Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 lens hands-on review


I worked on that review a while back and for some reason I never published it online. The Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 lens has been discontinued for a while (replaced by the Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.4) and I no longer even own that lens (upgraded to the excellent and expensive 90mm Summicron-M). I will still publish the review online today in case anyone is interested in purchasing a used Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 lens (check Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay and KEH):

General

The Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 lens ($1695.00) was announced in 2008. This lens doesn't come with a screw-on lens hood - you have to purchase it separately for $84.95 (part# 12460). The included lens pouch is made of plain cloth and not leather like on other more expensive Leica M lenses.


The 90mm Summarit is slightly longer than other Leica lenses. Here is a size comparison with the 28mm Elmarit, 35mm Summilux and 50mm Summilux lenses:


This is how those lenses look with a lens hood:


For me the 90mm focal length is hard to focus when wide open on a rangefinder. As you can see from the DOF scale on the lens is very "narrow", for example the total depth of field when wide open at 10ft is 0.55ft. For easier focusing, the 1.25x viewfinder magnifier could be helpful. Leica has also a 90mm f/2 APO Summicron-M lens that is twice the price of the Summarit ($3,695.00). I have never used that lens, but I would expect that the focusing wide open will be even more difficult which is the main reason I went with the f/2.5 version (and the price of course).

The lens hood is reversible and the lens cap can fit on top of it:


The lens+hood obstruction in the viewfinder is minimal (focus set at 1m):


Without the lens hood, there is no obstruction in the viewfinder:

Samples

A few sample photos can be found on flickr:

Leica 90 Summarit f/2.5 M lens sample photos

Leica 90 Summarit f/2.5 M lens sample photos
Portraiture

The Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 lens is a classic portrait lens. When shooting wide open, you can completely isolate the background and emphasis on the main subject. Keep in mind that at f/2.5 the DOF is very thin.


All sample images were taken with Leica M9, no post-processing, just DNG to JPG conversion in Lightroom.

Low light

Extreme lighting conditions

Color

Black & White

Those are some black and white samples jpg files taken directly from the M9:

100% crop

Technical tests

Barrel Distortion

Barrel distortion is not visible on the Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 lens:

Light falloff (vignetting)

The light falloff is noticeable at f/2.5 and completely gone at f/4:

Sharpness

The examples below were taken from the center of a test chart (100% crop). The lens sharpness improves at around f/4 and remains constant all the way down to f/11 with slightly soft results at f/16:

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/2.5

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/2.5

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/2.8

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/2.8

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/4

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/4

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/5.6

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/5.6

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/8

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/8

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/11

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/11

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/16

Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/16

Specifications

  • Design: 5 lenses in 4 groups
  • Horizontal angle of view: 22.6° on full frame, 17.1° on Leica M8
  • Exact focal length: 91mm
  • Minimum focusing distance: 1m | 3.2 feet
  • 11 aperture blades
  • Aperture range: f/2.5 – f/16 (click-stopped half values available)
  • Reproduction ratio: 1:8.9
  • Filter size: 46mm
  • Leica product number: 11646
  • Weight: 360g | 12.7 oz
  • Dimensions: 66.5x55mm | 2.61×2.16in
  • 6-bit coded
  • Produced in Germany
  • Price: $1,695
  • Lens diagram:

  • Lens drawing:

  • MTF charts at f/1.4, f/2.5 and f/5.6:

  • Vignetting graph:

Conclusion

  • Focusing this lens wide open could be challenging. viewfinder magnifier will probably make a difference.
  • A wider/longer focusing ring should make focusing easier (the focusing ring is made out of rubber).
  • No built-in lens hood (have to purchase it separately).
  • Smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Summicron.
  • Very sharp results.
This entry was posted in Leica Lenses, LR Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Back to top