Oct 012015


Leica is not just for Street

by Jesus

Hey Steve , love your website. I’ve sent you a few images in the past but never submitted any so here goes…

I recently had surgery for a torn adductor muscle so I’ve had time to do a little web surfing.

Funny thing most articles I’ve read  on the old inter web insist Leica rangefinders are strictly to be used as street photography instruments.

Apparently I didn’t get the memo. I’m a machinist by trade and I think that’s what drew me to the Leica M. I’ve been fortunate enough to own a dozen M bodies and 3 R bodies and around 50 lenses.


And I’ve never shot street photography.

I’m also amused by the comments that only dentist and doctors used Leica’s so here’s a few images that I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot with friends and live in muses

First Two Images

Leica M9 50 MM Asph



Amber Leica M8 75 APO



M9 50 Lux


And finally
Live in muse and friend

Leica M7
50 Lux
Agfa 100 APX


Abrazos ~ Jesus

Sep 302015

A Hot Summer in Rome

by Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve how are you!

I am here in Rome waiting for the autumn looking back at what I shot this summer and I would like to share with you all my roll of film done with the Leica M2 and a great Tri-X. So refreshing to shot with a so simple camera.

Rome in August can be very hot and the city is a bit empty and lonely but so interesting because something that is hidden became more visible. The people in Rome are so incredibly surrounded by masterpieces that sometimes you forget the living ones to focus on what was done by the ancient inhabitant of this city.

Something of the beauty of this city is fading away so do not miss the chance to visit soon.

more if you like there : http://blog.massimilianotiberi.com/rome-in-an-empty-summer/

I wish you can enjoy :-)










Sep 272015

Bringing life to old glass with my Sony A7II & Leica

by Robert Tam

Hi Steve and Brandon

I am a new comer to your blog. I am impressed by the opinion provided. I have some old Leica lens, Summicron DR 50mm F2, Elmar 50mm F2.8 and Summaron 35mm F3.5. The latter two are screw mount. They are still in perfect condition and have been gathering dust over the years since Leica have been falling behind with the digital age. Having read your reviews on the Sony A7 Mark 2 series, it suddenly dawn to me that I can bring these old lens back to life.

With the Metabones and screw mount adaptor, off I went to Winton festival. A small sleepy town till dinosaur bones were found on a sheep station. This is the first time dinosaur bones have been discovered in Australia. It is rapidly becoming a major tourist attraction and is the most prolific yielding site in the Southern hemisphere.

Uniquely Australian and I hope your viewers will enjoy the local colour.

Sony A7 Mark 2 with Summicron DR 50mm F2

Winton festival-4

Winton festival-2

Winton festival

Sep 182015

Lamborghini and Leica

By Olgun

Hi Steve,

I’ve been reading your site recently and it helped in my decision to go for a Leica M Monochrome, the first generation. I was really nervous about it, having always used DSLR’s. I am an automotive photographer and thus only use those big SLRs with seriously big and heavy lenses. I thought the Leica would be for me and my personal work only.

Well the other day I had a chance to go for a meeting with a client and they had a Lamborghini Huracan in there so I took along my Mono and took some snaps and thought wow, this camera is wonderful at all things, below are some examples I shot all very natural,

I’ve also included a link to my folio which is all my usual commercial editorial work, I’d love to share this sort of story with your readers,













Sep 152015


Over 100 Leica Weddings

by Philip Thomas

Steve- thanks for the opportunity to share my love of the Leica. I’ve been reading this blog for over five years and it was part of your early reviews that finally moved me to try a Leica M9.

Over a 100 Leica weddings have come and gone since I shot my first wedding with a Leica M9 and a Leica M(240). This post is not for readers interested in a review of Leica gear. Rather, it’s more about how I feel when I use it and how it’s shaped my approach to taking photos. Perhaps even making me a better photographer for it.



The small non-intimidating cameras have allowed me to go about my wedding work as unobtrusively as possible and not be seen as the ‘professional photographer’. You see, I don’t want to draw attention to myself much like a street shooter. Couples booking me know in advance my philosophical approach and the idea of a photographer not directing their day has a strong appeal. It’s not just opened my mind up to a patient way of seeing, capturing moments and geometry, but how I carry myself throughout a wedding.




A photographer for over 20 years, I’ve always had an interest in the Leica history. When I first got my hands on a Leica six years ago, I knew from that moment, somehow I had to get one without breaking the bank. Discussing this with my wife’s approval was part of the deal. My first camera was the M9 with a 35mm f1.4 summilux and from that point on I was hooked. Over a 100 weddings later, the M9 and Leica M240 are an integral part of my wedding day along with a few lenses. A 1957 M3 is also part of my personal gear.




My philosophy shooting weddings is to react and anticipate moments throughout a wedding day. I take a few quick group shots. Other than that, I capture the day unobtrusively avoiding those done and dusted wedding cliches. People just ignore me because the Leica is so small, no one takes any notice and those Uncle Bob’s, the often annoying camera enthusiasts at every wedding just do not approach. Compared to lifting a big SLR to my eye certainly gets people’s attention and unobtrusiveness is certainly not part of the vocabulary. Of course, none of this can really be achieved without the appropriate body language throughout the long day shoot.




My reasons why I use a rangefinder are multiple. Along with the obvious history and inspiration using Leica, my mind has opened up to a world that I didn’t always see before and I strongly believe that as a work in progress my images are stronger. The full manual focus (yes, I can focus more often than not quicker manually than auto focus), the simplicity of shutter and aperture give me complete control over the final images. If I mess up, then I cannot blame the camera. It’s basic aperture and shutter operation. My eye pre-visualizes the type of images I want to create vs the former method of shooting a DSLR and reacting to everything and then the momentary blackness of the shutter closing may mean missing the shot entirely. With the rangefinder, I don’t miss anything, other than the occasional physical finger action not quite paired with my brain.






I rarely look or monkey chimp the reviews after each shot or if I do it’s just to check the histogram. My mind already has the image before pressing the shutter. It’s shooting with purpose versus the temptation to machine gun images that a SLR offers. Sure you can shoot multiple images albeit at a slower burst rate, but that’s not what the Leica have been designed for, It’s more of a cerebral thoughtful approach. This all takes practice in getting efficient. A recent wedding client, a Leica aficionado was kind to marvel how quickly I could focus and shoot their images on par with a SLR, just not wasting files space on a card with multiple shots that look the same.





I have and do often shoot a full days wedding armed with just two Leica’s, a M9 and M240 using just available light. Not only does this approach work wonders for my ageing back but it keeps me nimble on my toes without having to drag a heavy bag around. I’ve always been a huge fan of Henri Cartier-Bresson who not only used a Leica and a 50mm lens but marveled at how in his documentary films that remain how he moved around like a cat on tip toes.






There are many wonderful rangefinder type cameras on the market today compared to just five to ten years ago. At the end of the day, the final image is still the most important, not the camera. But the tools to make that image, surely can inspire and motivate you to take your passion and craft to the top. For me, those sublime Leica lenses and little cameras do the trick. The Leica enables me to just concentrate on the subject and my consciousness is focused on the decisive moment, not what menu option I should have.







Thanks for reading. My site is www.philipthomasstudios.com

Warm regards,
Philip Thomas

W: www.philipthomasstudios.com
Blog: www.philipthomasstudios.com/blog/

Nominated Top 20 Wedding Photographer in Texas

WPJA-Wedding Photojournalist Association® Multi-award Winning Photographer.

Sep 122015

Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron…one hell of a lens!

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 8.03.06 PM

Only had this beauty with me for 2 days but wow. This lens is stunning. I was considering purchasing the Zeiss ZM 35 1.4 for my Sony A7rII but this lens just jumped ahead, and it is less than half the price. Voigtlander has come a long way and this is a serious fast 35 for anyone with a Leica M or Sony A7 series body. At $980, it is a “no brainer deal”. Not cheap but it performs like a $2k lens.

It has gorgeous color, no issues at all on the A7RII or A7II or A7s and it is built to a standard that is above and beyond what any $900 lens should be. It looks like the new 50 Nokton and it is so smooth, easy to focus and renders a quite lovely image wide open at f/1.7. This for me beats out the 35 1.2 as it is much smaller, easier to focus and sharp as you would need wide open. I usually do not post quick sample snaps from my 2nd day but I am really digging this lens, and feel it is worthy of some huge praise.

My review will be in 10-14 days, so stay tuned! Three shots until then ;) All on the A7RII. Mine came from CameraQuest.com 




Sep 112015


VIDEO: New Gear in the House! Hold Fast, Olympus and Voigtlander!

New gear in the house and I decided to make a video giving you guys a quick look at it all!


NEW OLYMPUS E-M10II and 7-14 Pro f/2.8 Lens!


Take a look below!

BTW, The Holdfast Gear can be seen at HoldFastGear.com, the Olympus E-M10II can be ordered HERE and the Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron can be purchased HERE. 

Sep 112015

Brief Encounters with the Leica M & Noctilux

By John Tuckey – See his website HERE

Nothing provides dramatic effect quite like a classic train scene. The half-empty carriage loaded with intrigue is a key Hitchcock device. Steam-wreathed platforms give Brief Encounter emotional tension on a grand scale. And where else, but the ridiculously romantic Gare du Nord, could Anouk Aimee have finally thrown off her angst and thrown herself into Jean-Louis Trintignant’s arms in the closing scene of A Man and a Woman? Unfortunately they don’t make rail travel like they used to.

My goal was to create a set of deeply atmospheric noir shots, intimate yet grand and tapping into a rich seam of old school Hollywood drama and elegance. As it turns out it’s not something you ‘just find’ and it needs more than a little planning – with a couple of false starts thrown in, it took me a total of 8 months to get access to the perfect location and an appropriate model aligned.



For a model, I was after more Ingrid Bergman than Grace Kelly, and I wanted styling to evoke the very feminine masculinity of Orry-Kelly’s women’s tailoring c. 1945. After some searching, I found the perfect coat and hat on ebay – an endless source for vintage clothing and less time-consuming than dealers and flea markets – the luggage, I already had.

Surprisingly, finding a period railway location in the UK was the easy part. Thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts all over the country there are still several beautifully preserved working railways, charming stations and impeccably restored trains.


I didn’t need a quaint station platform or too much intricate background detail. But I wanted steam-wreathed shots and authentic steam wasn’t an option – too time-consuming and unrealistic to expect a real train all stoked up on demand. So I knew I’d need a smoke machine and a partially enclosed set that would fill quickly and realistically with the smoke.

Recceing a location in advance is always good. You then get at least an idea of what lights to bring, what available light you have and what your limitations are in terms of space. Setting up and lighting is much easier and you’re aware of any potential issues beforehand. It turns out a carriage shed in Didcot was just what I needed: semi-enclosed, full of lovely old rolling stock, very fillable with fake steam.


The Shoot:

After months of planning and delays, finally the big day: Location? Check! Model? Check! Hair and makeup? Check! Smoke machine? Check! Camera, batteries, cards, lights? Check! Shot list? Check!

Working on location, it’s essential to know exactly what you want for each shot in advance so you have everything on site. You can’t plan for the unexpected, but if you have set parameters, you know what you want to achieve and you can work efficiently within your timeframe.



Actual shooting time? it took less than 2 hours, to pace, check, rehearse, shoot, trigger the smoke machine and shoot again. The rest of the day? 1 hour travel each way, 2 hours in hair and makeup, 30mins lugging kit and props across site to the location, setting up and breaking down.

The smoke machine was worth its weight in gold, It took less than 10 minutes to fill the shed with ‘steam’, radically altering the contrast of the scene and the nature of the images as it did so. Well worth it.


If there is a single piece of advice you take from my experience … I hope it’s to forget ‘f/8 and be there’, because sometimes ‘Preparation is everything’.

Best regards

John Tuckey

Sep 022015

READER QUICK SHOT: Leica M9 & 35 Summicron

by Bernd Bornhauser

Hi Steve, hi Brandon,

First of all: Thank you guys for keeping this site always interesting! I have been a (silent) reader of your site since 2011 and it is still a joy to revisit every day.

With the introduction of QUICK SHOT I thought I might also contribute something to this page.

Location: Hofkirche Church, Dresden, Germany in April 2014.
(My only) Gear: Leica M9, Summicron 35mm @ f2.0, handheld.

Dresden Hofkirche


Sep 012015

NYC, Leica M6 and a pocket full of Tri-X

By Arda Ozum

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to walk the streets of NYC with a few friends and nothing on my agenda except to take photographs with my Leica M6. In an effort to travel light and keep things simple, I took only the Leica M6, 35mm ASPH Summicron and Tri-X film. This is my favourite camera/lens/film combination for street photography.

The Leica is a truly superb camera for this type of photography. It is small and unobtrusive and produces outstandingly sharp negatives. People are often surprised when they see a 16×20 print from a 35mm Tri-X negative because it holds up so well! I shoot Tri-X rated at iso 400 and develop in D-76 diluted 1:1 at 20 degrees C for 9.75 minutes.



I get into a great rhythm with this camera when I am shooting with it for extended periods of time. Without the distraction of menus, buttons, etc. I have a very simple tool with which to create images. I have only three things to consider: aperture, shutter and focus. I love the simplicity! I can focus on image making instead of navigating menus and settings. The viewfinder gives a view of real life as it happens. If there is daylight, I will often use hyperfocal distance to pre-focus the camera so that I can react quickly to things that are happening around me. For example, in sunny condition and relying on sunny-16 for exposure settings, I will set shutter at 1/500 and aperture at f/11. I will then set focus so that 1.5m to 10m will be in acceptable sharp focus. This allows me a nice working distance to react very quickly to what may happen in my immediate vicinity on the street. It is instant. No focus required! The photograph of the young man on the skateboard was captured with almost no warning as he came speeding past me.




In other situations, I will use the meter in the camera and the zone system to determine exposure. For example, at night, I would often meter a dark area of the street that I wanted to capture detail in and place that area in zone 2 or 3. I might also check a brighter area to ensure I wasn’t blowing out highlights. The meter in the M6 is not a spot meter so I would often pick an area in my scene that would be at least 10% of my viewfinder area and make a decision as to what zone I would place that part of my scene and set my exposure accordingly. Although everyone has different tastes, I did very little editing and in most cases, no editing of the film scans and I am happy with the way they look.




The Leica and I had some fun that week in NYC. One shot from the Empire State was shot at 1 second long using my elbows and forehead against the glass to steady the camera. One of the photos was even shot using a pint of beer as my tripod to grab a 30 second exposure of the interior of an old pub! In the week I was in NYC, I exposed 250 images and scanned 190 of them to take a closer look because they had potential. Of the 190 images scanned, I displayed about 60 of them. You can see more of the images from NYC and some of my other photography at www.photo.net/photos/Arda



Aug 282015


A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad

By Adam Laws

I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.

Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.

The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.

Sony images 1, 2 and 3 – 

Sony 1

Sony 2

Sony 3

However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.

So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.


I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.

My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.

I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.

Leica images 1, 2, and 3

Lecia 1

Lecia 2

Leica 3


This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.

The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.

Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3

Hasselblad 1

Hasselblad 2

Hasselblad 3

Nikon FM2n

This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.

Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.

Nikon 1, 2, and 3

Nikon 1

Nikon 2

Nikon 3

Contax G2

The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.

The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.

Contax 1, 2, and 3

Contax 1

Contax 2

Contax 3


Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.

Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.

For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.

I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.

You can view more of my work on my website: www.adamlaws.com

However I regular update my Instagram with my newest work: https://instagram.com/adamlawsphotography/

Aug 242015

Leica M: Not perfect, but I love it.

By Steven Jermaine

Hey Brandon and Steve, first thank you for keeping up all the hard work over the years. It’s been a pleasure to read and see the growth. Over the years GAS has led me to and through many cameras, such as the fuji x100, sony nex 7, sony rx1, nikon df, Leica m8, canon 70d, and etc But with the blessing of my wife my GAS was abated with the purchase of a Leica M240 and Zeis 50mm f2 lens. It’s my daily camera and goes with me everywhere. I purchased mine certified used from popflash.com and verified the two-year warranty with Leica NJ.

This camera I am sure everyone knows is amazing so I won’t have to go there. And yet, I am sure everyone knows it has its issues and as a person who has experienced it, I’ll touch on it a little. This camera has been sent to NJ for repair early this year for two months. That wasn’t a fun time as the rangefinder was out of alignment amongst other things. I purchased a Sony A6000 to hold me over (Great little camera).






Despite the issues I find myself still in love from day one. The camera inspires me to take it out everyday and attempt to create something. Some days I don’t make any images while others I shoot a whole lot. But it’s always with me and like you always say, that’s should be the camera you own.

Ok this is getting a little long but as for the images, these are test shoots and my daily musings around Washington D.C. I hope you enjoy them. Thank you everyone for your time. If you’re in D.C. and want to photo-walk around, don’t hesitate to email or dm on Instagram. I’m always looking for photo friends.


Steven Jermaine

Aug 242015

User Report: My 1st Leica Q Shots

by Yoon-Chou Chong

Got the Q just a day before the family holidays which was just as well to test how easy it is to pick up and go. The early pictures in Sydney were mainly from JPEG and although I have heard of Leica’s limits it was ok and does give it the ‘look’ (vs say the RX1 which probably matches in sharpness). Funny thing is when I am defaulting to Program, it always starts with F1.7 which if you aren’t thinking too much of your shots (that is pretty much what happens if you are shuffling with a 5 year old). The EVF was wonderful, and it brought me back to looking into it (rather than lazily on the screen).

2015-06 Sydney (2 of 16)

2015-06 Sydney (5 of 16)

2015-06 Sydney (6 of 16)

2015-06 Sydney (8 of 16)

2015-07 singapore (4 of 6)

2015-07 singapore (5 of 6)

2015-07 singapore2 (16 of 43)

2015-07 singapore2 (36 of 43)

Aug 102015

Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens vs Leica 35mm Summicron

A quick comparison by John Ricard

I recently had an opportunity to do a quick test of the new Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens as it compares to my 35mm Summicron.   The Lomo lens is based on the lens of the LC-A -a camera that feels cheap despite its high cost.  However, because people love the colors, vignette and rendering of its lens it remains popular today, some 30 years after its original release.

The LC-A Minitar-1 is produced in the Leica M mount.  However, unlike the LC-A, the lens is made of metal and it feels more expensive than it actually is.  The lens is so small that it looks more like a large lens cap than an actual lens.  Because it is rangefinder coupled, it is possible to focus the lens precisely -something that can’t be done on the LC-A’s zone focusing system.

Of course the only thing that really matters is how the lens renders.  From the very few images I shot with the Minitar alongside my Summicron I could see the lens was actually sharp in the center. Certainly sharper than I expected for a $350 lens.  The edges have a pronounced smearing that actually looks pretty cool to my eyes.  Remember, this isn’t a lens that you buy for its technical perfection.

I also shot a quick comparison of how the lens handled a situation where the subject was backlit and the potential for flare was great.  While my Summicron didn’t produce flare, I was pleased to see that the flare was indeed dramatic on the Minitar.  This alone would be a reason for me to purchase this lens -not as a replacement for the Summicron, but rather as a compliment to it.

All images were shot at f2.8 on both the Minitar and Summicron. Leica M240. ISO 1600





Jul 292015


A Mega Leica 28 Summilux f/1.4 Lens Review

by Kristian DowlingSee his BLOG HERE!

Review disclaimer:

*Lens was used entirely at f/1.4 for the entire review, in every picture unless stated otherwise.

*No protective filters were used.

*Editing was kept as simple as possible in Lightroom, with no clarity added/subtracted to maintain the lens’s true signature.

*This is not so such a technical review, but more so focused on the lens in field-use.

*Pictures are meant to represent a variety of achievable results, typical of the average Leica M user (nothing overproduced).

*No distortion or lens correction tools have been used.

*Special thanks to Leica Camera Australia for the loan sample.

I can’t express how excited I was when Leica announced the limited edition M100 set, commemorating Leica’s 100th Anniversary, with a new Summilux-M 28/1.4-ASPH lens in chrome, a little over a year ago. I’ve been lusting after a 28/1.4 M lens since I started M photography some 21 years ago. I knew it was only a matter of time before it would become a regular production lens, and I’m very happy that it has finally come to fruition.

My experience with the 28mm focal length has been quite extensive over the years. My first experience with using a 28mm prime came in the Nikon 28Ti compact film camera, followed by the Ricoh GR and the Nikon AF-D 28/1.4 lens, which at the time delivered fantastic results (at the time). Fast forward to 2015, and we now have the ultimate (and only) ‘fast’ 28mm lens ever produced – the Leica Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH lens.

Image shot with Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH on Monochrom


I first got to see this lens at the Australian Leica Q launch last month, and was lucky enough to have been lent the only Australian copy for the last month (no pressure for a good review). During this time, I have been able to use it in many different situations, over a variety of genres, which you will see throughout this user-review. The 28mm focal length isn’t easy to get along with, but once you get to know her, she becomes a very, very versatile focal length – probably the reason why Apple employ it in their iPhone 6 and 6 PLUS smartphones, making it the most used focal length in the world.


It may come as a surprise that Leica is focusing their two latest products (including the Leica Q camera) on the 28mm focal length, but in my opinion it is a very smart move. There is no shortage of great 35mm lenses, and while the Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH is an excellent lens with a very smooth character, the ability to isolate doesn’t make it stand out amongst a lineup of fast class-leading lenses, like the Noctilux for example. Leica are arguably the best in the 35mm-format game when it comes to lens design, quality and performance, so it is important for them to showcase their abilities – and the new Summilux-M certainly makes a strong statement.

Previously, there were a couple of 28mm options in Leica’s lineup, and all have their unique place and usage intentions. The previous models were all mainly focused on the Elmarit as the demand for fast 28mm lenses only came about in the last decade. All previous generations of the Elmarit-M were fantastic, with the quality really stepping up in V3, where wide-open performance was significantly improved across the frame. Currently, the two Leica-M lens alternatives to the Summilux are:

· Elmarit-M 28/2.8 ASPH – small compact, well-priced and well-controlled distortion. Great for the traveller who doesn’t need speed and is more focused on keeping their gear lightweight, compact and values the lack of distortion over speed.

· Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH – A nice mix of speed, performance and size in this compact lens that is a nice jack of all trades, known for it’s smooth character due to the transition from sharp to soft wide open.

Build Quality and Design

As expected, everything about the 28 Summilux-M is typical Leica. Superb German, handmade craftsmanship, along with great handling and smooth focus and aperture action. It only comes in black (currently), most likely to keep M100 kit owners happy with their unique purchase, but knowing Leica, I would expect them to release a chrome version sometime in the future. The size fits directly between the 35 Summilux-M and the 24 Summilux-M, which was really good to see. The initial fear was that it was going to be very similar to the 21/24 Summilux-M lenses, which are a little on the large and heavy side, bordering on Noctilux territory. Thankfully, it’s not much bigger than the 35 Summilux-M so it’s great as a carry-everywhere, everyday lens, and balances really well on the M body.


The newly designed lens hood is similar to that on the 35-Summilux-M, only a little thicker which is a nice change, and screws in firmly and perfectly aligns right on the center as it should. I’m happy to report that during the last 5 weeks using this lens, it has never come loose. Finally, it has the typical Leica depth of field scale, which is very important to those who employ the hyper-focal focusing technique, which works very well on a 28mm lens due to the extended depth of field over standard and telephoto lenses.

Optically, this is what Leica has to say about the new Summilux.

“The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. rounds off the range of high-speed M wide angle focal lengths. It offers exce lent image performance over the entire image field even at full aperture and in the close-up range thanks to a „floating element“. With its exceptional contrast, the lens delivers the same recognized high performance level as the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH., and in some respects actually outperforms it. The vignetting that is typical of every optical system is naturally more defined on a wide angle lens, particularly a high speed one like this, than on standard lenses or those with a long focal length. At full aperture in 35mm format it is a maximum, i.e. in the corners of the image, of around 3.4 stops, around 2 stops on Leica M8 models with their slightly smaller format. Stopping down to 5.6 visibly reduces this light falloff – to 1.8 and 0.8 stops respectively. Stopping down further does not bring about any notable reduction as essentially only the natural vignetting remains. Distortion is extremely low for a wide angle lens at a maximum of 1.1% , which is rarely noticeable in practice. A total of ten lens elements are used to achieve this exceptional performance. To correct color defects, seven of these are made of glass types with anomalous partial dispersion, while one has an aspherical surface. To maintain performance in the close-up range, one element towards the rear of the optical system is a “floating element” that moves independently of the rest of the mechanism.
Summary: The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. offers maximum image performance with a focal length / speed combination previously unavailable in the M system. This extends the composition options of M photography, particulaly for available light shots, but also thanks to a previously unattainable reduction in the depth of field combined with large field angles.”

Here are the graphs important to you techy-geeks out there. The MTF especially suggests that performance wide open is incredible, and equal to many other brand lenses stopped down to their best. This is truly where Leica stands above the crowd.


Depth of field at f/1.4 is very narrow, but compared to what many are used to with 35mm, there is a little more room for error, and allows greater possibilities in certain situations where having focus is more important than not.


Depending on how picky you are, the chart suggests excellent distortion control, and when you consider the speed of the maximum aperture, this is a design Leica should be very proud of, at least on paper. In the field ‘could’ be entirely different (though it is not haha).


> Keep reading to see how Leica’s words translate into image quality during my field test.


Due to the size and weight distribution, the lens handles wonderfully on the M, enabling focus and aperture changes to be smooth and accurate. I have a full production sample, and the focusing action is even smoother than most 35 Summilux’s I’ve used. I believe ‘perfect out of the box’ would be an accurate description. You do notice a weight increase over the smaller 35 Summilux-M but it’s not a lot more and the size is comparable in operation. In fact I found the 28 more comfortable to use than the 35 because of the slight increase in length, making focusing and aperture changes easier with my medium sized hands. As the lens hood is screwed in flush with the lens, changing the aperture is very easy, compared to previous Elmarits and Summicron that use a large plastic clip-on hood.

Leica M | Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH


Leica M (Safari) | Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH


Leica Q | Summilux-M 28/1.7 ASPH


In the Field

The 28mm Focal Length

Those who don’t have much experience using the 28mm focal length may need to be patient with this lens. Some say it’s too wide and others say it’s not wide enough, and the others say it’s too ‘in-between’. A comment I’ve been hearing a lot lately (since the Q’s introduction), is ‘28mm is the new 35mm’. Well I’m not so sure I totally agree with that, but considering the iPhone has a 28mm (approx) focal length and has the most used camera in the world, there is some argument that suggests the comment isn’t so far fetched. Back when the great Henri Cartier Bresson was roaming the streets of Europe, the 50mm focal length was the norm. Later, photographers started getting closer to their subjects and preferred the wider frame of the 35mm focal length. Considering today’s style of shooting (including paparazzi), it’s understandable how the 28mm focal length has several advantages over 35mm.

Firstly, it is wider, fitting more into the frame than 35mm at the same shooting position, also creating a slightly more dynamic ‘in-your-face’ perspective, if used correctly. You can also get closer to your subjects, while fitting more background into the frame, giving you more compositional options. Having said that, this may not be an advantage, depending on your style of shooting. The one thing I’ve always loved about shooting with the 28mm focal length is that it’s the widest focal length you can shoot without having to worry too much about tilting or placing subjects/objects on the side of the frame. When you go wider to say 24mm or 21mm, perspective distortion becomes a real issue, making it quite annoying for documentary purposes. While the 28mm perspective does come with some distortion, it is tolerable, and even when tilting, it is negligible and I have no issues with placing my subjects off-center.

Simple Model Shoot

Shooting with the 28 Summilux-M for portraits takes some getting used to, especially for 35/50mm users. The angle of view is extended quite a bit for only 7mm, giving much more depth of field and background to work with. Nailing focus is quite easy as the f/1.4 aperture is more forgiving at 28mm due to the increase in depth of field, but the drop-off from sharp to unsharp isn’t as abrupt as say the 35 Summilux-M.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot  at f/2.8 on the Leica M240


The colour signature is as you would expect from most Leica lenses – very neutral, and with medium to high contrast, but in these samples bear in mind that the light was strong, emphasising the contrast even more. When the light gets low, this is when the 28 Summilux-M really shines.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600


General Photography

For general street and travel photography, the 28mm focal length is an ideal choice as you don’t often feel limited for a majority of scenarios, unless shooting architecture or grab shots of people from a distance is your thing. The lack of distortion for such a fast wide angle lens is quite impressive and never felt it hindered my pictures of building etc. If you don’t like tripods, this lens will delver. At f/1.4, sharpness is already close to it’s maximum resolution so there is never a compromise in sharpness throughout the f/1.4-f/11 range, and at certain distances, the f/1.4 depth of field will provide adequate focus throughout the entire image.


BELOW: Crop from image above


As you can see here, there is some viewfinder blockage which is a bit annoying, but not a deal breaker. While some may prefer to use an external finder which gives not only as clean view, but an accurate perspective of distance and framing, they are a hassle if you’re shooting in situations that require speed.


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


Below: Crop from image above


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


Below: Crop from above image


There is some field curvature, but at further distances this is not a problem, and in this image the entire frame is sharp at f/1.4 – quite amazing!

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600


Bokeh is very, very smooth, much like the Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH, except at f/1.4, the focus drop-off is much more dramatic and compelling for times where you’re trying to isolate your subject from a background.

Shooting in a nightclub with screaming fans for UK pop star Craig David was no match for the 28 Summilux-M, delivering crisp images, even against backlights and fairly poor lighting……oh and did I mention it’s damn sharp too?!?

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600


It wouldn’t be a Leica review without at least one cat or flower picture right?!? Well considering I’m a cat-lover, no flowers were shot during the testing of the 28 Summilux-M.


Below: Crop from image above


Shooting with the 28 Summilux or any 28mm on the Leica M can be a bit frustrating due to the incorrect perspective you see through the built in finder, which is more suited to the 35mm/50mm focal lengths. When you first start shooting a 28mm lens on the M, you need to remind yourself that you’re further away from your subjects than how it looks through the viewfinder, so getting closer is important.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240


CROP from above image:



Shooting as a Wedding Guest

I was fortunate to be the guest at a very special wedding of two very good friends, Lawrence and Tukta, in Hua Hin, Thailand. Lawrence is also an avid Leica user and owns an M60, so the pressure was on to capture a couple of nice moments before the alcohol got to me, hehehe. Here Lawrence is seen waiting for the wedding to begin.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240




Using the 28mm Summilux-M at a wedding all day was a real treat. I love to get up close to my subjects and combined with the stealthy M, I was able to move in and out of places without people looking directly at the camera or feeling intimidated by the usual large and loud SLR cameras seen in these scenarios.

I found that my hit rate of in-focus shots was at about 90-95%, which is a little higher than my normal 85-90% on the 35 Summilux-M. Obviously the increased depth of field at f/1.4 helped significantly.



Crop from above image:


I’m not a wedding photographer, but like any documentary work, there are always those little moments happening around the bride and groom you need to look out for. Here, I love the way the focus drops off to a smooth background, and while I don’t condone shooting wide open ‘all the time’, I do enjoy keeping this lens at maximum aperture most of the time.

Below you can start to see the effects of distortion creeping in on the top corners, but it is totally fine in my opinion, and is more so due to the tilting, rather than the geometric distortion occurring.


It doesn’t matter what the situation, I felt so comfortable shooting wide open all day long and f/1.4 always seemed to be the right aperture choice for all the scenarios. It’s perfectly sharp wide open, has beautiful contrast and colours, and drops off focus like a champion.


It doesn’t matter what the situation, I felt so comfortable shooting wide open all day long and f/1.4 always seemed to be the right aperture choice for all the scenarios. It’s perfectly sharp wide open, has beautiful contrast and colours, and drops off focus like a champion.



Due to the mixed lighting I found that the final two images look better in Monochrome. For the first I pre-focused on someone in the crowd and waited for the subjects to hit their mark before firing, ensuring accurate and sharp focus. What a great end to an amazing weekend!



Muay Thai Camp – Coaching One-on-One

As a photographer and coach, I was employed to train an enthusiastic Thai photographer named Miti. During his training he was using the Leica Q entirely, and I was snapping a few test shots on the M with 28 Summilux-M. I had previously shot a story on this place around 7 years ago and a lot has changed. Please keep in mind this is not a complete story, but a selection of images I shot while coaching my student.


Below: Crop from above image





Below: Crop from above image


While this looks like a slow moving wrestle it was anything but. I was shooting at ISO 1600 with 1/1000sec to ensure sharpness at the plane of focus. Due to the extreme movements I had to prefocus and guess my distance and pray for focus where I wanted it at the time of shutter release. Dare I say it, a majority were out of focus, so I have to say, the M isn’t exactly recommend to those wanting to shoot erratic, unpredictable action. I am pleased to say that my student Miti was able to achieve a good number of sharp in-focus images with his autofocusing Leica Q.



Muay Thai fighters are often viewed as celebrities in Thailand so vanity also comes with the business of winning. Let’s just say the mirrors are used more often than you’d probably expect from young men, capable of breaking you in two.



Below: 100% crop from above image






The previous time I shot a professional Muay Thai fight, I was using an autofocus SLR with a short zoom lens. Using the M and 28mm, my ability to be effective was lessened and I certainly relied more on hope and luck. Luckily my 21 years experience helped me pull out a few keepers.


Compared to the Leica Q

While some may assume this is an unfair comparison (either way), I think the two lenses should most definitely be compared. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time, nor patience to compare side by side – sorry, I’m travelling and working. Though I will give a brief analysis after spending time with both lenses/cameras.

Leica Q_Production_2_cmyk

Firstly, there is no debate that the M lens is superior in sharpness wide open, and there is a more dramatic fall off from focus to blur. Other than that, they are quite similar lenses, though the Q lens has one major advantage. It was not only designed for the sensor it is attached to, but it has processing built into the Q body that corrects the image for any lens limitations, including distortion. Currently, there is no Lightroom profile for the new 28 Summilux-M lens, so any corrections need to be made manually if desired – at least until a profile is released by Leica.

The question on many M users’ minds will be whether to buy the Leica Q or buy the new Summilux-M, which is actually more expensive. My answer is “it depends!” It depends on price (US$1500 difference) or how you like to shoot and whether you want a second camera. Personally I prefer to shoot on an M, regardless of the better sensor used in the Leica Q. Image quality is important to me, but picture quality and the shooting experience is more so. I love shooting with a rangefinder and while it has a lot of drawbacks (compared to the Q) like I experienced in shooting Muay Thai, I still prefer the feel and manual focus elements enough to accept what I cannot change in the M.

Another difference between shooting the Leica M240 and Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH vs the Leica Q, is that the Leica Q files come out of camera with more vibrant colours and slightly higher contrast. This may no may not affect your decision if considering either of these two fine tools. Finally, the one major factor to consider is that the Q’s electronic rangefinder not only shows 100% of the frame without lens blockage, but it also shows you the exposure and correct 28mm perspective, whereas the M does not, which can be very frustrating. The Q also has macro focus ability using the maximum aperture of f/2.8, and of course AF, which could be the deciding factor for many.

On the flip side, the constant use of EVF and/or LCD can be draining on the battery, which is quite average compared to most cameras so extra batteries will need to be stocked up. Long story short, if you can afford it, buy both.


My long 21 year wait for the Leica Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH has been well worth it. I’ve always been more of a 35mm user, but while the Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH FLE is a great lens it’s never really got me excited. It’s sharp and has very neutral rendering but I always preferred the Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH due to it’s soft rendering and smooth character. The new 28 Summilux-M has combined my two favourite lenses into one and delivers big time. The only real flaw I found was that like most lenses, it is prone to purple fringing in high contrast situations, which is easily removed in Lightroom in 2 seconds.

At about US$1500 more than either a Leica Q or a 35 Summilux, it’s arguable whether that figure represents good value for money or being too pricey to consider. From my experience with this lens, and having used lenses like the Noctilux and 50 APO which cost a lot more, I think the Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH represents fantastic value for money – considering that value is represented by the effort the user makes to use the lens to the best of their ability. A photographer and his tools are only as good as the opportunities he/she creates with them.

If you are after a fast 28mm M lens, there is no substitute, no alternative available. If there was, they would be trembling with fear because the Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH is the real deal. Think 50 APO incredible, and there you have it – it is THAT good!

Be sure to visit Kristian’s Blog HERE!

You can buy the Leica 28 Summilux from any of my top recommended Leica dealers below:

Ken Hansen: Email him at [email protected]

PopFlash.com Website

B&H Photo

Leica Store Miami

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