With a maximum aperture of f/1.4 Leica’s new 28mm Summilux for the M system offers that magic combination of wide angles and shallow depth of field. Damien Demolder tests it

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Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review

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Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review – a magic combo of wide angle and shallow focus

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Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review: Image quality

Wide aperture and wideangle lenses are 
prone to image quality issues, but for the cost of this lens we’d rightly expect that Leica has worked hard to do what can be done to overcome those problems

The aberration most commonly associated with wideangles is curvilinear distortion – usually barrelling, where straight lines close to the edge of the frame bend inwards towards the corners. This is a debilitating distortion that isn’t always easy to fix convincingly, and which can take time to fix well.

Of course, fixing requires straightening the edges of the frame and then re-cropping, which loses pixels as well as some of that angle of view 
we just paid for.

Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review sample image

Edge-to-edge sharpness and low curvilinear distortion make this lens suited to architecture shots

Leica has worked hard to eliminate barrelling, and I was really surprised by how well it draws. The company’s claim 
that this 28mm is suitable for architecture – that most technically demanding type 
of subject matter – seems to be true. I’m 
very pleased with how naturally all subjects 
are drawn.

Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review sample image

Closed to f/5.6, the lens produces really sharp images that are filled with detail

We should perhaps expect some corner darkening from such a wide lens, especially at the larger apertures, and indeed vignetting is very much a part of images shot at apertures wider than f/8. At f/1.4 there is a definite bright spot in the centre of the frame that has a knock-on effect with the camera’s metering system, and until f/2.8 vignetting is severe. It looks rather good in some subjects, such as documentary photography, but is not so great for technical applications.

Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review sample image

Wide views with shallow depth of field at f/1.4 look unusual. Note the corner shading

For all Leica’s efforts with colour there are really quite prominent purple fringes and chromatic separations in images created by this lens. High-contrast edges are worst affected, and elements close to the corners worse again. In my test images I found the tops of buildings glowing slightly at every aperture and all focus distances – something that 
I found was a bit disappointing, and something which also interfered with apparent sharpness in some cases.

Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review sample image

Purple fringing is a characteristic of images taken right the way through the aperture range

The lens is sharpest when used between f/4 and f/8, with absolute resolution compromised outside the f/2.8-8 range. Having said that, it is nice enough wide open even though there is 
a lack of critical bite in the images. Particular photographers will avoid these extreme apertures though, and will opt for the traditional sweet spot in the middle of the range – I found f/4 with a close-ish subject could still give me some differential focus 
while also delivering great detail in the 
centre of the frame.

I used the zone focusing guides on the top 
of the lens on a number of occasions during the test, using a range of apertures, and found that sharpness at infinity can’t be assumed. The 
scale seems somewhat over-ambitious, and a degree of caution is recommended.

  1. 1. Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review - Introduction
  2. 2. Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review: Features
  3. 3. Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review: Build and handling
  4. 4. Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review: Image quality
  5. 5. Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review: Resolution, shading and curvilinear distortion
  6. 6. Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH review: Verdict
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