If you need the extra speed, the 35mm Summilux-M ASPH is the only way for this focal length. And I agree with you that the Summilux is an incredible piece of work. Very well built and feel solid (especially the lenshood vs the Summicron). But at much "cheaper" price, the 35mm Summicron-M ASPH may be a better buy. It's a hard call.
I used this lens some time back but canâ€™t find negs and prints to remind me about comparative performance with the current version, which I now use. And from memory there is not much difference in use. The current lens is only marginally lighter and I think they are pretty well the same size. I've had several 35s over the years and its hard to remember which one was used with which image.
Denis Laney â€œLeica Lens Practiceâ€ second ed. (1993) has this to say
â€œâ€¦Imaging performance at full app is superb. â€¦ brilliant contrast and exc. resolution of fine detail. The lens is almost completely free of coma, has good flatness of fieldâ€¦ very slight barrel distortion isâ€¦ negligible. Performance is enhanced by stopping down, and maintained throughout focussing range. â€¦Vignetting removed by f4.â€
I am using the first realease of the ASPHERICAL 35/1.4 frequently. It is a superb lens, very sharp up to the corners, even wide opened.
Also it is a very pleasing to use lens. It is the only one I know, where you can choose to use the TAB or the ring to set the distance. On the current one there is only a tab.
To me the first release is better done, mechanically speaking, than the current one. Also with two aspherical surface, you obtain a better correction, but not by much. The current one is still a perfect lens.
When I bought the aspherical 35 1.4, I sold my pre Asph 35 1.4, and I still regret it.
Although it is less good wide open than the Aspherical one, it is much more compact and very good at medium apertures (from f2.8). I would have used it as a compact lens on my M6, allowing 1.4 if really needed. The aspherical and asph 35 1.4 are at least twice as big as the previous one.
To me the pre asph summilux 35 is a bit soft at 1.4 and prone to flare, but at the medium apertures, it becomes very sharp, and due to its slight field curvature, it produces pictures which are very sharp at infinity, but also in the corners, at closer distance.
I should have kept the pre-Asph and got the aspherical one in addition, but the money did not allow it.
I had the pre-ASPH and traded in for the Asph. I prefer full sharpness at all times. If I want a softer image I use a softar filter. The size and wheight advantage is less important than seeing sharpness at 1.4 when I want it. With the PRE I felt like my hands were tied at 1.4.
Of course you must decide for yourself and what YOU decide is what IS right for you. They're both great Lieca lenses.
You are right. Quality at 1.4 is stunning and makes me forget about the size and price.
But I am also looking for a compact outfit, which I could take everywhere in my wallet... I wonder if the old pre-asph 35 mm is not better than the current 50 2.8 at 2.8 and other apertures, as a compact lens. To me both have roughly the same size. The 50 2.8 being even longer when extended.