Just arrived! A quick first look at the Leica 50 Summicron APO ASPH Lens on the Leica M

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Just arrived! A quick first look at the Leica 50 Summicron APO ASPH Lens on the Leica M

Well thanks to the guys over at I-SHOT-IT.com I have a Leica 50 Summicron APO ASPH in my hands to test for 3 weeks on the Leica M. Yep, Leica did not even have a loaner as this lens is super rare and hard to get and made in very small quantities. Coming it at just under $7200 I was super skeptical and upset when it was announced almost a year ago. I mean, how many of us can afford a 50 f/2 lens for $7195? I did not understand how the old cron could be improved upon as that was a lens I loved dearly for many years until finally settling on the 50 Summilux for the rendering at 1.4 that the cron could not do.

At nearly $4k, the Lux is almost double the cost of the old cron and at $7200, the new cron is getting close to 4X the cost of the old cron! How oh how could this be justified?

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Well I do know that the new APO Cron is claimed by many to be Leica’s best lens ever. Period. Leica has also said it has been very challenging to produce because they are accepting nothing less than perfection with each and every hand inspected copy that comes off the line.

When I saw the photos shot by the new Summicron at the Berlin Monochrom event I was blown away at the colors, the contrast, the details and super smooth Bokeh (that the old cron does not have). When I started seeing samples from another online blogger/reviewer I thought the lens was a but too sterile and lost interest. I decided I would be happy with my Lux. But after just a day of use I realized this lens is not sterile at all, quite the opposite.

When the lens arrived to me just yesterday and I snapped it on my M and fired off a few test shots I knew I would be in trouble. What I saw over the lux is richer deeper color, more contrast, more details and more 3 Dimensionality without being harsh or clinical at all, quite abit like what the Noctilux ASPH did over the previous F/1 version.. It does indeed have its own character and I am looking forward to full reviewing this lens. The new slide out twist hood is very nice and the lens comes packaged like the $11k Noctilux in it’s own small presentation case.

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Size wise it is smaller than the Lux and feels great on the M. I will stop now because I need to save my words for the review but even though this lens is $7200 it seems to be very high in demand. Dealers have wait lists for this bad boy and I can now see why. Below are 1st samples shots in my kitchen yesterday of my fiancée’, my feet and my friend Mike. I will be taking a road trip to shoot this lens and really get to know it and after that I will write my full review. Can’t wait!

Thank you I-SHOT-IT.COM for sending this lens out to me to review. Without your help it would have been a long time for me to get a hold of one. Be sure to check out their contests they run on their site as the main prizes are cash and cameras. The Monochrom contest is up to over $11k and the Leica MM. Damn!

 

1st off, a full size file from RAW – click it for the full size Leica M file – no editing or PP

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The following test snaps were done minutes after getting the lens in my hands. You can click them for larger 1200 pixel wide versions as the sizes below are compressed and do not look correct. All of these were shot on the Leica M 240. Full size pixel peeper samples will be in the review as well as comparisons with the Lux. These are just snapshots, in and around my house, and resized in low res for web. 

debbywall

debbysmallfc2

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feetfloorbw

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The usual suspects are taking pre-orders for this lens but mostly all have lists going:

Ken Hansen – khpny19@aol.com

PopFlash.com 

The Pro Shop

Dale Photo

B&H Photo

Amazon

My full review will be up in 2-3 weeks!

134 Comments

  1. Hi, this probably my first comment I ever made since I start following your page(For about a year now). I just a newbie to Leica.Still, In the past I did own 50mm Pre-ASPH 50mm f1.4 (3rd) and the ASPH one. And they both shoot an extraordinary image. However, I just change from M9 to M240 and looking for a suitable 50mm and I still can’t decide to go for the Noctillux f0.95 or this one or stick to the 50mm f1.4 ASPH. Any thought? Thanks!

  2. Hey Steve, wondering if a full review for this lens ever materialized? Thinking I probably missed it somewhere along the line, can you point me in the right direction. Thanks!!

  3. I am a bit off-topic here.

    But for the concept of being a happier person that Steve mentioned, A sharp copy of 50mm Rigid really makes me happier when shooting it with both M9 and M3. Of course, my comparison is only limited to 50lux asph, 50cron, and 50rigid.

    Happy shooting all!

  4. Hi Steve,

    I reviewed this lens a long while back, when it was still a prototype. It was fantastic back then, and I was told that they were having production problems, and that the lens wasn’t even up to specs at the time of my review. Apparently they couldn’t get the sharpness they wanted out of it on the assembly line. Which was crazy, because it was the sharpest lens I reviewed. I told Leica that they should actually keep it like this, since I didn’t want a sharper lens to = sketchy bokeh.. Looking at your shots though, it seems the bokeh hasn’t suffered from any changes they made to the lens.

    I live in Singapore, and just to note, Singapore’s an awful place when talking about quality of light for photographers. And yet, this lens still manages to give rich full colors even in the most awful of midday suns. Something you just couldn’t get from any other lens, Leica or not, and I’ve tried them all. A few Zeiss lenses do really well in Singapore, but there’s always a trade off on something, this lens, no trade off.. You can see my original review here (not so many glam photos, but really very impressive as far as bokeh and richness are concern): http://adamsalt.com/?p=92

  5. How do u keep the front element clean? A dusty day? Random rain drops?
    Cleaning lenses often can cause other permanent problems.

    The one lens that I have that goes commando is the 18mm Asph, as it cannot take regular filters.
    But I don’t use that one that often.
    😉

    p.s. you may be surprised as to how little sharpness is affected by filters. I took one photo of the LA skyline out of my office (non opening) window, after a storm. The window had not been cleaned in months. The photo is pin sharp at a 20 by 30 inch enlargement. Leica ME w/ Summarit 90 f 2.5. Zeiss UV filter AND a dirty window! I pressed the lens against the window, and as the focus was on infinity the window was so far out of focus there is no affect. So I’m not worried about a clean filter.
    I can send a jpg if u are curious.

  6. Hey Steve, do you not use protective filters on these lenses (UV, Skylight etc)?
    I noticed none on them in the pics.
    I have them on all of mine, and none cost $8K!

    • Never in my life have I used any, ever 🙂 Also never had any issues from not doing so. Why place a cheap piece of glass over a $8k exotic piece of glass? I found they can cause flare as well as take away from some sharpness of certain lenses. If the day ever comes where I bust some glass I am sure I will regret it though.

      • How do you clean your exposed exotic glass then, after a trip to the sea or contact to sticky dust …so you don’t get any smear?

  7. wow, yeah that lens renders quite nicely!! Dare I say, maybe even too nice? I like a little “grit” in the bokeh of my images but that is totally subjective

  8. Steve: Do you have any NEX cams you can throw that bad boy on for shits & giggles? Love to see some NEX-6 or 7 samples. If not, your going to buy the lens right? …that way you will have it when your NEX-7n shows up at the door 🙂

  9. Looks like the 50 APO lens is guaranteed to be a real winner. Future Leica lenses may be designed and inspected by Mickey Mouse!!

  10. So much feed back from basically point-n-shoot snaps. I am anxious to see the full review to see what this puppy can do. I know I won’t get it or the 240, but love to see your wild combinations. I’m still getting up to speed on the 50 Lux / M-E combo which shoots like a dream. For me, hands down the best system I have ever laid my hands on!! (Yeah, that sounds a bit too Rockwellish – but it’s true).

  11. I’m sure this is a great lens( because it’s Leica and every Leica lens i’ve used has been nothing short of excellent) BUT I’ll just say it…almost all of the pictures i see taken with Leica lenses on the internet seem to be ..nothing special.If I had spent that much money on this lens I would not be impressed with these kinds of images. Go look at the photos Robin Wong is taking with ordinary Olympus lenses on his website Simply Robin and be amazed. For a fraction of the price of this equipment!

  12. Uhmm so much about heart and brain stuff! I don’t know about you guys but I just use my brain to make enough money to spend like I have no brain! And yes I want one of this! ;p

  13. Hi guys,

    yes, Leica is not cheap so isn’t RR, Bentley, Harley, etc.

    Short time ago I wrote similar sharp critics on the web until I got into Leica, via the LFI mag, bought all back issues until 2003 etc.

    Leica is not for me because:

    – I have been too lazy making money, so cannot afford it but a V Lux 3 and coming up M4/3 with PanaLeica 25 mm

    – my kind of shooting requires zoom and AF

    Nevertheless the IQ of Leica photo on the web is outstanding what you can find on the web. I shot a M 8 in a shop short time ago, what a handling! Only holding a M in your hand can make you happy!

    a freind of mine got a Prsche 911 and invited me for a test ride: this car is not for me, too direct, you sit on the floor, etc. I prefer SUVs with 7 seats a lot of spcae for family and dog, good views and better perspective while sitting higher.

    Nevertheless the 911 is one of the very few milestones in the developmant of cars. What a design, what a pice of engeneering – and they have been improving it for more than 50 yeears in every incarnation.

    BR
    Heiner

    • Except that the 911 is competitive in performance, technology and price. To stay with car analogies, the M is rather a Morgan Plus 8 which gets easily bettered by a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo or Subaru WRX which cost a fraction and can be had without a wait.

      • You drive on a sunny day with a Morgan through the south of England – would be one of the dreams I want to come true.

        Lancer ????

        BR
        Heiner

  14. I still shoot with my 1974 Summicron f:2.0, and is amazed by the pictures I get with the M9, so I am saving my money for the Leica M 240 or future Leica M models, because I have a bunch of R lens to dust up and use again, especially the 105mm APO Macro R lens which is so sweet.

  15. Kinda makes you wonder how all those amazing photographs were made prior to 2013.
    $7,000. For bragging rights. Heart? I never see any heart in the images made with luxury goods.

  16. a future classic for sure in the same league as other great lenses ex. 35 1,4 sumilux zeiss 85 1.4 , zeiss 38 4,5 hasselblad . 50 1.8 nikor first thing on my wish list

  17. Here’s a thought: this lens is really only going to make sense to people who print, and print big (and earn big). At the sizes printed here, it just doesn’t matter what you use unless you use a spectacularly bad lens whose faults show up even on small pictures.

    And (not that this needs saying) a 7000 dollar lens isn’t much use if it’s in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what to do with it.

    You should see what Jay Maisel gets with his lenses…the (Nikon) 70-300 and 28-300, the combined price of which is about eight times less than this “new, best ever OMG” lens.

    • I had to track down who Jay Maisel was ( shame on me) but I did, and it’s all in the eye, not the lens, obviously, having a decent camera and lens set up helps, but I’ve taken shots with my iphone that have given me very printable shots ( small prints mind) and I’m more than happy to have a couple of cheap 50mm primes (Nikon, OM, Canon) my OM 50/1.8 cost me £13, the 50/1.4 was £65 ( it being a sought after lens) I also have a few telephoto and zoom lens ( all manual and picked up cheap £25 each) a Mamiya Sekor 135/2.8 that is the best made lens I own, and gives great shots that leap out at you! and a 70-150 OM Zuiko white nose ( what can I say, I like hazy shots and lens flare!)
      All my manual lens have had to be hunted down, spending hours scouring the web, and waiting for new stock at certain places to arrive, often being outbid at the last second, or beaten to the punch on bargains! but there’s nothing sweeter than picking up a decent lens at a great price!!
      As for the $7k lens, I think the dissenting voices are concerned that this site is turning into a Leica only fan club, so Steve, to temper the the lens envy of us poorer fellow snappers, how about a 50 shoot off? you can go from high end to bargain bucket, I’d like to see the comparisons with the Leica, and other expensive lenses, against the likes of the OM 50/1.8, 50/1.4, the Nikon 50’s the Super Takumar 50’s…. not only will it quell some of the gear envy, but demystify some of the notions that this is some kind of Grail of lenses. so,what do you say?

      • Great idea Nik; you have my support. Let’s go for the rendering, not for the numbers. What camera are you using your collection of lost and found lenses on? Digital?

        I find the “old” AiS lenses I use on my D700 certainly give a rendering different from modern same focal length (top Nikkor, Zeiss) lenses.

  18. Amazing engineering from Leica, I see you used evf and magnification. This is one of the problems, your going to miss focus enough with the range finder to negate the extra mtf.

  19. Leica could put a turd in a gold box and someone would buy it. A great outlet for people who cant spend their money fast enough. The price is absurd. Call the Sultan of Brunei and tell him his lens has arrived.

    Disgusting.

  20. One comment about build quality… I have found that while these new Leica lenses are built better than any other current mfgs, they do not compare to some of the older lenses.
    I own new 6 bit 18, 28, 50 lux, 90 macro elmar lenses. Optically absolutely nothing to complain about. But I recently acquired a Summicron 50 2.0 dual range macro lens for my M3, and man oh man absolutely nothing is built as well as that. Built I think in the early 1960s.
    Make no mistake, the new optics are ‘better’ (depending on the look you want), but I wish they still built ’em like they used to.

    p.s. for those complaining about prices – well you pick your habit. I sold a couple of gorgeous motorbikes to finance my Leica purchases, and I do not regret it for a second. Maybe you are driving around in a $50K SUV. If you only bought a $20K or $30K vehicle, that would have been a lot of $$ left for Leica gear. Plus Leica lenses after 10 years are worth about what you paid for them new. Wonder how much your car is worth 10 years from now?

  21. I can not help but to love all the high drama of some of the comments— and the comedy of it all. In the last five decades I have possessed and experienced a lot of equipment, including Leitz, for use in the image making business and I have readily observed that there existed then, as exists now, a multitude of excellent brand choices for us to be passionate about. However, I do on occasion wonder how a lot of this dialogue in reality relates to with the final printed image. Ruscha got to put words and phrases on museum walls and he didn’t need a camera in the process.

  22. Steve,
    My old Leica 50mm Summicron and new 50mm Summilux are terrific lenses. Not sure that anyone that I know could discern the difference between photos shot with these lenses and the new 50mm APO Summicron. One has to remember that these days most people are shooting photos with cell phones! Yes, that’s right, the world of photography is being “dumbed down” just like everything else. Given the choice, I would probably invest the $7200 in a new Leica M before I’d buy a 50mm APO Summicron. Not sure that I understand Leica’s marketing strategy. Why create a lens that is hard to establish a need for and at the same time increase the cost of shooting with a 50mm Leica lens even higher than that of a 50mm Lux? How does the 50 mm APO fit into their lens marketing strategy?

    • “Why create a lens that is hard to establish a need for and at the same time increase the cost of shooting with a 50mm Leica lens even higher than that of a 50mm Lux?”

      Because they can, maybe? Or perhaps simply a statement of ‘tour de force’?

  23. Great to see you reviewing this lens. Can’t wait to see how leica have balanced the contrast, character and sharpness of this lens. Happy Easter Steve!

  24. The rooster shot is very impressive. The micro detail and edge detail in the areas that are in focus are tack sharp. Was it shot wide open? You usually state the f-stop. If so, that’s a very impressive result for F2. Very impressive indeed.

  25. Steve,
    That rooster pic is sure gonna start some cock fights.
    I look forward to your full review.
    Keep up the great work.

  26. A a tv-cameraman I work with lenses up to €150.000 so I think €7200 isn’t a strange price for great optics. I just hate it that I can’t afford it… 😉

  27. There’s always a (small) market for a lens with the highest level of corrections (APO is a bit of a vague term) and made with the highest precision. The high price is determined by the huge R&D costs and, even more importantly, the high rejection rate that is the direct result of the extremely narrow production tolerances. You’re not buying one lens, you’re buying one that conforms to spec and two that ended up binned. 😉

    Zeiss is doing the same thing wth their APO 135 (read Diglloyd; it is an amazing lump of glass on the D800E) and upcoming 1.4/55. The delays in shipping is also explained by the difficulties found in maintaining the required high level of QC.

    I actually admire lens manufacturers for every now and then going over (well; “to”) the top in a design. Makes life more interesting.

    The lens to end the need for all other lenses? Not likely. I’m (having primes only) constantly fighting with myself to determine the perfect focal length for any given situation. Some dinner action pics last night; the 24 was a good choice (the excellent 1.4/24G AF-S) but the 28 might have been better. A 50 as a solitary lens would have been a bother, a 35 might have just squeezed in, but would have required more ordering around of the dinner group of 7. The 24 (and single spot AF, manipulated around with the thumb dial) allowed spontaneous shooting.

  28. Exciting first look! Thank you!

    There is something I find very attractive about the modern Summicrons. I have the latest 35 and 75 mms, and the rooster shot makes this 50 very attractive to me. Thank you 🙂 Perhaps I again will sell a Summilux to get a Summicron, like I did with the 35s. Hmm, I love the 50 Summilux and this is the first time I am really unsure.

    Now I very much look forward to your full review! Perhaps delivery times will be so long that I can order one and save up while waiting?

    Cheers,

    Knut

  29. Not bad, but it’s price is simply rediculous, compared to the Leica Lens alone, a DP2 Merril
    Sigma delivers much better IQ, almost Medium Format, the new M together with this 50mm Summicron ASPH APO simply can’t deliver – no offence.

  30. Hi Steve,

    With this latest group of photos, it seems that your magic touch of Leica is back with the M240. Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed with the color rendition with the current M240 compared with my M9. Of course, it is more of a personal preference. But with this particular lens, the magic is back.

  31. Looks like you gotta spend $7K on a lens to get the most out of the M’s new sensor. The rooster pic is fantabulous!

  32. As you say, Steve: ‘With Leica we buy with our heart, not our brains.’… me included!

    Frankly, I given up even trying to explain or justify this to the ‘uninitiated’. 🙂

    I look forward to your full review.

    • “The unitianated” (forgive me for correcting your spelling error). Hope you feel better now. It must be lonesome at the top.

  33. Hi Steve

    The detail is incredible in the first photo – the rooster.
    What focus method did you use, rangefinder or focus peaking?

    Thanks!

      • Is it possible to take two shots of the same subject – focussed to the best of your ability – with the RF and then the EVF? Just curious to see if the RF can match the EVF in accuracy.
        Do you think you could have achieved the incredible sharpness in the rooster pic with the RF?

        Thanks Steve.

  34. For the price of a used M9 and 2 Leica lenses e.g. 35 and 75 Summarit, or 3-4 new ZMs. As you seem to have the Lux 50 asph, the best 50mm money can buy, can you please do comparison shots and post them without exif data and let your readers try to figure out wich of the lens was used for which shot. I bet the hit rate will not be greater than 50%.

    • I have side by sides and the difference is pretty large in detail, sharpness and the APO has a MF look to the files that the Lux is missing. They will be in my review.

  35. Wow that shot of the bird is amazing. The only thing that bugs me is the price I saved and got the 35mm ASPH Cron for my M6 which is worth every cent, but how do us medium income Leica fans afford this lens I mean why make a lens only for the rich. $7,000 for the M and now $7,000 for the lens.

  36. Each reviewer has his or her own style. That’s right, perfectionism can border on the sterile and lifeless. Your photos, Steve, they breathe.

    Looking forward to your review. That could be THE ONE single lens that covers all needs.

    • DanTHEME…As soon as Steve talked about “sterile” images I knew about which Blog he was talking about.

  37. I see amazing sharpness and beautiful bokeh from your snapshots already.
    What setup did you use to shoot the 50mm APO and Leica M with?

  38. Lets just wait for the next $9k 50mm Summilux to blow the Cron out of the park, including our wallets. Man, this lens looks great. I wish I could justify it. I hope they will end up in good photographers hands. D!RK

  39. Wonder how it would compare to the not yet available BIG, BAD ZEISS 55/1.4 that will sell for about half the price of this Summicron APO?

    Reason Leica release such a silly expensive super duper standard lens is of course they know it is a market for it among their most wealthy customers who are willing to pay for the absolute best.

    But just as it would be nice driving a Rolls Royce we all know a Kia will be about as good driving from point A to B. The latter will just not be such a magnet of desire, which can be both bad and good.

    A Rolls would surely attract more beautiful girls but also everone who want a pice of the cake.

    Photographically speaking; Would you prefer be complimented for the sharp photos your expensive lens take or rather for your eyes seeing the well composed photos you take with a cheap lens?

    That’s not saying those who could afford such a lens not could take well composed photos. Just that it like Rolls Royce is not really needed, just nice to have for those who can afford it.

  40. If I had 7.2k of Leica bucks, I would get the new M. The lens looks very sharp, prehaps too sharp. I would rather have the new Sum or the old Cron. Hey that old Cron, the 50 and 35 are still hard to beat. Looks like a good lens for Monochrome. Just flat out sharp, like the pictures at Dayton. If anyone is willing to by me one……..wouldn’t that be nice.

  41. Leica will keep raising prices until the cows no longer have anything to give.

    $7,200 for the new cron is way too much. There are plenty of good alternatives for much less money. The difference in quality does not equal the difference in price.

    I say this as a dedicated Leica shooter, but who never buy ones of the newer lenses at the prices asked.

    • This lens is meant for those who want the highest quality possible in the smallest package possible no matter the price.

      This lens is a small production item and is not meant to be spreaded among the mass.

      It’s a no compromised lens at a no compromised price. In manfucaturing processes and depending on the quality you want to reach there is no 1% better = 1% more expensive. The cost of improvement is never linear.

      If your product is let’s say rated at 95% perfect for 3000$….it may cost 4000$ to reach 96%…or 8000 to reach 97% and so on…That is not linear.
      This is just a basic example but it’s what most of people don’t understand.

      Look at this chart for better explanation:

      http://mosaicprojects.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/coq3.jpg

    • Because there are a few (insert your own adjective here:________________) out there that will pay SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS for one lens.

      That’s why…

      • “extremely passionate”? Leica has huge wait lists on this lens, so it is much more than a few. Like I have stated many times before, it is not about money..it is about what makes you happy in life. Some of us go without the big boy toys like boats, cars, dune buggies, $10k computer setups, $20k audio systems, big houses, fancy jewelry…so we can enjoy our hobby. Nothing wrong with being passionate about your hobby or in my case, hobby and profession. If a $7000 lens makes me a happier person and helps me enjoy my work and spare time I am all for it, just as the Noctilux has done for me as well. I am in no way shape or form rich. I am not the typical Leica customer but guess what? Most today are not. If someone wants to spend $7k or even $20k on a lens, and they can swing it without hurting themselves or family then why not? Id take it over any of those other toys any day of the week. For me it is not about money, though I have agreed it is ridiculous (though I also know what goes into making this lens and if you knew the facts about it you would be surprised) in cost. But Leica always has been. The company that brought us the hard to keep in stock $11,000 noctilux has delivered yet another masterpiece, no holds barred, no compromise, best 50 in the world. Not all can buy it of course but the option is there for those who can and will. No need to berate those who have the cash flow to do so, or to those like me who go without in life in other areas to be able to.

        • NO NO REDUX!…you misunderstood, I wasn’t trying to berate anyone. He (or she) asked a question, I gave what I thought was the best answer knowing that there might be a few opinions to be had. And low and behold, I got a great one from the man himself so MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

          I also wouldn’t hesitate to spend that much on a lens if it exceeded my expectations. Up until the rooster shot, I wasn’t being moved in Leica’s direction but now they have my attention.

          You shouldn’t automatically assume the product is under attack just because caps are being used in a reply. I was just being “extremely passionate” 😉

        • I do agree with you, Steve. 🙂 that’s real life all about. Take your chance, if can enjoy it. 🙂

        • “Best 50 in the world”? You compared all of them, thoroughly? Please show us.

          It’s obviously a very good, no holds barred lens though.

          • That wasn’t my point at all, as I’m sure you know. A far reaching statement like that needs some back up. I’d be interested to see it compared to the upcoming 1.4/55 Zeiss, another no holds barred lens, as is the 135 APO.

            No (modern) Nikkor or Canon lens that I know of pretends to have the same no holds barred approach in design and manufacturing process, but a comparison between their top 50’s (Nikon only has the Made in China ones, good but not excellent), the Zeiss offerings and the Leica ones would be useful, as would an explanation of what APO means in this particular case.

          • Take the 2.0/50 Makro-Planar, 2.0/50 AiS, and a modern 2.0 or 1.8 nikon and Canon 50, and show us what the differences in rendering (not numbers) are. Should be interesting.

        • Fully agree with Steve Huff .. I have the 3 50mm (Nocti, APO & Summicron Rigid) and all have different signatures .. the APO is about light weight, high contrast and details .. you can carry the M + APO (M9,MM or M240) all day .. at the end when you return back home .. you know per sure that great pictures are in your Memory Card.

  42. They all look great, except the last one, which seems lacking in that special cachet exhibited by the others.

    It’s sad that it’s so outrageously expensive.

  43. Very beautiful images! In your review, could you say how this is the best lens ever produced by Leica? eg. how is it better than, say, the 50 Noctilux f0.95? Thanks!

  44. I love your articles on leica, makes me dream of winning the lottery and picking that m up with a sweet 50.

  45. it is simply the law of diminishing return. to some that extra 10% improvement is worth 3,4 times the cost. to others it doesnt make sense. this lens isnt designed to be produced or priced for the mass public.

  46. You are a a lucky man, Steve! When I see these reviews I am really jealous… Now, how do you go out and shoot in the streets with 14.000 USD in your hands? I would be paranoid!

    • You know what ? You just forget about the price of your equipment so easily.
      When I’m out with my Lux ASPH all day…I am never thinking of the price of the beast. I just shoot and don’t think of anything else.

      No need to be paranoid and 99% of people you will meet out will never ever think or understand your equipment is so expensive 😉

  47. 7500k for a 50mm lens. Pound for pound it’d Fools Gold.

    HCB’s work shows you what any 50mm lens is capable of in the right hands. A used 50mm Nikon series E lens that’s that’s almost worthless will produce great images at f5.6, as will any 50mm lens.

    I’ll stick with the 50mm cron that I already have.

    Most of these lenses will never see the outside of a glass cabinet.

    • It’s nice to see mention of Series E lenses in a Leica thread. There were actually quite a few really excellent Series E lenses. At least on film the best of them never disappoint me, and on a digital body the 100mm f/2.8 is razor sharp if you can focus it.

    • I tend to agree, I prefer the contrast and extra stop of the lux. I never think of Price when it comes to Leica gear ;P

  48. Wow now that has to be gram for gram more expensive than gold! Leica are truly Alchemists indeed!
    I’ve just picked up a Olympus OM 50/1.4 both to use on my OM-1 and my Canon DSLR, now I’m sure the Leica 50 is better, no question, but is it over 100 times better? hmmm… doubt it.
    Now, I’m not a rich man in any way shape or form, financially anyway, never have been, and £300 is the most I’ve ever spent on a lens( Tamron 17-50/2.8) I think there is a serious need for Canon, Nikon, Zeiss, Voitlander, etc… to step up and give Leica some definite, ” like for like” competition, they don’t really have any as such, Fuji and Sony with the X series and the RX-1 are just mopping up the crumbs, and as such Leica can, and do set their own price… and most definitely, you’re buying with the heart! It does look impressive, there’s no doubt about it, but wow, WOW! $7k!!!! madness just for a lens!!!!!!

    • What like for like competition? Canon, NIkon, Sony, eiss, Voitlander, etc respect their customers, they wouldn’t sell a slow f/2.0 50mm lens for 7000 dollars… this is just what Leica would do. That price tag is crazy high. As a photographer, it bothers me to see that people actually praise it, but not because they’re photographers, cause… they’re not. They’re just fans/gadget freaks and people who have money to buy that camera… still waiting to see an actual pro photographer using Leica’s overpriced weak digital gear.

      • Very few professionals do.

        Look, there’s a reason that the Leica rangefinders slid in popularity by the 1960s. It was called the Nikon F … in concert with the other manufacturer’s SLRs that were becoming dominant at the time. They were dominating because framing and composing through the lens was more accurate and offered a larger field of view. Pros (and amateurs) liked this better and voted with their wallets accordingly.

        That hasn’t changed to this day. True, there are some photographers who like the rangefinder experience, but there are few pros among them.

        Due to its popularity, the SLR is also the photographic instrument that has received the most R&D over the past 40 years. So we have extensive system capabilities and usually first (or early) adoption of new technologies, as well.

        This is evolving somewhat with mirrorless, but many photographers still prefer an accurate, optical viewfinder for composing.

        Leica lenses are the pinnacle of optical engineering, no question. But it’s because they have positioned themselves as a boutique manufacturer and will spare no expense to ensure that their glass is perfect.

        Such perfection results in lenses that cost 8 to 10 times as much as other manufacturers. Do those lenses provide 10 times the IQ…?

        Ask Steve McCurry. Ask Joe McNally. Ask any of the photographers .

      • In like for like, I mean that they should produce a digital rangefinder that utilises the same lens system, that way almost everyone could afford to step into the digital rangefinder world without having to sell the house, the kids and the car! I like the size, look and feel of my cheap Zorki and the Jupiter lenses, and my recently acquired Yashica Electro 35, they just feel right, and seeing as this is the 21st Centrury, I thought there would be an affordable, digital alternative! yes, the X100 is a bit like the Electro 35 with it’s fixed lens, and the X-Pro and X-E1 are probably an affordable alternatives, but the only ones? surely there’s something wrong with this picture?! If you look at the 35mm word, there’s a lot more choice if you want the rangefinder experience, from cheap to expensive, Yashica, Zorki Fed, Keiv, Canon, Nikon, Kodak, Contax, Konica, Olympus, Rollei, Minolta etc.. etc… all still available and showing now sign of waning popularity, more like an increase year by year. Is a digital rangefinder somehow Alien Tech that no one can replicate? I can’t be the only one who want’s a digital rangefinder in the classic style?
        The rest of the digital camera world is competitive, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Sony, all give good bang for your buck, if only Canon and Nikon could give us a rangefinder at similar pricing to a DSLR, even if its 2 tiered APS-C and FF pricing like current cameras, it would seriously challenge Leica, but until that day comes, the Leica grail will remain unreachable for the majority of us unwilling, or unable to spend ludicrous amounts of cash.
        I’m not anti Leica, I’d love to own one, but not one the price of a family car hanging round my neck!

      • Do you know…Harley Davidson bikes are really expensive. They are heavy, not really easy to daily use, not meant to be fast and still Harley Davidson is a legendary brand and the experience of riding one is just insanely great.
        There may be tons of other lighter, more powerful and much faster bikes out there…but still Harley Davidson is a unique brand and has its aficionados.
        If we cannot find a Harley Davidson on a race track…that doesn’t make it less of a great bike.
        I think same for Leica. Being expensive and being oldschool in a way doesn’t make it less of a great camera.

  49. Ill bet some of the Zeiss ZM glass will do for a fraction of that price! I love the Zeiss ZM 50mm f1.5 for a fraction of the price.

    • I must say I agree with you, Edward! For me, and this is just me, I have done just fine with my Nikons (and Olympus before that) for over 35 years both personal projects and assignments! I do not believe that for my shooting content having $15K tied up in one lens and one camera body would have made the content in my images sing any better. But, like Steve said earlier, Leica folks buy with their hearts, not their brains (your words, Steve!).

    • Another reviewer tested the 50 ApoSummicron vs the Zeiss 50/2 and found the Zeiss did very well in comparison. It is about 10% of the price of the Leica.

      But I’m not a big fan of Zeiss glass. I’ll probably keep my old (1969) 50 cron because I just don’t use the 50 anywhere near as much as I use my 35 and 90 lenses. In fact, I mostly use the 50 cron to photograph women over 40 because it is so much kinder than my 90 Elmarit M. Still, every now and then I think about trading it for a 50 lux. Maybe if enough people buy the new 50 Apo Summicron there will be a good supply of 50 ASPH luxes on the used market.

      • ….Maybe if enough people buy the new 50 Apo Summicron there will be a good supply of 50 ASPH luxes on the used market…..

        Continue to dream that dream…. It´s not going to happen. Believe me. Leica glass is like a bank. But much better.

        • I’ll grant you that. My original 1969 50 cron that I bought new ran about $250. It went on a M4 that I bought new for $400. The M4 is now worth $1,000 (2.5x) and the 50 cron is worth $1,000- $1,200 or 4 to 5 times original investment.

          • Sorry, but your lens isn’t worth 4 to 5 times the original investment. If you take inflation into account, which you should/ must, then it has decreased in value. Not as much as most things, but still. For example in the US the cumulative inflation 1969 – 2013 has been 532.6% , which in nominal terms means the $250 you paid equals $1581.51 now ( according to http://www.usinflationcalculator.com. I haven’t double checked, but it seems reasonable). So, if you sell the cron today you’ll get 2/3 your money back, not 4 to 5 times.

            In comparison, if you had instead put the $250 in something else worth investing in, like the S&P500 index, the *inflation adjusted return* over the period is (http://www.moneychimp.com/features/market_cagr.htm) $8.35 per dollar. That’s roughly 13 500 dollars today.

            Now, the better investment of the two is of course the cron. That is because you have to value the countless moments of joy, better mental health (arguably) and prolonged lifetime (expected) it has provided you.
            I think those are better arguments next time your wife asks if that new lens is really worth the money 😉

            Rgds, A

          • Yeah, yeah. But I did buy Apple when it was $25 a share. And a townhouse when it was $13,000 and sell it for well… enough for an ocean view home in Hawaii. So I did get some things right.

            As far as my Leicas go, I got to use my M4 for 40 years before I traded it for a M9. Over those same years I replaced my 35 Summicron three times, my 50 Summicron twice and my 90 Elmarit once. Lenses tend to get scratched, fall overboard or just go soft with life in the tropics.
            Back on topic, I was able to replace my scratched old 50 Summicron with another in perfect condition and of the same 1969 vintage about 2 years ago. The colors are wonderful and the center sharpness is close to most modern lenses but the edges fade away to a glow. Nice for some shots but it might be time to invest in a 50 Lux… even if it is not that great of an investment.
            As for wives and lenses – my wife does the books for my business. When the accountant says we have to buy equipment or pay the money in taxes, the debate is usually over what will bring the biggest return on investment. Some years it is a new camera, others it is new computers. This year it is a new Epson 9900 coupled with converting the older 9800s to 7 and 8 shades of black ink printers. Maybe next year it will be a 50 lux and a MM. Somehow I don’t think the 50 Apo Summicron will ever meet the ROI test.

  50. Can we have a comparison between this setup and a MF camera , like Pentax 645d which comes in almost half the price at $8,790 with the FA 645 55mm f/2.8 lens

    • That’s like comparing a Porche 911 to a Semi truck. What’s the point? Do you want a medium format rig or a rangefinder?

      • Both takes pictures. Anything that takes pictures can be compared. I dont see how uses of M and Pentax should not overlap.

  51. This lens is a bargain compared to the Noct f/.95! you could get this AND an f/1 Noct for the price of the newest Noct!

  52. The awesome micro-contrast makes one thing noticable: you gotta clean your glass door!
    I’m blown away and considering selling my (Kia) Soul to get the M with that lens, but I think that wont be enough.

  53. While you have the lenses I would love to know what this does on the XPRO 1.
    Is it marginally superior or simply just good?

  54. Jeez…respectfully Mr Huff…I need to remove your bookmark. This site makes me feel so poor or discontent. Can’t figure out which one…maybe both.

    I’m kidding of course. I’ll be back in a couple hours.

  55. It looks like a nice lens Steve, but for $7200 it should be exponentially better than ANYTHING else. And frankly, if these photos are an indication it just isnt. A little bit-maybe, but not a lot. Im not being a hater here but it should be a world apart from other 50mm lenses to justify that price point

    • It is the best 50 I have ever laid in my hands, period. Hard to tell from inside my house snapshots resized for web in low res minutes after 1st getting the lens in my hand, but I will have plenty of full size shots in my review. Also, no lens is “worth” $7200. With Leica we buy with our heart, not our brains.

      • Hi Steve, great short review. Keep on going. We would like to see more pictures of that great lens. Maybe higher resolution. 1200xXx pics is really undervalued. Regarding costs. Well if we would consider that this lens is not mass-production at all like CaNiSigPex 🙂 and I have seen how much technology is involved grinding APO lenses together with German labour costs, IMHO is fair trade. Why do people spent 20K$ on Swiss IWC watch??
        B.R. Wolfgang

  56. The rendering and background de-focus look very RX1esq…very nice indeed. I swear, every time I read about and see samples from this new M, I grow even fonder of my RX1. THANK YOU!

  57. Very nice colors, but I’m not sure I’m seeing that $5K difference from the tried-and-true cron. Sure, if money were no object, it would be a definite buy, but I’m hanging on to my old cron for now.

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