Discovering the Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph Pre-FLE (11874)

Discovering the Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 asph Pre-FLE (11874)


Discovering the Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph Pre-FLE (11874)

Leica MP and Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874 pre-FLE
Leica M10-P, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, Mongkok Hong Kong

I had initially overlooked the Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH Pre-FLE (11874) lens due to concerns about potential focus shift issues. However, its distinctive square camera hood remained an alluring feature. My perspective changed when I met Charlie during a nighttime photowalk in Mongkok, Hong Kong. I mounted his 11874 lens onto my Leica M10-P, eager to see how it compared to the Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH FLE (11663).

Many photographers have claimed that the 11874 lens boasts creamier bokeh and smoother transitions in both film and digital formats than its successor. The 11663, on the other hand, is often described as lacking character due to its clean, modern look, which can be easily mistaken for other modern aspherical lenses.

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Leica M10-P, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, Mongkok Hong Kong
Leica M10-P, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, Mongkok Hong Kong
Leica M10-P, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, Mongkok Hong Kong

After testing Charlie’s lens, I was impressed and quickly decided to purchase one for myself. It’s worth noting that if you’re considering this lens, many recommend seeking a serial number starting with “392” to minimise focus shift. My own experience confirms that while there is some focus shift at smaller apertures like f/2.8, it is barely noticeable. I had the chance to compare two copies at Fotopia HK, one with serial “392” and the other “407.” The latter had slightly sharper performance when wide open, but I ultimately chose the “392” for its more accurate focus.

Kodak Ektachrome 100D 5294, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, China
Kodak Ektachrome 100D 5294, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, China

I took the lens on a day trip to China, where I captured captivating street market scenes. I used Kodak Ektachrome 100D 5294, Kodak Vision 3 5207 250D, and Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 colour negative films. The resulting images showcased rich, natural transitions, providing the comfortable look I had always desired. It reminded me of the Summilux 35/1.4 Pre-ASPH lens, minus the Leica glow. The lens also performed beautifully with my digital files, offering a sharpness that felt just right, as opposed to the overly sharp FLE version.

Kodak Vision 3 5207 250D, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, China
Kodak Ektachrome 100D 5294, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, China

The Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH Pre-FLE has now become my favourite 35mm lens. If you’re considering adding it to your collection, I recommend trying it out beforehand and paying attention to the serial number if focus shift is a concern.

Special thanks to Charlie letting me try this Summilux 11874. 

Fuji C200, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, China
Fuji C200, Summilux 35mm f/1.4 asph 11874, China
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    • I don’t have enough experience with the Double Aspherical to tell the difference. I have only did a few test shots in a camera shop, double aspherical however gives you a kind of cinematic look (I suspect more vignette at wide open) and creamier bokeh than this pre-FLE 11874.

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