A little background on my very first Leica lens
When you don't have money to burn, making the switch to Leica can be a long hard road. Here's the scenario, I've spent a huge sum on a M body, so i was left with a tight budget for lenses. I had a close look at the more affordable 35mm offerings from Zeiss and Voigtlander, and I'm pretty sure I would've been happy with the 35mm C-Biogon 2.8 as my starter lens. It just so happens when I was at my local store picking up the Zeiss 35mm, I came across a well-used Leica Summaron f2.8 made in 1959. It was about the same price as the Zeiss, so I decided to go with the Summaron. After all, It felt good being able to pair my M body with a Leica lens, albeit a really really old one.
Not much has been written about this lens, and what little information does exist seems very confusing, that is because there are 3 versions of 35mm Summaron. There is a f3.5 version that is even more compact, and there is the f2.8 version with the goggles, and then there is the f2.8 version without goggles, which is what I have.
Things I love: Solid build, Compact size, and Lens character
The first thing I noticed is the build quality, it is made to last, and for some reason, it feels even more sturdy than the modern Leica lenses. It is also very compact, without the hood, it is almost pancake-like as you can see from the pictures below. The focus lock at infinity can be quite useful at times, and when it locks, it clicks into place, and you have to press underneath the focus tab to unlock.
It is difficult to define lens character sometimes, it gets very subjective, but it's easy to see that the Summaron has a more classical rendering. It has lower contrast and a softer look than modern lenses, and it's great for black and white images. I like the fact it has a unique signature, in comparison, some modern lenses can be a little too clinical, or dare I say soulless.
The one thing I dislike
The Summaron is a great daytime street photography lens, but it doesn't quite cut it for me at night. Don't get me wrong, you can certainly get by with shooting it at night, but it won't be my first choice due to the fact it is a relatively slow lens. Another thing I noticed is when you shoot it wide open towards a light source, you don't get the typical sunstar or starburst effect, you get a weird looking torch light pointing sideways. The cars' headlights in the below images are good examples of that. This might be an issue specific to the copy I have though.
I really enjoy shooting with the this lens, it might not be as sharp as modern Leica lenses, but it is sharp enough for me. I'll leave you with some more images taken with this lens. Thanks for stopping by!