Leica has revealed that it has redesigned the Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens in a variety of ways in order to make what it describes one of the most versatile M lenses even more versatile.
The new lens offers a few significant improvements while maintaining the same superb optical design as the existing 35mm FLE. Perhaps most significantly, a newly created patent-pending double cam unit allows the updated 35mm Summilux-M to focus up close to 0.4 meters, just like the APO-Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH. Added features include a built-in retractable circular lens cover and an eleven-blade aperture for better bokeh when the camera is stopped down.
While practically all M lenses are limited to a minimum focus distance of 0.7m due to the physical constraint of the optical rangefinder in an M camera, the new 35mm Summilux can decouple and focus down to 0.4m. Close-focusing necessitates the use of live view rather than the optical rangefinder, as it is separated from the conventional infinity to 0.7m rangefinder-coupled range by a light detent and differentiated by modest gray distance engravings.
To achieve a shorter focusing distance, Leica engineers developed a patent-pending double cam mechanism. Leica claims that customers will experience ‘a slight perceptible resistance’ in the focus ring before it continues to focus down to 40cm (15.8″) after focusing down to 70cm (27.6″). The company claims that despite maintaining the lens’s compactness, the focus ring’s rotation angle has increased to 176 degrees, nearly twice as much as it did in the previous version. This, according to Leica, enables dependable, accurate control across the full focusing range.
The lens is particularly adaptable for a variety of topics, according to the manufacturer, because it combines wide-angle features with dimensions that look realistic. With an increase in the number of aperture blades, Leica says it has now refined the design to make the lens even better. The updated lens has an additional two blades, bringing the total to 11, compared to the original lens’s nine. According to Leica, this clearly raises the bokeh’s quality.
Lens shades have been a continual evolution at Leica over the last decade or so. The original 35mm Summilux ASPH had an unique push-and-twist locking mechanism with a plastic shade. The FLE redesign that came after that added a flared rectangular metal hood. Finally, Leica has included the lens shade into the design of the second version of the FLE with a similar execution and appearance to the 50mm APO-Summicron-M. Twist to simply extend. The hood will come to a complete stop and softly lock into place. The reverse of retracting is the same. Until you are completely retracted in the barrel, turn in the opposite way.
Apart from these improvements, the lens is mostly unchanged, including its identical optical design of nine elements placed in five groups. The updated lens is essentially the same size as the original, with the noticeable distinction that it is now 2mm shorter and 2mm larger in diameter.
The new Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens is available in two color variants, black, and silver. The black variant is available for $5,395 while the silver variant is slightly more expensive at $5,595.
More info on Leica’s website.