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Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
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Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0

Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0

By: Thorsten Overgaard

I may not be a broadly known fact, but Peter Karbe find 50mm lenses fascinating. Not just his own 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 and the new (May 10, 2012) Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0. He finds the whole history of Leica 50mm lenses fascinating.


© 2014 Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0. This photo is with available soft light from the windows covered with white curtails. You can read about in The Story Behind That Picture "The Hollywood Murder", my photo session with actor Terence Hines.


A wet and dark evening in Aarhus, Denmark. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.


Peter Karbe interview on the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron ASPH f/2.0




Peter Karbe & the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. from Leica Camera on Vimeo.

Hopefully one day I will have the possibility to share with you what his fascination with the 50mm lenses are. For one it is my standard lens and was also the focal length the 35mm (24 x 36mm image frame) was developed for. In short, if one wants to make an image perfect, the 50mm lens is the one to focus at.

I tried the lens briefly during the release party in berlin on May 10, but that was in the evening and I didn't do any photos I feel would enlighten any of us about this new lens. Also, though the Leica M Monochrom that was released the same evening has been out with beta-testers for months, none of them have had the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 lens for test.

Delivery should start in August 2012, and as soon as I get mine I shall expand on what it is and what it can do.


My son Oliver with his new wife, Brittany. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.


Samples with the Leica 50mm APO Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0

Till then, enjoy Erwin Puts' few precise words on the precision and technical accomplishments the new 50mm implies. "I cannot repeat it often enough, but high-quality imagery with a lens of small dimensions is very difficult to achieve. The ASM needed to have a front lens diameter of 39 mm (the normal filter size for Leica Summicron standard lenses). The new ASM has eight elements that have to be fitted in a small-sized mount and there is indeed hardly room for air in this mount. This is a second problem: when lens elements are packed as closely as in the ASM the potential for aberration correction is restricted. It is a triumph of optical and mechanical design" - Erwin Puts

Also have a look at these JPGs by Edmond Terakopian made in the new studio at Leica Store Mayfair in London a few days after the release.



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What does Summicron mean?

The word "Summicron" refers to the maximum lens aperture of this lens - here f 2.0 .There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one being that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour).
Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the original Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens annoy 1933)


Peter Karbe with the a "Optics Konstrucktionsbüche" of Prof. Max Berek from 1930.
Peter Karbe with one of the many notebooks, "Optische Konstruktionsbücher" of Prof. Max Berek from 1930. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard.



Amongst familiar faceswe stumbled into at the canteen at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar in April 2014 some weeks before the official opening, we met lens designer Peter Karbe.

We talked about the video interview we had done almost a year before, and I explained that due to the sound quality it would have to be made into a written interview. Peter is a rather camera-shy person, so his comment was simply relief: "Well .... I haven't missed it!"

Joy made sure we did an Instragram selfie (as everybody does in 2014), and after a short discussion about the flare above Peter's head, Peter agrees that flare can look cool (as long as it is somebody elses lenses).


Joy Villa, Thorsten von Overgaard & Peter Karbe 2014
Joy Villa, Thorsten Overgaard and Peter Karbe (with flare) at Leica Camera AG, Wetzlar in April 2014.


Robin hanging out in LA.
Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.


What does APO mean?

APO stands for "apochromatically corrected" lenses. In most lenses, optical design concentrates the focus of blue light and green light into a single plane, but red light falls slightly into another plane of focus. Red subjects, therefore, would be ever so slightly out of focus compared to blue and green subjects in the same frame. In APO lenses, the design and expense has been put in to making red light focus on the same plane as blue and green. Under a microscope you would see that all light subject is now in focus, creating a sharper image overall. Many manufacturers offer APO designs, but in most of these only the very center of the lens is APO corrected. Leica prides itself on making most of the frame APO corrected.

What does ASPH mean?

ASPH stands for "aspheric design". Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design however restricts the number of optical corrections that can be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible. ASPH lenses, however, involve usually 1 element that does *not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic, 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical") shape. This design allows the manufacturer to introduce corrections into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically, the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation) due to increased correction of the image, in a package not significantly bigger than the spherical version.

Pedro Ferreira on the Leica Apo-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. from Leica Camera on Vimeo.


    Thank you
For help, corrections and information to

Erwin Puts
Peter Karbe

Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Leica S:
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240 (M10)   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica M Monochrom digital rangefinder   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica S digital medium format
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder    
    Leica Cine Lenses:
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder   Leica Cine lenses
Leica M lenses:   Leica R cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 180mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
    Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
History and overview:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica History   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica Definitions   Leica Digilux 1
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica X
Camera Compendium   Leica D-Lux
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus    
Ernst Leitz II and the freedom pledge   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
The Dream of Oskar Barnack   Leica CM 35mm film camera
Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Quality of Light   Thorsten Overgaard Workshops
Lightmeters   Overgaard Lightroom Survival Kit
White Balance & WhiBal   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Film in Digital Age   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Dodge and Burn   "Composition in Photography" eBook
All You Need is Love   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course II
X-Rite   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course III
The Origin of Photo   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
Case in Point   Free e-Books
The Good Stuff   I-Shot-It photo competition
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner    
Leica folder icons   Leica Photographers
    Jan Grarup
    Henri Cartier-Bresson
    Birgit Krippner
    Riccis Valladares
    Christopher Tribble
The Story Behind That Picture:   Martin Munkácsi
More than 100 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Vivian Maier
Leica Forums and Blogs:  
The Leica User Forum   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff
Shoot Tokyo   The Leica Pool on Flickr
Erwin Puts   Adam Marelli
Eric Kim   Magnum Photos
Ming Thein  
John Thawley    
Luminous Landscape    
Reid Reviews   Leica M240 User Forum on Facebook
Leica M Monochrom "Henri" with the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 lens. The lens shade is a whole new design that swirls out and in without having to be locked manually. The front with the lens shade is not as wide as the test of the lens, making the design a bit similar to earlier designs (whereas many lenses in recent years seem to have been designed with the aim that the diameter should be the same of the lens from body to lens shade).  

Leica logo

LEItz CAmera = LEICA
Founded 1849 in Wetzlar, Germany.






Also visit:

Overgaard Photo Workshop
Leica Definitions
Leica History
"Photographer For Sale"
Leica Lens Compendium
Leica Camera Compendium
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Digilux 2
Leica M9 and Leica ME
Leica M Monochrom
Leica M 240
Leica M 240 Video
Leica X

Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
Leica S medium format dSLR
"On The Road With von Overgaard"
Light metering
White Balance for More Beauty


Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or onlline. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

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