Leica 35 Summilux Asph 2022 Close Focus

Jonathan Slack September 15th 2022



Blue in Blue

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph




I've been shooting with the new 35 Summilux since February, but I wasn't aware of the launch date until the day before we came to Crete. So I've been shooting the M11 with the 35 Summilux almost exclusively since we arrived;  we've become the best of friends. Mostly just using the rangefinder (with Live view for the odd close up shot) but sometimes with the EVF. It's a little like shooting a 35mm Q2 on steroids! However, the upshot of this is that quite a lot of this article has been written on an iPhone mini whilst sitting on the beach. At any rate, here are my thoughts on the new lens; this is rather a work in progress, so please revisit for more thoughts and pictures later in the week!


Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

Since the early days of 35mm images photographers have been divided as to whether 35mm or 50mm is the real 'standard lens'. Of course there isn't a proper answer, it depends on what you shoot and your personal preference.


What certainly is the case is that since the arrival of the first Summilux lens in 1959 (the 5cm Summilux in 1959) the Leica Summilux has been the workhorse lens for photographers around the world. The first 35mm Summilux arrived in 1961 (the 'steel rim') and is still a lens prized by collectors and photographers alike.



Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

The first Aspherical 35mm arrived in 1991, but less than 4000 copies were made, perhaps due to the difficulty in manufacturing with its two aspherical elements, it was replaced by the 35mm Summilux Asph in 1994 (with one aspherical element). This was in production until 2010, a fantastic lens, but rather subject to focus shift.


To solve the focus shift issue, Leica introduced a new  35mm Summilux with a floating element in 2010. Generally known as the 35 FLE, this lens has been the centre of many photographers arsenal  for more than 10 years.



Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

The Leica Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 ASPH.  (Close Focus)


When the FLE was released the M9 was Leica's flagship camera. There was no Live View or electronic viewfinder, so there was no incentive to improve on the close focusing limit of the Rangefinder (0.7 metres).


By the time the SL2 and the M10 were released, times had change, and there was a real possibility of making M lenses with closer focusing. The 35 APO Summicron was the first lens to support this newly designed 'double cam' focusing mechanism and the new 35 Summilux CF allows you to focus down to 0.4 metres. The focusing throw has been almost doubled to 176 deg and there is a clearly felt resistance at 0.7m beyond which you need an EVF, live view or Leica Fotos for precise focusing.


Vasillis and Georgos

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

Although the screw in lens hood of the FLE was a definite advantage over the clip on (drop off!) offerings of earlier lenses, it still added considerably to the bulk of the lens. The new slide-out lens hood is better still, and seems to be just as successful at reducing flare. The result of these changes is that the new lens as about 1mm shorter than the old one, and about 1mm fatter, not something which will be easily detected.


The FLE had 9 aperture blades, which helped to produce its great bokeh, the new lens has 11 blades improving the bokeh for all apertures smaller than f1.4 (where the aperture is round for both lenses).

The Sweetwater Express

Lieca M11 with 35 Summilux Asph


I've been using the new lens since February, largely with my M11, but also with the SL2. I've carefully compared the performance with my 35 FLE, and  it does seem that the new lens has a slightly more relaxed and gentle bokeh.


Like the FLE, the new lens is prone to a small amount of Chromatic Aberration with high contrast edges, especially at wide apertures  (think tree branches against grey sky). This is easily fixed in Lightroom or the processor of your choice.

Will it be stormy tomorrow?

Lieca M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

Close Focusing

The new close focus option is lovely to use, and also creates great photo opportunities. I have been using it mostly on the M11 - both with Live View and with the EVF.


I’m writing this from Crete where the high contrast and bright colours make for lots of opportunity to use the close focus. Here the electronic shutter really comes into its own, making it possible to shoot wide open without using ND filters.


Tangled up in Blue

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph


This lens has three benefits over it's predecessor:


  1. Close focus opportunities
  2. Newly designed body with twist out lens hood
  3. 11 as opposed to 9 aperture blades for better bokeh


The optical formula is the same as the FLE (no bad thing). It comes in black and silver anodised versions which weigh the same.

Giorgio Sunrise

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

If you already have the FLE, then the new lens might not be a compelling upgrade, but Leica have made some real incremental improvements to what was already a great lens. If your principal camera is an M11 or an SL2, then the upgrade may seem quite compelling.


Personally I've found that the combination of the close focus, and the excellent EVF on the M11 together with the improved ergonomics has made the 35 Summilux remake a lens to fall in love with.


Leica M11 at work in Crete

with the new 35 Summilux Asph attached - photos taken with iPhone 13 Mini

Strap with thanks to Evris at Rock & Roll camera straps

Early Morning  - Breakfast at Anopoli

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

This Way

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph


Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

Sea Squills

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph


Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

Seascapes Gallery

Close Ups



Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

The Blue Yonder

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph

Stairway to Heaven

Leica M11 with 35 Summilux Asph


Jonathan Slack