Leica is a brand that caught my attention some 18 years ago with the rangefinder camera M6. I was initially attracted to the prestige of the brand and intrigued to see what a Leica would add to my photography, having used a Nikon F4 at the time. Well immediately, I not only enjoyed the smaller size and weight, but the accuracy of it's manual focusing system. Considering I do most of my personal work with 28, 35 and 50mm lenses, the rangefinder system fit my needs perfectly and allowed me to focus more on what's in front of me, than what was in my hands. I started to simplify my photography, looking at the camera as a simple lightbox. Since then the Leica M series has always been in my camera bag.
The Leica M is the first Leica M to include major advances in technology since 1954 when the first M camera was produced. Now incorporating video recording, live view and and electronic viewfinder option, the M is now ready to compete with today's mainstream cameras. Although quite new, the M240 has performed brilliantly, bringing 4 key features I needed to the M line:
When it comes to using the M line, I have used many lenses, almost all of them. The first thing people think about buying when entering the M system is a fast lens, like a f/1.4 or even a f/0.95. After spending some time testing lenses wide open in search for that unique signature I can add to my images, I have come to realise that all I really need is a moderate speed lens, combined with a camera that shoots well at high ISO. For me, the best compromise between speed, size, quality and price was the Summarit.
This bargain of a lens (in comparison to other Leica lenses) has a neutral lens character that does not distort the background like other lenses that exert a strong signature. It's sharp wide open and easy to handle due to it's light weight and small size. It has quickly become my every-day lens on the Leica M.
If you were to ask me what is he best 'performing' fast 35mm lens for the M was, I would tell you it's this lens, without hesitation. It does everything right from shooting sharp wide open, to having very smooth and pleasing bokeh to doing what other fast lenses can't - shoot into strong light sources without creating strong internal reflections and flare. It's build quality almost matches the Leica and it costs around 1/5th of the Summilux price. BUT, those benefits come at a cost of size, weight and viewfinder blockage, which is why I use this lens much less these days, especially since the Leica M's viewfinder is blocked even more using this lens, compared to using it on previous M cameras. Having said that, if you can put up with those caveats, you WILL NOT be disappointed with the results.