Leica APO-Summicron-SL 90 f/2 ASPH Lens (11179)
Its quite a mouth full, but Leica has started shipping this lens, I managed to test one recently, so here is my review.
Note: To view any of the images full size, just click on the image
Lets start with the specs:
Field angle: (diagonal, horizontal, vertical) 27.3 / 22.9 / 15.4 °
Number of lenses/groups: 11/9
Number of aspherical lenses 1
Entrance pupil position before bayonet level: 22.9 mm
Working range: 0.6 m to infinity
Smallest object field: 120 x 180 mm
Largest reproduction ratio: 1:5
Aperture Setting/function: Electronically controlled aperture, set using turn/push wheel on camera, including half values
Aperture setting range: F2 – 22
Bayonet/sensor format: Leica L bayonet, full-frame 35 mm format
Filter mount: E67 or 67mm
Length to bayonet mount: 102 mm
Largest diameter: 73 mm
Published Weight: 700 g
Bag Weight: Includes Hood, Caps, and 67mm UV Filter – 823G
In the Box
Box, lens, hood, caps, canvas case – folded, & manuals
This is a magnificent lens! Leica have simply out done themselves. This lens sets new standards for sharpness, rendering, bokeh and AF performance on the SL. Its a stunner, almost too sharp for portraiture, you are going to see every imperfection on your subject! We all know that images are easily softened in post, but sharpening is another matter. You can expect fast autofocus performance, faster than the 24-90mm zoom with little or no hunting. This is on camera firmware 3.1, which was the most current when I wrote this.
The AF is a joy to use, very few misses, and fast. I expect that AF performance will only improve on later SL bodies. On the SL1, its a pleasure to use, and it is way faster than any manual focus options. For dynamic subjects, you can set the SL to Focus Mode AFc, and AF mode to either Dynamic(tracking) or Auto/Face. The lens will then track your subject and if in face attempt to focus on the nearest eye. All of this with Leica colour, contrast control, and micro contrast. The lens has lots of 3D, and Leica have delivered on subject separation vis a vis background.
The lens is not exhibiting any discernable vignetting. I am a photographer, and I do not have access to testing equipment, but the lens shows no appreciable vignetting that I can see.
Amazing Bokeh can be expected. The out of focus areas are clean of any CA, purple blooming, and defects. My initial testing shows nice falloff. Forground bokeh is very good as you can see form the examples.
One of my favorite M lenses is the 90mm Pre-APO summicron. Its a Mandler design and it has always yielded wonderful images with great bokeh. This lens reminds me of that lens, but without the CA and vignetting.
Weight & Handling
Leica claims 700 grams for the bare lens, and that is accurate. Bag weight is 823 grams. This number includes a B+W slim MRC filter, caps and the hood. The lens balances nicely on the SL, and it is quite small. Very comparable to most other manufacturers 90mm F2.0 lenses.
The lens has all the Leica build quality, it is metal and built for professional use. The finish is tough and not easily scratched. The rubber grip has good adhesion, and does not retain dust. The hood is your standard bayonet style, and it can be reversed for storage.
The lens handles flare completely differently from the M series of lenses. I think that this is due to improved lens coatings, and design. The flare is pleasing wide open, and will yield nice stars around spectral highlights at night. I have yet to shoot the lens at night, but as soon as I do there will be samples added to this ongoing review. For now here is my initial flare test:
|Flare at F/2.0||Flare at F/8.0|
The 90mm focal length is a cornerstone lens for portraiture. All manufacturers have a variation of this focal length. There are faster lenses out there, and the rumored Leica M 90mm F/1.4 is looking like a go. For me, Autofocus is the key element of this lens. Its fast, accurate and reliable. Is it perfect, no, but no manufacturer has a perfect AF 90mm anyway. They all occasionally miss. This lens is close to perfection though. Just look at the images, they are fantastic!
This lens brings together Leica’s legendary image quality, autofocus and relatively light weight. Its a keeper, and I know that I’ll be carrying this lens around for a long time.
Make sure that you periodically check back in on this review, as I will be adding flare images and sun flare images along with additional images from the lens. If there is anything that you would like to see added, please leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading!