Leica Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Review

11/19/2016 - 23:11
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Review




Leica Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 is a manual zoom lens for SLR cameras Leica R. Produced since 1990 through 1997. During this time 34,110 copies were produced.

Optical design is 11 elements in 8 groups, was designed and manufactured by Sigma in Japan, but such nuances as a coating that have made Leica in Germany. Lens barrel design also developed by Leica.

Also, there is the Olympic version of this lens, released for the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. It differs from the normal version only «OLYMPISCHE SPIELE '92» inscription in the rest they are identical.

And there are a later version, so-called ROM-version. It has a slightly different barrel design, as well as contacts for Leica R8 and R9 cameras. In this version also lacks a built-in lens hood.

According to the serial number 3548482, my copy is released in 1991. This is the first version of the lens.

 

Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Specs

Focal length: 28-70mm
Max. aperture: f/3.5-4.5
Weight (gr): 450
Length (mm): 76
Filter Ø (mm.): 60 мм
Aperture blades: 6
Min. Focus distance (m.): 0,5 м

 

Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Handling and Mechanics

The lens has an impressive size and looks solidly on the camera. Immediately when you take in hand, you know that thing you take. The body is made of metal.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70

A wide rubberized focusing ring having about 25 mm of width is located closer to the lens front. It is rotated by 180 degrees. It rotates when the focusing front lens and the front block motion occurs about 3 mm. Rear lens, however, remains fixed. Focus such a wide ring is very convenient.

The lens includes distance scales in feet and meters.

Aperture setting ring is located closer to the bayonet side. It is not as wide, with 8 mm. Ring of corrugated metal. When zooming moves whole optical part, including the rear lens is about 20 mm. But lens barrel configured so that it moves within the barrel, so the lens does not change its size.

When zooming, the front element does not rotate. The lens has a reverse zoom, at 70 mm optical part located closer to the sensor, and at 28 mm farther.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70

At 70 mm optical part planted closer to the sensor and the barrel forms a hood.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70

On the ring there are such tags focal distance: 28 - 35 - 50 - 70 mm.

Close to the bayonet is located aperture setting ring. The aperture closes stepwise on half stops. On the ring marked values: 3.5 - 5.6 - 8 - 11- 16 - 22. The Aperture has 6 blackened blades.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 aperture

In front of the barrel is built-in retractable lens hood. It extends about 1 cm. In my instance it becomes loose, so put forward but not fixed. This is a common problem in this model.

The lens has an interesting classic cap made of plastic with a Leica logo, which is covered from the top barrel.

 

Mounting Leica R Lenses to Other Systems

Leica R lenses have long flange distance - 47 mm, they can be adapted for any other system. For example, my copy adapted for Nikon F mount.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 rear

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70, adapted for Nikon

Adaptation is achieved by simply replacing the bayonet fitting. In China produces such special tails. Of course with such adaptation, the automatic preset aperture will not work.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 on Nikon D3100

View on Nikon D3100

 

Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Sample Photos

I used this lens on Nikon D3100 APS-C sensor camera. So this optics is better to put on a full-frame camera, to reveal its full potential, but unfortunately, so far I have only APS-C.

All the examples are captured on Nikon D3100, RAW export with a small exposure compensation in some pho

 

Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Sharpness

At wide-open the lens is sharp enough. Sharpness is excellent, even though it is the zoom.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos bushes70 mm f/ 4.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sharpness test

100% size crop of the previous photo

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos flowers

28 mm f/ 3.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sharpness test 28

100% size crop of the previous photo

It seemed to me that the 70 mm sharpness a little better than 28 mm. This is quite normal, given that a 28 mm lens on a step lighter.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos landscape

28 mm f/ 3.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos girl portrait

50 mm f/ 4.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos people

70 mm f/ 4.5

At f/5.6 sharpness is even better.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos fontain

28 mm f/ 5.6

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos cityscape

28 mm f/ 8

Further sharpness growth, I did not notice, at least just magnifying the image on the screen of the camera.

 

Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Character and Bokeh

The lens has a good plasticity and character a nice background blur.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos bottle

28 mm f/ 3.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos flowers bokeh

70 mm f/ 4.5

On the long end, of course, bokeh nicer than short.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos girl

60 mm f/ 4.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos city flowers

70 mm f/ 4.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos kid portrait in forest

70 mm f/ 4.5

I'm not a fan of zoom lenses bokeh, but this lens behaves very well. It has its own character.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos flowers

70 mm f/ 4.5

 

Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 Contrast and Color Rendition

The lens has a good contrast. Copes with strong side light and good keeping backlight.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos church

28 mm f/ 5.6 Пример с зайцем

Sometimes, if it enters the lens to direct light, you can catch the flare.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos kid

70 mm f/ 4.5 An example brightly reflect light from the house in the background

Actually, what this lens impressed me is its character, combined with color rendition.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos orange flower

70 mm f/ 4.5

I really liked how it renders colors. Very good detail rendition, especially in the highlights.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos village

29 mm f/ 3.5

The colors are obtained naturally.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos red bricks

28 mm f/ 5.6

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos pigeon

60 mm f/ 5.6

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos lake

70 mm f/ 4.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos building

70 mm f/ 4.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos pink flowers

70 mm f/ 4.5

Also, the lens has a good mikrokontrast.

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos gray sky

28 mm f/ 3.5 Gray sky

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos cky and road

70 mm f/ 4.5

Leica Vario-Elmar-R 3.5-4.5/28-70 sample photos cloud

28 mm f/ 3.5 Небо

Summary:
Leica Vario-Elmar-R 1:3.5-4.5/28-70 has good performance and ergonomics. The most interesting for its color rendition and character. The disadvantage for me, probably the only variable aperture. In all other respects, a great versatile zoom, which you can get live pictures.

Its price on Ebay $350-800 depending on the condition and the seller.





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