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35mm f2 SummicronR lens



A 35mm lens is possibly the most generally useful of all focal lengths in 35mm camera photography. It is ideal for general travel photography, street scenes, groups and family snaps. It gives a markedly wider view than a standard 50mm lens but does not pose the difficulties often encountered with wider angle lenses, when it comes to composition and keeping the camera level.

Leica’s 35mm f/2 Summicron-R lens is very well corrected, with excellent resolution, color rendition and contrast. Colors are neutral, as is generally the case with Leica lenses. Fine details are rendered sharply from the center to the edges, even at full aperture and at close range. Vignetting and distortion are not evident. Performance is excellent wide open, as is typical of Leica lenses, and only marginal improvement can be accomplished by stopping down to f/2.8 or f/4. I also found this lens to be remarkably resistant to flare, even with a bright light source in or just outside the field of view.

The optics consist of six elements in six groups. Closest focus is 30cm. Aperture range is from f/2 to f/16 in half-stop increments. Filter size is E55, which is common to many other Leica R lenses. There is a built-in retractable circular lens shade.

As with all Leica lenses, the 35mm Summicron-R is very solidly built, having a barrel of all metal construction. It weighs 430gm, length is 54mm and width is 66mm. Personally, I think that the weight and size of this lens are reasonable, considering its maximum aperture of f/2.

The full retail price of the 35mm Summicron-R is high but it can be bought on the used market for much less. The used market may be the best bet for many people wanting this lens, since it's not particularly rare.

The only other prime R lens of this focal length in Leica's current line-up is the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-R. At 690gm, it is 260gm heavier than the 35mm Summicron and costs about 50% more. That's a lot of money for one extra f-stop and the optical performance is no better than the Summicron from f/2 to f/16.

An earlier lens, which might be an attractive alternative for those not requiring the speed of the Summicron, is the 35mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R. This lens, which also produces excellent images, can still be bought on the used market. Its advantages are that is less expensive than the Summicron and weighs only 400gm.