The original 8-element Leitz 35 f/2 Summicron from 1958 is a classic lens, still coveted for the “Leica glow” of its images and its lack of distortion, and as a now-pricey collectible. It comes in a variety of models – for SM, for the M3 with goggles, with a factory-fitted SM → M adapter, M-mount from ELC as well as ELW, and in black as well as chrome. It is a symmetrical double Gauss design, and physically quite small.
Recently, Leica aficionados on the internet have been abuzz with news and tantalizing images of and from a new version of this lens, still in prototype but nearing production. And, unlike the Thambar and 28mm Summaron reissues from Leica itself, this new / old lens is from China. Kevin-Xu (Instagram: kevinxbegin), spokesperson for those developing this lens, has kindly let LHSA test the new 35 f/2 Summicron copy; he sent us both a black and a chrome prototype, and spoke with Bill Rosauer and this reviewer about it at the recent Boston Annual Meeting. There was hardly time, however, to talk at length, and Kevin subsequently has spent much time answering questions by email about the lens’s development and manufacture. This reviewer has used one of the prototypes both for shooting in Boston and for slightly more rigorous testing at home. What follows is an interrogatory, based upon questions we asked Kevin about the lens, and then images having to do with our testing.