about a month ago and love it. With regards to the hood issue, I purchased a 43mm threaded lens hood for about $8.00 on Amazon. It works perfectly. I always use a high quality filter, especially yellow as I shoot with a Monochrom most of the time. Problem solved!

  6. My favourite Leica dealer, who’s just back from Leica in Germany, told me they hand-pick the (already great) glass for these limited editions. the LHSA 50 I had bore that out: stunning at 1.4.

  7. I think this lens is really beautiful and can understand how people enthuse about such. For what it is worth I always use my Leica lenses with hoods and uv or ir filters where applicable. The few Leica shooters I know would tend to agree with Steve though !
    If I had this lens and wanted to use it and preserve its value I would shoot with hood on .

  8. One other comment Steve. If the limited edition produces better images, why do you think it does if the internals are the same as the normal 50 Lux?

    • My old LHSA edition was the same. It was a tad better than the non LE in contrast, sharpness wide open, and even color saturation. I have heard many times from within Leica that Leica makes lenses, tests them, and when they come off the line and tested for the last time they mark them in a fashion like “a, b, c” with A being a perfect lens, B being slightly less than perfect and C being within spec but a little lower than A and B. If this is the case, it explains sample variation and if the sample is within spec it is sold, but some are slightly better than others. Remember, over the years Leica has made thousands of these 50 Lux ASPH lenses and never do they buy the same block of glass twice. They search for the best glass they can get but sometimes it is not always equal. Close, but not quite.

      • Sounds like a logical explanation, in line with the “why is it so expensive?” explanation that applies to very special products. A certain variation (range) in (all aspects of) product quality comes off the line. If you’d let only the (near) perfect ones through for selling (the Noct’s, Leica and Nikkor, come to mind) the price goes up.

  9. Steve, you have commented that the limited edition 50 Lux works better with the SL. Does it work better technically or aesthetically or perhaps both? Also, have you tried the 35mm ASPH FLE with the SL? Thanks.

    • It performs just like my old LHSA Lux ASPH did. Its perfect in sharpness, contrast, color saturation, etc. My last 50 Lux was a tad soft wide open, lacked the contrast of this version and even had less color saturation. I explained why this may be in a comment 2 minutes ago. I have experienced this twice now, both with Limited Edition 1959 recreation Models of this lens. It’s very real and while not HUGE its there.

    • Yes, in fact, I am trying to figure out a way $$ wise to keep it. It’s lovely, and there is a def difference between this and my last 50 Lux (the one I used in my SL review). This one has more pop, more contrast, sharper at 1.4, more color pop and just has something about it. It could be that this LE with only 500 pieces made was assembled with more care..no idea but there is a difference.

  10. I really like the images it produces on the SL. And its size. Not you have to get ahold of a 1962 original 50mm f2.0 rigid cron to see what it produces with the SL. It’s known to work very well for black and white on the Leica M Monochrom, so it may surprise us how well it works with the SL.

  11. If I hadn’t known any better from seeing ‘LEICA’ on ring around the front element, I’d have said this was a Cosina/Voigtlander product, because I have a 25mm Heliar which looks almost identical to this – except it doesn’t have the red lens mount tab and machined knurling next to the lens mount!

  12. With the hood, it looks too long compared to the 50 Lux ASPH with the built-in hood.

    Can you show what this looks like side-by-side with version referenced above?

  13. Nice

    Can you check to see if the hood works with a filter attached to the lens? Other users have reported that if you put on a filter the hood no longer latches onto the groove and it falls off easily. Seems like a design flaw as the similar looking hoods on Voigtlander and Zeiss ZM lens with their bayonet type attachments work with filters.

    Thanks!

      • You never used Neutral Density filters Steve? How do you shoot wide open in daylight? The Lux is fantastic wide open in daylight, as is the Sonnar 1.5 etc

        • Sure I will use them maybe once or twice per year. When I do, I will not need the hood. In fact, I shoot this lens without the hood anyway. It is not needed, at least I never needed the hood or the slide out from the original. Never had flare issues in normal situations with this lens. The hood looks cool, but I’ll never really use it anyway 😉 I never ever use UV filters on my glass. Always naked.

    • No, you cannot attach a filter and use the lens hood simultaneously. Its either one or the other but not both which is why I returned the Special Edition and bout a “regular” 50mm Summ Asph. I use the Monochrom so I do use color filters.

        • No problem Huss. Yes, from what I’ve heard, it may have been a design flaw on Leica’s part. It is a beautiful lens indeed, a jewel. However, besides the filter/hood issue, I also found that the lens hood was a bit cumbersome to put on and take off. Just my opinion, of course.

          • It’s not a design flaw at all. This is a reproduction of the 1959 Summilux in design and hood. This is how it was in 1959, so this is how it is with this (and the LHSA) edition. It’s easy to snap on an off BTW, but I will always use it without a hood and instead use the normal cap for it.

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