A very demanding test for the Summarits

Annette Engelhardt is a graphic artist and mother of two. She manages the birthday party photos with a Leica M8 and the Summarit-M 2,5/50mm.


Ms Engelhardt, why a Leica?

I had a small, compact camera, which was very practical; but the more pictures I took the less I liked the results I was getting.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, was taking much better photographs at the time. Of course, he tried to convince me that it was all about talent, and had nothing to do with his equipment - which, let me say, was about as clumsy as a vacuum cleaner. Later, when I got him in a less smug mood, I said, "seriously though, why is there such a difference?" After further teasing, he finally explained that, in fact, it's mainly to do with the size of the camera's sensor and the quality of the light intensity of the lenses. His camera was simply better equipped to accentuate the various picture components, by giving the background a bit less focus and the photos a lot more depth. And that's exactly what you could see in the pictures. So, as I said, I didn't want to have to drag around such an unwieldy camera, nor could I imagine using or even figuring out all the different functions. The instructions manual was as thick as a telephone directory. What's more, I found his camera irritating to use: the display didn't give a good overview, and I was always under the impression that I was forgetting some important setting. Composition is my motivation. I don't want to have to deal with technical bits and pieces. Full stop.
So that was my thinking when I went to a camera dealer; he understood me straight away and handed me M8.

And you liked it...

No question about it. Considering it was a Leica, I didn't have to worry about the sensor size or the quality of the lenses. Not even my boyfriend could complain. What's more, the camera was very nifty and handy. I really liked that. The price tag, on the other hand, was hefty. But you have to know what you want. That's something the salesman had the misfortune of learning when he tried to sell me the lenses to go with it. Men can be such show-offs. He presented me with a bunch of lenses, but I quickly realised that there was only one I wanted: the 50. My main idea was to take pictures of my kids, and it seemed fine for that purpose. So then, instead of simply selling me a Summilux, he showed me the new Summarit. Who knows why. It was brand new and had just come into the store.

So what was the salesman's misfortune?

Well, he took so much time explaining the advantages of the Summilux 1,4 50, as well as singing the praises of the Noctilux. He'd already convinced my boyfriend. But, once I saw the Summarit, there was nothing doing. Women are simply more rational than men.


And why were you so convinced?

It just fit the camera so well and, what's more, the price was significantly friendlier. It was incredibly small and, as the man said, everything was new and the performance outstanding. So, what else was there to talk about?
I tried it out straight away and, what can I say, my pictures were sharper and had more contrast than my boyfriend's shots. I immediately printed the best pictures in A3 size (11.69 x 16.54 inch.) and hung them up in the hallway. The format itself was quite a challenge, because you can see every detail. But, with the Leica, no problem. That kind of annoyed him because, of course, he couldn't deny the quality.

So what happened next?

Well, without giving it a second thought, I put it to the hardest test of all. My daughters were celebrating their birthday. Being the mother meant I had a ton of things to deal with. Even so, I wanted to have some nice photos of the event. Look for yourself. The whole series was taken between the cake-eating and playing, pot-banging and present unwrapping, with small mishaps and bickering included. Hannah didn't feel well after the first piece of cake, Dorian managed to spill cocoa all over his socks, and so on. But there's no sign of all the stress in the photos. I'm delighted. The lens is simply perfect. Look at the depth, the fine transitions, and the beautiful blurs. What a day... Loud, hectic, crazy, and the pictures still look great.
What's more there was something else I realised. The kids hardly noticed that I was taking photographs. Part of the reason was that I didn't use a flash, but also the camera is so unobtrusive and very quiet. After a while the kids stopped posing and started playing, and that's when the liveliest and most natural pictures were taken.
We printed the best ones in a really large format - for the guests as well. They were delighted. When I visited a friend recently, I saw some of my pictures hanging on the wall. They gave me the impression that I had just as much fun that day as the children did. At least, that's the sense one gets from the pictures.

It sounds as though you're completely satisfied?

Yes, but I am going to stop by the dealership again. The 35mm was also nice and small, and, at times, one needs a broader perspective. And, at that price, I might as well pick up a couple, right?