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21mm Rangefinder Lenses
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May 2009          Leica Camera Reviews    Leica Lens Reviews     Contax G System

Recommended Leica Lenses   Leica Lens Names

How to Afford Anything   

 

Here are comparisons of 21mm lenses for Leica M and other rangefinder cameras, roughly in alphabetical and then chronological order.

Most of the measurements are my actual measurements, so they won't agree with the manufacturers claimed figures most often repeated elsewhere.

Click the links for detailed reviews on each lens.

 
Years
Filter
Length
Weight
Catalog Number
Price
1997-
55mm
35.5mm
180g
$500-1,000 used
1997-
55mm
46mm
317g
11 135
$4,300 new
2008-
Series VIII in hood*
66mm
580g
11 647
Leica 21/2.8
1980-1997
49mm or 60mm
46.5mm
290g
11 134
$1,000 used
Leica 21/3.4
1963-1980
48mm, or Series VII in hood
51mm
301g
11 103
$1,000 used
1958-1963
39mm
27.00mm
240g

M-mount: SUMON/11102L

Screw Mount: SUOON/11002K

$800-1500 used
1999-
39mm
25.4mm
132g

M-mount, black: BA211P

Screw-Mount Silver: BA211A

Screw-Mount Black: BA211B

 

$400 new
2007-
46mm
31mm
190g
Black: 1419575
Silver: 1419574
$970 new
2007-
46mm
64mm
300g
Black: 30 82022
Silver: 30 82021
$1,110 new

 

 
Years
Optics
Aperture Blades
f/min

Close
Focus

Hood
TTL Metering
1997-
9/7 Retrofocus
7
f/22
0.5m
none
Yes
1997-
9/7 Retrofocus Aspherical
8
f/16
0.7m
Yes
2008-
10/8 Retrofocus Aspherical
 
f/16
0.7m
Yes
Leica 21/2.8
1980-1997
8/6 Retrofocus
8?
f/16
0.38m or 0.7m
12 537 (49mm)
Yes
Leica 21/3.4
1963-1980
8/4 Symmetrical
4
f/22
0.4m
12 501
no
1958-1963

9/4 Symmetrical

9
f/22
0.4m
IWKOO (12502N)
no
1999-

8/6 Retrofocus

10
f/22
0.5m
included
Yes
2007-
8/6 Retrofocus
10
f/22
0.5m
 
Yes
2007-
9/7 Retrofocus
10
f/22
0.5m
 
Yes

 

Recommendations         top

THe best lens is the Contax G 21/2.8. It has the lest distortion, it's the sharpest, and it's also the smallest and lightest. It does this because it works only on the Contax G camera, which affords its designers a shorter backfocus with TTL metering, than the Leica lenses. Sorry, but you'll have a cow of a time getting it to work on your Leica.

THe best lens in sprit for the Leica is the Voigtländer 21mm f/4. It has the same optical quality as the Leica lenses, but unlike the Leica lenses, it's still small enough not to block your finder and takes Leica's standard 39mm filters.

I have not tested them yet, but the best lens also might be the Zeiss 21mm f/4.5 because it's also small enough not to block your viewfinder. If you prefer 46mm filters, this Zeiss lens (or the larger, finder-blocking Zeiss 21mm f/2.8) is probably your best choice.

All this said and done, I bit and bought a used Leica 21mm f/2.8 ASPH and even though it's bigger and heavier than the other practical 21mm lenses, it performs just fine and takes the same 55mm filters as the Leica 90mm f/2 APO ASPH with which I often shoot it.

 

PLUG         top

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Ken

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