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This Lens is Made for Storytellers
Reviewing the Leica Summicron-M 28mm F2.0 ASPH.
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Deciding if the Leica Summicron 28mm is right for you shouldn’t be a question of worth. It should be a question of value. And some of you may have just leaned in and thought, “Wait a minute… that’s the same thing!”
You see, when you’re talking about worth, you’re really focusing on the monetary equivalent of something. How much can something be exchanged for? When you talk about value, you can include worth but you can also include significance, meaning, and importance. So if we’re gonna talk about one of the most popular lenses in Leica line-up, let’s make it a conversation around value.
I’ve had this Summicron for nearly a year and more than any other lens, it pushed me to get closer with my camera. As if it was imbued with the ghost of Robert Capa, each time I had this lens with me, I was always inching closer and closer to my subjects. And that’s because you have bigger canvas—sort of—and consistently great results.
Look, this modern 28mm shows almost no chromatic aberration, has distortion well under control, and delivers images without any strange colour shifts. I’d use this in all kinds of lighting situations and there was a generous amount of latitude before you saw any flares creep in. Now, what about sharpness?
Here’s another metric where this tiny lens overdelivers. Sharpness isn’t something you worry about with this lens. I’ve seen people mention a noticeable drop in sharpness at the edges when you’re shooting wide-open with previous versions of this Summicron. In my experience, I never saw a significant drop in sharpness at the edges of the frame when shooting at F2.0. When I cherry-picked some situations and punched in, there looked to be a mild drop contrast and sharpness. But this felt like such a minuscule amount that to me, it didn’t quite match the rhetoric I’ve seen online.
The Leica Summicron 28mm has 10 aperture blades that come together for clean, tapered bokeh in the images. When you look at the point of focus to where it falls off, it feels more smooth and linear than what you’d see from a Summilux lens. It doesn’t have that creaminess that exaggerates the depth of a Leica F1.4. But this should come as no surprise given the design of this lens.
All in all, the look of this lens is natural. It plays more into the world of documentary than it does cinema. It’s something that’ll appease a lot of avid iPhone photographers, where the wider perspective and technical results feel familiar. And before any of you ask, no I’m not saying the iPhone results match this lens! All I’m saying is that the perspective feels familiar.
This 28mm is wide enough to invite curiosity and exploration, but not so wide that it feels uncomfortable. And when you take a look at how it’s built, you can see why so many users flock to this lens as their daily driver.
Balance is what I felt when I had this 28 on my camera. Whether it was my M6 or M11, it would sit comfortably and never tip the centre of gravity too far forward. This made for an enjoyable shooting experience in the hand where I’m not fighting the lens to compose an image. And if you’re like me, where sometimes you’ll find yourself darting in and out of environments—high and low—trying to get as much from a scene, you’ll appreciate how nimble this lens feels.
The focus ring felt stiff out of the box but in just a few short months, it got into a comfortable space where I could range focus quickly but not shift the focus tab accidentally. The aperture ring is easy to adjust and clicks in a satisfying way. I’m sure some might prefer a stiffer ring here but it seems perfectly fine to me.
With nine elements and a metal construction, this lens comes in just under 290g with the lens hood attached. And speaking of the lens hood, lets just take a moment to appreciate this design. I love how this thing looks, especially with its opening to give a just a bit more of the frame some visibility. It locks in easily without the worry of over-tightening.
On the front, you have a 46mm filter thread which I use for a UV filter. There’s always gonna be a vocal minority that swear against filters because they believe it detracts from the image. For me, I just prefer having a high quality UV filter to offset dust and debris entering or damaging the front lens elements. I’m using this Summicron in all sorts of environments and these filters have saved me a lot more money and heartache than I care to count. So if you’re asking me, get a great filter if you get this lens so you can shoot even more liberally than you were planning.
Room for Improvement?
I had to took some time to think about what’s holding this lens back and I realized that maybe I was looking at it the wrong way. Instead I thought, “Okay, what might stop someone from committing to this Summicron 28mm?”
At times, it might be tricky to see the frame lines through your viewfinder with this lens, especially if you wear glasses. Also the lens barrel cuts into the frame as well. All together, this might make composing an image less enjoyable for some people.
Also, being able to focus closer than 0.7m would be the main improvement I’d love to see from a successor to this lens. This is a lens that encourages you to get close but there were many instances that I felt like I wanted to get even closer. Sure you could crop, but the experience of framing this wider perspective at a closer distance is something you’ll truly miss.
And finally, while it never stopped me from working in wild weather situations, this lens has no official weather sealing. Leica glass has earned a reputation for surviving all kinds of notorious environments but there’s always gonna be a contingent that want the peace of mind that an official weather rating provides. I’m not that person. Perhaps you are and that’s okay. But for what it’s worth, I never felt like I had to baby this lens from dust or rain.
Now, how does this Leica Summicron 28mm compare to the market? There’s so many options to choose from, how do you know if this is the right one for you? Well, if you want the absolute best look from a 28mm, where you may look to make a career from shooting this perspective, the Summilux really feels like the one saving up for.
If you’re looking for something lighter, easier to focus, and even more affordable to get started, there’s the Elamrit 28mm F2.8. What if you want something more vintage-looking to use solely in well lit environments? Then there’s the Summaron 28mm F5.6, which also looks like a lens you’d wanna own if you’re a fan unique glass.
And let’s not forget the wide array of lens options from other manufacturers—like Voightlander or Zeiss—that offer affordable ways to experiment with this perspective.
28mm is a competitive space in the Leica world and when I went through all the choices on the table, the Summicron felt like the best balance for someone that shoots often and is loves to be in the scene. It’s well-made, delivers a consistently great images, and manages to hold its own in lower light situations. If you’re thinking about which option is right for you, I’d say you really focus on where you find yourself capturing most often and how much you’ll be shooting in this perspective. Those two variables will make the decision a lot easier for you.
Should You Get One?
The Leica Summicron 28mm F2.0 is not a lens you’d get for a signature look. There are no weird artifacts or aberrations that give this a quirky character and there isn’t a dreamy falloff that make this a bokeh machine. It’s a fast and precise tool that feels like a great companion for your adventures around the world.
This is a lens that I used way more than I thought would where over the last 8 months, it was nipping at the heels of my 35mm F1.4 for camera time. I loved using this lens to get close and fill the frame or step back and showoff the scene. Because of that, its a lens that made the experience of photography fun! You pick this thing up and want to keep shooting.
This Summicron gives you a wide canvas and you start to ask yourself, how will you fill the frame? What will you put in? What will you take out? Where will you stand? Are you willing to get closer? It comes together for something that just feels at home on a rangefinder camera.
If you’re asking me, I think this is a lens for the speedier shooter. The adventurer. The ones that love to play with distance and depth; weaving through the world like romantic trying to chase down that next great frame. It delivers just enough depth and versatility while being light and nimble that it catches you by surprise. Quite simply, this Leica 28mm is a damn good lens that’ll reward the storytellers.
Each month, I run a contest for the Church & Street community and try to feature something that I think people will appreciate.
For September, I’ll be giving away the MTW Backpack from Moment. This is a super versatile backpack that can adapt to just about any kinda lifestyle you throw at it. I have one myself and love using it for times I’m mixing laptop work and photography.
How am I picking the winner? All you have to do is be a member of this community and you’re automatically entered. As with every contest, I’ll be randomly picking one person, confirming they meet the requirements and then contacting them directly before announcing the winner publicly.
Once again, this contest is void where prohibited by law. Good luck!
My thanks to the team at Moment! Not only for this contest but for being the longest supporter of my work online. They’re a lean team of passionate creators that truly believe in supporting other creators on their journey. Whether it’s a new camera, lens, workshop, or just some great articles, visit ShopMoment.com today.
We say this every year but, can you believe the year is almost done?! We’re entering the last quarter of the year and it’s been an incredible time sharing my stories with your through this club. We’re approaching 1,000 members and what makes me happy is that this growth was entirely from word-of-mouth and no paid marketing. Thank you!
If everything goes right, I have an exciting gig this weekend and it’s something that will make a great post for later this year. But until then, thank you so much for being a part of this journey. See ya next time!
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