Leica R Elmarit f/2.8 35mm 1st version and 2nd version. Differences?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by jamie_conlan, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. Hi there all,
    I'm looking for a "new" 35mm camera to get back to my B/W roots with and am
    considering picking up a nice used Leica R4 and want to couple that with a 35mm.
    I have never owned Leica before, only Nikon (which I am also considering, if the
    Leica quest falls flat), and so far the cost has been a bit daunting.

    Is there a marked difference between the first and second generations of the
    35mm f/2.8 Elmarit lenses? I have heard that the first generations have fairly
    low contrast and soft edge focus. Is this true? Is it really worth spending an
    extra $300 to get the second generation lens that is supposedly better?

  2. There were 3 versions of this lens. The first used series 6 filters, the second series 7 and the third used E55 filters. The optical design was changed for the second version and was also used in the third version. As a general rule the optical performance is improved in the later versions. I have the third version for my Leicaflex SL and am very pleased with it. I got it in mint condition for a very reasonable price on eBay a few years ago.

    You may want to search the archives on the Leica R models. The R4 may not be the best way to go. The Leicaflex SL is a very solid camera and there are plenty of 3-cam lenses available for it.
  3. I had both and the second version is a mile ahead from f2.8-5.6. The first verision is
    really only decent when stopped down to F4.5 or smaller. Field curvature was pretty
    intense with this lens.

    The later version was superb at all apertures and amazing up close. If you can live
    with the speed I can't imagine a better 35mm SLR lens.

    Best wishes
  4. Jamie,

    The answer is it is worth spending the extra. The earlier version in the old style mount is not nearly as good as the later type. It has great contrast and color, but edge and corner resolution suffers at anything wider than f5.6. Having said this, in your shoes I would look out for a 'cron as the later Elmarits are hard to come by and often not that much cheaper than the wonderful Mandler era 2nd version Summicron.
  5. Great, thanks for the replies, this will definitely help me to make my decision.

  6. You might want to consider either the 1st or 2nd generation of the 35/2 Summicron. Both are equally good, better than the 1st 35/2.8 and the 1st generation 35/2 is a tad sharper but heavier than the 2nd generation version. I only mention this because while you'd be paying $300 more for a later 35/2.8, the 1st generation 35/2 may be close in price with equal performance and an extra stop for speed.
  7. Definately try to find and SL or Leicaflex. Legendary reliability, bright viewfinder. Very smooth operating.

  8. While on the subject of the 1st version summicron, I had it and liked it, but it flared easily, very annoying. Probably should have bought the v2 or v2 elmarit.
  9. I had the opportunity to do an A-B comparison for a camera store owner who deals in Leicas. What I found was that at normal enlargements I couldn't tell the difference as far as sharpness went. The newer lens did have better colour saturation, most likely due to newer coatings. The older Elmarit was not at all disappointing however. If I hadn't had the newer Elmarit with which to compare it, I would have though it was just fine. Which one is in my camera bag right now? The older version which I picked up dirt cheap ($90) on Ebay. Is the new one better? Sure - but you won't hate the older version and can save some valuable coin at the same time. By the way, my body is a Leicaflex SL which I don't think I will ever sell - and you can get one for a song these days. (If you can find one reasonably priced, the SL2 has a more sensitive meter which would be better in low light). Beware some of the earlier R4's and try to get an R4S if you can.

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