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Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8 and Sony A7 at America’s 2nd Most Frequently Photographed Street

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Leica 35mm f/2.8 Summaron @  Iso 500, 1/60s

On a beautiful spring day, I had the opportunity to give my Sony A7 and the Leica 35mm Summaron a good workout on the famous Acorn Street here in Boston. It is often mentioned as America’s No.2 most frequently photographed street, with No.1 being the zigzag Lombard Street in San Francisco, California. Frankly, I’m not sure how they figured out the rankings, because Times Square in NYC is on a street, and I’m sure it gets photographed more than either of those two streets combined.

Easy Handling
Handling wise, the 35mm Summaron is nicely balanced on the A7, without being front heavy. The M3 googles that is permanently attached to the lens may draw some curious looks, so shooting incognito may be a little difficult with this setup. Personally, I think the silver chromed brass lens is handsome on the A7, in a sort of an “oddity” kind of way.

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Leica 35mm f/2.8 Summaron @  Iso 100, 1/60s

Fast Focus
The lens is manual focus, and I’m sure you know, the Sony A7 uses 2 systems to help focus MF lenses: (1) focus magnifier; and (2) focus peaking. The “Focus Magnifier” (mapped to my C1 button right next to my shutter) essentially zooms into a portion of the live view so you can achieve critical focus (e.g. against the eyes of the subject). Focus peaking lets you MF without zooming-in by color highlighting focused edges in your live view. Use (1) for portraits where critical focus is important, use (2) for street photography when speed is more critical or when critical focus is less important.

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Leica 35mm f/2.8 Summaron @  Iso 100, 1/60s

Sharp as Scissors
Image quality wise, the Summaron’s sharpness is as good as everyone says (all of my pictures here can be viewed in full size so you can pixel peep to your heart’s content. Note: first photo was mis-focused and there was a little motion blur. I’m still getting comfortable with using this new setup). I have not increased clarity in the two pictures above, and just look at the detail in the brickwork. I’m editing my photos on a Retina-display MacBook Pro, and the details in the foliage just blows me away.  As I have mentioned in my earlier post, the center is sharper than the corners at f/2.8. But understanding those limitations, it really is not bad for a 1959 lens!

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Leica 35mm f/2.8 Summaron @  Iso 160, 1/60s

What the Flare?
What disappointed me about the Summaron was that it’s very prone to flare and ghosting. I lost a few shots shooting into the sun because the Summaron flared so bad that the picture was completely washed out. Contrast is also drastically reduced whenever a shot is overexposed. This is what happens when a lens only has a single-layer coating and not the new multi-layer coatings. A lens hood will help.

Conclusion
Overall, the Leica 35mm Summaron is a great fit for the Sony A7. It is sharp, inexpensive, and really easy to use. Check out the gallery above for more pictures taken today.