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Comparing Image Samples - 3 Generations of 35mm Summicrons

Comparing Image Samples - 3 Generations of 35mm Summicrons

First, I have to apologize for not being the most detailed reviewer. However, I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this review of sample images, I am comparing the latest 35mm Summicron ASPH 2, the previous Summicron ASPH, and for good measure, I also threw in the pre-aspherical 35mm Summicron version IV (AKA "King of Bokeh"). Mind you, I did not test the pre-aspherical lens at the beginning of the test, since originally, this was only supposed to be a test between the two aspherical 35mm Summicron. I figured "why not" a quarter way through my testing that it may be interesting to include that too. 

Please also note that I didn't have 3 color M bodies. Some of the images I took with the 35mm King of Bokeh was with my Monochrome Leica. All images shot on a Leica M-D Typ 262, Leica MP 240, and Leica M 246 Monochrome.

All images were shot in RAW. Images are all full and not cropped. Only compensation made in developing was some tweaking in exposure, given that the light changed from time to time during my shoot, and I didn't compensate sufficiently.

1. Full length body with background, shot wide open.

35 Summicron ASPH. Shot f/2

35mm Summicron ASPH vers. 2. Shot f/2.

2. Torso, shot wide open.

35 Summicron ASPH. Shot f/2

35mm Summicron ASPH vers. 2. Shot f/2

3. Indoor shot, wide open

35mm Summicron ASPH. Shot f/2

35mm Summicron ASPH 2. Shot f/2

Around this point, I suddenly decided to include the the 35mm Summicron vers. IV. I didn't perform the previous test, given I know that the 35mm Summicron vers. IV wasn't a stellar performer wide open, compared to the newer aspherical version.

4. Indoor shot, stopped down

35mm Summicron ASPH. Shot f/5.6

35 Summicron ASPH vers. 2. Shot f/5.6

35mm Summicron vers. IV. Shot f/5.6

5. Indoor, shot with depth of field optimized

35mm Summicron ASPH. Shot f/11

35mm Summicron ASPH 2. Shot f/11

35mm Summicron vers. IV. Shot f/11

6. Closer up and wide open for Bokeh

35mm Summicron ASPH. Shot f/2

35mm Summicron ASPH vers. 2. Shot f/2

35mm Summicron vers. IV. Shot f/2

7. Various scenic shot stopped down

35mm Summicron ASPH. Shot f/5.6

35mm Summicron ASPH vers. 2. Shot f/5.6

35mm Summicron vers. IV. Shot at f/5.6.

35mm Summicron ASPH. Shot at f/5.6

35mm Summicron ASPH vers. 2. Shot at f/5.6

35mm Summicron vers. IV. Shot at f/5.6

35mm Summicron ASPH. Shot at f/5.6

35mm Summicron ASPH vers. 2. Shot at f/5.6

35mm Summicron vers. IV. Shot at f/5.6

Final Verdict - the newly updated 35mm Summicron ASPH vers. 2 is arguably the better one - albeit very slightly. It's sharper wide open, with better bokeh. But stopped down, I really can't see much of a difference. Insofar as which to chose, I suppose it comes down to how sensitive you are to sharpness across the aperture range, or your sensitivity to price and value.

Surprisingly, the pre-aspherical 35mm version IV "King of Bokeh" performed rather well too. Overall fairly sharp stopped down, though not as contrasty, and doesn't render bokeh as nicely - especially when wide open. But as you can see from the test images, when stopped down, the pre-aspherical version is no slouch, and has its own special character. Definitely a lens to consider, if you're not too picky about how the lens renders wide open.

One last point to consider. It is likely that the newest 35mm Summicron ASPH 2 is probably designed with higher megapixel digital sensor in mind. What that means is that the new Summicron probably enables a higher resolution digital sensor to retain more effective megapixels than the previous version aspherical Summicron, and also the pre-aspherical Summicron, which was optimized for film and not a digital sensor.

Special thanks to Pille for being a delightful subject!

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