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The Leica APO-Summicron-SL 50mm f2.0 Asph. - A field report

I (Mehrdad) always find apochromatic lenses particularly interesting. Since I now also own an SL2s, I wanted to take a closer look at the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 50mm.

First of all, I would like to thank our supporter and friend of the blog FOTO-GÖRLITZ for the loan. After my test, the lens will go back to him.

At the same time, I would like to apologize to you in advance.

Apologies, because it may be that one or the other of you notices that I do not seem quite so passionate in this field report. This is not because of the quality of the lens or what it can deliver to the user. I will try to explain this to you, but in order, I suggest.


The Leica APO-Summicron SL 50mm

There is no real and true test report without cat pictures. Some realities you just have to face, no matter how hard they are. 🤷🏽♂️

The APO-SL 50mm is no exception.

As the name suggests, it is an apochromatic lens. 12 elements in 10 groups. Of these, three elements are aspherical. The closest focusing distance is 0.35m. The aperture is electronically controlled and can be adjusted in ⅓ steps from f2.0-f22. The filter diameter is 67mm and it weighs 740g. Included is a (rather long) sunshade and the lens looks deadly dull.

Yes, a bit strange to include that in the hardfacts and actually it shouldn't matter how a lens looks from the outside, but I just enjoy "nice" products more. A black, admittedly very valuable feeling, "tube" where only "50mm" is written on it in the familiar Leica orange. No aperture ring, a rather wide, rubberized (?) and easy-to-grip focus ring - whoever needs that on an autofocus lens - is simply design-wise, let's say benevolently: minimalist.

On the SL, it cuts a good figure, and its proportions fit the rather bulky SL series quite well.

The size and weight are appropriate for the system and here Leica is not really "worse" than other suppliers. What I personally find boring, however, is, detached from my personal taste, that it is very minimalist and I can well imagine that this has many fans.

Image quality

I want to be fair though, and just because I don't like it externally doesn't mean I don't like the imaging performance as well. I've been an avid Leica APO-Summicron-M user for a few years now, and I've already written about it on our blog, as well as recently posted something on our YouTube channel. The imaging performance of the APO-M has completely convinced me. I could go into raptures now, but I have done that enough in the linked blog and video 😉.

This is supposed to be about the APO 50 for the SL and I have to admit, the imaging performance is very good! The sharpness is really on a very high level. Some say it is even sharper than the APO-M. Could be, I honestly don't know. But what I do know is that sharpness is not everything. And when I look at the images from the APO-SL, I really like them, but I very rarely get the same excitement that I almost always get when I look at the photos with the M-APO.

The bokeh is okay, but not as nicely harmonized in terms of sharpness and blur as I personally feel with the M-APO. It draws very perfectly overall in terms of sharpness, vignetting, distortion, etc, but maybe it's just the "perfect" that is causing me so little enthusiasm.

I don't know what exactly I was expecting, and maybe I'm being a bit harsh, I just find that the imaging performance of the APO-SL doesn't come close to that of the APO-M, even though, and I'm happy to repeat and thus emphasize it: the imaging performance of the APO-SL leaves hardly anything to be desired in terms of sharpness and perfection.


My final thoughts

Even if it doesn't read like it above, I like the APO Summicron SL 50mm. My opinion in general is of course strongly influenced by my M-glass preference. But if I ignore this, then the realization remains that the APO-SL delivers a very good imaging performance. The glass molds well to the SL (2/2s), though naturally top-heavy. For someone looking for a 50mm with extremely high imaging performance for their L-mount camera, this would be a find.

If I had one wish to make the glass more interesting to me, it would be to make it a teensy bit smaller. But all Leica SL lenses have this problem, unfortunately. What a pity!

I post here below some pictures, which I have made over a period of several weeks, with the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 50mm on the Leica SL2s.