Leica Summicron-M 35mm f2 ASPH.
A high quality compact standard lens.
19 Photos • 16 January 2015
The look and feel of the lens
The Leica Summicron-M 1:2/35mm ASPH. is a standard lens for M mount cameras and was introduced in 1996. The lens features high contrast and great resolving power even wide open. It features a aspherical surface on one of its elements to reduce aberrations, and keep the lens compact hence the ‘ASPH.’ in the name of the lens. The lens is quite small but heavy for it’s size, it is about the same size as the Leica Elmarit-M 1:2,8/28mm ASPH. but weighs quite a lot more at 254 grams or even 340 grams for the chrome version. Compared to the 173 grams for the Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH.. This is probably due to the larger amount of glass in the lens, compared to the 28. It features a focussing tab and a short focus throw for quick but in my opinion accurate focussing. The lens has a protruding rear element, so be careful when putting it down on a table or rough surface when there is no rear lens cap attached. The rear and front elements of the lens are both concave (inward curving). The aperture ring is smooth with half stop clicks from f/2 to f/16.
[Note you can click the images to enlarge.]
The 35mm focal length
If I only bring one lens on a trip it usually is a 35mm or a 50mm lens, the 35 being my choice when it will be for example a ’city trip’ where I will be close to my subjects or when I know I will be indoors a lot. The Summicron-M 1:2/35mm ASPH. is a great lens and can be used for almost anything, from landscapes to wider portraits portraying the person and the surroundings. The latter is what I love this lens for, you can stay close and intimate but easily portray either multiple people, or one person but include the surroundings.
Some people say you are either a 35mm, or 50mm person. I think I am neither, for me it totally depends on the mood, the look and feel I want to get in my prints, but also the circumstances like explained above. 35mm is wide enough to shoot from the hip with a smaller aperture selected and with predefined focus which is nice for the street photographer who does not want to raise the camera to eye level.
When getting close enough you will see that with a 35mm lens on f/2 on small format film (fullframe sensor) your depth of field gets thin enough for nice fore- and background out of focus areas, or as some like to call it ‘bokeh’. And usually to get the whole face in focus I actually stop down a bit, to around f/2,8 or even f/4.
Performance of the lens
Now I am not someone who really cares about MTF curves but more about character and feel, however I don’t want a extreme soft or extreme vignetting lens. But with Leica you can’t really go wrong with any of the lenses!
The lens is a high contrast and high resolving lens, that even wide open doesn’t lack contrast or resolving power. Wide open the resolving power drops gradually when moving towards the corners, but this actually adds emphasis to the center of the photo as does the small amount of falloff. At f/2 Leica rates the falloff at about -1,9 stops. Thats more than I would think, after using the lens for about 3 years, the falloff is noticeable but really just adds to the image in my opinion, if you don’t want it just stop down to f/2,8 or to have it almost completely gone f/5,6. The lens is quite flare resistant but now and then I do get some flare on my images. The Summarit-M 1:2,5/35mm and the newer Summarit-M 1:2,4/35mm ASPH. are more flare resistant than the Summicron.
The Summicron-M 1:2/35mm ASPH. performs best at f/4 with the highest resolving power and highest contrast possible and only very little falloff.
The lens is a great starter lens, if you only buy one lens, get the Summicron-M 1:2/35mm ASPH. or any 35mm lens by Leica for that. It’s very versatile, you can use it for reportage, every day photography, and at f/2 you can easily create a nice separation between subjects with the out of focus areas. Also try using it to create intriguing portraits with more on the photo than just a headshot. Just make sure you don’t go too close or the perspective of the 35mm lens will enlarge the protruding body parts, like the nose for example.
A few more images
Below you will find a few more shots taken with the Summicron-M 1:2/35mm ASPH. and various Leica M mount cameras. I hope you have enjoyed reading and checking out the photos in my article and as always feel free to subscribe to my newsletter to receive an email when I publish a new article, or to leave your thoughts in the comments bellow.
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Review: Leica Summicron-M 1:2/35mm ASPH.
[…] hoort. Ik heb geprobeerd de veelzijdigheid van het objectief te tonen. Je kunt het hier lezen: http://jipvankuijk.nl/leica-summicron-m-35mm-f2-asph/ (in het Engels) My Website Light is all I need. Met citaat […]
Have you had the chance to use the Zeiss 35mm/2.8 Biogon-C? I also own the 35/2 Cron ASPH, purchased as an upgrade to the 35/2 V4 cron, which I sold when I went digital. I found I really missed the lightness of the V4. As you mentioned, the ASPH is heavy for its size. The Zeiss balances so well on the M9 it’s a joy to use. It’s also one of the most flare resistant lenses I’ve used.
The Zeiss has a smoother transition and nice OOF rendering (I don’t want to use the B word…) where the ASPH sometime feels busy. I think your smoking man is an example of this.
Great write up and nice images!
@jim: I also _had_ the Zeiss 35/2,8 and have tested extensively the Summicron ASPH 35. The Zeiss is more pleasing in its OOF rendering, being smoother, with better colour transitions. As a bonus, it is smaller. But its filter size is weird, and it fits a good Leica ecosystem a bit less well.
That said, phenomenal. I’ve settled with an even stranger lens, the Canon 35/1,5 LTM, which focuses to 1 metre, but is 185g, and sharp enough.
As for Jip: great photography, great blog. Great work. Keep it up.
Do you prefer Summicron’s 35mm f/2 character and feel to Summilux’s 35mm f1.4?
Jip van Kuijk
I’ve only briefly worked with any of the 35mm f/1,4 lenses by Leica, but I found them heavy. I don’t really mis the one stop on the summicron. I do have the latest summilux 50mm ASPH. So if I need faster I just grab that, or up the ISO on my M (Typ 240).
I have recently bought a 35 ASPH Summicron, as I found my chrome/brass 35 ASPH f1.4 Summilux too heavy for a travel lens, which is my main use of the 35 lens. Sadly the 35 Summicron was wrong from new and had to go straight back to Leica (I could not exchange as it was an ex-display model from Leica Montmartre). It has now come back from Leica focussing perfectly. Compared with my usual M lenses of the 35 Summilux, 50 Noctilux f.95 and on the M240 Zeiss 28-85 f3.3, unlike Jip, I find it a total featherweight :) and I much look forward to using it. Wilson
I bought one about 2 years ago and I have found that on digital, the focus shift did affect images and have been stuck with ƒ/2-2.8 and ~5.6-8. I love its size and don’t think it too heavy. May sell it soon before the price drops and a newer (?APO) version appears.