Leica Summarits: The sensible alternative for the M shooter
Leica’s last-generation f/2.5 Summarit lenses were often thought of as second-class citizenry. They were considered to be lenses built down to a price and were accompanied with less presentation that any other lens in the M range. For starters, they lacked the little leather case that will accompany any Elmarit or Summicron, not to mention more exotic glass. This second-class reputation was ill deserved and I’ve enjoyed using the older Summarits. They are lighter than equivalent Summicrons and yet only half a stop slower. For the money, they were always good value in Leica terms and the build quality and optical performance is excellent
At Photokina in 2014 the range was transformed with new, more compact designs and an ever-so-slightly faster maximum aperture at f/2.4. There’s so little in this that I suspect the decision to shave off a decimal place was taken just to differentiate the new range from the old. It was as much a marketing ploy as anything.
Whatever reason, it certainly succeeded. The new Summarits have re-joined the lens pantheon as fully-fledged dieties and now even come with the leather case. They are pretty, too; lovely little lenses. Above all, the size and weight savings compared with equivalent Summicrons make the cost saving even sweeter.
While the new Summarits are popular, particularly as starter lenses for anyone trading up to a digital M and watching the pennies, Leica buffs still cling to their Summiluxes and Summicrons in preference to even the newly crafted Summarits. I suspect this blind loyalty — especially to the near-relation, the Summicron — is misplaced. The f/2.4 'Its are now a compelling alternative for anyone buying new or secondhand.
Dutch blogger Joeri van der Kloet, apart from possessing a wonderful name, has got to down to detail on the Summarits. For the first time to my knowledge, he has made a strong case for going Summarit rather than Summicron. Not only is there a big cash saving for a bagful of lenses, the bag is also much lighter. Find out all the details here.
If I were starting out from scratch I would be strongly drawn to the benefits of the Summarits, In particular, the longer duo, the 75mm and 90mm are more compact that expected and perform just as well in many respects as their faster f/2 brethren.