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Leica M 28mm lens compendium

Lenses with a focal length of 28 mm are classic tools of photo reportage. They give prominence to a main object that is relatively close to the camera, while still being able to put the central point of interest into the broader background-environment. Moreover, 28mm-wide-angles are often used for in-door photography where they make it possible to capture broad settings in tight spaces without distorting the perspective as much as an ultra-wide angle would do.

It is then not surprising that there are a number of 28mm lens options available for an iconic reportage camera like the Leica M. Leica has produced no fewer than ten different 28mm lenses for the M-bayonet or M39 screw mount (which can be attached to M-cameras via an adapter). One design, the Elmarit-M 1:2.8 / 28 mm, is now in its fifth generation, which makes it the most re-designed optic in the lens producer's history. In addition, 28mm wide-angles for the M-system are offered by other quality manufacturers, notably Carl Zeiss, Konica, and Voigtländer. Hence, the M-shooter has the choice among a rather broad range of options when looking for a lens that provides a 75° diagonal angle of view.

There are more than a dozen 28s for Leica M. Five of these - the Leica Summinlux, Summicron and Elmarit ASPH, the Carl Zeiss Biogon, and the Voigtländer Ultron are current versions, while the remaining lenses have meanwhile been discontinued. Owners of the Leica M5 and CL should note that the first version of the Elmarit-M 28mm can not be mounted on their cameras due to a protruding rear element. Also, some of the older lenses take unusually-sized or Series filters, which can be hard to get nowadays.

Leica 28mm review
Leica M 28mm review summary

In July 2012, photography blogger Ken Rockwell reviewed several 28mm lenses for Leica M. In particular, he tested the Leica Summicron, Leica Elmarit ASPH, Carl Zeiss Biogon, Konica Hexanon, and Voigtländer Ultron. Ken found all of these lenses to be of very high optical and mechanical quality, surpassing most offerings available for (D)SLR. He noted some differences among the lenses, though, which can be summarized as follows.

Ken observed that while the Leica Summicron showed some notable vignetting, the lens is tack sharp throughout the image frame and has no distortion, so that it received his best overall assessment in terms of optical quality. The Carl Zeiss Biogon and the Leica Elmarit ASPH are not far behind, while the Hexanon and Ultron are seen as a bit weaker, for example with respect to corner sharpness. In terms of handling and ergonomics, the Leica Elmarit ASPH received the best review as a very compact, well manufactured wide-angle. Some of the other, larger lenses can obstruct parts of the viewfinder window, which can at times become annoying.

So overall, the Leicas are ahead on technical performance. Yet, the Biogon and Ultron are suitable alternatives and very attractive price-wise, so that they deserve careful consideration. The Hexanon was the only discontinued lens in the sample, and even though it continues to be a very good lens, it failed to shine relative to the other offerings.

Headline specifications of 28mm wide-angle lenses for the Leica M-system
Lens Designation Lens
mount
(type)
Aperture
Range
(f-stop)
Elements/
Groups
(#)
Min
Dist
(m)
Filter
Size
(type)
Length/
Diameter
(mm)
Lens
Weight
(g)
Sales
Period
(years)
Used
Price
(USD)
eBay
Offers
(current)
Carl Zeiss T* Biogon 28mm f/2.8 ZM M 2.8 - 22 8 / 6 0.50 E46 37.7 / 51.0 220 2004-today 700-1,100 check
Konica M-Hexanon 28mm f/2.8 M 2.8 - 22 8 / 7 0.70 E46 40.1 / 55.4 230 1999-2003 800-1,300 check
Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH M 1.4 - 16 10 / 7 0.70 E49 67.0 / 61.0 440 2015-today 5,000-6,000 check
Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2 ASPH M 2.0 - 16 9 / 6 0.70 E46 40.8 / 53.0 270 2000-today 2,800-3,500 check
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH M 2.8 - 22 8 / 6 0.70 E39 30.0 / 52.0 180 2006-today 1,800-2,300 check
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 (IV) M 2.8 - 22 8 / 7 0.70 E46 41.4 / 53.0 260 1992-2006 1,400-1,800 check
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 (III) M 2.8 - 22 8 / 6 0.70 E49 48.0 / 53.0 250 1979-1993 1,100-1,500 check
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 (II) M 2.8 - 22 8 / 6 0.70 S7 / E48 46.0 / 52.0 225 1972-1980 1,000-1,300 check
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 (I) M 2.8 - 22 9 / 6 0.70 S7 / E48 38.0 / 52.0 243 1965-1969 2,500-3,500 check
Leica Tri-Elmar-M 28/35/50mm ASPH f/4 M 4.0 - 22 8 / 6 1.00 E55 / E49 67.8 / 55.0 340 1998-2007 3,300-5,500 check
Leitz Summaron 2.8cm f/5.6 M39 5.6 - 22 6 / 4 1.00 A36 15.0 / 40.0 150 1955-1963 800-1,300 check
Leitz Hektor 2.8cm f/6.3 M39 6.3 - 25 5 / 3 1.00 A36 23.0 / 35.0 110 1935-1955 600-1,200 check
Minolta M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 M 2.8 - 22 7 / 7 0.80 E40.5 35.5 / 51.0 135 1980-1984 500-900 check
Voigtländer Ultron 28mm f/1.9 Asph M39 1.9 - 22 9 / 7 0.70 E46 48.3 / 55.0 261 2000-2008 400-750 check
Voigtländer Ultron 28mm f/2 M 2.0 - 22 10 / 8 0.70 E46 51.2 / 55.0 244 2008-today 500-800 check
Voigtländer Color-Skopar 28mm f/3.5 M39 3.5 - 22 7 / 5 0.70 E39 25.8 / 49.6 163 2002-2007 400-700 check
 

Further Reading

The headline specifications of all M-mount lenses by Leica, Voigtländer and Zeiss are contained in the M lens compendium on this site. You can similarly find information on Leica UV filters and Series filters, in case you are looking to protect the front element of your lens. Moreover, there is a description of the evolution of the Leica M-camera line, as well as a downloadable version of the Leica family tree which used to be on display at the company's headquarters.

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