Leica ASPH & APO lenses. Do we really need them?
Matthew Osborne Photography
Model shoot using vintage Leica pre-ASPH/ pre-APO and third party lenses
For the September 2014 London Photography Workshop model shoot I decided to take the oppotunity to pack the follow vintage camera lenses for the day. I would be teaching flash photography and portraiture so I can do this with lenses from any era. It’s great to shoot with one lens on the camera all day but sometimes I just want to go longer or wider so I decided on –
- Leica M9 camera body
- 35mm – 1953 Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
- 52mm – 1950s Russian Industar 26M 52mm f2.8 *
- 90mm – 1973 Leica Summicron 90mm f2 pre-ASPH **
*I have a 1951 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lenses but I prefer it in lower light.
** My 1960s Leica Elmar 135mm f4 is also a fantastic lens but I did’t want to carry two telephoto lenses.
Plus less vintage extras..
- 1x Speedlight
- 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f4.5
- Fuji GF670 Medium Format Film Camera
Tom booked me for a day of 1-2-1 photography tuition and I invited Latvian model Lauma to join us as our model. I have shot with Lauma once before but last time it was with available light only. This time I was teaching off camera flash photography and portrait lighting so I was in my element. All photos were taken using a single bare speedlight without any light modifiers.
All a myth!
The workshop day proved two common photography theories wrong.
- We don’t need the latest Leica lenses to get great pictures on a Leica M camera body
- We don’t need fancy light modifiers and ETTL speedlights
Am I guilty of believing all the ‘hype’? Yes of course I am!
I own the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 (“Lux”) and the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO (“Cron”). I bought the 50mm Lux as my first Leica 50mm lenses because of the glowing reviews but find I rarely use it as prefer other 50s. I bought the 75mm Cron because of the magnification it could produce focusing at 0.7m rather than anything else. The 75f2 focal length has become one of my favourite portrait lenses and my go to detail lens for Leica weddings.
I write ‘hype’ as yes both ASPH and APO lenses are technically brilliant but you dont ‘need’ them as such to get a nice image. I own both new and old Leica lenses but if I was someone trying to get into the Leica market I think potential buyers should not rule out the older glass.
Photos with vintage Leica M mount lenses
Here are some recent examples images using vintage lenses on a Leica M9 camera from flash photography portrait workshops both in London and at my Coventry studio. Models are Gina, Roisin and Lauma.
1953 Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
1951 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
1950s Russian Industar 26M 52mm f2.8
1973 Leica Summicron 90mm f2 pre-ASPH
1960s Leica Elmar 135mm f4