I think the only thing I love more than this new Leica setup is my family. So today, I want to chat a little about the Lux 50. Many review sites out there have touted the Leica Summilux-M 1.4/50 ASPH as the most perfect lens ever made. I concur.  I've only had it about a month, but have used it in many conditions ranging from snow to bright light to low light in shady bars.  As I get more used to it, I find that it's slowly starting to eclipse anything I have previously owned.  As always, this won't be a very technical review - just some hands on examples of what I have been shooting with the 50 - allowing the photos to speak for themselves, more or less.

Cover work - The Folks Below
Cover work - The Folks Below

Build quality is something you first notice when you pick up the glass.  Heavy.  Solid.  Built with care.  Though I am a Zeiss fanatic, the edge in build goes to this Leica lens.  The focus ring is smooth and has a great tab for ease of use.  The aperture ring clicks into place well - you know for a fact it won't drift.  Here is a snapshot of the tech specs on this beast:

Technical Data

  • Angle of view (diagonal, horizontal, vertical) 47°, 40°, 27°
  • Number of elements / groups: 8 / 5
  • Focal length: 51.6 mm
  • Entrance pupil: 25.7 mm
  • Focusing range: 0.7 m to Infinity
  • Length: 52.5 mm
  • Largest diameter: 53.5 mm
  • Weight: approx. 335 g
Lux in the Snow
Lux in the Snow

It's the sharpness and bokeh 1-2 punch that makes this lens untouchable. For the most part, I have been shooting this lens wide open at f/1.4 and have seen no drop in IQ.  The distance drops into a creamy bokeh that looks like a painting.  The subject stays in perfect sharpness - edge-to-edge.  Just look at the distant trees in the photo directly above and my little girl at the top; that's the magic I love and what convinced me to purchase this lens.  One thing to notice - the falling snow in the foreground against that smooth bokeh back.  Larger version on my Flickr stream if you care. For most, $4,000 is a ton to drop on a single piece of glass - but if it's doing 90% of your work, isn't it worth having the best?

Lux Indoor @ 0.7m
Lux Indoor @ 0.7m

Look at the hairs on my dog above and whiskers on my cat below that are just tack-sharp. Again, handheld and wide open. Nothing like it.  (The glow to the right of the dog is a reflection on the wood floor from a window.  The glow to the bottom left of the cat is a burning candle).

Mad Max - Wide Open
Mad Max - Wide Open

I have been mostly messing around with the lens to learn the focus (it's 100% accurate).  The only shots I have had out of focus are all my fault.  The lens is perfectly calibrated to the ME body and gives me the exact results I picture in my head.  As long as you know how to control light, exposure is always perfect - no blown highlights, perfect shadows and crisp subject/focal point.

Slide in 3D - Lux @ f/1.4
Slide in 3D - Lux @ f/1.4

One thing that drew me to Zeiss was the "3D Quality" it has. I was nervous about jumping to a Leica lens as I had read the 3D isn't there - at least not to the degree of the Zeiss. But looking at the B&W above - I think it performs just fine when going for that look. The conversion to B&W was just a desaturation of color - no tricks.

Below are a few more examples in various light:

Lux in the Dark
Lux in the Dark
Concert Shooting - Low Light
Concert Shooting - Low Light

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