50 Summicron f/2

July 15, 2012  |  Review

I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with this lens (or one of it’s earlier incarnations) even since the M8 was launched. My feelings for this lens remind me of that Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold, since I’m always changing my mind about it. I think I’ve sold and bought this lens four times in the past five years. Which is coincidentally also the number of times I’ve bought and sold the M8 and M9 (once and thrice respectively).

The Focal length is great, 50 is a can’t go wrong, standard lens. The second-latest incarnation of this lens (pre-APO) is a fantastic piece of glass, and it’s beautifully sharp wide open at f/2. And though the bokeh can be a bit harsh till f/2.8, it’s definitely one of the finer 50′s one can own. I’ve had the privilage of trying a prototype 50 Summicron-APO and I have to say it improves on the bokeh of its predecessor considerably (think Summilux) and is even sharper wide open, believe me or not.

The downside? Its cost has gone up more then three times the price of a pre-APO 50 Summicron. While I do think it’s actually worth the price increase, I have to admit that I find the 50 Summilux-ASPH to be a better buy due to its beautiful subject separation and¬†ability to shoot in lower light. However, if I owned a 50 Noctilux 0.95, I wouldn’t hesitate to add the much smaller, mechanically and optically perfect 50 Summicron-APO, skipping the 50 Summilux-ASPH altogether.

Anyway, lets get back to the lens in question. The 50 Summicron is a can’t-go-wrong bargain lens (in Leica land, at least) that sets the bar pretty darn high on wide open sharpness. It’s really well built, and relatively small.

So why the hot and cold, you ask? Well, coz I’m a bokeh guy who needs wide open sharpness – its just the way I like to shoot with my Leica gear. In 70% of the situations I shoot the 50 in, the bokeh is fine wide open, my focal points are sharp as a tack. But the other 30% of the time, the bokeh is so distracting I forget what I’m looking at.

Summary: the 50 Summicron-APO’s small size doesn’t matter much if I’m longing for a 50 Summilux-ASPH. The upside to all of this? Pretty much any version of the 50 Summicron – even the cheap ones – will give you gorgeous results!

 

50 Summicron @ f/2:

 

50 Summicron @ f/2:

 

50 Summicron @ f/2:

 

50 Summicron @ f/2: