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Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M

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Short telephoto lens for Leica M cameras

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      01.08.2002 18:00
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      Lenses with focal lengths longer than 50mm, generally referred to as telephoto lenses, are mostly used for portraiture, for isolating elements of a landscape, for capturing architectural detail, for theater photography and generally whenever subjects have to be photographed from a distance. Telephoto lenses for Leica M rangefinder cameras are available at focal lengths of 75mm, 90mm and 135mm. All the lenses in Leica’s current range in these focal lengths are excellent performers. However, Leica’s sole 75mm lens is the f/1.4 Summilux, which is a superb lens but is also bulky and expensive. Leica also has only one 135mm lens, the APO-Telyt f/3.4, which is a great performer but expensive and, unfortunately, viewfinder framelines for 135mm on M cameras are very small and many people find composition difficult. For these reasons, the 90mm focal length has become the favorite telephoto lens for the majority of Leica M camera users. Leica offers two 90mm lenses in its current range, namely, the 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH and the 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M. Of these, the Elmarit is both smaller and less expensive. Despite the 90 Elmarit’s relatively low cost and simple optical formulation of 4 elements in 4 groups, its performance is outstanding at all apertures. It gives high contrast, excellent resolution from the center to the edges, neutral rendering of colors and high resistance to flare. There is no noticeable distortion or vignetting with this lens. It is quite compact, has a built-in sliding lens shade and its portability makes it an ideal travel lens. The black version weighs only 410 grams but the chrome version is somewhat heavier at 560 grams. Filter diameter is 46mm. Whilst the resolution of the 90 Elmarit is excellent it is, nevertheless, not quite as sharp as its more modern APO-Summicron ASPH sibling. Many users consider the Elmarit to be the better lens for portrait work, especially
      for women and children, because it is not quite so brutally sharp. The 90mm Elmarit is the lens to buy, in my opinion, if you don't need the extra stop of the Summicron. This lens has been rated very highly in a number of published lens tests, justifiably so in my opinion, and its price is reasonable (for a Leica lens). It can be bought for much less, of course, on the used market and seems not to be in short supply. I can’t speak too highly of this lens. I have given it the highest possible score in every category because I think it’s appropriate.

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