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Leica APO Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH lens review

Announced on 15 August 2019, the Leica APO Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH is a relatively compact high-end lens for Leica SL cameras.

Inside, the lens design is complex for a 50mm. But, it’s designed for a digital sensor so there are some prerequisites to satisfy. It has no less than 12 elements in total, with several AD (anomalous dispersion) elements to mitigate CA and fringing plus three with aspherical surfaces to reduce SA and distortion.

The lens also adopts what some call. a ‘digital element,’ or a lens profile, to correct vignetting, distortion and CA, more as an afterthought in this case as the lens is so well corrected optically.

Profiles now are widely adopted for mirrorless cameras, principally for viewing a ‘baseline’ image in-camera but by extension, this extends to in-camera JPEGs as well of course. This practice is not restricted to Leica by any means as RAW files aren’t meant for viewing directly, so some image parameters have to be applied before being displayed in the viewfinder or the rear screen.

How’s the handling?

The APO Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH has the same high-quality metal outer barrel and silky smooth, rubber-coated focus ring as its siblings. One common feature of the APO Summicron-SLs is that they all share the same dimensions, which is incredibly useful should you want to rig them up for video, or more simply for sharing filters.

The design is minimalist and more in keeping with the S mount lenses than the M-series lenses, yet it’s exceptionally well made. Everything fits firmly; there’s no slack after fitting the flocked metal and plastic hood and there’s no movement in the bayonet mount.

Auto-focus is fast and practically silent, on the SL2-S I had in for testing from Leica UK. Focusing is internal, so there are no easily knocked extending barrels, thereby mitigating accidental damage to what is usually a delicate part of the lens. And like the others in the range, the hood locks onto the outer barrel.

When fitted on the Leica SL2-S body, the lens balances and handles very well indeed. Compared with equivalents from Nikon and Canon the combination feels a little weighty but that’s to be expected as the SL2-S is a big, solid-feeling camera.

What’s the optical quality like?

As you might expect the image quality is outstanding. Wide open, where it’s easiest to assess there’s little to no CA or fringing and it’s super sharp to the edges with absolutely not even a hint of smearing in the corners.

When stopping down there are improvements but that’s mainly in the outer zones and edges as the sharpness in the centre remains high and detailed. It is nuanced, as the depth of field is more noticeable.

What’s more important though for many photographers is the way the lens ‘draws’ or renders. The lens produces addictive imagery with its silky-smooth transitions from the areas of sharpness to the blur in both the background and foreground.

Ghosting is pretty non-existent and flare is reasonably well-controlled though if shooting straight into a low-sun it’s a good idea to keep the the hood handy. Naturally, there’s some vignetting but it’s barely visible wide-open at F2 even without the profile applied. You might wonder why a profile is built-in as distortion is negligible as well.

As a Leica APO design at around £4,220 inc VAT you will need deep pockets. Leica has since introduced a smaller, lighter and less pricey version, the nine-element Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH at around £1800 with VAT, but it lacks the refinement and sheer brilliance of the APO variant.


Check price and availability at the following stores:

B&H Photo (US)Adorama (US)  | Amazon (US)

Park Cameras (UK) |Leica UK (Leica Online Store)

MBP (secondhand)| KEH (secondhand)


Leica APO Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH – Samples

Excellent detail and practically zero CA. Leica APO Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH on the Leica SL2-S, 1/125 sec at F4, ISO 100. Slight colour and tonal adjustments were made in Capture One Pro.


Leica APO Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH on the Leica SL2-S, 1/100 sec at F4, ISO 250. Slight colour and tonal adjustments were made in Capture One Pro.


Mother and daughter wade into the river
Wide open at F2 there’s no CA or fringing and focusing accuracy is excellent. APO Summicron-SL 50mm F2 ASPH on the Leica SL2-S, 1/200sec at F2, ISO 100. B&W conversion and tonal adjustments were made in Capture One Pro.

Technical Data

Manufacturer Leica
Model APO-Summicron-SL 50 mm f/2 ASPH.
Web leica-camera.com
Elements/construction 12 elements in 10 groups
Angle of view (d/h/v) 47.2° / 40.0° / 27.3°
Max aperture F2.0
Min aperture F22
Min focus distance 0.35 m
Mount L mount
Filter size E67 (67mm)
Length 102 mm
Diameter 73 mm
Weight 740 g
Price £4,220 inc VAT