Leica 28mm Summilux - Part 2 - In Bright Daylight and on the Street
Now that I have tested the Leica 28mm Summilux in suboptimal available light, and demonstrated how appropriate a lens it is for night time interior documentation, while on vacation, let’s see how well it performs during the daytime, when a fast lens is not required.
The question here is whether the premium for the 28mm Summilux is worth it for daytime photography, given how wonderful the 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit ASPH is under ideal light conditions, and for that matter, the 28mm f/2 Summicron ASPH.
In determining whether the 28mm Summilux is the perfect holiday lens - even during the daytime - I have decided not to use a model. Instead I will shoot in the street, in order to increase the level of difficulty. Besides, documenting life around the surrounding area is a very normal part of vacation photography.
Immediately, the first thing I notice was the increased attention I was getting. Yes, the 28mm Summilux is a much bigger lens. It looks so much more substantial than the 28mm Elmarit. So when I'm taking pictures on the street, I did notice getting more stares from my subjects. It's not a bad thing, I think. If anything, I get more full face images. But if you happen to be shy, the 28mm Summilux may not necessarily be for you.
What I also noticed is that the 28mm Summilux was relatively easy to use, when shooting at around six feet from the subject. But once you get closer, the image begins to distort significantly more than on the 28mm Elmarit. In fact, the more you approach the closet focusing distance, the more distortion becomes an issue. Case in point is the title image of my previous post. And if you shoot from an extremely weird angle, the perspective distortion goes up many folds. It makes the image unusable, unless that's what you're going for.
Despite the issue of distortion when shooting closer, it's when you're shooting closer that the 28mm Summilux seem to be the best. The lens is wide enough to fill the subject in the entire frame, while still being able to document the background sufficiently. And when stopped down to f/8, you pretty much get everything in focus. Of course, this is the same for all 28mm focal length lenses.
With that said, I did notice that the depth of field was slightly less forgiving, stopped down for zone focusing, when compared to the 28 Elmarit. I did miss focus on occasion, when the subject was too close to me.
One thing I did find interesting was how the increase weight of the lens seemed to help me level the pitch of the camera angle. I would have thought that the lens would make my camera feel front heavy. But instead, it seemed to have made a good counterweight, when shooting at waist level.
Overall, I found the 28mm Summilux to be a joy to use. When stopped down, it appears to be just as sharp in the corners as the 28 Elmarit. But the distortion when shooting closer, and at weird angles is something of concern. Mind you, it's not as if you don't get weird distortions with the 28mm Elmarit. But to me, it seems less extreme.
If you shoot more during the daytime, under optimal light conditions, there really isn't a need to get the 28 Summilux. But the thing is, you never know when you'll need that extra stop or two of speed. Knowing that you have it gives you peace of mind, for when you go indoors or when you need to use it when the sun goes down.
So... the final verdict? Did I like it. Yes, I did. I really liked the 28mm Summilux. I really REALLY liked it. I liked it so much, that this is the lens that I will bring with me on vacation, from now on. That's how much I like it - enough to permanently replace my 35mm Summilux.
I guess the next thing to do now is to compare it with the 35mm Summilux, to see if this is really the case.
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