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Getting to know a Leica lens

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Posted 06-02-14 at 11:41 AM by Ian

The Leica M-E

For my next 'Classics' revisited article for Amateur Photographer magazine I have just started to use a late 1990s Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 Asph.

Yours Truly with a Sony Alpha 7

I'll be using it with a Leica M-E (18MP full frame) body and a Sony Alpha 7 full frame mirrorless body. I also have an adapter for Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras and it will be interesting to see how the Elmarit compares to a Micro Four Thirds 25mm f/1.4 Panasonic Leica. It's not possible to fit the Elmarit to a DSLR because the lens mount needs to be much closer to the sensor plane than is possible with cameras that have to make room for a mirror box.

The Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 Asph

One thing you immediately notice with the Elmarit is just how heavy it is; there is a lot of proper glass and metal in this design! The lens has recently been discontinued so it didn't quite make a 20 year run since its introduction in 1996, which makes it one of Leica's shorter lifespan lenses! But it's a pre-digital design and I'm particularly interested in how it fares on digital bodies. If we are lead to believe the various messages about the importance of designed-for digital optics, the Elmarit may well reveal a litany of shortcomings. But this is a Leica lens so it should also reveal some attractive features.

Look out for the article in AP in around month's time. In the mean time I will probably post a few images from my research here between now and then.
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  1. Old Comment
    I'll look forward to that. As a long term M user and new A7 user I will be most interested to hear your views.
    Posted 06-02-14 at 09:50 PM by mike_j mike_j is offline
    Updated 07-02-14 at 11:08 AM by mike_j
  2. Old Comment
    Ian's Avatar
    First impressions when using the Elmarit on the Alpha 7 - very good in the middle of the frame but increasingly soft as you move out of the centre and really appalling at the corners and sides of the frame (full aperture). Stop down to f/11 and it's actually really sharp in the corners. Surprisingly, there is practically no chromatic aberration, although this may be down to Lightroom 5.3, even in default view. There is quite a lot of noticeable vignetting in the corners.
    Posted 07-02-14 at 05:38 PM by Ian Ian is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Ian's Avatar
    Oooh, results when using the Leica M-E are much better (DNG RAW) than the Alpha 7. Indeed, it's made me suspicious that corrections are being made before the RAW file is saved?!
    Posted 08-02-14 at 12:57 PM by Ian Ian is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Ian's Avatar
    Now with more time to reflect, Leica's progressively off-set sensor microlenses can be credited with doing a good job of eliminating corner vignetting (shading) and delivering much sharper corner details, but unlike many of today's best digital lenses the Elmarit does benefit from stopping down, even on the M-E body. But at this stage I'm not sure a Sony Alpha 7 body is a good solution for using M lenses digitally.
    Posted 08-02-14 at 05:50 PM by Ian Ian is offline

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