35mm Summilux FLE or pre-FLE

Discussion in 'Leica M and LTM Lenses' started by usayit, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. usayit

    usayit Leica Place Regular Subscribing Member

    122
    Mar 31, 2013
    Northern NJ
    So my 2001 Audi TT 225 Quattro purchased 3 years ago with barely 19k on the clock for way south of book value decided to eat its cylinder #1 exhaust valve because a stupid design.... it lasted 65k miles. I work on my own cars and maintain them since I was a kid with is first junker 74 Plymouth Duster.... Even that junker hit 100,000 easily. GRRrr!! I digress.

    I gave up saving up for a new engine and decided to sell it. Which means I have "unaccounted" cash burning in my pocket coupled with the money I had already been saving for my next purchase.. my birthday just passed too... and we just delivered v1.0.0 of a product we coded from ground up the past grueling year (no bonus until it makes money... cross fingers) All of this just to justify another extravagant Leica purchase that I should probably not be doing... hahaha. I have enough for the previous 35mm Summilux Asph used or within sight of the newest FLE version. After some reading, it seems that the FLE version solves some back focus issues that became apparent on digital M rangefinders. I am trying to determine just how significant the issue is and whether or not there is enough improvements (rendering too) in the latest FLE version that I can justify the extra cost.

    Anyone here have experience with both and care to share opinions / experiences with these two?

    A little background: I have a 35mm Summarit and 35mm Nokton f/1.2. Both have served me well. One or both may or may not be on the auction block to fund this purchase. I shoot mostly 50mm Summilux Asph and I am hooked. My experience with the 50mm Summilux is whats driving this decision.


    PS> My daily driver is now a 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo.... pretty peppy and handles well for a strut based suspension front wheel drive econobox. Not as well as my spec'd Miata nor as nice as the Audi but it gets better gas mileage for my long commute. Oh yeh... got it in Inferno Orange. For anyone looking for a commuter in the sub $20kUSD range should consider it... just make sure you at the very least check the box next to 1.4L Turbo. Its an all around better engine than the base 1.8L AND for a $700USD option pretty good value.
     
  2. Armanius

    Armanius Leica Place Regular

    39
    Mar 30, 2013
    Texas
    Mutley
    Bummer about the TT. I had a silver 2001 TT with the base engine. Loved that car, other than rattles. Sold it in 2005, and regretted ever since.

    No experience with any 35 Lux ... although I wish I had lots of experience with it. I've read that the pre-FLE version has more character, especially for black and white. The FLE is too "perfect." Not that I would know!
     
  3. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    399
    Mar 28, 2013
    I've looked at a ton of photos from both lenses, but I have only used the FLE version. My take is that the older non-FLE version definitely has smoother bokeh (whether that is desirable or not is a matter of taste) and probably less purple fringing (although I've not seen a controlled comparison of this). In terms of the images they produce, I prefer the older version. However, focus shift is an issue with the older version and has been solved with the FLE.

    To what extent the focus shift would be an issue to you with the older version, I can't say. My 28/2.0 Ultron suffers from focus shift, and it's easy enough for me to focus a bit closer as I stop down in order to adjust for that. Both the FLE and non-FLE lenses will focus perfectly when wide open. Back focus becomes a slight but predictable issue as you stop down until you get to the point that DOF is sufficient to cover up the issue. So at f/2.8 and f/4 you may need to turn the focus slightly past the point of alignment for critical focus with the non-FLE version. I think this can become second nature when you use a lens enough, and it may be worthwhile if you prefer the rendering by the older lens.
     
  4. usayit

    usayit Leica Place Regular Subscribing Member

    122
    Mar 31, 2013
    Northern NJ
    Thank again for the input. I took delivery on the FLE version today. Excited to try it out.
     
  5. airfrogusmc

    airfrogusmc Leica Place Veteran

    323
    Apr 1, 2013
    I have the 35lux FLE and its amazing glass....
    IMG_8761_zps336430d4.

    IMG_4423.

    IMG_2319.

    Wide open
    L1002273.

    L1002276.

    L1006063_zps930a0451.
     
  6. defektive

    defektive Leica Place Regular

    57
    Mar 30, 2013
    Love the lamp shot.
     
  7. swamiji

    swamiji Leica Place Rookie

    22
    May 17, 2013
    Earth
    Yes, the FLE is an amazing lens, but lets not confuse the Pre-FLE with the Pre-ASPH (or Pre-Aspherical). The Pre-Aspherical (Summilux-M) has creamer Bokeh. The ASPH (Pre-FLE) has the same optics as the FLE. The Floating Lens Element helps with focus shift at close distances. My version of the ASPH (Pre-FLE) has minimal focus Shift. The one advantage (and the main reason I did not upgrade) is that the ASPH (Pre-FLE)'s hood is better (not great just better) for filters. The FLE lens is a bit finicky when it comes to filters.

    So the order is:
    35mm Summilux
    35mm Summilux-M
    35mm Summilux Aspherical
    35mm Summilux ASPH
    35mm Summilux ASPH FLE
     
  8. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    399
    Mar 28, 2013
    The non-FLE ASPH and FLE ASPH versions render bokeh differently with the FLE version's bokeh coming across a bit more "harsh". There are lots of comments about this and some samples which I have come across.

    Some samples:
    The Three 35 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph lenses (AA, FLE, Asph)... - The GetDPI Photography Forums
    Red Dot Forum - The Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux Aspherical vs. ASPH FLE

    Some commentary:
    LEICA 35mm 1.4 SUMMILUX ASPH LENS REVIEW - FLE FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    35 Summilux FLE or pre-FLE? - Leica User Forum
     
  9. swamiji

    swamiji Leica Place Rookie

    22
    May 17, 2013
    Earth
    Yes, the Aspherical is quite different than either ASPH. The Summilux and Summilux-M are more so.

    I had a 35mm Summilux (version 1), it was dreamy, but I could not get it to focus to infinity. I was about to leave for a trip, so I just traded it in...

    When the FLE was released, Leica stated that there was no optical differences (between ASPHs), and provided MTF data to back it up... I don't know if it's still on the site. That is not to say, that there may not be updates to the coatings. Leica has changed coatings from earlier to later examples of the same version.
     
  10. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    399
    Mar 28, 2013

    It's not a matter of coatings. If you look at the first two links I provided, there are consistent differences in the character of bokeh from those two aspherical lens versions. There are other comparisons on the web showing the same - I just dug up a couple that I remembered.
     
  11. swamiji

    swamiji Leica Place Rookie

    22
    May 17, 2013
    Earth
    The second posting is for the Aspherical. A different lens, than either ASPH. Just to be clear, there are three 35mm Aspherical lenses. One known as Aspherical, one known as ASPH, and one known as ASPH FLE. Puts is very clear on the three lenses in his Leica Compendium.

    To quote your first link "Objectively, I have heard that the glass in the FLE and ASPH lenses is very similar, and MTF's bear this out to some degree. "

    Puts says they are the same.
     
  12. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    399
    Mar 28, 2013
    My mistake with the second link. The first link shows the clear differences between all three lenses' rendering though. Puts doesn't care about or pay attention to bokeh character.
     
  13. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Making a wide-aperture, non-retrofocus wide-angle lens is "an optical challenge". Spherical aberration and associated focus shift is high. Aspheric surfaces greatly reduce some of the issues, and manufacture of aspheric surfaces had greatly improved in the last few years. There seems to be more sample variation in early aspheric lenses due to manufacturing than their spherical counterparts.

    Personally: I would buy the most modern version due to better processes for making aspheric surfaces.
     
  14. swamiji

    swamiji Leica Place Rookie

    22
    May 17, 2013
    Earth
    That is true, however Bokeh can be altered just by the number of Aperture blades, even with the exact same glass and design. I am certain that the FLE mechanism would also alter the Bokeh. So over all I tend to agree with Puts/Leica, even if the Bokeh is slightly different.

    One thing this discussion we are having has done, It's made appreciate my 35mm Summilux ASPH even more.
     
  15. swamiji

    swamiji Leica Place Rookie

    22
    May 17, 2013
    Earth

    Personally: I would buy the lens that fit my artistic vision best. Many of the Mandler lenses, are amazing. The F/1 Noctilux with an ND filter on a Monochrom produces some wonderful art. Then there is the 75mm Summilux, in my view the best portrait lens ever. I have even used my old 50mm Summarit f/1.5 on my Monochrom, hard to control but it can produce some interesting effects.
     
  16. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    I modified the Summarit 5cm F1.5, optimzied it for F1.5 across the focus range. This required moving the rear section out. The Summarit focal length is actually shorter (51.1mm on 5 that I have taken apart) than what the RF is calibrated for, probably a method for dealing with focus shift.
     
  17. thompsonkirk

    thompsonkirk New to Leica Place

    8
    May 24, 2013
    Northern CA
    I avoided the first version of the 35 Lux ASPH because I was afraid of focus shift; so I've used only Summicrons, a pre-aspherical Lux, a CV 1.2 v1, and recently a FLE on M9. I thought the FLE would replace the others and be my go-to lens, but it hasn't worked out that way. It's the heaviest / least balanced of the Leica 35s and the most 'clinical' in its rendering, so I use it mainly when I need its widest apertures. Like Swamiji, I favor the Mandler designs; so the 35 Summicron v4 remains my favorite companion.

    I sold the 35 CV 1.2 when I bought the FLE, but have occasionally felt regret. It was large and clumsy, and it had some difficulty with CA; but it was a remarkable lens for its price and never seemed troubled by focus shift. In retrospect I think I'd have been happy enough with it as a low-light companion to a Summicron.

    I love the 'Leica glow' from the old pre-aspherical Lux, but it does sometimes flare spectacularly, causing me to miss shots I hoped to print. So it hides on the back of the shelf, in fear of being sold.

    In terms of the future, if Leica could work out the M240's color problems (and deliver some!), I'd probably sell the FLE and just use higher ISOs with a Summicron.

    Kirk
     
  18. usayit

    usayit Leica Place Regular Subscribing Member

    122
    Mar 31, 2013
    Northern NJ
    I haven't had an opportunity to seriously shoot with the FLE lens but a few shots of the family as the days goes by has been very satisfying. Yes... this is a very sharp with "clinical" renderings just as one would expect out of Leica's most modern Asphericals. I find myself gravitating to two cameras; M8 w/ the 50mm Asph and the M9 w/ the 35mm Asph. My all time favorite 24mm Elmarit Asph will be along for the ride very often.

    I knew very well what I was buying... I was already familiar with the subtle differences between the various Summilux and Summicron iterations. Well except one... Never shot with the famed double aspherical AA. I am glad to note that the FLE is spot on focus wise throughout the range.... well worth the extra $$ not having any focus issues on either M8 nor M9. Speaking of focus, the FLE's focus throw is noticeably stiff. I presume it will loosen a little with time. Anyways, It was my intent from the very beginning.... a 35mm and 50mm that renders unlike anything else in my stash of lenses.

    As a side note, I shot with an early Summicron 35mm for a year or so and ended up trading it in for a Summarit 35mm f/2.5. Yes... a strange move indeed but I have my reasons. The Summarit's renderings looked fairly close to the classical renderings of the Summicron but more importantly, the focus throw on the Summarit was significantly short and quick. I have been so impressed with the newer Summarit line that at one point I had all of them; 35, 50, 75, 90. The 75mm was especially impressive.

    So the only thing that didn't work out with the 35mm Summilux FLE was obvious with just a couple shots with IR pass filter. It has a fairly obvious hotspot right in the middle of the frame. Oh well.... I didn't buy it for IR anyways. The 12mm and 24mm still remain the ideal lenses for my limited IR shots.

    I can't bring myself to sell either of the other's; 35mm Summarit f/2.5 nor the CV 35mm f/1.2. Its kinda like getting me to choose between the Noctilux f/1 and the Summilux 50mm... other than their focal lengths, each renders and offers a different experience. I am fortunate to have such a problem. Oh well.. just in year past, I will eventually make up my mind and put one for sale. Until then....
     
  19. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf Leica Place Regular

    195
    Mar 30, 2013
    I just bought the 35mm Summilux vII in mint condition with box and papers. Haven't received it yet but looking forward to the Mandler design to go with my 50mm Summilux pre-ASPH.

    35mm f/1.4 Summilux II - Leica Wiki (English)
     
  20. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Be sure to post some shots with it!