Cheap Leica Lenses?  Leica ASPH & APO lenses – Do we really need them?

Matthew Osborne Photography
Cheap Leica Lenses – 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 opportunity to pack some vintage Leica M lenses which could be also regarded as cheap Leica lenses when compared to modern Leica ASHP / APO lenses.  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 –

Cheap Leica Lenses

Camera Bag
  • 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 lens but I prefer it in lower light
** My 1960s Leica Elmar 135mm f4 is also a fantastic telephoto lens

Plus less vintage extras..

  • 1x Speedlight
  • 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f4.5
  • Fuji GF670 Medium Format Film Camera
The workshop

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 and using these so termed cheap Leica lenses.

Portrait Photography Workshop

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 the latest 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 cheaper Leica lenses that can be found at great prices on eBay.

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

Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

1951 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 Portrait

Leica Summarit 50mm

1950s Russian Industar 26M 52mm f2.8

Leica M9 + Industar 26M 52mm f2.8

Industar 26M 52mm f2.8

1973 Leica Summicron 90mm f2 pre-ASPH

Cigarette Break

Beauty and a Geek!

Leica M9 + Summicron 90

Leica M9 + Vintage Leica Summicron 90mm f2

Leica M9 Strobist

1960s Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Modern Classic

Black and White Fashion

Leica Elmar 135mm f4 Portrait

Related Posts – Cheap Leica Lenses /  Vintage Lenses

5 thoughts on “Cheap Leica Lenses (Leica M Alternatives + Vintage Leica Lenses)”

  1. Pingback: Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared - - Matthew Osborne Photography

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      I would get the 135/f4 or a 90/2.8.. The 135/2.8 would be very difficult to focus accurately on a M camera wide open. 135/4 is good, cheap, light. 90s cost more but are excellent (I use 90/2, 90/4)

      1. matthewosbornephotography

        Happy to help! I will try to share some lens videos on YouTube soon too 🙂

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