A taste of the Leica 50 APO on the Sony A7s

A taste of the Leica 50 APO on the Sony A7s

Many have been asking me “when is your part 2 of the Leica 50 APO coming out”?!? To be honest, I have been so busy with other cameras and lenses that this one has fallen to the wayside. I felt that my part 1 review of the 50 APO was quite complete in what I wanted to say about it. Quite simply, it is the finest 50mm lens I have ever tested or owned, and it is one of 2-3 lenses that bring out the best of the Leica M 240 or M-P (others are 21 Elmar and 90 APO).

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I have been using it here and there on the Sony A7s with the Voigtlander adapter and it holds up just as well on the Sony with gorgeous color (the main signature of the APO) and sweet sharpness. What I mean by “sweet” sharpness is that the lens is sharp on the M and Sony but not in any kind of clinical or harsh way…at all. It has all of the ingredients of a legendary lens. Sharp, no distortion, no flare issues, VERY low CA and outstanding color. These ingredients bring the images to life no matter the camera though I feel it does its best on the M 240 or M-P or MM.

My part 2 review will be up within 2-3 weeks (first will be the Sony 16-35 lens review) using the Sony A7s but for now I wanted to show a couple of files so you get an idea of how gorgeous this lens can do on the Sony A7s. This lens is insanely expensive and is in reality a “statement” piece from Leica to say “look what we CAN do”. The lens has jumped in price since launch to over $8,000. It is tiny, it is built to Leica standards and it is a modern-day marvel of optical quality. The 50 Lux ASPH can not compete with it in any area of optical quality and that 50 Lux ASPH is considered a legend as it is. (It is also half the price of the 50 APO).

As for the Sony 55 1.8, I will be doing another side by side using the A7s. The under $1000 Sony vs the $8000 Leica. Will we see $7k difference? No. I do not think so. I have used both lenses extensively and the Sony/Zeiss is fantastic. The Leica is better (for color and character especially) but with Leica you pay the price for jewel like build, small size, and stellar optics. Just how it is and always will be. I will also pit it against the Voigtlander 40 2.8 that I recently reviewed. Should be fun 🙂

See my part 1 review of the 50 APO here, and an extension of that HERE. Part 2 soon!

A couple of dealers may have one of these in stock. If you want one, check Ken Hansen, The Pro Shop or PopFlash.com 

Sony A7s – Click this image for larger..

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Click this one to see the true 100% crop

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and a couple more…

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one at ISO 3200 and zero NR

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38 Comments

  1. I recently purchased the 50 APO and love it. I find that I have to do very little post processing other than to crop and straighten. I also have an M240 as well as an A7R but I have not purchased an adapter for the A7. I’d be interested in your comments when you do your analysis with the lens on these cameras if it is easier to get critical focus on eyes and faces with the A7 EVF focus peaking as compared to the rangefinder on the M240.

  2. Steve, you are saying that the 50lux aspherical “cannot compete with it in any area of optical quality.” Please show us some comparisons that this statement is based on. I spent a few minutes shooting some informal comparisons of my 50lux aspherical with a 50Apo at the Leica store and my test was inconclusive. There is only one other person I know personally, who compared the two lenses both at f2, and he also feels that the difference is negligible. I have a 50Apo on order and I just turned down the first call to pick one up at the old price because I have honestly not seen any direct comparison that justifies the price over the 50lux aspherical. Even if it is a subtle difference, please show it to us. I am sure I am not the only Leica user, who is interested in a direct comparison.

    • I have done these comparisons – Lux has cooler and duller color, is softer in general and is not as good with sharpness across the frame. It’s larger as well. The Lux is fantastic, a legend. But the 50 APO trounces it in all areas. This does not make the Lux a bad lens, it is one of the best 50’s ever made, now the 2nd best ever. But of course the 50 APO will beat it otherwise there would be no 50 APO made. This is also why it costs what it does. The best 50mm lens in the world. I no longer own a Lux and the APO is one of those lenses that when you use one for a while, and you go back to your old 50..well..you are disappointed. In other words, the 50 APO will spoil you. Maybe I can rent one to do a comparison but the 50 Lux is a couple hundred just to rent for a few days. We will see.

      • Thanks, Steve. I didn’t realize that you don’t own the 50lux aspherical any longer. My 50lux is the LHSA brass version and I sent it to Leica for focus calibration (they actually shimmed it). It is spot on in all aspects. Please take a look at my post on the Leica forum. You might see that the 50Apo definitely doesn’t “trounce” my 50 lux. I use a calibrated Eizo monitor and the color is very similar. An f2 lens should as a rule perform better than an f1.4 lens at the same aperture, but I cannot look at my results and pretend that I see any difference that would justify giving up my 50lux. I am still struggling with the decision to buy or pass on the Apo. I would love for you to take a look and get your opinion. Thanks.

        http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-m-lenses/335873-results-informal-test-50-apo-vs.html

        • My 50 APO trounced two 50 Lux ASPH’s when I compared them twice in 2014. Was no contest. Corners were soft on the Lux, colors were cooler and duller and the APO had more fine detail/microcontrast. The APO is indeed a more corrected lens, with biting sharpness across the frame and superb color which gives the images using it an almost medium format look. It’s a special lens, but so is the Lux ASPH. In a perfect world I would own the APO, Lux ASPH and Noct. 😉

  3. Hey Steve,

    I’m curious as to how the 50mm Summilux ASPH works on the A7 series. It’s a lens I’ve always wanted because I love the look of it, but I’ve heard mixed things about its performance on the A7 series. Just curious to know your thoughts on the combo.

    Thanks for your posts sir!

    Thanks!
    Nick

      • Thanks for your input Steve. Always appreciated. I’ve been debating with myself heavily over whether or not to spring for a 50mm Summilux or wait on Loxia. My thoughts were to grab the summilux and use my 55mm 1.8 when I want super sharpness as to have two nice counterpoints on my A7.

      • Sorry Steve I thought the voigtlander adapter was only to be used with voigtlander lenses otherwise it would void the warranty. Maybe my recollection is wrong.

        • Sorry for not being clear I found the reference below on the warranty ….

          This adapter is manufactured for the purpose of attaching Voigtlander VM mount and Carl Zeiss ZM mount. The warranty is void when the lens except listed above is attached and cause damage or malfunction of camera/adapter/lens. Any claims or damages due to improper use of the adapter, which it was not designed for, are not covered by the warranty. For detail, please refer to the list of confirmed adaptable lenses. Depending on the combination of camera body and lens used, low resolution of the edge of the picture or color cast may occur. * Optional M/L adapter ring is needed for mounting Voigtlander L mount.

        • No, it can be used with ANY M lens. Leica does not want their lenses to be used on a Sony, so they did not “approve” of this. The way they see it is that Sony may take sales away from their M, so they do not want their lenses to be used on a Sony. No damage can occur, period. An M mount is an M mount and all M lenses will work with any M to E adapter. The Voigtlander just happens to be the best one made today. There are thousands using it with Leica M lenses on their Sony.

  4. For roughly 7000 €, I can expect a super glass, but the 50 APO is not better, as the retrofocus OTUS 55 for, half of the Leica price! So I must scratching my head about this difference in price!!

    • The Zeiss Otus is phenomenal but it is HUGE!! 4-5X the size of the 50 APO. For this reason I would NEVER EVER buy the Otus, even if it cost $1000. Why? I would never use it due to its size. It is also 4X the weight of the 50 APO. There is a lot to be said for small size and high performance. The 50 APO is a lens I would use daily, and take anywhere. The Otus is a beast, one that would not even fit into my bag with the camera. For some, having a tiny powerful lens that measures to perfection is well worth the extra cost over a lens that is also just about perfect but much larger and heavier (with a much thicker adapter needed as well).

      But yes, the Zeiss Otus is half the cost, so for many, this will be a preferred buy. Those who do not care about size or weight. If the Otus was 3X smaller, that would have been my choice for a 50 😉

    • NO, not in the same league at all and I wrote that review 😉 The E-P2 and 20 is a great little combo, but it does not compete with the 50 APO for color, for detail, for bokeh, shallow DOF possibilities (on full frame) or across the frame perfection.

  5. i would really appreciate a shot of the A7s with the 50 APO attached. I really need to see a pic of the combo pleas.Thank you.

  6. It’s a dream lens but… so expensive 🙁
    For ordinary mortals, has anyone tested Zeiss ZM lenses on the A7s? 50s, 35s? 18?

    • Fabien, I am shooting with the Zeiss 2/50 Planar ZM and a Zeiss 2.8/28 Blogon and to be honest both are spectacular on it. The 50 Planar is absolutely gorgeous to shoot with on the A7s . I’ll be taking that over the 55mm FE to a friends wedding tomorrow as a one lens on a camera option. I am looking for a 35mm and looking at the Zeiss ZM 2.8/35 or the 2/35 or the Leica Summarit 2.4 when it is available.

    • Yes, I’ve used the Zeiss 50mm f1.5 on the A7S.

      It gives the same results – as I see it, anyway – as it does on, say, the M9 (any big surprise there?) ..except that it’s far easier to get accurate focus on the A7S by using focus magnification and focus peaking. No “focus drift” as on the M9. That makes it – at last – an acceptable lens ..except for the horrible chrome ring on the front of it, which I disguise with a lens hood.

      Otherwise, I use an old Leica 21mm f3.4 or Voigt 21mm on the A7S (no vignetting with either of them) and a Voigt 15mm, and the Sony 55mm f1.8, plus assorted telephoto lenses – AND the autofocus Zeiss/Contax lenses for the Contax G2: small and sharp, particularly the 90mm as a handy short telephoto. But I’m waiting for the proposed 24-240mm to (supposedly) arrive in February.

      • Thanks a lot for your answers Colin and David.

        I just tested the 50 1.5 this last Sunday on my A7s and the results are beautiful. Actually, I even prefer the Zeiss rendering and the colors over the 50 Lux. Just a matter of taste. I don’t see the point of spending so much for Leica glasses anymore, except for the built maybe… but still Zeiss built is good enough.

    • For between $500-800 you could get an excellent condition copy of the stunning Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 (I recommend the ‘PG’ version). The build quality is second to none as is the optical. At f/1.2 it has very narrow depth of field and has this swaddling effect on your subject. By f/2 it schools my Zeiss Planar 35mm in every way, and that is a very hard lens to beat in terms of sharpness, contrast and color. If bokeh is what you’re after without a compromise in sharpness, color, and dimension, look no further than the 58mm Rokkor. I use it on my A7R and A7RII and, out of my 30+ lenses (Leica, Zeiss, Oly Zuikos, etc), find it to be my favorite. Once you look through the viewfinder with that lens attached, you’ll fall in love. I’ve posted on my own website plenty of photos using that lens on the Sony. Here a link to get you started if you’re interested: http://outfor30.com/2015/09/16/thinking-shallow/
      There are a number of other posts on the site dedicated exclusively to that lens. ‘Shooting Junk with Junk’, ‘Lazy Day’, and ‘Dirt’, to name a few. Other posts have some shots using it a well. You’ll see it in the caption.

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