Ricardo Kalaidjian
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Blog

No. 16 SUMMILUX

Photographers love talking about gear. I'm guilty of it as much as anyone, but do we have to use the word "gear" it just makes me feel like even more of a nerd. 

I recently went through a major change in my collection. I sold my Hasselblad 501c, 80mm Zeiss, 150mm Zeiss, A12 back, and my Leica 50mm Summarit. 

I sold all that gear and bought a 50mm Summilux ASPH (All shots from this post are with this lens and Portra 160)

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I've been giving this a lot of thought recently, I dislike most gear reviews (there I go again) but I also want to talk about the camera and lenses I use, so here's my non-review/update on my lenses

I've been shooting the 35mm Summilux for 3 years now and its a fantastic lens, I would say 90% of my shots in this website were with that lens. It has basically no distortion and renders colors really really well (thats two really's). The 1.4 aperture is very useful when shooting film, particularly for 100 speeds, and also leads to great depth of field separation.

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If I could only have one lens I think I would choose the 35. I personally love it for portraits (as long as you don't get too close), because it includes the environment around the subject. But also for street photography and documentary work in general, its never too wide or too long. Perfect travel focal length, there's nothing worse than arriving at a location and not being able to fit everything in the frame because you have a long lens on. 

If I had one complaint it would be the viewfinder blockage. 

It can be really annoying sometimes, especially when you use the hood like I do. You lose a fair bit of the frame when focusing, but I personally think it's worth it for the quality of the lens. 

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I've never shot a lens on my M that wasn't a Leica so if you're wanting a Voigtlander or Zeiss comparison there are plenty of those out there

Comparing the 1.4's to other Leica M's is kind of a waste of time I think.

Leica is different from most other companies in that just because one lens is more expensive than another doesnt make it "better" in the traditional sense

For example, the Summiluxes render differently than the Summicrons, I think the Cron's are the overall sharpest line of lenses

Why would you spend more money on a much bigger and heavier lens then?

I bought the 50 Lux because I didn't want to buy a dedicated portrait lens (like a 90 or a 75) and I knew the 1.4 would shine in portraits. At the same time once its stopped down it's a fantastic street-photography focal length. The way I see it is a two-in-one kind of deal. 

I thought the 50 would be just like the 35 I was used to but narrower. I was used to shooting the 50 Summarit so I figured I knew kind of what I was getting into. But I was wrong. Holy shit this is a good lens. I only shot 3 rolls with this lens so far but there are plenty of shots already that could easily pass for medium format scans

Each lens and camera has its distinct personality and characteristics. The Lux is great and everything but its almost 3x as big as the Summarit. If I were shooting in a dangerous place I would take the 2.5. If I'm shooting portraits of my family I'll take the 1.4. I never say one lens is "better" than another, if you know what you're looking for you can find what is right for you

Having said all that I'm beyond excited to shoot this 50, I don't see it coming off my camera any time soon.

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Told you I liked to talk about gear :) Please tell me what you're shooting in the comments!!

Happy Tuesday!

Ricardo