Bokeh of the Leica 50mm Summicron APO.

Inspiration, Q&A, Teaching point

Interestingly, I don’t like the bokeh from the Leica 50mm Summicron APO.

I mean, everybody raves about it.  And admittedly when I examine it in photographs (magnified to reveal detail) it looks quite neutral and uniform.  So it should look good overall.  But when I view the image in its entirety, I intensely dislike the out of focus portions.  The elements within the bokeh are too “structured”.  Perhaps the out-of-focus areas — similar to the in-focus areas — are somehow “sharper”.  Though neutral, the net effect is more… visible.

(Perhaps, though, people have applied too much structure during post-processing.  That’s the only variable I can’t tease apart when viewing others’ images.)

My preferred 50?

Still the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH.   I continue to believe that it achieves the best balance between size and performance vs. any other 50 in the full frame format.  There are sharper 50mm lenses, there are more corrected 50mm lenses, and there are faster 50mm lenses, but none of them achieve the over-all balance of the Summilux.


9 thoughts on “Bokeh of the Leica 50mm Summicron APO.

  1. I’ve noticed something similar, that until you described it I just couldn’t put my finger on. I always thought that images from the APO cron just looked “Too perfect”.

    Unlike you, I had and then sold on the 50 LUX ASPH, which while beautiful, I thought lacking in character. My favorite 50s are the (non-APO) 50 Cron and the the to-die-for f/0.95 Noctilux.

    The Nocti is too big and heavy for long days of walking about, but for events or when traveling predominately by any conveyance other than LPCs (military speak for Leather Personnel Carriers) the Nocti is my favorite lens. I did buy another 50 Cron for when traveling by LPC, and I’ve also got an ancient 1937 Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar (uncoated) for when I just want beautiful vintage imperfection.

    I think that’s what I love most about Leica is that there are so many great choices in my favorite focal length.

    1. Andrew, I agree….my fav is a 1969 50 Cron, this is my first lens on the M9 and I am so happy with it, that I don´t want any other 50´s. I really like the images from the Nocti too, but it is “too big “for this combo.

  2. Totally agree with your statement about “so many great choices”.

    For some reason, though, I am completely over the 0.95. I’ve owned and extensively photographed with 3 copies of it, but I just have no interest in it anymore.

    1. I’ve had my Nocti for about eight months and am enjoying it so far, though I definitely would not choose it if I could only have one lens (I’d take my Summicron v5 and run).

  3. I’ve owned and used most of Leica’s 50mm lenses. I agree with you about the balance of the 50LX. My personal favourite for balancing sharpness and expression is the 50mm Summicron Dual Range. Along with the 8-element 35mm Summicron, these are my favourite Leica lenses. But I do admire the 50APO, and depending what I’m shooting, I will use it.

  4. I haven’t seen enough images to make a comment. But the APO does have its uses, I would assume, such as with commercial or event photography, where in the first instance optical perfection simply makes the workflow simpler, and in the second instance high resolving power allows for more cropping.

  5. Completely respect your view Peter, though I have a different one (as ever). From my perspective, at equivalent apertures the Lux is ever so slightly busier in the bokeh than the APO. There’s also a difference in the transitions from in to out of focus.

    The Lux (in general rather than commenting on bokeh) produces more artistic results. It isn’t the same as, but I enjoy it as much as the results from my Noct on my Nikons. However, the APO produces results which seem more typical of a Leica lens to me. I use the APO the most and prefer it.

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