I am finishing up my coverage of the Leica 75mm f/2 APO Summicron-SL ASPH and the Leica 90mm f/2 APO Summicron-SL ASPH in the next few days. I cannot afford them (I do want them) but there has been little reaction among my readership, so I don’t know if I’ll cover them again for a while.
Speaking in optical terms, I say without any reservation that the Leica 75/2 APO SL and Leica 90/2 APO SL are among the finest lenses I have ever tested.
While I expect the same of the Leica 35mm f/2 APO Summicron-SL ASPH, I have not yet tested it, as it is back-ordered. If it behaves like the 75mm and 90mm it will be a big winner, if like the 50/1.4 SL then it would be problematic.
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Were I shooting for myself at this juncture, and were money a non-issue, I’d be buying all three and shooting them on the Panasonic S1R for landscape and all static subjects as my go-to system, because when shot in Multi-Shot High-Res mode, everything else on the market today looks like a crappy downgrade. The Leica 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-SL ASPH also for its range, though I have reservations about its performance at the wide end. The Leica 50/1.4 SL no—too many behavioral issues.
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Concerns about Leica SL lenses
Image quality aside , I have serious concerns about Leica SL lenses.
First, the unstable focus issue discussed in Unstable Focus: Orange Pine Tree Trunk is a concern. Perhaps Leica can fix it in firmware (but how does one update lens Leica SL lens firmware on a Panasonic S1R?). But since I now know how to deal with the unstable focus as explained in Panasonic S1R: Notes on Focusing in HighRes Mode, I can work with the lenses, and the results are stunning in HighRes mode. I still blanche at the wasted time and effort and damaged images from the problem but that’s water under the bridge.
Second and more worrisome*, reliability and build quality make me frown with concern, particularly internal parts and AF motor, which necessarily implicates service response time and cost, and warranty. I would like to see the quality of of the Leica SL internal parts are (teardown), and I’d like to see at least a five (5) year full warranty along with US facilities for rapid turnaround (or a loaner while being serviced).
* Multiple highly credible sources have told me incroyable things about Leica S build quality and repairs, and my own experience makes me wary.