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Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH Initial Coverage and Comments

Pre-order Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH at B&H Photo.

Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M APSH

Published in Guide to Leica is my initial commentary on the MTF, vignetting and distortion characteristics of the Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH.

I’ll be reviewing the Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH just as soon as I can get my hands on one (also the new Leica M Monochrom and hopefully the two together initially).

At about $5500 its price is similar to the Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH. Leica bills it as “the perfect companion for reportage”. Roughly translated, that means it will be exceptional in certain ways (sure to be a hit with its disciples for a unique rendering style).

The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. rounds off the range of high-speed M wide angle focal lengths. It offers excellent image performance over the entire image field even at full aperture and in the close-up range thanks to a “floating element”.

With its exceptional contrast, the lens delivers the same recognized high performance level as the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH., and in some respects actually outperforms it.

The vignetting that is typical of every optical system is naturally more defined on a wide angle lens, particularly a high speed one like this, than on standard lenses or those with a long focal length. At full aperture in 35mm format it is a maximum, i.e. in the corners of the image, of around 3.4 stops, around 2 stops on Leica M8 models with their slightly smaller format. Stopping down to 5.6 visibly reduces this light falloff – to 1.8 and 0.8 stops respectively. Stopping down further does not bring about any notable reduction as essentially only the natural vignetting remains.

Distortion is extremely low for a wide angle lens at a maximum of 1.1% (pulvinate), which is rarely noticeable in practice.

A total of ten lens elements are used to achieve this exceptional performance. To correct color defects, seven of these are made of glass types with anomalous color dispersion (partial dispersion), while one has an aspherical surface.

To maintain performance in the close-up range, one element towards the rear of the optical system is a “floating element” that moves independently of the rest of the mechanism.

Summary: The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. offers maximum image performance with a focal length / speed combination previously unavailable in the M system. This extends the composition options of M photography, particularly for available light shots, but also thanks to a previously unattainable reduction in the depth of field combined with large field angles.

MTF

Leica has published gross inconsistencies and omitted f/1.4 in the data sheet MTF. The MTF there is in extreme conflict with the MTF charts found in the instruction manual PDF.

I am assuming that the MTF in the instruction manual is correct, and I have rewritten my initial commentary accordingly.

Leica data sheet for 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH in apparent gross error (and missing f/1.4)

Specifications

Technical Data for Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH
Focal length: 28mm
Aperture scale: f/1.4 - f/16
Number of elements/groups: 10 elements in 7 groups
floating group, one aspherical, 7 with anomalous partial dispersion
Focusing range: 700 cm
Angular field, diagonal / horizontal / vertical 75° / 65° / 46°
Coverage at close range: 526 mm x 789 mm (M8: 395 mm x 592 mm)
Image ratio at close range:            1:21.9
Filter thread: 49mm
Weight, nominal: 440g
Dimensions: length approx. 81 mm, diameter approx 61mm
Includes: TBD
Price: about $5500
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