One of the brightest stars in the Leica M lens lineup, the 35mm Summilux, today gets a complete redesign and a new 40 cm close-focus capability — this compares with the 70 cm closest focus of its predecessor.
While the lens remains optically identical to the current model, it features a new 11-blade diaphragm (compared with the 9-blades of the current model) which is claimed to improve the bokeh effect. The close-focus distance of 40 cm has been made possible by a patent-pending double cam unit newly developed by Leica engineers. As a result, the rotation angle of the focus ring could be almost doubled to 176 degrees in comparison with the previous lens, all without sacrificing the compact size.
The outer casing design is modernised and features an integrated rotating and sliding lens hood. It is available from today and comes in black (£4,950 including tax) and silver (£5,100).
Traditionally, the minimum focus distance of M-mount lenses has been limited to 70 cm to match the capability of the rangefinder mechanism. Some current M lenses, such as the Noctiluxes and Summaron, have even longer minimum focus distances. There are rumours that a close-focus version of the 50mm Summilux is on the cards for the future, and perhaps in time, we can expect close-focus versions of other lenses in the range.
While it has been suggested that Leica’s move to close focus hints that a new EVF-only M camera is in the pipeline, the more likely reason is the increasing popularity of M-mount lenses on mirrorless cameras such as the SL2 and SL2-S. The close-focus ability of this new lens will also be realised when using the electronic Visoflex on rangefinder cameras.
35mm Summilux — the history
For a detailed expert rundown on the 35mm Summilux over the past decades, see this article by Thorsten Overgaard.