The Best Leica glass for your Leica M
I have been getting quite a few e-mails recently with many of them asking me which lenses to buy for the Leica M8 and M9. After answering a few of those e-mails today I decided HEY, why not write an article about it. I have used most of the current and past Leica lenses not only on the M8 but on the M9 as well so I decided to list out the Leica lenses that I enjoy. I will also provide a sample image from each lens and hopefully this will be helpful to some of you. I am also including direct links to B&H and Amazon by each lens. Not only does this make it simple for you to read more about them or buy them, it will help this site out if you do buy one, or two, or three!
But, keep in mind that these are my opinions and the lenses I LIKE. Not everyone will agree of course. Also, I am sticking with ONLY Leica lenses for this article as many of you only want Leica glass with your Leica camera. Also, these are not “reviews” of the lenses though I do have a link to each full review below. With that said, lets get on to my favorite Leica lenses, starting from wide to long:
The Leica 24 3.8 Elmar ASPH
This is a little tiny Jewel of a wide angle lens. Do not let the speed fool you as wide open at 3.8 it is razor sharp. These days I even prefer lenses like this to the fast 1.4 Summilux lenses when it comes to wide angle because of the SIZE. When you see this lens you feel its quality construction but also appreciate its small size. The performance is stellar. Highly recommended for a wide angle on your M camera, or even NEX/Micro 4/3, GXR. My review is HERE.
Price – $2,595 – BUY IT AT B&H Photo now!
SAMPLE Shot on a Leica M7 with Ektar film
Leica 28 Summicron ASPH F2
One of the all time legends and pretty much all around great performer on the M8 or M9. This lens renders in an almost 3D way with a “rounder” kind of feel, if you get what I mean. The images have a unique look and to many, this is the ultimate Leica lens. A favorite among many photojournalists, the 28 Summicron ASPH is a lens I always lusted after. When I finally got in to use on my old M8 I loved it but eventually sold it to fund another lens. I really liked the 28 Summicron, but never really bonded with it. With that said, what I have seen of it on the M9 has been AMAZING. If 24 is too wide, and 35 is too long then the 28 would be a beautiful lens for your collection. You can see my old review for this lens on the M8 HERE.
Price – $4295 – Available now at B&H PHOTO or AMAZON
Leica 28 Elmarit ASPH 2.8
Another 2.8 lens but it is not in the higher price bracket so it is much more accessible to the masses. Still pricey, but the quality is all Leica. On the M8 is was good. Sharp and contrasty is how I would describe this lens. On the M9 it is simply amazing. A perfect walk around everyday lens if you like a wider view than a 35 and do not mind the 2.8 aperture. It is tiny in size, but big on quality. The 28 Elmarit ASPH may not be as great as the Summicron, but its half the price and smaller as well. My review at the old site here (but its one of my first reviews so its just OK)
Price – $2195 – Available at B&H PHOTO or AMAZON
Leica 35 Summilux ASPH VII
This lens is AMAZING and simply jaw dropping beautiful on the M9. Impossible to find in stock or get a hold of, this lens is ONE of THE three top lenses of all time IMO for your Leica M9. Add to this a 50 Lux and a 90 and you have one hell of a kit. BTW, the three top lenses? This lens, the 50 Lux and 50 Noctilux. 🙂 Just buy it IF you can find one that is…try any of my recommended dealers below. My review can be seen HERE.
Price – $4995 – Buy it at B&H Photo, E-Mail Ken Hansen, Buy at Dale Photo or PopFlash
Sample on the M9
Leica 35 Summicron ASPH F2
Another legend in the Leica line up, this lens has been through quite a few upgrades and is now at its peak. It delivers perfection across the frame, sharp images, neutral color, though some feel it may be a little “clinical”. Still, if you want a PERFECT 35mm lens this is the one to get. I did not care for it on the M8 due to the crop factor but on the M9 it shines and could be a perfect one lens kit with a shiny new M9. Available in chrome or black, this lens is fast enough for indoor shooting and by F4 it can deliver sharpness that will rival any lens made. The 35 Summicron is a favorite among many Leica shooters and if you have an M9, I highly recommend this lens. It leans on the contrasty/sharp side. My full review of this lens is at my old (slow) site here.
Price – $3195 – Available at B&H PHOTO or AMAZON
– Also in Silver
Leica 35 Summarit 2.5
Sometimes an item comes along that is one with great quality, great pricing, and an all around superb bang for the buck. At $1695.00 this is almost half the cost of the F2 Summicron ASPH and I think I like the Summarit better in a few ways! The way it draws is gentler and it has a mix of classic/modern welded into one. The 35 Summarit is built well, and is as sharp as you could ever need wide open. It has a tiny amount of barrel distortion but in real photos its invisible. I own this lens as my 35 and love it. See my full review HERE.
Price – $1895 – Available at B&H PHOTO or AMAZON
Leica 50 Summilux ASPH 1.4
Ok, this lens is THE one. It is the lens that every Leica M shooter should own at some point in their lifetime. I have had this lens on three separate occasions and the idiot that I am sold it all three times. After the M9 was released this lens sold out EVERYWHERE. I mean, it is sold out WORLDWIDE. This is one of those rare products that is worth every cent. It is the best 50 in the world (next to the next lens in my list) and with its fast 1.4 Aperture, it can deliver in low light or day light. I predict I will have this lens once again in the near future. My review at the old site is HERE and I have written much more about it HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
Price – $3995 – Available at B&H PHOTO (but usually sold out), Also try Dale Photo, PopFlash or Ken Hansen
SAMPLE with the lens on the M9
Leica 50 Noctilux ASPH 0.95
Ok, for all of you with big fat wallets, this lens is a masterpiece. My review is HERE and it is one hell of a lens. As a matter of fact, it is the best built, smoothest action lens I have ever used. It is also probably the best lens I have ever shot with, ever. If you like shooting in low light or special shallow depth of field effects, this is your lens. But at $11,000 it will be hard to justify for most of us. The most amazing 50mm lens in existence. If you trash talk this lens, you are just jealous. 🙂 Then again, the new SLR Magic 50 T0.95 is almost the equal, if not better in many areas.
Price – $10,995 – Available at B&H PHOTO and AMAZON
SAMPLE (M9 – Seal’s CD cover for Soul 2)
Leica 50 Summicron f2.0
This is a lens I picked up in January of 2010 and I have not been able to tale it off of my M9. With the 50 Summilux at $3995 the 50 Summicron seems like a screaming deal at $2295 new. The funny thing is that after shooting with this lens daily for a while I have grown quite fond of it. Call me crazy, call me insane but there is something about the “look” of the images that come from this lens. I love it. It screams “Leica Look”. My full review can be seen HERE.
Price – $2295 – Available at B&H PHOTO or AMAZON
SAMPLE (M7 and Tri-X)
Leica 75 Summarit 2.5
This is in the Leica “budget” lineup but it is a fabulous lens. When I owned this lens I was very surprised at the quality. It was as sharp as any lens I have shot with and its lower in price due to its slower 2.5 Aperture. It also comes with a cloth bag instead of a leather case. This lens is a winner and you can see my review of it here at my old site. Its sharp, has great Bokeh, is semi fast and the size is SMALL. Great 75 at about $1895. Terrific on the M8 or M9. Another SEAL sample is below. I shot this lens at his show with great results! The 75 Summicron is nicer, but not that much nicer so if money is a concern the Summarit will deliver and you will not have to feel bad about not getting the cron.
Price – $1895 – Available at B&H PHOTO or AMAZON
Leica 90 Summicron F2
This 90 Summicron is one of Leicas best and most underrated lenses IMO. At F2 it is GORGEOUS and for portraits, stop it down to 2.8 to get beautiful rendering. On the M8 it is a bit long due to the crop factor but still works for a portrait or mild telephoto. On the M9 it is just full on creamy goodness with soft bokeh, bold color and plenty of sharpness. This lens has a reputation for being hard to focus on the M8 or M9 but I had NO issues on the M8. On my M9 it seemed a bit off but it was probably the lens itself that was out of spec as I had an old used version. If you find yourself wanting longer than 50 or 75, this lens is the winner in the 90mm Leica arena for current production lenses but if you want a lens that is just as beautiful at a better price find the last version of the 90 Elmarit used. Gorgeous! My review at the old site is HERE.
Price – $3995 – Available at B&H PHOTO and AMAZON
So there you have it. My favorite lenses out of the ones I have used. All of these lenses will deliver amazing results. Some MIA lenses sure, but this list is just a list of my recommendations for every day use. If you want FAST wide angles, look no further than the 21 and 24 Summilux lenses. If you want WIDE and SMALL, the new 21 Elmar is AWESOME!
Also I like the WATE, but in reality it is just too limiting and wide for what I do and much to large with the “frankenfinder”. Others who use super wides should look in to it.
Some of you guys have asked me about a good 3-4 lens kit for an M9. Below are my recommendations on that, but buy what you think will be your best kit. I warn you though, it can get addicting… this Leica lens thing!
Money No Object Leica M9
35 Summiluxc ASPH II
50 Noctilux 0.95
50 Summilux ASPH
90 Summicron APO ASPH
Big Budget Leica M9
28 Summicron ASPH
50 Summilux ASPH
90 Summicron ASPH
Medium Budget Leica M9
35 Summicron ASPH
Low Budget Leica M9
35 Summicron ASPH or 35 Summarit or 50 Summicron – Any of these would make a great one lens kit.
As for me, I have been through quite a few lenses with my M9. The cool thing is that I get to try so many lenses. But this is also like a curse as I want them ALL! Right now my kit consists of the M9 and just a 35 cron and a 50 cron and 50 0.95. I will update this page from time to time as new lenses come and go. The last time this page was updated was on March 20th 2012.
Just got M8 today, now I have to find best lenses for street shootinc
A lense is like a brush and colors, rendering is the key and compactness sometimes. Some lenses are very surprising:
All Zeiss G converted
Canon 50/1’4 ltm the japanese summilux
And a lot of other ones which give a great rendering.
This is how to be free in front of marketing.
My mobile phone is a LG G5 a top photophone…
Now my gogo lense with my Leica M3 black and my A7 r2 is the Canon Ltm 50/1’4. 200 us $ 😉
You have a brilliant site Steve,always worth reading .Happy Christmas to you and all your family
I like the older lenses too. The Zeiss G 45/2 converted to M mount is an amazing lens with the M8 or M9.
Today, I tried out my 50/2.8 Zeiss Xenon (converted to Ltm). It gives a beautiful rendering with the M9.
The original Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5 converted to ltm is an awesome lens.
Anyways, there are many wonderful lenses that are more affordable than new Leica lenses.
Any chance of a new update for the MM and M240?
I’m leaning towards getting a used M240 and buying a Summicron 50mm F/2 ASPH as my first lens!
I like using the 75 Lux. Isn’t it a superb lens!
Thank you for a comprehensive review – especially for a neophyte to the Leica World. I’m contemplating getting an M8 (when I soon shake of the tyranny of work and can really use it) and having a guide to a first lens is so helpful, not only for the sake of art, but the sake of my wallet. Thanks again, Angus.
Time for new lens suggestion for MM & M240?
Great review! Thx, Gene
what about low budget lens for M8 ?
Need your opinion. I have 4 Leica lenses but would like only 3 and having difficulty deciding what to get rid of on the wide end. Help!
I have the: 28, 35 and 50 Cron plus the 75 Lux. Do I gert rid of the 28 or the 35? Pros and COns?
Thank you so much for the excellent review of the Leica lenses. I just bought a 50 and 35 mm Summicron ASPH. I will let you know my experience with the lenses soon.
Best wishes from Landstuhl, Germany
Will Summilux 75 F1.4 still be a good choice? Jolene from China
Love your site. I plowed trough it several times as I was just about to settle the midlife crisis with a Leica M9-p instead of a Harley or Porsche like many others.
I was very tempted to buy a silver M9-p with the 35mm lux in silver. Its such a beautiful combination, like a art piece.
I finally after lots of thinking and saving (including selling the idea to wife) went for the stealth option buying the black camera with the black 35mm lux. I actually want to use my rig for photography and not I don’t want to draw attention. I also travel a fair bit to counties were you are serious about not sticking out.
Next will be a 75mm cron as it seems right now. I don’t think I will ever need any other lens beside these two. If I would win the lottery or if my unknown rich uncle would die and I inherit a ridicules amount of money i might go for a 50mm ,95 Noctilux.
So whats the takeaway from all this rumbling… I think when choosing the lens, you first need to understand what you are going to use the camera for. When I travel I always use it with the 35mm Lux. I don’t often take pictures of people. I take pictures of people doing things or more correctly I photograph things with people around going about their normal doings. For this the 35mm is perfect in my meaning. I would not even bring the 75mm with me. The 75mm I would use for portraits primarily.
I have never looked back to my Nikon which is now collecting dust after changing to my precious…
I look forward to more reviews in the future, like Leica M10. 😉
I have an M8 and have a 24 asph, 28 Cron aph and 35 Cron asph, looking for a nice 50 Cron and then something longer. I would have thought 90 was a little too long and 75 would be a better bet ?
I was thinking of a summarit as this will be used the least frequently. I may sell either the 24 or 28 but hope to get into an M9 when the 10 is out, so don’t want to buy then sell then sell.
Would you chase a 75 apo Cron for a keeper and skip the Summarit, and or what about 90’s ?!
By the way your site is the best as it’s about the pictures, not colour cards. You take fabulous pictures and that truly validates your opinion IMO.
I now have a 21 and 24 Elmarit M asph lenses plus a 28 and 35 Cron, 75 summarit and 90 Elmarit
I have sold on the summarit 75, I found a little cold and clinical and prefer the 90 Elmarit.
I have just done a deal on a 50 V2 Summilux and will decide which others I keep or sell following getting an M9 later this year.
Looking forward to some mre Leica reviews, keep up the great work and more old Leica lens reviews please 😉
For me its a Leica m8.2 in chrome with a 1993 vintage German made 35mm Summicron again in chrome. When shot at f8 the out of focus background is like an artists watercolour. Is it any wonder then why this lens is so saught after these days.
Great site for Leica M.
You make me feel better to buy M9 with one lens to come back to my dear hobby.
Should it be 35f2 or 50f2 to start with?
In my life, I aim for two lenses maximum, either 21mm&50f2 or 35f2&90f2.
Approaching 60, I need something light and best glass in its class to travel w/me.
Thank you, Steve.
FYI, my Nikon system have 105mm/2.5 (my best lens), and other 8 lenses ranging from 20mm to 500mm to fit with my Nikkomat&Nikon cameras. Now resting in my museum. I collect quite a few Leica M books since 1984. My dream camera and lenses
I agree with everybody else here Steve, great reviews and a great site! After reading your thoughts on lenses and thinking a lot, I have come up with a kit for my M9 very much along the lines that Peter suggests. I ended up with the 75mm Apo Summicron, the f1.0 Noct, a new f1.4 Summilux-m Asph and an f1.4 Summilux-m Asph. The only lens a partly regret is the Noct, (I am thinking of getting rid of this.) The image quality of all of these lenses is superb and well worth the money. I have been using a Hasselblad H3Dll 50 for my architectural and urban landscape work but the performance of the M9 and these lenses has caused me to seriously rethink this outfit. On recently making 20 x 30 prints from the M9 on an Epson 9900, I was flabbergasted by the print quality. One can’t get away from the fact that more pixels give you greater tonal range, however, the Hasselblad prints were definitely not three times as good. I have added a few images from the 75, 35 and 21 for interest, although as we all know, compressed JPGs give no real indication of print quality.
I’m not sure if it has been mentioned before in this thread, but back focus errors with m lenses on the m9 are not uncommon. I was horrified to find that my new 75mm lens focused about 12 inches in front of the rangefinder determined distance, and the older un-coded 50mm Noct focused about 15 inches behind! The Leica service department was brilliant at both explaining why this was happening and fixing it. With film, as long as the point of focus falls within the depth of the emulsion, the image will appear sharp, but digital sensors have no ‘depth’ the surface is perfectly flat, so the image is either exactly in focus, or it’s not. The mechanical focus tolerance of the lens focusing mechanism needs to be much tighter for digital cameras, and the Leica service department quickly corrected the problem.
21 mm images = Bartender & Loft interior
35mm images = Peabody library
75mm image = Cafateria
Great review Steve! as someone on the fence as to which lens to get next, this is great info. I have the 35mm summarit….bang for your buck, no kidding its fantastic, its my only lens and I’m so stoked it made it into your review. whats next for me…that cute little 50mm Noctilux, well I can dream lol
So, looking forward to your rview on alternatives…dare I say the word shhhhhh
Interesting choices. In my IMWNO (if money were no object) world my selects would be the 21mm Elmarit, 35 lux, 50 lux AND 50 Noct and the 75 Summicron.
the 35 and 50 lux are your best bets for general all around work. When things get tight (that is you need a wide view) I say go for the 21. The 28 and 24 while superb are still just 35mm extensions. When you go 21 you really take in a scene with little or no distortion. William Klein ALWAYS got some great shots with that focal length.
At the other end I used to like the 90 but always felt it a bit unwieldy with the smallish rectangle for framing. I found myself using it once in a blue moon, even for portrait work. The 75 which is still long overlooked because the 90 had so many adherents and fans seemed to me a better optic to use with the M’s frame lines for one simple reason: you can tell much more of what’s going on in the frame. The 90 just seems too small, almost as bad as the 135 frame which I find while certainly ‘accurate’ utterly useless. And the re-design of the 75 a few years back is nothing short of stellar.
Keep up the excellent job for making this the best Leica website (IMHO).
I just got a m8.2 and am considering a VC lens.
I shoot during my travels and also street.
I am considering a VC 28/2 or a 35/1.4 or maybe a 50/1.
Please let me have your thoughts?
Thanks a million
Hyder from Singapore
Agreed with everything Hatem said. Leica should somehow duly reward you. Send you to previous their M9.2 or M10, or have you become a Leica Ambassador throught their academy….
Maybe even sell Leica and zeiss as does Ken H….
too right aswin
Dam you Steve!! You and another one of your ‘I want to buy everything you mentioned above’ posts!! I’m loving the 35 cron Asph so far. Feel the need for something a bit more cropped. 75 or 90? Tough one. Hopefully both over time. Oh. Need a wide angle too. Thanks Steve! I’m ready to sell a kidney now
A great article as usual, and I love that photo of the seagull; that’s not an easy shot with manual focus.
No matter how many times you’ve heard it, you have become a major authority on photography and this site a repository of knowledge for so many of us who are inspired by you.
I wonder if Leica will be able to comprehend how you personally became their “tipping point” and how through all of us whom you’ve rallied around these beautiful tools of photography, driven by a common passion, are driving the future of that company to new levels of success.
Just a small example of how one, or a few, are able to change the world.
Best wishes for continued success.
Thank you so much for the kind words!
I Just caught up with this article. I have a 75mm Summilux 1.4 on an M8 and a 90 Asph F2. The 90 is clearly better in every way in terms of sharpness but the Summilux has a signature look all of its own. I had a 28 f2.8 and never found it impressive enough for the cost. I agree with your comments on the 50 F2 and 35 Summarit.
I think you should test the 18 mm Zeiss against the 18mm Leica. On an M8 it’s a 24mm equivalent. Worth a test look? Great Article and outstanding website. Thanks Steve.
I enjoy reading your reviews.
I have never used a 50 Cron. I have a 50 Lux ASPH and a 35 Cron ASPH. I also have a 50 Summarit which I hardly use after I got the 50 Lux.
My Lux 50 lives on the M9 and the 35 on the MP. I also have a 28 Elmarit ASPH.
After reading your review of the 50 Cron, I was wondering whether I should get the 50 Cron. What is the difference between a 50 Cron and the 50 Lux in image quality?
I love 50 mm. I am not sure if I should I get a 90 mm or 75 mm. For zoom, I’m very happy with my Nikon D300 and Nikkor lenses.
If you have the Lux ASPH, the only reason to buy a 50 Cron would be for less weight, smaller size, etc. It does have a different rendering, more classic IMO. Black and White with a 59 cron can be magical. After all is said and done and I have shot with most lenses, if I had to pick a set today it would still be the M9 and 50 cron to start with!
Tremendous commentary and recommendations. I have an M8 and had three lenses: Super-Elmar 18, Elmarit 28, and Cron 50. I have just added a Lux 50, so I’ll sell the Cron. Also, I have pondered selling the 18, as it’s too wide for my style and, thus, gets almost no use. If I sell it, I’ll look to use the monies from the sales of that lens, as well as the Cron, to get a Cron 90 ASPH.
Sorry Robin! I somehow missed your last comment! Anyway, the 24 on the M9 is fine performance wise, I just found it a bit wider than I normally like. I am used to 35 and 50 and on the M8 the 24 was almost like a 35. On the M9, it was a bit wide. If I was going to buy one though it would be the 24. It’s a fantastic lens.
Steve, any thoughts on this comment?
Wow Steve, what a great site! I really appreciate your real life style lens reviews and the new site is excellent! A question about your comment on the 24mm f1.4 and the M9; I am making a choice between the 24 and 21mm lenses for my M9 (yes I like wide angles) you mentioned that you were not as impressed with the 24 on the M9 as you were when using it on the M8. Is this just because the angle of view is greater than you like, or is this a comment on its image performance on the M9?
Thanks in advance
Thanks Steve, that’s very helpful.
Steve, thanks. I ended up getting the 35mm cron f2 and the 50mm lux ASPH 1.4. I got the lens same place i ordered my camera in San Francisco. So far (1-day) i am happy with my choice. I have to say, I found your lens review to be the most helpful anywhere. So thank you.
Sorry John, not sure how I missed your question but I did! Anyway, on an M8 I would personally go for the 24. I found that lens to be AMAZING on the M8 but I am not really into wide angle. On the M9 the widest I normally go is 35 so I am not a wide kind of guy. You really can not go wring with the 21 or 24 but to me, the 24 was a tad better.
Steve, any chance of a reply to my two posts of 11 days ago?? Thanks. John
Hey James, congrats! BTW, B&H has the 35 cron in stock. Not sure where you are located though. WHere did you find a 50 Lux ASPH? Me, I have the 50 cron. Can’t go wrong with any cron!
Steve, my M9 is finally here. Struggling with lens choice. Want to get a 35 and a 50. Plan to get the 35 cron f2, but apparetly I have to wait as none are available. But need to choose between S50 lux ASPH f1.4, or 50 cron f2, both of which are available. Any thoughts? As I mentioned before, I will mostly be doing street, travel, available light photography. Also portability and versitility matters to me.
Re my question immediately above, I am not considering upgrading to an M9 so please disregard that possibility (that otherwise might be a reason for choosing 24mm over the 21mm??).
Hi Steve, very interesting comments and responses above. I have an M8 and 35mm summarit. Looking for one more wider lens for landscape photography and considering either 21mm or 24mm summilux (recognising that they equate to 28mm and 32mm). They are of course fairly close in focal length and I wonder whether you have any comments on comparisons and which one you would go for? I note that you have tested both and that you were suitably impressed with both lenses! Thanks. John
Hi James, yes that will actually be my next Leica lens review, but probably not for another 3-4 weeks. I have to finish up these Zeiss reviews, the S2 review and one or two other things first. Thanks for the comment!
Hi Steve, Your site is great. I love reading about Leica and you do a fine job. I’m reading excellent things about the 24mm Elmar 3.8. Is this on your list to review in the future? Regards
Phieff – allright, I forgive you :o)
Hey Arni, I still have it and love it! It’s mentioned in the 90 cron snippet above. Great lens on the M9.
Hi Steve, what became of the Elmarit 90mm ???
Looking forward to your Voigtlander/Zeiss article, since I am a student – am planning to buy a used M8.2 with either the 50 cron or the nokton 1.1. . Could you please suggest in the upcoming Voigtlander/Zeiss article, budget lenses to used with the M8.2 , like the one you did in this article? It will help us budget conscious newbies to make more optimal decison.
Thank you so much for all the hard work you put in to educate us plebeians
Looking forward to your Voigtlander/Zeiss article, since i am in a bit of a pickle when it comes to my M8. Got the 18mm & 50mm 2.0 Zeiss’s, but i need something in between.. 😀
Keep up the good work Huff!
$10k? A 35 summarit and 35 Summilux (but wait until March/April) and a 50 Summilux. That’s three amazing lenses but less than $10k. The 35/50 could be used as street and available light.
Thanks Steve on the 2 lens thing. I plan to spend about $10k on lens for now. I think a want a good lens for street photography and another for available light. I do not need something super wide (so would never consider 24mm), no do I need a 90mm (at least not yet). What would you suggest?
Hi Steve, thanks for this great article (and the rest too– I read your blog with great pleasure)
What if you could add past versions of Leica’s special glass. i.e the v4 35mm summicron or the 50mm summilux pre-asph? They are obtainable for significantly less money then the newer versions.
–just a thought–
Daniel, no real macro with an M9 unless you track down and find an old visoflex which is a beast of an attachment. The 90 F4 is a lens I have never tried and I heard it was discontinued. Stores still sell it but its not a very popular lens so they sit on the shelf. To get any type of close up with that lens you need not only the lens but the adapter and then you can focus to 0.5m which is 1.6″. It comes with an angled VF attachment as well and the set runs for $3700.
You can see it by typing in Leica 90 Macro in the B&H search box at the top right. They have an image of the whole setup.
For that money, I would rather but a 75 Summicron which is F2 and can focus close. Still, an M is not the best choice for product photography due to the minimum focus distances.
what do you think would be a good lense to shoot studio product photography? I have an M9 with a 35mm Summilux, so only one lense. I was thinking to get a macro lense like the 90 mm Makro Elmar, but I was put of by the F4.0, as I only have one lense and want to use the second lense that I buy of course outside of the studio as well. On the other side I thought it would be smart to buy such a lense cause I can use it as a tele and for makro photography. Can you recommend this lense? Or are there any other lenses around to shoot great close ups and Makro? Tks for your help, Daniel
James, the two lens thing all depends on your budget. On the M9 I like the 35/50/90 set but some prefer a 28/50. For me, the 35 is plenty wide on the M9 as I normally do not really shoot wide angle.
Figure out how much you want to spend, how fast of a lens you want or need and then go from there.
Can’t wait for your update to the list Steve — I am expecting my M9 in the next 4 weeks. If you had to get 2 lenses for the M9 what would they be? Am debating whether to get a 28 and 50 or 35 and 50? Also which ones?
Will be updating this list soon as I have a couple of new additions 🙂
Just sent you and email Debbie 🙂 Lucky you…the 50 1.4!
Hi! I received my Leica M9 today!!!!! I have he 35mm 2.0 and the 50mm 1.4. You mentioned in a previous post that a flash is not recommended. What do you do in low light situations.
John, the WATE is beautiful but its very wide on the M9 and I would see it as a limited use lens. On the M8 its a bit longer but if it were between the WATE and 21 summilux, I would go with the 21 summilux.
Steve, very interesting and informative, thanks. I have an M8.2 and a 35 summarit. I am looking to buy one additional lens specifically for landscape photography and am considering the 21 summilux 1.4 or perhaps even the Wate. Any thoughts? I note that the widest lens you considered above was 24mm and on the M9 this would perhaps serve my purpose very well but I’m not sure it’s wide enough on the M8.2??
I shot with the 135 APO and did not care for it. Also, many have an issue focusing longer lenses on an M camera so it is not one I would recommend personally. I feel an M is at its best from superwide up to 90.
Great list, but where is the best M lens ever made – their 135mm Apo ??
wow i am impressd
loved your article, loved your lense reviews,
I too sold my 50 lux and bought the 35 lux which i love on my m8
but since i am planning to get the 9 my question to you is: should i leave my 35 lux and buy a 50 cron? or sell my 35 lux and get a 50 lux?
The current 35 ‘lux has some pretty significant focus shift. It’s a problem for some people, others just live with it (which is what I do). Depending on how the lens is calibrated it can be either a small problem, or a big one. The current rumor is that Leica will introduce a new 35 ‘lux with floating elements in 2010 that will eliminate this problem. Personally, I figured that even if Leica did announce a new 35 in 2010, it probably wouldn’t be readily available until 2011, given their history of being able to ship new lenses in volume, so I went for the current model. If I decide to resell in a year or so IF a new one comes out, I can likely get most if not all of my money back.
Can you recommend something non Leica lenses?
“What I would love to have is a 28 Cron and 50 Lux and if a new 35 Lux comes out down the road, that would be a must.”
What about the current 35 Lux? Is there a special reason you are not buying/testing the current one on the M9. Does the work not perform 100% on the M9. I bought one a month ago toghether with a M9… I am totally happy with my set up.
If you´re on a budget, forget about Leica and buy Voigtlander. Excellent lenses, excellent performance. Especially the older LTM ASPHERICAL types (50/1.5, 28/1.9, 35/1.7) or the stellar 35/1.2 Nokton Asph.
Would love to see a review of that lens Steve!
Cool, the new 24L sounds like a great lens, and at a much better price than any Leica. Anyway, yes, the 35 Lux as it is now has some serious magic at 1.4. Its legendary. Hope you are enjoying your M9!
Ahh, then, I can see where you are coming from. The original Canon 24L was OK, but not superb. Of course, for many years there was no other 24mm this fast. The Mark II is a huge improvement, much sharper, better contrast and color. It’s truly the best fast wide I have ever used. I would give it a slight edge over the 24 ‘lux wide open; its just sharper and has a tad more contrast. That said, mine is gone now. In fact, all my Canon gear is gone. 🙂
As for the 35 ‘lux, the focus shift can be issue, but only if you ever stop down. I just shoot wide open all the time. 😀
I owned the Canon 24L, version one. It had soft corners on the 5D and was not very sharp wide open. The 24 Summilux was much better (when I tested it on the M8) and crazy sharp wide open. But that statement I made above was meant to read differently. What I meant by it was, when I heard about the 24 Lux, and its huge price tag I ASSUMED it had to be better than the Canon for that kind of cash.
After testing the Lux on the M8 I found it was indeed a better lens than the Canon 24L (V1) on the 5D. When I tried it on the M9, I was not as thrilled with it but that was due to me not being a wide angle kind of guy. In other words, for me, it was still a little to wide on the FF M9.
I have not tried the Canon 24LII, but again, the 24 Lux was not only sharper than the old 24L V1, it had more brilliance, micro contrast and the bokeh was better. I have several hundreds of images with the 24L (V1) and maybe 300 with the 24 Lux. The 24 Lux/M8 combo beat my 5D/24L combo every time. Subject separation was also better with the Leica and the focus fall off. But again, I have not shot with the 24LII, and I never said that I did nor did I say the 24 Lux was better than the 24LII at any time.
As for the cron over the Summarit. For the money, the Summarit is INCREDIBLE in quality and really gives up nothing but the F2 aperture. Not everyone has the funds for the big buck lenses and I feel the Summarit has huge bang for the buck. Also, as stated, I was writing about lenses I have used and shot with. I can not recommend anything I have not used though I have yet to use a stinker Leica lens.
35 Summilux, I gave my reason for not including it and as I said, it will make my list next year 🙂
Thanks for the comment,
I love my 24mm Summilux, but really, the Canon 24L II is a better lens. You need to steer clear of statements like “Sure, Canon has a 24LII but the Leica just had to be better.” It just needlessly hurts your credibility.
Otherwise, nice list with a nice pick of lenses. Personally I would take the 75 ‘cron over the Summarit due to the extra speed, and the same would apply for the 35 ‘lux vs. the ‘cron, but otherwise I think you hit the highlights of the Leica lineup.
Finally, I agree with your assessment of the 50/1.4 ‘lux. If I could have only one lens, it would be this one. Simply superb, and better than any other 50 I have ever owned.
Oops…yes, Steve, you are right…I stand corrected! I must be fogged over from all the recent rain we’ve had!
I did mention the 35 Lux at the end, and why it was not in the list. 🙂 Next year it will be in my list. Still, it is indeed one of my favorite Leica lenses ever, if not my favorite. It was just when I got my M9, for some reason it seemed to exhibit more focus shift and it started to bug me considering how much I paid for the M9 and 35 Lux combo. Still, a fantastic lens and on my M8 it was incredible.
Great read, as always; however, I’m really surprised that the 35mm Summilux wasn’t mentioned for either the M8 or M9. I thought that it was one of your all time favorite lenses-especially for the M8. In fact, I purchased my 35 Lux after reading your stellar review of it… and have been very happy with it, I might add.
Thanks for posting all of this info. You obviously got in good with fellow Leica fan Seal. 🙂
That 75mm Summarit has fabulous bokeh and a very nice 3d effect in the photo you posted. I’m also partial to the 24/1.4 shot you posted as well. Perhaps I will get lucky and obtain my M9 before the price hike and a few lenses too.
Thanks for your recommendations. I’m addicted to your posts.
Dan from Tel Aviv, Israel.
p.s. You have any idea when the 50 Lux will be available again?
Scott, I only wrote about lenses I have used on the M8 or M9. Sadly, the 50 cron has not been through my hands yet with these cameras. I did own one with an M7 years ago and it was a great lens, so yes, that is another great alternative for a 50 at about $1500 less than the Lux.
Thanks for the comment, and the mention of the 50 cron.
I was surprised not to see a mention of the 50mm Summicron in the ‘budget’ category for the M9 at least. The stop difference between the 50mm Summilux and the Summicron might be a do or die factor for film users but less so with digital.
I was pleased to see you mention the 75mm Summarit. The Summarit line doesn’t get much love among Leica users, I feel, because the Summarit lenses aren’t expensive enough to be ‘good.’ I have and love the 35mm and 75mm Summarit lenses. As a better photographer than I once said (Abrahamsson), ‘[The Summarit] are better lenses than I am a photographer.”
Wish I had not sold my 28mm ASPH Summicron. Favorite all around Leica lens – film or digital is the 35mm F/2 ASPH Summicron.
As it says in the article, I will do a Voigtlander/Zeiss article soon. This is for those who only want Leica glass for their Leica camera.
why no voigt lens or other brands ?
Thanks for all those wonderful photographs and advices.
Max From France.
Man, don’t sell that Noctilux, you know you’ll end up regretting it terribly!
Great work! Also you should do a review of the Leica Super Elmar 18mm.