Coming Later Today! My full Leica 35 Summilux ASPH II review…

Hey guys! I was out all weekend in Las Vegas shooting the brand new 35 Summilux ASPH in addition to the Leica V-Lux 20 and Fuji GF670. Lot’s of photos to go through and I have been up all night writing my review of the new 35. It’s 2AM and I am heading to bed now, but will finish it in the morning and it should go live sometime in the afternoon. So check back later today for the full review with loads of samples from this lens, which is an update on a legendary classic. For now, here is one shot of many from Vegas…

Leica M9 with the new 35 Summilux ASPH shot at 1.4. This man was on a walkway/bridge playing his accordion for tips. Vegas now has quite a few street performers, many more than I remember from years past. I listened to him play for a little while and asked him if I could snap his pic. He nodded yes while continuing to play. I snapped this quick shot and then gave him a couple dollars in his tip jar. The sky was overcast for this one, which was much better than having the full mid-day Nevada sun beating down. Many more images as well as all of my thoughts on this lens will be up later today in my full “real world” review.



  1. The canera and lens makes no difference. Shoot with what you have and learn how to tell stories….. none of my photos are made with Leica and they are a tonne better than the many made by people with Leica. I know. I want a Leica too. But I don’t need it and my prints sell briskly.

    Focus on the story – not on the tech/gear. If you need to focus on gear – then lets shift to developers, agitation techniques and paper types?

  2. @ Adam Marelli – Sorry, spelling mistakes, I mean ‘now’ rather than ‘not’. I believe M series is what I eventually want, and digitalization is the trend, nobody can prevent. Somebody will insist on film, however, such a young man, like me, I think more about future.

  3. gloOm, I had someone just ask me for advice who was in the same situation as you.

    If you plan on moving to the M9 eventually, then go with the M8 and a 50mm summicron, all in $4K.
    The reason to go with the M8 over the MP is, when switching to a Leica system its best to take many pictures. Push the camera to its extremes to see its capabilities. The M8 will be good, but not flawless. But…you can review pictures everyday you shoot and your learning curve will skyrocket. Then after some time, you will end up with an M9.

    The MP is a tool of subtle perfection. It is the smoothest camera I have ever used, but I would not recommend it as a first Leica camera. I think its better to use their other cameras first, this way you can really appreciate the smoothness of the action and the anti-techology approach in comparison to something else.

    As for the X1, skip it. Its makes great images, but will be replace in a short time anyway. It is a stepping stone to a newer generation of cameras that have not come into their own yet. If you have a chance to play with one, by all means, go wild. It is fun for sure, but too expensive. I would rather have a second used lens than an X1 any day.

    As for me, I shoot an M9 and an M6 TTL. The M6 has taken me through 5 continents and never failed me. I love that camera, but now I am shooting the M9 more often. Its a damn good camera. For the film look I go to my Hasselblad and I am looking at an Ebony 8×10 view camera. When you really want film, go large format. Nothing else comes close.

    Good luck!

  4. I have an opportunity to get a clean, later model M3, in the 1 million serial number range, made in germany. $1200 for it. Is that too high for a clean camera being sold from another country? That includes fees, shipping and insurance.
    Then there’s always the M9 or MP. LOL! I love the gray and black. It’s in very good condition, and single stroke obviously.

  5. Hi Elaine,

    The M6 classic is a GREAT camera and, according to Sherry Krauther (she worked at Leitz for 30 years and she is THE best in the biz as far as repairs), the best after the M3. There are things about the M3 that were not repeated or equaled in subsequent models. First of all, the “don’t make them like they used to” applies IMO, and quality of craftsmanship was at the peak for late models M3s. The finder? The best ever. BIG, .92, and bright (can have a slight yellow tint). Every time I shoot my M3 and go back to M7, MP and M9, it is like night and day. It is not cluttered, as you only have frame lines for the 50mm, 90mm and 135mm (the 35 uses the goggles, or you need the separate little finder to mount in the shoe). Oh, and FLARE FREE! Pretty amazing for the time and still is today. Point it at the sun, and it will never flare.
    Film loading with the separate spool has a tiny learning curve but no big deal. The attention to details was great back then. The finder windows are recessed, with the glass slightly encased and a border protruding. Sounds silly but I never get those windows dirty with fingerprints where the M7, MP, M9 are never clean no matter how careful I am.

    Sure, you can screw it and get the M9 but that doesn’t get you the best 35mm film camera ever 🙂

  6. Max, Which do you think is better: The M6 Classic or the M3 single stroke like you listed above? I’m curious. Or just say screw it and get a M9?

  7. My advice: get a used m6 and a 35 or 50 summicron, and shoot with it for a while before selling your canon gear. Rangefinders are not easy to use at first — no autofocus or auto anything. Also no zoom, no macro, no long telephoto, etc. See if you like it. Then you can always sell your canon and m6 body when you’re ready to get the m9.

  8. Hey Armando,

    Absolutely…and it’s already here! Go to the “reviews & more” tab above and “must read articles”. Scroll down a bit and you will find it there. Just as a suggestion to steve, maybe the article archive should have its own tab and more prominent so people can easily find articles for reference.

    Thanks for the interest and keep on shooting!


  9. I have already started to sell my “other” equipment to be able to buy this lens. The image is amazing. I am looking forward to see the others.

  10. @ Armanius

    If you are having a negative experience with film I would recommend Kodak ektachrome, I have been using it for a while and results have been nothing but positive. 🙂

  11. @gloOm – You are exactly right! Good luck with your decision, and whatever it is that you decide upon, have fun and enjoy using the gear! 🙂 I’m thinking of picking up a Holga for the “fun” factor!

    @Max – You are welcome. How about an article at film developing? I don’t think we’ve seen one of those in Steve’s site yet. I’m totally interested in that topic. My very limited use of film has left me with a negative experience so far in regards to getting the negatives back w/ lots of dust, finger print marks and scratches.

  12. Steve, I already commented on your Facebook profile: there is something in the picture (I cannot describe it) that makes me look again and again (the sharpness, the dof, … it’s all amazingly beautiful to look at). I can’t obtain such a pleasing result with my Nikon 35mm f/2.

    About the questions asked switching to Leica: I know a press photographer who used an M8 along a Canon 5D but he sold his Canon gear last year to buy 2 M9’s. He is doing all his photo essays with these little beauties (Haiti, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, etc…)

  13. @Markus

    I agree with Markus – RF is not the end-all – it is good to have a solid SLR in your kit. The M9 is amazing and is romantic – the glass is unsurpassed – it will make you crave film. That said, at the end of the day – i would not use my M9 to chase my two year old on the playground, that is where the super-fast SLR w/ its mighty 70-200 2.8 comes in. you’re on the right path . . . just think through what you’ll be shooting – if you’ve not shot with a RF – take the time to before you unload your SLR kit.

    @Armanius: thank you!

  14. @glo0m … my 5 cents: Selling Canon equipment nowadays doesn’t bring you lots of $$, plus you trade in a system that has its benefits too. If you can afford, have both worlds. Leica obviously is the premium and shooting with a M9 cannot be matched. If you have only the options listed above I would go for the M9 plus a used cron (50mm?) – perfect start.

    Let me know what you think, all the best !

  15. @ Max – Your choice is as same as the first time when I determine to sell all of my Cannon accessories, you make me feel that my initial decision is right.

    @ Garry – I’d tempted with the M8 in a good price as well, however, when I calm myself down, I think more about plan 2 & 3, I found 2 is easier to achieve.

    @ Armanius – The only thing I struggled that I have high expectations for M9! And feel disappointment for X1’s speed

    Although I have to make my own decision, thanks.

  16. @ Zane: Thanks! If you click on my name, it will take you to my Flickr acct for more of my images.

    @ Armando: thanks, my friend. Oh yeah, I do all my b&w developing. Easy, fun, and I can control the results.

  17. @glo0m,

    I am shooting mostly with an M7 with 50 lux and now recently am using a LX3 as a little back up. Really happy with this set up as I feel it covers me for most of the situations I need it for and also (and this cannot in my view be underestimated) it is such a portable set up that I have all my stuff with me, all the time so I get more shots that way. A good rules of thumb for me at the moment is “if I buy it, will it make my system more portable or less?”. If the answer is “less”… I don’t buy it.

  18. @Steve – That image is razor sharp (again)!

    @Max – Nice portrait! I take it that you develop it yourself?

    @gloOm – I think any of these combos sound great! Although having a two for one sounds even more enticing! Keep in mind that an used M8 is going to be cheaper than the MP (whether new or used) so you can still do a M8 + X1 combo.

    @Jerome – Congrats!

  19. Max – that image is great and is very enouraging. Any other photos you have online?

    Steve – look forward to your full review of this lens – would be great if u could give your opinion on how much improvement there are and whether you recommend existing owners in upgrading

  20. Steve, Your Site has become Part of my daily routine, I just ordered a GF670, just looked too cool to pass up and I have been on the list at Amazon for the new 35 – Thank you for your tremendous effort – and real world reviews, focus cards just don’t do it for me, seeing images produced does.

  21. Garry, if I were you I would also consider an M6TTL, it is a great camera with great availability. I personally do not see get the mass appeal of the MP when the M6 can shoot sans battery and therefore is completely mechanical. The cost savings is pretty decent as well – a like new in box M6 TTL can be had for $1600 or less. That leaves more in the kitty for an M9 or much better, more glass or just for fun a nice CM or CM Zoom if you can find one. . . . Good Luck!

  22. I’d tempted with the M8 + lens, but I’d likely go with the MP and X1. I think if you want to go out and take photos, then a very expensive camera like the M9 is always going to be weighing on your mind, you’ll worry about breaking it, and be reluctant to take it precarious place, and miss out on good shots. The MP and X1 are both still expensive, but not quite so much, and if one gets broken/damaged or you run out of battery/film, you can use the other one.

  23. move on your part 🙂

    I would say go with the MP+X1 combo, so you get some of the best of both worlds (film and digital). If you want to save even more money, I would say get a clean, single stroke (serial # in the high 900,000) M3 and you’d have the highest quality of craftsmanship ever from Leica (the MP is a close second). You’d have no meter but, trust me, no big deal (get a tiny Digisix and you’d be fine). As far as lenses, don’t overlook the old Summitars, Summarons, and Summicrons. Again, you’d save a small fortune and still get fabulous quality.

    PS: after all the talk about the 35 ‘lux, shot my now “old” model with the MP loaded with Agfa APX100 (developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 15:30). I think this is f1.4 or f2 (forget now), and I must add that focus shifts are close to non-existent with the film cameras so the older model will still be valuable to those shooting film exclusively.


  24. Nice picture.

    I pay my close attention to this website for a long time, which change my mind. Now I want to sell out all my Canon accessories, swap to Leica. That’s a excited decision, although, my money is not enough to get a brand new Leica M9 with lens. Now I have 3 plans for my purchase:

    1. Leica M8 with lens

    2. Leica MP with lens and X1

    3. Lecia M9 with cheaper lens

    Can anyone give me some advice? Thanks a lot

  25. amazing steve, you can see the details of the feathers in his hat. 35 cron gives me good results, but the 1.4 that the new 35 lux is different.

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