Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
“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 Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – 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 f4 – size comparison
Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Test photos
When the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm 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 Macro-Elmar 90mm 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 90f4 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:
Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Model Photography
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 but here are a couple of Macro-Elmar 90mm samples 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 Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – thoughts so far
As you may have sensed I have been extremely impressed with the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 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 Macro-Elmar-M 90mm 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 f4 – Specifications
Rather than repeat the information readily available online please find a link to the Ken Rockwell’s 90mm Macro-Elmar-M review below including full lens spec.
Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Related Posts
- Ken Rockwell – Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 Specifications
- Fuertventura Cycling / Photography adventure (1)
- More Leica Lens Blog Posts
- Fuertventura Cycling / Photography adventure (2) – to follow
- Leica Wedding Photography at Weston Hall Hotel
- Budapest Model Photoshoot (December 2017) – to follow