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Leica m9

Summarit f2.5 50mm Leica Lens review

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Leica M9 Summarit f2.5 50mm 160 ISO f2.5 @ 4000 sec

When I first got my M9 I needed a lens for it. Having already spent far too much buying the camera in the first place, I couldn’t really justify a new lens. I couldn’t really justify any lens at all really but a body is useless without one. There wasn’t a great choice of lenses in the shop, either new or secondhand. I wanted a wide angle but he didn’t have one so I chose the new 50mm f2.5 Summarit.

It was quite compact and I was pleased to see that Leica had stopped using that nasty square font and had reverted to a more classical style. I took a lot of pictures with this lens under a wide variety of circumstances and at first it seemed as good as one might expect for a modern Leica lens. It cost about 1000€ which was relatively inexpensive for a Leica lens.

Shooting wide open produced sharp images with a soft bokeh but the bokeh seemed to have a double image which rather spoiled the effect. I also thought it rather odd that the aperture ring started at f2.5 then went to f2.8. It hardly seemed worth it and I found this a bit annoying. Surely it would have been better to start at f2.5 and go straight to f4.

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This picture is a 100% crop taken at f2.5 which shows the strange ‘double image’ look to the bokeh. (click to see all images bigger)

Now, one thing about Leica lenses is that they should perform well especially in demanding situations yet I found that this lens did not like shooting into the sun. Since I often do this and quite like the effect of lens flare I was rather disappointed. The lens flare was nice enough but it often created strange pink patches in the image which rendered them unusable, at least in my opinion.

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Here there is a red patch top right and it’s not even shooting directly into the sun!

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What is this strange blue patch in the bottom left hand corner? Faults like these happened often using this lens.

As far as I am concerned this lens does not live up to Leica’s reputation and is not as good overall as other 50mm Leica lens. It was returned for a refund.

8 replies on “Summarit f2.5 50mm Leica Lens review”

That blue patch is really odd.. I can’t believe that that’s caused by the lens alone. If it was then it would appear in every shot. I get the feeling there are still problems with the camera firmware. There will likely be a new version out before long as is the case with the S2. My feeling is that in some cases the code that corrects for lens characteristics and somehow creates an image from all these angled sensors has some flaws…

we’ll see

Not sure about that Gus, these lenses were designed specifically for digital so there really shouldn’t be issues like these. I’ve tried quite a few Leica lenses on the M9 now and none of them caused weird effects like the Summarit did. It seems the Summarit 35 is a good lens but I have not read many good things said about the 50mm. Somehow the idea of Leica making ‘economical’ lenses just isn’t right. It seems you get what you pay for.

I have a summarit 50mm and its super sharp with great contrast. I have read many reviews that say that the summarit’s gain from the latest optics in Leica evolution, as they are the most recent lenses.
I would question the findings of this review and the fact that the reviewer appeared not to want to like it at the beginning becuase of its cost.
I currently have a 28mm f2.8 elmarit and a 50mm f2.5 summarit. I plan to add a 90mm summarit and will have all the ranges I need covered for now.

Ahoy Harold,

Thanks for your comment. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the Summarit from the start because of its price, I was rather after a wide angle.

What I have found from most reviews is that they never test these lenses in difficult situations, ie; wide open and towards the light but that is when lens faults will come to light, not under ‘normal’ conditions. Any lens will work well with a well lit subject, the light behind the camera and the lens stopped down!

I agree that the Summarit is sharp and has good contrast. My beef was with odd colour casts when shooting towards the light and the strange Bokeh. A leica lens is all about extreme use, that is what stands them apart from other lenses. When the going gets tough, your Leica lens should be there for you. The Summarit just doesn’t cope as well in extreme situations as other similar Leica lenses I have used.

That said, if you are happy with your lens choice, that is fabulous. We are all entitled to our opinions!

wow, you responded quickly 🙂

quite frankly my next step in the 50mm stakes is the f1.4 lux.

I didn’t see the advantage of the cron over the summarit for the extra cost. I prefer to get the summarit now and save up for the lux later.

you are right though, the more expensive lenses have the edge is more demanding situations.

my 50mm summarit and M8 out resolve my 5Dii and 50mm f1.2 below ISO 400 so I guess I don’t miss what I never had (in terms of Leica lenses) ….

Ahoy Harold,

I get an email when folk comment, hence the fast response!

At the moment I have a collapsible Elmar 50 f2.8. I love it. It’s tiny and works very well although the aperture ring is too easily moved. I would love a 50mm 1.4 though. Although you don’t really need a super fast lens anymore with the ability to up the ISO it would just be great to have one for portraits and for blowing out the background. I applaud your choice.

I tried a Noctilux but only the latest 0.95 is guaranteed to focus properly on the digital Ms so buying an older 1.2 or 1 would be risky, unless you could try and test first. But anyway that lens weighs a ton and is hard to get off as it’s difficult to get a finger in under the lens to press the release button! The Lux is the next best thing. It’s a beauty!

I quite fancy that 90mm macro too….

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