Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

LEICA 35mm f/2
SUMMICRON-M 7-element (1979-1996)

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. This page best with Corporate S regular and bold activated.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

Please help KenRockwell..com

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 (39mm filters, 156g/5.5 oz., about $2,200 used). Vergrößern. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

December 2011      LEICA Reviews    LEICA Lenses   other reviews

Guide to all LEICA 35mm SUMMICRONs

LEICA 35mm SUMMICRON Sharpness Comparison

Torture-test sample image at f/2

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

Ritz Camera

I use Adorama, Amazon, eBay, Ritz, B&H, Calumet, J&R and ScanCafe. I can't vouch for ads below.

This LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 is the smallest and lightest bayonet mount 35mm lens ever made by LEICA. It therefore is LEICA's best 35mm lens for travel and casual carrying.

Its optics are excellent, with no distortion and much less weight than today's LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35m f/2. ASPH, but today's ASPH lenses are much sharper wide-open.

Laymen misread three articles in the March/April 1997 issue of Photo Techniques magazine by John Kennerdell, Oren Grad, and Harold Merklinger about bokeh, in which one mentioned that this lens, the current model back then, had great bokeh at f/8. It might at f/8, but at f/2 where it matters, bokeh is awful, just like most LEICA 35mm lenses. Today's Zeiss 35mm f/2 ZM has better bokeh and sharpness than this lens, and sells for only one-third as much brand-new as this lens sells for used — but the Zeiss lenses are big, heavy and take only weird-sized filters.

 

Compatibility       top

This LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 works perfectly on every LEICA M camera, from 1954's LEICA M3 through today's newest LEICA M7, LEICA MP, LEICA M9 and LEICA M9-P.

 

History       top

The earliest versions of this lens looked slightly different and had a ribbed convex focus tab. Most of them look as seen here.

See my Guide to LEICA 35mm SUMMICRONs 1958-today for the other versions of the 35mm SUMMICRON.

 

Colors

1979-1996

Black anodized aluminum (11 310, rated 160g).

 

1993-1996

Also sold in chromed brass (11 311, rated 250g).

 

Quality

1979-1988

Made in Canada.

 

1987-1996

MADE IN GERMANY.

 

Fonts

1979-1988

All round font, except "35" in square font.

 

1989

Square font on focus and "35," round font elsewhere (front identity ring and depth-of-field).

 

1990-1992

As seen on the lens shown here, square font everywhere ("35," focus, aperture and identity ring), except round font for depth-of-field scale.

 

1993-1996

Square font everywhere.

 

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2. Vergrößern.

 

Specifications       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

 

Name

Leica calls this the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2.

SUMMICRON means it's an f/2 lens.

The -M means it's for LEICA's M-Kameras. This -M was added in the 1970s to differentiate lenses for M-Kameras from the R lenses for LEICA's failed R-series SLRs.

 

Optics        top

7 elements in 5 groups.

Double-Gauss derivative.

 

Focal Length       top

35mm.

If used on the failed half-frame LEICA M8, it sees only an angle of view similar to what a 47mm lens sees on a real camera.

 

Angle of View       top

64º diagonal.

 

Diaphragm       top

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 at f/5.6. Vergrößern.

10 blades.

Usually curved inwards.

Straight at f/11 and f/13.5.

Round at f/16.

 

Close Focus

0.7 meters (18" or 2.5 feet), marked.

0.67 meters (26" or 2.17 feet), measured.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:17.8.

 

Minimum Subject Dimensions

430 x 640mm.

 

Filters

Common 39 x 0.5 mm (E39).

 

Size        top

52.00mm (2.050") diameter, measured.

26.40mm (1.050") extension from flange, measured.

 

Weight        top

5.499 oz. (155.88g), measured.

LEICA rated it as 160g, or 250g in chrome (1993-1996).

The earliest cosmetic version with the convex ribbed focus tab was rated at 190g.

 

Hood        top

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2, capped

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 mit 12 534 hood. Vergrößern.

The supplied plastic 12 524 hood is the same as the newer 12 526 hood used by the LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm f/2 ASPH and the 28mm f/2.8 ASPH, except that this older hood has metal outer release tabs while the newer 12 526 uses black plastic outer tabs. They both use internal metal clamps.

This hood lacks a cut-out for the finder, and leads to some finder blockage. I prefer to use the earlier 12 504 hood with a 58mm Nikon front cap instead.

 

Caps         top

 

Front cap

14 268 slip-on plastic A42 front cap.

LEICA had not yet invented the easy-to-lose 14 043 rectangular front plastic hood cover issued with today's LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm f/2 ASPH and the 28mm f/2.8 ASPH. The new 14 043 cap also works with the older 12 524 hood supplied with this lens.

Without the hood, the current 39mm plastic snap-in 14 038 front cap works, as do the classic A42 drawn-brass caps.

 

Rear cap

Standard 14 269 M rear cap.

 

Part Numbers        top

Lens kit: 11 310 (silber chrom: 11 311).

Hood cap:14 043 (never included, invented after this lens).

Hood: 12 524 (included). Replaced by today's 12 526.

Rear cap: 14 269 (included).

Front 39mm plastic snap-in cap: 14 038 (never included, invented after this lens).

 

Included         top

The 35/2M comes boxed inside a genuine nappa leather case, with a cheap plastic push-on front cap that only attaches without the hood, paperwork, hood and rear cap.

 

Quality        top

Made in Canada to save money 1979-1988, then MADE IN GERMANY from 1987-1996.

 

Price, USA         top

November 2011: $2,200 used.

December 2010: $1,900 used.

Like everything LEICA, the prices only go up.

 

Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

Overall   Bokeh   Color Balance   Coma   Distortion   Ergonomics   Falloff

Finder Blockage   Flare and Ghosts   Focus   Lateral Color  Mechanics

Sharpness   Spherochromatism   Sunstars

 

Overall       performance   top

The LEICA SUMMICRON-M ASPH 35/2 is LEICA's lightest M-mount 35mm lens ever.

Its optics aren't as good wide-open as any of the ASPH lenses, however it has no distortion, much better than any 35mm ASPH lens.

 

Bokeh       performance     top

Ryan's haircut, 28 Dec 2010

Ryan gets a haircut. (28 December 2010, LEICA M9 at 1/45 second, ISO 400 and 4,700 K WB, 1990 LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 at f/2.8.) bigger.

Bokeh, the character of out of focus backgrounds, not simply how far out of focus they are, is mediocre.

In the center it's somewhat distracting at f/2 and becomes neutral at smaller apertures.

In the corners it's somewhat distracting at f/2 and f/2.8 and becomes neutral at smaller apertures.

It's not significantly different from any other 35mm SUMMICRON. I've shot all sorts of direct comparisons with all versions from 1958-today, and depending on where and how you're looking, there is no consistent winner. THey are quite similar.

 

Color Balance       performance     top

Color balance appears the same as my other LEICA lenses.

 

Coma       performance   top

ALBQ

Albuquerque airport. LEICA M9 at ISO 160, f/2 at 1/125, DNG processed in Aperture. Full-resolution.

This 35 2 SUMMICRON has a healthy amount of coma at f/2. It gets better as stopped down and is gone by f/8. See the blobs of light at the top cornersnin this sample photo? That's coma.

Coma makes points of light grow batwings in the corners in night shots.

By comparison, the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE has none.

 

Distortion       performance   top

This LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 has no visible distortion, which is much better than the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH.

You see no distortion in the sample image above.

For critical photogrammetric use, use these factors with Photoshop's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

 
Correct with
0.0
10' (3m)
-0.5
3' (1m)
+0.3

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Ergonomics       performance   top

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2. Vergrößern.

Ergonomics are swell: the aperture sets by feel with a fingertip, and the focus glides almost by itself. This is LEICA.

The focus is as we expect from LEICA; it's not stiffer as is the focus of the floating-element LEICA SUMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4.

The focus is beautiful. A thinner focus tab is used because this SUMMICRON is so short.

 

Falloff (darker corners)        performance   top

The LEICA 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M has the usual falloff expected from a 35mm SUMMICRON: a little wide-open, and nothing significant stopped-down.

The LEICA M9 and LEICA M9-P have built-in profiles specifically for this lens: the 11 310/11 311 profile.

I've greatly emphasized it below by shooting a gray field and presenting it against another gray field.

 

LEICA 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M light falloff on M9 at infinity:

No lens profile:

f/2
f/2.8

f/4

f/5.6

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

With 11 310/11 311 profile:

f/2
f/2.8

f/4

f/5.6

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Finder Blockage       performance   top

There is no blockage with the SUMMICRON alone, and minor blockage with the older 12 504, standard 12 524 or current 12 526 hoods.

 

Flare and Ghosts       performance   top

De Neri Church ALBQ

San Felipe de Neri Parish, Albuquerque, New Mexico. (LEICA M9, 0.7 seconds at ISO 1,600 at f/2, hand-held.)

Flare and ghosts aren't a problem, unless you've got a bright, unshielded light glaring directly at you at night as I did here. See the apparition in the sky? The UFO is a lens ghost excited by the one unshielded light glaring directly into my lens.

Use your hand to shield the lens if the light isn't in the picture; the hoods don't do much.

 

Focus        performance   top

Focus Accuracy

Focus accuracy is a personal issue between your sample of body and your sample of lens. No two samples match if you start looking too hard; this is a limitation of the mechanical technology.

This said, this particular sample focuses perfectly, as I'd expect for almost any 35mm rangefinder lens.

35mm lenses have large enough depths-of-field that the LEICA rangefinders are more than good enough for perfect focus each time.

 

Focus Feel

Focus feels the same as other current LEICA lenses, if not a tiny bit slicker.

There is never any play.

 

Lateral Color Fringes       performance   top

There are no lateral color fringes as shot on a LEICA M9.

 

Materials and Construction       performance   top

Rear, LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2

Rear, LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2. Vergrößern.

This SUMMICRON-M is extremely well made. It's made the same as all other current LEICA lenses.

It's all black-anodized aluminum (or chromed brass in the silber-chrom version), with brass focus helicoids and mount and a red plastic index ball.

All markings are engraved and filled with paint.

Bravo!

 

Sharpness       performance   top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

With these caveats, this SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 is always super-sharp in the center, but slightly softer in the corners at larger apertures.

At f/2, coma blurs the corners. The corners get sharper as stopped down, with the blur gone by f/8. See this torture-test image shot at f/2; it's super-sharp in the center, and still sharp on the sides but less contrasty due to the coma.

For most of the image, it's slightly less contrasty at f/2, sharpens-up at f/2.8, and optimum by f/4.

At f/11 and f/16, diffraction dulls everything.

As with most lenses, f/4 to f/8 is optimum for sharpness with this 35/2 SUMMICRON-M.

See my LEICA 35mm SUMMICRON Sharpness Comparison for more examples.

 

Spherochromatism       performance   top

The LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 has no visible spherochromatism.

Spherochromatism, mistakenly called "color bokeh" by laymen, is when out-of-focus highlights take on colored fringes, usually green and magenta.

 

Sunstars       performance   top

The 35 2 SUMMICRON-M's 10-bladed diaphragm begets nice 10-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.

Avoid f/16 because the aperture becomes completely round and won't make any sunstars; they are best at moderate and other smaller apertures.

 

Usage       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

Finders

With the LEICA M3, you will need to use your choice of shoe-mounted 35mm viewfinder because this lens never came in a premium version with the additional viewfinder optics needed by the M3's superior high-magnification finder.

All other LEICA M cameras have built-in 35mm finders, albeit at lower magnification.

 

Metering

TTL and shoe-mounted LEICAMETERS of all LEICA and lesser cameras of all ages work great with this 35/2.

 

Lens Profiles (für digital LEICAs only)

Use the manual 11 310/11 311 lens profile on the LEICA M9 or LEICA M9-P.

Without a lens profile, images sides and corners might be a little darker, but nothing to worry about.

 

Hood

I prefer to use the earlier 12 504 hood with a 58mm Nikon front cap instead.

 

Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

See also:

Guide to all LEICA 35mm SUMMICRONs

LEICA 35mm SUMMICRON Sharpness Comparison

This is LEICA's smallest and lightest M-bayonet 35mm lens, so I love it for travel. The 35/2 ASPH is much heavier.

Optically this SUMMICRON-M is about the same as every other non-ASPH 35mm SUMMICRON in actual photography, with the explicit details for armchair enthusiasts laid out at my SUMMICRON Sharpness Comparison. Bokeh and distortion are all about the same among the non-ASPH SUMMICRONs, with the ASPH significantly sharper wide-open at the sides.

The Zeiss 35/2 ZM and Zeiss 35/2.8 ZM each have better bokeh than any of the LEICA 35mm lenses, and are sharper than this SUMMICRON-M lens, but the Zeiss cripple themselves with a queer filter size and too much weight.

 

Summary Comparison Table

 
Dates
1979-1996
1996-
2004-
2008-
1958-1974
Filter
39mm
39mm
43mm
43mm
39mm
Length
26.4mm
34.5mm
43mm
29.8mm
29.0mm
Finder Blockage
none
minor
minor-moderate
minor
none
Optics
7/5
7/5 ASPH
9/6
7/5
6/4
Diaphragm
10 blades
8 blades
10 blades
10 blades
10 blades
Aperture ring clicks
half stops
half stops
third stops
third stops
half stops
f/min
f/16
f/16
f/22
f/22
f/22
Close focus
0.7m
0.7m
0.7m
0.7m
0.65m**
Sharpness
very good
excellent
excellent
excellent
good
Bokeh
poor-good
poor-good
OK-good
OK-good
 
Distortion, 3m
-0.5
-1.5
0.0
-0.8
<±0.25
Weight*
156g
254g
224g
178g
239g**
Price, 11/2011

$2,200 (used)

$650 used

* Actual measured.

** With auxiliary finder optimization optics.

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

This is LEICA's best 35mm lens for travel because of its tiny size and weight.

Optically, it's not significantly different from earlier 35mm SUMMICRONs, and inferior to any of the 35mm ASPH lenses — except for distortion, of which this SUMMICRON-M has none.

Any of the LEICA 35mm ASPH lenses have superior sharpness wide-open and in the corners, if you care.

Since the only way to get this SUMMICRON-M lens is used, you might want to consider a used 35/2 ASPH, which sells for only a few hundred dollars more used ($2,600 versus $2,200).

The Zeiss 35/2 ZM and Zeiss 35/2.8 ZM each have better bokeh than any of the LEICA 35mm lenses, and are sharper than this SUMMICRON-M lens, but much bigger and heavier and use a weird filter size. If money matters, you shouldn't be looking at LEICA, but if you are, the Zeiss lenses sell new for one-third the cost of any of these LEICA lenses used.

MADE IN GERMANY

MADE IN GERMANY (1987-1996).

This SUMMICRON-M was made both in Canada during LEICA's darkest days, and more recently MADE IN GERMANY. Performance should be the same, but personally, I'd only get the German version for bloodline's sake.

If you find all the effort I put into sharing all this information, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links to Adorama, Amazon, eBay, Ritz, Calumet, J&R and ScanCafe when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. 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.

If you find this page 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.

As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

 

Poor Bokeh, see ryan's haircut 28 dec 2010