Leica 90mm f4 Elmar Review (Macro-Elmar-M Lens) + Leica Portraits + YouTube
Ever wanted a Leica telephoto lens which is as compact as a 50mm but offers that added reach / compression, perhaps for portraits?
This Leica 90mm f4 Elmar review covers why every Leica photographer should try the Macro Elmar 90mm f4 lens, showing it’s small size and excellent optical performance via Leica portraits images. A fantastic lens!
“LEICA’s biggest secret – It’s LEICA’s smallest and lightest 90mm bayonet-mount lens ever made, and it also is among LEICA’s very highest-performance 90mm lenses of all time….”
(Ken Rockwell)(Link below)
Leica 90mm f4 Macro-Elmar-M – why I wanted this lens
After my first cycling-photography adventure to Fuertventura I wished I had owned a compact telephoto lens. My existing Leica telephoto lenses are not compact and are on the whole quite heavy. I have a Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens and a Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH lens. Both Summicron lenses are fast (f2) so are relatively big and heavy (in Leica lens terms) due to all the glass elements inside. I also own a chrome 1960’s Leica Elmar 135mm f4 lens. The 135f4 is lightweight but I use it less than the Summicron lenses as I find it a bit soft shot at f4-f5.6.
This is potentially due to misfocus issues if my Leica M240 is not exactly calibrated with the 135mm lens. For my next cycling adventure I thought I for landscape photography (and general snaps of things I saw on my travels) I didn’t need a fast lens such as a Leica Summicron lens with an f2 maximum aperture, nor even a Summarit with an f2.5 maximum aperture so I did a web search for Leica Elmar lenses.
Leica Elmar lenses have a f4 maximum aperture and as such tend to be lighter and more compact in size. I found myself back on Ken Rockwell’s website and decided the lens that I wanted was the super compact Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 telephoto lens. With a 39mm filter thread and it only being only slightly longer than my 28mm Leica Elmarit-M lens the 90mm Macro-Elmar seemed the perfect travel companion. As you may have guessed I bought a Macro-Elmar 90f4 after finding a nice deal on a used lens.
Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f/4 – size comparison
Leica 90mm f4 – Sample photos
When the Leica 90mm f4 macro elmar lens arrived I did a few rough and ready test shots in the garden and around the house:
Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Wedding Photography
I then had the opportunity to test the Leica 90mm f4 in a real situation (for my usual style of photography (portraiture – models and weddings) prior to taking it on my second cycling / photography adventure. I packed the Leica 90mm f4 Elmar for a bridal shoot / mock Leica wedding photography photoshoot and the results were fantastic even with the lens wide open at f4 and a 1/60 shutter speed. It gave really nice subject background separation for portraiture despite being a slow f4 maximum aperture lens. I will blog the wedding photography look images separately but here are a few 90mm examples from the day at Weston Hall Hotel:
Macro Elmar 90mm f4 – Leica Portraits
I took the Macro-Elmar 90f4 on my repeat cycling trip to Fuertventura as planned and used the lens as originally intended, for Leica landscape photography. Again, I will blog my thoughts once the accompanying photos are ready to share. The photos were all shot on film and I still need to develop the film. Since Fuertventura I have used the 90mm lens on most of my photoshoots including when I was in Budapest over the Christmas break. Yes, blog to follow (links below) but here are some Leica portraits using the Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 from Hungary:
After Budapest and starting 2018, the Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm lens continues to be my new favourite lens which I seem to keep gravitating to. Here are some recent photos shot in the studio with the 90mm:
Leica 90mm f4 Elmar review – Thoughts so far?
As you may have sensed from this Leica 90mm f4 elmar review, I have been extremely impressed with the Leica 90mm f4 macro lens. The small size is perfect for my overseas trips yet I still reach for it in the studio too. It focuses closer than I think any of my other Leica M lenses in terms of magnification so I love it for tight headshots where I normally find I cannot get close enough. My next best lens for close up headshot photos is equally impressive but larger and heavier Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens.
To conclude, the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f/4 is small, lightweight, close focusing (even without the Leica Macro adapter)(I don’t have) and super sharp wide open. If you don’t need a fast lens such as f1.4-f2 the Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens is a real winner.. and seemingly hidden gem amongst the Leica lens line up. I have not noticed many other Leica photographers using this lens online or seen any rave reviews about it (other than Ken’s review linked below).
Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f/4 – Specifications
Rather than repeat the information readily available online please find a link to the Ken Rockwell’s Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f/4 review below including full lens specs.
YouTube: Leica 90mm Macro Elmar M
Leica Elmar 90mm f4 vs Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4
The vintage 90mm or 9cm Leica Elmar offer excellent value for money compared to the current production Macro-Elmar-M 90mm lens.
Vintage Leica Elmar 9cm f4 LTM
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 vs Macro-Elmar 90mm
If you want a lens to take female portraits the same as me then you should defintely consider the cheaper Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH lens. It is bigger and heavier but it takes amazing photos!
Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8
Best Leica 90mm lens?
Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Related Posts
- Ken Rockwell – Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 Specifications
- Fuertventura Cycling / Photography adventure (1)
- Fuertventura Cycling / Photography adventure (2)
- Leica Wedding Photography at Weston Hall Hotel
- Budapest Model Photoshoot (December 2017)
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
- See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
- See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE
More Leica Camera/Lens/Photo Articles –
> Workshops/ Photowalks Mailing List – Receive info on future events specific to your city/ country/ interest.
> Zoom Consultations/ Mentor – Not sure what camera or lens to buy or need help with your photography? Act today and book a 1:1 Zoom call!
> Join the family on Patreon! Instant access: 200+ exclusive posts including 100+ videos, 2 group Zoom calls/month, Friendly private Facebook group.. *Sign up to Patreon for 12 months and get 10% off!
> Recommended Photography Gear? MyKit lists all my recommended photography equipment and the links let you price check items.
> Free YouTube Search Tool – Keep up to date with the monthly Newsletter and receive a free copy of my YouTube video search tool. Search my 200+ videos by lens manufacturer, lens mount, focal length, film format and other filters.
> Wedding Referrals for Cash! Know someone getting married? If they book my £1K or higher wedding photographer package I’ll send you a £50 thank you!
> Written reviews and sample photos – Follow the blog so not to miss them.