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LEICA 35mm f/2 ASPH
SUMMICRON-M (1996-today)
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Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH (39mm filter, 8.950 oz/253.8g), twice life-size. enlarge more. I'd get it at Adorama or Amazon. It's also availabel used at this link to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay). This free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

December 2013   LEICA Reviews   LEICA Lenses    All Reviews

Recommended Lenses    How to Afford Anything   LEICA Lens Names

Sharpness Compared to Zeiss 35mm f/2 16 February 2011

Sharpness Compared to Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 16 February 2011

LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm Sharpness Comparison 14 January 2011


Excellent for: Just about anything. You could spend a lifetime shooting with this 35mm lens and never need another. This is an ideal medium focal-length lens. It's a slightly wide normal, or a very weak wide angle. Most disposable and fixed point-and-shoot cameras use this same focal length because of its universal appeal.

Not for: There isn't anything this lens doesn't do well, so if I have to find something, you might want to use a camera other than the M3 because the M3's magnificent high-magnification finder won't cover this 35mm lens. With the M3, and only the M3, you'd need to use a silly shoe-mounted accessory 35mm viewfinder (12 010), so it's better to shoot with anything else.




Introduction      top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

The LEICA 35mm f/2 ASPH is about as close to perfect as you can get.

It offers unbeaten optical performance, perfect ergonomics, and it's half the size of any other 35mm lens.

It's only two inches (5cm) in diameter and takes tiny 39mm filters.

Most of the photos here are enlarged two times; click the "life-size" links to see those illustrations at actual size.

It works on every film and digital LEICA M made, from the 1954's LEICA M3 though today's LEICA M7 and LEICA M9. The only slight gotcha is that you'll need an external shoe-mounted 35mm finder for the M3 (or CL or CLE), otherwise every other LEICA has a 35mm finder built-in.

Leica 35/2 ASPH on an M4-P

LEICA 35mm f/2 ASPH on an M4P. enlarge.



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Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.


Versions      top

There are at least three versions, all with the same optics:

The standard black-anodized aluminum version shown here is the most common.

The chromed-brass version is also current. This version weighs more, and it otherwise is the same. Caution: Leica got cheap, and instead of using a real silver metal focus tab, they use the same cheap black plastic one on the chrome version, which is ugly.

The M39 screw-mount version was only made in 1999 and only sold new in Japan. They are readily available on eBay. They work on both Leica's teaditional screw-mount cameras (1933-1960), as well as every M camera today with a simple adapter. They are a much better choice for someone who wants a chrome lens, since they don't have the ugly black plastic focus tab. They only focus to 1 meter, not 0.7 meters, as do the M versions above.


History      top


All these lenses take 39mm filters, like all true LEICA lenses, and all focus to about 2.3 feet (0.7m).



Leica's first 35mm f/2 (11 308 or SAWOM) had 8 elements and was silver.

The 11 108/SAMWO version adds reducing optics for the M3 finder.



This lens (11 309) had 6 elements and was black. It originally was made in Germany, and later from from Canada as of about 1970.

Earlier versions came with reducing optics for the finder of the M3 (11 108 chrome and 11 104 black).

Both versions take 39mm filters, while the newer one also can take series VII inside the included hood 12 504.

At introduction, its catalog price was $1,100, corrected for inflation in 2008 (it was $186 in 1969 dollars, when $3,500 bought you a Corvette).

You can read more about its introduction in the 2nd issue of the 1969 Leica Photography magazine, page 20.



This 7 element 35mm f/2 lens (11 310) had a 10-bladed diaphragm and weighed 6.7 oz. (190 grams).

Except for the squared orange "35" on the side of the barrel, all the rest of its engraved numbers use the older rounded font.

It was first made in Canada, and then in Germany from about 1990.


1996 - today

This German ASPH (aspherical) lens replaces the earlier 35mm f/2 that was made in Canada.


Specifications with commentary      top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Leica 35 2

LEICA 35mm f/2 at f/5.6, twice life size. enlarge.

Name      top

Leica calls this the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 1:2/35 ASPH.

ASPH means aspherical.

"SUMMICRON" is a trademark which means nothing more than "f/2."


Optics      top

7 elements in 5 groups.

One aspheric surface.

What's really weird, but not at all obvious, is that the front and back elements are concave (curve in). Unlike almost all other lenses, whose elements are convex (curve out), the front and back elements of the LEICA 35mm f/2 ASPH curve in!


Actual (Design) Focal Length      top


(on the old half-frame M8, its angle of view is cropped roughly to what a 47mm lens would see on full-frame.)


Diaphragm      top

8 blades.

Straight at f/2.8, becoming inwardly-curved from f/4 ~ f/11, and straight again at f/16.

Uniform half-stop clicks.

Stops down to f/16.


Filter Thread      top

39mm x 0.5mm thread pitch.

This has been the standard pitch for 39mm since at least the 1950s, and it matches Leica's other 39mm thread lenses and standard Hoya and B+W filters I've tried since 1954.

The Germans say "E39," which just means screw-in 39mm.

Beware crappy adapter rings and accessories: some of the garbage I've bought out of China or India uses the incorrect, coarser 0.75mm pitch from larger filters. I've never had a problem with name brands, but never force anything, since things made by brands of which you've never heard like Bower, or have no marked brand, may not fit.

Everything I get from B+W and Hoya fit fine. Some of the Hoya boxes are marked 39.0s.


Close Focus      top

Marked: 2.5 feet or 0.7 meters.

Actual Measured: 2.15 feet or 25.5" or 0.65m.


Maximum Reproduction Ratio      top



Hood      top

Clip-on rectangular plastic, included.

Hood Part Number: 12 526 (same hood as the 28mm f/2.8 ASPH).

Designed for full-frame use; not the half-frame M8.

Leica 35mm 1:2 ASPH with hood

LEICA 35mm f/2 ASPH with 12 526 hood, twice life-size. enlarge.


Lens Caps      top

Comes with three caps:

Standard M rear cap 14 269.

39mm front cap 14 038 (for use without hood).

Floppy (easy to lose) rectangular plastic cover for the hood (cap part number 14 043).

Older M rear caps from normal and tele lenses won't work because they're not deep enough. Use the current 14 269 cap, which is deep enough.


Case      top

Comes with a very nice genuine nappa leather case, order number 439-606.068-000.

I have no idea why, when or where you'd ever use it.


Size      top

2.091" diameter x 1.360" extension from flange (53.03 x 34.57mm), measured without hood.


Weight      top

8.950 oz. (253.8g) measured naked (no caps or hood).

9.815 oz (278.3g) measured with 12 526 hood, 14 042 hood cap and 14 269 rear cap.

Leica specifies approximately 9.00 oz. (255g) for this black lens, and 12.00 oz. (340g) for the silver one.


LEICA Product Numbers      top

Lens, complete boxed system with accessories: 11 879 black, 11 882 silver.

(mit Schraubgewinde (screw mount) M 39 version, c. 1999, chrome: 11 608)


The included accessories are:

Hood: 12 526 ($120 if bought separately; same as 28mm f/2.8 ASPH).

Hood Cap: 14 043 ($30 if bought separately).

39mm Front Cap: 14 038 ($30 if bought separately).

Rear Cap: 14 269 ($27 if bought separately).

Fitted Leather Case: 439-606.068-000.


Price      top

$2,800, new, USA, May 2009.

Usually about $1,500 - $2,000 used.


Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations


My tests are all shot full-frame on Fuji Velvia 50 on an M7.

Lenses this good are no fun to test. They work pretty much perfectly. Since there are no flaws, there isn't much about which to write.


Bokeh      top

Christmass Ball Tree 20 Dec 2013

Christmass Ball Tree 20 Dec 2013. LEICA M typ 240, lens at f/2.

Bokeh is kind of crappy, but that's OK because depth-of-field is so deep with the short lens that nothing is usually out of focus anyway. If you get close as I did here, it's OK.

You have to work really hard to get anything out of focus in the background about which to worry.

I'm not going to worry about this.


Depth-of-Field      top


Dim Restaurant.

f/2 at 1/3 second, hand-held, M7, Fuji Velvia 50, NCPS scan. enlarge.

I'm sure it's the case for other 35mm f/2 lenses, but I was surprised at the depth of field, even wide-open.

I can shoot interiors, and nothing is that far out of focus.

This shot was focused on the vertical line of the corner of the wall in the middle (left-right) of the frame.


Diaphragm Linearity      top

My M7 agreed exactly as I tried every half-stop.

Lesser lenses often become inaccurate at smaller apertures.

This isn't important on cameras which meter through-the-lens at taking aperture, like most modern LEICAs, but it could lead to inaccurate exposures if you're using an external meter.

As far as I can measure, this lens is perfect.


Distortion      top

There is no visible distortion of straight lines. Don't worry about it.

If you're going to hold a ruler up to huge enlargements, there is a slight amount of pincushion (sucking) distortion. Use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion Tool to correct the tiny amount of residual pincushion in scans from film if you're worried.

Correction factor
30' (10m)
10' (3m)
3' (1m)

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.


Ergonomics      top

Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH

LEICA 35mm SUMMICRON f/2 ASPH, twice life-size. enlarge.


Ergonomics are perfect. Everything ought to be designed like this 35mm LEICA lens.

You focus with a finger lever, using just one finger tip. There isn't really a focus ring. You can focus through the entire range with one short finger motion; it's even better than Nikon AI-s manual focus lenses.

Because the finger tip lever is fixed to the focus ring, you'll be able to preset focus purely by feel. Your finger is always in the same place every time for the same distance, and it's pretty similar to Leica's other lever-focus lenses.

The aperture ring is also perfect. It's trivial to adjust with a single fingertip. Its easier to adjust with no hood, because it sticks out so far. Add the hood, and you now have to find the aperture ring at the base of the hood. No big deal, but it's even better with no hood.

The 35mm f/2 ASPH has enough of a base that you have a place to grab it for mounting and unmounting, unlike the shorter 28mm f/2.8 ASPH.

The worst thing I can say is that the field scale is so cluttered that it's hard to figure out which lines go to which apertures. I use my depth-of-field scales, so this bugs me.


Falloff (darkened corners)      top

I never noticed any in real shooting, even at f/2.

For the places and things you're going to shoot at f/2, any falloff in this lens is invisible, and in fact, you might want more just to make your compositional point.

Leica rates it as -1.9 stops at f/2, -1.2 stops at f/2.8 and -0.9 stops at f/5.6.

Remember: darker corners are good for keeping your viewer's eyes from wandering out of the photo and keeping their attention in your photo where it belongs, so I might actually like more falloff.


Filters      top

This 35mm lens is so tiny that even the tiny 39mm filters are a generous size.

Even on full-frame, I can stack two 39mm filters and not get any vignetting!

The 12 526 hood fits right over two stacked filters, too.


Flare and Ghosts      top

With a Hoya single-coated filter, there is a faint inverted ghost image of very bright highlights, only visible at night.

If you're shooting into bright lights or neon at night, take off the filter. Otherwise you may see a faint inverted version of the image's highlights repeated in the darker parts of the image.


Framing Accuracy      top

This will vary camera-to-camera, but the framing accuracy with my M7 is uncannily good. There is just a little extra on film left and right, and otherwise, I'm getting just about exactly what I see in my finder vertically.

Don't mess with the Germans when it comes to accuracy: if you think you're going to get much more wiggle room at on the borders of your film, guess again. Respect the boundaries of your finder.


Hood      top

Hood Part Number: 12 526 ($120 if bought separately; same hood as 28mm f/2.8 ASPH).

Designed for full-frame use; not the half-frame M8.

Size: 42mm slip-over (A42 in German).

The front snap-on mount matches my 50mm f/2 from 1970 and the 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit from at least 1983-1987.

The hood's design is flawed: there is no vent through which the camera's viewfinder can see. Use the hood, and you'll see it as a black spot covering the lower right of your camera's finder.

The true LEICA man pays someone to cut-out the back section of the hood that Leica was too cheap to do, as it used to on older lenses.

The lens hood is flawed, unusual for the Germans. It's the wrong hood!

Leica got cheap and uses the same hood for a few lenses of different focal lengths. The longer lenses have to make do with hoods that let in too much light outside the image area.

That's the case for this 12 526 hood. It's designed to work perfectly with the 28mm f/2.8 ASPH lens, and it does.

When this hood used on this 35mm lens, it still admits the same angle-of-view as the 28mm lens. To see this yourself, open your camera's back, open its shutter on Bulb, and look through the front of the lens to see what's included on film, and how you can see the lens from many angles not recorded of film. Do this same test with the 28mm f/2.8 ASPH, and you'll see how perfect the hood is — for the 28mm lens.

Enough of my whining. The hood works great, you don't need it anyway, and most importantly, it pops over whatever filter or filters you have on your lens.


Lateral Color Fringes       top

None, although at 80x magnification, there is just the slightest yellow/blue fringe in the far corners. Without instruments, its invisible.


Mechanics and Construction      top

The LEICA 35mm f/2 ASPH is made perfectly. Everything ought to be made this well, but hey, some people consider price when shopping, which is why there is so much junk out there today.

This 35mm f/2 ASPH feels identical to the 28mm f/2.8 ASPH: a little longer, and its heavier because it has more glass.

The focus feel is identical to other focus-levered LEICA lenses like the 21mm f/2.8 ASPH and the 28mm f/2.8 ASPH. This says a lot about Leica: not only does the focus feel great, its feel matches perfectly between different models and different decades of manufacture!


Caps: Medium-soft plastic.

Hood: Plastic with metal catches.

Barrel: Black anodized aluminum.

Focus Ring: Black anodized aluminum.

Focus Lever: Plastic.

Aperture Ring: Black anodized aluminum.

Finish: Black anodized aluminum. (Nikon AI-s lenses add a layer of enamel over the anodization.)

Focus Helicoids: Aluminum and brass.

Other Internals: Metal.

Mount: Dull chromed brass.

Mounting Index Dot: Red plastic ball.

Markings: Engraved and filled with paint.

Quality: Made in Germany.


Sharpness      top

NEU: Sharpness Compared to Zeiss 35mm f/2 16 February 2011

NEU: Sharpness Compared to Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 16 February 2011

LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm Sharpness Comparison 14 January 2011

Rubber 20 Dec 2013

Leaf on Rubber, 20 December 2013. Shot with LEICA M typ 240 at ISO 200 and LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH at f/8 at 1/180 at ISO 200. 16 MB © Camera-original file.

It's always sharp, even wide open, even in the corners, at any distance.

If you're silly enough to look at your film with 40x lab microscope, you'll see just the slightest softening in the far corners compared to the center at f/2 at infinity, but it's still sharp. Stop down to f/2.8 and even the corners are perfect under the microscope.

This is a really, really sharp lens. If you're not getting sharp results, you're doing something wrong. Your biggest limitation to sharpness is finding flat subjects that you can get in focus and hold still.

It's also ultra-sharp even at its closest focus distance, which is closer than specified. Even at f/2.8, it's perfect in the corners at 0.65m, if you can hold the camera perfectly parallel to your subject.

The rangefinder of my M7 couples perfectly: I get perfect focus every time at f/2.


Viewfinder Blockage       top

Leica M4-P and 35 2 ASPH

LEICA M4-P, 35 2 ASPH and 12 526 hood. enlarge.

The lower right of the viewfinders' 35mm framelines of my M4-P and M7 just barely touch the tip of the lens. With a naked lens or a lens with one filter, there's no occlusion at infinity.

Add a second 39mm filter, and there is a negligible amount of blockage.

Focus more closely, and the lens extends into the corner at the same time the finder rectangle is moving closer to the lens. At 2-1/2 feet (0.7m), you'll have some blockage of the lower right corner, even without the hood.

The included 12 526 hood blocks some of the lower right because it's defective in not having the upper right corner cut out. The filter covers any filters, so filters won't be blocking your view; it will be the hood.


Leica 35mm f/2

LEICA 35/2, twice life size. enlarge.


Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

NEU: Sharpness Compared to Zeiss 35mm f/2 16 February 2011

NEU: Sharpness Compared to Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 16 February 2011

LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm Sharpness Comparison 14 January 2011

Finder Blockage
7/5 ASPH
8 blades
10 blades
10 blades
10 blades
10 blades
Aperture ring clicks
half stops
third stops
half stops
third stops
half stops
Close focus
very good
Distortion, 3m
Price, 2/2011

$2,000 (used)

$650 used

* Actual measured.

** With auxiliary finder optimization optics.


Compared to the f/1.4 ASPH

You lose a lot of everything to gain just one stop. Skip the f/1.4 lens unless you really need f/1.4.

This 35mm f/2
Filter Size
Finder Blockage
Distortion, max.
Rated MTF at maximum aperture
really good
the same
Rated MTF at f/2.8
really good
the same
Rated MTF at f/5.6
More divergence between saggital and meridional at the corners
slightly better
Falloff, Maximum Aperture
-1.9 stops
-2.6 stops
Falloff, f/2.8
-1.2 stops
-1.4 stops
Falloff, f/5.6
-0.9 stops
-1.0 stops
Price, New, Feb 2009


All in all, the optics are better (less distortion ) in this f/2 lens, it takes standard 39mm filters and doesn't block my finder. The MTF curves suggest identical sharpness at every aperture, which makes sense, because these LEICA lenses are crazy sharp at every setting anyway.

The f/1.4 sounds nice, but even given a LEICA man's unlimited supply of cash, I'd only pack it for low-light. I prefer the unblocked viewfinder with the f/2, and the ability to take the same tiny 39mm filters as the rest of my LEICA lenses.

If you prefer the bigger leica lenses, like the recently discontinued 90mm f/2.8 and current 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, take the same 46mm filters as the 35mm f/1.4. If you upgrade to the Contax G system, it takes 46mm filters, too.

Honestly, the real difference between these two is more distortion and finder cutoff with the f/1.4, and what filter size you prefer to match the rest of your lenses.

You can see Leica's Technical data for this 35mm f/2 ASPH and their data for the 35mm f/1.4 ASPH.

See also this same comparison, done differently, at the 35mm f/1.4 SUMMILUX review.


Compared to the Zeiss Contax G 35mm f/2

Zeiss Contax G 35mm f/2

Zeiss Contax G 35mm f/2

The Zeiss-for-Contax G 35mm f/2 is also a great lens, but is a little bigger, takes 46mm filters, and has just a hair more distortion.

The distortion of this LEICA 35mm f/2 is never visible to the eye unless you drop a ruler on a huge print, but you can see the slight barrel distortion of the Zeiss-for-Contax lens if you're really looking for it. Most of the time, you'll never see this with either unless you're shooting things like brick walls head-on.

The rated MTF of the Zeiss-for-Contax lens is worse, but on actual film, the Zeiss-for-Contax lens looks great.

The Zeiss-for-Contax lens focuses to 0.5m, closer than the 0.65m of the LEICA 35mm f/2.

Optics are both superb; my concern would be the lack of a depth-of-field scale on the Zeiss-for-Contax lens. See Contax G vs. LEICA M for more.


Compared to the Nikon 35mm f/2 AF and AI-s

Nikon 35mm f/2 AIS

Nikon Nikkor 35mm f/2 AI-s

The Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D is a dog by comparison. If you're looking closely, it's real soft in the corners at most apertures.

The Nikon 35mm f/2 AI-s is no princess either. I hate it for it's crippling ghosts when used at night with bright light sources in the image.


Compared to the Nikon W-NIKKOR·C 3.5cm f/2.5

Nikon 35m f/2.5

Nikon W-NIKKOR·C 3.5cm f/2.5

The Nikon W-NIKKOR•C 35mm f/2.5 from the 1950s is a surprisingly good lens. I haven't shot it directly against this LEICA lens, however this old Nikon lens is one of their best and quite likely as good.

It's 2/3 of a stop slower, however distortion is the same at infinity and better at 30 feet (10m) and closer, and sharpness of the Nikkor is superb.

This Nikkor lens only works on Nikon's 1950s rangefinder cameras like the SP.

My biggest, and rather serious complaint about the Nikon rangefinder camera system is that only some of its lenses are great (this 35mm, the 85mm f/2, 105/2.5 and 135/3.5 are great, but the 50/1.4 and 28/3.5 are iffy), and that the diaphragms are not well calibrated, leading to iffy exposure accuracy since no Nikon rangefinder camera has TTL metering to correct for these errors.


Recommendations      top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Want a perfect medium lens? It doesn't get any better than this LEICA 35mm f/2 ASPH.

The only reason not to get this lens is that once you do, you'll never have any real reason to go lens shopping again. You'll finally be able to just go out and shoot for a change.

I've written a long, detailed review, but I didn't need to. This is a spectacular lens, and I really had to hunt to have anything critical to say about it.

If you're considering this lens, consider it done. Just get one.



I'd use a 39mm 81A B+W brand filter for slide film.

I'd use any 39mm B+W brand yellow filter for B&W film outdoors

I'd use a 39mm LEICA 13 131 UV filter for digital or color print film or for black-and-white film indoors.

(With the old M8.2, use a LEICA brand 39mm UV/IR filter 13 410 (or a B+W brand 39mm UV/IR filter) to correct for a design flaw in the M8.2's sensor design.)


More Information

LEICA's Technical Data

LEICA's fluff page

Cosina, Voigtländer and other lenses for LEICA.


A friendly note to the non-LEICA user (LEICA guys: stop reading now)

To the LEICA man, only the best shall suffice.

The LEICA man doesn't care, or even know, the trifling price of this $2,800 lens. This is not relevant. Just like a Porsche, no one buys a LEICA because he needs it. He acquires it because he is who he is.

This is why LEICA weenies get so freaked out when you mention cameras that are better for a fraction of the price. You are personally insulting them and their superior taste.

For normal people, the 35mm f/2.8 lens of the Nikon 35Ti is at least as good, and has even less distortion than the tiny, invisible amount of distortion of this LEICA 35mm f/2.

For less than one-tenth the price of this LEICA lens, you can get the Nikon 35Ti lens, and it comes included with a free, permanently attached dedicated camera body with a far better metering system than anything the LEICA man can purchase.

The Nikon 35Ti also adds date imprinting, Professional (previously known as program) exposure mode, a DX film speed reader system that actually works, and a superior 7-bladed diaphragm to give better sunstars than the dowdy 8-bladed diaphragm of this LEICA 35mm lens.

Nikon's SLR lenses aren't anywhere near as good as the 35Ti. The Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D is a dog, if you're counting all your pixels, while the 35Ti lens is spectacular.



I support my growing family through this website.

If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

The biggest help is to use these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz and J&R when you get your goodies. It costs you nothing and is a huge help. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

Thanks for reading!


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May 2009

M39 lenses too heavy
Only focus to 1m
Focus iffy
Hood sucks (both versions)
Link index image to M39 section
Materials: index dot not present on M39
Made in?