The goal of the Leica Summilux-C cine lenses was lofty from the start. Take everything known about modern lens design, then perfect it and beautify it until it reaches the border of impossible. The trick, the magic of these lenses, was to do so without losing the Leica character, the natural color rendition and the kindness of the human face and form. The Summilux-C lenses achieve this goal with their absence of breathing, color fringing and distortion, but where they excel is the alchemy of smooth, soft skin tones and backgrounds bounded by a clarity and resolution that distinguished the subject matter in a powerful but natural way without sacrifice or compromise.
The most defining characteristic of Leica cine lenses, and the Summilux-C lenses in particular, is their ability to capture a creamy sharpness in the image. Often lenses are either all sharp or all soft. These lenses have the unique ability to represent edges and fine details with clarity yet treat more humane subjects like skin tones and out off focus elements with a softness that just feels right.
One of the most difficult things to capture is what we see with our own eyes. The Summilux-C lenses are designed to reproduce the colors, the feel and the shape of the world as we see it, much as Leica’s classic rangefinder cameras and M lenses have done for street photographers for decades
Despite their small size and large aperture, the Summilux-C lenses provide consistent and even illumination into the far corners of the image. They also maintain consistent focus across the entire field.
At T 1.4 the Leica Summilux-C prime lenses are among the fastest modern lens sets available, but unlike traditional lenses they are designed to perform at their best when wide open.
The biggest complaint about 35mm cinema lenses has always been their large size intended to accommodate a focus ring with more witness marks. The Summilux-C lenses feature a patented focusing mechanism that eschews the logarithmic focusing of the past by expanding the focus scale in the most critical range.
The use of exotic aspherical elements in each Leica Summilux-C lens creates a telecentric path of light from the rear element to the sensor. Telecentricity and aspheric correction not only reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing, but also create a more even illumination across the entire field. Add in an already large image circle and the Summilux-C lenses are the perfect companions for larger digital sensors like RED’s Dragon sensor.
Their unique design allows these cine lenses to be far smaller than any existing lenses below T2.0. At just 5.6” (142mm) long and weighing between 3.5 and 4 pounds (1.6-1.8kg), lens changes are easier and safer than ever, which is welcome news for camera assistants and hurried productions. Smaller lenses also result in smaller, lighter camera packages and cases as well as significantly smaller rigs.