First Impressions: Leica Summarit f/2.4 lens range
When I heard on Tuesday that Leica had a new range of aspherical Summarit lenses I wasn't too enthused. Although I have heard good things about the old f/2.5 Summarits, I had fallen into the trap of sidelining them in favour of the seemingly more desirable (and more expensive) Summicron range.
This was until I laid eyes on the new lenses and felt the weight. Normally, chrome lenses are considerably heavier than the black versions (this is true of Summicrons and Summiluxes). Not so the new aluminium range. Black and silver versions weight more or less the same. But it is the silver lenses that immediately grab the attention and raise feelings of lust. I suspect I will not be alone in this reaction.
During Photokina I had a brief play with all four Summarits, the gorgeous 35mm, the tiny 50mm and the 75 and 90mm versions. Both the 35 and 50 are exceptionally small and feel just as well-made and smooth in operation as other lenses in the Leica range. In comparison with the equivalent Summicrons, the Summarits are lighter, shorter and really not that much slower. They are also considerably cheaper.
The two longer lenses, the 75 and 90mm are also compact and light in comparison with the Apo-Summicrons. I know that the old f/2.5 seventy-five has an excellent reputation and many prefer it to the bulkier Summicron. So I have no doubt that both these new lenses will perform superbly. They are quite slim in profile and remind me of some of Leica's vintage nineties.
One of the problems with previous chrome lenses, such as the 35mm and 50mm Summiluxes, is weight. I originally bought a 50mm Summilux in chrome and regretted it. It is a gorgeous lens to look at and use. But it is just too heavy. That's why I changed to the black version.
Unlike the more modern Summicrons and Summiluxes with their sliding hoods, the Summarits come with neat screw-on hoods which add little to the length of the lens. In every case the hoods are the same diameter as the lens so that the supplied lens cap can be attached to either the naked lens or to the hood. A neat touch.
The lenses I tried are not recognised by my M and I suspect we might have to wait for an M firmware update. This meant I was left guessing which lens was which when it came to captioning these photographs. I used my intuition. .
Having handled all four of these Summarits I am convinced that they will sell well and will be very much in demand, particularly in the silver finish. Owners of silver cameras, such as the new M-P, will no longer pay the weight penalty if they want a matching lens. Even black camera owners will be encouraged to go for the silver because there is no weight or cost penalty. And these silver lenses will also look fantastic against a black camera.
I am hoping to be able to lay hands on one or two of these lenses for test as soon as they become available and look forward to trying them in better conditions than in the halls of Photkina.
The 35mm Summarit costs £1,450, the 50mm is £1,250, the 75mm is £1,400 and the 90mm £1,500. Just think, you can have all four of these lenses for cost of one 50mm Apo-Summicron.