This article will continually be updated and I’ll add sample images very soon, so feel free to come back later.
I usually document my photography class, because who doesn’t like some candid BTS stuff?
Up until now, I mostly used my Fuji x100s and sometimes the 1Ds with whichever adapted 50mm I had with me that day.
Even though the Fuji is gone and I won’t be able to afford (or justify the price?) the Leica Q anytime soon, maybe not all is lost and I found a suitable documentary lens after all?
When I went shopping for the Summicron 50mm, I hit paydirt in an unexpected place – not the widely known online auction houses – and the seller, a very friendly old man who obviously loved his Leica gear more than anything, also had some other precious pieces of glass on offer beside the Cron. Among these lenses was the subject of this article, a tiny inconspicuous wide-angle with a relatively slow maximum aperture.
I quickly looked up a review and realized that this lens is pretty awesome. Even compared to the Zeiss Distagon 28mm f/2.8 (C/Y) it fares pretty well. The seller had both lenses (the Cron and the Elmarit) for sale under their usual street value (and in excellent optical condition too) and I was bold enough to ask for a bundle price. He agreed and offered me a price that most would consider insane. (Some people pay as much for one of the lenses alone.)
I went there the very next day to pick up my lenses and am currently waiting for the Leica-R to EOS adapters.
Meet my current Leica collection
The Lens in Detail
According to this site, my copy is an R-only version, without the 1st and 2nd cam, so it won’t work on any of the Leicaflex SLRs.
It was made in Wetzlar and the serial number (3369642), according to this awesome database, indicates that it was built in 1985. Unfortunately, it’s not a Walter Mandler design, but I already own three of his masterpieces.
The lens came in its original box with its pouch (no image thereof, sorry)
The Elmarit-R 28mm f/2.8 is very small (only 40mm long and 63mm wide) and built like a tank, but I would expect nothing less at this price point. The weight is nice too (only 275g) and both the focus and aperture rings turn easily. (they’re a little too loose for my taste, though)
The lens extends slightly when focussed to the minimum focus distance, but the front element does not rotate. Manual focus is a joy, because turning the ring from infinity to minimum focus distance (which is 0,3m) takes about 270°.
A curious thing to look at is the rectangular lenshood made of metal, which is mounted via a bayonet mechanism. The hood even contains a wheel that allows you to turn a circular polarizer filter with your finger without the need to fumble around inside the hood.
The lens barrell shows some signs of use, but it’s only on the outside. The glass is absolutely perfect.
The lens is really compact and adds almost no weight to the camera:
Here is another view of the beautiful lens coatings:
My copy is 30 years old and was in use quite a bit as it seems, because the yellow inscriptions aren’t as “nice” as they are on my other Leitz lenses:
As soon as I get my adapters, I will go out and use it in the streets so I can report my findings.