Recently the weather here has been dreadful. Rain, wind and more rain. Oregon has finally reached the beginning of it’s acclaimed 9 months of rain season. Thus, photographic activities come to a seasonal end. Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom. We do get the occasional break in the weather allowing us to run outside and snap a few pictures while we can. Don’t get me wrong, wet weather also presents some great shooting opportunity. But for me, I have been stuck indoors for a few days now watching Game of Thrones from the beginning again. Then all of a sudden we where blessed by the 7 Gods and the weather broke with Dorne like weather that those of the Night’s watch envy and long for. So off I went across the narrow streets with my A7II and Leica 50mm Summilux.
Ever since I have been shooting with Sony, my go to 50’s have typically been the Zeiss 55 Fe or the Zeiss 50 A with the LAEA4 adapter. I have long since disavowed my Leica cameras. But today I dug up a lens that’s been in storage for a while. A beautiful Leica 50mm limited edition LHSA summilux. Although it’s fair to say I don’t care much for Leica cameras anymore, there is no denying they produce beautiful glass. So why not shoot it with the Sony? Well, That’s just what I did today and am here to provide you some feedback on the lens and it’s performance on the A7II.
Overall, this lens is a gem to hold. It truly is a fine example of engineering and presentation. The feel of the lens in hand is simply comforting. Mounted on the A7II with a Fotodiox Pro adapter, the lens looks quite small but don’t let that fool you. It is a solid heavy lens that forces the camera to tip when placed on a flat surface.
Focusing the lens manually is quite enjoyable. With focus peak turned on, it really is safe to say that on my camera, the peaking confirmation is very accurate. However, this lens is no match for the Zeiss Loxia when it comes to focus smoothness. The Zeiss is buttery smooth with absolutely no hesitation or interruptions while you turn that barrel. On the other hand, the Leica feels dry and lacks that graceful lens rotation you get with the Loxia. That is really surprising considering the Leica is a $6000.00 lens and the Zeiss a $900.00 lens.
The lens is razor sharp and renders beautifully. It delivers a beautiful bokeh that is subtle and pleasant to view. It’s diaphragm although not perfectly circular is round enough to render out of focus highlights magically.
I wish the lens had better close range focusing. There are situations when you feel you need to be really close to your subject but are just a few inches too far. Other lenses without being of macro design focus a lot closer.
I do find that compared to the Zeiss Loxia or my other Zeiss lenses, the contrast is not as vivid or snappy for my taste. It is very flat and needs some post processing to bring it to life. However, this type of rendering is great for people shots and is very classic Leica.
The aperture ring sits on the front of the lens and is easily rotated. In fact, it is so easy to rotate you could accidentally turn it with minimal effort.
Overall, I find this lens to be superb with beautiful color and rendering, although a bit flat for my taste. The A7II and the 50 Summilux is great combo for those users moving from rangefinder cameras to mirror less cameras. Yes RF cameras are mirror less cameras too but you know what I mean. The A7II and 50 lux is an ideal combination for street photography which carry’s over the pleasure of shooting discretely with a rangefinder camera.
After all is said and done, I will keep my Lux because it is a magnificent lens with a purpose. However, all 3 Zeiss lenses I own will be my first choice and here is why.
- It lacks the contrast and pop that I get with the Zeiss.
- The inability to get really close to your subject like I can with other 50’s.
- The focus just feels bad for me with my lens.
- The obvious lack of auto focus.
- Not as universal as other lenses. By this I mean, the lens renders wonderfully for street type photography but not for still, landscape, closeup etc …
Below are some sample for you to see. With the exception of a few shots, these were processed to increase saturation and contrast a bit. Keep in mind it was a dull gray day which could explain the flat look to these images. None the less, it was an opportunity to see how the lens handled on the A7II.