Shooting with the Leica 24mm Summilux ASPH

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The 24mm Summilux of one of my favorite lenses made for the Leica M rangefinder cameras. If I could only take one lens on my travels, then this would be it. The 24mm focus length is perfect for taking environmental portraits, cityscapes and travel photos. It requires you to get closer to your subject than a 35mm or 50mm lens, but rewards you with photos that can be stunning. The colors, micro-contrast and rendition produced by this lens are amongst the best I've seen yet from any Leica, Canon or Nikon lens.

If you are a lens geek then you may shy away from this lens, since on paper it has some flaws. Reviewers like Ken Rockwell (http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/24mm-f14.htm) have muddied the reputation of this lens on the web through comments like: "I wouldn't buy one of these. I'd get the 21mm version instead". These reviewers focus too much on the paper definition of sharpness and maybe don't spend time with lenses in the field. The 21mm Summilux for example might be sharper edge-to-edge wide open at infinity then the 24mm Summilux, but I find the 21mm focal length not as suitable for day-to-day use. It is too wide for environmental portraits and not quite wide enough for ultra-wide landscape photography. 

You can get good deals on this lens in the used market. I purchased mine through eBay at nearly 50% off the price B&H advertised price of $7,195 for a new lens. There is no reason to buy a new Leica lens IMO, unless you are a collector. Leica lenses are built to last for years and take abuse pretty well. Worst case, you can send a lens to a Leica facility for repair, although be prepared to wait 4-6 weeks for it to come back. Luckily my lens was pristine both optically and mechanically. 

Handling

Extremely well built, with smooth focus and aperture rings. The lens hood is solid metal and fits snugly onto the lens. One issue that I've noticed is that the lens hood puts pressure on the front ring, which can become loose over time. There are three small screws that need to be tightened on occasion if this happens to your lens, or you could send it to Leica for an adjustment.

The 24mm Summilux is relatively large compared to other Leica lenses such as 35mm 1.4 or 50mm 1.4, but small in comparison to the Canon & Nikon 24mm 1.4 equivalents. The lens feels well balanced  on my M10 and I haven't found the size or weight to be an issue. There are no brand markings visible on the front (see photo), which is great for street photography or while traveling. 

Due to the size of the lens, there is partial blockage when viewed through the M10 viewfinder. The cutout towards the edge of the hood helps slightly, although partial viewfinder blockage has not bothered me during day-to-day shooting.

In the field

Here are some recent photos taken with the Leica M10 and 24mm Summilux combination with minimal post-processing in Lightroom:

Enjoying the sunshine after a good run. 24mm Summilux @ 1.4

Enjoying the sunshine after a good run. 24mm Summilux @ 1.4

Yoga at Sculpture Park. 24mm Summilux @ 1.4

Yoga at Sculpture Park. 24mm Summilux @ 1.4

Yoga at Sculpture park in Seattle. 24mm Summilux @ f8

Yoga at Sculpture park in Seattle. 24mm Summilux @ f8

 

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Imran Aziz