I have done the unthinkable. I have sold my Leica lenses and gone back to Zeiss again. When I bought my first Leica back in 2016 I initially used Voigtländer lenses and after a while I settled in for two Zeiss lenses; the 2,8/35 Biogon and the 2/50 Planar. These two lenses were great. They really were. But everyone claimed that Leica-glass is the best, so I just had to try it out. Could it be even better than Zeiss??
To find out I sold my beloved Zeiss lenses and has since then owned a Elmarit 50 (collapsable), a Summicron 50, a Summicron 35, a Tele-Elmarit 90 and a Summicron 90 Pre Asph. Was I impressed?
Well yes – and no.
I loved the build quality of the Leica lenses. My lenses were not new – they were between 15 and 30 years old, and still in perfect shape and functionality. They spell Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y all over. The 35 and 50 Summicron had a focus tab instead of the small ”knob” that Zeiss has. I specificly chose versions of the Summicron that had focus tabs, and initially I loved using it. But after a while I felt that using a focus tab was not for me. I like to be able to hold the focus ring with two fingers. It also was harder to focus in portrait mode.
But how about the glass? Well – I was not that impressed. To be honest – I did not see a difference from the Zeiss lenses at all. In fact it was the other way around. I got more unwanted flare and reflections from the Leica lenses, than I ever got from the Zeiss lenses. I know some would argue that the ”bokeh” is much better from the Summicrons – but I must say that I didn’t think so. The colours was not much better than Zeiss, and the contrast wasn’t either. Perhaps it was unfair to compare 15-30 years old lenses to almost new Zeiss lenses. I suppose that lens coatings on new lenses are different from older, which may make a difference. The result had perhaps been completley different if I had bought brand new lenses – but then the price had been far over my budget – and need.
One month ago I decided to sell my Leica lenses and go back to Zeiss again. Within two weeks I sold the Leicas and bought three Zeiss lenses; a 2/50 Planar, a 2/35 Biogon and a 2,8/21 Biogon. I got all three Zeiss lenses for the price of the Summicron 35.
Am I still pleased with my descition? The answer is YES! I feel that I am back where I belong. Still a little disappointed. I expected more from the Summicrons. I think I liked the collapsable Elmarit 2,8/50 the best – the cheapest of them. But it – yet again – came back to that it is not the gear. My camera gear is much better than my actual needs. Even the older Leica lenses are of course good enough for me. The issues I had would probably not be an issue for someone that can use a camera better than me. But then again – now I have a great time with my Zeiss lenses, and that’s what matters…
Disclaimer: I haven’t tried a Summilux yet. And I already said that the M Monochrome is my new dream camera. I will pair a Summilux 50 with a Monochrome in my head and have as my new dream combination. Hopefully that dream will never come true. It’s nice to have dreams…