Review: Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M

Introduction

sony a7s a7 series a7r ilce-7s pre asph summicron m leica leitz 90mm 2.0
Sony A7s with Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M (pre Asph) and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)

The Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 in the version reviewed here has been Leica’s top of the line portrait lens from 1980 to 1998.  In search for a decent yet fast and small portrait lens for the A7 series I decided to give this one a try, so read on to find out how it fared and if it can still be found in my bag.

Sample Images

venice sony a7s summicron-m 90mm 2.0 a7 reflection
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/8 | panorama from 4 shots | full resolution
sony a7s summicron-m 90mm 2.0 a7s portrait wedding men groom husband
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2 | full resolution
bokeh summicron-m 90mm 2,0 f2 sony a7s leica leitz
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2 | full resolution

Specifications / Version History

There are roughly three different versions with Leica M-Mount that have been produced in meaningful quantities:

Alongside these three there are also 90mm 2.0 lenses with Leica R-Mount on the market which are usually cheaper, but not nearly as compact (especially when taking into account the necessary adapters).

I am reviewing the “pre-Asph” version here which has the following specifications:

    • Diameter: 63.5 mm
    • Field of view: 27° (diagonally)
    • Length:  77.0 mm
    • Weight: 475g
    • Filter Diameter: 55 mm
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 11 (curved inward)
    • Elements/Groups: 5/4
    • Close Focusing Distance: 1.0 m (with Helicoid 0.73 m)
    • Maximum Magnification: 1:9.2 (with Helicoid 1:6.3)
    • Mount: Leica-M

This pre-Asph version usually starts selling for $850 at ebay.com(affiliate link). In Germany buying one in A-condition will set you back at least 850€. I got mine at ebay.de (affiliate link).

Handling / Build Quality

Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 (pre Asph)
Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 (pre Asph)

This is a Leica lens, so you probably expect perfect build quality with very tight tolerances as well as superb handling, and actually, this is exactly what you get. I think I could just stop here but I am going into detail a bit: the focus ring has just the right resistance (and it takes ~225° from infinity to 1.0 m), the aperture ring has half-stop click-stops and the integrated hood is retractable and does not wobble in any position (which really is rare to encounter). Apart from the glass inside and the red dot on the outside the lens features an all metal construction.

Vignetting and colorcast

vignetting leica summicron-m 90mm 2.0
Since this is not a wideangle lens you won’t encounter any problems with color cast in the corners. The vignetting is quite low and from f2.8 onwards rarely noticeable in real world shots.

Sharpness

infinity
sharpness infinity summicron 90mm 2.0 pre asph sony a7
The sharpness in the center leaves nothing to be desired even at f2.0. The midframe reaches very good resolution at f4.0 and the corners at f11. For landscapes and architecture I recommend shooting at f11, for portraits I never had an issue shooting wide open.

close focus
sharpness close focus summicron 90mm 2.0 pre asph
For these shots I was using the VM-E helicoid adapter at maximum extension (around 4 mm), so keep in mind you are looking at 100% crops of photos taken at the extended(!) minimum focus distance. The lens was never intended to be used at these distances and does not incorporate a floating elements design either, which explains the mediocre performance wide open (simliar to the behaviour of the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 Planar C/Y). What really impressed me was how good the performance is stopped down to just f2.8. It is actually so good, I didn’t bother to show you examples stopped down further.

Flare resistance

summicron 90mm 2.0 flare shot in sun a7 sony
Sony A7 | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/11

I have taken shots with the sun directly in the frame and encountered no problems whatsoever, but depending on the angle between you and the sun a considerable loss of contrast and even some small spots may appear:

loss of contrast lens flare summicron 90mm 2.0 review sony a7s
Sony A7 | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/11

In my opinion this is not a bad performance at all, but newer lenses with fancier coatings have an edge here.

Coma

coma summicron 90mm 2.0 pre asph sony a7

To be honest, coma correction is not particulary high on my priority list for a portrait lens, but maybe it is on yours, so I examined this as well. I think the performance is actually quite impressive. Yes, the corners deteriorate (and only the corners, even at f/2.0), but coma remains quite unobstrusive at normal viewing distances. I have seen much worse.

Distortion

distortion pre asph 90mm 2.0
Distorion characteristics of Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre Asph

Distortion is acutally a non issue with this lens.

Bokeh

bokeh summicron 90mm 2.0 sony a7
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2

The general quality of the bokeh is very good, no onion rings, no outlining. But on stopping down the shape of highlights changes: at f2.0 they are perfectly round (except for the border regions, where mechanical vignetting occurs), between f2.8 and f8 they can best be described as “crown cork” shaped (take a look at the example below), at f11 they are edgy 11-sided-figures and at f16 perfectly round again. To be totally honest here: I don’t like these “crown cork” shaped highlights (as much as I don’t like the highlights produced by perfectly straight blades for portrait shots as well), so I tried to find out why Leica chose to use these inwardly curved aperture blades, but I did not yet manage to come across a believable reason. So just in case you know: please tell me in the comment section 🙂
Fortunately sharpness and resolution are already very good at f2.0 so this isn’t bothering me too much.

bokeh summicron 90mm 2.9 sony a7

Sony A7 | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2


Bokeh, crop of upper right corner, f2.0 (before) / f4.0 (after)

Sunstars

sunstars blendensterne praha prague prag summicron 90mm 2.0 leica sony a7s
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/11 | 4 shot panorama | full resolution

This Leica lens will produce 22-pointed sunstars (between f2.8 and f11 at least), which are actually quite well defined and very nice. I do still prefer the 10-pointed sunstars of the 28mm 2.0 Ultron and the 50mm 1.5 Nokton, but these are not bad either, take a look at a crop from the photo above:

sunstars blendensterne praha prague prag summicron 90mm 2.0 leica sony a7s
100% crop from photo above

Chromatic aberrations

longitudinal

leica leitz summicron m 90mm 2.0 loca sony a7 a7s
Sony A7 | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2 | 50% crop, minimum focus distance with helicoid adapter

In real world shooting I did not even once notice loCA in a bothersome way in any of my pictures. Only with the use of the helicoid adapter (which works as a 4 mm extension tube here) at the extended minimum focus distance loCA start to appear (when you look at a 50% crop of a 24 mp file, see example above). This is really good performance for a fast portrait lens.

lateral

In the corners you can spot some lateral CAs which can be easily corrected in post, as can be seen in the example below (100% crop). This is one of the few lenses where the outlinings are yellow and purple instead of magenta and cyan. The amount of lateral CAs stays pretty much the same throughout the whole aperture range.


Sony A7 | Leica Summicron 90 mm 2.0 | f/11 | CA 100% crop before/after extreme corner

Alternatives

When looking for a small yet fast portrait lens for my A7 travel kit I bought the Voigtländer Heliar 75mm 1.8, the Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 and this Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 pre Asph and compared them directly to each other (you may take a look at this comparison here, but it is only available in german for now). Normally I don’t do such things, but since you can’t get that much information on these lenses this seemed to be the only viable option for me. So first I am going to talk about these two.

Voigtländer Heliar 75mm 1.8:
voigtländer heliar 75mm 1.8 leica M
Very modern lens (introduced around 2013) and pretty much in line with the 28mm 2.0 Ultron, 35mm 1.7 Ultron and 50mm 1.5 Nokton. It shares the 10-blade (straight) aperture design with beautiful sunstars, bokeh is quite alright, contrast and sharpness are as you would expect from a modern lens.
Mechanically not as nice as the Leica, (ugly) screw on hood, rather soft focusing ring (may be due to too much usage, as I bought this one used), and just a tad cheaper than the Leica. But the biggest drawback for me was: simply to short with it’s 75mm.

KMZ Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0:
jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 m39
This lens simply is a steal! If you are on a budget and looking for a small, light (only 230g, made mostly of aluminium) yet fast portrait lens, go for it! This lens is from Russia but actually a Zeiss Sonnar design developed in Germany. After WWII the Russians acquired practically the whole Zeiss factory, so early models do indeed use original german Zeiss glass.
Bokeh is quite nice, even stopped down because of a wonderful 15-blade (rounded) aperture mechanism.
But at f2.0 only the central region of the frame is sharp (and only sharp, not tack sharp) and contrast is on the low side. Furthermore there are loads of astigmatism and coma and the work against bright light is nothing to write home about either. The aperture ring is clickless by the way.
Still, this lens can be found on ebay.com (affiliate link) for roughly 110$ in great condition, which makes it pretty good value for the money in my book (I also plan on providing a review of this lens in the near future so keep checking back for it from time to time).

Other alternatives:
Hence the high price tag of a used Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron many other 85mm DSLR portrait lenses may be (from a financial standpoint) an alternative as well, but these weren’t an option for me because I was looking for something considerably smaller.

If you have some more money to spend you can of course also take the Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8 native FE lens with autofocus into consideration. This lens is not falling in my “small” category and I still don’t like the fly-by-wire focusing, so this one simply is not for me.

In case your are looking for a lightweight tele for landscape and architecture work rather than a portrait lens, take a look at our C/Y Zeiss Sonnar 100mm 3.5 review.

Conclusion

good

  • very good center sharpness and contrast already at f/2.0
  • corners reach good  sharpness af f5.6
  • bokeh
  • build quality and handling
  • size
  • coma correction
  • correction of longitudinal CA
  • distortion
  • sunstars
average

  • weight
  • flare resistance
  • correction of lateral CA
not good

  • soft corners at wider apertures
  • “crown cork” shaped highlights between f2.8 and f8
  • price
  • (sharpness at f2.0 at extended minimum focus distance)

The remaining question is: does this lens live up to it’s high price tag and brand name? This is not an easy one to answer. You should keep in mind the optical formula dates back nearly 40 years now and in some areas that shows. In others (suprisingly) not so much. Leica lenses – and especially those with M-mount – have always been collector’s items and you definetly pay a premium because of that. Had the Jupiter lens (the one I mentioned in the “Alternatives” section) “Zeiss” instead of “KMZ” engraved in it, you would be paying 300$ instead of 110$ for it, albeit it would still be essentially the same thing. But where there is shadow there is also light: because of this used Leica lenses don’t lose that much value over time, if any at all. Someone once said “Leica lenses are the best investment that you can take photos with today”.

Now that we have that topic out of the way, we can really start talking about the lens itself. What I was looking for, was a fast portrait lens, that I can already use at the fastest aperture without regrets. This is, where the lens delivers. As you may have noticed many of the samples I provided were taken at f2.0 and I can tell you, I never felt the urge to stop down because of insufficient sharpness or micro-contrast. By f8 you get very even sharpness across the whole frame and the sunstars are not that bad either so I can also recommend this lens for landscape work and cityscapes (although if you don’t plan on using this lens at f2 all to often, there may be lighter and less expensive options available).

What I don’t really like are the inwardly curved aperture blades (which are also still present in today’s APO-Summicron), to me this is the biggest slip up of the lens. When using a helicoid adapter and extending the close focus distance the sharpness suffers a bit at f2 (and recovers at f2.8 already). This does not come as a suprise, since the lens was never intended to be used at such distances and does therefore not incorporate a floating elements design.

So, who is this lens for? Anyone, who looks for a really small yet fast and capable portrait lens, enjoys a beautifully crafted mechanical instrument and doesn’t mind paying an initial premium for the “red dot”. In case you are just looking for the “biggest bank for the buck”, this may not be the right lens for you (I heavily recommend taking a closer look at the Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 mentioned in the “Alternatives” section then).

This Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre-Asph version usually starts selling for $850 at ebay.com(affiliate link). In germany one in A-condition will set you back at least 850€. I got mine at ebay.de (affiliate link).
On a budget? Go hunting for a Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 instead, starting at 110$ at ebay.com  (affiliate link) or ebay.de (affiliate link).

If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. I will earn a small commission on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything. Thanks!

Sample Images

disney land castle summicrn 90mm 2.0 sony a7s
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/11
statue venice leica summicron 90mm 2.0 sony a7s
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2
Sony a7s gull venice venedig summicron 90mm 2.0 sony a7s
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2
sony a7s summicron-m 90mm 2.0 a7s portrait street musician
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2
neon lights a7s summicron 90mm 2.0 pre asph
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2

I have set up a flickr album which contains many shots taken with the Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron pre-Asph and I will add more pictures to it in the future.

About me

My name is Bastian and for many years I have been mostly shooting Nikon DSLRs. Today I am also using cameras from the Sony A7 series on which I use nothing but manual lenses.
My passion is landscape photography but I also like to delve into other subjects from time to time. You may follow me or take a look at my flickr-account http://www.flickr.com/bastian_k or visit my homepage http://www.fotoworkshop-bw.de  (only available in German).

 

 

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My name is Bastian and for many years I have been mostly shooting Nikon DSLRs. As of today I have made my transition from Nikon to Sony and I am mainly using small but capable manual lenses. My passion is landscape photography but I also like to delve into other subjects from time to time.

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56 thoughts on “Review: Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M”

  1. Tolle Linse, schöner Beitrag, toller Fotograf!

    was will man mehr. Zum richtigen Glück fehlen nur die 700-900€

    Meine Erfahrungen im Portraitbereich:
    Ich hab ein Voigtländer 75mm 2.5 das hat anscheinend eine ähnliche Charakteristik.
    Vielleicht etwas weniger Auflösung im Detail, dafür aber etwas mehr Kontrast (wenn man das mag)

    Ein Canon Fd 85mm 1,8 hatte ich auch mal, das hab ich aber wieder verkauft.
    Dafür ist das FD 135mm 2.0, das ich mal günstig erstanden habe eine wirklich tolle Linse und vielleicht sogar eine Alternative im “Portraitbereich”.
    Nur damit es nicht heißt, ich würde überhaupt keine FD-Linsen gut finden ; )

    Danke &
    Beste Grüße
    Michael

    1. Hallo Michael,

      vielen Dank für dein nettes Feedback!
      In nächster Zeit werden auch Reviews von günstigeren M39 Objektiven (Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 und Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0) folgen, die aufgrund ihrer Größe ebenfalls sehr gut zur A7 Serie passen, jedoch vielleicht etwas mehr “Charakter” haben 🙂

      MfG
      BastianK

      1. I’d really like to see that reviews. The key with these old lenses is to know the difference between the various versions and find the right one in acceptable conditions.

        I know you guys have some connections to Zeiss. Can you get a C Sonnar 50/1.5 and compare it to the Russian copy? Just if possible …

        1. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I do not have any connections with Zeiss.
          To be honest: Jannik had a hard time getting his Makro-Planar 100mm 2.0 ZF and his Loxia 21mm 2.8 repaired.
          But this comparison would interest me as well, so I will see what i can do.

          1. Well Zeiss loaned me the 2/50 Loxia so we have some connection but when I asked to borrow a Loxia 2.8/21 before Jannik bought his own copy they were lets say “less than supportive”.

          2. Well, I’m sorry to hear. Probably their analytics showed no increasing global demand for the Loxia 50 after your review 😀

            Then we need to go back to good old Amazon rentals 😉 (kidding)

            But there’s also that new Lomography Jupiter-3+ or the Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.5. And I guess the Canon 50/1.5 LTM is also the same design.

            From what I gathered, the Zeiss C Sonnar and the Jupiter differ a lot in rendering. Coatings may be one thing but it affects every aspect. So the Nokton would be the natural contender to the Zeiss. We would only see, how much improvement you’ll get for 10x the money.

          3. Just want to mention that the Voigtlander 50/1.5 is quite different rendering from the Sonnar variants (such as the Zeiss 50/1.5 versions from WWII era and afterwards, the current ZM version, or the Canon 50/1.5 and Nikon 50/1.4 rangefinder lenses. All of those share some rendering similarities, whereas the Voigtlander is more modern, IMO. It’s bokeh is smoother and quite close to the 50 Lux ASPH and is much sharper than the Sonnar variants wide open. IMO it kind of sits in a middle ground of not as interesting rendering as the Sonnars, but also not quite the across-frame sharpness of a stopped down 50 Lux ASPH. Though for the price (compared to the Leica), it’s very good, which is the case with most Voigtlander lenses.

            The ZM 50/1.5 offers better color and contrast than the older Sonnars, akin to most modern designs, but is not necessarily super-sharp. IMO, as a portrait-style 50, this is a fair tradeoff. I’m definitely a fan of the Sonnar rendering.

          4. Dear Ron,
            I will probably soon be able to provide a direct comparison betweeen the Nokton 50mm 1.5, C Sonnar 50mm 1.5 ZM, Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 and Lux Asph 50mm 1.4, as a generous reader decided to provide the Lux Asph and the ZM for such a purpose.

  2. I love the 75mm range and the small and characterful Voigtlander 75mm F/2.5 (probably I like all slower Voigtlander lenses). I see, it’s not your thing but probably very different to the F/1.8 version.

    I wonder why you consider the Zeiss 100/3.5 more of a landscape rather then a portrait lens? What makes the difference to you?

    1. When it comes to portrait shooting this means mostly on location shooting for me and I highly value fast lenses here. A maximum aperture of 3.5 is simply to slow for a portrait lens for my shooting envelope.
      With Voigtländer lenses I mostly prefer the ones which do a good job in balancing a fast aperture with good image quality and a small housing.
      I once tested the 50mm 2.5, but albeit it’s very small size it was nearly as heavy as the 50mm 1.5 (which I choose instead).

      1. It depends on how usable the lens is at a required aperture. If the f/1.4 lens looks worse at f/2.8 then the f/1.8 lens, I go for the slower lens.

        Anyways, you go for a faster aperture with a portrait lens. No other characteristics? Like some softness? Some glare for moody back-lits? Some corner blurriness to make the center pop out? Some softer bokeh rendering? For example for me, a landscape lens should have very good full frame sharpness, excellent flare and glare resistance, bold colors and high contrast.

        You have the Voigtlander 50/1.5! Will you provide a review some day?

        1. I am currently discussing with Phillip which one of us will do the Nokton 50mm 1.5 review, I would definetly like to 🙂
          But there will definetly be comparisons between the Nokton and the Jupiter-3.

          For real softness I am also using the Mitakon 50mm 0.95, but that is one heavy beast…

  3. This is a great article! I enjoyed reading it and got much out of it. I’d really like to read a Review of the Jupiter-9! It would be great if you could write one about it.

    Phillip, great concept with different authors!

    1. Hey there, thanks for the kind words!
      A review of the Jupiter-9 is definetly coming, but it will probably not be the next one by me (have some other things in the pipeline already).
      I also want to have used a lens thoroughly before writing an in-depth review as I definetly don’t want to chimp on quality.

  4. Well done!
    I’m only just beginning to think seriously about getting a 90mm M Leica lens, and a review like yours is a great help. Love your lamp photo @ F/2
    Before my recent investigations, I always thought that nearly every Leica lens was far too expensive for me, ie. at least 2-3x more than “the next best”, which was itself often an “expensive lens too. However, I’ve come to realise that you can pick some of them up for prices equivalent to many other makes. For instance, just last Tuesday, this R version of the pre-Asph went for “just” £286/€370 : http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/331785396045?ssPageName=STRK:MEDWX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1435.l2649
    I was watching it, amazed it finished so low. The only reason I didn’t bid, was that the weight of this one, 560g, was higher than I’m comfortable carrying on the A7,(and of course it only takes two bidders keen on the same lens, for it to cease being a “bargain”).
    Also, as there are SO many versions of the lenses, it’s hard with some of them, to be certain which version you really are bidding for, (19x versions of the M series 90mms alone, according to Erwin Puts, if you follow your link).
    However, I think that one I linked, Was indeed the optical equivalent of the M version you review here. (I’d be interested if someone could confirm that?)
    For now though I’ve decided that the Summarit M 90/2.5 is the one I really want to try first, (and that’s rather more expensive, though Phillip’s assured me that they can be found for £550/€710)

    1. Dear Tim,
      I am glad you enjoyed the read!
      Some of the Leica R lenses are not more expensive then e.g. their Nikon counterparts, but getting decent information on R lenses is way more difficult then on M lenses.
      About your question whether there are differences between the Summicron-M pre Asph and the Summicron-R: the optics may be similar but according to this http://www.abload.de/img/optics4y5br.jpg in comparison to this http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/90mm_f/2_Summicron-M_III I don’t think the optics are exactly the same. Furthermore the R version uses an 8-bladed aperture diaphragm instead of the M version’s 11-bladed. I have not used the R version yet, so I can’t tell you if the differences in optics are just minor or in fact meaningful.
      But I may be able to do a comparison between this lens, the Summarit 90mm 2.5 and the Elmarit 90mm 2.8 further down the road.

  5. One of the theories I’ve heard about the ‘ninja star’ aperture blade shape is to minimize or control focus shift. Other Leica lenses I’m aware of with this type of aperture ‘feature’ include the 50 Lux ASPH and I believe the 70 Cron AA, which is a very close relative to the 50 Lux ASPH in respect to optical formula. FWIW, I also don’t like this and as a heavy user of the 50 Lux ASPH, it definitely bothers me when I see it in some images.

    In respect to the 90 Cron pre-ASPH vs. the APO-ASPH (AA) version (I have the latter), my feeling is the pre-ASPH has more pleasant ‘characterful’ rendering due to it being less technically perfect. The AA is sharper across the frame with better CA control. It often feels very transparent in its rendering. But it’s pretty easy to provoke onion ring bokeh balls and I find it’s somewhat easy to provoke veiling flare… But I bought it to be my ‘do everything’ 90 – good for low light and wide aperture applications, but also very sharp across the frame by f/4-5.6 for technical applications. Interesting about the long focus throw of the pre-ASPH. The AA is definitely under 180 degrees, probably around 150. The faster throw makes it easier to follow focus, but at the expense of precision. I’ve used a few of the older fast M lenses, such as the 75 Lux and 50/1 and found them quite easy to focus accurately because of the longish throws.

    Prior to the 90AA I had the 90/2.5 Summarit for quite some time. I think it’s quite a good lens. Maybe not quite as transparent feeling as the AA and slightly more CA. But it’s smaller, lighter and a nice compromise of usable speed for the size. I also prefer the screw-in hood, which might put me in the minority. Least favorite feature of the Summarit was its quite short focus throw that always made precision focus (on an M camera) somewhat of a challenge. I’ll also add I think the 75/2.5 is the slightly better lens in respect to sharpness and punch.

    I also have the Voigtlander 75/1.8…. which I believe became available in 2011. Portrait rendering is pretty good, but it’s not a lens for technical applications where across frame sharpness is desired, such as for some kinds of landscape use. I’d rather get the 75 Summarit and save some size and weight for not a whole lot more (f/2.5 version used).

    1. That sure is an interesting theory about the aperture blades. I was thinking about getting the 90mm AA as well, but spending that much money on a lens with an aperture diaphragm I don’t really like kept me from doing so, although the fact that I actually like the pre Asph version very much comes into play as well 🙂
      Have to add here, if “optical perfection” (meaning the absence of abberations) is the “goal” I tend to use my modern Nikon lenses, such as the Nikon AF-S 85mm 1.4G.

    2. I sure would love to see a comparison between Summarit 90/2.5, this Pre AA Cron 90, and the AA Cron “itself”, especially for wide open performance and out of focus characteristics. I suspect it isn’t going to happen anywhere in the near future!?

      However, I wonder if Ron Scheffler has done one? He seems to know all three lenses well, from his comments above. (I also prefer screw in hoods, for using square filter systems)
      Interesting that “onion skins” and veiling flare can be a problem for the AA Cron 90.

      1. Hi Tim, regrettably I have not done such a three-way comparison and only owned the Summarit and 90AA simultaneously with a rather brief overlap. I currently have only the 90AA. Most of my 90mm work is along the lines of near infinity landscape type use, which is generally not done wide open. Here I prefer to have as good across-frame sharpness as possible. The Cron pre-ASPH was ruled out for my needs due to this, effectively illustrated by the infinity crops here in this review. The Summarit is probably the best ‘all-round’ lens of the three, with good size, speed and performance. The 90AA betters the Summarit somewhat at the edges at wider apertures. I decided on the AA for it’s across-frame performance, combined with its speed for low light work and those times I want the fast tele look. Wide open rendering with these lenses is less critical for my needs and therefore I haven’t given it as much attention. Yes, the 90AA can be provoked to show onion rings in the out of focus blur circles of highly specular light sources. This too disappointed me somewhat, but in respect to my main use of the lens, it has not been a problem. FWIW, the 50 Lux ASPH can also be provoked to show onion rings, but I’ve found this to be quite rare and certainly not as easily as the 90AA.

  6. Very interesting article. I would invite you to also look at the CY Zeiss Planar 1.4/85, which is just 100g heavier and similar in dimensions. I bought the lens used in the 1990’s – so I don’t honestly know the current prices.
    What I CAN say is that this is the lens that caused me to switch from Nikon FX to Sony A7II in order to be able to use it again. I just never lost my sense of nostalgia for this lens.
    I have not had a moment of regret since moving back to Zeiss

    1. With the arrival of the A7 cameras the prices of some of the used manual focus lenses from “dead” mounts unfortunately have somehow skyrocketed. I try to focus on Leica M lenses, but this may be something for Phillip or Jannik to consider 🙂

  7. Hi Philip.

    Thank you for a great review. At your request – i read your review 😉 I have previously bought the Tokina AT-X 90mm f / 2.5 Macro together with the extender/adapter. I just love this lens. How does the Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 compare to this?

    And why did you not list the Tokina under “Alternatives”? Because it is a macro lens? I use the Tokina for portraits and think it does so quite fantastic.

    Cheers
    Thomas

  8. Dear Philip,do you notice a difference in image quality (especially corners) of adapted lens mounted on the A7 vs A7II ?
    I find the original A7 a bit deceiving in the corners for what concerns adapted lens and i was wondering if there is an improvement in the A7II or A7RII due to different sensor.
    Thank you
    Nicola Naj

    1. Hi Nicola,

      this review was written by Bastian so I can’t speak about this specific lens but I didn’t see a difference in corner performance between the a7ii and a7

      Cheers,
      Phillip

  9. Thank you very much, I have been considering this lens for quite a while. So this test is really helpful. I hoped the Summicron would be a little better.
    A year ago I was about to only got Leica M but the minimum focus distance of rangefinder doesn’t match my shooting preferences.
    Maybe Zeiss is releasing a 100/2 Loxia. That would be my dream lens. Even if they can’t keep the 52 mm threads.
    I hate fly by wire like you do. I think I will never buy a batis because of that.

    1. Dear Alex,
      I am glad you found the review helpful!
      I do not only share your hatred for fly by wire focus but also for long minimum focus distances. But to be honest here: with the Voigländer Helicoid Adapter the maximum magnification with the Summicron is acutally better then with most DSLR 85mm lenses (in my case I compared it directly to the AF-S 85mm 1.4G).

      1. Well i know about that adapter, but I fear the added inconvenience. How is the handling with adapter?

        Btw do you have a Flickr Account? I would like to follow you.

        Best regards

        1. The Voigtländer adapter is simply gorgeous!
          I tried a cheap one from “Quenox” before, which was a total let down (clunky, added decentering, very big). The Voigtländer instead is very small, very precise and even has a hold button (so you don’t have to use the feature if not needed).
          To be honest, I even got a Nikon -> Leica M adapter so I don’t have to remove the Voigtländer adapter from the camera 🙂

          I am happy about every new follower, you can find my flickr profile here: https://www.flickr.com/bastian_k

  10. Great review Bastian! I had been wondering about this lens performance for some time as supposed kingly performer (and price) in this focal length in various manual focus forums. Good additional comments however on the strong resale value. I asked about this lens in the C/Y 100mm 3.5 review, but had you tried the Contax G 90mm F2.8? Much less satisfying manual focus experience for sure, but I’m curious if you thoughts versus the Summicron.
    Great work!

    1. Dear Jordan,
      thank you for your kind words!
      I am very curious about the Contax G lenses myself, but the adapter situation is giving me quite a headache, since – as far as I know – you have the choice between clunky manual focus or noisy autofocus. On top of that I would probably not be very happy with the minimum focus distance of these lenses, which can’t be as easily extended as with Leica lenses.
      But in case I am able to lay my hands on one of these some time I will glady share my thoughts on it 🙂

      1. My Contax G 2.8/90 will be published this weekend or at the beginning of the next week. Apart from the focusing there is little to not like about the lens.

        It is quite flare resistant, very very sharp to the edges from f/2.8, bokeh is quite nice (though the Summicron might have an edge in this aspect) without any issues stopped down and it is about half the weight.

        1. Thanks Phillip, can’t wait to read it – although maybe it’s silly that I want affirmation on a lens I already own and do test myself (that’s a problem with the internet, isn’t it!), but it certainly is useful to see results head-to-head in the same format against other lenses you have reviewed (particularly the C/Y 100 3.5 in my case).

          Thanks again!

          1. It was Jannik who reviewed the 3.5/100 so I can’t give you a direct comparison but I think the 100 is a tad better but it is also a lot larger and the G Sonnar has 8 aperture blades not just 6.

      2. There are a few guys offering Contax G to Leica M conversions, which provide the benefit of proper helicoid focusing. These are also all rangefinder coupled, which means it adds some expense for those not using the Leica system.

        The most expensive is the service through Japan Exposures and done by MS Optical: http://www.japanexposures.com/lens/

        The second most expensive is the DIY conversion kit sold by Hawk’s Factory on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/HAWKS-FACTORY-CONTAX-G-21-28-35-45-LENSES-CONVERT-TO-LEICA-M-HELICOID-/321777362983

        The least expensive I’ve found is ‘rework-lens’ on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Contax-zeiss-G-lens-convert-to-Leica-M-RF-coupled-/322007757127 but you have to send your lens to him for conversion. His helicoid also turns in the wrong ‘Nikon’ direction.

        I just bought a G45 from someone on Fred Miranda’s forum that has been converted by the third option, though have not yet received it.

        1. Rather than converting a Contax G lens for M mount, it would be much simpler to purchase a C/Y 85/2.8 lens, which has the same optical design and a true focal length of 88mm. The C/Y lens has a built-in helicoid. I own both lenses and use the C/Y with an adapter on a Sony A7ii exclusively.

  11. Thank you for a great review. I use the Minolta rokkor f4 90mm m mount lens. Very small and easy to handle lens. What are your thoughts on that lens?

  12. Hello,

    Great review !
    Several months ago I was so excited to discover that it was possible to use Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander and Jupiter lens (I did never heart any thing about that before) on the Sony A7 family. Therefore, I’ve bought a Leitz Sumicron 90mm f2 made in Canada several weeks ago for my a7II. According to the serial number it seems that it’s one from 1977. Do you know which version it is ? It seems that it doesn’t got a asph lens ? How can I know more info on my lens?

    Thanks

    1. Dear Rocco,
      click on the links in the upper part of the review with the different versions
      and compare yours to the pictures provided there.
      Only the newest APO version has aspherical elements.

      1. Cross checking your links with the one I already had, I’ve the same result. Thanks !!

        One more comment, I’ve got several manual lenses like the :
        – Jupiter-3 50mm f1.5 : compact and affordable
        – Voigtlander 40mm Nokton Classic f1.4 : very compact, very good quality
        – Zeiss ZM 50mm Planar f2 ; very sharp and with high level manufacturing quality

        The only problem I have with all of them is focusing correctly even if using the focus peaking system on moving subject (i.e. gym competition of my children). I’ve decided to use the Techart Pro ring adapter which transforms all the M lens from MF to AF.
        I’ve seen you have writen one review about MF lenses I’ll read that soon.

        Thank you for your help and reviews.
        Rocco

  13. Guys, I love the whole site. Absolutely great reviews and unique reviewing style.

    I am an old Pentaxian defected to A7ii because I just love legacy glass. The A7 platform simply lets me shoot anything I fancy.

    I have been struggling to decide between a Summicron 2/90 or Contax 1.4/85. I mostly take pics of my kids (always a manual focus challenge!!). Anybody with direct comparison experience?

  14. Thank you for the article. It’s the best 90mm/2 lens I ever worked with. The price/quality relation, in comparison to used Leica wide-eagle lenses, is extraordinary good. I encourage you to buy this lens, if you need a 90mm lens for a lifetime. By the way… I could buy the latest APO version of this lens but I didn’t. Why? This lens is so good, that nobody in fact needs the successor (APO) – especially when every picture today meets afterwards a RAW converter. To cut a long story short: in my opinion, the real challenge exists behind the eyepiece and unfortunately this problem isn’t solved as easily as the most expensive lens or camera is bought…

  15. Definitiv eines meiner absoluten Lieblingsobjektive!
    Vergesst “objektive” Messungen, in “Real Life Situations” gibt es kaum ein Objektiv, das schönere Portraits zaubert.

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