The Leica M 240 and the 50 Summilux ASPH make for a great one lens combo!
I have started to shoot more with my M 240 again and have to say that even today, as it was with the M9, the 50 Summilux ASPH is probably the perfect ONE LENS to use with the M. The 50mm focal length has always been one of my top two faves, alternating with 35 and while there are quite a few other 50mm options for everyday use such as the Zeiss 50 Planar, Leica 50 Summicron, Zeiss 50 Sonnar and Voigtlander 50 Nokton 1.5 VM there is usually nothing that matches the look and feel of the 50 Summilux ASPH. I can say that I love lenses like the ones I just mentioned just as much but they all give a different look, feel and color signature. The Zeiss lenses POP more with punchy color, the Voigtlanders offer duller color and sharp results with a Bokeh all of their own and the Leica Lux has its own signature as well.
While not as crisp as it was on the M9, the 50 lux still has an etheral quality about it with a certain way that it transitions from in and out of focus when shot at a wide open aperture of 1.4. This is a “lifetime lens” and while I have owned a few and sold a few I always gravitate back to it. These days I have a few 50’s – this Lux and some classic glass that gives me the old school charm but for everyday use? The 50 Lux is hard to beat.
I’ve shot only a few images with my M over the past week but all with the 50 Summilux ASPH. Mine came from Ken Hansen, and he has plenty in stock in black or silver. You can e-mail him here if you are looking for any Leica glass.
I also think the M waiting list is starting to dwindle so you may want to ask him about that as well 🙂 You can also pick up an M (or preorder without deposits) at The Pro Shop, PopFlash.com.
A little Birdy told me that the Pro Shop has a Leica M 240 IN STOCK right now. btw.
Click the images for larger views. Enjoy your Sunday!
From RAW at f/2 – 97 year old “Sir Jack Leslie” who mingled with us during the Olympus E-M1 event. He is the one who owns the castle.
Same shot as above but converted to B&W using a Tri-X 400 preset
Thomas Leuthard – Amazingly good street shooter – see his blog HERE (he shoots an OMD)
This Radiator was shot at 1.4 and ISO 2500
At 1.4 this lens is sharp as you will ever need while giving you the “Lux Look”
International Travel Essentials – Ona Brixton, Cole Haan Shoes, and Rimowa Topas Luggage 🙂
RIP Sir Jack Leslie !! The first guy in the first pic.
That should have been a reply to what Walt posted above. Sorry.
While it seems top be true that the M has the better dynamic range, the M9 images are far off what you describe here. There is plenty of information in highlights and shadows. I think you should have worked your M9 better or shot raw instead of jpeg. If you need reasons to ease your mind having paid so much for a new M look elsewhere. There are reasons. But i can also say that in comparison the images with M9/50 Lux look crisper than on the M. That is only of interest if you are looking very critical. The images are far from being soft with the new M. Still, many prefer the 50 cron on the new M. Makes sense, cause the lens might give you better resolution and ISO capabilities on the new M are often times a good workaround for shooting at 1.4 (if light is your limiting factor).
Steve, thanks for the informative articles and please keep them coming.
I have an m9 and love the pop I get with my 50 lux. The way the subject is separated from the background, in a way I could never get with my Nikon camera/lens setup. I’m very tempted by the m240, but I’m a little worried that I will be giving up that crispness that I love, in exchange for dynamic range, live view and a better shutter action. I can live without all those other things (even though it would be bice to have them) but I cannot live without that unique look that my Leica M9 gives me over my dslr’s. Does the m240 really lose that crisp separation that that m9 has, or is it just the usual new release worries?
Steve, it’s great to visit your website (as always). I am a happy owner of the Leica M9 and a portfolio of Leica lenses 50 Summilux ASPH included, and you are correct that for some of us it is a perfect one lense to own. I am not sure, however, if you are telling “the whole truth but the truth”. Leica M is a rangefinder and one of the great benefits of using it is to take advantage of the hyperfocal distance that it offers. However, this and other options (e.g., pre-focusing from 3m to infinity) is possible with the use of the lense that has a 35mm or a lesser focal distance only. In other words, when using Summilux 50mm you nearly always must adjust the focus manually.
Sure it is, just like all Leica lenses. Only a small percentage use zone focusing, most manually focus all lenses all of the time, as do I. I use my 50 no different than I use my 35 or a 28. By manually focusing it. I may use Zone 1-2 time every few years. 🙂
All this big digital “lie” about sensors, better lenses… With all respects, We are losing ourselves in terms of photography with his consumerist society.
Just take a look and reconsider if You need that fancy lenses (I own almost all the Leica catalogue, cameras and lenses) that they’re trying to sell to us at those luxury prices.
What Leica meant before? Small package, great quality. I strongly think people forget it all the time.
If You want great quality or portrait, whatever, You could use MF cameras. Probably the 50 lux was thinking for people with a lot of money or true professionals who wants to use up until the last drop.
Regarding to all those comments about CCD, CMOS, more filmic look… so easy, use film instead of digital!
One Week ago I sold my second Monochrome, why? Is just not the same. Not talking about feelings, but film quality.
By the way, M9 and M240 are faaaar away from Provia or even C41 films like Portra or Ektar.
They did amazing job with much less.
http://www.webbnorriswebb.co/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=26&p=8&a=1&at=0 (Leica M film body probably a cron 35)
http://www.anderspetersen.se/category/selected-works/ (Contax T3)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/iphone-photography-awards_n_3757715.html (iPhone photographers)
Great shots Steve I have had the 50 lux for 2 months now and haven’t taken it off my m9 since
Funny comment. Reminded me of when Steve asked people to guess the source for a MYSTERY image. Many people guessed LEICA for the magic and dream and color.
Turned out to be a 200$ point & shoot with a 30$ lens.
I much prefer the 50 Lux to the 35 Lux on my M 240.
Just got a 21 SEM and that is a sweet lens on the 240 also…
I’m a big fun Thomas Leuthard. I would like to hear his opinion about E-M1.
He has his opinions on his blog 🙂 He likes it as well.
IWhich one do you personally prefer Black or Silver 50mm Lux?
I used to prefer silver but these days black due to weight. The Silver is heavier and I decided to just stick with black on my black M.
Hi Steve, Any issues with your M freezing? I just received mine two weeks ago. I’ve only taken it out twice but both times I had issues with the camera locking up. To resolve, I had to take the battery out. Thorsten and Diglloyd both reported this but wondering if you had the same issue. Its very annoying to buy such and expensive camera and have this happen. Any possibilities on a firmware fix?
Ive shot with three M’s and not one has ever frozen up on me. My own personal M has never ever frozen though some have said there have. Not sure why some would and others not. Could be an SD card thing again. The M9 had many issues with SD cards but in my 4 years with the M9 I never had one SD card issue. So not sure what is up as every camera should be 100% the same 🙂 I heard about a firmware update 2 months ago but not sure where that is either.
I have the same setup, including a brixton bag (but a smaller version). I feel lucky every time I have a day to shoot. Thanks Steve for all of your work.
Steve, if you really want a great experience, put the Leica 1.4X viewfinder magnifier on the M with the 50 lux. It turns the viewfinder into a 1:1 experience – shoot with both eyes open for the most liberating photo experience of your life.
I think you have owned both a black and a silver version of the 50mm Lux over the years…Which one do you favour nowadays…looking back on hindsight.
Black..due to weight.
That goes for me, too. I have quite a collection of ’50’ lenses, from a ‘lux to some russian ones, and my ‘go to’ lens has become the 50 summicron. It is small, light, and very well matched to general use.
Steve, you should say the perfect lens for you. I tried a 50 lux and returned it. I found 1.4 not really useful. The depth of field was too narrow for portraits and I rarely shot it wide open when out and about, especially in daylight. I got a 50mm Summicron instead and found it ideal for me. You are not wrong and I am not right. It is just personal preference at that level.
I love the last photo!
Concerning … the Brixton bag 🙂 …. it looks cool, but don’t you find to too heavy?
The bag is not heavy at all and I only use it for travel, as in when I have to fly. It hold my laptop, my iPad mini, my camera, lenses, chargers, cards, accessories. It has everything I need for during the flight (Laptop and iPad) to when I get to my hotel. I use a small bowery bag for home use that holds one camera and usually 1-2 lenses. The Brixton is smaller than my previous travel bag from A&A, superb bag and top quality construction that I prefer to Billingham and Fogg. (Ive owned both long term). So far the Brixton is doing fantastic (for travel).
Do you use the Bowery in leather as well? A few months ago I bought one in cotton and like it because of its weight. Still I like the look of the leather one.
“..International Travel Essentials..” ..you’re turning into Thorsten ‘von’ Overgaard, Steve!!
Lol…yea, I posted that for this reason, to see if anyone would say that! In fact though, I am the opposite of Thorsten in these areas. I do have the nice single suitcase/luggage, and my shoes were bought at 60% off at an outlet store. What is actually essential is a pair of jeans, a tshirt and a camera 🙂 The rest is just luxury fluff, but nice sometimes.
LOL! That’s funny. Anyway, both of you make great pictures and are highly enthusiastic. And thanks for all the hardwork on this site, I’ve always enjoyed coming here.
Sir Jack Leslie looks great – not depending on any camera. But the rather unfair comparison of this images with the ones you yield from the new olympus, the Leica is in its very own class. The olyp files look linical, flat, desaturated and do not have a magic even when razor sharp. I am a Olymous E510 shooter.
Thanks! Well yea, the Leica is full frame and costs $11k for that set (one camera, one lens). The Olympus is $1399 plus a 25 1.4 would run $500 so $1800 vs $11000..I would hope there is a difference 🙂 if sony releases the FF camera then we will see what happens with the Leica. A 50 Lux on a FF sony should in theory by quite special.
that one shot by EM1 with 45mm F1.8 the view is different and the 4:3 format is higher,that is why you feel flat.I think if he shot a photo by EM1+25mm 0.95 without exif info and let people to gueess,I think lots of people get wrong answer.
Yes, I wish I had the 25 0.95 with me for this shot. If so I would have taken two shots, one with each. Would have been interesting. 🙂
Comparing another high-quality camera with a Leica M, the difference between a flat file and one with added dimension has far more to do with the quality, quantity, and direction of light than it has to do with a non-Leica camera vs a Leica camera.
So true in my exoerience.
The Leica M9’s CCD sensor renders in a different way than the CMOS based sensor in the M. CCD’s randomizes it’s pixel dumping while CMOS dumps all of it’s info into the sensor in a linear way. Both have it’s limitations and areas of excellence. Just so happens that the CCD looks crisper and more “filmic” due to it’s nature, but CMOS tend to have more neutral colors, MUCH better noise handling and lower power consumption. For these reasons, Leica choose CMOS technology to design a sensor that competes well with modern cameras on more of a prosumer level.
I have been shooting with an M9 since day one and recently started using an M240. In my experience the M240 is far more filmic. The M9 has very (digital) abrupt highlight transitions, not unlike a point-and-shoot. Once highlights are blown there’s no redemption. The M240 has a much broader dynamic range and tonal scale allowing for very elegant, film like rendering.
While I can appreciate describing the greater dynamic range and tonal scale of the CMOS sensor as “filmic” it does seem a bit like a euphemism. To be honest, I don’t think many would describe CMOS rendering of sensors in Leica, Nikon or Canon as particularly “filmic”.
If anything about the m240 could be described as filmic it might be that it is less crisp than the M9, but even that seems a stretch.
All in all the greater dynamic range seems to mean that M240 files have a greater tendency to look HDR like, and the rendering seems to have a somewhat glossy shine to it with less crispness. None of these characteristics can really be called “filmic”.
The M240 does other things very well though, especially when “filmic” isn’t part of the look that you go for. High iso and much more playroom in post as well as obvious advantages in the ergonomics department seem to be well worth the loss of a little crispness or filmicness for many.
Since you had the opportunity switch back and forth between your M and the latest OMD kit, can i ask you whether it’s possible to get something close to a Leica “look” with a combination like an EM5 and the 25/1.4? Or, are they so different, the question just doesn’t make sense?
I like to think some of the similarities I see are the reason I like the OMD so much, but I haven’t had a chance to compare directly.
An OMD with Voigtlander 25 0.95 can get very close as long as you are not a 100% pixel peeper.
I will get this comb instead of my OM1+50mm F1.4
Thanks Steve, that’s a combination I’ve been meaning to try. Now I’ve got no excuse not to give the Voigtlander a go.
BTW, I really liked that one monochrome photo in the EM1 post with a mostly black frame and the really nice portrait of a lady. It looks like a shot where you took an artistic risk and it paid off!
Can you explain why it’s not as crisp as on the M9?
Yes, this comment left me wondering as well. A little insight would be appreciated Steve.
Without a doubt a really great lens. I like these pictures.
I went through several cameras but always kept the 50 Lux ASPH (same for my 35 Cron). It is a great lens. For a while I was used to the slightly wider field of the 35 as a standard lens but now I feel more comfortable with the tighter angle. I have to agree that on the M9 it creates crisper files. On my M they are still stunning but only at higher ISO they surpass the M9 look. D!RK