14th April 2021, Singapore – Recently, my reviews for the Leica 50mm Summilux & Leica 18mm Super Elmar had garnered quite a high number of views from other Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines. I was rather curious as our articles are usually viewed by Singapore, Malaysia and USA. However from the editorial point of view, we are reading it as – there are still many people who are into Leica and the brand following is still (obviously) strong.
By the way, I had sold the 50mm to a new owner after the review was published. The 18mm is still available and I am also letting go this 90mm too. More details at the end.
For those new to Leica lenses, here’s a quick introduction.
Lens type: Elmar – These are entry-level “slower” lenses with a max aperture of F3.8-F4.
Lens type: Elmarit – These slightly faster lenses comes with a max Aperture of 2.8
Lens type: Summarit – Latest Leica lens-line with a max Aperture of 2.5
Lens type: Summicron – The premium line of F2 lenses.
Lens type: Summilux – The “First Class” fast & sharp lenses with 1.4 Aperture.
Lens type: Noctilux – Out-of-this-World lenses with F0.95 Aperture with an unworldly price. (Note: previous Noctilux lenses come in F1.0)
Most Leica users who had tried the 90mm Summicron will instantly fall in love with it. Created as a Portrait lens for Leica’s M System users, this lens went on to become the most sought-after lens after Leica users discovered its strength – capable of shooting Portraits, Landscape, Street Photography etc – and the Summicron designation (F2.0) rendered the 90mm as a super fast lens and an all-rounder performer in all lightning conditions.
I used this lens mainly for indoor studio works and when I was doing this review, I realised this very lens had not really seen much of the sun. So I decided to take it out for a walk and write a “goodbye review” since I am selling this lens.
While most Leica users will described the 90mm Summicron as a large lens, it is by far one of the smaller 90mm when compared to other systems. It weights a mere 473gm and measures just 77mm x 84mm, a little on the weighty side and still a “tiny” lens in my view.
Spotting a full metal construction similar to its sibling-lenses, the 90mm is solid and built like a tank. I didn’t lost an arm after holding it after a 3 hours walk so likely you will survive this lens. (Hey Leica users, we are stronger than that, so stop complaining or else you just use your 35mm and shut up)/
Inside the lens, the optics are arranged in 5 elements in 5 groups including an aspherical element and the “APO” stands for apochromatic, pretty similar to Nikon’s ED glass or Canon’s UD glass. The aperture has 11 blades which many users credit this to its wonderful bokeh (when used at F2.8). For a mid-telephoto lens, it starts focusing as close as (approximately) 90cm which I personally like it. My other 90mm (non Macro) lenses starts focusing from about 1.8 metres t0 2.5 metres – so there is nothing to complain here really.
The front of the lens takes 55mm filters and the 90mm Summicron has a built in hood which retracts when required. What might surprise you are the magnification ratio of 1:9 – for the record, not many 90mm can achieve such a magnification ratio, go google about it.
I took the 90mm Summicron out for a long walk with my friends – starting from Chinatown and I picked the heritage route for early migrants that passed through parts of Chinatown, towards Cantonment and eventually ended up at Spottiswood area. I wanted to try shooting from the sky park at Pinnacle but due to Covid-19, they closed the sky park to public thus the plan B which is Spottiswood.
Let’s check out the images!
Usually I can’t find the link between a portrait lens & a street photo lens. However, the 90mm Summicron bridged this nicely. I was rather surprised at the ease of use and I can get my subject in focus fast and accurately.
The amount of details captured are crazy. I stood rather far away (about 6 metres away) and shot the above shot.
I marked out the focused area (red box) and did a crop. See below.
Amazing details! That’s more than 80% crop from the original photo!
Next on my list, people. I started shooting my friends who were walking with me. The Bokeh is legendary and what many Leica users will die for. Creamy, Smooth and yet certain details are still visible, check out the below images.
From the above images, you have seen for yourself what I meant by – creamy bokeh yet with details – in simple terms, unlike other wide aperture lenses where the bokeh will be just a shade of blurred colors and patches, the Leica 90mm Summicron still retains key details so you can make out what’s in the background which also helps to “pop” the subject into a dreamy 3D-like effect.
Most of the shots for this review were shot in an moment of “impulse”. Moments that becomes available for a rather small window and it is that Shoot-it-or-lose-it kind of situations. I am glad the 90mm Summicron performs as fast as it is expected even outside the studio which it was mostly used.
Even the regular Bougainvillea flowers that lined our streets looks more attractive after I shot it with the 90mm Summicron. (Stop laughing, it’s true)
As a mid-telephoto lens, the 90mm is expected to have minimal corner distortions and it is also capable for shooting building details which I tried and I love what I’ve gotten.
No, the above photo is not Melbourne, it’s Singapore.
While chasing after sun, we came across the below scene.
Although the sun eventually got masked by the clouds and we didn’t get a sunset, we had lots of fun.
The Leica APO-Summicron-M 90mm F/2 ASPH may seem intimidating at first, but the joy of using it and appreciating it comes after the warm up. It produces great bokeh even at F2.0 (I recommend F2.8) while making visible details on the bokeh is really something that you will never get from another 90mm. The colors rendered is also “Leica Standard” which is constant across the M line. It is not expensive to start with and it gives a lot of value to the user in return.
Buy My Lens
Yes, as mentioned, I am letting go of this lens. If you are keen, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is unit is in great condition, no scratches or brassing, inside the lens is clean, no dust and no fungus. Email me if keen.
Buying this Lens
If you have a few more thousands to spare & intend to buy new then buy from our accredited merchants for a peace of mind!
Renting this Camera – Please check for availability first.
For those of you who wish to try out the camera/ lens before purchase, we are pleased to share that this camera & lens is available for rental at our appointed rental merchant:
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Reviewer: Chief Editor AL Lee
Chief Editor & Founder of Ourshutterjourney.com Worldwide and Principal Trainer at Ourshutterjourney Photography Academy. AL is a commercial photographer as well as an educator who believes in the art of digital memories. An ambassador of several photography brands, AL is well versed in many camera systems. Someone once told us AL’s man cave looks more like a camera store than a bedroom.
Contributing Editor – Lee Shi Qing
A firm believer of Self-Sufficient living and gives no f**k to anyone getting in her way to reaching her goals in life. Kind in nature & Dangerous when provoked. Loves Mcdonald’s Fries and hates all the burgers there. While she helps out in gear reviews, Qing is currently serving as an Online Administrator for Ourshutterjourney.com Facebook Groups and Online Shop.