Good - Better - Best : R Lenses : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

I know that some R lenses are better than others, while some are truly outstanding. Which R lenses are the "best" and which are the "worst"?


-- Ray Moth (, July 09, 2001


In my experience, and I've owned or used a large number of various R lenses, the gap between the "worst" and "best" is extremely narrow, and both are at or above the level of most of the "best" from the other brands. I have a particular disdain for the Minolta designed- and-made zooms and 500mm cat, and the Sigma-based 28-70, not because they're poor performers, just because you can get the same lenses and Minolta (or several mounts with Sigma) bodies for a fraction of the price. I know Leica had to scramble to fill in some gaps in the lineup, but now that they've got a couple super zooms of their own design at reasonable prices, those older ones seem like bad buys today.

-- Jay (, July 09, 2001.

Depend on whom you listern to.

If you listen to Color foto, then all German Leica lenses are great, all Leica lenses made in Japan are dogs. If you listen to Chasseur d'image, than about 25% of R lenses are top notched, about 54% are either 5 star or 4 star. However, I don't keep an up to date tally, many be some one in France may help.

For sure all the APO R lenses are top notch.

-- martin tai (, July 09, 2001.

I seldom pay much attention to magazines. In my own experience, any R lense designed and manufactured in either Canada or Germany is very good to outstanding. I haven't used the first version of the 19 ElmaritR or some others that may not be perfect. It's also not to say that some lenses like the Minolta-designed 24 aren't also good.

Many of the R lenses have been upgraded but even the older versions (28, 35, 90 etc.) were very, very good.

In my experience, all of my R lenses are better than any of the AI-S Nikkors I've owned including the latest 105 f/2.5, the Micro Nikkors, etc. How are they better? More contrast, more neutral color rendition, better bokeh, far more reliable.

-- Bud (, July 09, 2001.

Mechanically, the Leica R lenses are probably the best made SLR manual focus lenses ever made. Some of the old Nikon F era Nikkors were close in this respect. When I was researching my R lens purchases, The only lenses that consistantly came up as not being "knock you socks off" optically were some of the older non APO teles like the early 250mm, 180mm f2.8 and 135mm f2.8, as well as some of the "farmed out" ones mentioned above. All three of the lenses I ended up with were superb performers, the 35 f2.8, 50 f2.0, and 90 f2.8 all in 55mm filter size with built in hoods. These were what I would call "Best Buys" especially at the prices on the used market. I'm afraid I never had the money needed to try out any of the new super expensive current formulas.

-- Andrew Schank (, July 09, 2001.

Minolta/Sigma made for Leica lens is NOT IDENTICAL TO Minolta/Sigma lens.

Made for Leica lenses have Leica multicoating and color rendition, have better MTF then corresponding house brand lenses. Further, made for Leica lenses are all metal houssing, vs plastic house, have Leica style brass/aluminium focsing helix, and 50 % heavier.

-- martin tai (, July 11, 2001.

The made for Leica lenses are better made than their regular 3rd party counterparts, and go went through a more strict quality control. I read a story where at one point something like 50% of one of the Minolta made zooms weren't getting through quality controll. Even so, that 28 to 70 Sigma "made for Leica" was still no $1000 lens.

-- Andrew Schank (, July 11, 2001.

The 28-70/3.5-4.5 VE IS the best zoom lens among all makes, better then Nikkor, Canon 28-70/3.5-4.5, that is what counts. The technology is already exist to make better zoom, Canon 28-70/2.8 is exceptionally good, there is no reason same technology cannot be applied to f3.5 version.

Until Leica or some one else come up with something better, Leica 28-70 VE and 80-200 VE are still the gold metalists.

-- martin tai (, July 13, 2001.

The best lenses for the R line are probably the APO designated lenses of any generation, other superb lenses are the 35mm and 50mm Summicrons, the 90mm Elmarit later version and in wide angle the 28mm (second version) as well as the 19mm Elmarit (second version). As Jay mentions, the Minolta or Sigma made lenses are not so highly regarded, but may indeed still be pretty capable, the earlier Minolta-manufactured zooms are outclassed though now by the current set of Leica designed zooms (35-70, 70-180, 80-200, 105-280)

The 80mm Summilux is a superb, but more specialised, lens (like the 75mm Summilux-M).

The new and current (version III) 50mm Summilux is exceptional by all accounts.

The others are all good to excellent lenses, most being better than most of us need. The earlier Summiluxes are not so well regarded (50mm or 35mm). I know little about the current 35mm Summilux, but suspect it is very good - but again a specialised product.

-- Robin Smith (, July 20, 2001.

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