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Alternatives

As mentioned earlier, currently Leica offers two 35mm lenses in its lineup - Summicron-R 35mm f/2 reviewed here and Summilux-R 35mm f/1.4. The latter lens cannot be easily adopted to Canon mount due to its protruding back hitting the mirror box. In addition to that, Leica also offers Elmarit-R 28mm f/2.8 (a review of the first generation Elmarit-R 28mm f/2.8) as well as the ultra-wide Elmarit-R 19mm f/2.8 (the latest version of which is also not easily adaptable to Canon cameras). All lenses are obviously fully manual lenses designed to fit Leica's SLR system and sport superb build quality along with the usually sky-high prices. If you're looking for alternative lenses, you might as well expand your horizon and include lenses from Carl Zeiss in older, now discontinued, Contax/Yashica mount as well as new ZF/ZK lenses in Nikon AiS/Pentax K mounts. The C/Y mount lenses worth taking a look at include Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4, Distagon T* 35mm f/2.8, 'Hollywood' Distagon T* 28mm f/2 and Distagon T* 28mm f/2.8. The newly redesigned versions that might also be of interest include Distagon T* 35mm f/2 and Distagon T* 28/2 and Distagon T* 25mm f/2. Also, consider the now discontinued Carl Zeiss Jena MC Flektogon 35mm f/2.4 in M42 universal screw mount. For a side by side comparison of several 35mm lenses, including Summicron-R 35mm f/2 (E55), check out the 35mm Challenge.

 

Recommendation

Leica Summicron-R 35mm f/2 E55 is a pretty solid lens with practically no glaring weaknesses. Resolution capabilities around borders at f/2 seems to be the only issue that might bother some people, but considering that majority of wide angle lenses show softness around borders at wider apertures, I don't think this should be held against the Summicron. Think about it this way - most wide angle lenses are not even as fast as Summicron show softness at even smaller aperture settings like f/2.8 or even f/4, where Summicron already delivers solid results. There is a little bit of color fringing and vignetting, both of which are not terribly surprising or alarming. And so all these issues seem to pale in compatison to once all positive characteristics of the lens are considered - build quality, good color, low distortion and so on and so forth. So all-in-all, this lens should remain on your short 'want one' lists.

 

Sample Images