Road trip around France with Leica ME and 50mm Summilux by Julius Yls

Road trip around France with Leica ME and 50mm Summilux

by Julius Yls

Thank you for giving me the opportunity sharing my photography experience on your website. I always visit your site whenever I am thinking of any camera, lenses or accessories, I love and appreciate your honest real world reviews.

In this opportunity, I would like to share my experience of shooting just using only Leica ME & 50mm Summilux ASPH during 40 days summer road trip with my wife around France, I have no backup lens or body. My wife herself is a fine art photographer specializing in analog medium formats, thus she carried many equipments during the trip. This is one of a reason I decided to go extreme by just taking 1 body + 1 lens with no backup so I am not adding the extra luggage and have more time to assist her πŸ™‚

I will keep this simple by showing picture accompanied with texts describing the case that I wanted to highlight.

Contrast lighting: I found 50Lux ASPH lens handle extreme light contrast very well at wide open, in this picture a Mini was parked under building shade at very bright midday summer sun (Annecy) 1/1000 f1.4 ISO 400 with ND filter.

Night shot: street scene at dusk just before the sky becomes totally dark. 1/60 f1.4 ISO 400.

Low light: in this picture, I am able to captured low light ambiance of a street artist working under few small neon lights above him. 1/60 f1.4 ISO 400.

Decisive moment: I found focusing with 50Lux is breeze, in this picture I am able to quickly focus on the women far behind before the stall owner (man in front) passed (Sainte-Foy-la-Grande). 1/360 f1.4 ISO 200 ND filter.

Moving target: even with moving target focusing is still possible at wide open (Bordeaux). 1/2000 f1.4 ISO 160 with ND filter.

Sometimes it surprised me how much I can cover with 50mm angle. In this picture, I took a whole famous mural 4 stories building in Lyon just from across the street, and it fit my 50mm frame line! If at that time I had my 28mm lens with me it will never cross my mind to shoot this building with 50mms. (Lyon). 1/180 f5.6 ISO 200.

Another trick of covering the whole thing by taking it from different angle, at wide open it gives very interesting moos (Figeac). 1/1500 f1.4 ISO 400 with ND filter.

By orienting my frame to vertical, I can capture vast distances. Β 1/1500 f5.6 ISO 200.

Portrait: shooting people portrait with 50mmLux wide open is just a pleasure (Sault). 1/1500 f1.4 ISO 200 with ND filter.

Street: the 50mm gives me a good amount of distance to take a candid shot without being noticed. 1/2000 f2 ISO 200 with ND filter.

Complex lights situation: In this picture, inside shop have very soft and subtle lighting while the glass window reflects outside bright summer sun. The 50Lux ASPH handle this situation very well (Toulouse). 1/250 f1.4 ISO 200.

There are some occasion at the beginning of trip that I wish I had my wide angle lenses with me, but it disappears after few days shooting constantly with only one lens.

I found 50mm Summilux ASPH is very durable, easy to focus and excellent performer even at full wide open. If you compose well, the 50mm angle works well with almost any situation such as portrait, street, and even landscape.

Another interesting thing that I found using 50mm is that 8 out of 10 images I shot vertical, probably this is due to the impression that I can cover more by oriented it to vertical.

I think the only downside with this lens is the weight and size, I wish it has the same size as 28mm Elmarit.

Final conclusion: I can count to just Leica ME and 50mm Lux, and yes I will do this again on my next long trip! It becomes addicted and exciting at the same time. Knowing you only have 1 body and a lens, you will appreciate and enjoy every moment of it while it last.


My website:

Thank you Steve!

Best regards,
Julius Yls


  1. I picked up the 50lux this summer and really enjoy it. It wouldn’t be my first choice for landscape/cityscape shots but for up close work it’s a beauty. With a 50mm you can get close enough to a subject with no distortion and yet still provide environmental context. If I had only one lens though I would probably go with the legendary 35mm summicron. It never takes bad pictures.

    • Thanks Eric, I also used to use 28mm for landscape and it was great. But during summer 2015 in Norway I used 50mm Lux for landscape and it was amazing! it gives surreal feeling… I guess it related with the way Lux handle lighting and also naturally we expect to see landscape in grand /epic wide scale/angle, but the 50mm show the opposite.. this give very unusual look to the landscape.

  2. Great photos, some wonderful shots. I have switched to leica analogue with a M6 and M5. Here I appreciate the 50 2.0 leica lens and the 35 1.4 voigtlaender a lot, and now my gear fits in a small Domke bag (F6). Sometimes I even carry a Fuji xpro1 as well with either a 35 2.0 or 50 1.4 Canon Fd lens on a Metabones speed booster. This I mostly use as ,polaroid’ substitute and for internet presentation.
    Anyway I am always gobsmacked by the leica-lenses’ quality and outcome.
    And your photos underline this impression a lot.
    Thank you and always good light!

  3. That fourth last picture, the one that was chosen as “cover”, is really great. So many elements combined in a surprising total image. Perfectly illustrating how those villages are planted in open space. I absolutely love it!

  4. Very nice shots and interesting article. I too love the 50 MM. It is my main lense. I also liked the fact you thought about helping your wife :). I loved my M9. Still do

    • Thank you Dan. I used to use Leica ME and few months ago I picked up M9 and I found the images that M9 produce is more “film” like compare to ME, although they both using the same CCD.

  5. Fantastically interesting! I really enjoyed both your pictures and your reflections on 50mm – not least the vertical framing. And actually the blur in some of the images gives an extra fascination. I also like the way in which you can say “If I’d had a 28mm………” but accept that staying with the one lens was if anything more creative. I’ll return to this article before I next go out with my Leica IIIf and Hector 50mm. Thank you – much appreciated.

  6. Your pics are a testimonial that the 50 mm still is number One to go for. I’m a great fan of the 50/1.5 Zeiss and use it for 2/3 of my photography. When I’m just out, it’s the 50 on my M240, when I’m on job a small bag with 21/1.8, 40/1.4 and 75/1.8 from VoigtlΓ€nder is with me. I do press photography for the two local papers.
    I love your shots and your constant help as gear carrier for your wife. Maybe we can have a glance of her work too?

    • Thank you Paul, I think 50mm will be great for travel or leisure because you can figure out creative solution to your challenge without pressure. But when you out on duty to take images based on specific task/requirements then one lens is a night mare πŸ˜€
      I’ll talk to my wife to put some article for Steve as well πŸ™‚ she is currently preapring series of works for exhibition by end of year. Thanks again.

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