Welcome to APOTELYT !
Photography is fascinating, and high quality photo gear contributes to one's imaging success. This website started out as an information source on Leica's APO-Telyt range of telephoto lenses, but has over time grown well beyond its initial focus. There are now a large variety of articles on photo gear, specification compendiums, and reviews of photo equipment available. Just have a look around...
The Leica APO-Telyt-M 1:3.4 / 135mm: the long portrait lens for the M-system
The Leica APO-Telyt-M 1:3.4/135mm is the the longest focal length lens available for Leica's M-system of rangefinder cameras. When released in 1998, it replaced two other Leica tele-lenses, the Elmarit-M 2.8/135mm and the Tele-Elmar 1:4/135mm. The lens has been apochromatically corrected for color aberrations to achieve superior sharpness, contrast, and color accuracy. It produces crisp images across the frame and across all apertures. Yet, framing and focusing a 135mm lens on an M-camera can be a challenge, as the viewing area is relatively small. Hence, the use of a viewfinder magnifier is often advisable. All in all, the 3.4/135mm is a well-constructed, compact lens that has made many friends in the Leica community.
The Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:3.4 / 180mm: the lens that set new standards
When it was first released in 1975, the Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:3.4/180mm set a new benchmark in its class for sharpness, contrast, and color accuracy. This compact telephoto lens produces stunningly detailed images already wide open. Perhaps owing to its origin as a derivative of optics developed for the US military, it performs best when focused at infinity. Yet, its optical quality remains on a very good level at shorter focusing distances, and it has proven very popular with Leica shooters as a short telephoto option for the R-system. Nowadays the lens represents one of the best Leica bargains on the used market. It is a truly classic imaging tool that is of interest for collectors and active photographers alike.
The Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:2.8/280mm: a groundbreaking super-tele lens
The Leica APO-Telyt-R 280mm f/2.8 got significant attention from photography experts when it was released in 1984. Thanks to its apochromatic correction, it achieved high overall contrast and crisp rendering of fine detail already wide-open. In MTF tests by leading evaluators, the 2.8/280mm outperformed all its competition in the 280-300mm telephoto range. The lens is fully compatible with Leica's 1.4x and 2x tele-converters, giving rise, respectively, to 400mmm f/4 and 560mm f/5.6 optical systems. Two different versions of the supertele exist, with lenses produced after 1992 featuring an additional drop-in filter holder. The 2.8/280mm was replaced in 1996, when Leica released a similarly specified lens as part of its Modular system.
The Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:4.0/280mm: a very sharp yet compact telephoto-lens
The APO-Telyt-R 1:4/280mm is one of the front-running candidates for the title of sharpest Leica lens. Since its release in 1993, it has been praised by professional and amateur photographers alike for its exceptional resolution capacity and color accuracy. These qualities are related to the use of specialty APO-glass lens elements to ensure that different color light rays all converge onto the same spot on the receptor for superior imaging results. At the same time, the 280mm f/4 remains relatively compact, with an overall length of 208mm and a weight of 1875g. Today, the lens continues to command premium prices on the used market, as it is still in high demand by Leica shooters.
The Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:2.8/400mm: a super-telephoto lens that was short-lived
The APO-Telyt-R 1:2.8/400mm represented a major improvement in Leica's super-telephoto offer. It delivered a significantly better optical performance already at full aperture than Leica's earlier telescope lenses (such as the Telyt-R 6.8/400mm) when stopped down. The lens-body is a Leica-typical high-quality, all-metal construction. Despite its enticing characteristics, the 400mm f/2.8 was only produced and sold over four years. It was discontinued in 1996 in favor of a similarly specified lens in the APO-Telyt Module system. The latter had a modified optical design, shorter minimum focus distance, and different filter thread. Yet, in terms of imaging performance, the old and the new lenses are close.
The Leica APO-Telyt-R 280/400/560/800mm Module System
Leica's system of long telephoto lenses employs an unusual modular design. The six manual optics with focal lengths ranging from 280mm to 800mm each consist of separate head and focusing units that are connected through a bayonet fitting. Different combinations of the two heads and three focusing modules give differing focal length, maximum aperture (ranging from f/2.8 to f/5.6), and size specifications. The modular system makes it possible to change focal length without carrying several heavy telephoto lenses, while featuring a faster maximum aperture than comparable zoom lenses. Mechanically and optically the system is fully in line with Leica's high quality standards, but it also carries a heavy price tag.
Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:5.6 / 1600mm: the world's most expensive camera lens
Leica is widely known as a producer of exceptional camera lenses that command premium prices. The Leica APO-Telyt-R 1600mm f5.6 is the ultimate reflection of this high-end, niche marketing strategy. The lens was sold for no less than two million US dollars to a photography aficionado from Qatar. This super-heavy price tag is related to the fact that the lens was produced on special order, so that all the research and development expenses had to be recovered from the sale of just one copy of the lens. No photos taken with the lens have been made available, so that one can only speculate on the optical quality of the 5.6/1600mm. In any case, this is a truly extraordinary piece of photo gear, or as Leica used to say in its ads: "Eine Klasse für sich..."
Photo Gear Articles
James Bond and his cameras
Advanced electronic gadgets have often played a critical role in ensuring the success of the missions that James Bond has been charged with. Imaging devices feature prominently among this exotic gear, and spy cameras are generally handed to the agent by Q, the MI6 quartermaster, in person. While it has to be admitted that other types of shooting dominate in the adventures of special agent 007, the 50th anniversary of Mr. Bond's movie existence is a suitable occasion to take stock on his use of cameras.
SD Card Durability
Secure Digital (SD) and other image storage cards for digital cameras are based on flash memory, which has a finite life-span. The technological reliability of flash devices nowadays is, however, very high, and many established manufacturers are happy to provide lifetime warranties for their products. Physical damage to the memory cards is often a more serious problem. Moreover, technical progress in digital imaging has been very rapid, such that older cards can no longer life up to the data transfer and storage needs of the latest cameras.
Retrieving the shutter count on Olympus (Micro-)FourThirds cameras
The shutter release mechanisms on modern digital SLR are generally very reliable devices that will outlast most cameras. Yet, even though the shutter itself might continue to function for a long time, it is often helpful to know the number of shutter releases as an indication of how heavily a camera has been used. The procedures to retrieve the shutter count vary slightly across FourThirds and Micro FourThirds cameras, as described in two respective posts.
News and developments
Exceptional photo equipment
Legacy photo gear
Memory card know-how
Shutter count instructions
- Leica Digilux 3 shutter count
- Olympus FourThirds actuation count
- Olympus mFT shutter count
- Panasonic mFT actuation count
- Panasonic L1 actuation count
- Panasonic L10 shutter count
Photo Gear Compendia
Leica M-system cameras
On the surface, Leica's M-rangefinder cameras have maintained a consistent feel and appearance over time. Yet, the series has undergone a continuous evolution in terms of capabilities and features since the original M3 was launched in 1954. The biggest technological step was doubtlessly the switch to a digital imaging receptor with the release of the M8 in 2006. The build-quality of the M-cameras, as well as the optical quality of the system's lenses, remains exceptional, and has established the M-system as a tool for advanced photogs.
Leica R and Leicaflex cameras
Leica produced single lens reflex cameras for its R-system from 1964 to 2009. New features and capabilities - big and small - were introduced with every new camera model, and the differences in specifications are highlighted in this compendium. All of Leica's reflex cameras relied on manual focus with the excellent R-lenses. There were rumors that a digital, full-frame R10 was being developed, but Leica eventually decided not to produce this camera and to discontinue the entire R-series.
Photo Gear Reviews
Leica M 28mm: wide-angle options for rangefinder cameras
There are a number of 28mm wide-angle options available for Leica M-shooters. Leica itself has produced several designs, but there are also lenses by Konica, Minolta, Voigtländer and Zeiss that are equipped with an M-bayonet. All of the current offerings provide for very high mechanical and optical quality, with the Leica Elmarit 28mm f/2.8 ASPH standing out in terms of ergonomics and compactness, and the Summicron 28mm f/2 with respect to sharpness and lack of distortion.
Leica M 135mm: APO-Telyt vs Elmarit vs Tele-Elmar
The Leica APO-Telyt-M 1:3.4/135mm is the longest telephoto lens for the manufacturer's M-system of rangefinder cameras. When it was launched in 1998, it replaced two predecessors: the Elmarit-M 1:2.8/135mm and the Tele-Elmar-M 1:4/135mm. As would be expected, the new lens provides a performance improvement over the older designs, but is the difference substantial? How do the lenses compare on specifications and image quality? This comparison review looks at Leica-provided MTF and imaging data.
- Leica APO-Telyt-M 135mm f/3.4
- Leica APO-Telyt-R 180mm f/3.4
- Leica APO-Telyt-R 280mm f/2.8
- Leica APO-Telyt-R 280mm f/4.0
- Leica APO-Telyt-R 280-800mm Module
- Leica APO-Telyt-R 400mm f/2.8
- Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/ 1.2
- Soligor 400mm f/5,6
- Soligor 400mm f/6.3
Lens comparison reviews
The making of a camera lens
A short video on how Leica produces its lenses [leica-camera.com]