Summilux 75mm F1.4 Portrait Lens
This lens has to be my favourite Leica lens of all time. I love it so much, I was anxious of writing a review – incase for some small reason I would bump the price up in the second hand market to make it unaffordable for me to replace it… should anything ever happen to my copy. Insane I know, but this lens has earned a very special place in my heart.
I’ve used it extensively since I bought it in 2010, it’s travelled around Africa with me, countless weddings and through Europe. It’s most useful for portraits where it defiantly shines, though with it’s (relatively) close minimal focus distance of 75mm it is also very useful for ‘detail’ photographs at weddings. The portraits that I made in Africa were taken with the Leica M8, between f1.4 – f2.8. I find that at an aperture of f2.8 the sharpness is unsurpassed, it’s simply incredible. The sharpness does drop however, when opening up to f1.4 but this is not as noticeable as the Noctilux towards f1.
My copy of the lens seems to focus perfectly with the rangefinder at close distances at f1.4, but there is a small focus shift when closing the aperture down slightly. I’ve learned to compensate for this which a small twist of the the focusing barrel just before I shoot. Not ideal, but necessary if I want to get the photograph in focus! (the Noctilux does exactly the same, though mine seems to be spot on at f2.8 and front focuses at f1.0). With the introduction of “live view” and focus peeking on the Leica M 240, focusing can be much more accurate now – but at the cost of time.
Depth of field at f1.4 is actually narrower than the 50mm Noctilux at f1.0 but the sharpness is greater. The 75mm ‘lux is often criticised for being too clinical in it’s rendering for portraits, but I would have to disagree – as this sharpness is countered by the dreamy and magical bokeh.
At weddings I will always carry the Leica M9 with the 75mm f1.4 mounted. It draws noticeably better than the Nikon lenses, and I find that the guests find it less intrusive and relax more around the camera resulting in much more natural portraits.
The bokeh is simply extraordinary. The way this lens renders out of focus details is what makes this lens so special, it’s dreamy and creamy – but most importantly it is not distracting and compliments the image perfectly. The only problem is getting it in focus! The focus throw on the barrel is long, but this does allow for more accurate control. The new Noctilux 50mm f0.95 now has a much shorter throw and is much quicker to focus. Generally at a wedding I will get what I ‘need’ with the Nikon and it’s auto focus lenses, then switch to the Leica to (hopefully) get a more pleasing image. But, this isn’t always guaranteed as the focus maybe slightly off – ruining the photograph.
In the hope to one day photograph weddings with only the Leica M system, I have recently bought a Leica M Macro adapter, It works well with the 75mm focal length. The maximum focal distance is approximately 70cm (the minimum of the lens without the adapter).
I’m sure that you’ll agree that these photograph speak for themselves. I would recommend this lens, time and time again.