Hidden in-between all of the camera announcements from Leica at their May 10th event, was a lens that made quite a stir. At 50mm and f/2.0 the new Leica APO-Summicron-M ASPH lens doesn’t seem like anything to write home about; and with a price tag of almost $8,700 it falls a bit outside most consumers’ price range.
Leica’s justification of the price, however, has to do with the craftsmanship that goes into each of these lenses, and the quality that this leads to. Like all of Leica’s lenses, each one is hand-made: the optics are inspected and assembled by hand, the casing is put together by hand, even the numbers on the lens are painted by hand; and the catch phrase for the lens on Leica’s website, “Anything but a standard lens,” isn’t off the mark.
All of that craftsmanship seems to have paid off. The few people who got to try the lens, such as photographer Pedro Ferreira, call it “a lens for the future.” The lens is extremely sharp, it’s well-built, it prevents fringe colors, and the addition of a floating element in the construction allows the lens to obtain very sharp images throughout it’s entire focusing range.
Unfortunately, all of these features and this technology still leave you wondering: can a 50mm standard lens — even one crafted as carefully as this — really be worth every penny of that $8,700 MSRP? We’ll let you decide that. But if you want to see what Leica means by hand-made, here’s a video of their lens making process from start to finish: