Vario-Elmar 28-70 vs. 35-70? : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

Considering getting a zoom for when I can carry only one normal-range lens. Anyone have opinions on the Vario-Elmar 28-70 vs. Vario-Elmar 35-70 in terms of ease of handling, image quality, reliability, etc?



-- Howard L Ritter, Jr (, April 20, 2002


Both of the lenses you mention are available in more than one version. The 28-70 has 2 versions, 3-cam and ROM. They are optically similar but not identical. The ROM version is said to have slightly better performance at 28mm, and the build-quality is noticeably improved; however the 3-cam version can be used on an SL or SL2 as well as all R bodies, and it has a built-in extensible shade whereas the ROM version has a screw-in-type shade. Both lenses are based on Sigma designs, not Leica's, and perform no better optically than any good Japanese zoom of that range and speed. My personal opinion of that lens is that one may as well look into a Tamron 28-105/2.8SP or other zoom with an interchageable mount that accepts a Leica R fitting, which will be significantly less expensive.

The 35-70/3.5 is available in 3 versions: 3-Cam E60, 3-Cam E67, and ROM. The first two are optically identical and are Minolta lenses. The E60 version is much less expensive than the E67, as the former was made in Japan and the front assembly tends to be loose and wobbly. The E67 version was made in Germany, has a non-rotating front, and is in fact the only one of all these lenses including the 28-70's that can be used conveniently with a polarizer. Optically the 1st 2 versions of the 35-70 are as good as any Minolta or other Japanese zoom of the mid-1980's. They have a rather restrictive minimum focusing distance of 1m.

The current version of the 35-70 is slower at f/4, but is a complete redesign. It is housed in the same barrel as the ROM version of the 28-70, and both lenses are manufactured in Japan, however the 35-70 is a new design created in Solms by the Leica "home team" and it shows. The performance of this lens is absolutely stunning, at all apertures and focal lengths. Distortion is almost unnoticeable, the sharpness and contrast rival the fixed focal length Summicrons (35 and 50), and it has a very useful macro setting.

If you do not desperately need the 28mm length, and 70mm is not too short, and f/4 is not too slow, this lens is IMO the best choice in a normal-range zoom. That said, if you are not restricted in your movement, a 50 Summicton and a little footwork can just about cover what the 35-70 can. Finally, do look for any of these zooms in mint used condition. They are usually around $700 give or take, much less than the new price.

-- Jay (, April 20, 2002.

I have a vario 28-70/3.5, it took it to Spain, Greece, Czech, Austria.. I have 24x 36 feet poster size enlargement taken with this vario.

I also have a Tamron 28-70/3.5 for Minolta, seldom use it

-- martin tai (, April 20, 2002.

Howard: I had the 2nd version of the 28-70 for two years and was disappointed. I traded it in last year for the 3rd version of the 35-70 and what a difference! The 35-70mm zoom is a fantastic lens ideal for travelling where "less is more."

-- Albert Knapp MD (, April 20, 2002.

Nobody except Leica still makes 35-70 only 2x zoom, was already outdated technology. You might as well go with prime lens 28-70 is made in Japan, so what, most Leica camera are Portugal anyway

-- martin tai (, April 20, 2002.

I have the 2nd version 28-70 since it was released and like it. Jay tends to disparage this lens because it is designed and made in Japan and supposedly has inferior build quality. The lens feels like a Leica lens should and ought to because it shares the same barrel as the 35-70. Transparencies are identical in colour rendition to my prime lenses and I have done side by side comparisons many times. It has more elements than the 35-70 so perhaps is more prone to flare, but I can't say I have experienced any problem in this regard.

If edge sections of slides are projected really big it is possible to detect a loss of detail compared with the primes, but it is indistinguishable in normal use. I have read a lot of criticism of this zoom on this site, to the extent that I have considered ditching it and getting the 35-70 but whenever I think it through and run yet another comparison with my prime lenses, I cannot see what the critics are talking about. Meanwhile it is a great travel lens where the extra coverage of the 28 is really of value compared to the 35-70.

As to the Japanese connection, it is interesting that the engraving on the barrel reads "Designed by Leica Camera. Mfgd. in Japan.

-- Ivor Quaggin (, April 21, 2002.

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