WECC Leica R Review
Leica has been a giant in cameras for almost a decade, starting from the 1920s the Leica starts to rise and shine, but today our focus is not on the well-known M series nor the medium format S series, but the lesser known R series. Leica AG had seized production of almost all of the Leica R series in 2010, where costs and sales were not ideal but Leica did leave a large precious heritage that is mostly affordable, great performance and adapatable to most available digital camera systems available in the market today, that covers Sony/ Minolta Alpha, Pentax K & Nikon F (through mount swap), Canon EF, Olympus／Panasonic 4/3, Sigma SD; mirrorless: Canon EF-M, Pentax Q, Samsung NX, Panasonic/Olympus M43, Nikon 1, Sony NEX/E, Fujifilm X.
Today I have brought a few Leica R lenses to the table for the review, personally I use these lenses on my Leicaflex SL, Leica R8, Canon EOS3, Canon Eos 6D and my Fujifilm X-E2, they were attached either through original R mount or adapters, adapters are available on ebay/ camera stores from $30 to $200 dollars, brands such as Metabones, Kipon would have costed a bit more with better build quality, some even had heliocord build in so you could have better close focus capability( mainly only with mirrorless mounts).
List of lenses to be reviewed:
Elmarit-R 24mm f/2.8 - 3 cam
Summicron-R 50mm f/2 - 2 cam early ver.
Summilux-R 80mm f/1.4 (E60)- 3 cam Later ver.
Summicron-R 90mm f/2 -3 cam early Canadian ver.
APO Telyt- R 180mm f/3.4 - 3cam Canada
1. Elmarit-R 24mm f/2.8 is an underrated lense of the R system, despite it was designed by Minota it does have great performance and doesn’t cost a limb. Distortion is not obvious but light falloff does exist before f 5.6 but sharpness is above average.
2. Summicron-R 50mm f/2 basically came with two designs, the early ver (Series VI) and the later ver. (E55), unfortunately I only had the early ver. and will only be reviewing it. This 50mm comes with a very reasonable price tag as well, I got mine for about $200, it retains sharpness even wide open, compact size, almost no minimal distortion, bokeh is smooth but certainly the color gradiation is more of the older lenses kind, great presentation of metallic colors and subtle low light presentation.
3. Summilux-R 80mm f/1.4 is usually an expensive lense but has great performance, great sharpness, very very smooth bokeh, the nearest focusing distance is 0.8m pretty normal for portrait lenses, best sharpness is at f 5.6 but even wide open it has above average sharpness and strong focus breathing as every distance focused does have a different image presentation.
4. Summicron-R 90mm f/2 Canada, this lense would be the main competitor to the Olympus Zuiko 90mm f/2 Marco but without the marco capability, sharpness at wide open is not ideal, but stop it down to f/2.8 then it gains solid performance, the 3-stage hood was a bit annoying as sometimes it tilts to the side a bit and only takes series VII filters which are proprietary and expensive, nearest focus distance is 0.7m not too bad but certainly the OM Zuiko 90/2 having marco capabiabilities would be more versatile to use, this leica 90mm is usually still having a reasonable price at around $ 6-800 dollars for early vers and more for later vers, a lot more with the APO 90mm f/2, if u could even find one…
5. APO- Telyt 180mm f/3.4, this lense is a giant with a small body, it has a small size but great weight as within it is 4 group 7 element design, one of Leica’s first APO designs but the most affordable one at roughly $600-1000. This lense is sharp at every f stop, but bokeh is quite rough, nearest focus distance is at 2.5 m which means marco capabilities are extremely limited without extension tubes. Words cannot describe how sharp it is, photos below would help explain itself, very handly as a compact package, at half the price and half a f stop smaller than the famous APO-Elmarit 180mm f/2.8 it is a good deal. (APO Summicron-R 180mm f/2 is great, exceeding allmost all expectations but would cost too much for any non-professional use….)