A few years ago my only camera was a Leica M6-TTL and on it was mounted the best lens I’ve ever used, a Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH. Since then I’ve gone through many cameras and lenses, but I still regret selling the Summicron. I’d purchased that lens (used) for $1,300 and sold it a year later for the same amount. I wish I’d known that in just a few short years the prices for used copies would double. Today, a “bargain” grade Summicron fetches in the neighborhood of $2,500. Dammit!
Frustrated with sky-high prices, I sought a cheaper 35mm lens and ended up with the wonderful Voigtlander Color Skopar f/2.5. It really is a great performer, and costs around $400. I should be perfectly happy with it. So what’s the problem, then? I hate to admit it, but although it performs just fine, I don’t like how the CV lens looks or handles. I’d describe its handling as “sharp and clicky” which probably doesn’t mean anything to anyone but me. It has a pinchy lens cap and the ears on the aperture ring are easy to bump. Handling to me is nearly as important as image quality, and the CV lens doesn’t do it for me.
After reading every article and review on M-mount 35mm lenses, I made a decision. I wanted a modern 35mm Leica lens, but I didn’t want to spend the money for a Summicron. Enter, the 35mm Summarit-M.
The Summarit line, introduced in late 2007, is considered a “budget” line of lenses. They are not cheap by anything other than Leica standards, but several compromises help keep the price reasonable. The primary difference is speed. At f/2.5, it’s a half-stop slower than the famous Summicron. Also, no aspherical elements means, well, I’m no lens expert, but what it means is probably slightly more distortion and lower contrast. Otherwise, the Summarit is a Leica lens through and through, so I ordered a used one. If it handles anything like the Summicron did and produces images at all like the samples I’ve seen, I should be very happy with it.
Update: While it’s a beautiful lens, I decided to return the Summarit before finishing the first roll. Too much money for something that is only marginally better than what I already own.