The Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 is a standard, ultra-high speed lens for the M systems. Its 45° angle of view corresponds most closely to the natural images seen by the human eye. Thus, it is a suitable lens for beginners and is particularly useful under circumstances of poor light, where ultra-high speed is essential. The optical system is composed of seven elements and two cemented components. Color reproduction equals that of the other Leica M lenses and a color-neutral photographic reproduction is thereby ensured.
Even at full aperture the lens provides excellent overall performance: its most outstanding advantages are exact color differentiation and an absence of coma. At close range, astigmatic residual errors can be eliminated and the level of system-related vignetting reduced by stopping down slightly. Vignetting, a decrease in light towards the edges of the picture, becomes particularly evident with low exposures and evenly lit image fields (e.g. photographs in which white house walls fill the whole image, or a cloudless sky). However, beyond f/4.0, vignetting is almost fully eliminated. Should the highest performance be required even at close range, the Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 is not entirely free of field curvature; therefore, in critical situations, the aperture should be reduced to medium values. Under the particular conditions of available light, the lens shows its best qualities, providing high contrast and excellent resolution of details. Furthermore, its very low tendency towards reflexes is of particular advantage: even under conditions of extremely poor light, such as night photographs with light sources in the picture, the Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 is virtually free of secondary images and light spots.
The French photo magazine Chasseur d'Images awarded this lens 3 stars for optical performance (their test system penalizes lenses with large f-stops; star results can only be compared among lenses within the same f-stop category).
The American photo magazine Popular Photography gave the lens a maximum score of 5 stars.
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Weight: 275 gr (black anodized) or 380 gr (silver chrome or titanium), length from bayonet flange: 46.7 mm, built-in extendable lens hood. E46 filter size.
Its Leica catalog number is 11868 (black anodized), 11856 (silver chrome), 11869 (titanium). Current version introduced in 1996.
The lens has been succeeded by the Summilux-M 50/1.4 ASPH in 2004, which adds a better performance in the corners of the image.