The New Leica 90 Summarit f/2.4 Lens Quick Review on the M 240
By Steve Huff
I recently posted my very positive experience with the new set of Summarit lenses from Leica. Mainly, the 35, 50 and 75. I have now finally had a chance to shoot some frames with the 90 f.2.4 and as before with the old Summarit, I love it. It continues along the same lines as the previous version but adds a closer minimum focus, an f/2.4 aperture vs 2.5 and now comes with a full Leica leather case and metal hood at no extra charge. The rendering of the lens is very nice, and leaves you wondering if you really do need that larger, heavier, more expensive Summicron!
This is not so much a full “review”, but it is sort of an “addition” to THIS 90 Summarit review (which sums up this lens just as well) and THIS recent post. Read those 1st, then come back here to read this short but sweet article.
The video I did a few weeks ago showing the Summarit lenses and the new Leica M-P Safari set.
Also, before I get started let me thank Leica Legendary Dealer Ken Hansen for sending me these lenses for review. I could not even get them from Leica, so Ken sent them my way to borrow so I can test them to see what I thought. I just packed up all of them for their way back to Ken. SO THANK YOU KEN! If you need ANYTHING Leica, be sure to EMAIL him at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him for it, he deals in NEW and USED and has it all in stock. All of it.
The New Summarit. Is it so different from the previous line?
This little and very light 90mm F/2.4 Summarit is a beautiful lens, and I admit, I am not a 90mm or telephoto guy. If I owned a 90 for my Leica it would probably be used twice a year. I prefer to shoot 21, 35 and 50 as I like to get up close and converse with my subjects. Even so, the 90 is fantastic when you want to shoot a portrait as you get NO distortion, and nice separation of your subject from the background..or as some like to call it “3D Pop”.
But what about the last 90 Summarit f/2.5? Is this lens better in image quality? No, not really..in fact, it seems about the same to me as the last 90. The new f/2.4 vs f/2.5, well, let’s just say there is really no measurable difference in that speed. Many say the old Summarit was really f/2.4 but Leica marked them as 2.5 as to not cannibalize the Summicron sales.
Where this 90 F/2.4 excels over the old 90 F/2.5 is that it is a new design, comes standard with a Leica leather case and metal hood where the previous version came with a felt baggie and the hood was a separate purchase. It is nice to see Leica upgrade these things as even though the Summarit lines is the cheapest new production lenses in the Leica lineup, they are NOT cheap! The 90 here comes in at a hefty $2350. YES, IT IS STILL A LEICA 😉
I am not a 90 guy..but I did enjoy this lens.
I know many who love and adore the 90mm Focal length though and some who call it their favorite focal length while others never touch it, especially with a Leica.
There are many shooters who love them some reach. Some do not feel comfortable getting in close to their subjects and a longer lens helps them do this without being noticed. Others use them as they would any other lens, as I do, pulling it out for that portrait or when it is needed. It will deliver the depth and pop of a good 90 though the Bokeh of this Summarit, well, I much prefer the Bokeh from the 90 Summicron. But hey, the 90 Cron is $3995, close to be double the cost of the Summarit, so you will pay for that 90 Cron creaminess if you indeed want or need it.
Even so, the 90 Summarit is fantastic.
Click images here for much better versions and to see them correctly
The 90mm focal length has long been considered the goto for portraits, and that is for many reasons. No distortion that most wider lenses will give you, nice subject pop and a good 90 will give you nice bokeh, nice detail and be just about perfect for head and shoulders type of shots or just headshots. Now the 90mm focal length is not only for portraits of course, but most of those who I know who uses a 90mm uses them for people. Others use them simply to get more reach. One thing is for sure though, Leica does not make a bad lens. Buy a summart, summicron or summilux and ALL of them will deliver what you want although they will all have a different character.
With Leica it is all about the “character” of the lens and how it renders and this is what makes them special, as there are not many lenses out there that refer quite like a good Leica lens.
As with all posts here on this website, clicking the images below will open up a much nicer and larger version, how they were meant to be seen. All images below with the Leica M-P 240 and 90 Summarit.
The entire Summarit line, for me, renders in a way that is a mix of classic, modern and everything in between. It has the sharp crisp details that Leica is known for (modern) and also gives you a bit of that classic feel without being soft or too “vintage”. I’d say 80% modern, 20% classic. My time with the 90 was short as I rarely use a 90 but if I were a guy who loved this focal length, it would be a choice between this and the Summicron. I have owned and loved the cron, and have to say I do prefer the rendering of the APO Summicron but it is MUCH heavier, larger and expensive. This Summarit is just as good if not better than the previous summarit, and again, my review of THAT lens is HERE. It is also just as good as the old and very much loved 90 2.8 Elmarit, which is now discontinued.
Not much to say here but this 90 will give you some CA (purple fringing) as you can see below in Wyatt Earp’s hat. Even the $11,000 Noctilux has CA, as do the Summilux line. For me it doesn’t bother me but I do not shoot critical work where it needs to be printed at 60 inches wide for public display, so for me this is just part of the digital course. Many say CA is a sensor issue, others say it is the lens. But it is common in good fast lenses when shooting digital… Always has been and unless the camera itself corrects for this, it will be in your photos. It is also easily taken care of with your favorite photo editor.
The bottom line is that this version of the Summarit excels over the old version with a closer focusing distance of 0.9m, included metal hood and leather case and in use, the lens is buttery smooth to focus. I had no issues with the lens, focusing or anything.
This is a solid performer and while I did not use it a ton (again, I am not a 90 guy) I did see it’s potential. It would be very tough to choose the 90 Summicron APO over this at $4000 vs $2350. But that is all personal preference. I know what I like, and for me, I prefer the 90 Sunmicron rendering but I prefer the price of the Summarit.
MY OVERALL FEELINGS ON THE SUMMARIT LINE as a WHOLE?
These lenses are beautiful, gorgeous, and the performance is what yo would expect from a Leica lens. Just because they are considered the “starter” or “budget” line does not mean they are sub-par. The 50 is my favorite summarit followed by the 35 and then 75. The 90 is my least favorite simply because I am not a 90mm shooter. The lenses are ALL fantastic, and one could never go wrong with any of the Summarit lenses. You will save some cash, and have some of the most beautiful and compact lenses ever made.
5 STARS for all of these because for the price, for the name, you are getting great performance at a much better price than normal.
WHERE TO BUY
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