The very first wide-angle lens for the Leica was the 35mm f3.5 Elmar of 1930. This was produced to go with the set of lenses for the first interchangeable lens versions of the Leica 1 (model C). The basic focal lengths chosen for this set (3.5, 5, 9 and 13.5cm) became well established as standard for the 36x24mm format. It was not until 1935 that the wide-angle range for the Leica was extended to include a 2.8cm with the introduction of the 2.8cm f6.3 Hektor. Even when the first M (the M3) was launched in 1954 the immediate successor to the Hektor (the f5.6 Summaron – a screw-mount lens) was still a year away although bayonet mount versions of the 1948 3.5cm f3.5.Summaron were available for the new camera. In fact it wasn’t until 1965 that a bayonet mount 28mm, the first version F2.8 Elmarit, came along.
For a majority of Leica photographers the basic wide-angle lens has always been a 35mm. Even to the extent that for many it often becomes the lens they use most. The moderate wide- angle style suits the direct vision approach of the M and the 35mm complements it perfectly. This and the fact that in the early M models the widest lens that could be used via the range/viewfinder frames was 35mm no doubt influenced the neglect of the 28mm. However even after the M4-P of 1981 squeezed in a built-in finder frame for 28mm, the 35 has remained the more popular focal length of choice, regularly outselling the 28mm many times over. Although there were several versions of an F2.8 Elmarit in the 28mm focal length it was not until 2000 that Leica introduced a fast compact 28 – the outstanding f2 Summicron ASPH. It is only very recently however that they have developed an F1.4 lens for this focal length. The new lens was made available, first in 2014, as a special series of 100 in silver finish to celebrate 100 years of Leica and now in 2015 as a regular production lens with the normal black anodised finish. Interestingly too the highly successful Leica Q has a fixed 28mm Summilux (albeit f1.7 maximum aperture). However the image quality available from Leica’s superior lens designs and the latest sensor technology has led to the inclusion of pre-indicated cropped areas for 35 and 50mm framing on the ‘Q’.