What wide-angle R? 19/2.8 or 21/4?

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Dear Leica-lovers, I have a 24 elmarit R but I'm not very satisfied. Pictures are not so surprising like with other Leica lenses (infact 24/2.8 is in practice a Minolta lens!). If I change (secondhand of course), I'd prefer a wider lens as 19 or 21. Can anyone suggest me about the 21/4 or 19/2.8 (new and old version)? Thank You for Your answer. Paolo

-- paolo folzani (zolfo67@hotmail.com), May 07, 2002


If you find the 24mm disappointing then I do not think you will find the 21mm any better. The current 19mm is a very fine lens and is a lot wider so may give more impact. Whether in reality you would notice the difference in performance betweent the 24mm and the 19mm I don't know. The 19mm is reputed to be excellent, but in my experience the wider the lens the harder it is to get the best performance, so while the 19mm is an excellent super-wide, it might not in reality actually be better optically than the less-wide 24mm. If you are very rich then the 15mm would be nice. I know for a fact that the current 28mm is superb and by most accounts better optically than the 24mm.

Have you considered the new 21-35mm zoom? - an intriguing lens and a good price for a Leica R lens.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), May 07, 2002.

Are you doing enlargements of 8 x 10 or greater. I think for standard color prints the current 24mm is a great performer, Minolta or not.

-- Bob Haight (rhaigh5748@aol.com), May 07, 2002.

I agree that the 24/2.8-R is an unimpressive performer (not bad, but nothing to write home about). It was no better than the 24/2.8AIS Nikkor I had simultaneously.

I use and like the 21/4. Understand that I shoot landscapes mostly with it and so stopping it down to f/8 or smaller. I owned the 1st- version 19/2.8 and sold it because as I said I don't shoot wide open and the lens is positively huge and ungainly and despite 82mm threads it is not possible to use filters without scraping the front element or vignetting. Despite rave reviews of the current 19mm, I won't buy it because I can't put a UV filter on it and it's too expensive for me to risk the front element to nature's elements.

The 21-35 might be interesting for someone else, but for me focusing 28-35mm on an R body at f/4 is tantamount to impossible except in the brightest daylight, and to pay $1900 for it and only use 21mm vs around $800 for a mint 21/4, seemed unsound economically.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), May 07, 2002.

I would agree with the previous suggestion that you look at the new 21-35. I bought one as soon as it was available and have shot almost 10 rolls exclusively with it. It was expensive, but the cost was justified because of the 'large' range that it covers. If my memomy is correct, the 19mm was a Zeiss designed or made lens. (No complaints on that count!) The weight of the 19mm is 0,560kg, but I cannot say what my 21-35 weighs, certainly not more. Based on flexibility and freedom -- the zoom won the day and continues to do so.

PS Io vado a Roma questa weekend. Per me, non č solo una cittā storica ma anche una luogo pieno di occasioni fotografiche. Guarda per un uomo con un R8 qui mangia troppo saltimbocca o bombolotti amatriciana o baccalā o....

-- Reto (redcavereto@yahoo.com), May 07, 2002.

Dear Paolo: I have had the newer version of the 19mm F/2.8 for the past three years and have used it all over Europe on our photographic vacations. The lens is excellent with both great resolution and contrast but it takes a while to get used to it as you must keep it perfectly horizontal. My only concern is that you cannot put a filter in front of the front optic for protection purposes so be careful. I suggest you rent one, use it and then buy it....

-- Albert Knapp MD (albertknappmd@mac.com), May 07, 2002.

Brian Bowers in The Leica Lens Book, is very lukewarm about the 24mm R. But he praises the 21 f/4, calling it one of his favorites, until he replaced it with the even better 19mm. Reading between Bowers' lines may not be enough to base a purchase on, but it does suggest the 21 f/4 might be a step up from the 24.

-- Bob Fleischman (RFXMAIL@prodigy.net), May 07, 2002.


I use the new gen 19f2.8, and highly recommend it. It is the best ultra-wide angle lens I have ever used: no distortion, very high contrast and resolution, very high level of flare immunity, very low vignetting. At least on par, performance wise, with the wonderful 21mm f2.8 M asph. But much more practical.

One of its main selling points, from my point of view, is the excellent performance at f2.8. This means you can use the capabilities of ultrawide photography in low light, with absolutely no quality trade off. This is a priceless bonus not only when shooting in cramped indoors settings, but also when shooting outdoors in the evening.

The very close minimum focusing distance of this lens, together with the extensive DoF implied by such a focal length, allows you to go for spectacular near/far compositions in landscape images, as well as in dynamic indoors shots (workplaces, factories, museums, exhibitions, etc).

Focusing is a breeze if you follow the "Ted Grant book of rules" for wide angle focusing (see relevant thread on this site).

The construction of the latest 19mm is a clockwork wonder, typical of most R lenses. It balances very well on a R8. And it looks nice! It has a set of on board filters, on a turret, mainly for b/w work or color correction.

-- Jacques (jacquesbalthazar@hotmail.com), May 08, 2002.

Hello Paolo.I had a 24mm Elmarit and now use the 21mm Super Angulon instead.I prefer the perspective.Stopped down to 5.6 to 8 it gives great images.I think the older 19mm is just too bulky.

-- Sheridan Zantis (albada60@hotmail.com), May 08, 2002.


The 19mm is a Solms lens. The older 15mm Super-Elmar was the Zeiss lens. Now replaced by the new 15mm ASPH.


I really think you need to look at the zoom. It may well be the case that the new zoom is better at 21 and 24 than the SA and the 24mm. I think the lens is f3.5 at 21mm so should be easier to focus than the SA at 21mm. I seriously doubt that the SA 21mm is better than the 24mm. I find the 21mm OK, but not a great performer. It needs to be stopped down to f8 to get the corners really sharp. Of course if you prefer the 21mm perspective then you may prefer it I suppose. As usual of course, money and how much you want to spend will be important.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), May 08, 2002.


I have a 21mm SA for sale if you are interested. See:


-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), May 08, 2002.

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