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Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH F/1.4
 
 
Leica M9 with 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard, Hong Kong, December 2011.
   
 
   

Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 LHSA Edition 11 627 (2005)
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Lenny Kravitz Edition (2015)
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome Edition (2016)
Leica 50mm Summilux-M f/1.4 (non-ASPH)
Leica Xenon f/1.5
Leiac Summarit f/1.5

By: Thorsten Overgaard. April 9, 2012. Updated September 16, 2016

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Summilux = "Highest light lenses"

"Summilux" refers to the maximum lens aperture - in this case the f/1.4 lenses from Leica. "-lux" means light, and "Summi-" probably comes from Latin summum, meaning "highest." The first Summilux lens introduced was the 1960-model of the 50mm Summilux f/1.4 which was a screw-mount lens (before then the most lightstrong lenses were the 1935-1950 Leica 50mm Xenon f/1.5 lenses), and not till six years later, in 1966, would the Leica marketing department (or whoever make up the names) discover that the "highest light lenses" was surpassed by the even higher light lens, the first Noctilux f/1.2 "Light of the Night" lens.

 

[This article is in the works and will be expanded over time]

 

The Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 in the hands of Birgit Krippner who used to shoot exclusively with this lens.
The Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 in the hands of Birgit Krippner who used to shoot exclusively with this lens.

 

The current Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 is available in both chrome and black.
The current Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 is available in both chrome and black.

 

The Thorsten Overgaard Photography Extension Course 2010

 

Limitied editions of the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4

 

Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 LHSA Edition (2005)

In 2005 Leica made a limited run of the then newle designed 50mm Simmilux-M ASPH f/1.4 designed by Peter Karbe. This was the LHSA edition in black paint (glossy) and silver for the and was sold with and without the M3 camera. The price on release was around $3,000 and dropped a bit in the following years, then sky-rocketed towards $7,000 - $8,000 in 2015-2016.

Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 LHSA-edition in black paint.
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 LHSA-edition in black paint. Hood is part no 12 586.


These lenses were sold with and separately from the MP3 bodies manufactured for the LHSA in 2005.

Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 LHSA-edition in silver and black.
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 LHSA-edition in silver and black. Current optical design in 1959 barrel.

 

Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Lenny Kravitz "Reporter" Limited Edition of 125

In 2015 Leica Camera AG then released a very limited series of this lens in black paint, but intentionally brassed. A set of one black Leiac M-P 240 camera and two lenses (35, 50) in a suitcase, designed and named after Lenny Kravitz.

The series of 125 numbered sets of sold out about 9-12 months after it's release.



Lenny Kravitz "Reporter" limited edition of 125 sets in suitcase. Leica M-P 240 with Leica Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 and Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Paint.
Lenny Kravitz "Reporter" limited edition of 125 sets in suitcase. Leica M-P 240 with Leica Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 and Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Paint.

 

Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 BC (Black Chrome) 2016

Few months after the release of the Lenny Kravitz model, Leica released another series of 500 the the same lens, but in matt black (Black Chrome) and not brassed.

A Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 lens, but in old-school brass design and barrels. Initially the retail price was $3,900 and then rose to $4,350 in autumn 2016.

 

Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome limited edition (2016) on Leica M-D 262. © 2016 Thorsten Overgaard. This lens has a 43mm filter screw.
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome limited edition in 1959-design (500 released in 2015) on Leica M-D 262. Comes with hood (12 586) and metal and plastic lens cover. © 2016 Thorsten Overgaard.

 

How to mount a filter
on the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome
or any other 1959 non-ASPH version

You will notice that whereas the normal 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 has a 46mm filter size, the limit editions has a filter size of 43mm. Not a big problem as 43mm ND filters and UV filters are also available. Just a surprise as no other current Leica lenses has a 43mm filter size (but all the 50/1.4 lenses had in the old days).

But you will see that when the filter is mounted, the classic shade (art no 12 586) doesn't fit onto the lens anymore! There exist a vintage UV filter that goes with the lens. I don't use UV-filter, so I haven't tried to get one.

But I do use ND (Neutral Density) filters, so I acquired a 43mm ND filter (3-stop or 0.9ND) and then fumbled with it for a bit.

Step 1   Step 2   Step 3
How to mount a filter  on the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome  Yo   How to mount a filter  on the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome  Yo   How to mount a filter  on the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Black Chrome  Yo
Put on the lens shade.   Drop the ND filter into the shade.   1) Lock filter first with the bayonet locks.
2) Then press it down with a finger and turn the whole shade with filter till it sits as tight as it can.

 

In actual fact, if you mount the shade first, and then drop the ND filter down into the bayonet locking mechanism (press the silver buttons to open the "reverse locks" for attaching the shade upside-down when traveling). Then you will see that it almost locks. If you then turn the shade aroune the filter will actually screw onto the lens to some degree. Enought to make it stay there.

Obviously, when you want to take off the ND filter, you will have to turn the shade counter-clockwise till the filter screw let go of the screw on the lens.

You will see that the filter and shade sits tight together and you can't turn the shade futher clock-wise around. Now, if the filter turns counter-clockwise as you move around, be aware that the filter will work it's way out of the screw again and eventually drop. If you drop one, it's not the end of the world. It's only a $45 filter and not a lens.

 

         
 

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Proud owner of a Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4, Hans van Dijk from Holland. Palermo, May 2011
Proud owner of a Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4, Hans van Dijk from Holland. Palermo, May 2011

 

           
 

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50mm Summilux-M types

Xenon
f/1.5
(Schneider)


1936-1950
"XEMOO"



Screw
mount

Xenon
f/1.5
(Schneider) Taylor-Hobson

1936-1950
"XEMOO"



Screw
mount

Summarit
f/ 1.5



1949-1960
"SOOIA"



Screw
mount

Summilux
f/1.4
Version I


1960-1963
"SOOME"



Screw mount

Summilux-M
f/1.4
Version I


1959-1961
"SOOME"



Bayonet mount

Summilux
f/1.4
Version II


1962-2004
Chrome
11 114
Black
11 114
Bayonet mount
Summilux-M ASPH (APO)
f/1.4
Version III

2004-current
Chrome
11 891
Black
11 891
Bayonet
mount
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
Serial xxxxxxx
to -
      Shade 12 586
E43 filter
Shade 12 586
E43 filter
Shade 12 586
E43 filter
Built-in shade
E46 filter
            0,7 m - infinity
 

      x lenses in x groups
This lens is an APO construction.
xxx g xxx g xxx g xxx g xxx g xxx g 335 g
f/1.5 f/1.5 f/1.5 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4
            xx xxx front cap
        Walter Mandler   Peter Karbe

Ken Rockwell have made this filter overview of 43mm filters for Leica lenses.

Screw-thread lenses are for Leica II, 250FF, III, 250GG, IIIa, IIIb, IIIc, IIc, Ic, IIIf, If, IIf, If, IIIg, Ig but can be mounted on Leica M bayonet cameras with an adapter. Everything works as if the lens had a M bayonet mount when the adapter is applied.

 

Interview with lens designer Peter Karbe
on the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4

 

  Peter Karbe at the factory in Solms, with an original notebook of Max Berek from 1930.  Photo by: © Thorsten Overgaard, September 2010.
  Peter Karbe at the factory in Solms, with an original notebook of Max Berek from 1930.
Photo by: © Thorsten Overgaard, September 2010.
   

Peter Karbe, head of Leica optics design, worked on the 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 for ten years, and in his spare time.

His masterpieces so far include the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 and the Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.

(See my article with interview with Peter Karbe on the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0).

Here's an excerpt from a talk David Farkas of Dale Photography had with Mr. Peter Karbe at Photokina in 2008:

Sitting with Peter you really get the feeling that these lenses are his children. Talk of certain lenses puts a small smile on his face and a glint in his eye. Then, he’ll go on about why it is special and unique. For instance, many know of his many years of work on the 50mm Summilux ASPH.

He is extremely proud of this lens, pointing to the MTF-chart and exclaiming that wide open at f/1.4 it resolves 40lp at above 50%.

He went into how he came up with the modified special double gauss design and how the back half of the lens is identical to the 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4, while the front half is identical to the Leica 50 Summicron. This was the secret to achieving such performance in a fast 50.

Then, he said that one Saturday morning over his first cup of coffee in his kitchen he thought about [Dr. Walter] Mandler. Apparently, after Mandler designed the Noctilux, he used the same design to build the 75 Summiux.

And while Peter doesn't like the 75 Lux, he decided that he needed to design a 75 based on the 50 ASPH design.

Shortly thereafter, keeping everything the same, except for removing one lens element in the first doublet behind the central ASPH element used to correct for aberrations caused at 1.4, he minted the design for the Leica 75 APO Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.

Why the Leica 50mm Summilux is an APO lens

I asked if the design was the same why the 75 was an APO lens and the 50 wasn’t. Here is a bit of a shocker… the 50 lux ASPH is an APO lens, containing an APO-correction element. But, he thought the idea of an APO 50 was a bit silly so they never put it on the lens or in any marketing materials.

He really believes in revisiting the past for inspirations on the future. Peter said that he often thinks about what his predecessors from decades ago would do with today’s technology.

This was his inspiration with the Summarits. Classic designs with a modern twist. He studies and claims (who would doubt him) that he is familiar with the designs of almost all of the Leica lenses made to date. He has his favorites as well as examples that were not so successful.

According to Peter, the great leaps in lens design were brought about by technological advances. The first was with new types of glass, then with coatings, followed by computer modeling, and now just recently, advances in mechanical design and manufacturing.

This is why the S lenses and the new 21 Lux are as lightweight as they are. A lot of attention is now being paid by the design team to the manufacturing process. Karbe has organized small design teams in his fast-growing department to be more efficient and productive. An optics designer is paired with a mechanical designer and a production manager to develop the entire product, not just the optical path. Handling, feel, ease of manufacture, and consistency in quality control are equally important to imaging performance.

Also, by using more shared designs and more common components, more lenses can be brought to market faster. The 35 and 50 Summarit. The 75 and the 90 Summarit. The new 21 Lux and 24 Lux are all examples of this. With the 21 and the 24, one designer did both lenses simultaneously as they are fundamentally the same optical formula.

Another interesting thing I learned was that Leica started using computer-aided modeling back in the 1960’s before anyone else. Since that time, they have had their own proprietary software (kept up to date, of course) based on calculations made at Leica over the last 100 years. He says this is one of Leica’s real advantages that no one can copy.

The foundation of knowledge and expertise is handed down from each generation of lens designers to the next. The Leitz Glass Works has also been invaluable in learning about new formulations and the handling of exotic glass elements. These latest exotic glasses require a great deal of care in handling. Much like a piece of raw steel, this glass reacts adversely and rapidly with gasses in the air. They use a wet to wet to wet process in Solms, whereby the glass moves through the grinding, polishing and coating steps in one go, not spaced or binned. This is crucial to maintain the performance of these expensive elements which can cost more per ounce than pure silver.

We talked more about how the type of glass for certain lens elements are chosen and how, based on his experience, he just knows what effect this will have on aberrations. We discussed the trade-offs lens designers have to make and how MTF only tells part of the story."

 

Leica Definitions

Summarex - The lens was supposedly named after the dog Rex of lens designer Max Berek (1886-1949). Then again, Rex refers to "King" and Summar is "the sum of", or "highest".

Summilux - Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/1.4 , "-lux" added for "light".

 

 

   
   


 

    Thank you
For help, corrections and information to
Erwin Puts
Justin Scott



   
    – Thorsten Overgaard
   
   
leica.overgaard.dk
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Leica S:
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240 (Leica M10)   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder   Leica S digital medium format
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder    
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Cine Lenses:
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
     
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   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 R lenses
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Above: Leica M9 with 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard, Hong Kong, December 2011.

fThe 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 has been a darling ever since it was released in 2004. There is still a waiting list for it.

 

Leica logo

LEItz CAmera = LEICA
Founded 1849 in Wetzlar, Germany.

 



Black Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 is available at BH Photo



Silver Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 is available at BH Photo



Limited Black Chrome Edition (2015 edition in 1959-design)
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 is available at BH Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thorsten von Overgaard
in London by Damir-Grskovic.

 

 

 

 

The photos on this page have been edited in Adobe Lightroom 3.6 and few or none have been adjusted further in Photoshop. To read more about my workflow, visit the page of my "Lightroom Survival Kit".

 

 

 


Also visit:

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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 online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 

 




 

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"The Freedom
of Photographic Expression"

October 2016
For eBook for iPad, Kindle
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"Finding the Magic of Light"
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"Composition in Photography"
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The Thorsten Overgaard New Extension Course 2016

The Thorsten Overgaard New Extension Course 2016

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Lightroom Survival Kit

How to survive and master Lightroom
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