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Overview of Leica-R Lenses

The high quality of the R-lenses has arguably been at the center of the stellar reputation of Leica's SLR-system. While the Leicaflex and R-cameras were very solid premium offerings, they never quite achieved technological leadership. In contrast, the companies R-lenses were almost without exception highly regarded and consistently received praise from reviewers. They combined solid physical build based on an all-metal lens barrel and tight manufacturing tolerances with highly corrected optics that often used special elements to reduce aberrations. For example, tests carried out by Lars Kjellberg at Photodo during the 1990s and early 2000s show that Leica R lenses often topped the rankings for MTF resolution in their respective focal length categories.

The first R-lenses were released in 1964, when the Leicaflex was introduced with the new R bayonet mount. The lens catalog expanded continuously over time to eventually cover a vast range of focal lengths from the ultra-wide angle to the super telephoto lens, along with specialty optics for fisheye, perspective control, and macro photography. Leica thereby focused on high quality prime lenses, so that the system features relatively few zooms, even as the latter became more and more popular among professionals and enthusiasts. Also, Leica continued to rely on manual focus for its SLR system much longer than the competition. Eventually, a Leica R10 with autofocus capability was developed, but management decided in March 2009 not to bring that camera to market and, indeed, to discontinue the entire R-system.

Leica 105-280mm
Leica R 105-280mm f/4.2[phunag3]

While it is perfectly possible to mount and use a forty-year old R-lens on an R9, it is important to note that the R-mount underwent a number of modifications over time. In particular, five different lens bayonet configurations exist for the R-system: (i) "one-cam lenses" feature one projection at the rear of the lens mount to transfer the chosen aperture opening to the light meter of the original Leicaflex; (ii) with the change-over to the Leicaflex SL and SL2 models came the addition of a second projection to the lens mount, giving rise to the so-called "two-cam lenses"; (iii) concurrent with the release of the Leica R3, which features automatic exposure control, a third projection was introduced, giving rise to the "three-cam lenses". All the newer (three-cam or two-cam) lenses can be mounted on older (Leicaflex or SL) bodies, while older (one-cam or two-cam) lenses can be attached to newer (SL or R) bodies, but function in this case only on the basis of stop-down metering. (iv) "three-cam only lenses" started to appear about ten years after the Leicaflex SL2 had been discontinued. They have the third cam to support transmission of aperture information to R-cameras, but lack the first and second one. Also, due to a small bayonet change they can not be mounted on Leicaflex/SL/SL2 cameras; (v) Finally, "ROM lenses" contain electronic contacts in addition of the three-cam-only projections, so that they can transfer lens-specific information to the R8 and R9 bodies. ROM lenses can be mounted on all R-cameras, but not on the Leicaflex/SL/SL2. Hence, when buying lenses for a Leica reflex body, it is important to pay attention to the type of mount the optic is equipped with.

There are also some third party lenses available for Leica-R. In particular, Tamron offered R-system versions of its Adaptall-2 custom mount that made it possible to use Adaptall lenses on R-series cameras. Moreover, French optics manufacturer Angénieux produced several zooms and tele-photo primes for the R-mount. While the body of these optics is of polycarbonate rather than metal, the lenses are highly regarded with respect to imaging quality and mechanical durability. Indeed, Angénieux used to offer a lifetime warranty for its products...

The listing below shows most of the R-mount lenses released, but excludes some extremely rare special order optics, such as the APO-Telyt-R 600mm mirror lens or the APO-Telyt-R 1600mm. Early lenses generally use series filters with corresponding retaining rings, while for later releases Leica switched to the metric screw-in filter standard. Some of the lenses are also available in other colors than black, including chrome, gold or safari-green. Overall, Leica sold about 950,000 R-lenses, or roughly two lenses per reflex-body (about 488,000 Leicaflex and R-cameras sold between 1964 and 2009). However, surely many Leica shooters owned more than one body and, hence, a larger number of lenses. How many R-lenses do you have in your bag?

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Leica R-Mount Lenses
#  Lens
Designation
Focus
System
(type)
Lens
Construction
(elmts/groups)
Close
Focus
(m)
Filter
Type
(size)
Lens
Dimensions
(dia x len)
Lens
Weight
(net)
Used
Price
(USD)
Current
Offers
(USD)
1
 
Leica Super-Elmarit-R 15mm f/2.8 AsphMF13 / 100.18n84 x 85 mm710 g3500-7000i
2
 
Leica Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5MF13 / 120.16n84 x 93 mm815 g2500-3500i
3
 
Leitz Wetzlar Fisheye-Elmarit-R 16mm f/2.8MF11 / 80.30n71 x 60 mm460 g500-1000i
4
 
Leica Elmarit-R 19mm f/2.8 (I)MF9 / 70.30E8288 x 60 mm590 g400-800i
5
 
Leica Elmarit-R 19mm f/2.8 (II)MF12 / 100.30n71 x 60 mm560 g1000-2000i
6
 
Leitz Wetzlar Super-Angulon-R 21mm f/3.4MF8 / 40.20S867 x 42 mm228 g400-800i
7
 
Leitz Wetzlar Super-Angulon-R 21mm f/4MF10 / 80.20E7278 x 44 mm420 g400-800i
8
 
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 21-35mm f/3.5-4.0 AsphMF9 / 80.50E6775 x 66 mm500 g800-1600i
9
 
Leica Elmarit-R 24mm f/2.8MF9 / 70.30S867 x 49 mm420 g300-600i
10
 
Leica Elmarit-R 28mm f/2.8 (I)MF8 / 80.30S763 x 40 mm275 g300-400i
11
 
Leica PC-Super-Angulon-R 28mm f/2.8MF12 / 100.30E6797 x 84 mm600 g500-1000i
12
 
Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 28mm f/2.8 (II)MF8 / 70.30E5568 x 48 mm435 g350-500i
13
 
Leica Vario Elmar-R 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5MF11 / 80.50E6069 x 76 mm450 g300-600i
14
 
Leica Vario-Elmarit-R 28-90mm f/2.8-4.5 AsphMF11 / 80.60E6780 x 99 mm740 g1500-3000i
15
 
Leica Summilux-R 35mm f/1.4MF10 / 90.50E6775 x 76 mm685 g2000-3000i
16
 
Leica Summicron-R 35mm f/2 (I)MF9 / 70.30S768 x 61 mm510 g300-400i
17
 
Leica Summicron-R 35mm f/2 (II)MF6 / 60.30E5566 x 54 mm430 g400-600i
18
 
Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 35mm f/2.8 (I)MF7 / 60.30S663 x 40 mm310 g100-200i
19
 
Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 35mm f/2.8 (II)MF7 / 50.30S663 x 40 mm305 g200-300i
20
 
Leitz Elmarit-R 35mm f/2.8 (III)MF7 / 60.30E5566 x 42 mm305 g300-400i
21
 
Schneider-Kreuznach PA-Curtagon 35mm f/4MF7 / 60.30S870 x 51 mm310 g400-800i
22
 
Angenieux 35-70mm f/2.5-3.3MF11 / 111.00E5871 x 136 mm525 g500-1500i
23
 
Leica Vario-Elmarit-R 35-70mm f/2.8 AsphMF11 / 90.70E7788 x 133 mm1,050 g5000-10000i
24
 
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 35-70mm f/3.5MF8 / 71.00E6772 x 65 mm450 g300-400i
25
 
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 35-70mm f /4MF8 / 70.50E6074 x 79 mm505 g400-800i
26
 
Angenieux 45-90mm f/2.8MF15 / 101.00S869 x 122 mm774 g1500-2500i
27
 
Leica Summilux-R 50mm f/1.4 (I)MF7 / 60.50E5569 x 51 mm395 g250-500i
28
 
Leica Summilux-R 50mm f/1.4 (II)MF8 / 70.50E6070 x 51 mm710 g400-800i
29
 
Leica Summicron-R 50mm f/2.0 (I)MF6 / 50.50S663 x 39 mm680 g150-300i
30
 
Leica Summicron-R 50mm f/2.0 (II)MF6 / 40.50E5566 x 41 mm290 g400-800i
31
 
Leica Macro-Elmarit-R 60mm f/2.8MF6 / 50.27S7/E5568 x 62 mm400 g400-800i
32
 
Leica Vario-APO-Elmarit-R 70-180mm f/2.8MF13 / 101.70E7789 x 190 mm1,870 g4000-8000i
33
 
Angenieux 3x70 70-210mm f/3.5MF13 / 90.90E6280 x 164 mm783 g600-1200i
34
 
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 70-210mm f/4MF12 / 91.10E6074 x 157 mm720 g300-900i
35
 
Leitz Elcan-R 75mm f/2MF.. / ..0.70E6064 x 77 mm700 g3000-6000i
36
 
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 75-200mm f/4.5MF15 / 111.20E5570 x 157 mm725 g200-400i
37
 
Leica Summilux-R 80mm f/1.4MF7 / 50.80E6775 x 69 mm700 g2500-4000i
38
 
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 80-200mm f/4MF12 / 81.10E6071 x 165 mm1,020 g800-1600i
39
 
Leitz Wetzlar Vario-Elmar-R 80-200mm f/4.5MF.. / ..1.80E5572 x 157 mm710 g400-800i
40
 
Leica Summicron-R 90mm f/2MF5 / 40.70S7/E5570 x 63 mm560 g1000-2000i
41
 
Leica APO-Summicron-R 90mm f/2MF5 / 50.70E6070 x 59 mm520 g3500-5000i
42
 
Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 90mm f/2.8 (I)MF5 / 40.70S765 x 72 mm500 g400-800i
43
 
Leica Elmarit-R 90mm f/2.8 (II)MF4 / 40.70E5567 x 57 mm450 g500-1000i
44
 
Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8MF8 / 60.45E6073 x 105 mm760 g1500-3000i
45
 
Leitz Wetzlar Macro-Elmar-R 100mm f/4MF4 / 31.10E5568 x 120 mm670 g400-800i
46
 
Leitz Wetzlar Vario-Elmar-R 105-280mm f/4.2MF13 / 101.70S889 x 238 mm1,950 g3000-4000i
47
 
Leitz Canada Elmarit-R 135mm f/2.8 (I)MF5 / 41.50S765 x 91 mm655 g500-800i
48
 
Leica Elmarit-R 135mm f/2.8 (II)MF5 / 41.50E5567 x 93 mm730 g500-1000i
49
 
Leica APO-Summicron-R 180mm f/2MF9 / 61.50E100116 x 179 mm2,500 g8000-12000i
50
 
Angenieux APO IF 180mm f/2.3MF8 / 61.70E8286 x 149 mm995 g2500-4000i
51
 
Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 180mm f/2.8 (I)MF5 / 41.80S878 x 134 mm1,325 g300-600i
52
 
Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 180mm f/2.8 (II)MF5 / 41.80E6775 x 121 mm810 g300-600i
53
 
Leica APO-Elmarit-R 180mm f/2.8 (I)MF7 / 51.50S876 x 132 mm970 g2500-7500i
54
 
Leica APO-Elmarit-R 180mm f/2.8 (II)MF7 / 51.50E6776 x 132 mm970 g3000-8000i
55
 
Leitz Elcan-R 180mm f/3.4MF7 / 42.50E6063 x 115 mm750 g$$$i
56
 
Leitz Canada APO-Telyt-R 180mm f/3.4MF7 / 42.50S7.5/E6068 x 135 mm750 g800-1200i
57
 
Leitz Wetzlar Elmar-R 180mm f/4MF5 / 41.80E5586 x 100 mm540 g200-400i
58
 
Leitz Canada Telyt-R 250mm f/4 (I)MF6 / 54.50S8/E5566 x 100 mm1,380 g300-600i
59
 
Leitz Canada Telyt-R 250mm f/4 (II)MF7 / 61.70E6775 x 195 mm1,230 g400-800i
60
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 280mm f/2.8MF8 / 72.50E112125 x 261 mm2,750 g2000-4000i
61
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 280mm f/2.8 ModuleMF8 / 72.00rear125 x 276 mm3,740 g8000-12000i
62
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 280mm f/4MF7 / 61.70E7788 x 208 mm1,875 g3000-6000i
63
 
Leitz Telyt-R 350mm f/4.8MF7 / 53.00E7784 x 286 mm1,820 g500-1500i
64
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 400mm f/2.8MF11 / 94.70rear125 x 314 mm6,240 g10000-15000i
65
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 400mm f/2.8 ModuleMF10 / 83.70rear157 x 344 mm5,800 g10000-15000i
66
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 400mm f/4 ModuleMF9 / 72.15rear157 x 382 mm3,860 g6000-12000i
67
 
Leitz Wetzlar Telyt 400mm f/6.8 MF2 / 13.60S778 x 384 mm1,830 g500-1000i
68
 
Leitz Wetzlar MR-Telyt-R 500mm f/8MF5 / 54.00E7787 x 121 mm750 g800-1200i
69
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 560mm f/4 ModuleMF11 / 83.95rear157 x 382 mm6,360 g12000-18000i
70
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 560mm f/5.6 ModuleMF9 / 72.15rear125 x 374 mm4,050 g10000-15000i
71
 
Leitz Wetzlar Telyt-R 560mm f/6.8MF2 / 16.40S798 x 530 mm2,330 g400-600i
72
 
Leica APO-Telyt-R 800mm f/5.6 ModuleMF11 / 83.90rear157 x 442 mm6,550 g15000-20000i
73
 
Leitz Wetzlar Telyt-S 800mm f/6.3MF3 / 112.50built-in152 x 790 mm6,860 g3000-7000i
74
 
Minolta RF Rokkor-X 800mm f/8 for Leica RMF.. / ..8.00rear127 x 178 mm1,960 g1000-2000i

Further Reading

This site takes its domain name from the APO-Telyt line of telephoto lenses. So, evidently there are quite a few pages devoted to this lens family and its members. Additional detail on many other R-lenses can be found in some of the writings of Erwin Puts, such as in his Leica Lens Compendium or his more recent Lens Chronicle. Free online versions of these are available for download on the Leica resources page. Moreover, if you are interested in accessories for your Leica R-lenses, you might want to check out the respective pages for UV filters, tele-converters, or the Leica Ocular telescope adapter.

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