The Leica Summarit-M 35/2.4 review
So here we have the second member of the Summarit quartet. You can find the review of the 50 Summarit-M here. The 35 Summarit-M is a lens that really looks beautiful, especially in aluminum. The all metal screw on hood makes this lens look stunning and if you compare this to the plastic hood of my 35 Summicron, it definitely looks a lot better. The new Summicron also has a steel hood.
The 35 Summarit-M has not only gained a tiny bit of speed compared to its predecessor, it has also transformed into an aspherical lens. That feature makes it even more attractive for photographers that are in to the 35mm market. Like the 50/2.4, the same thing applies to the 35mm Summarit. Where we ‘needed’ faster lenses with the M8 and M9, we can live with somewhat slower lenses nowadays. With only a few weeks until the M10 will be announced, we’re getting closer to accepting the 2.4 Summarit range as a very usable range of lenses. That means that the M-system will be more affordable in the future, because there is no need for expensive, fast lenses. Mind you, the need for speed is for most Leica shooter not the only reason to buy a Summilux or Noctilux. The rendering of these lenses is unlike anything your Summarit will ever produce. But they’re also heavy, so there’s a good chance you’ll carry your Summarit and new lightweight M10 easier than a Summilx-M combo.
With only a few weeks until the M10 will be announced, we’re getting closer to accepting the 2.4 Summarit range as a very usable range of lenses…
Build quality and ergonomics
With Leica, ‘entry level’ doesn’t mean you buy rubbish. Au contraire, the Summarit 35/2.4 may be light weight, it still feels very sturdy to me. Like the 50/2.4, focusing is smooth and the focus throw is relatively short. Not a bad thing for a 35mm with a focusing tab. The aperture ring is nice and solid. Better than the ring on the Elmarit 28/2.8. This lens will probably outlive you.
Sharpness, bokeh and rendering
So this is what it’s all about. A 35mm aspherical lens for less than 2k? It’s almost un-Leicaly. Was that funny? Anyway, what’s it like? Just like the 50/2.4, the 35/2.4 is very, very sharp. More than I’ll ever need. Photographers that need corner to corner sharpness might want to stop down one or two stops, but even wide open, the 35/2.4 is already very sharp. Rendering wise, the 35 does more or less the same as the 50. At moderate distance the 35/2.4 is quite clinical: sharp, contrasty, just very modern. Maybe a bit more microcontrast than the 50/2.4. Close up, the 35/2.4 transforms into a brush with which you can paint a scene in a more flattering, romantic way. Transitions from in focus to out of focus are smooth and the bokeh is also more creamy than I’d expect from a 35/2.4. Very satisfying. In fact, the 35/2.4 resembles the look of the 35 Cron a bit more than the 50/2.4 does with its bigger brother.
There are not many reasons I can think of NOT to buy this little Leica 35/2.4 lens. Maybe because you already have a 35? But then you might want to have a slightly more lightweight 35. The best reason to get this lens however is because it’s almost as good as the Leica 35/2 Summicron, but with a more attractive price tag, a removable all metal hood – that makes it look stunning- and with a lower volume and weight. If I didn’t have the excellent Zeiss 35/2.8 on my gear list, I’d buy this lens in a heartbeat.
There are not many reasons I can think of NOT to buy this little Leica 35/2.4 lens…
Speaking of the Zeiss 35/2.8: this lens is probably the main competitor of the Leica 35/2.4. Which one is better? Well, that depends on how you define ‘good’. The Zeiss doesn’t come with a hood, is not aspherical, but it is sharper wide open. For me, rendering is key and in this department the Leica wins hands down. To me it has a much smoother rendering and bokeh than the maybe slightly harsher Zeiss. Would that be worth the enormous difference in price? I guess you’re the only to decide about that.