Leica has launched the APO-Summicron-SL 50mm f/2, a full-frame L-mount lens that prices $4,495. Panasonic, a member of the L-mount Alliance, additionally has a 50mm lens obtainable for the system — with a sooner f/1.Four aperture and lower cost of $2,300. We’ve used it, and it’s a fantastically sharp lens. So why purchase the Leica? As a result of it’s a Leica.

Leica has all the time been the king of overpriced understatement, particularly with the SL sequence. Proudly owning a Leica digicam is a means of speaking to pictures nerds that you’ve got subtle style and doubtless some huge cash, however any non-photographer will go you by with out even noticing. The APO-Summicron-SL 50mm f/2 suits that mildew, with a delicate black exterior free from any buttons or dials, save the focusing ring. There isn’t even focus distance scale; the one labeling is a gold “50” on the outside and the standard identify and specs encircling the entrance ingredient.

Because of the f/2 aperture, it’s additionally comparatively small, measuring a hair over Four inches lengthy and simply 2.eight inches extensive. It weighs 1.6 kilos; hardly a light-weight, however definitely lower than the two.1-pound Panasonic S Professional 50mm f/1.Four talked about above. This can be a premium lens that truly appears prefer it was constructed for a mirrorless system, bucking the considerably unusual pattern of producers introducing monstrously giant lenses for these compact cameras.

That’s to not say this new Leica lens gained’t even have some technical benefits. APO stands for apochromatic, that means the lens is designed to right chromatic aberration in all three coloration channels, focusing purple, inexperienced, and blue mild to the identical level — one of many greatest challenges in optics. The 50mm f/2 makes use of three aspherical components to perform this purpose. Assuming the lens holds as much as its claims, that ought to imply sharper, extra true-to-life photographs with out coloured fringing round high-contrast edges, rendering particulars in issues like textiles and hair very clearly.

However many trendy lenses, with or with out an APO designation, have gotten superb at suppressing chromatic aberration (the $1,400 Sigma 40mm F1.Four Artwork, additionally obtainable for the L-mount, is an efficient instance). Add in digital correction, and the issue turns into even lesser.

All of this leaves us proper again the place we began: The APO-Summicron-SL 50mm f/2 might be a wonderful lens, however its actual worth is within the Leica identify. And that’s OK. It’s not just like the SL sequence wasn’t already prohibitively costly for all however a small area of interest of photographers. And if $4,495 isn’t wealthy sufficient to your blood, there’s all the time the $5,295 Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.4.

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