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Leica Vario-Elmar-R F3.5/4.5 28-70 lens: Good?

Richie Chishty , Jan 03, 2002; 10:32 p.m.

I have an opportunity to buy this used lens in mint condition. I was wondering what would be a reasonable price for this lens, and also how it compares in quality to other Leica R zoom lenses in this range. I have used only fixed focal length lenses (28, 50, 60, 90, 100 and 135) so far. Thanks in advance for your responses!


Jay . , Jan 04, 2002; 12:23 a.m.

The first version of this lens (3-cam, pull-out hood, 1990) was made for Leica by Sigma and used Sigma's design and glass in what I refer to as a "Leica-lookalike" mount. It was released along with the R-E body and for a time it was sold as a kit. The performance of the lens is on a level with any good Japanese zoom of 10 years ago, and indeed a Sigma lens of the same optical quality could be bought in other brand mounts for a fraction of the R version.


The second and current version of this lens (ROM, screw-on reversible hood) is optically almost identical but no longer made by Sigma. In fact, the current mount is the exact same one used for the 35-70/4.


I had a 1st-version for a couple of weeks, and shot a test roll through the second version. The sharpness and contrast were equal to the 28-70/3.5-4.5 AF Nikkor I owned, but the "Leica" lens showed significantly more distortion at both ends. Though it has been reported in a popular Leica "lens tester"'s book that performance of the 2nd version is better [only] at 28mm, I'm afraid I just couldn't see it.


I have read from a few owners of this lens that they are very happy with it, and I don't dispute that. I was happy with my 28-70/3.5-4.5 AF Nikkor. But I expect more from Leica, and the 35-70/4 delivers. I've also read reports from owners who say the 28-70 has "that Leica look". From the outside, yes it does. On film, IMO no it doesn't. To me it is overpriced for what it is.

Martin Tai , Jan 04, 2002; 08:10 a.m.

There were extensive posting about this matter in <a href="http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl? msg_id=003N2D">http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl? msg_id=003N2D</a>

Martin Tai , Jan 04, 2002; 08:36 a.m.

Photodo tests:<p>

Grade: 3.2 35mm/MF LeicaR Vario-Elmar-R 28-70/3,5-4,5 Grade: 2.8 35mm/AF Nikkor AF 28-70/3,5-4,5D Grade: 3 35mm/AF Nikkor AF 28-70/3,5-4,5

Leica R better

Martin Tai , Jan 04, 2002; 09:11 a.m.

How good is grade 3.2 ?

It is as good as the following prime lenses, including one of Leica prime lens<p>

Grade: 3.2 35mm/AF Canon EF 28/1,8 USM <p> Grade: 3.2 35mm/MF LeicaR Elmarit-R 24/2,8 <p> Grade: 3.2 35mm/AF Nikkor AF 28/2,8D <p> Grade: 3.2 35mm/MF Nikkor 35/2,8 <p> Grade: 3.2 35mm/MF Pentax SMC-F 28/2,8 <p>

Jay . , Jan 04, 2002; 09:27 a.m.

Lest anyone out there place their cash down on lenses based solely on Photodo's numerical ratings...


1.Photodo tests are made only at infinity, factoring in nothing of lens' performance at other distances, nor does it address such matters as flare. Their number ratings are weighted in a proprietary manner that makes them less than implicitly reliable. Only the actual MTF graphs are useful and there again, they're only from infinity.


2. The AF-D Nikkor 28-105/3.5-4.5 ($350) received a 3.2 just like the Leica 28-70 ($1000). The Sigma 28-70/2.8 EX ($350 and a straight f/2.8 lens) received a 3.5, better than either--I owned that lens also, and it was *very* prone to flare even with the hood. In reality the difference between 2.8,3.0 and 3.2 is minuscule and wouldn't be noticed in practical photography. The 70-210/4 R (aka Minolta) lens received a 3.3, in contrast to the 80-200/4 which received a 4.2. *That*, noting the MTF graphs, *is* significant.


3. If you look at the MTF graphs for the Leica 28-70 you will note the steep downfall of the curve away from the center of the image as well as the significant divergence of the saggital and tangential curves. Much more telling of the lens' "just ok" performance than Photodo's numerical assignment.


4. Note also the "% distortion" for the Leica lens as opposed to the others.


If you use the Photodo data responsibly it is quite useful.

Martin Tai , Jan 04, 2002; 11:20 a.m.

You are not comparing the same 28-70/3.5-4.5 lenses


Where is the MTF of your


2.8 35mm/AF Nikkor AF 28-70/3,5-4,5D ??

Martin Tai , Jan 04, 2002; 11:32 a.m.

If your criteria is only price the go with Canon or Contax, they offer better performance at much lower price <p> For example take standard 50mm/f1.4

Grade 4.5 Carl Zeiss T* Planar 50/f1.4 <p> Grade 4.4 Canon 50/1.4

<p> Grade 4.3 Leica Summilux 50/1.4

Carl Zeiss and Canon are all better than Summilux, at much lower price

Martin Tai , Jan 04, 2002; 04:47 p.m.

The best zoom lens in this range is <a href="http://www.photodo.com/prod/lens/detail/CoVario-SonnarT*28-8- 160.shtml">Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* 28-85 zoom</a> made of genuine German glasses. <p> Leica glasses come primarily from Hoya.

Jeff Rivera , Jan 05, 2002; 01:01 a.m.

Not sure how where the glass is made affects the quailty.


For what it's worth, (and lets face it, it ain't worth much, you either like a lens or you don't) I've always questioned the quality of variable ap zooms. All the best stuff seems to be constant.


Anyhow, resume bickering :-)!

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