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Leica Summicron-SL 35mm F/2 ASPH Lens Review

Leica has sent John Riley the Leica Summicron-SL 35mm ASPH f/2 lens to capture sample photos with as he puts it through a full review.

| Leica Summicron-SL 35 f/2 ASPH in Interchangeable Lenses
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Leica Summicron-SL 35mm F/2 ASPH Lens Review: Leica Summicron SL 35mm F2 On Leica SL2 No Hood | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100

Leica, one of the most prestigious names in photography, have steadily adapted to the progress in electronics and digital imaging, pressing forwards with many new cameras and lenses, whilst keeping a firm eye on its status and reputation. As the designer of the L mount, along with partners Panasonic and Sigma, a new range of possibilities has opened up and now evolved into the solid-looking SL series of cameras and lenses. When approaching these lenses, of course, we want to know if they match up to the legendary expectations we already have of Leica, and if it is worth the price premium. Let's take the 47MP Leica SL2, match it up with the Summicron-SL 35mm ASPH f/2 lens and see where it takes us.


Leica Summicron-SL 35 f/2 ASPH Handling and Features

Leica Summicron-SL 35mm F/2 ASPH Lens Review: Leica Summicron SL 35mm F2 Front Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100

This is all so very different from the handling of, say, the Leica M11, previously reviewed. We move from the compact rangefinder-style to a much more bulky camera body, but to be fair not overly large lenses. There are much bigger and heavier 35mm f/2 lenses around, so 83.4mm x 74.5mm seems quite reasonable, weighing in at a modest 400g without hood and 444g with hood. Despite the lightweight construction, we are still talking full Magnesium and Aluminium housing and a full metal petal lens hood. The whole lens is dust and splash-protected, not specified but the camera body is labelled IP54 which is a good degree of resistance. The front and rear elements are also given a hydrophobic coating (“Aqua Dura”) that helps repel water. Overall, the quality of construction is exemplary.

Our tour of the lens is a brief one, as there is little to describe. The supplied petal lens hood bayonets cleanly and firmly into place. There is no locking catch needed. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a standard 67mm filter thread.


Leica Summicron-SL 35mm F/2 ASPH Lens Review: Leica Summicron SL 35mm F2 Front Floating View | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 48.0 mm | ISO 100

There is a wide, ribbed focusing ring that operates electronically, so is totally smooth as expected. There is a higher degree of resistance in this ring, compared to many, but this is not excessive and is actually just about perfect as a compromise between smooth operation and avoiding being accidentally nudged. AF is accurate, fast and almost silent, driven by a linear direct drive motor. Focusing is down to 0.24m, or 9.45 inches, for a maximum magnification of 1:4.6. This is about the same as any traditional 35mm lens, and is close enough to be useful, even though not focusing down to macro distances.

The name Summicron has been applied to Leica lenses since around 1953 and refers to lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2. The new lens has an optical construction of 11 elements in 9 groups. This includes 3 aspherical, plus other elements using anomalous partial dispersion glass.

One final touch to the lens is the barrel where there might have been room for an aperture ring, but there are instead two ribbed areas. This gives a good grip to enable changing of lenses without running the risk of also changing any settings.


Leica Summicron-SL 35mm F/2 ASPH Lens Review: Leica Summicron SL 35mm F2 Rear Element View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

And that's all we have with the lens itself, everything being controlled by the camera body. This is a very substantial camera body, so the whole is quite a heft, but its style of operation is logical and effective, the lens itself not compromised at all by its lack of controls. This is a different way of working compared to many marques, in the end, neither good nor less good, but simply different. It is ideal for covering travel, reportage and street photography, although as the camera displays LEICA in large white letters it does attract photographers, in particular, to ask what it is. Those who feel they wish to work the streets more anonymously can use the traditional method of covering the LEICA name with black masking tape.


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29 Mar 2023 6:44PM
Once again, a rebadged Panasonic, only this time, with a very good performance.

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