A 50mm lens with these specs for Leica M has been a dream of mine for quite some time— it looks like Leica has gone all-out with the new 50/2.
An ƒ/2 lens is technically easier to design and build than an ƒ/1.4 lens, so the extreme price of around $7K suggests that the new 50/2 APO might well sit in a class by itself, with no expense spared to produces truly the world’s best 50mm. Or so I hope.
Certainly the MTF at ƒ/5.6 is stunning, and the performance at ƒ/2 looks to be superior to most 50mm lenses at ƒ/5.6. The distorton is essentialy zero except for a tiny bit in the extreme corners. This is the lens I want to shoot at 50mm, as its color correction and low distortion and ultra high contrast and sharpness should provide an incredibly natural image rendition.
Of course I intend to report on the 50/2 APO in my Guide to Leica.
If you want to see hideously ugly and gruesome photography with the new 50/2 APO on the M Monochrom, including what looks like a dead woman on the cover (this must make it “art”) , take a look at the May/June LFI (Leica Fotografie International).
From Leica, nominal.
|Focal length:||50mm (nominal)|
|Aperture scale:||ƒ/2 - ƒ/16, 11 iris blades|
|Focusing range:||0.7 m to infinity|
|Angular field, diagonal / horizontal / vertical||47° / 40° / 27°
|Coverage at close range:||217 × 407mm|
|Image ratio at close range:||1:11.3|
|Number of elements/groups:||8 / 5|
|Dimensions (with caps):||53 × 47mm (2.09 x 1.85 in)|
|Price:||estimated $7399 street price|
Extremely impressive performer!
Description from the Leica data sheet
More than 30 years after the launch of Summicron-M 1:2/50 mm, which is still available, the Leica APO Summicron-M 1:2/50 mm ASPH. represents a totally new development.
With its compact body - only marginally longer and slightly heavier than the Summicron-M 1:2/50 mm, and with an almost identical diameter, it provides visibly higher image quality.
On the Leica APO Summicron-M 1:2/50 mm ASPH. the exceptional correction enables all aberrations to be reduced to a minimum level that is negligible in digital photography.
Its key features include excellent contrast rendition, all the way to the corners of the image, even with a fully open aperture. The use of a “floating element“ ensures that this is retained, even for close-up shots.
Vignetting is limited to a maximum - i.e. in the corners of the image - of just 2 stops at full aperture in 35 mm format, or around 1 on the Leica M8 models. Stopping down to 2.8 visibly reduces this light deterioration towards the edge of the image, with practically only the natural vignetting remaining.
Distortion is very low at a maximum of just 0.4 % (pin cushoin), which is practically imperceptible.
A total of eight lens elements are used to achieve this exceptional performance. To realize the apochromatic correction (resulting in a common focusing plane for three light wavelengths), three are made of glass types with high anomalous partial color dispersion, while two of the others have a high refractive index.
The aspherical surface of the first lens in the rear group helps to reduce spherical aberration and flatten the image field. While the optical construction in front of the aperture is a Gaussian type, the arrangement of the lens elements behind it is similar to that in the Summilux-M 1:1.4/35 mm ASPH. This group comprises a “floating element“, which is moved independently of the rest of the construction during focusing.
Summary: The Leica APO Summicron-M 1:2/50 mm ASPH. delivers exceptional picture quality and sets new standards in 35 mm digital photography.
LEICA APO-SUMMICRON-M 50 MM F/2 ASPH.: THE NEW MILESTONE IN LENS CONSTRUCTION
Solms, Germany (May 10, 2012) - Leica Camera AG presents a new milestone in the history of lens construction: the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. With the goal of creating a lens that fully achieves the opportunities offered by high-resolution camera systems, Leica engineers have successfully redefined the limits of what is technically possible. The result is an extremely high-performance lens that sets entirely new standards and currently stands as an exceptional talent amongst the standard lenses of the Leica M portfolio.
This new reference lens achieves the best test results ever seen in the Leica M-Lens program. The MTF curves of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. that describe the contrast of fine details and, in turn, the image sharpness, confirm its outstanding performance. Even the finest details are resolved with more than 50% contrast across the entire image field. This previously unattained value confirms the exceptional positioning of this lens.
All images captured with the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. in any photographic situation show extreme sharpness and resolution of details from corner to corner of the image. Additionally, the apochromatic correction of the lens minimizes chromatic aberration on sharp edges to ensure natural rendition of every detail. As a result, photographers benefit from the best possible reproduction results at any print size.
The outstanding performance of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is founded on the perfect interaction of all its design and construction parameters, from optical calculation and choice of materials to the sophisticated and elaborate manufacturing and finishing of the lens. Together with more than 150 years of experience in the design and construction of optical instruments, Leica’s reputation as the manufacturer of the world’s best lenses is once again emphasized.
The new design of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is based on the optical design of its predecessor that has been on the market since 1979 and is the oldest lens represented in the Leica M portfolio. The classical specifications, 50 mm focal length and a maximum aperture of f2, offered an ideal starting point for further development. As such, Leica’s expert lens designers were able to concentrate exclusively on the improvement of imaging quality within these standard specifications.
In its optical design, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is oriented on particular features of the Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. and the Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH. lenses. For instance, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. also incorporates a floating element. The lens group behind the diaphragm is designed as a floating element that changes its position relative to the front group during focusing, ensuring that the lens achieves outstanding imaging quality throughout its focusing range, including at closer focusing distances.
The realization of the apochromatic correction of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. involved the use of specially formulated glasses based on original developments from the former Leitz glass laboratory. The use of such glasses requires great effort and many years of experience. As a result of the consistent advancement of optical processes, working with these high-quality glasses has been refined to such a fine art that they are integrated in the best possible quality into Leica lenses as evidenced today in the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH.
As a particularly reliable product with enduring value and made in Germany, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is manufactured from only the best materials and is assembled in an elaborate process completely by hand at Leica’s factory in Solms. The combination of cutting-edge technologies and painstaking manufacturing procedures guarantees the consistently excellent quality of every single Leica lens.
The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. in black finish will be available from Leica dealers including the Leica Store Washington DC from late July 2012.