Tag Archives: Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8

The Curious Houses Along the Venice Canals

Los Angeles is not so much a unified city as a massive conglomeration of smaller cities. To outsiders, you come from Los Angeles. To locals, you are from Santa Monica, Hollywood, Pasadena, KTown, Van Nuys, Inglewood, Beverley Hills, or etc. It is a tapestry of neighborhoods that flow into one another with undefined visual or geographic borders. There is no Los Angeles and everywhere is Los Angeles.

“Which part of the city are you from” is of chief concern among new friends, business partners, and potential lovers because your answer will dictate your socioeconomic status, your cultural heritage, and your commute. When Lorde sang about post code envy, she was probably referring to Los Angeles.

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Sandwiched between Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, and the Pacific Ocean is a neighborhood unlike any other in LA. The Venice Canal Historic District was an early twentieth century attempt at recreating the Italian romanticism in the heart of sunny California. The area has had its cycle of prosperity and disrepair and the houses lining those canals reflect those periods of change.

I took a stroll through this neighborhood on a crisp winter evening. With the neck strap of my Sony A7 loosely wrapped around my right wrist, here’s what I saw through a Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8.

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Lens Shootout – Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8 v. Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f/1.8

The biggest and oldest names in the photography industry has got to be Leica and Zeiss. Carl Zeiss AG was founded in 1846 in Jena, Germany as a optical systems manufacturer and Leitz Camera GmbH (now Leica) was founded in 1849  in Wetzlar, Germany. Both companies have seen their market share tumble since the Japanese combined high quality optics and manufacturing along with reliability, innovation, and affordability. But Leica and Zeiss are survivors, and within the last few years there seem to a strong resurgence with these two old storied brands.

Summaron v Sonnar

In my stable of lenses, I have the Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8 and the Zeiss Sonnar *T 55mm f/1.8. Both 35mm and 50mm lenses are considered “normal primes,” great for street photography and general purpose photography. I’ve had the pleasure of using these over the last few months now, so I thought I’d do a brief comparison review.

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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.

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Sony A7 + Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8, Frankenstein!

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My Leica 35mm f/2.8 Summaron came in the mail today. Bought the 1959 lens off eBay and it fit like a charm with the $14 Fotasy lens adapter from Amazon. Will give it a test over the next few days and give a brief review. First impression is that for a 50+ year old lens, everything is still smooth and silky in operation. The copy I bought is in great condition. Hats off to German build quality and to the previous owners for taking care of this fine lens.

[Update: 5/21/2014 7:53PM] This lens is sharp, to the point where it is difficult to nail the focus if the subject is near the edge of the frame. But I am surprised at how sharp this lens is considering its age. Center sharpness is amazing and on par with the Zeiss. Corner sharpness drops off wide open at f/2.8 but it is still respectable. Overall, this lens doesn’t seem as sharp as the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, but this just says how good the Zeiss really is.