AN UNDENIEABLE CLASSIC IS BACK: LEICA’S SUMMARON-M LENS

A Leica favorite for over 60 years, the original Summaron wide angle is an undeniable classic. The screw-mount lens was incredibly small and known for its characteristic deep depth of field with natural vignetting. Today, Leica announced it was bringing back the vintage lens with the Summaron-M 28mm f/5.6, replacing the outmoded screw mount with Leica’s current M bayonet mount.

Other than the new mount, which makes the lens natively compatible on current digital rangefinders, the Summaron-M very closely resembles the original. The outer body has been refined, but this isn’t a new version — it’s a true remake.

The optical design is identical, with the same six elements in four groups, as Leica didn’t want to alter the look of the original lens. This brings a very “analog” look to digital images. Leica seemingly praises its imperfections, such as the aforementioned vignetting and the lens’ ability to render rich contrast “almost across the entire image frame” at f/5.6 (emphasis added).

The only other change to the lens is that Leica has added 6-bit coding to it so modern cameras will recognize it electronically.

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Leica bills the lens as ideal for street photography, thanks in part to its size. At less than two centimeters, this is now the smallest M-mount lens available. Its deep depth of field also makes it very easy to shoot from the hip.

Both the size and the depth of field characteristics are a byproduct of the relatively slow maximum aperture of f/5.6. This will likely make the Summaron-M somewhat of a niche lens, but it will be great in the right situations — and Leica fans after that classic look will no doubt jump to get their hands on it.

As only Leica can do, it also made special mention of the custom lens hood for the Summaron-M, calling it an “homage to the fine art of engineering.” Machined from a solid piece of brass and finished by a turning and bending process, the hood is a striking accessory and is larger than the lens itself.

The Summaron-M 28mm f/5.6 is available for preorder from Leica stores. The price is a low (for Leica) $2,495, and pre-order customers will have to put down 10 percent ($249.50) to reserve a copy.


Report by Daven Mathies for Digital Trends