Leica 28mm F/2.8 Elmarit Version 3
The lens which showed me Asia. As I was shooting with the 28mm focal length and had a fast 50mm for my Nikon F I decided to swap my Voigtlander 28mm F/2 and 50mm F/2 for a Leica 28mm F/2.8 Elmarit. Though I was very happy with the performance of my Voigtlander 28mm I was always left wondering how a Leica would compare to it.
As with many lenses from Leica they introduce new versions throughout time. I managed to get a boxed Version three example in excellent condition. The version three 28mm Elmarit was produced between 1979 and 1993. The lens has eight elements in six groups and an aperture range from f2.8 to f/22 in half stop increments. Even though this lens is only an f/2.8 which is considered slow by modern standards, you can still get smooth backgrounds when shot wide open at the closet focus distance of 0.7m. For me this is one of the most ergonomic lenses I have ever used with a smooth focusing ring and a clicky aperture ring, though because it is a wider-angle lens it is quite a bit larger then 35mm lenses being more comparable in size to a 50mm Summicron.
While owning this lens I had the chance to travel to Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong as well as extensively photograph the summer of 2017 in London. As I was the summer I was using Ilford HP5 and shot between F/5.6 and f/11, this allowed me to get a large amount of the frame in focus and having the focus set to 1.5m normally I was able to focus on compositional elements. In darker scenes I would open the aperture to f/2.8 and set a shutter speed around 1/15th and I was able to get perfectly sharp images. Some people will prefer to go for a faster lens such as the 28mm Summicron or even Summilux but for me I never had any issues with the f/2.8 aperture.
While in Asia I found when photographing in the tight streets of Hong Kong this lens was perfect, allowing me to shoot scenes I would not have been able to capture with a 50mm because of how busy it was. Nearly all of my photographs from Hong Kong were shot using this lens and it handled itself very well, even when shooting into direct sunlight. I found that sometimes at f/2.8 this lens would vignette but I don’t see this to be an issue for my sort of work but may be something to consider if you are photographing landscapes.
Overall this lens performed very well. Though it is very similar to the Voigtlander 28mm I found this to render a more classic look and having better anti-flair coatings. But this is to be expected when this lens was designed by Dr Walter Mandler who designed many classic Leica lenses such as the 50mm F/2 Elcan, 50mm F/1 Noctilux and the 75mm F/1.4 Summilux. I would recommend this lens to anyone in the market for a 28mm and I would not be put off by the slower aperture as this lens is a great performer and can be found for under £700