Why Does This Leica Lens Cost So Much?

Weighing in at a little over 8 oz, the Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 is quite the small lens. It doesn't have a remarkably wide maximum aperture either, and yet, it costs over $2,000. What makes this lens so expensive?

Coming to you from ZY Productions, this fun video takes a look at the Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 lens and asks why it costs so much. As you probably expect, half the answer to this question is: "because it's a Leica." But of course, there's more to the answer than that, and as niche and as expensive as they might be, Leica wouldn't be able to sustain itself if quality didn't come with those stratospheric prices. You might be interested to know that all Leica lenses are handmade in small batches, which certainly contributes to their high costs. This is quite the interesting lens to me, though, simply because it might be the most expensive lens by weight that I can think of (not that that's a useful measure of anything, but hey, just roll with it). If you can think of a lens with a higher price-to-weight issue, definitely let me know in the comments. Check out the video above for the full rundown.

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14 Comments

EL PIC's picture

Leica MicroScopes are also as pricey .. it’s just how the Leica Family markets itself.
But hey this ... their camera Family Tree display is about to be auctioned for Mega Bucks.
Imagine a Half Million $ Item for your wall.

https://petapixel.com/2016/08/11/leica-hqs-family-tree-display-sale-107-...

Rob Mitchell's picture

Alex, you're getting a bit too fond of these 'Why does X cost so much' posts.
Stuff costs what it costs because the manufacturer sets a price that is acceptable to them and the target audience.
Can we round it off there? Once and for all?

Yes, marketeers will price according to what the market will bear and not to the cost and effort of making it. Leica occupies a niche that appeals to people who feel value is commensurate with price and brand mystique.

Michael Jin's picture

Crystallized Unicorn Tears™

Josh Leavitt's picture

I think the Leica 28mm f/5.6 Summaron has a higher price-to-weight ratio at $15.75 per gram - or $2,600 for a 165 gram lens

The Leica 50/2 Summicron APO is $7995, 300 grams, price to weight of $26/gram. It’s also the pinnacle of Leica’s modern lenses. Great to use, sharp as they come.

The 50/2 Summicron M (regular one, which is this article is about) is actually one of Leica’s least expensive M mount lenses.

Check out lensrentals MTF tests of 50mm rangefinder lenses vs SLR lenses. the regular 50 Summicron is sharper than the $5000 Outs 55mm/1.4 and the Sigma 50mm (also without using an aspherical surfaces). Both SLR lenses are many times the size of it. The 50 Summicron APO resolves much higher than all 3 of these, and is also as small as a golf ball about.

I had a 50 1.2L on my Canon 5D Mark3 but this Leica 50 summicron is by far the best lenses I've had, the colors are superb, the details with my M10-P are just insane !

Leica lenses & cameras are not for everybody, the price is high & need sacrifice but it's match my vision and my style of photography, when I press the shutter after manually focusing et manually chosing my aperture I know it's my picture, I' have rented Sony cameras for some works, with crazy eye focusing crazy 20fps...but when i look the picture there is no soul inside it's more the camera's picture than mine and for me for my passion my work, my back and my shoulder the price doesn't matter if I feel good with it, if I can afford that tool this is great, people are always unnecessary dumb when there is a post on Leica or Apple, they need to say it's trash it's too expensive blablabla but most of them have never used the products, they say stupid things juste because they think it's the good way of thinking and they need to express themselves behind their computers.

I love my Leica gears, they are "for me" the best tool I ever used, and i love my macbook pro even some Pc's are less expensive with more afordable SSD and graphic card, its just work for me and i'm agree to pay the price for it.

This reads as amazingly irrational (fanboy). I too have owned Leica and although it feels nice to use it's impractical compared to modern offerings. Prove to yourself in blind tests that a photo was taken with a Leica vs one that was not and then tell us again if it made any *objective* difference.

When I look at the pictures made with my leica compared to my 5D, yes I find those of the Leica better. But anyway my point was not to say that it was the best camera brand or the most rational, I was just saying that in my way of doing, for my personal taste, I find it's the best camera and lens that I had. I covered in the past international rugby competitions with 1DMark3, MarkIV, if I had to do it again I would not take my Leica, we agree, in this situation I will buy or rent SLR, Today I have to do a lot of packshot and campaign beauty, and I use a Hasselblad in this case because I can't do macro with the Leica, but in the end if I had to choose a single camera fo the rest of my life it will be the Leica, for the beauty of design, for the choice of materials, ergonomics, weight, image quality, for the brand story ... for me, photography is primarily an artistic expression vs perfection of focus or number of pixels, If you want or need fast and accurate focus, High FPS burst,Video for your work it's not a good tool, don't buy it you can find better and less expensive, maybe you can call it a better investments, a better camera, but just open your mind and think maybe there is not one and one only vision of photography, one way of thinking how to spent your money, sometimes irrational choice is the better choice just because it's what you need, what you want, what fits the best to you and it's not necessary to explain it even if it's expensive.

Why don’t photographers use an iPhone then if they’re only posting to Instagram? It’s more than the result, it’s often times the journey which makes photography appealing to shooters, and thus viewers as well. Interacting and connecting with a subject through a window (rangefinder) no doubt feels better than looking at it through a mini computer screen (EVF) of a mirrorless camera. I like my Sony to document events and a Leica to enjoy and make pictures that I like to print and keep for myself and my family.

Manual focus is only impractical in very few situations aside from Sports. Try again your Leica, it may grow on you.

Spy Black's picture

"Why Does This Leica Lens Cost So Much?"

Because there's a sucker born every minute...

Leica envy me thinks!!

Spy Black's picture

You have justified being suckered somehow me thinks...