Best 90mm Lenses for Leica Cameras (LTM+M+R+L)
This article will give you information and sample photos for many of the best 90mm lenses for Leica cameras. It includes 90mm lenses for Leica M, L mount, Leica R mount and Leica screw mount so covers all Leica cameras. Detailed YouTube review videos are also embedded for most lenses.
90mm lenses for Leica L mount
If you use L mount cameras such as my Leica CL, Leica SL and Panasonic Lumix S5 you have the big advantage of being able to use every lens listed in the post via the correct L mount lens adapter. I recommend the Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN autofocus lens if you want a great value compact native 90mm L mount lens. If you prefer to stay with the Leica brand you also have the autofocus Leica APO-Summicron-SL 90 f/2 ASPH lens and the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH zoom lens.
Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN for Leica (L Mount)
Sigma are currently producing some excellent Sigma lenses for Leica. Their Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN lens exceeded my expectations. If you need autofocus and use a Leica L mount camera this would be my top choice. Sharp modern looking images out of camera then add a mist filter and you can get some really arty looking results. For my model photography I used the 90mm Sigma lens only with the mist filter attached (for the look I enjoy).
90mm lenses for Leica M mount
If you use Leica M mount cameras, film or digital, you have lots of great 90mm lens options to select from. You can also use Leica screw mount lenses via a L39-M adapter. To perhaps state the obvious, all M mount lenses are full frame, manual focus, rangefinder coupled lenses without electronics. Please note this article does not include the Leica Elmarit-M 90mm f2.8 or Leica Tele-Elmarit 90mm f2.8 M but these lenses sit between the larger 90mm f2 Summicron and smaller 90mm f4 Elmar lenses.
Leica Summilux-M 90mm f1.5
Perhaps the most exotic 90mm lens you can buy is the Leica Summilux-M 90mm f1.5 lens. If you love fast glass and money is not an issue for you this is the fastest most expensive 90mm lens for Leica cameras. I was very fortunate to try the 90mm Summilux during one of my London Leica workshops. The photographer flew in from the US and brought his Leica M11, 90mm and Noctilux 50mm f0.95 for our model photography workshop.
It’s worth mentioning that TTArtisan make a 90mm f1.25 M mount lens if you want a cheaper alternative to the Leica Summilux. These lenses are big, heavy and a bit soft but you might like it. (I love their TTArtisan 50mm f0.95 lens).
For me the Leica Summicron 90mm f2 (Pre-ASPH) is the king of Leica portrait lenses. Definitely up there with the best of the best. The pre-ASPH lens as the name suggests is an older lens so works really well for my female portraits. If you prefer a more modern perfect look consider the Leica APO-Summicron-M 90mm f/2 ASPH.
If you want a lens that is softer and more dreamy than the Leica Summicron 90mm Pre-ASPH look at the Leica Thambar 90mm f2.2 lens. The Thambar might be one of the softest lenses i’ve ever used and also the most unique in it’s rendering. It might be a love hate lens but some of my Patreons love their copies. For me it was a bit too soft but with the spot filter removed it could make for some interesting images.
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If you’ve seem my YouTube videos this year you’ll know I absolutely love the Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 VM. I tested a copy for YouTube and it stuck in my head there after. Eventually I had to buy it! For me it is the best size, weight, price, performance ratio 90mm lens for both Leica M film and digital Leica cameras. I can’t say enough good things about it. For me to keep a lens it need to produce images that I love. The Voigtlander 90mm APO does this even shot wide open, without trying.
Nikon F mount Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 SL II-S
I must give an honourable mention to the sister lens of the mention 90mm APO VM. The Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 SL II-S has the same optical performance but was designed for Nikon F mount. These Voigtlander SL lenses for Nikon are fantastic. If like me and some of my Patreons, you shoot both digital Leica and Nikon SLR film cameras these lenses can be used on both bodies (*via the correct adapter to Leica M, LTM, L). The Nikon F mount version of the 90mm APO is also cheaper than the VM version if you are on a tight budget.
This is the smallest 90mm lens for Leica cameras, the amazing Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4. The collapsible lens design makes the 90mm Macro-Elmar a similar size to a 50mm lens. This is a high performance lens but I think the cheaper Voigtlander 90mm APO VM is a great alternative. The f4 maximum aperture might not be bright enough for all applications and especially for film shooters.
90mm lenses for Leica screw mount (LTM / L39)
Do you enjoy using the vintage Leica iii Barnack cameras? If you want a 90mm screw mount lens there are a few options. You will need to buy a 90mm external viewfinder for Leica iii cameras (except the Leica iiig) as these cameras only offer a 50mm viewfinder. The late Leica iiig has built in 50mm and 90mm framelines.
Leica Elmar 9cm f4 LTM
My lens of choice for Leica screw mount cameras is the Leica Elmar 9cm f4 LTM lens. I have the rigid 9cm or 90mm Elmar lens design but you can also get a collapsible version. These lenses are small and thin and easily fit into your pocket. They tend to be very affordable and offer excellent performance for their age. Being an older lens the contrast is less than the modern mentioned M mount lenses above. I find the lens works best with a push on lens hood. The same size Leica hood will fit the 9cm Elmar, 5cm Elmar and 3.5cm Summaron.
Jupiter-9 85mm f2 LTM
I know this is a 90mm post but I must give a quick shout out to the Jupiter-9 85mm f2 LTM lens. This is perhaps the most affordable lens in this article and can take great photos. It’s far from perfect but I quite like that for model photography. If a lens can give me better than reality (in terms of how it sees a scene, I’m in!) The Soviet Jupiter-9 lens is not for everyone but I love them and have 2 copies, LTM and Contax-RF. (*There are lots of nice 85mm lenses but I will limit this post to just mentioning this one).
90mm lenses for Leica R mount cameras
If you enjoy using Leica R mount cameras you have similar options to the Leica M mount cameras. You can buy a faster Leica Summicron-R 90mm f2 lens or get the smaller Leica Elmarit-R 90mm f2.8 lens that I use.
Leica Elmarit-R 90mm f2.8
The 90mm lens for choice for my Leica R film cameras is the Leica Elmarit-R 90mm f2.8. I find f2.8 is fast enough for film when it comes to accurately focusing my portraits. This lens can often be found at a good price and it is smaller and lighter than the 90mm Summicron alternative. A nicely made lens with telescopic hood. I don’t have a dedicated video for the 90mm Elmarit but you can see the performance in my best 90mm lens comparison video below.
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What is the best 90mm lens for Leica?
Here is a comparison test I performed to try to find out what is the best 90mm lens for Leica cameras for my needs. It was before I bought the Voigtlander 90mm APO-Skopar. Best will also depend on what you want to photograph.
Best 90mm lens for portraits
The best 90mm lens for soft female portraits is probably the Leica Thambar 90mm f2.2. If you spend time mastering this lens I feel you can get great results for digital. The next best would be the Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH which is my choice.
Top 90mm lens for wedding photography
If you photograph weddings like me, a longer lens is a must for certain parts of the day. For Leica wedding photography my lens of choice is the Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH. Stopped down to f2.5 it gives the perfect blend of sharp yet non-modern looking images. I prefer to use the 90mm Summicron on the Leica SL camera as it is a bigger heavily lens in Leica M terms so balances better on the SL.
The ultimate 90mm lens for travel or daily use
If you love the Leica system for it’s small size you might be looking for a compact 90mm lens to keep on your camera. The Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 is your smallest option but by far the best value solution is the Voigtlander 90mm APO-Skopar VM. The 90mm APO lens is my choice and I bought it to keep in the bag for all my trips. If you use Leica iii cameras too the vintage 9cm Elmar is also a great solution.
Lightroom presets for Leica
All digital images shared in this post were Leica RAW files edited with a MrLeica B&W preset.