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LEICA Lens Reviews
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September 2014            LEICA Camera Reviews

12mm   15mm   18mm   21mm

24mm   28mm     35mm   40mm

50mm   75mm  90mm   135mm

Zoom: TRI-ELMAR

LEICA Filters

 

See also: Voigtländer Reviews ünd Zeiss Reviews.

Why Fixed Lenses Take Better Pictures

LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm Sharpness Comparison 14 January 2011

LEICA Lens Names Explained

More information and articles

How to Afford Anything

LEICA Lens Serial Numbers 04 November 2009

Specific Lens Recommendations for the LEICA 17 September 2009

LEICA M9 Lens Compatibility 01 October 2009

Cosina and Voigtländer Lenses

 

Click any image below to go to its review or more information.

 

12mm (requires external finder)        top

Leica makes no 12mm lenses. Be sure to read How to Use Ultrawideangle Lenses. If you get a 12mm, you're crazy. Don't bother with a 15mm or 18mm as well; they are too similar to bother carrying them and their finders at the same time.

 

Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 M II

Voigtländer 12mm f/5.6 ASPH

2000-today, filter adapter needed for 77mm filters, 173g.

It's a screw-mount lens, so be sure to get a screw-mount adapter for use on M cameras. It comes with a dedicated 12mm finder.

It comes in black as shown or silver.

It's sharp, and has plenty of falloff (darker corners) as expected. I'm a wide-angle junkie, and 12mm is too wide, even for me. It is not rangefinder coupled as all Leica brand lenses. No big deal, just guess. Its depth-of-field is just about unlimited.

TTL metering works great on all M cameras.

Achtung: Although wonderful on film, this lens sucks on the M9 because its rear nodal point is too close for the sensor. The left and right sides take on weird color shifts. For the M9, get the LEICA 16-18-21mm zoom instead.

bayonet mount version.

enlarge image or more information (review coming)

 

15mm (requires external finder)        top

Leica makes no 15mm lenses. These Voigtländers are excellent, and very useful for ultrawide effects. Be sure to read How to Use Ultrawideangle Lenses. If you get a 15mm, don't bother with an 18mm or 21mm lens; they are too similar to bother carrying them and their finders as well.

 

Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 M II

Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 M II ASPH

2009-today, 52mm filters, 155g.

An excellent lens in every way. TTL metering works great on all M cameras.

Achtung: Although wonderful on film, this lens sucks on the M9 because its rear nodal point is too close for the sensor. The left and right sides take on weird color shifts. For the M9, get the LEICA 16-18-21mm zoom instead.

Full review.

 

Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5

Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 ASPH

1999-today, no filters, 115g.

Same as the lens above, except that it's screw-thread, and has no rangefinder coupling or filter thread. Be sure to get an adapter to use it on M cameras.

TTL metering works great on all M cameras.

Achtung: Although wonderful on film, this lens sucks on the M9 because its rear nodal point is too close for the sensor. The left and right sides take on weird color shifts. For the M9, get the LEICA 16-18-21mm zoom instead.

Full review.

 

18mm (requires external finder)               top

Both these 18mm lenses are excellent, and very useful for ultrawide effects. Be sure to read How to Use Ultrawideangle Lenses. If you get one, don't bother getting any 15mm, 21mm or 24mm lens: they are too close to bother carrying all of them and their finders at the same time.

 

Leica 18mm f/3.8 ASPH

LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 18mm f/3.8 ASPH

2009-today, 77mm filters, 310g. 11 649.

Fantastic performance at a low price. Needs adapter as shown to use most filters.

Full review.

 

Zeiss 18mm

Zeiss 18mm f/4 ZM

2007-today, 58mm filters. 323g.

As good as the LEICA, for a lot less money.

Full review.

 

Zeiss and LEICA 18mm

LEICA versus Zeiss 18mm Comparison Test

 

 

21mm  (requires external finder)             top

21mm has been the standard ultrawide angle for the LEICA since 1958. Everyone should have one of these. Don't bother carrying any of the 15mm, 18mm, 24mm or 28mm lenses at the same time.

 

Leica 21mm lenses compared

Guide to all LEICA 21mm lenses, 1958 - today

Comparison of all 21mm Rangefinder Lenses

Guide to all LEICA 21mm Finders, 1958 - today

How to Use Ultra-Wide Lenses

 

Leica 21mm f/1.4 ASPH

LEICA SUMMILUX-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH

2008-today, Series VIII filters, 580g. 11 647.

$6,500.

The world's fastest ultrawide lens. It probably blocks your finder a great deal.

Also can take 82mm filters with 14 481 adapter.

enlarge image or more information (no review yet)

 

LEICA 21mm f/3.4 ASPH Review

LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH

2011-today, 46mm filters, 263g with hood. 11 145.

$2,995 and LEICA's best 21mm lens ever — even better than the $6,500 SUMMILUX above.

full review

 

Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8 review

NEW: Voigtländer 21mm f/1.8

2012-today, 58mm filters, 412g.

Optically pretty good, and works great on M9.

Full review.

 

Leica 21mm f/2.8 ASPH

LEICA ELMARIT-M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH

1997-today, 55mm filters, 317g. 11 135.

Leica's standard ultra-wide lens.

Full review.   

Sample image (12MB JPG).

 

Zeiss ZM 21mm f/4.5

Zeiss ZM 21mm f/2.8

2004-today, 46mm filters, 258g.

A superb lens, just as good as the LEICA ELMARIT-M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH.

Full review.

 

Zeiss ZM 21mm f/2.8

Zeiss ZM 21mm f/4.5

2004-today, 46mm filters, 195g.

Even sharper than the LEICA ELMARIT-M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH, but Nicht für die M9. For the M9, get the LEICA 21mm f/2.8 ASPH or Zeiss ZM 21mm f/2.8 instead.

Full review.

 

Leica 21mm f/1.4 ASPH

LEITZ 21mm f/4 SUPER-ANGULON

1958-1963, 39mm filters, 251g. 11 102. (screw-mount: 11 002.)

A sharp, tiny, distortion-free lens; Leica's only 21mm that takes standard E39 filters and A42 accessories.

Achtung: Nicht für die M9. For the M9, get the LEICA 21mm f/2.8 ASPH instead.

Full review.   Sample image (12MB JPG).

 

Voigtlander 21mm

Voigtländer 21mm f/4

2009-today, 39mm filters, 132g.

The tiniest ultrawide ever for LEICA. A great performer that fulfills Oskar Barnack's vision even better than Leica's own lenses today.

Achtung: Although wonderful on film, this lens is not for the M9 because its rear nodal point is too close for the sensor. The left and right sides take on weird color shifts. For the M9, get the LEICA 21mm f/2.8 ASPH instead.

Full review.

 

Leica Universal Wide Finder Guide to all LEICA 21mm Finders, 1958 - 2009

 

 

24mm                top

I'm not a fan of 24mm lenses on LEICAs because they require an inconvenient external viewfinder. The widest lens supported with the camera's own finder on full-frame LEICAs is 28mm. Since you need to use an external finder, I prefer to use a 28mm lens instead with the camera's own finder, or go all the way to 21mm if I have to use an external finder. Never attempt to swap finders at the same time you swap lenses: you will drop things and go insane. If you must use more than one wide lens with an external finder, use the Universal Wide Finder or the 21-24-28mm zoom finder.

 

Leica 24mm f/1.4 ASPH

LEICA SUMMILUX-M 24mm f/1.4 ASPH

2008-today, Series VII filters, 468g. 11 601.

Leica's fastest 24mm lens.

$6,500.

Also takes 72mm filters with 14 479 adapter.

Full review.

 

Leica 24mm f/2.8 ASPH

LEICA ELMARIT-M 24mm f/2.8 ASPH

1996-today, 55mm filters, 290g (388g in silver). 11 878.

This is Leica's most popular 24mm lens, at a moderate $4,000. It is very similar in size and appearance to its cousin, the 21mm f/2.8 ASPH.

enlarge image or more information. (no review yet).

 

Leica 24mm f/3.8 ASPH

LEICA ELMAR-M 24mm f/3.8 ASPH

2008-today, 46mm filters, 260g. 11 648.

This is Leica's smallest 24mm lens, and also Leica's most insanely sharp and least distorting 24mm lens. It is offered at a very reasonable $2,400. Per Leica's specs, it is super sharp even wide open in the farthest corners. I have no reason to doubt this, although I have yet to try it.

enlarge image or more information. (no review yet).

 

 

28mm               top

 

Leica 28mm f/2 ASPH

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH

2000-today, 46mm filters, 256g. 11 604. (11 661 in silver aluminum, 270g.)

The world's sharpest wide-angle lens. It is the only 28mm f/2 lens ever made by Leica. It is fantastic on the M9.

Full review.

 

Leica 28mm f/2.8 ASPH

LEICA ELMARIT-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH

2008-today, 39mm filters 173g. 11 606.

Leica's tiniest current lens, and a stellar performer as well. If you can get only one wide lens, this is a great choice. Especially with the M9, there is no need for the f/2 ASPH unless you just have to have it. This f/2.8 is fantastic on the M9.

Full review.

 

Zeiss 28mm f/2.8

Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM

2000s-today, 46mm filters, 210g.

Optically a bit better than the LEICA 28mm f/2.8 ASPH and it can use two stacked 46mm filters without vignetting in full-frame, but it's bigger, heavier and blocks the finder.

Full review.

 

Voigtlander 28mm f/2

Voigtlander 28mm f/2

2008-today, 46mm filters, 243g.

Inferior to the current LEICA lenses, but at one-sixth the price of the current LEICA SUMMICRON, a great lens for lesser cameras.

Full review.

 

Konica M 28mm f/2.8

Konica M 28mm f/2.8

1990s, 46mm filters, 226g.

Optically and mechanically inferior to the LEICA 28mm f/2.8 ASPH and Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM, oddly it sells for almost as much used.

Full review.

 

No Photo Yet

Older LEICA 28mm f/2.8 lenses

1936-2008.

I would forget any older LEICA 28mm lens. Today's 28mm f/2.8 ASPH is the highest-performance f/2.8 they've ever made, and it doesn't cost much more brand new than older 28mm lenses cost used! Today's f/2.8 is also the smallest 28mm f/2.8 ever made by Leica and it takes the standard 39mm filter, so it's a no-brainer.

 

Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5

Voigtländer 28mm f/1.9

2000-2008, 46mm filters, 261g.

Inferior to LEICA in every way, but far less expensive and good enough for most people.

Full review.

 

 

35mm               top

SUMMILUX: f/1.4   SUMMICRON: f/2   SUMMARON: f/2.8 and f/3.5

SUMMARIT-M: f/2.5

NEU: LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm Sharpness Comparison 14 January 2011

 

35mm SUMMILUX: Ultra-Speed f/1.4  35mm  top

 

Leica 35mm f/1.4 ASPH (floating element)

LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH (floating element)

2010-today, 46mm filters, 312g. 11 663.

The world's highest-performance fast wide-angle lens.

Full review.   Sample image (13MB JPG).

 

Leica 35mm f/1.4 ASPH

LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH

1994-2010, 46mm filters, 307g. 11 874.

The world's second-highest-performance fast wide-angle lens.

Full review.   Sample image (5MB JPG).

 

LEICA SUMMILUX 35mm f/1.4

LEICA SUMMILUX 35mm f/1.4

1960-1995, 41mm or Serie VII filters (details), 184g. 11 870. (Für M3: 11 871, 325g.)

The world's smallest professional f/1.4 lens.

It's fantastic stopped down, but today's LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH is far superior at f/1.4.

Full review.

 

 

35mm SUMMICRON: Ultra-Performance f/2   35mm  top

LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm Sharpness Comparison 14 January 2011

 

Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH
für M, schwarz.

Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH
für M39, silber.

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH

1996-today, 39mm filters. Black (11 879): 254g. Chrome (11 882): 340g.

1999: Leica made a small run of these mit Schraubgewinde M 39 (screw mount) for Leica's original 1932-1960 cameras like the LEICA IIIf. Shipped with a traditional 12 504 hood instead of the current plastic thing and focusing only to 1 meter, these are otherwise the same as the standard model. Hewn from solid brass, these chrome beauties weigh 324.9g (11.460 oz.), Verk. Nr. 11 608.

Leica's most practical wide-angle today. It comes in black aluminum (11 879) and chromed brass (11 882).

Distortion: -0.8 at infinity, -1.5 at 3 meters, -1.0 at 1 meter.

Full review.

 

LEICA 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M

NEUE: LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2

1979-1996, 39mm filters, 156g, 7 elements, 10 blades. Black (11 310); also silver (11 311) from 1993. 12 524 plastic hood. Plastic 14 268 front cap.

Laymen call all of these "version 4" or the "King of Bokeh," even though its bokeh is pretty poor as with most LEICA 35mm lenses.

Distortion: 0.0 at infinity, -0.5 at 3 meters, +0.3 at 1 meter.

Full Review.

 

LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm f/2

1969-1979, 39mm filters, 6.040 oz./171.2g, 11 309, 6 elements, 10 blades.

1969-1971: Made in Germany. Laymen call this "version 2."

1971-1979: Made in Canada. Laymen call this "version 3."

Contrastier in the center at f/2, but never as sharp in the corners as the 1958-1979 (8-element) version. The 35mm f/2 ASPH outdoes them all.

Distortion: +0.8 at infinity, +0.5 at 3 meters, +0.9 at 1 meter.

Spherochromatism is very minor.

enlarge image (review coming).

 

Leica 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON

LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm f/2

1958-1974, 39mm filters, 238g, 8-elements, 10 blades. 11 108 as shown (11 104 in black). 11 308 without M3 auxiliary finder optics (11 307 Z in black). 11 008 in screw mount.

A stellar performer even today, and priced to match. Even with the auxiliary finder optics shown, weighs less than today's ASPH version and performs as well, with even less distoerion. Laymen call this "version 1."

Distortion: +0.6 at infinity, 0.0 at 3 meters, +0.5 at 1 meter.

Full Review.

 

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/2

NEU: Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2 ZM

2004-, 43mm filters, 224g, 9 elements, 10 blades.

Optics and mechanics about as good as the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH for one-third the price, but with a screwy filter size and more finder blockage.

Full review.

 

Konica M 35mm f/2

Konica UC 35mm f/2

1990s, 43mm filters, 132g.

The lightest 35mm lens for LEICA, but optically inferior to the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH.

Full review.

 

 

35mm SUMMARON: Classic Performance   35mm  top

 

Leica 35mm f/2.8 Summaron

LEICA SUMMARON 35mm f/2.8

1958-1974, 39mm filters, 239g. SIMWO/11 106; SIMOO/11 006 without M3 auxiliary finder optics.

A bargain today, and a great performer.

Full review.

 

Leica 35mm f/3.5 Summaron

1948-1956: A36 filters.

 

Leica 35mm f/3.5 Summaron

1957-1960: E39 filters.

 

LEICA SUMMARON 35mm f/3.5

1948-1960, A36, later 39mm filters, 6 elements, 10 blades, screw and bayonet mounts.

1948-1956: SOONC, M39 screw-mount, A36 filters, 145.4g (5.130 oz.), 1m close focus.

1954-1960: SOONC-M, bayonet mount, 39mm filters, 1m close focus. No auxiliary finder optics for the LEICA M3, needs an external finder.

1956-1960: SOONC-MW then SOMWO, Bayonet mount, 39mm filters, 0.65m close focus. Includes auxiliary finder optics for the LEICA M3.

1957-1960: SOONC, M39 screw-mount, 39mm filters, 172.4g (6.080 oz.), 1m close focus. With the introduction of the larger M-mount version, this later screw-mount version was updated to use the same parts.

A36: enlarge image (review coming).

E39: enlarge image (review coming).

 

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/2.8

NEU: Zeiss C Biogon 35mm f/2.8 ZM

2008-, 43mm filters, 178g, 7 elements, 10 blades.

Optics and mechanics as good as the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35mm f/2 ASPH for less than one-third the price, but with a screwy filter size.

Full review.

 

 

35mm SUMMARIT-M: Discount f/2.5   35mm  top

 

Leica 35mm f/2.5

LEICA SUMMARIT-M 35mm f/2.5 (low-price lens für Voigtländer ünd Zeiss kameras)

2007-today, 39mm filters, 220g. 11 643.

I haven't used this new lens, but the other Summarit-M lens I used had superb optical quality with sub-par mechanical quality.

I wouldn't buy one of these. For less money you can get a used 35mm SUMMICRON lens of whatever vintage you like, including the current ASPH, or get a 1960's SUMMARON f/2.8 which ought to do about the same thing for a whole lot less.

enlarge image or more information (no review yet).

 

40mm               top

40mm lenses are designed for the LEICA CL and CLE, both of which have 40mm frame lines. It's a bit silly to use this lens on other cameras, on which it selects the 50mm frame lines

 

Leica 40mm SUMMICRON-C

LEICA SUMMICRON-C 40mm f/2

1973-1977, 39 x 0.75mm filters, 126g. 11 542.

This may be the smallest and lightest M lens ever made by LEICA. It focuses perfectly on my LEICA M9, CLE and other LEICAs.

It works very well and is super-sharp, albeit a little less contrasty in the corners at f/2. Background bokeh is bad (foreground bokeh is great, but that doesn't count). Watch the filter thread: it's not a standard 39mm thread. Leica intends for this to be used with nonexistent series 5.5 filters held in place by the dedicated threaded rubber/metal hood 12 518. The lens' threads are the same diameter, but too coarse to receive standard filters.

I use regular 39mm filters, but I only screw them in to where they first stop. Force them and you destroy everything.

enlarge image and example photos (review coming).

 

50mm               top

NOCTILUX f/1    SUMMILUX f/1.4    SUMMICRON f/2   ELMAR   SUMMARIT

All LEICA 50mm lenses are superb. Even the uncoated f/3.5 ELMAR from 1934 gives me bright, contrasty, sharp and vividly colorful images.

 

NOCTILUX: Ultra Speed    50mm    top

 

Leica 50mm f/0.95

LEICA NOCTILUX-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH

2008-today, 60mm filters, 700g. 11 602.

The 60mm C-Polarizer is 13 406.

Leica's show-off lens, this huge thing weighs a ton. It sells for a for a mere $10,500. It has very little distortion, and is a huge improvement over the older f/1 spherical lens.

enlarge image or more information (no review yet).

 

Leica 50mm f/1

LEICA NOCTILUX-M 50mm f/1

1976-2008, 60mm filters, 584g, made in Canada. 11 821. (Earliest version used 58mm filters, a bayonet metal hood and weighed 580g.)

The 60mm C-Polarizer was 13 376, now 13 406.

These sell for about $5,000 used. They use conventional spherical optics. They were only recently discontinued, and since many people buy them to try once, they are easy to find used.

Full review.

 

Leica 50mm f/1

LEICA NOCTILUX 50mm f/1.2

1966-1975, Series VIII filters, 470-515g. 11 820. Spare hood: 12 503. 8 elements (1-ASPH), 5 groups, 73mm by 75.1mm long, 1:17 macro, 1 meter close-focus.

These sold for about $5,000 used in 2009, and as of 2013 they sell for about $10,000 used. They are the world's first mass-produced aspherical lens, with two hand-ground aspherical surfaces.

enlarge image (no review yet).

 

Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1

NEW: Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1

2010-, 58mm filters, 434g, about $1,000.

A poor performer, introduced as a gimmick for the less critical.

Full Review.

 

 

SUMMILUX: Ultra Speed f/1.4    50mm    top

 

Leica 50mm f/1.4 ASPH

Leica 50mm f/1.4 ASPH

NEU: LEICA SUMMILUX-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH

2004-today, 46mm filters, built-in locking hood. 335g in black aluminum 11 891; 460g in chromed brass, 11 892.

In 2003, a special LHSA version was struck: 11 628 in chrome, styled as the 1960s 50mm SUMMILUX (E43 0.5mm filter), but mit 0.7m close-focus and much faster focus pitch. It also came in black paint. 375 of each color were sold with the MP3 LHSA, and 125 of each color sold alone, 1000 total.

This is the only 50mm f/1.4 on the planet that uses aspherical optics and floating elements. Every other 50mm f/1.4 lens, even Nikon's newest 50mm f/1.4 AF-S of 2008, makes due with conventional spherical optics and fixed elements.

Complete Review.

 

Leica SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4

1964 version.

LEICA SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4

1961-2004, all with identical optics and coatings.

1961-1991: 43mm filters, 300g. 11 114.

1992-2004: 46mm filters, 360g, and adds built-in hood. 11 868.

1999: Special screw-mount version sold only in Japan.

This was the world's highest performance 50mm f/1.4 lens for 43 years. Its performance is exceeded only by the newer LEICA SUMMILUX-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, introduced in 2004, and still exceeds the performance of Nikon and Canon 50mm f/1.4 lenses. Not bad for a lens designed in 1960!

Full review.

 

Zeiss ZM 50mm f/1.5

Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar ZM

2004-today, 46mm filters, 232g.

A very compact, high-speed lens with outstanding bokeh. It's a remake of Zeiss' Sonnar of the 1930s.

Full review.

 

 

SUMMICRON: Ultimate Performance f/2    50mm    top

See also my LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm Guide.

 

Leica 50mm f/2

1994-today

 

1979-1994

1979-1994

 

50mm f/2 Screw Mount Version

1999: für M39.

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2

1979-today, 39mm filters, 8-blade diaphragm. Made in Canada 1979-1985, then Germany 1985-today. These all use the same optics, differing only in their outward mechanics:

1994-today: built-in hood, ring focus. Most often seen in black anodized aluminum: 240g, 11 826. Also seen in chromed brass: 335g, 11 816; and in titanium paint: 11 624.

1979-1994: round clip-on plastic hood, tab focus, 197.6g. 11 819 (schwarz), 11 825 (silber chrom).

Special Editions:

2002 (Verk. Nr. 11 615): Leica made a small run of these modern optics in the same style as the rigid 1956 SUMMICRON, but with the modern squared font, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1952 SUMMICRON. Leica didn't bother to copy the mechanics of the more appropriate collapsible 1952 SUMMICRON because it cost too much to duplicate, and instead settled on copying the later, cheapest rigid design. Leica also goofed in making this commemorative in M-mount, which did not exist in 1952, but would have allowed universal compatibility with all LEICAs, as the M39 version below does.

1999 (Verk. Nr. 11 619): Leica made a small run of these in traditional M39 screw mount for Leica's original 1932-1960 cameras like the LEICA IIIf. They are otherwise the same as the current model, with 39mm filters, a built-in hood and ring focus. Hewn from solid brass, these screw-mount chrome beauties weigh 324.65g (11.450 oz.).

This is the fourth optical iteration of the 50mm SUMMICRON on which Leica has built its reputation since 1953. All versions are wonderful, and today's optical iteration is the world's standard for 50mm performance.

Street names for these two mount types are "type 4" for the 1979-1994 version and "type 5" for the 1994-current version.

You could not go wrong with any 50mm SUMMICRON as your only LEICA lens.

Full review.

 

Leica 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON

LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2

1969-1979, 39mm filters, 200g. 11 817.

This is the third optical iteration of Leica's 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON, with six elements. It is one optical version before today's SUMMICRON-M optical design.

Its street name is "type 3."

You could not go wrong with this lens as your only LEICA lens, for only about $400 used. Its performance is similar to the previous 1957-1968 SUMMICRON, with more contrast in exchange for a little less resolution. Dollar for dollar, Leica's best 50mm f/2 lens, but Leica has never been about price.

enlarge image. Example photos from Death Valley and Route 66. (review coming).

 

LEICA 5cm f/2 SUMMICRON

Rigid.

 

LEICA 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON with near-focusing range

With near-focusing range (shown without viewfinder attachment)

LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2

1956-1968, 39mm filters, 7 elements, 10 blades.

This SUMMICRON has similar, but superior, optics to the first version from 1952. All these versions share the same optics (Laymen call these "type 2"):

1956- : Rigid screw mount, meters: SOSTA or 11 518.

1960-1963: Rigid screw mount, feet: 11 018 (rare).

1956-1968: Rigid bayonet mount, 251g, SOSIC or 11 818.

1956-1968: Rigid bayonet mount with near-focusing range (to 478mm), 339g + 52g finder attachment, SOMNI or 11 918.

These are superior lenses, and are usually in good shape when found used.

Full review.

 

LEICA SUMMICRON 5cm f/2

Screw mount.

 

LEICA 5cm f/2 SUMMICRON

Bayonet mount.

LEICA SUMMICRON 5cm f/2

1952-1960, 39mm filters.

This is Leica's first 50mm SUMMICRON, with seven elements and 10 blades. It replaces the SUMMITAR (1939-1953), which replaced the SUMMAR (1933-1939, 6 blades). The two versions differ only mechanically from each other:

1952-1960: collapsible screw mount, 216.2g, 7.625 oz., SOOIC. (228.7g, 8.065 oz. mit M-adapter.)

1954-1957: collapsible M mount, 233.8g, 8.245 oz., SOOIC-M.

The street name for this SUMMICRON is "type 1," although specifying the year is more correct.

A prototype with a leaf shutter was made in 1956 for use at high flash sync speeds up to 1/200, but was never sold.

These are great lenses, but be careful: it's front element is made of glass as soft as chalk. It is highly unlikely that you will find one in usable condition.

This lens design is described in US Patent 2,622 478.

click either to enlarge (reviews coming).

 

LEICA SUMMITAR 5cm f/2

Screw mount only.

LEICA SUMMITAR 5cm f/2

1939-1953, screw-mount collapsible only, Type L filters, 206g, SOORE.

1939-1950: 10 blades, then 6 blades, 1950-1953.

1946-1953: coated.

This SUMMITAR replaced the SUMMAR (1933-1939, 6 elements, 6 blades), improving corner falloff by using a larger front optical component. This front optical component was updated to two cemented elements, instead of the single front element of the SUMMAR.

Full review.

 

LEICA SUMMAR 5cm f/2 Review

Screw mount only.

LEICA SUMMAR 5cm f/2

1932-1939, screw-mount collapsible only, A36 filters, (use SOOGZ adapter for 39mm filters), 6.240 oz./176.8g, 6 elements, 6 blades, uncoated.

The SUMMAR was the first speed lens for the LEICA, with a blinding f/2 speed for photography under any conditions, even for color work.

The SUMMAR was such a landmark that LEICA couldn't meet demand for a couple of years after its introduction!

 

Zeiss 50mm f/2

Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar ZM

2004-today, 43mm filters, 211g.

Almost as good optically as the current SUMMICRON-M, but with a bizarre filter size and more distortion.

Full review.

 

Konica M 50mm f/2

Konica M 50mm f/2

1990s: 40.5mm filters, 255g.

An optically and mechanically inferior attempt at copying the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2.

Full review.

 

 

ELMAR: Collapsible Classic    50mm    top

LEICA ELMAR 50mm lenses compared

 

Leica ELMAR-M 50mm f/2.8

LEICA ELMAR-M 50mm f/2.8

1994-2007, 39mm filters, 167g, 13 131, 13 132.

Better than the original ELMAR f/2.8, but not that much better, and nowhere near as good, by LEICA standards, as the current SUMMICRON-M.

Full review.

 

Leica ELMAR 50mm f/2.8

LEITZ ELMAR 50mm f/2.8

1957-1974, 39mm filters.

Bayonet mount: 207g. 11 112 (11 612 meters).

Screw mount: 192g. 11 512 (204.0g/7.195 oz. mit M-adapter.)

Sample Image.

This is a perfectly good and inexpensive lens.

It's not up to current standards when shot at f/2.8, but at normal apertures, this lens is as good as current lenses.

Full review.

 

Leica ELMAR 50mm f/2.8

LEITZ ELMAR 50mm f/3.5

1925-1961, collapsible, 10-blade diaphragm.

1925-1930: Permanently fixed to the LEICA.

1930-1959: Screw mount, A36 filters, 111.2g/3.920 oz.

1954-1961: Bayonet mount, E39 filters, 210g/7.4 oz.

This is the lens that started 35mm photography. It still performs well today, and weighs half what other 50mm lenses do.

Full review.

 

 

Leica ELMAR 50mm f/2.8

Industar 55mm f/2.8 N-61 L/D

? - 1990 - today?, 40.5mm filters, 130g., screw-mount.

This lens sells for about $20. It's sort of as sharp as the 1920s f/3.5 ELMAR above, but with much more distortion, larger size and somewhat more weight.

It does not collapse.

Full review.

 

 

SUMMARIT-M: für Voigtländer Kamera    50mm    top

 

Leica 50mm f/2.5

LEICA SUMMARIT-M 50mm f/2.5 (low-price, unremarkable lens für Voigtländer und Zeiss kameras)

2007-today, 39mm filters, 230g. 11 644.

I haven't used this new lens, but the other Summarit-M lens I used had superb optical quality with sub-par mechanical quality.

I wouldn't buy one of these. For less money you can get a used 50mm SUMMICRON lens of whatever vintage you like for one-quarter the price.

enlarge image or more information (no review yet).

 

75mm               top

75mm is an odd focal length for LEICA, as is 24mm. With LEICAs made since 1980 the 75mm frame lines are merely vestigial tits inside the 50mm frame, and on older cameras, there are no 75mm framelines at all.

 

Leica 75mm f/2 APO

LEICA APO-SUMMICRON-M 75mm f/2 ASPH

2005-today, 49mm filters, 430g. 11 637.

I'd rather a 90mm lens, but as 75mm lenses go, this is the best ever made. Distortion is +1% maximum. and it's smaller than its big brother the 90mm f/2 APO ASPH.

enlarge image or more information (no review yet).

 

Leica 75mm f/2.5

LEICA 75mm f/2.5 SUMMARIT-M (low-price lens für Voigtländer und Zeiss kameras)

2007-today, 46mm filters, 345g. 11 645.

I haven't used this new lens, but the other Summarit-M lens I used had superb optical quality with sub-par mechanical quality.

I wouldn't buy one of these. For less money you can get a used 90mm lens for a fraction of the price.

enlarge image or more information (no review yet).

 

Leica 75mm f/1.4 1984

1983-2005

Leica 75mm f/1.4 1980

1980-1982

LEICA SUMMILUX-M 75mm f/1.4

1980-2005: All share the same optics, differing only mechanically:

1982-2005: 60mm filters, 625g, built-in hood. 11 815.

1980-1982 (to serial 3 223 300): 60mm filters, 490g, bayonet hood. 11 814

I've not tried this one. It's a big fat lens that weighs as much as a camera.

The optics are all the same; the barrel was merely redesigned to include a hood in 1983.

Its performance lags behind the state-of-the-art LEICA 75mm f/2 APO-SUMMICRON-M ASPH.

enlarge 1980-1982 image

enlarge 1983-2005 image

(no review yet).

 

Voigtlander 75mm f/1.8

NEW: Voigtländer 75mm f/1.8 Review

2010-, 52mm filters, 423g, about $715.

A swell lens, but why would you want any 75mm lens for LEICA M?

Full Review.

 

90mm                top

f/2 SUMMICRON   f/2.8 ELMARIT    f/4 ELMAR   f/2.5 SUMMARIT-M

Leica 90mm f/2.8 Lenses Compared

90mm f/2 lenses compared

90mm f/2.8 lenses compared

 

SUMMICRON: Ultimate Performance f/2 (1958-today)

 

Leica 90mm f/2 ASPH

LEICA APO-SUMMICRON-M 90mm f/2 ASPH

1998-today, 55mm filters, 473g, built-in hood. 11 884 (11 636 in black paint with red footage markings, 11 632 titanisiert: titanium-colored paint).

The world's highest-performance photographic lens, period.

Full review.

 

LEICA 90mm f/2 M

LEICA 90mm f/2 M

NEU: LEICA SUMMICRON-M 90mm f/2

1980-1998, all versions share the same optics, 11-blade diaphragm and 11 136 order number (in black), and differ only mechanically:

1981-1998: 55mm filters. 485g in black aluminum. Silver-chromed solid-brass version weighs 684.15g, order number 11 137.

1980-1981: 49mm filters, rated 410g.

This fat 90mm f/2 replaced the first 90mm f/2 made from 1958-1980. This lens is made in Canada, eh, home of Santa Claus and the North Pole.

It looks almost exactly the same as today's 90mm f/2 APO ASPH, but shares none of today's lens' technology.

The only reason to get this lens is to save money versus the state-of-the-art 90mm f/2 APO ASPH.

Full Review.

 

LEICA 90mm f/2 M

LEICA SUMMICRON 90mm f/2

1959-1980, 48mm filters, numerous cosmetic variations, heavy 605-635g. 11 123.

This lens is an excellent performer, but too darn big for most of us.

If you don't mind the size and are on a budget, its performance is 95% the same as today's 90mm SUMMICRON APO ASPH on the M9.

This lens can be a bargain. Perfectly good beaters often sell for under $250!

Full review.

 

 

ELMARIT: Fast, Compact Performance    90mm    top

 

Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M

LEICA ELMARIT-M 90mm f/2.8

1990-2008, 46mm filters, 395g, built-in hood. 11 807.

Leica's best 90mm f/2.8 lens ever; as good as the 90mm f/2 ASPH, and therefore a screaming bargain used for less than an f/2.5 Summarit-M new.

It also came in heavy chromed brass (11 808, 560g), titanium-painted aluminum (11 899), and maybe even more colors.

Full review.

 

Leica 90mm f/2.8 tele elmarit m

LEICA TELE-ELMARIT-M 90mm f/2.8

1974-1990, 39mm filters, 226g. 11 800. Hood: 12 575.

Leica's lightest 90mm ever and a swell performer; my favorite tele travel lens. Its small size and great performance allowed it to replace both the earlier TELE-ELMARIT and ELMARIT below. It's only limitation is that it's softer in the corners at f/2.8 than newer lenses, but so what: at f/2.8 in the corners with a tele, nothing usually is in focus anyway.

Full review.

 

LEICA Fat TELE-ELMARIT

LEICA TELE-ELMARIT 90mm f/2.8

1964-1974, 39mm filters, 340g. 11 800. Hood: 12 575.

This was a smaller, lighter alternative to the premium ELMARIT below. Oddly, it outperforms this 1958-1974 ELMARIT, and although smaller, weighs more.

It was replaced by the TELE-ELMARIT-M above.

A streetname for this TELE-ELMARIT is the "fat" Tele-ELMARIT.

Full review.

 

Leica 90mm f/2.8 ELMARIT

LEICA ELMARIT 90mm f/2.8

1958-1974, 39mm filters, 333g, ELRIM/11 129. Hood: 12 575.

Leica's first 90mm f/2.8. It has a flare problem, and is as sharp as its contemporary SUMMICRON.

Today, the newest LEICA ELMARIT-M 90mm f/2.8 is far superior, and sells for not much more used.

Full review.

 

Konica M 90mm f/2.8

Konica M 90mm f/2.8

46mm filters, 307g.

An optically and mechanically inferior attempt at copying the LEICA ELMARIT-M 90mm f/2.8.

Full review.

 

 

ELMAR: Compact Performance (1933-today)     90mm     top

 

Leica 90mm f/4 Macro-ELMAR

LEICA MACRO-ELMAR-M 90mm f/4

2003-today, 39mm filters, 223g (black aluminum 11 629), 320g (chromed brass 11 634). Hood: 12 575.

This is LEICA's secret: This MACRO-ELMAR-M has optics as good as LEICA's best APO-SUMMICRON-M ASPH, but in a tiny package that collapses for carrying, and focuses much closer (0.78m) with no need of adapters!

This is LEICA's best 90mm lens for travel and light weight.

Add an optional 14 409 close-focus adapter, and you can get macro to 1:3 at 0.5 meters.

Full Review

 

LEICA 90mm f/4 ELMAR-C

LEICA ELMAR-C 90mm f/4

1973-1978, 39 x 0.75mm filters, 246g. 11 540; includes 12 517 hood and 14 543 pouch.

This compact 90mm lens came out for use with the LEICA CL. It works fine on other LEICAs, especially the M7 and M9 with which I've used it. Focus is just fine.

Watch the filter thread: it's not a standard 39x 0.5mm thread. Leica intends for this to be used with nonexistent series 5.5 filters held in place by the dedicated threaded hood. The lens' threads are the same diameter, but too coarse to receive standard filters.

I use regular 39mm filters, but I only screw them in to where they first stop. Force them and you destroy everything.

This lens sells used for only about $100. Performance is swell, but watch for some obvious falloff (darkening) in the corners at f/4, gone by f/8. Bokeh is neutral to good.

I prefer the 90mm f/2.8 TELE-ELMARIT-M since it weighs slightly less with similar size and a stop extra speed, but if you're short on brains and cash, this is a great lens. (the crack about being short on brains means that you should never cheap-out on lenses, since they are a far better investment than cameras.)

enlarge image (review coming).

 

LEICA 90mm f4 ELMAR collapsible

Collapsible M mount.

 

LEICA 9cm f/4

Screw Mount.

LEICA ELMAR 9cm (90mm) f4

1933-1964, Screw mount A36, later E39mm filters, 194.05g (6.845oz.). Later also in M-mount.

1954-1964, Collapsible M-mount, 39mm filters, 337g. 11 131 (feet), ILNOO or 11 631 (meters).

THe E39/A42 versions use the 12 575 hood.

This is Leica's first 90mm lens, designed in 1933 with four elements. It was sold in many different mounts, including the collapsible M mount seen here from 1955. More common is the rigid screw mount, which takes a slip-on A36 filter.

It's always contrasty, but it's softer in the corners at the largest apertures. f/11 and f/16 are optimum.

This version is solid chrome-plated brass. Its collapsible mount is a work of genius: Leica has it locked-out so you can't focus, and therefore accidentally shoot, unless you have it fully extended. It works great on everything including the M7, but look out: Leica specifically cautions not to try to mount this lens on the M9. I tried it on the M9, and it works fine. I even collapsed it a bit, and my M9's still kicking. Don't do this.

It has been coated since 1946. Another three-element design popped up from 1964-1969.

enlarge image, M-mount (review coming).

enlarge image, screw mount (review coming).

 

 

SUMMARIT-M: Cheap Lens für Voigtländer Kamera    90mm     top

 

Leica 90mm f/2.5 Summarit-M

LEICA SUMMARIT-M 90mm f/2.5 (low-price lens für Voigtländer und Zeiss kameras)

2008-today, 46mm filters, 344g. 11 646.

Spectacular optics with mediocre mechanics, a bad investment today.

Full review.

 

 

135mm               top

Leica 135mm lenses

LEICA 135mm Lenses Compared

left to right:

1933-1960: HEKTOR f/4.5: HE FAM (bayonet).
1960-1965: ELMAR f/4: 11 850.
1965-1980: TELE-ELMAR f/4: 11 851.
1980-1998: TELE-ELMAR-M f/4: 11 861.

Not in picture:

1998 - : APO-TELYT f/3.4: 11 889.
1963-1998: ELMARIT and ELMARIT-M f/2.8: 11 829.

enlarge image

 

Leica 135mm f/3.4 APO TELYT

LEICA APO-TELYT-M 135mm f/3.4

1998-today, 49mm filters, 453g, built-in hood. 11 889.

Today's 135mm f/3.4 replaces both earlier f/4 and f/2.8 lenses, for at least eight times the price. It should offer spectacular performance. The adjustment of your camera's rangefinder will be your biggest limitation in sharpness.

enlarge image or more information (no review yet).

 

Leica 135mm f/4 TELE-ELMAR-M

LEICA TELE-ELMAR-M 135mm f/4

1990-1998, 46mm filters, 550g, built-in hood. 11 861.

This TELE-ELMAR-M offers fantastic performance, for about 1/8 the price of the 135mm f/3.4 APO.

It has the same optics as the superb 1965 lens below. The biggest limitation to sharpness, as with all 135mm rangefinder lenses, is whether or not your camera's rangefinder and lenses are accurately adjusted to one another.

enlarge image (review coming).

 

Leica 135mm f/4 TELE-ELMAR

LEICA TELE-ELMAR 135mm f/4

1965-1990, 39mm filters, 505g. 11 851. Hood: 12 575.

This lens has the same optics as the TELE-ELMAR-M above, but in a smaller, lighter package.

Leica updated the styling to improve sales, therefore, this older lens is a top pick for fabulous optics in a smaller, lighter package for less money.

enlarge image (review coming).

 

Leica 135mm f/4 TELE-ELMAR

LEICA ELMARIT 135mm f/2.8

1963-1977, Series VII filters, 730g. 11 829.


LEICA ELMARIT-M 135mm f/2.8

1977-1998, 55mm filters, 735g. 11 829.

(11 829 for both versions, -M version from serial number 2 788 927)

This is a big, fat lens. it was never popular because it is too big to make sense. It uses 1.5x magnifiers for the finder which key-in the 90mm frame lines and gives a life-size or bigger finder image, but don't do anything to alleviate the mechanical calibration errors which often give incorrect focus. Performance is fine, limited by your particular camera's calibration to focus with this lens.

enlarge image (review coming).

 

Leica 135mm f/4.5

LEICA ELMAR 135mm f/4

1960-1965, 39mm filters, 405g ,bayonet: 11 850, screw-mount: 11 750.

A superb performer, even today, and a bargain second-hand. It's a traditional non-tele design and therefore not marked TELE. It's a little longer than the newer TELE-ELMARs which replace it.

It is the lightest 135mm ever sold by Leica, and seeing how inexpensive it is, along with high performance, this is the cheapskate's top pick.

Full review.

 

Leica 135mm f/4.5

LEICA HEKTOR 135mm f/4.5

1933-1960, 39mm filters, 436g. HE FAM.

Named after Barnack's dog with performance to match, this is a well-made lens.

It's not bad for 1933, but my last choice for a sharp LEICA lens.

Full review.

 

Zooms (requires external finder)              top

Zoom lenses don't really work on Leica because the finder of the Leica can't zoom. Thus Leica has only made two zooms, only one of which is made today. Because the finders have to be manually adjusted to the lens (unlike the Contax G whose finder does zoom), Leica's zoom lenses only adjust in three click-stops. Leica attempts to hide the fact that these are zooms, and limited to only three settings, by marketing these under the clever trade name "TRI-ELMAR."

Leica 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH

LEICA TRI-ELMAR-M 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH

2006-today, 67mm filters, 335g. 11 642.

Use the LEICA Universal Wide Finder. You can buy this finder with the lens as a kit if you like. Unlike the earlier 28-50mm zoom below, this newer lens does not couple its focal length to the camera via 6-bit code as you zoom it.

I've played with this lens, but not extensively. I prefer a fixed ultrawide.

enlarge image or more information. (no review yet).

 

Leica 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH

LEICA TRI-ELMAR-M 28-35-50mm f/4 ASPH

1998 - ?, 55mm, later 49mm filters.

First black aluminum version (11 890) weighed 340g; first chromed brass version (11 894) weighed 460g. Latter version is 11 625.

Unlike the newer 16-21mm zoom, this older zoom was very handy because it automatically selected the correct finder frame as you zoomed.

(no review yet).

 

More Information              top

LEICA Lens Names 24 January 2009

LEICA Summarit-M Lenses (2007 introduction)

Cosina, Voigtländer and other lenses for LEICA 15 January 2009

Contax G Lenses for LEICA M 26 February 2009

Overgaard

 

M Lenses (from LEICA)

M Lens Technology and History (from LEICA)

List of Current Lenses for 6-Spot Updates (from LEICA)

 

Current Voigtländer lenses

Discontinued Voigtländer lenses

 

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