The Phoenix Comicon. Portraits with the Leica M, 50 APO and Alien Skin Exposure 6.


The Phoenix Comicon. Portraits with the Leica M, 50 APO and Alien Skin Exposure 6.

Hey guys, I know it is only a few days after I posted Part 1 of the Leica 50 Summciron APO review but I just wanted to sit down and write-up a quick photo article as I just got in from shooting the M 240 and 50 APO at the Phoenix Comicon and once again, the lens continues to impress me when used on the M 240. Take this as a companion to part one of the review. Part 2 is still to come! 

Make sure you click on each image to see it larger. A few of these have a filter applied (where noted) using the new Alien Skin Exposure 6 film filter set. I have used Alien Skin Exposure since Version 1 and love it. You can download a free trial of the new Version 6 HERE.

Shooting the 50 APO on the M is a dream. The focus is easy and I used the Rangefinder 100% of the time. Take a look at the image below which was shot wide open, all natural light. A quick grab shot and it has that medium format look. This was shot in the sun at 2PM in Phx, AZ so you know it is harsh light. This combo did excellent. 1st a B&W conversion, and 2nd, direct color out of the M 240.



Again, the color is superb. Add to that the sharpness without being harsh or analytical and you have a winning combo. I used the Alien Skin Exposure 6 Astia preset for this one. 


Click the images to see them larger, PLEASE! They look much better 😉 The detail in the full size shot of this one is amazing. To see that full size, click the image below (open in new window for best view)


The Bokeh of the 50 APO is ethereal with some similarities to the Noctilux (when the Noct is at f/2 or so). For this one I used an Alien Skin filter but can not remember which one. There are so many to choose from and it is fun just experimenting with them all. 


1st…Here is an OOC JPEG, cropped. The 2nd is using a film filter from VSCO. Not Alien Skin but VSCO, which is a bit different as it applies the filter to the RAW file itself.



Had some shade for this one..again a B&W conversion using the new Alien Skin Exposure 6 (I have used Alien Skin since Version 1, and love it). Below it the color version. 



Again, the harsh problem even with the high contrast of the 50 APO.


Beautiful detail, tones and color once again in less than perfect light. I do not use flashes, ever. 


Every one of the images here were shot at f/2, wide open where this lens is designed to be shot. In fact. I am not seeing more sharpness at f/4. You just lose the oh so slight vignette that is there at f/2.


Two girls having fun taking a selfie with a dude wondering why I am taking their picture 😉 He looks confused. 


As hundreds were in line shuffling in I was snapping images from anyone who looked my way. Alien Skin B&W filter without the noise added.


A Mother and Son who were exited for the event. I wish they had these events when I was young, my Mom would have so taken me in costume!


This guy asked ME to take his image..


There were tens of thousands of people at the event. I believe there was an estimated 70,000 there on Saturday. Next year I am going for all three days and hanging out for a few hours a day. Not only did I get to see some cool costumes and take photos, I met a couple of other photographers as well! This couple went all out…


The color, Bokeh (see the reflection in the BG), the sharpness from edge to edge..nice. 


I meant to take a picture of the Minecraft head guy, but noticed the other kid smiling at the camera, so focused on him instead. 


In the harshest most brutal mid day Phx AZ sun…I did not use an ND filter. Used an Alien Skin Neopan filter minus the grain. 


and inside just ONE of the many sections/buildings – it was a MADHOUSE!


Inside this guy looked a little spooked when he saw me pointing the camera at him..


So there are just a few photos from my hour or two at the Phoenix Comicon. I was not prepared for the mass amounts of people so did not enjoy it inside so much but it was a blast outside. Next year I am going all three days just to hang outside. If any local Phx area shooters want to go with, let me know! Will be a blast. The M 240 and 50 APO is as one would expect, a rock solid pairing. The lens is also literally made for the Monochrom. But I will state again as I did in part one of my review for the lens…you do not need a lens of this caliber to get good photos. The old Summicron is also lovely as is the 50 Summilux. The old cron can be had for about 1/4 the price so it is up to you to decide if the perfection and qualities of the 50 APO are worth it to you in money and in the long wait required to get one.

Happy Monday!



  1. I have the strong feelings, that the very expensive Leica APO 2/50mm, needs hardly some advertisements!

  2. That lens is extremely impressive. Still, wouldn’t those (excellent) photographs be just as excellent if taken through the old Summicron or the Summilux?

    I think Steve got it right in his introduction to part 1 in that these tools really are incredible, really are worth what they cost, but are in no way necessary. Most Leica users at least could afford this lens if they really wanted it. I know I could as evidenced by the four Leica lenses in my cabinet which combined are worth more than the new APO 50. Of course having the APO 50 instead would mean forgoing 24mm, 35mm and 90mm lenses, which is not an unreasonable proposition if one was to look at the many great photographers who restrict themselves to a single lens. In such a situation, this is one hell of a single lens to be restricted to.

    Even for those fortunate enough to have this lens, there remain situations for which it is not the tool they select. Look at Ashwin Rao’s amazing work with older lenses on his M Monochrom, where the imperfections of these older optics introduce a certain character that such a perfect lens as the APO 50 cannot duplicate. Right tool for the job and all of that. A $300 Russian Jupiter 3 is far better for 1930’s style portraits than the $7000 APO 50, but the latter is far better for almost everything else, except when it isn’t.

    Roger Cicada’s recent comparison of high-end 50mm lenses was extremely interesting in that the differences between the best of the lenses tested (the APO 50 for RF and the Zeiss Otus for SLR) while better than the worst tested (which were also expensive and excellent lenses in their own right), were only better by a matter of degrees, and not in every measurement. What amazed me the most in that comparison was just how incredibly good the under $1000 Sigma ART 50 performed and how remarkably competitive the 35-year-old Summicron is with its new younger sister.

  3. Essayez avec cette orthographe : Chez steeve il serait vraiment interessant de comparer l’apo 50 avec le lux 50 asp, à f2 et biensur à f1,4 pour voir la différence de floue d’arriere plan et de 3 D pop
    Dear Steeve it would be really interesting to compare the apo 50 lux with 50 asp, and of course f2 f1, 4 to see the difference of bokeh back up and 3 D pop

  4. Do not understand what means “I did not use an ND filter. Used an Alien Skin Neopan filter minus the grain.
    You mean that you did not use a ND filter, but use an Alien Skin Neopan filter? Is Alien Skin Neopan filter better than ND filter you once introdued before?

    • You seem to be getting some things confused. The question refers to an optical ND filter that cuts down the light. The commenter was asking whether Steve needed an ND filter in order to shoot the 50Apo wide open in bright daylight. The Alien Skin Neopan filter is a software plugin preset Steve used to turn the color picture into a black and white and give it a specific curve, grain, and sharpening.

      • This is what I am confused. If Alien Skin Neopan filter is a software, not a physical filter, before Steve treats PS or LR onto photo, it should be already over exposure.

      • Yes, I am confused. The Alien Skin Neopan filter is just software, could not help lens wide open in huash sunshine to avoid over explore. So, only one reason which let Steve could avoid uing a ND filter – the f2 is not big enough and M240 still has high speed shutter to avopid over explore.

        • I did not use an ND filter, which is a physical filter that one would use for daylight shooting at wide apertures. I did use Alien Skin Exposure, which has nothing to do with an ND filter for the “look” of the image. 🙂

          • Steve, thanks for explanation. If you did not use a ND filter and put aperture at wide open at f2, looks like M240 shutter speed is fast enough.
            Thanks for this review, these photos so far are the best ones you shot by using M240. Let me think about if need to backorder a 50/F2 APO. Very good lens, very nice photos!

  5. I enjoyed Alien Skin 5, but I must say I was rather disappointed to learn that it doesn’t work with Mavericks.

      • Oh darn it, I meant V4. Which isn’t THAT old. Or am I just being petty? I just think a product I bought two years ago shouldn’t require a paid update at this point.

  6. This lens and the Noc 0.95 seem to work best on this camera, the Lux lenses to me at base ISO are far better on M8 and M9 by a long way, the other problem is you looking at 14,000+ which would I think eliminate 98% of your readers. Let face it you have to be rich for this combo.

  7. Nice work showing what the combo can do. Do I understand correctly that you did not use an ND filter on any of the outdoor shots?

    The Alien filters look much better than the one VSCO example. The VSCO result looks like something I’d get if I underexposed the shot and tried to save it by pulling up the shadow detail. A correctly exposed film shot would look clean.

    Best regards

  8. Steve,

    Great images. What advantage do you see in using Alien Skin over SilverEFX Pro for B/W conversion?



    • I’ve just always preferred it for its ease of use. It’s presets are great and tweaking them is super simple. The interface is nice and it just works well. Always preferred it to Silver Efex and Color Efex but everyone has different tastes. Best thing to do is download the free trial and give it a shot and mess with it. I like creating my own presets.

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