Leica SL Summicron Lenses – 35mm, 75mm, 90mm, 16-35mm
When Leica SL camera was introduced, there was a lot of skepticism from the professional photographers. Firstly, the camera was expensive, but the lenses were more so then there was not many lenses choices for professionals. As a professional, I did not see any value in purchasing a Leica SL 24mm – 90mm f/2.8 – 4 lenses relatively slow and variable lens nor the prospect of owning a Leica SL 90 – 280mm f/2.8 – 4 lenses thrilled me.
As most professionals are seasoned with using Nikon’s 24-70mm f/2.8 lens or Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, I know they would be reluctant to go with a lens that costs twice the price and offered slower speed. Prime lenses were the answer to all this talk about quality vs. functionality, but Leica SL only had one, Leica Summilux SL 50mm f/1.4 lens, not a portrait lens by definition but more of an all-purpose lens.
Fast forward to 2017, Leica camera is again looking to stir the lens world with the introduction of their Summicron lenses, namely 35mm, 75mm, 90mm and a wide angle zoom at 16-35mm. So, a Leica SL owner can use these prime lenses to capture some amazing photographs and video for professional work.
Price vs. Quality
On a price point of view, the new Leica SL lenses will be expensive costing around probably $5000 range. Some may find these prices high but not from a quality point of view. Firstly, you are getting a much better lens than a fast lens from Canon or Nikon or Sigma. These companies have the market for all these primes lenses professionals buy for their work.
So, how can a f/2 lens be as good as a f/1.4 lens when it comes to bokeh, for example? Better design, as Peter Karbe explains in his latest interview, “The sharpness DOF curve, which you can visualize as a parabola, has been changed from what you have seen in the past. We’ve tightened and raised the curve so that f/2 will offer a look that is similar to f/1.4. It is unique and extraordinary. And, at the same time, will provide greater sharpness at the point of focus. The contrast of in focus and out of focus will be more pronounced, which produces a very 3D effect.”
What does this mean? This means you are going to be able to capture a great deal more accurate and sharp images with an incredible bokeh. Remember as you open your aperture wider and wider you are losing contrast and sharpness with the new Leica SL prime lenses you are going to maintain better sharpness and contrast and achieve a bokeh that is going to match, even superseded lenses at f/1.4. To top all this, there is that beautiful skin tones and accurate color renditions that are true trademarks of Leica quality.
As digital cameras get more and more sophisticated with their abilities to process higher megapixel images and apply preset corrections to images in camera, the lenses are pushed to their limits regarding resolving power and accuracy.
One of the truly remarkable features of using these Leica SL lenses on Leica SL camera is that “corrective” presets for each lens is automatically applied to the image which means less work for the post-processing of the image. This is wonderful news for professionals because they can deliver work faster and have better results in less time.
What these automatic presets also do is correct for chromatic aberration, lens distortion which results in high-quality images which can be used both for photography and video. For filmmakers and videographers, this may be a heaven-sent news because removing chromatic aberration from images in a video is a very difficult and often not a successful process. By having the camera preprocess the image, the footage straight out of the camera will have better results.
A New Chapter in Film
Peter Karbe explains what these new Leica SL Summicron lenses can do when matched with a Leica SL camera as, ”The Maestro II processor performs this in real time for video. Same for M lenses. Chromatic distortion is removed. This is essential for video capture where doing corrections in post production is much more challenging than for still images. As well, it lets the photographer or videographer see the final image result beforehand.”
If you consider filming weddings as a professional and you are outdoors with sunlight, glasses, and cutlery on the tables, chromatic aberration is an issue that shows itself in various ways. It is that “unnatural” purple glow that catches your eye as you are watching that video.
While many lens manufacturers have worked to resolve this issue chromatic aberration remains a problem because often purple fringing as it is commonly called must be removed in post-processing or in-camera. With Leica SL camera doing this while the image is being recorded gives the footage an advantage of having virtually all chromatic aberration removed.
This, of course, extends to photography as well, now, you can photograph all day, and when you upload them to your computer, you already have very accurate images without purple fringing.
The Mystery of Faster Lenses
To be fair, fast lenses were being produced decades ago. Some are truly an exception by today’s standards, and some are being repacked, rebranded and reintroduced into the market. So, what is new Leica SL Summicron lens you might ask?
Firstly Leica SL lenses have improved lens coatings and internal baffling to keep stray light and internal reflections within the lens to an absolute minimum. The result is increased contrast in critical lighting situations. Leica camera has invested in-house computer aided optical design, modeling and simulation software which results in higher precision in optical elements.
Could Leica SL lenses be manufactured with an f-stop of 1.4, of course, but that would mean that the lenses would need to be larger with a little additional benefit of having improvements in bokeh. A good example of this comparison would be Leica APO 50mm Summicron-SL f/2.0 lens vs. Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 lens where Leica APO 50mm Summicron-SL f/2.0 lens (similarly Leica APO-M 50mm lens as well) or provides incredibly beautiful fall off from the in-focus to out of focus areas resembling an aperture close to f/1.4 or even f/1.2 when shot at f/2.
The result is sharper images with incredible bokeh with accurate image renditioning.
Buying Leica SL lenses
If Leica M10 camera’s availability has left you in a rut, you might be asking if Leica SL lenses would be readily available for purchase. The answer is yes because these lenses will be made to create a stronger following for Leica SL cameras.
The good news is having a range of prime lenses from 35mm all the way to 90mm great because these are the most common lenses used by professionals in the industry. There are more on the way too, in 2018 Leica Camera has plans to announce five more Leica SL lenses to support their Leica SL digital mirrorless camera line.
What should you expect in 2018? Possibly a 135mm and a 24mm, even a 21mm. These are important lenses that every professional demand to have, and they will complete Leica SL line up.
Please remember that if you intend to buy these lenses your best place to find the lowest prices for
For Used Leica SL Camera & Lenses
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