Why buy APO (Macro-Elmarit 100)?

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I still haven't figured out what the advantages of APO are. I am looking into buying a nice fixed lens in the 80-100mm range for my R5. The Summilux 80 seems fabulous, but inaffordable for me, and I guess the same goes for the APO-Elmarit 100. Considering the amount that I can spend I would be best off buying a second hand Summicron 90, but before I do so, I want to know exacly how much I'm missing not having either one of the two lenses I mentioned first. (Perhaps it IS worthwile saving up a little money first!)

-- Geert (geertg@hotmail.com), March 13, 2002


The 90 Summicron is a good alternative to the Summilux...only a stop slower, about the same performance, and much less expensive. A better alternative to the 100 APO is the 90/2.8 Elmarit version 2, which has excellent sharpness and contrast over all apertures and out to the corners and works very well with extension or Elpros in the macro range.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), March 13, 2002.

You're obviously missing the necessary funds for a macro lens which is also slower and sharper than the Summircon 90. Do your best with what you can obtain.

-- Kristian (leicashot@hotmail.com), March 13, 2002.

I use the 90 Elmarit 2nd version. Unless you need the extra speed it is a great lens, and a bargain. It is small, light and sharper than the summicron in the near focus range. I think it is one of the best of the R lenses and it is too bad that they quit making it. Cheers.

-- Don (wgpinc@yahoo.com), March 13, 2002.

Geert, I am in the same postion as you do and I also decide to go the 90mmf2 route. I plan to use the medium telephoto for traveling landscape, portrait, vacation etc. The 100mm is too big for travel, and a stop slower meaning hand held shooting would suffer. 80mm is too short a focal length, (I might also carry 35-70 zoom).

My 2 cents.


-- Chi H (chihuang@yahoo.com), March 13, 2002.

The 90mm Elmarit 2 version is an excellent lens and very small and light, but funnily enough I can't get very excited about it for the R. I much prefer to use the 80 'lux followed by the Summicron. I guess they are easier to focus. The 80mm is just wonderful in every aspect. But it does not focus as close as the Elmarit or Summicron (you can't have everything!). APO with Leica is worth having, but I have always felt that the 100mm APO is just too expensive - it keeps its price secondhand and it is large and rather slow. The 90mm APO Summicron for the M is a much better deal and it is a stop faster. If I want APO for this focal length then I will get the M version. I suppose with the 100mm the extra cost is because it is a macro lens too.

If it is a question of money (when isn't it?) then the 90mm 'cron is a bargain and almost a third the price of the Summilux. But the 'lux is a better performer at 1.4-2.8 than the Summicron. But both lenses are an excellent match for the R. If you really want performance then for the same price as a Summicron you can get the Elmarit-R and the performance of this lens is almost as good as the 100mm APO. But I find it rather uninspiring to actually use on the camera for some reason. I do not think that you can fit the ROM mechanism to the 90mm Summicron (not that this really matters) which is I guess why it is discontinued.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), March 13, 2002.

I still haven't figured out what the advantages of APO are.

When light is bent by a refractive surface (like a lens element), its various components are bent to different degrees depending on wavelength. This results in a color fringing that takes away from apparent sharpness of points and hard edges. It is not a major problem in wide angles but is magnified progressively as focal length is increased. In order to solve the problem, Leica uses a combination of low-dispersion and highly refractive glasses in some of their telephoto lenses to correct for the color fringing by bringing all the components of the light back together so that they fall at the same point on the film. These lenses are termed "APO". This is as far as I understand it, I am no optical physicist. Flame away.

-- Anon Terry (anonht@yahoo.com), March 14, 2002.

Hello Geert. Advantages of the APO Elmarit 100mm.f2.8 are up 1:2 reproduction without further focusing aids (elpro gives 1:1)a sharp lens with truest colour fidelity...Elmar 100mm.f4 lens is of course one stop slower,delivers 1:2 mag. (tube gives 1:1) more a specialized close up lens ..Elmarit 90mm.f2.8 is the best allrounder for definition,colour,compactness,price...Summilux 80mm.f1.4.It's f1.4 is a true working aperture but I can't vouch for closer focus qualities. Regards.

-- Sheridan Zantis (albada60@hotmail.com), March 14, 2002.

Even my old 90 Elmarit-R 2 cam does a great job. It appears to be achromatic by its cross section and going to APO for this short a focal length is not really needed IMHO.

-- Steve Rasmussen (srasmuss@flash.net), March 14, 2002.

I had the latest version of the Elmarit-R, using it for portraits with a Zeiss Softar. It makes an unbielievably sharp macro with the appropiate Elpro, going to half life size, if I remember correctly. Adding the macro-adapter to that lets you get to one to one. I traded to the excellant APO-Elmarit 100, costing a lot more money and weight ,but I really don't think I can see the difference. Maybe not the most exciting of R lenses, but light, relatively cheap, and I think an astounding performer, on par with the current 90mm Elmarit-M.

-- Ronald Wills (youngdeer@earthlink.net), March 14, 2002.

I love the 100mm APO because it has great, smooth bokeh and incredible sharpness. See the tele stills examples at 4020.net/awm.

To get the best out of the lens though, you've got to bolt it down and lock the mirror up.

-- Andrew Nemeth (azn@nemeng.com), March 14, 2002.

The 100 apo-elmarit is considered in most circles as THE benchmark macro telelens. It yields perfect imaging performances from f2.8 down to f22, where diffraction is kept to a minimum. This feature is crucial for high quality macro work.

But it is not only a macro lens, and behaves as a perfectly versatile all rounder. Zero concession on quality from infinity to 1:2 , with a perfectly well calculated focusing helicoid throw.

it is true that the last generation 90 elmarit will yield similar imaging performances at non-macro distances and standard working apertures.

What you pay for in the 100 macro is the unique versatility. It is worth every added gram.

Simply the best. Save for it, unless you NEVER get closer than 70cm to your subjects...

-- Jacques (jacquesbalthazar@hotmail.com), March 16, 2002.

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