When you see secondhand Leica lenses in the 28-50mm range that are some of the renowned ones, like the Summilux 50mm F1.4 ASPH, the Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH FLE etc you really should just pounce if the price is right. That’s exactly what I did with respect to a mint Summicron 28mm F2 ASPH I found on ebay.
There’s always the concern the “mint” lens will turn up scratched to hell and back, but actually eBay is pretty great at addressing most of those situations for buyers. It’s actually somewhat weighted against sellers these days! Anyway, thanks to “vintcams” for an honest description and a good lens.
In any event, the Summicron turned up, and aside from the moment of comedy when I looked at the included hood and wondered exactly why Leica want you to put a rowing boat, I mean hood, on the front of a small camera lens, I was pleased with it and I’ve been giving it some love this week.
I confess I never, never liked the 28mm focal length until it was rehabilitated for me by the Nikon 28mm F1.8G, which has become one of my all time favourite lenses. The problem is that all too often you think you’ll be better off with a 35 or 50 so as to stand off your subject a bit more. In actual fact, for a unique perspective (not necessarily an accurate perspective, but who cares!), getting closer is better.
In fact, sometimes you’ll be better off with a 20/21 or 24/25 than a 28, but frankly, 28 is a great focal length – great for street, good for landscape, good for group shots. It’s biggest drawback is that you’ll struggle more with perspective and related distortion than you will with a 35.
In the land of F-Mount, having had a modern and great 28, I also acquired a MF prime, the Nikon 28mm F2 AIS, which is also a lovely lens, which produces lovely results mounted on my FM3A or my Nikon Df.
In any event, I had been eying up a 28 for M mount for a while. Normally these days I’m drawn to the Zeiss ZM lenses: the Planar 50mm F2, 25mm Biogon and 21mm Biogon F2.8 are tremendously good lenses. However the Zeiss 28mm gets mixed reviews. With that in mind and the fact that I didn’t really want to pay retail for a Summicron, I kept an eye on ebay. I got lucky and a Summicron 28 did turn up.
I know lots of people will be asking why not the 28mm Elmarit F2.8? In truth, what put me off is its deserved reputation for being a very, very constrasty lens. I love using my Leica M cameras in the summer – the light is bad enough without exaggeration. Aside from that, I do value being able to use lenses in lower light.
My verdict? It’s a staggeringly sharp lens with a lovely colour and contrast without being over the top. Unfortunately I had managed to sabotage my shooting this week via a sensor clean when I had what must of been oil or pollen spots on the sensor. Following the clean, the M240 was so dirty (a horrible residue was left behind) it refused to give me a map of dirt particles. I literally had to spend up to an hour on each photo with sky in it cloning out dust spots. Very tedious. I despaired until I recalled reading something on the internet around cleaning smeared sensors using pure Isopropyl alcohol, which luckily I had a bottle of for cleaning (ironically enough, I used it for cleaning the brush on my arctic butterfly) purposes. It took 2 swipes to give me an extremely clean sensor; it seems there is always a solution.
Despite the “dust” (actually residue) spots (all my fault too), using the M240 with the 28 Summicron is simply a complete pleasure. The lens is sharp in the corners and extremely sharp in the centre. Its only real optical compromise is the huge vignetting (which in fairness usually looks great in the final result. In all honesty, it rocks. The supplied hood is ludicrous though, and I’ll be boxing it and looking for some aftermarket options.
Taken with my Leica M typ 240 and Leica Summicron 28 F2 ASPH.