The Leica 50 Summicron f/2 APO Lens Review Part 2 – Leica SL
By Steve Huff
Ever since shooting the $8,000 Leica 50 APO on the Leica M 240 a year and a half ago I have been smitten by this tiny, compact and amazing performing 50mm lens. I have never experienced a 50mm quite like it and it was the ONLY LENS I used on the M 240 (and I used them all) that made the camera perform on another level than it normally does. The color, the contrast, the pop, the details, the smooth bokeh that is reminiscent of classic and modern, the super smooth slide out hood, the complete lack of distortion and CA, the ability to turn 35mm full frame into what starts to look like Medium Format.
I have never used any lens like the 50 APO as it has the ability to bring out the best of your sensor when used on the Leica M 240 or SL. When used on the Sony A7s and A7SII it is equally as amazing but on the A7RII it does suffer from soft edges and a tad bit of softness in general when compared to using it on the A7S or a Leica. I will show you a side by side later on down in this review of just that.
50 APO, f/2, SL. Love the way this lens and camera does B&W. MUST click the image to see it the way it was meant to be seen.
But let’s be clear, this lens is made for a Leica. Also, it is better than my photo abilities and skills, and would probably remain so for the rest of my life. 🙂 At this price, it SHOULD be reserved for real pros who earn income from their photographs, well, that is how I would expect it to be, but us enthusiasts also love it as many of us dream about this beautiful hand constructed 50mm masterpiece. I think many of us WANT IT simply because of the claim it makes…BEST 50 IN THE WORLD. Some even say BEST production lens in the world, period.
The Color. The Rendering. The Buttery Smooth Bokeh. Leica SL + 50 APO
If you missed my review of this lens on the Leica M, check HERE. Then click HERE to see some shots on a Sony A7s (gorgeous rendering). Then see more of it on the M when I shot some COMICON photos.
This lens as shot on the M 240.
The 50 APO and the M 240 are a perfect match, without question, best lens I have used on the M 240, ever. More of these are at my Comicon report HERE. Had great lighting that day as well!
OK, so here we go!
This Part 2 review will mainly go into how it does on the SL, Leica’s new, and IMO, best ever digital camera (and my camera of the year 2015). The SL is a marvel for SO MANY reasons. It is so hard to convey in words and the fact is, no one will really “get it” until they use one for a day or two and use it with M lenses as well as the native 24-90. Then you will say “Holy Shit, this is amazing in all ways”.
As of today, December 21st 2015, the SL is my #1 go to daily camera with a 28 Elmarit M lens and the 50 APO with a 90 APO to be added soon (when I can afford it). No camera, even the M, has given me as much joy of use as this SL. It truly is like shooting a Mini S Typ and the EVF WILL SPOIL YOU, it really will. But hey, we are here to talk about the 50 APO on the SL, so let’s get to some samples!
This shot was taken at night, in my home. The only light source was the one behind Debby and the one above her, in my Kitchen. So indoor Kitchen lights. Shot at f/2, this is pretty damn good for the circumstances.
YOU MUST CLICK IT to see it correctly!
…and a quick and dirty B&W conversion, just by sliding down the saturation, no filters or tricks.
If you read the 50 APO review as used on the Leica M, you will see that it gave some of the best color, contrast and pop ever seen from the M sensor. This lens performs mostly the same way on the SL. It has striking contrast, gorgeous color, and sharpness anywhere you need it. Again, click on the image below of this CD cover and marvel at the detail. bokeh, color..and keep in mind, this is out of camera as shot at night in my Kitchen, with my nasty Kitchen lights. The AWB nailed this, and the lens brought out the amazing pop of this lens.
CLICK IT! Shot at f/2 wide open, where this lens LOVES to be shot. In fact, it is optimized for f/2 and I would NEVER shoot this lens at f/8 as that would be a crime. IN fact, once you get to f/8 diffraction will lower your IQ, so stay with f/2-f/4 for the best IQ and character.
Using an ICE LIGHT 2 that I am testing, I shot this with the light at its lowest output setting in a totally dark room. ISO 4000, f/2, JPEG
Details and Bokeh. Look at the detail where I focused (crop can be seen when clicked on) and look at the silky smooth bokeh. No, the 50 Lux can not do this, I tried.
It will cost ya!
The Leica 50 APO lens price sounds absurd to 99.9% of those who love photography. Some get mad about this lens as I see some saying “My 50 1.4 Nikon can do this”, or “My 50 Lux beats the APO”…this happens with people due to the cost of the lens. The high price makes some out there get negative and mad without even realizing what it took for Leica to even release this lens. This lens was a nightmare for Leica early on. HUGE amounts of finished lenses would be thrown in the dumpster as they were not perfect. A much higher number of lenses were thrown out than kept and Leica was probably starting to regret ever having this lens made. The 1st batch sold had flare issues, and had to be corrected yet again by Leica. Today though, all new 50 APO’s sold are perfect, or at least they should be. Leica has the production of this lens down by now, without question. Mine is distortion proof, artifact proof, flare proof and gives me the same bite and color in any light I use it in. It’s a special lens for sure.
It was also a statement piece from Leica to tell everyone “This is the best lens we can make at this time, period”. Coming from the king of optics, Leica, we knew it had to be special but I am a big fan of the old 50 Summicron, which I still adore.
But when side by side the color difference between the two is MASSIVE. The micro details with the APO are just not there in the standard, the Bokeh of the old version was considered by MANY to be awful. I never had an issue with it but it could get busy in some situations. Not the APO. This lens has the best of everything, and while we do not get the classic slight bokeh swirl of a Summilux at f/1.4 we do get a unique rendering that is very pleasing to the eye.
Many I know who own it call it “BUTTER”.
The rendering is just so nice. I shot these roses at a gravesite and added some Vignetting myself for effect. The 2nd shot, again, in my home at night! The color, bokeh and details are incredible.
This lens was designed by Peter Karbe. A genius and IMO, probably the best and coolest lens designer in the world. See the video below where he talks about the 50 APO. Then click here to read an interview with him by Thorsten Overgaard where they discuss the details (and Thorsten’s skepticism) of the 50 APO.
The old 50 Summicron was designed by Mandler and is one of his last designs. It is also a legendary lens that has stood the test of time again and again, always considered at the top of the 50mm heap. It has a way of shooting poeple and portraits that borders on magical at times, if your lighting is just right. With the new 50 APO, it seems any light is OK as this lens takes what you aim it at, and somehow, even in the worst of light makes it look great. It is a huge step up from the old version but even so I still love the old one as it gives a totally different rendering.
1st image – in my office, no light on, at night. Only light source is my display. I shot this at ISO 2000 on the SL with the 50 APO at f/2. Click it to see how smooth it is, how fantastic the color rendering is, and how it just looks so good, even at ISO 2000 without any noise reduction. Must click it!
This is my dog Olive sitting in a light patch that was coming in from my window. For this I converted to B&W and enhanced contrast more to give a striking look. I missed perfect focus on this one as she was moving her head..
Using the 50 APO on the Leica SL was a treat. No rangefinder to worry about (going out of alignment) so nailing focus was pretty easy (unless you are trying to focus on something that is moving, then the 24-90 would be perfect) with that massive bright beautiful EVF (which should be on all cameras today) I managed to use no peaking, peaking and magnification and nail photos. The best method though for me, using a manual lens is using the magnification. It will ensure you nail focus every time. I maybe missed focus on 1 out of 10 shots using no peaking, and maybe 1 out of 20 using peaking. By comparison, using it on an M you can get 100% in focus shots if your RF is in alignment. If it is not you have to learn tricks on how to nail focus and it’s a hassle and rarely works, until your M’s RF is fixed. So on the SL this lens is a joy to use. Never frustrating.
More 50 APO..all should be at f/2. Click them for larger versions.
But who would pay $8k for this lens when a 50 Lux is less than half price?
That is the question and to be 100% honest, this lens will not make anyone a better photographer. As I said, it goes beyond my skill set but I still love the lens. Do I need it? NO WAY. Would the older 50 cron do me just as good? Sure, as I no longer shoot pro for money. My main shooting these days, personal shooting, consists of family, trips, friends, etc. Something my Sony RX1000 IV is perfect for. So why do I have a 50 APO? Because I love camera gear, lenses, and many of you do as well. We know we do not “need” an item such as this, but we “want” it and wanting something like this is dangerous!
Luckily there have been special prices on this lens recently. Overstock cleared out three of them at $6000 last week (see post here) and you can find special prices every now and then on PopFlash.com or by emailing Ken Hansen. I received mine, new in box, as part of a trade deal I did with Ken Hansen because there is no way I could just part with $7-8K for a lens like this. The mental strain would be awful as I would constantly be saying to myself “Why did you buy this…you do not need an $8000 lens”!!! Lol.
With that said, shooting with and owning this lens is a special thing. I feel blessed to actually own it, along with my other gear (SL, A7RII, RX100, RX1, etc) and I know that one day wether that is tomorrow or next year, I will get a shot using this lens that I will want to frame, and then it will make it all worth it. Hell, the joy I get from it is massive and I do indeed prefer it to the 50 Summilux ASPH I just traded towards it in all ways, though I still love the 50 Summilux.
LENSRENTALS.COM TESTED THE TOP 50’s, and here is what they found..more HERE. The 50 APO beats the others..OTUS, SIGMA ART and more..so no, the Sigma or Otus or any other 50 does not technically match the smallest of them all, the 50 APO.
Leica has a way of making you want ALL of their lenses. If I had 10 million in the bank I’d buy them all, and just put them in a shelf/case to use when I wanted. But as it is, I will be happy with my 28/50 and eventually my 90 cron when I can get it.
I know of over 10 who own this 50 APO and all of them love it and say its a lifetime keeper. Many prefer it to the Noctilux as the Noct look is magical but must be used sparingly otherwise your images start looking the same and you may start relying on the 50 Noct bokeh to make your images stand out (many do this). I feel shooting a lens like a 50 f/2, any version, will make you think about composition more than a Noct as with the Noct your main effect is blowing out anything but your subject. While it is a cool effect, once you shoot it daily for 2 weeks you will tire of that look. With a lens like this, the 50 APO, that will never happen. This is a legend already. A classic even today just a few years after its release. There is today, no 50mm like the 50 APO from Leica. Many may claim there is, or that their 50 can do the same but they really have no clue as you can’t until you use it. Put this lens in the hands of someone who can do magic with it and it will create magic.
if you have the cash and want a special 50mm for your M or SL, I’d go for the 50 APO hands down. If you do not have the cash, the 50 Lux, old 50 Cron or even the Zeiss 50 Planar can do the trick. All three of those have completely different rendering and I know a couple people who own them all and use them all. The 50 APO is about having the best 50 ever made, and I agree that it most certainly is the best 50 ever made so far. Yes, better than the big DSLR Zeiss Otus.
CLICK the images for larger and better!
The 50 APO is like going from full HD 1080 to 4K
Quick Test By Request: The 50 APO on the SL and A7RII…
Sure, you can use the 50 APO on the Sony A7s and A7SII and get results up there with using it on a Leica. On the A7RII though the edges softness is there when shooting an image that would require sharp corner to corner performance such as a landscape at infinity. On the A7RII I’d take the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 over the 50 APO as you may get better results in most areas.
Many asked me to do this comparison, so here it is. One landscape, and a couple of more normal shots.
Take a look below at two landscape style shots that I snapped. One with the SL and 50 APO and one with the A7RII and 50 APO. NO, these are not scientific as I do not do that for so many reasons. These are basically shots where I put the APO on one camera, aimed and shot and then did the same with the other. I was only testing here for soft edges, to see if it was an issue on the A7RII with the 50 APO. I’d love to see something from Sony like an A9 PRO that steps up the build, adds weather sealing, provides an EVF like the one in the SL and offers perfect performance for M glass, as the A7 series could be an amazing platform for M glass. They are almost there..and I feel like they will release a PRO body soon that aims at the SL. Just a hunch.
OK, here are the two quick shots. Take it for what it is. A shot with each camera using the same lens, same aperture.
YOU HAVE TO CLICK THEM to see the crops correctly.
1st up the Leica SL shot. Click it.
Then the Sony A7RII shot..click it.
You can see the soft corners on the Sony shot, and this is not a fault of the Sony, it is because this is an M lens adapted to be used on a camera it was not made for. Each generation of Sony A7 (now on Gen 2) improves on the M lens experience. As for now, the SL wins this one when using the 50 APO on each camera.
How about in normal shots?
Now, this is where it gets interesting. When shooting normal day to day shots of poeple, things, and generally shooting anything close in and wide open, you will not see these issues with the Sony and M lenses. Take a look:
I STILL prefer the SL colors here but you can see the lens is now usable and workable on the Sony as the issues ONLY come into play when you want sharp edge to edge performance like the shots of the landscape above.
Yea, this lens is awesome..BUT…
This lens is a stunner but it’s not something we need to take great shots. Any lens can do that as the skill lies with YOU, not the lens. The lens becomes your paintbrush and yes, having as good of a lens as you can get will make your photos look better, it is up to you what you like in a lens or camera. Many will prefer cheaper alternatives because all lenses have different characteristics but if you want buttery smooth files, bokeh and micro contrast for days..the 50 APO will get you there.
VS the Zeiss 50 Planar f/2
One of the highest rated RF M lenses by Ziess is the 50 Planar f/2 which is an alternative to the old Leica Summicron, and yes, even the APO. While not as sharp, and with busier bokeh and some barrel distortion, the Planar will never match the APO but it will get you 75% there for under $1000. Here is a comparison.
1st Image up top, the 50 APO and SL – MUST click it to see crop.
And now the Zeiss 50 Planar at f/2. Not nearly as sharp, has some distortion and the Bokeh is more nervous. But even with that, at under $1000 this is a great lens.
I will be shooting the 50 APO lens more and more and will be adding more images to this review over the next 3-4 weeks (Already added many new images since posting this a week ago). You can also check out my Leica SL gallery which will also be added to every week with the SL and all kinds of lenses. You can see that page HERE.
You can buy this lens at my preferred Leica dealers if you are interetsed:
Ken Hansen – firstname.lastname@example.org – just e-mail him with any questions!
PopFlash.com – See their website, they will sometimes have great buys on this lens!
B&H Photo – The #1 photo shop in the world!
Amazon – You can find this lens there, even with Prime shipping often.
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I know F2 is your preferred aperture for this lens but I’d be interested to see a shot or two about mid-range(5.6/8), and then compared to the Leica 50mm ASPH…would the difference really be as visible? I shoot landscapes so you can see why I’d ask.
Its clear you looove low light but really, 17 shots taken in low light inside your house/indoors and far fewer outdoors? What you choose to shoot to show off a lenses attributes is up to you but I think most folk don’t shoot the inside of their homes all day and a mix would possibly show a lenses abilities rather than narrowing the field down to shoot what you perceive its strengths are. A single landscape shot taken a wide open doesn’t cut it IMO. Perhaps though the APO 50 wouldn’t ‘be’ that much different from another high end 50 at F8 in which case why pay the difference?
As to what pros shoot with, well, I’ve been around shooters for decades and not one has ever used a Leica on a shoot, they use Canon/Nikon/Fuji etc with Fuji/Sigma/Canon/Nikon lenses. The people who buy and own Leica lenses are probably the usual suspects…Doctors/Dentists and lawyers but not ‘actual’ shooters. Your experience differs from mine widely in this.
Hope this finds you well!
I will politely beg to differ with you. I’ll leave it there because arguing about these things doesn’t help the craft progress. 🙂
Can you name some names? I’d really honestly like to know who these shooters are……
All the best,
As an actual shooter I’ve used different Leica Lenses since 1999. I use them still on my Lumix G2 and GX8.
I enjoy their quality. I also have Voigtländer and Zeiss. These perform great too.
The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten….
Yes indeed, quality lasts(almost) forever, I don’t have a quibble about the price of the APO, I’m sure its justified. I’d have to sell of some gear to get it but only if it can be justified for how I shoot/results expected.
As I mentioned I shoot landscapes, I use a tripod and often I’m out in the desert so low light ISO 65000000 wide open shooting is about the furthest thing I’d ever use this lens for, however it seems that lens reviewers universally shoot this lens at wide open in dim light at high ISOs. I did see one review of the APO on Luminous Landscapes but there was no A/B comparison which makes it really difficult to splurge $6K for a used one off Ebay.
A review of the APO and a version 4/whatever Summicron shot at what I consider ‘real world’ aperture settings for a landscape shooter would be great, this lens has been out for a while now but I’ve yet to see this type of review…..it really make me wonder ‘if’ the APO that visibly difference at smaller apertures than a ‘standard’ Summicron.
Personally a lens review without an A/B comparison is like coming across a brand new language that no-one has ever seen before….without a Rosetta Stone. Translation/comparison is damn near impossible.
All the best,
Well what a insightful report. Have myself some 50ties, some Nikkor, one Zeiss Planar 50/2 ZM. And agree that Planar ist great, And that Apo Asph makes sense. Really. Can not justified it either. Nor an Otus. For what i can see (Eyes) and shoot, that planar is good enough for me. And i can get some decent pictures whit that lens. Or in general with a rangefinder. Works for me.
Enjoy your gear! That counts 🙂
I have frequently seen guest reviewers post test images here when their flicker sites had much superior images.
The reason for their poor test images is not that they are bad photographers. They have simply chosen simple everyday things to photograph as they might feel that being artistic may be a complicating factor?
They have a new lens and limited time as the topic is hot and samples are being eagerly saught.
There is no doubt in my mind that great photographers will soon get their hands on the SL and the Apo 50 and will be producing fantastic fine art work with it for all our delectation
Some people feel that great artists are oblivious to the apparatus they use. Not always Vincent Van Gogh used to wrote to his art dealer brother Theo to send him special expensive brushes paints and new canvases to experiment with.
Now all we need is a rich photo loving relative !
Why do you need a $8000 lens just to shoot your objects (dogs, walls, backyard, and other random ones)? No offence, but if these are your main theme of photography it seems like a waste of money
You have no clue as to what you even are saying. Again, I AM A CAMERA REVIEWER. I review lenses, cameras and accessories. I have been doing this for eight years. I have 80-200,000 visitors PER DAY to read the reviews. The reviews show a variety of real world snaps as 95% of people use their cameras in this way, ESPECIALLY Leica users. I do not do reviews to showcase amazing works of art, I do reviews to showcase the character of the lens or camera, the color reproduction, the Bokeh and everything that pertains to the lens or camera. Just as with 99% of other reviews sites, I share review samples, not any PRO wrk I may or may not have done with them.
As for “needing” a lens to shoot a dog, I can shoot my dogs with my Iphone and if I want a personal shot of them, that is what I use. For lens and camera reviews though, I show a multitude of samples which as I said, most enjoy. If they did not, this site would have been dead 7 years ago.
To be clear. I REVIEW CAMERAS, LENSES and ACCESSORIES. It is my 60 hour per week job. It is my career. It is my life and my passion.
Reviews are not to showcase my work, its to showcase the product I am reviewing.
Totally agree with you Steve and I truly enjoyed the reviews of the cameras and lenses. Passion is the key to your success. And thank you so much for the good reviews on the OMD EM5 Mark II and their lenses. With your sharing, I will be moving from a Canon DSLR user to a M43 body very soon 🙂
Well, other REVIEWERS don’t just take random photos, they make an effort to take good and meaningful images to showcase the true ability of whatever gear they’re reviewing (even if it’s just taking photos of people’s daily life). Again, take no offence, just suggesting that perhaps it’d be more useful to the readers if more effort is being done in taking the sample images.
I have not seen any 50 APO reviews that better what is in my part 1 review of that lens (and mine are nothing special, but above average for reviews). Any review of that lens I have seen have had quite average if not awful or boring photos, a couple had some good shots, but nothing to write home about. In any case, I will always keep doing what I have been doing for the past 8 years here, not about to change my review style when it has been so good to me, sorry 😉
In my last post I wasn’t referring to your specific review on the APO since you were mentioning that you review camera gears and accessories etc.
Anyway, it’s your own website so I guess you can do whatever you want on it 🙂
Your excellent review encouraged me to put my Pan/Leica 25 mm f1.4 (50mm equivalent ) on my Oly EM1 and put the 12mm to 40mm pro f2.8 back on the bag and carry my poor man’s outfit around for awhile. Got these from reading your reviews a few yesrs back when EM1 was best camera of year. Would love to read your review if firmware 4.0 next quarter.
Happy holidays to you and your lovely wife/model. Feel like we know her better than you.
If I get any good food shots with above lens I’ll send in 1 or 2. Veggiepowerburgers.com eBook. I should shoot some updates.
There’s no doubt in my mind: I find this the greatest 50mm lens of all time. Lenses of this kind of “uber” level outresolve my skills as well. It’s like owning a sports car that goes around 300km/h. It really doesn’t matter anymore wether the top speed is 290 or 320. Of course we experience the sheer quality of it, without ever using its full potential, and for sure we can enjoy just owning such a marvel. But more important, IMO, a big difference still can be made in the joy of use. And in this regard, I guess this Leica wins with quite some lengths. Achieving this kind of IQ in this size/weight is just beyond anything. If I could significantly raise my budget, this would be the one for me. And combining four M-mount lenses in my bag, together with the SL, I guess won’t take more place nor weigh then my A7R2 combined with four Loxias (when there will be a zoom next to the 21 to come). Still I regret that the Leica SL doesn’t show the same “compact technology skills” as this APO Summicron does. But I reckon, since the SL is for another target group, Leica will pull another compact body out of its sleeve – most likely an M-mount body. And then they will be back where they belong. If only their price… Still the A7 series can produce images in the same category (they still win regarding resolution and ISO) and I regard their achievement of offering this IQ and possibilities in this price range and body format equally big as Leica offering this IQ in this lens format. And I’m sure that for most people (for sure it is for me) the Sony achievement is more important, due to the price range.
The quality remains long after the price is forgotten ! F.H. Royce
Great review and good examples and comparison…thx for the work.
I suppose we won’t know until it gets here, but wouldn’t is be lovely if the 50mm designed for this body gives us the APO look/quality, but with AF, and perhaps a bit more budget friendly.
How about the Zeiss Milvus on the Sony?
Hey Steve, this is a very nice review for an über-expensive 50mm lens. We are still waiting for your review of the über-affordable 50mm lens, the SLR-Magic F/1.1
Well, I would but it was recalled. I had to send it back to SLR Magic as they wanted it back due to issues with it. I will get another one soon, and when I do, I will review it.
The 50 APO is certainly a very sharp lens with terrific micro contrast and beautiful colors. And if those qualities were all that mattered in a lens, I’d pick it as my main 50. But they aren’t.
The 50 Summilux ASPH, while falling a bit behind in all of those categories — although still a stunning performer and certainly equal to or superior to almost all other 50s — has quite a bit smoother and more lush looking bokeh which is very important, at least to me, particularly for portraits.
I agree completely the 50 APO is a wonderful lens and one I’d love to own. But if I had to pick only one, regardless of price, I’d stick with the Summilux ASPH.
Maybe if I shot fewer portraits, my choice would be different.
Hi Steve, how about the new summarit 50 2.4? does it compare to this APO?
Nooooooo. NO 50 compares to the APO, truly. Rent one and you will see. Other lenses get close in some areas, but none get close in color, contrast or micro details and micro contrast. This lens is color corrected so your colors will be pretty amazing. Throw a 50 Lux, Summarit or old Cron on and your colors get duller, flatter…though while still good, when side by side they fall flat. The Summarit has some distortion (which 95% would never see), is not sharp edge to edge like the APO and lacks the bite, 3D pop and color/contrast of the APO. With that said, you would never even realize this unless you did a side by side. If you did NOT do this, you would be in love with the 50 2.4 as it is a gorgeous lens. There are no Leica 50’s that are bad. They all have their own style and character, and in the case of the APO it is the most beautiful lens Leica has ever made but it is certainly not needed, and certainly out of the range of most photographers. I see the 50 APO much more as a “WANT” than a “NEED” 😉
I feel like leica SL crop the apo50 to avoid corner-soft.
Look at a7rII pictures, they are wider.
No they are not wider. The SL does not crop a thing. If you think it is wider it may be because I moved position a bit. Both cameras produce 50mm with this lens.
Wow!!! Stunning Steve, just stunning!!!
I love your honesty enthusiasm and modesty in this review.The Apo 50 is indeed beyond most of our skill sets.If you are artistic or love great engineering -you cannot help but be seduced by this lens.It is a thing of beauty and as the poet said” a thing of beauty is a joy for ever”!
nice will all these praising words of our M-lenses on the SL, but: how will R-lenses perform on the SL?
I own four prime (35, 50, 135, 180), two zoom 35-70 and 80-200 plus even an Angenieux 45-90 for the R-system.
For the moment I use them on my 240 with adaptor and EVF.
Will you do a review of some R-lenses on the SL ?
Kind regards from Denmark….
I would love to, just have to wait for the adapter.
Steve, if I interpret these two very instructive test shots correctly (great Arizona desert landscape btw), the SL shot obviously is way sharper, and the crop is neither edge nor corner, but near the centre of the image. The A7RII shot is a lot less sharp, and the crop is slightly more off centre (not so much more that it would make a difference imo), but still not an edge nor a corner.
That the softening/blurring effect (in a landscape shot like this, but it doesn’t go away wth a different subject) shows itself so near the centre of the image I find very surprising.
I shot 6-7 of them, all were the same. It’s how the Sony is with some Leica glass. They no longer have magenta edges or issues but the softness is still there on the edges and quite far in.
Steve, on the A7RII did you use IBIS set to 50mm or was it without IBIS?
Yep..42mp vs 24 may have something to do with it. Also was it on a tripod (assume not)?
Q with this lens and matched sensor please Leica.
Maybe even monochrom.
Hi Steve the pics look good but honestly a Nikon df and a sigma art lens look just as good and minus about 12000 dollars Leica quality is great but it’s not worth 12000 more I’m sick of there prices no pro uses Leica that I know of they need workhorses Leica is really for the one percenters allot of their cameras and lenses back focus at certain apertures there’s allot more improvement required and price reduction if they’re going to survive that said I do like the design of the SL it looks like all the great German industrial design of the past 100 years just give it to me for 5 k
Actually, the Leicas are the workhorses. The fancy-pants DSLRs are for rich kids to show off with.
So Steve…how do you REALLLLY feel about it?
I bought an M…….4P. For a while it will just have to do with my piddlly little 40 Ff2 Summicon C.
I am not worthy of an SL and 50 APO.
Don’t feel bad for 40 summicron C. 🙂 Sometimes just for fun I use it on M240 and it never disappoints. Look at the shots from last weekend. The first shot is wide open at f/2 and the second at f/4.5.
Are there better lenses than this… of course. Does it matter to me? No. 🙂
Thanks, Steve. As always, very interesting. I am probably not a buyer of that “hell of a lens”, but I am teetering on the brink of upgrading my A7R with M lenses to A7RII or even the Leica SL (which would be my first “true” Leica, not counting the D-Lux-4 that meanwhile is in use by my five year old daughter).
Now I have to say I find the A7RII example pretty horifying. I guess this was shot wide open. I have to say that I have not seen such a “horrible” shot with my A7R and my ZM Planat 50mm f2, but I guess I have not shot landscape wide open (might need to try it). In fact I am pretty happy with my A7R, but for high ISO (did a baptism shot on Sunday in a church with limited available light and it was a struggle), loud shutter and soft edges / color fringe for my wide angle lenses (VC 15mm III and Cron 35mm pre-Asph). Looking at that picture, I think it may not be worth the upgrade unless I really, really shell out and go for the SL (but then I need a new adapter, new set of batteries…. all adding up at red-dot prices). The sample shot you took also looks pretty bad in the center (I think my shots from the A7R and the ZM50 look much better than your 100% crop), so maybe there was something acting up (image stabilization???).
Would be happy to have some additional views as this seems non-conclusive to me at this point.
You will only notice this with your A7RII when shooting something like this landscape shot. You will never ever see it in portraits or shooting up close at f/2. I have tried many M lenses on the A7RII at this spot and all have soft edges, corners and issues (you can see this in my A7RII review). But if you put this lens on an A7RII and shoot someone at f/2 you will never see this as the edges will be a blur of bokeh anyway. If you want sharp corner to corner, you do not want to use M lenses on your Sony. If you never need that, and many do not, then using M glass on the Sony is just fine, just do not attempt shots like this.
In the span of this year from January I went through 4 fine camera bodies (yes sounds crazy and expensive): Fuji XT-1, A7II, A7RII and now SL to finally find my destination. I’m relieved. I shoot only with M lenses and none of the first three bodies ever satisfied me. Loving my SL to bits.
I bought this lense a week ago. So I am so happy to read your report. I will try as you do.
Thank you Steve
I feel the 50 APO was made for B&W photography. In fact, It was released around the same time the original Monochrom came out. Curious how it performs on the new Monochrom. It is my personal ultimate 50mm without a doubt.
Brian in my honest opinion the 50 apo on both generations of the Leica Monochrom is AMAZING!! As much as I love the M246 and all of it’s upgrades from the MM I prefer the files that come out of the MM more. I don’t use this setup as often as I would like but it is too much fun when I do.
no, not all cameras should have an EVF today.
I prefer to use the 50 apo on the M. The SL is a very nice camera, but on the SL one is either slower (when using magnfication) or less accurate (when not using magnification) than using the 50 APO on the M (except your rangefinder is off)
Tom, it’s been documeted that the APo shows a bit of focus shift on the M…so even though I’m a rangefinder guy too there are fewer and fewer reasons to not move on to the newer EVF’s.
I predict that within 5 years there will be almost no benefit to OVF’s. This is a big consession for me as I despised them just a few years ago.
Tom — I own SL and rest assured the MF with M lenses is not slow and and it is highly precise. Loving the SL to bits.
Its not slow to use M glass in any way. Im as fast, if not a hair faster than with the M, and believe me, even with an M 2% off, you will have frustrations and 6 weeks away for calibration.
I sometimes use the 50 APO on the SL when I find the Zoom is too slow for the light and I get along fine with focusing it but I feel I am either (slightly) less accurate when not using magnification or slightly slower (when using magnification) compared to using it on the M. Not a problem, I like using it on the SL but I like using it on the M even more.
It may be a great lens, but for most people it’s too expensive. Really, there are so many great lenses for a fraction of the price that can capture fine details and have nice boca. If you have money to burn go ahead. Besides I don’t like the 50mm perspective at all. I rarely keep one in my camera bag. And if I had money to burn, why wouldn’t I buy an Zeiss Otus for half the price or, the Sigma 50 which performs close to the Otus at an even much lower price. No decent lens will make or break a photograph. No need to spend $8000. I love nice lenses but the difference in performance between this $8000 lens and a $ 2000 dollar lens does not justify the price in my opinion. No one will notice it in your photographs. And just think of what you can buy with the $6000 left over.
Otus and Sigma Art in different catergory of lens. Really comparing Zeiss RF or Voigtlander lenses as well as all Leica ones.
No, look at the tests (if that is your thing). The Leica 50 APo is the best 50mm lens in the world. Beats the Otus and Art lenses handily.
This 50 APO bests them all technically, and is the smallest by far.
Just something to add is that the SLR lenses (like the Otus and Art) tests have been performed on an optical bench that should have had a 2mm-thick flat glass plate.
The set up used was in a “beta” configuration at that time, and does not replicate the optical path these lenses were designed for, affecting the results. Roger Cicala was aware of that and planned to repeat the test as soon as he could find the appropriate glass plate. Doing so, the values for the Art and Otus will significantly increase.
Amazing lenses, all of them though, far exceeding the capabilities and skills many of us have (being myself a happy owner of some of those beautiful lenses).
Keep on the good work Steve, Merry Christmas 🙂
Merry Christmas to you as well!
I have a 1962 Summicron 50mm 2.0 DR lens. The results are comparable. Too bad I count mount DR on new M9/240 Leica’s.
Good report, very clear in the results, right to the point. It resolved a lot of my questions.
I love your captures.
Thank you Steve