APO-Telyt lenses, and more...

Leica's APO-Telyt lenses have been milestones of optical engineering. Even decades after their release, these highly corrected tele-photo optics are still able to match or even outperform much more recent designs. The manual focus lenses are mechanically solid and handle smoothly, and the emergence of mirrorless cameras has given them another opportunity to shine in the era of digital imaging. Check out the links below to learn more about the APO-Telyts, as well as other photo gear.

The APO-Telyt timeline

1975

Leica APO-Telyt-R 3.4/180mm

leica apo telyt r 180mm 34 on a7r
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  • First apochromatically corrected lens released by Leica;
  • Originally intended for military surveillance;
  • Lens construction with seven elements in four groups;
  • Front filter size of S7.5 (early version) or E60 (later copies);
  • Focus range from 2.5m to infinity;
  • Maximum magnification of 11.5;
  • Integrated, sliding lens hood;
  • Maximum diameter of 68mm (2.68 inch);
  • Overall length to bayonet mount of 135mm (5.31 inch);
  • Weight of 750g (1.65 lb.);
  • More on the APO-Telyt-R 3.4/180mm;
1984

Leica APO-Telyt-R 2.8/280mm

leica apo telyt r 280mm 28 on s2
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  • Tele-photo prime lens with high overall contrast and crisp rendering of fine detail;
  • Sharpest lens in its category;
  • Compatible with Leica's 1.4x and 2x APO-Extenders;
  • Front filter size of E112; later version also accepted S5.5 rear filters;
  • Focus range from 2.5m (8.2 ft) to infinity;
  • Maximum diameter of 125mm (4.9 inch);
  • Overall length to bayonet mount of 261mm (10.3 inch);
  • Weight of 2,750g (6.1 lb.) for the early version, 2,800g for the later version;
  • More on the APO-Telyt-R 2.8/280mm;
1992

Leica APO-Telyt-R 2.8/400mm

leica apo telyt r 400mm 28 on nex
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  • Fast super-tele prime lens;
  • Possibility to pre-select the minimum focus distance;
  • Compatible with Leica's 1.4x and 2x APO-Extenders;
  • Lens construction with 11 elements in 9 groups;
  • Focus range from 4.7m (15.5 ft) to infinity;
  • Series 5.5 rear filters;
  • Maximum diameter of 166mm (6.5 inch);
  • Overall length to bayonet mount of 365mm (14.4 inch);
  • Weight of 5,880g (12.8 lb.);
  • More on the APO-Telyt-R 2.8/400mm;
1993

Leica APO-Telyt-R 4.0/280mm

leica apo telyt r 280mm 40 on sl2
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  • Telephoto prime with exceptional sharpness and color accuracy;
  • Superior performance already at maximum aperture;
  • Lens construction with seven elements in six groups;
  • Drop-in filters of size S5.5 or front filters in E77 screw mount;
  • Focus range from 1.7m (5.6 ft) to infinity;
  • Maximum magnification of 1:5;
  • Built-in, telescopic, rubber armored lens hood;
  • Maximum diameter of 88mm (3.46 inch);
  • Overall length to bayonet mount of 208mm (8.19 inch);
  • Weight of 1,875g (4.13 lb);
  • More on the APO-Telyt-R 4.0/280mm;
1996

Leica APO-Telyt-R Module

leica apo telyt r module 280 800mm
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  • Modular lens system with 3 focusing units and 2 heads;
  • Six different lenses from alternative combinations of focusing unit and head;
  • Focal lengths from 280mm to 800mm;
  • Compatible with Leica's 1.4x and 2x APO-Extenders;
  • Series 6 rear filter holder;
  • ROM contacts for use with the R8 and R9;
  • More on the APO-Telyt-R Module lenses;
1998

Leica APO-Telyt-M 3.4/135mm

leica apo telyt m 135mm on m
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  • Portrait tele for Leica's M rangefinder series
  • Longest focal length among M-lenses;
  • Excellent sharpness and color reproduction;
  • Lens construction with five elements in four groups;
  • Focus range from 1.5m to infinity;
  • Front filter size of E49;
  • Integrated, sliding lens hood;
  • Maximum diameter of 58.5mm (2.3 inches);
  • Overall length to bayonet mount of 104.8mm (4.12 inches);
  • Weight of 453g (1 lb.);
  • More on the APO-Telyt-M 3.4/135mm;

Camera Systems

leica sl typ601 top detail
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Leica M cameras: 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. Find out in this compendium how the various film and digital M-models differ.

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. The release of an autofocus-capable R10 camera was envisaged, but eventually not pursued. The evolution of the system and the differences in camera specifications are highlighted in this compendium.

The CAM-parator App: Size and weight are some of the key specifications of digital cameras. This App gives you a visual impression of the relative proportions of any two cameras and provides a comparison of their core features. Just select your camera pair using the search boxes below and you will promptly see a corresponding side-by-side display.

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    For example, you might find some of the following comparisons interesting:

    Lens Compendiums

    sigma 18 35mm 18 detail
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    Canon EOS lenses: When Canon introduced autofocus with its EOS-line of single lens reflex cameras in 1987, it switched from the mechanically-coupled FD mount to the fully electronic EF mount. Lenses with this "Electro-Focus" bayonet have a dedicated electric motor built into the lens that handles the autofocus operation. This compendium provides a comprehensive listing of Canon's AF lenses.

    CONTAX lenses: CONTAX used to be one of the most illustrious camera brands. Carl Zeiss lenses for the CONTAX/Yashica mount were produced from 1975 to 2005, and competed in quality and price with Leica's R-system. Many of these excellent manual focus optics nowadays enjoy a second life when adapted for use on digital cameras. See this system description and listing for an overview of all Zeiss C/Y lenses.

    Four Thirds lenses: At a time when other manufacturers were still relying heavily on film-era optics, Olympus advertized its Four Thirds lenses as built for digital photography. The wide mount and short flange to focal plane distance made it possible to apply telecentric lens design principles for superior edge-to-edge sharpness. This article provides an overview of the FT system and lists the specs of all the lenses with a native FT-mount.

    Fujifilm X-mount lenses: Fujifilm has built up a comprehensive set of lenses for its APS-C mirrorless cameras. The line-up of primes and zooms is carefully crafted and aimed at the needs of the enthusiast photographer. This posts lists all the upcoming, new, and existing lenses for the X-mount and their core specifications.

    Leica M-mount lenses: Leica's rangefinder lenses are legendary. They are masterpieces of precision manufacturing and optical engineering. In lens tests, M-optics consistently come out at the very top. Click through for an overview of M-lenses from Leica, Voigtländer and other brands.

    Leica R-mount lenses: The R-series was Leica's flagship product line from 1964 to 2009. The main attraction of the system was arguably the catalog of superb R-mount lenses. This compendium lists all the available R-optics from Leica, as well as third party manufacturers.

    Micro Four Thirds lenses: MFT-lenses have rapidly gained a reputation for excellent imaging performance in a compact and light form factor. The lens mount is supported by Olympus and Panasonic, as well as a range of third party suppliers, including Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. All lenses for the system – autofocus and manual – are listed with their key characteristics in this compendium.

    Nikon AF lenses: Nikon introduced its first autofocus lenses in 1986. Initially, the autofocus was driven by a motor located inside the camera, but later the Nikkors obtained their own drive. The full catalog of F-mount autofocus lenses offers a variety of options and solutions for virtually all photography situations, as documented in this overview article.

    Soligor lenses: Soligor offered solid lenses at affordable prices as alternatives to OEM optics. The company actually did not produce its lenses, but commissioned them from Japan-based manufacturers, like Sun Optical or Tokina. The listing in this article reports the key specifications of most, if not all, Soligor lenses that were released between 1960 and 1990.

    Sony E-mount lenses: Sony's introduction of mirrorless cameras in 2010 was a major milestone for digital photography, but the E-mount was initially held back by a lack of native lenses. This deficit has over time been addressed with Sony, Zeiss and other third party suppliers launching a considerable number of optics for the system. Read on to learn about the existing catalog of E-mount lenses and how their specs compare.

    Tamron Adaptall lenses: The Adaptall interchangeable mount makes it possible to use a lens with cameras from different brands by switching out camera-specific custom fittings. Tamron introduced this system in the mid-1970s and subsequently released more than 60 Adaptall lenses, before discontinuing its line of manual focus optics in 2006. Click through to learn more about this universal mount system and the lenses that are available for it.

    Vivitar lenses: Vivitar was a third party supplier that offered lenses for all the major camera brands from the 1960s to the 1990s. The company's premium Series 1 line was particularly popular for providing extraordinary features and superior imaging quality at an affordable price. Read this overview to learn more about Vivitar lenses and their specifications.

    Accessories & More

    memory card slot
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    Memory cards: Secure Digital (SD) and Compact Flash (CF) cards are an essential part of the digital imaging process, as they record and store the precious images taken. Memory cards can provide good services over a long time, as long as basic handling guidelines are respected. This overview and list of frequently asked questions provides suggestions on how to get the most of one's cards.

    Series filters: Series filters are glass or gelatine disks mounted in a threadless metal rim. The latter are attached to the lens with the help of an adapter and a retaining ring. Series filters were widely used from the 1930s to the 1970s, but since then have largely been replaced by the E-system of threaded filters. This article provides an overview of these legacy accessories.

    Photography glossary: Digital photography is developing rapidly and new features are often accompanied by new terminology. The resulting plethora of acronyms, designations, and phrases can at times be daunting and even off-putting. This illustrated dictionary cuts through the jargon and explains many imaging terms in detail. Check it out!

    Other Resources on the Web

    There are many excellent photo gear websites available nowadays. Here are three favorites: For the latest product releases and industry updates, Simon Joinson and his team at dpreview.com maintain a very comprehensive news blog and conduct detailed technical assessments. For hands-on camera and lens evaluations, Gordon Laing at cameralabs.com provides critical yet constructive reviews. And for explanations on the technical foundations of digital photography, Sean McHugh at cambridgeincolour.com makes many pertinent resources and illustrated tutorials available.

    It is remarkable how far imaging technology has advanced since the Ur-Leica of 100 years ago, isn't it?

    Ur-Leica
    The Ur-Leica - the first 35mm camera[leica-camera.com]
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    The Ur-Leica - the first 35mm camera[leica-camera.com]