The Power of the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH!

The Power of the 50 Summilux ASPH

As if you didn’t know!

Ok, so last week I had a Power of the Polaroid thing going on, and these past few evenings I was messing around with my Leica M9-P and 50 Lux ASPH, shooting the lens wide open to see just how well it performs. Shouldn’t I already know how it performs? I mean, I have owned this lens a gazillion times right? Well, in the past I have had a couple 50 Summilux ASPH lenses front focus and some have back focused. I have also had an M9 body (or two) that was not spot on (including the very 1st one I had in Sep 09, direct from the factory) and one sure fire way to test is to shoot a fast lens WIDE open at close, mid and far distances.

I did all of that with my new M9-P and new 50 Lux ASPH and at every distance the camera and lens were PERFECT. In fact, this may be the best performing 50 Lux/M9 combo I have ever owned! I decided to post a few pictures with a 100% crop embedded so you guys can see just how sharp this lens is wide open at 1.4 when all is calibrated perfectly. I do this because I seem to get so many e-mails asking me about lens sharpness and some will tell me their 50 Lux or Summicron is not sharp which leads to disappointment for them. All I can say is that if the lens and body are correctly calibrated then they are insanely sharp, even at 1.4.

To see the images and crops below in the right way, you MUST click on the image to see the full 100% crop in the. Now of course 98% of you reading this do not need any convincing from me, as we all know this is the hardest lens to get in the Leica line up. A year waiting list is what I hear for this AND the $10,495 Noctilux f/0.95.

But it is a pleasure to own this lens again, and it helps that I got somewhat of a deal on it in Vienna at the Leica Shop. After the Euro to $$ I think it cost me $3300 US which is damn good as these are selling USED for $4500 – $5000 these days.

Can’t wait to use it more and more and guess what? I have a Canon 5D MKII and 50 L 1.2 lens ON THE WAY right now to do a “Just for Fun/Crazy Comparison” shootout with the M9-P, 50 Lux and Noctilux ASPH. Should be interesting! So many of you have asked me about that Canon combo, and it just so happens the 50 L 1.2 is my favorite Canon lens along with the 85 1.2. I will keep you guys posted on that one. It has been a while since I shot with the 5DII but recently handled one again, so got the itch to do this comparison. Basically a $4000 top end Canon combo against a $12-19,000 Leica combo. Just for fun of course! (For those who asked, I am also working on getting the Sigma SD-1 in for review)

I plan on making it a bit different this time.

At the end of the day though, no matter what happens I am still in love with my M9 for its size, manual nature and overall simplicity. For all of you who are on the fence about the 50 Lux and weather you should place and order and wait, Id say go for it as you can’t lose. It is the one Leica lens that will hold its value over time and maybe even go up like it has continually done so for the past few years.

Check out the images below so you can see what to expect from the quality of this lens. You can also see more on this lens with the M9 HERE, HERE and HERE!

For those wondering where you can get on a waiting list for this lens, I know Ken Hansen and/or Dale Photo may accommodate that. You can always check the B&H Photo page and see if you can GET LUCKY and find one in stock, but don’t hold your breath.



My friend and fellow photographer Helene from France. This was a quick shot in full sunlight, so not the ideal light but if you click the image  you can see the 100% crop. Pretty nice huh?

My best friend Mike at 1.4, some wind light coming in mid day…

One more test shot I snapped to check if focus was spot on…and it was. 

and just a few more random and recent shots with this beautiful lens…all wide open at 1.4

While in the Leica Shop in Vienna Seal was posing for a portrait – I snapped this one “behind the scenes”, 1.4 

ISO 2500 – This is a great portrait lens and would shine with some great natural light. The shot below had no light, was in a dark restaurant after a loooong travel day and yet the lens still produced great results, even at 2500 ISO.

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  1. Hi Steve, thank you for this interesting article. I’ve just purchased a 50mm Summilux ASPH like this and I wonder if you cn answer a question for me?

    When I turn the aperture ring round to f1.4, it clicks into place but then goes a little bit further. Is this normal on this lens? It is a very small amount of movement, but movement nonetheless.



  2. Hello Steve, Thanks for writing informative leica articles.

    I have a question. I was testing out a Voigtlander 35mm f 1.2 and a zeis 24mm f 1.8. I found that both lenses it was much easier and clearer to focus with then my 50mm summilux.

    The owner of the leica store had a look and said there was nothing wrong with my lens.

    Is it just easier to focus with the other lenses? Or am I just being paranoid?

  3. Steve,

    The 50 Lux is a beauty.

    Congrats on it, & the nice price too.

    Would love to see a more comprehensive thread then previously done, on the old world shop & proprieter, where you got it.

    If you’re open to comparisons – the 50 1.4 Lux v. the 50 1.2 Noct – would be very interesting.

    I’ve found your work regarding the 1.0 & .95 Noct’s (& my personal experience with the .95 Noct & 50 Lux) to be quite accurate, & very interesting.

  4. I’ve always thought the 50mm L was overrated. .2 f stops too far IMHO. And when you couple it with the 5D2’s oh-so-underwhelming autofocus you just end up with soft pictures. I’d rather have good performance at 1.4 than mediocracy at 1.2. The Summilux should wipe the floor with the Canon.

    Now I’d say a more fair comparison would be the 5 slight wide 1.4s. Nikon 35mm 1.4 vs Canon vs Leica vs Pentax 31mm 1.8 vs Zeiss. I guess you would have to use a K to EF mount adapter so things stay full frame fair.

  5. Steve, It happened the night the group went out and we we checking out each others gear and taking pictures in the bar. I had my bag under the table and at one point it got kicked over. I did not think I lost anything, but i was wrong. I did notice until the next day. I called the place we had been, but they did not have anything. It sucks!

  6. Putting the focus spot on the short distance, even fully open, no problem. Instead, it is harder for longer distances, I thought – but maybe it has something to do with my vision to do, as mentioned earlier

  7. Nice Stive – Was written up to a 50mm Summilux for 4 months, when I read your praise for Noctilux.
    Canceled Summilux and Noctilux bought.
    And now you come with a hymn of 50mm Summilux

    Perhaps i had been more pleased with Summilux with respect to weight and price.

    Should perhaps swapping out Noctilux 50mm with Summilux 50mm and 24mm Summilux – approx. same price.

    But I still love my Noctilux and may then simply save money to 24mm Summilux.

    Oh my god – it never ends

  8. This is simply the finest lens I’ve ever used, both on film and digital. It is the lens I keep on my current rangefinder, the Zeiss Ikon, about 90% of the time.

  9. The 50L is probably tue worst L out there. Really not worth it compared tithe 1.4. There are certainly better 50/s for canon. So I think the leica is going to blow it out of the water.

    Really fun read. Good job Steve.

      • The 50L is superb — one of my favorite and most-used Canon lenses. But it is renowned for the beautiful way in which it draws, not so much for razor sharpness — kind of like the current Zeiss ZM 50/1.5. It will be interesting to see the comparison.

        • I agree — I have all of the L primes 300mm and below, and the 50 has the most beautiful draw — the most “Leica-ness” you can get from a Canon lens. Worth $1500USD? Maybe not. A better lens than the 200mm f/2L? Certainly not. But in the context of Leica M prices it seems a bargin.

          I’m really not understanding why people who have not actually used lenses feel the need to comment on them. In my experience, you can’t judge that a lens is a poor performer by the photos others take with it. You CAN see the greatness its capable of in the right hands, but likewise that doesn’t mean that it will achieve the same in yours.

      • One issue with the 50/1.2 is focus shift. Canon really should have done more work on this. (Note digitalpicture shows the 50/1.4 sharper at f4 than the 50/1.2. Focus shift at work). The 85/1.2 (although a little slow) is very accurate and no shift. One of my favorite lenses, but suffers from longitudinal chromatic aberrations, and sensor bloom (on specular highlights).

        The 5dII is a nice companion to the M9. As for ‘quality’ – build quality of L lenses is very good, optics are hit and miss, such with 24-70 L’s. I found the Tamron 28-75 to be optically superior. I did get lucky with a sharp 17-40, a very useful lens.

        • Also, 70-200/2.8 IS is a great L lens, and for Macro – back to Leica with a 100/2.8 APO which besides sharp, very very smooth bokeh.

  10. Sometimes it’s very difficult to tell if a lens is uncalibrated. My 50mm lux is uncalibrated and took me 7 months to realise it. I still got very nice sharp images compared to every other camera/lens combo I used so far but every now and then, I would get a jaw-dropping crisp image -Turned out I “miss-focused” slightly.

  11. Oh Steve! Why did you have to post this article just now?! I finally just convinced myself that my Zeiss Sonnar is sufficient and that I don’t need to upgrade to the Summilux ASPH. Now you got me dreaming again! lol

    • Image wise there are worlds between these two lenses. The Lux is so crisp wide open. It is a joy to use it. (if your camera is well calibrated. Mis-calibration is a problem with these lenses and can be super frustrating).

  12. Great lens! As Robert pointed out though, regardless of calibration, rangefinder focusing with such fast lens, wide open, is a hurdle and the culprit for 99.9% for slightly out of focus images (without mentioning camera shake, especially at low speeds). It obviously performs well with film, in case anyone wonders 🙂

    This is from a recent silver gelatin print (wide open), Fuji Acros @ 400iso:


    ..and a recent neg scan, also Fuji Acros @ 400iso:


    • Great shots max! Always love your work. BUT I have to disagree with your comment that 99.9% of slightly OOF images result from the challenge of shooting wide open. When a lens and camera are spot on, I can nail focus wide open 100% of the time. 100%. It is a very easy thing to do. BUT if a lens or camera is just slightly off, it is a BIG challenge and many of us chalk it up to our eyes, or it being hard to focus. In reality, focusing a 50 Lux APSH or Nocti wide open is not any more challenging than shooting them at F8.

      If anyone is shooting and their images are lined up in the RF patch but the resulting image is slightly OOF, then something is slightly off. I have seen SO MANY M8 and M9 bodies out calibration, some slight and some not so slight. It’s a problem IMO, and one that may be addressed in an M10…hmmm, who knows.

      • Steve,

        With all due respect – while you are no neophyte when it comes to shooting/focusing M cameras I find your comment above if taken literally by the vast population of photographers out there is misleading and patently not true.

        By all means have your camera/lenses calibrated so that you can achieve dead on focus under test conditions – It sure cannot hurt.

        I guess my trouble here is without any qualification I think you are setting an expectation that is not achievable by virtually anyone – including yourself.


        • My comment is not misleading at all! In my experience with literally over 20 digital M bodies through my hands, the only times I had focus problems or soft/OOF images were the times when the bodies were out of alignment. The majority of the time there were issues with mid/far distances. When calibrated correctly the camera performs perfectly up close, mid and far.

          Focusing an M, with ANY lens is easy once you learn how to focus an RF. I can focus the 0.95 at 0.95 every time, without fail…IF the lens is calibrated correctly.

          Same with the Lux. It is NOT hard to do at all. What expectation are you saying is not achievable by anyone? Focusing fast lenses perfectly every time? I do it day in and out so it is indeed achievable.

          For example, my Nocti had some focus issues while I was shooting a Seal show in Paris. I realized it was front focusing and 3/4 of the way through I adjusted how I focused in hopes to get some keepers.

          Somehow, my Nocti that was just calibrated was now NOT calibrated (long story) but the next day I handed this combo to an M shooter to play with and they said “wow, this lens is tough to nail focus with”.

          It was but only because it was front focusing. When it was spot on, it was easy to focus. Just as easy as a cron.

          • Steve,

            The expectation of “100%” perfectly focused shots in EVERY scenario attributed merely to a calibration of camera/lens combo is not realistic. While this may be true of central subjects at say 10′ it most certainly is not the case with a central focusing area being used to focus on a spot that is then reframed at say 3.5′ at large apertures using M cameras.

            I can absolutely assure you that this is dicey using a rangefinder for just about everyone for many many different reasons – one of them being mathematical in nature the other ones having more to do with the way human bodies behave on both the subject and the photographer in terms of maintaining the exact plane of focus.

            I am not meaning to debate you or argue the value of calibration – especially if anyone is having a tough time achieving proper focus at mid/long distance objects. I am merely qualifying and communicating what I have experienced as well as seen with other competent photographers with perfectly calibrated equipment and rangefinder cameras at 50mm + f 1.4 and larger over the last 30 years.

            I am not saying you are wrong at all just qualifying that there are scenarios that are very difficult and hit or miss with large apertures and the inherent way rangefinder focusing work or any central focusing aid for that matter no matter how wonderfully calibrated. Hence the new mechanism to help deal with this situation on the H4D.


      • Hey Steve…the problem, with old age and bad eyesight, is lining up that damn RF patch 🙂 I do agree that calibrations should really not be an issue. After all, with one body and a bunch of lenses, if required to do more than once, it can certainly become a royal pain. Let’s hope Leica does indeed fix this with future updates.

        • Oh how I love the 1978 ground glass of my fm3a. I nail focus at 1.2 with ease. SLR – the way to go! 😉

          TMY2 – 1600 – DDX

          Portra 160NC

          Or 645 format at 80mm 1.9 and fuji pro h pushed to 1600.

          Or the best bokeh in the world. 85 1.4 old design nikon!

          Sorry Max this last one is digital. Yuck….

          Anyway point is – there is a reason so many people flocked to SLR and why most shots in HCSP on flickr too are with SLR’s and these dudes are the standard in street photography.

    • superb images Max. Love the almost ‘glow’ you get to jump out of the darkness. Really nice and flawless developing. Very inspiring.

      • Hey Stephen..hope you’re doing well. From what I remember, you have the camera and the should give that combo a shot, as it yields very interesting results, especially for portraiture. Acros @ 400, XTOL 1:1 for 14 min @ 68 degrees (this is for diffusion enlarger so you may want to cut 10% for scanning), with agitation for the first minute and then 4 inversions every 2 minutes thereafter. Mind that you are not “pushing” film but effectively changing its curve. You will get increased contrast, nice blacks, (don’t be too concerned with shadow detail), and gorgeous, sparkling, glowing highlights. It works well with flat light as well, obviously.

        This is another one but with a Nikon F6 and new Nikkor 85mm F1.4 AF -S G


    • Max… I enjoyed your photography very much. Do you have more in the web? Can you please give me your website?
      Ps I love your high contrast process. Great job

  13. i agree…50mm summilux is insane lens but had to sell to afford the m9…..damnit! so now have m9 and 50mm silver summicron….amazing lens also. do i miss the summilux?…well yes and no. found that focusing was abit shifty due to floating elements so to able to focus quickly was a problem. i can handhold 1/8th on m9 (800iso) carefully and get great shots at f2 in very badly lit situations.

    so i have a more responsive lens, made a huge profit on summilux due to its sudden leap in demand and i am still managing to take similar shots with a great leica lens.

    have to stay m9 has helped knowing you have nailed shots by checking out lcd.

  14. Does it mean you had to buy several m9s and 50lux leses to find a combo that really works like it should? Good thing for you now but scary for those who ogling with such a 8800euro combination 🙂

    • Sorry, but with respect to the great Cartier Bresson quoting his famous comment that ‘sharpness is a bourgeois concept’ is a cop-out. Obviously there are many things that factor into great photography, and sharpness or perceived detail is only one of them…but in MOST cases it is important.

      I don’t know about the rest of you…but the sharpness of the Leica lenses is 90% of the reason I bought a Leica M system…the other 10% was for the reduced size (compared to a DSLR). If I didn’t care about buying the absolute best 35mm format lenses I could buy I would have stuck solely with my Canon system, which is quite good….and MILES ahead of Leica in features. The only problem with my Canon system is the size and that the lenses are not as good as Leica’s. Fortunately for me I can afford to have both systems.

      No, sharpness is not the sole factor in a great photo….composition, lighting, exposure, subject matter all combine to either make a great image or a mere snapshot. With that said, there is something to be said for a photo with just a crazy amount of detail… dismiss that as a ‘bourgeois concept’ is ridiculous. If anything, this whole website is a ‘bourgeois concept’, as it caters to gear-heads, but obviously you still read it.

      • Henri said this to Helmut Newton when he couldn’t get a sharp picture of Helmut in his later years. It was a joke that Helmut found quite amusing.

      • Sorry Clint, but I don’t see why you say that Canon lenses are not as good as Leica’s. L series is equally good, no? Plus Canon makes lenses that Leica doesn’t because of rangefinder limitations. Perhaps what you mean is that Leica suits your needs better, perhaps because of its smaller size.

        For instance, if you want to take photos underwater you are out of luck with Leica. Action photography, sorry, again out of luck. Shooting wildlife… You get the point here?

        And as a joke, the first camera in space was Hasselblad, not Leica:)

        By the way, I love Leica.

      • I don’t think that it is a cop out on his part. His prints absolutely shine. All are taken with lenses vastly inferior (in regards to sharpness) to the modern glass that Leica manufactures. I’ve never seen anyone look at one of his prints and say “That’s really good – but I wish he shot it with a sharper lens.”

        I won’t tell anyone to not purchase the 50 ‘lux asph. I personally prefer to spend that money on experiences and travel which present photographic opportunities I wouldn’t be able to afford if my money was tied up in gear.

        The other quote I like is “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept” – Ansel Adams.

        • George, if the lenses don’t matter you’re in the wrong forum:) Believe me, I don’t think sharpness is the be all and end all of great photographs…far from it. There are more gear-heads than I can count with more money and gear than skill, so I get what you’re trying to say.

          My point is….if you have the skill AND the gear…well you are going to have some great photos. Seriously, if you don’t care about the gear go buy a cheaper Bessa and some great, cheaper Voigtlander lenses and be happy….you could save a whole LOT of money avoiding the Leica world.

          • I don’t think people need to avoid the Leica world. I love my M6. I love my pre-asph 50 ‘lux. A good friend (with more money to spend on lenses than I have) has the 50 ‘lux asph. I see the non-asph 50 ‘cron on his M9 much more frequently due to size and its incredible look: It glows more than the modern glass.

            I like this site because there are stories of real world shooting experiences (from people other than Steve) using a wide range of gear. I like shiny new toys as much as anyone else, but articles like comparing the Fuji 100 to an M6 are fantastic: It kept me from buying the Fuji. I now know that a GF1 (used) with that lovely 20mm would be a better walk-around single-focal length digital camera for me.

            I write things like this after reading other people’s posts of “Oh NO!!! I just bought a Noctilux with my kids’ college money because Steve told me to! Now Steve is telling me I MUST HAVE this Summilux!!!! Should I cash in my 401K?”

            Point being, if you have the money, then yes there are some amazing clinically sharp lenses out there. If you don’t – then don’t worry about it. Skill will ALWAYS trump gear. And the newest Leica lenses are so incredibly far into the law of diminishing returns, it is asinine to sacrifice your financial well-being for a marginally better product. Especially when your skill set doesn’t match the quality of your camera.

            Mine sure doesn’t. I will always say that the quality of my photographs are limited by me – not my gear.

            But yes, if you are sitting on a trust fund from oil-tycoon grandfather, then buy every Leica lens you can, regardless of your talent. They are the best. And buy me a 35mm Summilux Aspherical.

        • Couldn’t agree more. Almost all lenses today are sharp enough for any purpose.

          Of course some of the cheaper lenses may only be sharp around the center wide open, but for normal everyday use they are plenty sharp, so sharpness is really nothing to be very concerned about.

          I would be a lot more concerned about image content, composition, exposure and so on than sharpness.

          • +1

            I would like more articles on technique, process, the art world today, trends, stories and what is happening in contemporary photography in general. I know this is a “gear” site – but when the topic isn’t gear the writing is still good too! So more of it pretty please Steve?

            I’d like to hear how you managed to go into each show and try to not have it all blur together in your head to still have goals to aim for with different/new/better images each time…

  15. Hey Steve. By the way, thanks for the link to “72 hours”. I won the tickets and tried to contact you to meet at the concert, but it failed. No problem. Thanks again to you, Seal and Leica for the tickets.
    We had a wonderful evening and the Seal concert was great….

  16. For those who hate waiting in a long line to purchase this lens: a quick search for cheap flights from San Francisco to Vienna today would show a return flight costing around $1000 dollars and $700-ish dollars flying from New York. Add another $600 dollars for a half decent hotel (a week’s stay); then $300 to eat… So that’s $1600 dollars (flight from NYC, accommodation, food) + $3300 dollars for the lens and you get a grand total of $4900 – about the price of a used lens. Not bad eh? For this, you get a brand new 50mm Summilux ASPH lens and a week in a great city to try out the lens!

    • Great idea…. Phone the Vienna store first and check how many Leica passengers are flying in from the US….don’t how how big their stock is…(Maybe you should organise a special flight for this and have a lot of fun together for a week in Vienna).

      • Hey, not a bad idea! However, taking a bunch of Leica aficionados to the Westlicht camera shop in Vienna with a limited budget, is akin to taking a group of hardened gamblers to Las Vegas and instructing them to absolutely NOT gamble more than 10 bucks. A sure-fire recipe for personal financial disaster! Haha! 😉

    • Nice math. But you have to factor in acommodation costs for your 1 year stay in Vienna as you are waiting for your lens:).

      • Actually no: the whole point of going to Vienna to the Westlicht camera shop is NOT waiting in line for the goodies. That shop is probably one the best Leica stores in the world (if not, the best) and they have tons of equipment in stock. Well, you may have to wait a minute for the sales assistant to pop into the back to fetch the lens of your choice out of a crate. And whilst he’s doing that, you could play with the M10 demo that they probably have already… ! 😉

  17. 5D II is much faster camera and much bigger camera. but you might as well return 5D II now, because these 2 camera does not compared. M9 win in all sharpness and color.

    • Everything can be compared in the world of Steve Huff, that’s what makes this blog such a blast to read!

    • Well, I am not buying the 5D, it was sent to me so I can do this comparison. Many have asked me for this comparison over the past year so I think it will be fun. 🙂

      • Steve, I love reading your blog… Almost everyday. You always have a unique observation of your subject and photo perspective that are hard to imitate.

        I am sure you will enjoy your camera crazy equipment comparison. But if you must compared, you must try 5DII ‘s full HD video capability and fast focus speed. These are all welcome figures on this camera. With wide open aperture, your M9 will kick ass. F8 or F11 M9 will still be sharper by a little.

        While you are doing your comparison, I think I will enjoy a lot more of your photography philosophy. Especially what is your mind set before you press the shutter? How you position your self and subject? How you choose framing of your subject? Why do you preferred slightly off focus shots? What made you to process your image into Black and White instead of color? On subject of equipment, why do you enjoy your Leica? When you can use and own medium format camera like Fuji GF670, especially you love the sharpeness, color, DOF, lens distortion comparison so much? ? Or even Mamiya 7II ……? What makes you pleasantly different and better from average photography like me is what I would like to learn from you and others.

    • I have an m9 and 50 f2 and an EOS 5 MK II with the 50 F1.2. Yes Leica lenses look great but so dos the Canon. Yes I know the Leica is smaller but the Canon knocks spots of the Leica in low light situations. Yes I know it is easy to hand hold the Leica but it dos not seriously compete in low light IMHO. Is the Leica 0.95 better than the Canon F1.2…… Possibly but at something like 8 or 9 x the price the answer is probably not 8 or 9 x better.

    • This a rather amateurish comment. Do you mean 5d Mk II body? Bodies are simply boxes with a shutter. This is a lens that takes a picture. Canon lenses from L series are as good as Leica ones or any other brand in the same price range. Thus I don’t see what you mean. Could you please elaborate on this?

      • Certainly I am no Pro……

        A great camera will need at least need shutter, aperture and CMOS/CCD Sensor to capture the light.

        Therefore camera can not compare with lens only. I am looking forward to Steve’s Canon 5dII 50mm f1.2 and Leica M9 50mm f1.4. You will soon see Canon and L Lens are fine machines. When stood alone!!! But when you crop everything100% or even 200%, you will find outstanding handcraft will usually stand out from machine mass production. but again, this is like comparing Steve Job with Picaso. Why?

        Ps when I say 5DII is fast, I meant it focus fast, process fast, etc.

        • Except when you go to 100%, you are talking about sensors. The sensors are mass produced, not to mention Leica doesn’t make their own sensor, let alone hand make them. I imagine most Leica shooters choose Leica because of the RF system, not for pixel peeping cause lets face it Canon and Nikon are huge and can afford to develop very high end sensors knowing it will sell well and sell fast.

  18. Yep, its the 50mm Lux. Its just another Level together with an M9. And on my shopping list.


  19. Hi Steve,
    It’s not always Leica lenses to blame for out of focus.
    It took me over a year (with a Digilux 3, a Leica M8.2 and a M9 and lots of lenses) that the out of focus depended on the way I was focussing. The problem is that this is different for every person.
    Although my eyes are good I found out that I had a stigma problem on the right eye (focus problem) and even after buying all kinds of accessories from Japan I never got a really sharp picture.
    Then I decided to throw it all away and focus with the left eye. Still a small problem.
    When I finally started to focus with the left eye, but two eyes wide open the focussing was perfect.
    So, all of you, make a lot of focus tests to find out your right way of focussing (which is different to every person) before putting the blame on Leica.
    PS: I’m soooo happy I finally get pictures in focus…..
    Steve: I have a 50 Summilux asph and it is absolutely wonderful and thanks for all your good advices.

  20. I’ve read through many of the 50mm Lux ASPH reviews before I ordered one, but all those reviews didn’t prepare me for what I saw when I opened the first raw file taken with this lens in Lightroom last week. I was shocked (even after so many review sample pics) by how the lens renders at 1.4. Totally blew me away and exceeded my expectations.

    Thanks Josh @ Dale Photo for coming through with my order so quickly and thanks Steve for your lovely blog. Without your blog, I’m sure I’d be still on the fence of getting a M camera.

    100% agree with you Steve, 50mm Lux with M9 is a magical combo indeed! Well done Leica!

  21. Just my 2¢ re sharpness and shooting the M cameras wide open and close at f1.4 or f1.1.

    Having owned many M bodies, a significant number of various summilux’s, one Noctilux (The 1.1 version) and the Cosina 1.1 version here is my take on “sharpness” or lack there of.

    1) Biggest issue by far is user focus issue – when using ANY of these lenses at their closest focusing distances it is very very tricky to get perfect focus assuming everything else is working as it should. With perfectly calibrated bodies/lenses under ideal testing conditions I could see a difference at 20x and definitely 40x magnification of high res film between a .58 finder a .72 finder a .85 finder and a 1x finder with the number of “perfect” focus shots going up as the viewfinder magnification went up. Keep in mind these were testing conditions – not real world.

    2)Camera calibration/lens calibration with respect to the RF – I have only had one camera body that was ever really way out.

    3)Lens sharpness/quality – never had an issue – ever. The Cosina had some quirks but not really an issue with sharpness. The leica lenses were better close up the newer they were under ideal test conditions but in the real world viewfinder magnification proved to be a better sharpness “upgrade” when focusing close vs a lens upgrade. Especially in real world shooting.

    I know I am an old curmudgeon – no need to tell me that so here goes…

    In the real world of shooting things that move under handheld conditions like people close up wide open at f1.4 it’s really nice to know that all your M cameras and M lenses are theoretically the best they can be and perfectly calibrated, etc, etc, etc, but in my own pictures and my reviews of dozens of other photographers when I look at image after image after image – under high magnification not just the edits but every image on a dozen rolls of a dozen real world shooting scenarios I have found that the relatively small calibration adjustments that may be evident under ideal test conditions are dwarfed by shot to shot variations caused by low finder magnification and or shooting conditions – especially close up.

    In fact I would propose that minor calibration “issues” probably help as much as they hurt due to shot to shot inconsistencies inherent with lower finder magnifications (such as the .58 finder – or even the .72 finder) as well as with focus/recompose minor changes in focus distance and plane of focus along with basic trig….


    • Oh one more thing – the calibration thing does make a large difference when shooting things wide open at further focus distances but who the heck does that?


  22. Hi Steve!

    I am really looking forward (as an newly f0.95 Noctilux owner) of your comparision of the Summilux vs Noctilux @f1.4 and f2.0 and of course how this two perform against the Canon combo.

    I am not sure if my M9 works as it should in combination with the Noctilux according sharpness so I am eagerly awaiting you “tests”.


    • The Nocti and M9 is a tough combo to get perfect it seems. I had this Noct for a couple of months and it was always good, but I never thought I was getting my shots in focus. I knew I was focusing correctly so I sent it in. When it came back, WOW…amazing. Just as sharp as the Summilux at the focus point but more “dreamy”.

      Of course sharpness isn’t everything but with a $10k lens, I think I would prefer to have it calibrated correctly plus, when your focal point is in sharp focus and everything else melts away into a beautiful blur it is something special. If that focus is a bit off, it loses a little bit most of the time.

      I had to resend my Nocti in for another issue so hope to get it back ASAP.

      • That’ what I am going to test in the upcoming days – IF my Nocti is in focus…with the very first shots I am not 100% sure it is – overall the focus point seems to be there but when you zoom into the picture I am not that sure anymore.

        Hmm – sending in – actually IF it should be necessary – have you never been afraid of sending in a 10k$ lens in a parcel?

        • I’ve sent mine in to solms 3 weeks ago 🙁 both nocti and M9.
          Looking forward to get it back..but as Steve said, it’s a 10k lense, I’d make sure it’s properly calibrated…if not at least for a peace of mind 🙂

          Steve – maybe you should do an article to compare the calibrated vs. uncalibrated M9?

          • Thx Nate…already made contact with the Leica Shop in Vienna to ask the specific way how and what to do in the case I do need calibration.

  23. Steve,
    The images are insanely sharp. I have shot some images with my M9 and some Voigtlander lens and captured nothing this sharp. I unfortunately lost my lux at your NYC event and am making due with a 50 cron from Ken Hansen. Great stuff. More, please!

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