A great day when you see a range of new products announced by Leica on 10 May. I did not have the opportunity and honour to attend the party at Berlin. What you will read below are my thoughts after browsing through some information of online hand-on previews or reviews.
This is truly amazing when Leica launches so many products at the same time: the M Monochrom, X2, V-Lux40, S-Adapter H, five news S-series central shutter lenses (available from October: Elmarit-S f/2.8 30 mm ASPH., Summarit-S f/2.5 35 mm ASPH., Summarit-S f/2.5 70 mm ASPH., APO-Macro-Summarit-S f/2.5 120 mm, APO-Tele-Elmar-S f/3.5 180 mm) and the APO-Summicron-M 50 mm ASPH., not to mention the Leica M9-P ‘Edition Hermès’.
The Leica M Monochrom is a legend. Few would question whether it is a groundbreaking camera of digital photography. Although Michael Reichmann reminds us this is not the first digital camera with a black and white sensor, we should admit that no manufacturer has made one bold step forward to explore the limit of a black and white sensor in the 35mm format. Now Leica has done it even though with a higher price tag than the M9-P! Who is the target user? Does it aim at those seriously black and white photographers?
Besides, I indeed have profound interest in the new 50 mm lens. For your information, Leica now has totally released five 50mm prime lens (price in euro in brackets):
Noctilux-M 50 mm f/0.95 ASPH. (€8500)
Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. (€2950)
Summicron-M 50 mm f/2.0 (€1750)
APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2.0 ASPH. (around €6000)
Summarit-M 50 mm f/2.5 (€1200)
The price of the new APO-Summicron-M 50 mm lens is second only to the Noctilux. It is also priced only about 15% less expensive than the body of a M9-P. That said, you may not claim it ridiculous if you have a glance of the technical data of this lens on the official website of Leica. The MTF graph shows how excellent the contrast and resolution it is. Most significantly, there is practically no distortion. As usual a Leica lens is alway usable, rendering excellent colour and resolution even at aperture wide open.
Remember Leica calls this lens APO (apochromat, which means this lens has better correction of chromatic and spherical aberration than the much more common lenses) and marked with ASPH (aspherical glass with a floating element) technology means that it sets a new standard when compared with other 50 mm M series lens.
So far I have read some really nice reviews of M-Monochrom (for example, Michael Reichmann and Jonathan Slack) but not much of the APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2.0 ASPH. I cannot say further without seeing the real world test or even take some serious shots (only a dream). However, my experience with the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2.0 has been very positive. It is a nicely built lens. The resolution, colour, contrast are absolutely excellent. I do not have to do much in post-processing in Adobe Lightroom.
Do you want to pay double the price of a Summilux to get this lens? I can’t say it is impossible because lens pays a vital role of the image quality.
Needless to say: every Leica lens is a wise investment.