5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Leica 35mm f2.4 Summarit-M, Leica M6 and Fuji Pro400H at EI400 – by Phil Harrison

October 20, 2021

I recently wrote a 5 Frames piece about the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 C Biogon T* ZM, extolling its virtues. Shortly afterward I suddenly decided I wanted a Leica 35mm lens on my M6! No logic in the decision at all. The only modern Leica lens I could possibly afford was a used Summarit-M, this model is from Leica’s “cheapest” range of lenses, however, it is not a budget lens and is built to the same high standards as the rest of the Leica ranges of lenses. These Summarit-M’s are quite rare as used items but luckily my local shop had a minter in stock. After what I thought was a positive deal part-exing my Zeiss, I was the new owner of this lens.

Optically the Leica and Zeiss are very similar, in fact you probably wouldn’t know the difference in side by side prints, very sharp in the middle of the image at f2.4/2.8 then very sharp all over by f5.6. The Summarit-M has no distortion or colour fringing. Viewfinder blockage from the lens hood is minimal, the filter size is 46mm. The build quality is excellent, especially the Summarit-M’s supplied lens hood which screws on and is so well engineered. One advantage I did find in focusing the lenses, the Leica was a lot faster and easier to focus with its big finger grip under the lens and shorter focusing throw from close up to infinity. My large fingers struggled a bit focusing the Zeiss. A used Summarit-M is twice the price of a used C Biogon so it was pure indulgence on my part, but surely so much of the enjoyment of owning film cameras is the pure indulgence. If it makes you feel good then go for it!

I used Fuji Pro400H over a weekend to give my new lens a workout. This film has high red saturation which can make bright red objects like the flowers in my images loose definition. You can tame this by reducing the red saturation a little, colours otherwise are very pleasant. The close-up of the pink flower was shot at f2.4, wide open.

Hope you enjoyed the photos.
Phil

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    October 20, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Phil,
    Thanks for posting this article. I have it’s slightly older ‘brother’ – the f/2.5. My copy was delivered the day the State of Connecticut was ordered into COVID-19 lockdown! As a result, I really didn’t use it until mid-summer of 2020. I came close to selling it, but held off. I’m glad I didn’t sell.
    You’re correct on all points: not easy to find used on the auction marketplace; well built, and just a joy to use. The 2.5 came sans lens shade and I had a devil of a time locating one (a bit $$.) I always work with a UV filter & a shade, so while it was expensive, it is a necessary part of my kit.
    I use it on an M4-P & a M2. So easy to focus, not especially heavy or bulky and the results are outstanding. The 2.5 was rumored to have asph. glass, but the 2.4 is an asph. lens.
    I like the shot of the delivery truck tucked in by the multi-colored flowers.
    I wish you continued good shooting!
    Stay healthy.
    Regards,
    Dan

    • Reply
      Phil Harrison
      October 25, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Dan,
      I believe the f2.4 version of the lens has the same glass as the f2.5 but in a new housing.
      Thank you for your kind comments and have fun with your lens.
      All the best
      Phil

  • Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    October 21, 2021 at 2:44 am

    Very nice images Phil and thank you for the great post. The pictures are wonderfully sharp with beautiful contrast and colors. As beautiful a camera as the M6 is I have had trouble warming to it, and trouble with it. My M6 is once again in the hospital. I have a problem with battery drain now, after earlier having the meter repaired (all post Youxin Ye CLA). And this past weekend I stupidly forced the film rewind lever while mis-wound film was hung up, and the lever (which in my view is one of the camera’s weak links) went kaput (second time). I know it is supposed to be easy to wind an M6, having watched countless You-Tubers slinging rolls in like butter. But I cannot get it to load easily – and it’s not like I haven’t loaded a roll or two of film in my time! Meanwhile, my M3 keeps going with no problems. Loading film in the M3 is super easy – I have never had a roll mis-aligned. I was just gifted a second (1955) M3 double stroke by a kind neighbor. The, other (1957) is single stroke. I sent the old 55 off to DAG Camera for a CLA along with the M6 and the Rigid Summicron that came with the ’55. The M6 has an allure that is causing its price to skyrocket to nose bleed levels. Given my experience and in my humble opinion, this is unwarranted and due more from reputation than virtue. Leicas are known for extreme build, but this model is fragile. I encourage anyone interested in a Leica film rangefinder to think twice before diving into the M6 – especially at the current cost. A CLA’d M3 is a much better value and risk. I will probably be criticized, but that is ok.

    • Reply
      Dan Castelli
      October 25, 2021 at 10:04 pm

      Hi Lou,
      I had a M6 and never warmed up to it. I sold it, picked up a M7. The M7 came with a battery drain problem. My fault – didn’t due my due diligence and homework before buying it. Leica USA replaced a circuit board, and some other tweaks. I used it for about a year, then sold it. The underlying problem for me was the LED’s in the viewfinder and the narrow angle of the light meter. I finally got a M4-P. I was trained to used hand-held meters, and no red LED distractions when I frame & focus. Others swear by the M6 & M7 bodies. I’ve seen great work produced by people using them. Just not for me.

  • Reply
    Phil Harrison
    October 25, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Louis,
    Thank you for your kind comments on my post.
    You seem to have been very unlucky with your M6. I’ve had my M6 for around 4 years and put quite a lot of film through without any issues at all. I have the Leica manual for the camera and it says don’t overthink the loading of film into the camera just drop it in as per the guide diagram, they are right. I came from an M2 and was overfussy trying to load the M6 when it was new to me, so I had problems, as soon as I followed Leica’s advice all was well.
    You’re right about the crazy prices, in the UK £2750 is a common price!!! Perhaps you could take advantage of these prices and sell on the M6 now you have two lovely M3’s?

    All the best
    Phil

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