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.
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:
- 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
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?
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).
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.
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: