Lens Authority and Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux review.
The Leica bug strikes again! This time, I needed a fast 50mm to complete my kit. There's a lot of choices for the M mount in regards to a 50mm focal length. However, really only one option for an f/1.4 aperture. That's the Summilux.
A brand new Leica M Summilux retails for about $3,900. In my quest to find a good deal, I came across Lens Authority. I've heard about them before, but never used them. Lens Authority's ratings online are top notch, so I decided to give them my business. Well, for a price about 20% off of a new 50mm Summilux, I got one that is probably 9/10 in terms of quality. You can definitely tell it's used because of wear and tear to the paint, but the mechanics and optics are quite good. Their ratings are very conservative. The description of the lens said there would be wear and slight scratches on the front element of the lens, but it's practically perfect. I've looked at it from all angles and even in sunlight, and I really can't find anything wrong with it. Their service was prompt, they even answered the phone with a real human being when I called. They will now be my go to place for any and all of my used photographic needs!
Regarding the actual lens itself, it does take a little bit of force to get the lens focusing. From what I've read online specifically from Ken Rockwell's review - http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/50mm-f14-asph.htm, that's quite normal. He refers to it as the stiction of the lens. Also, the integrated lens hood is a great idea and works very well.
Well, let's talk image quality. Is the lens good? Yes. Is it great? Well, compared to the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art or the Sony/Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 FE lens, it's not as good, but those lenses are for different systems and they are much larger and heavier.
First let's take a look at the Sony 50mm f/1.4 on a Sony A7R II. Granted, it's not the same scene, not the same lighting, not the same camera, etc. but I'm just trying to illustrate image quality here.
Now let's look at the Sigma 50mm Art lens on a Canon 5D Mark IV. Again, I know, apples and oranges. I'm just trying to illustrate the competition out there for 50mm f/1.4 lenses.
I actually shot quite a bit with the above two aforementioned lenses, and I believe the Sigma is the higher quality of the two.
What about Leica? Well, the Leica is different. It's smaller, it's lighter, it's more compact, it's manual focus, and it's old fashioned. Is it bad? No. I just don't believe that it's magical because it's a Leica.
Here are some snaps from this weekend. Nothing serious, nothing special, just the usual family stuff. All of these were shot with available light and edited using Lightroom.
So what do I think? It's good, not great, but good. I can't help feeling underwhelmed by it, so I'm actually returning it today. It's just not worth the price of the lens. There's room for Zeiss to come out with a 50mm f/1.4 M mount lens with better contrast and sharpness than the Leica. So far, the 35mm f/1.4 Zeiss lens that I reviewed previously is my favorite M mount lens that I have tried, but I like the Summilux too. For now, I'll stick with the 50mm f/2.4 Summarit lens that came with my 262 kit.
If you would like to see some more shots with the Summilux though, check them out over on my photo page - http://www.bershatsky.net/2017/2017-06-04-Summilux-50mm-f14-first-shots/.
Thoughts? Share below.