Top 5 Best Leica R Lens (In-depth Review)

Written By: Amy S. Dumas

Are you looking for time-proven, industry-renowned lenses to add to your collection? If so, then having the best Leica R Lens could be the right choice. 

The Leica R series of lenses is one of the most popular choices for professional photographers, especially those needing high-quality optics with a wide range. 

The L-mount used by these lenses is the same mount used by Leica cameras, and it has been engineered to be just as durable and high quality. 

This allows photographers looking for a high-quality lens that will fit their Leica camera seamlessly to purchase without worry.

Many say that Leica offers some of the world's finest glass, which also happens to be very expensive. 

But if you're willing to spend from $50 to $5,000 on an optic and you take your photography seriously, then these might be worth it.

A guide to 5 Best Leica R Lens Reviews 

Here are the best Leica-r lenses in 2021,

Photo Title Price Buy
Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60...image Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60 mm f/2.8 ASPH Lens - Black $2,999.00
Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm...image Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f/2.8-4 Lens $6,249.95
Leica 35mm f/1.4...image Leica 35mm f/1.4 ASPH Summilux-M for Leica M Series Cameras $5,995.00
VoightLander 131521 NOKTON...image VoightLander 131521 NOKTON Classic 40mm F1.4 S.C. Single Layer Coat Lens $388.42
Laowa 100mm f/2.8...image Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2:1 Ultra Macro APO Lens for Canon EF $499.00
Panasonic LUMIX Professional...image 12-60mm Camera Lens, Leica DG Vario-ELMARIT, F2.8-4.0 ASPH, Dual I.S. 2.0 with Power O.I.S, Mirrorless $797.99
Urth Lens Mount...image Urth Lens Mount Adapter: Compatible with Leica R Lens to Leica M Camera Body $38.00

1. Leica 60mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R Macro Manual Focus Lens

  • Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm f/2.8 ASPH. Lens (Black)

The Macro-Elmarit-R 60mm f/2.8 is perfect for capturing stunning details, even at close range. 

The Leica Macro-Elmarit-R is truly specialized and offers up to ten times magnification with its 12-inch minimum focus distance. It's also remarkably flare-free with outstanding performance throughout the focusing range and wide aperture. 

With a focal length of 60 mm, you can capture all subjects, from landscapes and weddings to food photography, with one lens. In addition, you will rarely experience flare and distortion with this lens. 

The 60mm focal length is equivalent to 120mm on a 35 mm camera, ideal for full-length portraits. This lens is also perfect for applications such as fast reportage work or photojournalism (e.g., sports photography)

In addition to the mechanical quality of this premium lens, it also has advanced optics lenses found in other macro lenses. Besides, with its nine element arrangements over six groups, it has five special glass optical elements with an anti-reflective finish. 

The reproduction ratio can be enhanced further by using the Leica Macro-Adapter-R. Thanks to all these specifics engineered into one R series option, you will never trade anything off in performance or weight when using this beautiful optic.

What I like:

  • Take close-up shots with stunning details.
  •  Come with cap and adopter
  •  Its bright maximum aperture of f/2.8 is ideal for low-light conditions.
  •   It has advanced optics that are not found in other Macro Lenses.
  •  Compatible with the Leica Macro Adapter R.

What can be improved:

  • It can be expensive for some people to buy. 
  • A tripod is needed to capture the best images. 
  • It can weigh more than expected for some people.

Additionally, you can choose Panasonic LUMIX Professional 12-60mm Camera Lens, Leica DG Vario-ELMARIT, F2.8-4.0 ASPH, Dual I.S. 2.0 with Power O.I.S, Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds, H-ES12060 (Black)

2. APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8

The Leica R APO-Macro-Elmarit f2.8 Lens is an excellent choice for extreme close-up photography with a sharp, razor-thin depth of field to isolate the subject from the background.

The APO-Macro-Elmarit-R is one of the best lenses for macro photography.

It provides high-quality images with a large depth of field, enabling users to focus on objects as close as 1:2 and capture subjects with an incredible amount of detail and clarity from a distance of 1.5 feet.

This lens has been designed with special care and precision not to alter the original optical formula of your camera's standard lens. It is a compact macro lens for the M system with an angle of view equivalent to 25 mm in 35 mm format.

This lens offers blur-free pictures by excluding chromatic aberration and other image defects. It also has an optical construction of five elements in four groups, including two lenses made of glass cemented together by special resins that reduce incidental light reflections.

The lens's wide aperture also has a significant advantage when shooting outdoors, allowing photographers to use faster shutter speeds while still maintaining their desired aperture settings.

All in all, The APO-Macro-Elmarit-R is one of the best lenses for macro photography.

What I like:

  • Comfortable to use.
  • One of the best lenses for macro photography.
  • Produces high-quality images

What can be improved:

  • Slow autofocus in low light conditions
  • No iris/aperture ring

3. Leica 70-180mm f/2.8 Apo Elmarit-R Telephoto Manual Focus Zoom Lens

This lens is the first zoom lens on the market with an image circle large enough to cover today's larger digital sensor formats. The Leica Apo-Elmarit-R 2.8/180mm is a telephoto lens designed for the Leica R System. 

It combines metal and glass with a pedigree and portraits deeper than your isolation ice-cream wrapper pile. Initially built in 1987, it bears the same sturdiness as ammunition of a missile launcher. It features an f/2.8 aperture and 70mm to 180mm focal length. 

It comprises 8 elements in 6 different groups, and both the aperture and focus are manual. The aperture ring is metal-built with grooves. The focus ring is also metal-built with a better-rubberized coating. Pushing this lens to macro takes time, but it is every bit worth your desired pictures.

The Apo Elmarit-R 70-180mm offers a high degree of correction for all types of aberrations, including distortion, spherical aberration, and astigmatism. In addition, the color rendering through this lens is an absolute photographer's delight.

Its lowest aperture setting of f2.8 produces an excellent separation between foreground and background, and you won't notice any vignetting even if you crank up the aperture knob like an old timer's radio volume.

The specifications combined with Leica engineering ensure performance for all photography fields, from portrait and landscape to architecture, reportage, and travel photography.

Whether you point to the Leica Apo Elmarit-R 70-180mm lens or whoever the designated photographer is, you can easily say that this lens is incredible. This lens is a photographers' price collection.

Pros: 

  • The shiny metal parts give the lens a professional look.
  • Its build is strong and durable, which means that it can handle heavy use.
  • It has an aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/22, allowing the user to take pictures in bright light and darker areas (like stores or restaurants).

What can be improved:

  • Some people can find the manual focus challenging to adjust to if they are not used to it. 
  • The lens is quite heavy and difficult for some people to hold.

4. Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f/2.8-4 Lens

  • L Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • 7 Anomalous Partial Dispersion Elements AquaDura Coating on Outer Elements
  • Stepping AF Motor and Linear Positioning Optical Image Stabilization
  • Dual Internal Focus and Internal Zoom Dust and Moisture-Resistant Design
  • Removable Rotating Tripod Collar

Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f/2.8-4 Lens has been a mainstay of the Leica-L mount lineup since it replaced the Leica 24-90mm mid-range zoom. It is a full-frame and APS camera lens that features seven benefits designed to minimize distortion. 

The great telephoto zoom carries an industrial design like other Leica-L mount lenses and suits the SL and SL-2 in terms of design and balance.

It is about 9 inches tall, the heavy lens is built like a tank, and is designed for heavy body Leica SL, sl2, and sl2s mirrorless cameras. There are perfectly dampened zoom and focus rings with a sturdy tripod foot to match its size. It also works excellently with Leica's tl and aps-c offerings.

The complex 23 elements & 17 groups of optical components feature seven atypical dispersion-limiting aspects for accurate color reproduction and optical stabilization. There are also hydrophobic coatings on both front and rear elements.

The bright 2.8 to 4 aperture range ensures detailed photos in extremely low light conditions. Furthermore, Leica cameras and lenses work in tandem to bring out all great shades which are unmatched in similar price range products. 

An effective Telezoom lens with a wide range of aperture settings, sharpness, and definition remain consistently high across the zoom settings.

All in all, it is a great lens that is built for professionals who are committed to delivering beautifully detailed photos. It is a cherished lens of distinguished photographers and a treasured item among collections.  

What I like:

- It has an extremely high level of clarity and sharpness.

- Exceptional fidelity of colors in high definition

- It is perfect for professionals looking to deliver beautifully detailed photos. 

- Features seven benefits designed to minimize distortion

What can be improved:

- The lens can be expensive, even though it has an excellent range of features.

- It is heavy, so not ideal for traveling.

5. Leica Summilux-R 80mm f/1.4 Lens

  • L Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • 7 Anomalous Partial Dispersion Elements AquaDura Coating on Outer Elements
  • Stepping AF Motor and Linear Positioning Optical Image Stabilization
  • Dual Internal Focus and Internal Zoom Dust and Moisture-Resistant Design
  • Removable Rotating Tripod Collar

If you're serious about your photography, then you know that the lens is everything. And Leica lenses are the best in the world as they deliver consistently outstanding image quality and sharpness.

The Leica Summilux-R 80mm f/1.4 Lens is no exception to this rule, delivering incredible optical quality along with a super-fast aperture of f/1.4 for low light shooting.

It is a terrific lens if you look at the construction and design. It is a telephoto lens weighing around 700 gm in a metal body of length 2.7" inch and a maximum diameter of 3.0" inches.

This lens is crafted from high-quality materials designed to last for years of use while providing you with outstanding image quality that will help elevate your photography to new heights.

The Summilux-R 80mm f/1.4 lens has minimal light falloff, moderate contrast, and solid imaging performance across the entire image field. 

It has a maximum aperture of 1:2 and provides clear resolution even when taking pictures in low light conditions like at dusk or indoors.

Even in extremely contrast light and at full aperture, it is insensitive to flare, and reflections are most often seen in this range of lenses. 

This lens also comes with built-in anti-reflective (AR) coatings, reducing flare and ghosting to keep your images looking sharp!

The lens will produce exceedingly beautiful portraits when capturing talent from every angle with just enough depth of field for isolation from background distractions while not adding too much complexity to framing choices.

We can conclude as this lens is still the best compared to its peers, and if you are a photography savant, you should keep it in your collection.

What I like:

  • The clear resolution even when taking pictures in low light conditions.
  • The lens is constructed from high-quality materials that ensure durability.
  • Consistent depth of field for reducing background distractions while avoiding overly complex framing.

What can be improved:

  • It is pretty expensive, well above the budget of many photographers.
  • It produces moderate contrast and solid imaging performance across the entire image field.

Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Leica R Lens 

Leica R-lenses come in a range of different types and price points. So it's important to know what you're looking for before you start shopping. Here are some factors that should be considered:

  • Use case:

Would you like to start your photography career with a solid setup, or are you a seasoned photographer with years of experience? The answer to this question will significantly affect your lens choice. 

  • Shooting Environment:

Your type of subject and whether you're primarily shooting outdoors or indoors will determine what kind of lens is right for you. 

If you shoot mostly outside and concentrate on subjects that move fast, like sports, wildlife, or children, a zoom lens might be ideal. 

They will ensure you catch a comprehensive view and enable you to track a subject from a distance.

  • Size and Weight: 

If you shoot primarily outdoors or indoors, the weight and size of the lens you carry will affect how enjoyable your shooting experience is. 

Telephoto zoom lenses, for example, are hefty but provide high-quality images that are best suited for indoor shooting, given their bulkiness.

  • Budget: 

This might seem like an obvious factor, but it's important enough to bear repeating. 

Some Leica R lenses cost several thousand dollars; your budget for this type of purchase influences your lens choice.

  • Shooting Style: 

Specific lenses are better designed for particular styles of photography. 

For example, many consider the Leica 50mm the best Leica R lens because it's well-suited to low-light photography.

Also, choose a lens of a focal length you are comfortable and familiar with. 

The results will be better if you are used to a certain length with a Leica lens rather than choosing a supposed size. 

  • Camera Mount: 

The type of mount necessary for your particular camera (single-lens reflex, mirrorless, and so forth) should be determined before buying a new lens. 

For example, if you have a mirrorless camera, you won't be able to mount the Leica R lenses designed for single-lens reflex cameras without an adaptor.

Also, a buyer should check to see if the lens is compatible with their camera's circuitry, as this is an important detail.

  • Durability:

As with any lens, a good durable one will also last a long time. So it is essential to ensure that the Leica R lens is made of durable material.

  • Consult with sellers:

The best lens for one might not be the best idea for another. Therefore, it is always best to check with the seller to determine which lens would be most appropriate for their needs.

  • Check the reviews:

The most expensive might not always be the best option. This is why checking reviews on the lenses is essential to see if they buy something that will work for them.

FAQ: Best Leica R Lens 

Is Leica R3 Good?

The Leica R3 is one of the latest and most innovative cameras used for photojournalism and wedding photography. 

The viewfinder in the Leica R3 makes it a great camera to use in any lighting condition, and it is an excellent camera for any photographer.

Does Leica Make SLR?

Despite their lack of popularity, Leica has made some excellent SLR cameras. 

You will find a Leica SLR for every taste, whether you prefer the original Leicaflex or cameras co-designed by Minolta.

Are Leica R Lenses Autofocus?

Leica's focus on precision, ruggedness, reliability and mechanical perfection meant they avoided lightweight plastics and looser focal tolerances. 

That's why Leica R lenses have always been a manual focus.

Who made Leica R lenses?

When it comes to the production of Leica R lenses, different design and fabrication departments are producing them. One such manufacturer is Leica Camera AG. 

Conclusion

Gordon Lewis, the famous photographer, once said, having the Best Leica R Lens relieves you of the pressure of demonstrating actual photographic prowess. Leica-R lenses bear the true testimony of that sentence.

In this line of thought, we can easily say that Leica-R Lenses are an excellent investment for any photographer who wants to take their photography skills and craft to the next level. 

These lenses will allow you to capture unique shots with minimal effort. So if you're looking for something that'll work hard while you sit back and enjoy your photos, Leica-R lenses won't be the wrong choice! 

The lenses are durable and can withstand harsh conditions, which means they won't get damaged when shooting in less than desirable locations. 

Plus, these lenses have been designed specifically for use by professionals, so they come fully equipped with all of the features necessary to produce professional-quality images every single time. 

So, give yourself the gift of beautiful photographs today by investing in a high-quality Leica-R Lens.

Originally published: October 9, 2021 , Last updated: December 3, 2021
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