Shooting a Car Show with a Leica DG 12mm Summilux f/1.4 lens

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Fast prime lenses are all the rage with manufacturers of both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The cynical me seems to think that these lenses have been designed to lure unsuspecting photographers into parting with vast quantities of their money. But maybe, just maybe they ,ight be worth all your hard earned cash…

How I made this shot: As you can see the Leica DG 12mm Summilux f/1.4 ASPH lens also produces some impressive sunstars; the most impressive that I have seen in all of my recent lens testing. Camera used was an Olympus E-M10 Mark I with an exposure of 1/400 sec at f/10 and ISO 320.

leica-12mm-new_One entry in these sweepstakes is the impressive Leica DG 12mm Summilux f/1.4 ASPH lens and, yes it should be with a price tag of $1,297.99. While the lens produces an equivalent field-of-view of a 24mm lens the depth-of-field and aperture is still that of any f/1.4 lens, so it should also perform well in low light. When shooting for shallow depth-of-field, its rounded nine-blade diaphragm should produce a pleasing bokeh. A nicely made metal lens hood is included and it appears to do an acceptable job and is useful for protecting the front element if you eschew mounting a UV filter. As befits a megabucks lens, fit and finish are impressive no matter how you measure build quality.

The lens’s optical design uses a pair of aspherical elements, two ultra extra-low dispersion elements and one extra-low dispersion element to control spherical and chromatic aberrations for edge-to-edge sharpness. A manual aperture ring gives control over exposure settings and a dedicated AF/MF switch lets you switch between focusing modes. It has an all-metal construction and is weather-resistant. By Micro Four-thirds standards it’s a hefty lens at 11.82 oz, yet it’s 3.17 oz lighter than the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2, which still felt balanced on the Olympus E-M10 Mark I it was attached to.

I kept coming back to my experience with Voigtlander’s Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 lens and the similarities/dissimilarities between it and the 12mm Summilux. The thing I like most about the Leica is the size. OK, I know the Nokton has an 0.95 aperture, so it’s going to be bigger. The Voigty is manual focus; the Summilux is AF.

How I made this shot: I shot this Hail Mary shot of this Lotus Elise with a and Olympus E-M10 Mark I with an Aperture Preferred exposure of 1/125 sec at f/10 and ISO 320.

The Voigtlander weighs 1.29 lbs and uses a 72mm filter, the Leica is 11.82 oz. with a 62mm filter size. Both feel expensive, the Leica more so but, to me, the handling of the Voigtlander was hampered by it’s bulk. I didn’t like using the Voigtlander with any of my Olympus or Panasonic bodies and it wasn’t conducive to my way of shooting.


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