A day with Summilux-M 50mm ASPH.

Possibly the 'best' standard lens ever made.

6 Photos

The lust

I have wanted a ’50 Lux. ASPH in my collection for quite a while, so after much deliberation, I finally bit the bullet. My finish of choice was the silver chrome version, which, if you’ve ever compared it to the black version, (almost) weighs a ton. It’s easy to see why tho; the black version is made of anodised aluminium, while the silver is build of solid chromed brass. It’s all brass, even the lens hood. While it’s heavy on the M (Typ 240), it’s truly a joy to use; it instantly felt right when handling it for the first time, especially the wonderful aperture and focus operation. This is a geek with a new toy. A very happy geek.

Leica M Typ 240 with Summilux-M 50mm ASPH.
Leica Summilux 50mm ASPH lens design

The lens and the camera, M (Typ 240) with Summilux-M 50mm

First impression

On first use, I was astounded by the performance wide open (f/1.4) and slightly stopped down at f/2. Naturally, I didn’t expect anything else, but the reality is impressive. Some further testing showed that even at the closest focus ranges, the performance is very high indeed. This is clearly made possible by the floating element at the rear of the lens. Due to this element, the focus is smooth, yet slightly stiffer than other lenses. And gosh, is this lens ever beautiful on the chrome M.

blossom_summilux_50mm_asph

Blossom blooming in winter,

Cadzand-Bad

After my initial play, I just couldn’t wait to test the lens further and get some more images with it. Since the weather was warm (18˚C, in fact – really warm for winter in the Netherlands) I decided on a lovely location, the beach at Cadzand-Bad. If you’ve never been, it’s a great place for some fresh air and landscape shots, even more so with the 50 Lux. I love the old style of the wooden breakwaters they have on the beach there, especially compared to the harsh modern concrete crosses they have elsewhere.  They made for a nice subject on a winter’s day, that while warm, was ultimately colder than anticipated. We can thank the strong sea breeze for that. As long as I didn’t stand in the shade for too long, the bright sun kept me warm enough.

Shadows in a row

Breakwaters and me, at Cadzand-Bad

The sea and wet sand was causing glare and reflection, so I made use of Leica’s Universal Polarizing filter. This not only cut them right down, but also acted as a two stop ND filter, allowing me to shoot in very bright light. An ideal combination of both effects in one handy package, like killing two birds with one stone, or like we say in the Netherlands, ‘Twee vliegen in een klap’. I was concerned that the filter might cause reflections of it’s own, but the lens performed really well, even against direct sunlight. I only managed to get the lens to flare in a single photo; pretty good if you ask me.

Footsteps in the sand beach cadzand netherlands

Footsteps on the beach, at Cadzand-Bad

Just when I thought the lens couldn’t amaze me any more, the shots just kept coming. I didn’t shoot wide open a lot, as I wanted a deep depth of field on the beach, mainly shooting between f/4 and f/8 to maximise the depth captured. Returning to the handling again for a moment; the focus and aperture feel really good, better than the Summicron-M in my opinion. The focus tab is also a welcome change from the 50 Cron; I found it make focusing faster and easier, especially when focusing on people. For more precision, you can still use the knurled ring, so it’s the best of both worlds – you don’t have to use the tab if it’s not to your taste.

Against direct sunlight, used the pol filter to remove reflections on the wet sand behind the breakwaters. At Cadzand-Bad

Golden hour

As the sun started to set itself into the sea, I made my way up into the Dunes to find new shots. I love the texture of the dune grass, it’s subtle colour against the sand gives a soft pastel palette when lit by the golden glow of the setting sun. Just add some great bokeh from the 50 Lux and you simply can’t go wrong! I was lucky enough to have a model on hand in the form of my companion Lorenz, who’d been along for the ride to shoot some long exposures with a 6 stop ND filter on his M8/50 Cron combo. As he was going through his shots of rocks in the sea, I took the opportunity to grab a few shots. Note the subtlety of the out of focus areas in front of him, and the creaminess of those behind.

Lorenz with M8 and Summicron Beach Dunes Cadzand

Lorenz checking his results, at Cadzand-Bad dunes

Even wide open, the 50 Lux is sharp from edge to edge, it’s performance is sharp, with a subtle vignette, which I love. I feel it actually adds to the images and certainly shouldn’t be considered a negative point. The colour rendition of the lens is also very pleasing, but I haven’t really been able to compare it directly with other lenses. I’m planning a 50mm lens comparison in the near future, to show the different qualities of each lens for a variety of subjects. I have always been a big fan of the 50mm Summicron-M and it’s angle of view; now I think the 50 Lux will become my most used lens. It’s as if a whole new world of possibilities has opened up to me.

Cadzand-Bad view dunes sea beach netherlands dutch

View from the Cadzand-Bad dunes

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11 thoughts on “A day with Summilux-M 50mm ASPH.

  • 7 years ago

    Miller Verheij

    Mooie foto’s, jongen!

  • 7 years ago

    John

    Thanks Yip for this nice story.
    The 50LUX ASPH is indeed an outstanding lens.#As I sold my Nocti 0.95, I need a replacement, and I’m not sure to get this 50mm or the 35mm FLE Lux…
    Keep up the good work here!

    John

  • 7 years ago

    Jip van Kuijk

    Hey John, I think you should get the 50 Summilux-M first, the 35 is very different. I’ve got the 35mm Summicron-M ASPH. And love it. Don’t need the depth of field as much with the 35. Wouldn’t say no to a 35 lux though. :)

  • 7 years ago

    Brent

    I very much agree about the 35mm Summicron M ASPH. It’s a fantastic lens, and a LOT less money that the 35 lux.

    Lovely images!

  • 7 years ago

    Mar

    great write up. this is my favorite lens. flexible, light and smaller than the Nocti. amazing for portraits too. Its on my camera most of the time.

  • 6 years ago

    angelo

    may i ask what type of tripod is your companion carrying ? thank you.

  • 6 years ago

    Jip van Kuijk

    Hey Angelo,

    Of course!

    It’s a vintage ‘Bilora Biloret’ it’s made in Germany. You can find them on eBay. Be careful to make sure it has the right screw size!

  • 6 years ago

    Angelo

    Cheers’

  • 6 years ago

    Milan

    Hello Jip,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Are you sure the silver version of the summilux 50 mm is heavier than the black one? I checked on a few sites that sell the lenses and they don’t mention any weight difference… Best, M.

  • 6 years ago

    Jip van Kuijk

    Hello Milan,

    Thanks for replying to my article, yes I am a 100% sure that the silver version weighs 460 grams, and the black version weighs 335 grams, so it is more than a 100 grams heavier. Why is it heavier I hear you ask, the black version is made mostly of black anodized aluminum, where as the silver chrome version is made mostly of solid silver chromed bras. I hope this helps!

    Kind regards, Jip

  • 6 years ago

    Martijn

    Ha Jip,

    Goed verhaal, mooie foto’s.
    Zal je wat foto’s laten zien die ik maak (wielrennen, docu). Heb geen site, vandaar. Veel plezier met je speeltjes! En leuk dat ik je even ontmoette (Bloemendaal).

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