What Leica 90mm lens to buy?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by carbon_dragon, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. Even though I'm trapped in my house, at some point hopefully the plague will be over and I'm thinking I need a new 90mm lens. Right now the only one I have is the 90/4 chrome elmar (from the time of the M2 and M3). It's actually not awful, but I would like something better.

    I am sensitive to weight (so the OLD summicron 90 is out, it's just too heavy). But I could probably carry the new 90/2 or even the APO (they seem to be about the same weight) and then there is the 90/4 macro elmar as well. And then there are the Summarits which are much cheaper and also light. And the old standard 90/2.8 Elmarit M.

    I saw one of the dealers I've bought form before had a 90/2 pre-APO which seemed to be going for a decent price. Would I like that lens, do you think. Both my other main lenses are summicrons so I'd have the set.

    Any opinions? Thanks!
  2. Fiddlefye likes this.
  3. Given the need to go wait in a big line at the post office in Georgia where likely lots of people won't be wearing masks if I had to return it, I'd rather (if possible) buy the one I want to begin with. I'm not that picky. And I can wait since it will probably be months or maybe 6 months before I can actually go out there and use it, so why not get some ideas? I mean they are all Leica lenses so they'll probably all do a pretty good job, but I could use some advice.

    Note that I'm using a (regular) M10, in case that factors into what lens might work. Could be that sometime down the line, I might end up with a used M10R when that sort of thing happens, so maybe I should be thinking of the more expensive ones for resolution reasons? Not sure.
  4. The one I owned - quite decent. If you need f/2, the APO is the better choice. If f/2.8 suffices, the latest Elmarit. Smaller and if you do macro, the Macro-Elmar. Personally, I would choose either of the ones I mentioned over the one I actually did own - with the Elmarit the favorite.
  5. SCL


    There have been a number of discussions on this topic on the l-camera forum...definitely worth your investigating. As a Leica owner for many years I’ve found both that forum and photo.net to be great sources of information on the wide range of Leica gear.
  6. About three years ago I picked up a like-new, in the box Canadian-made (3.2 million SN) pre-APO 90mm f2 Summicron, and sent it to Leica NJ to have it 6 bit-coded to use with my M262.

    Very nice lens, I've since also tried the APO version and a 90mm f2.8 Elmarit-M before finally settling on the 75mm FL more than the 90 with a 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M, but I kept the pre-APO and still use it from time to time.

    The Elmarit-M, by a long shot, is the easier carry. The f2 Summicron, either pre-APO or APO, are hefty units. The APO has a very light feel to the focus ring where the pre-APO the focus ring drag is a little heavier. Image quality of any of them are excellent. I was surprised to read at one point how low production any version of the 90mm f2 Summicron is. They are far from mass-produced lenses.

    Leica Store Miami had a used Pre-APO in the other day and I was shocked to see (and it's evidently since been sold) a $1,700 price tag on it. I've not been following prices enough to know how in or out of line that currently is. Between what I initially paid for the lens and the $350 it cost sending it to Leica and have the 6 bit coding added, the final price was below that number, but I've also been surprised how the prices on film M's are again, going up and up.

    Some images with the 90mm f2 Pre-APO on my M262.





    Against the light at f2..

    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
    carbon_dragon and James Bryant like this.
  7. Hmmm., I wonder if I should be considering the 75/2 APO and the 75 summarit? I mean I have frame lines for those lenses too and their frame lines would be bigger than the 90 and it would probably be easier to focus too (and smaller).

    Some amazing shots Gregg M.
  8. The 90mm FL is a ~5% lens for me, so I would not buy an Apo Asph Summicron (although I believe it's the best choice).

    My personal favorite 90mm lens is the last iteration of the Elmarit (the one with the collapsible shade). It's light, relatively compact, and sharp. A close second would be the pre-asph Summicron. Again, I'm thinking for my needs and purposes.

    If money were no object and I used a 90 as often as I use a 50, then I'd go for the Apo Summicron.


    Same thing goes for the 75mm FL (a ~5% lens for me). But I can tell you you can't go wrong with the 75mm Apo Summicron. I had one and it was the sharpest lens in my bag.

  9. If you're a Leica user and used to Leica glass I don't think you'd be happy with a Summarit. IMHO, the Summarit lenses simply are not worthy of the Leica name - especially the 75 and 90! Performance is adequate, but the rubber grip on these lenses fade/discolor over time and I know from first-hand experience they are very hard to sell unless you take a significant haircut (like half the cost of new). I would never pay more than $1,000 for one - regardless of condition.

    They were never big sellers - even for Leica, which could be the reason they've been discontinued.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  10. Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  11. I own an old 'cron & the Macro. With both nailing focus on a head shot, wide open, seems too close to impossible, for my taste, with M8 & M9. - If I wanted to try bokeh shots, I'd try to get hold of a MILC with eye detection AF and stabilized 85mm. - The announced Canon RF 85/2 IS macro will weigh just 500g and might be portable enough for you? - No, I can't be bothered to try an AF DSLR for that purpose; I don't want to go through an AF micro adjustments ordeal to no avail and even the Tamron 85mm is 200g heavier.
    I wouldn't spend on lens speed I am unlikely to utilize in the end. Your M10 must have a superior RF than my bodies, but still: A lot will happen between focus & recompose... Do you have subjects patient enough for 3 buffer fillings? - I usually don't.
    While I wouldn't have bought into Leica without the 90mm 'cron in the 1st package, its my "stay at home lens" now. Something focusing smoother (my copy is sticky) might be asier to use for others, but still: Such a lens is about as demanding as a Noctilux.

    I know nothing about the Summarits or Elmarit.
  12. There was a time when I carried a Contax SLR outfit which weighed a ton. At this point, even with a cross threaded strap with a belt holster, I'm not looking to carry a big heavy SLR again. I do have a Visoflex 020 so I CAN focus using that if I have to. But I'd rather not do it all the time. I haven't had focusing issues with the rangefinder except when using the M8 for infrared photography. With a Leica IR (not an IR cut, but the black/deep red old style IR filter 39mm) filter on the M8's lens, the focus is changed so much that I have to manually adjust it. But for normal photography, I'm usually focusing fairly well. Of course most of my photos are with 50 and 35 lenses.

    Half of me wants to say that I hardly ever use it so I should try to limit the cost. Half of me says the reason why I don't use it is because my existing 90 is from 1953. Plus who knows what I might be using in the future and maybe getting the sharpest lens I can is worth the expanse so I don't have to buy again later. Leica lenses are pretty much forever. That 1953 lens is still pretty much perfect. My IIIf and Summitar are still in shootable shape these days too. That's quite a tribute to Leica. I used my M2s for well over a decade and they were older than I was.

    At some point I probably will be forced to go with something with autofocus probably (like a Q or something). Plus my load carrying capacity won't improve. But for now I'm still M capable.
  13. I had the 90mm Elmarit-M and replaced it with the latest pre-APO Summicron. In my opinion on film there is no substitute for a faster lens when looking at a telephoto, and the 90mm Summicron was, when I bought it, a half reasonable price. It is bigger than the Elmarit, but it's not huge. Got to say I enjoyed the 90mm Elmar when I had one. If you are digital then I'd get the 90mm Elmarit.
  14. I have purchased one from KEH. It should be here today hopefully. It's a used version of the 90/2 APO Asph. Thanks for all your feedback and advice.
  15. Congrats, ir should be an excellent lens. I don't have a Leica 90, so I couldn't really give you any opinions, but this thread, prompted me to pull out my CV Apo-Lanthar. A nice lightweight lens with very good general image quality. Haven't used if for quite a while.
  16. When I travel I always carry this small and efficient Tele-Elmarit M 90 from 1981.


    James Bryant likes this.
  17. Here’s another recommendation for the little Tele-Elmarit, a very under rated lens. The size makes it perfect for traveling and the speed isn’t too slow. The shear size and weight discouraged me from considering the Summicron. Only problem with the lens, it won’t fit the 3g or 3f and have to use a CV Apo-Lanthar instead. ;-)
    I’ve owned mine since the late sixties and will never let it go.

  18. You won't regret buying the Summicron, The tele version is smaller and lighter than previous versions. I have a Summicron 90 from the 60's, all brass and glass, heavy, with its own tripod socket. I used it for a while on a Leica M9P, but found it hard to focus, considering my astigmatism and incipient cataracts (since repaired). Later, I used it with a couple of Sony cameras, including an A7Rii. It is impressively sharp at all apertures, although the colors are a bit subdued (low contrast). I am particularly fond of the 90'ish focal length, and subsequently acquired three others, native to the Sony.
  19. Yes Ed, I never realized just how much they reduced the size. Those early 90 summicrons were monsters, especially in chromed brass. This one is great. I own the 135/2.8 Elmarit with goggles. I bought it when I was using an M2 because it used the 90 frame lines. God that thing is a monster. It's a pretty good lens, but SO heavy.

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