Vario Elmar 1:3.5 35-70 Lieca R : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

Hello ye Leica faithfuls,

I am wondering about the shooting quality of the Leica 35-70 1:3.5. Is it as aweful as everyone says. I understand it was made by Minolta? Does this lens perform similar to other japanese lens of this era? i.e. Canon, Nikon, Pentax? Or does this lens have any Leica redeeming qualities at all? I have read the 1:4 35-70 is far superior (but still not quite in my budget yet). Better to wait to purchase this version? Don't even get me started on the 1:2.8 version. I'll never purchase one in this life time (I don't think). I am looking for a Leica zoom in this range that will afford me the flexibilty it will provide. I am primarily a Wedding Photographer (special events, portraits).

Your comments are appreciated.

-- Brooke Anderson (, April 03, 2002


I have never seen this lens called awful. It is generally thought that it is as good, or better than any mid 70's zoom made by Nikon or Canon. In fact the PhotoDo website rates it a 3.6, on par with such lenses as the 35-70 F2.8 A/F Nikkor. There are two versions of the lens, both optically the same, but with different barrel construction. They are easily idendifiable due to the fact that the earlier, Minolta-made version has a rotating front element, while the later German-made (Solms) version does not, making it easier to use with polarizing and gradated filters. As well the earlier version had some vignetting problems wide open. Also the earlier Minolta lenses are prone to a wobble that develops in the barrel of the lens, that while supposedly does not affect its sharpness is annoying. I've had one of the German versions for about a year now and am very pleased with it. The newer F4 version is rated sharper at the edges, but as 90 percent of what I do is of the portrait nature it is nothing I've ever noticed (the old 'if the eyes are sharp it's a good portrait'). I have an upcoming gallery exhibit that is all printed to 11X14 and 16X20 and the images through this lens appear to be as sharp as those made with my 35 F2 Asph M lens. Expect to pay twice the money for the German version, well worth it in my opinion.

-- Bob Todrick (, April 03, 2002.

I don't know if it's better than the other Japanese lenses of the same time frame, but there are other considerations:

Do you use polarizing filters? the E67 version of the f/3.5 lens is much more convenient than the earlier E60 version or the current f/4.0 lens.

Are you using a Leicaflex? The f/4.0 lens is R only, with ROM contacts. Either f/3.5 lens can be used on any Leicaflex, given appropriate metering cams.

If you decide on the f/3.5 lens, look for the later E67 version. The optical unit was made by Minolta as was the older version, but mechanically it was re-built by Leica and is less likely to develop mechanical problems with age.

-- Douglas Herr (, April 03, 2002.

Dear Brooke: I used to have the 28-70mm F3.5-4.5 R zoomlens and traded it in last year for the 35-70mm F4. What a difference!! The F4 is sharper and a joy to work with. I recently saw and used the 35-70mm F2.8. It is very sharp but heavy and therefore a pain to carry around. The price ($6800) is ridiculous and I suspect will drop once Leica figures out how to produce the lens in greater quantities. In sum, go for the 35-70 F4. You won't regret it.

-- Albert Knapp MD (, April 03, 2002.

The 35-70 f4 can be found in great shape used for under $700 and often under $600. Jim Keuhl usually has them in this price range. I think it would be a mistake to purchase the older lenses. The first version is usually wobbly and sells for $3-400, the 2nd is as much as a brand new 35-70 f4. The 35-70 f4 is my most used lens and it's performance is wonderful.

-- Mark (, April 03, 2002.

Hello All,

ThHank you all for the great answers. I will look for the E67 version, or an 1:4 (which ever one becomes available first at the right price) as polarizers and grads come in handy. Plus I have a Bronica bellows hood that holds modified Colkins that I use a lot. I shoot with a late model R4 so the ROM is not currently important. Although I am saving for an R8. cheers, Brooke

-- Brooke Anderson (, April 03, 2002.

The 35-70/3.5 is as good as what it is: a 1984 vintage Minolta zoomlens. Except that it is priced as a Leica lens. It also has a close-focus distance of 1m (about 3ft)vs the 35-70/4 which focuses down to a few inches in its "macro" setting. True, the fly in the ointment is using a polarizer, which is for all purposes impossible with the newer lens. I got an E60 B+W polarizer and ground off the front threads; it does not vignette except in the close range (under 3m) at the 35mm setting. A better alternative to the 35-70/3.5 IMO is the Tamron Adaptall 35- 105/2.8SP (not to be confused with the current 28-105/2.8SP).

-- Jay (, April 03, 2002.

This lens is hardly awful. I have an E-60 German version mounted to a SLII, and it matches the built quality quite nicely (i.e., like a tank). I use a polariser, so this had to be it. And there is no need to grind off front threads to avoid vignetting. Many manufacturers make thin mount polas. But if you're seriously considering a R8 and don't plan to keep the R4, then a newer ROM may be a better choice.

-- Marc Williams (, April 04, 2002.

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