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The Best Leica Lenses for Film Photography


The best thing about the Leica M mount is that it’s so old. So many things are possible with that camera mount. But most importantly, it spans from the film days well into digital mirrorless cameras. Lucky for you, we’ve reviewed every Leica M-mount lens currently available. So we’re rounding up the best Leica lenses for film photography that we’ve got within this roundup. And we hope it helps you.

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The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear that we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Pro Tips on Using Leica Lenses for Film Photography

Shoot with a Leica M6? Well, we’ve got tips for you on choosing the best Leica lenses for film photography.:

  • Be sure to check out our complete guide to the Leica M lens mount where we include every lens currently available from Leica.
  • Film is a different beast from digital. Your film lenses might look sharper on your film cameras. And with higher megapixel digital bodies, they might not appear the same way. Clinical tests may vary.
  • Yes, we’ve actually tested all of these lenses on film cameras. 
  • This is all our option. That is to say that these are the best Leica lenses for film photography that we’ve tried. We’ve tried lots of their lenses on film, but not every single one.
  • Don’t have a light meter? Remember the Sunny 16 rule.

Leica 75mm f1.2 Noctilux

Pros

  • Beautiful Bokeh
  • Very sharp
  • Gorgeous rendition with lovely contrast
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • It is pricey
  • The lens is hefty 
  • It is not very comfortable to hold for long shoots

How is it on Film?

In our review, we said:

“This lens creates some of the best bokeh available on a 75mm lens. It’s painterly aesthetic is perfect for making your subjects pop. The bokeh is also beautiful when stopping down slightly.”

But in our test on Kodak Ektachrome 100, we said:

“While my rep kept urging me to try the Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux on the Leica SL, I knew it really didn’t belong there. Sure, it delivered great image quality, but it didn’t feel at home. On my Leica M6, the Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux felt pretty right. “

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Leica 35mm f2 Summicron ASPH

Pros

  • Pretty affordable for a Leica lens
  • Fast aperture
  • Small size
  • Well built
  • When attached to your camera, it keeps the size of the entire package down overall

Cons

  • We are almost 100% sure most folks wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this lens and that from 7Artisans unless there was a full side by side comparison
  • We think it’s time Leica starts weather sealing their lenses in the same way that they’re doing so with their cameras

How is it on Film?

In our review, we said:

“I’ll fully admit to this lens being very sharp; and for the type of work that demands critical sharpness you can expect great results from the Leica 35mm f2 ASPH Summicron. Just stop it down, focus and shoot.”

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Leica 28mm f5.6 Vintage Reissue

Pros

  • Very low profile build
  • A very classic look to the image quality that I seriously wish more manufacturers did
  • F5.6 is probably what I would use for street photography anyway
  • Smooth operation

Cons

  • Full stops for aperture, though if you’ve shot film that shouldn’t be an issue at all
  • Weird zone focusing scale so it’s tough to figure out what you’ve got in focus

How is it on Film?

In our review, we said:

“The Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 has a very specific and very nice image quality to it. If you’re looking for something super contrasty and saturated, then look for Zeiss lenses. This isn’t going to do that. Instead, this lens is designed to give a very classic, though manicured, look. In fact, I wish more manufacturers made lenses like this.”

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