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Vieri

Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH In-Depth Review

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Hello everyone,

 
my review of the new Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH is finally published! I compared it with the Voigtlander 15mm at the wide end, and with the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm at the long end. I hope you'll find it interesting, here it is:
 
 
Thank you for your time and for reading the article! Best regards,
 
Vieri

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Couldn't agree with you more about the choice of focal length.   If Leica went wider the long end would likely suffer significantly, with a 16-35mm it leaves some headroom for the all important 24 and 28mm focal lengths that you have shown to be sharp.  Owning the Canon EF adapter I was tempted to buy the Canon 11-24mm, the images appear to be good but not Leica good.  Thanks so much for your review.  

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Thanks Vieri - yes, the 16-35mm is impressive. After playing a little with the lens, I see slight softness in one of the corners at 16mm and wide open (at infinity), otherwise impressive sharpness all over. Similar to the findings you report to. More impressive, whether originating from the optics or the software, I see no chromatic aberration. Zero. Nil. Even against burning highlights. And - as you write - the lens seems to be extraordinarily flare resistant. This is a big, big plus; everyone that has used Nikon 12-24G or similar lenses (with a huge, bulbous front element) know that flare is more the rule than the exception when highlights are present. And finally, no miscolouring towards the corners/edges. Another big, big plus.

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Thanks Vieri, I cant wait to get my hands on mine where ever it is in the pipeline. Great in depth review.

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That's a very helpful review.  I hope to have my copy of this lens in a few weeks and just put it to work.  On a recent trip with my CL the two lenses that did everything were 11-23 and 35, which (after correcting for the smaller APS-C image size) are just the same angles of view as taking out the SL with this 16-35 and a 50.  So I find this a perfect choice of focal lengths.

 

You mention the color clarity of the new lens.  I got a chance to check how much final stage digital correction for distortion and LCA is done in this lens at its long end (30 mm) and it seems quite a bit less than is used in the 24-90 at its wide end. And there is very little LCA correction in this -- colors are sharp optically.

 

Would you be willing to post the DNG file for your 16 mm tilted horizon shots focused at a long distance?

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Hi, Vieri,

 

The link does not work.

 

Strange, it works for me just now. And it worked earlier when I made my comment.

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Thank you very much everyone, glad you enjoyed the review

 

Best regards,

 

Vieri

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Thanks, Vieri. It's thorough and cogently reviewed. I especially appreciated the many nuanced points such as non-extending barrel and color consistency. I do feel even more clearly the need for a higher mp SL though 

 

 

That's not to say I do not want a 24 mp SL2 with blazing fast AF, larger rear LCD and great video centric features.

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Thanks, Vieri. It's thorough and cogently reviewed. I especially appreciated the many nuanced points such as non-extending barrel and color consistency. I do feel even more clearly the need for a higher mp SL though 

 

That's not to say I do not want a 24 mp SL2 with blazing fast AF, larger rear LCD and great video centric features.

 

 

You are very welcome. Yes, I found that some details aren't normally taken into account by reviewers, but are details that matter to us in the field

About a higher Mp SL, it is bound to happen at some point - when and how much, that's something that only Leica knows... 

 

Best regards,

 

Vieri

Edited by Vieri

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I do like the widest Voigtlanders.  They are capable and (relatively) affordable.

 

One thing that I haven't explored in depth, however, is their colour rendering.  My subjective impression is that the colours that they produce are on the muddy side.  But again, everything is relative.  The Noctilux produces muddier colours than the 50mm SL.  

 

This may not seem a big deal, as you can easily turn up the colour in post-processing.  Excessively, if you must.  But colour separation is important, as it makes for more lively looking pictures.

 

Vieri, would you care to comment on this aspect of relative performance?

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How about compared to WATE? Bigger and heavier, but could it replace WATE altogether? 

 

Having just acquired a pre-owned SL and using it with M-lenses, this could be my first native SL-lense some day, maybe.

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How about compared to WATE? Bigger and heavier, but could it replace WATE altogether? 

 

Having just acquired a pre-owned SL and using it with M-lenses, this could be my first native SL-lense some day, maybe.

 

 

Putting focal lengths, apertures, size, weight, af and cost aside... 

 , I consider the WATE as a fine zoom (now sold) - whereas the SL 16-35mm is an outstanding zoom. The latter even in Leica-land. It's simply the best, optically speaking, wide angle lens I have ever used (compered to e.g. WATE, Voigtländer Heliar 15mm vIII, Nikon 12-24mm f2.8G, Sigma ART 14mm f1.8).

 

The SL 16-35mm is weather sealed, you can apply standard filter/filter sets (Ø82mm), the distortion is well controlled (whether by the optics or by the embedded fw adjustments), it hardly shows flare/loss of contrast in tricky light situations and it has essentially no chromatic aberration. Much to like. Actually so much that I tend to think that the 16-35mm may become my most used lens on the SL... 

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One small point of caution.  It has been my practice with the 24-90mm to leave the UVa II filter on when using the Leica Polarising filter.

 

Leica seem to recommend this by emphasising that the UVa II has a front thread for exactly this purpose.

 

However, with the 16-35 it does not work, particularly at the 16mm end.  The result is severe, sudden corner Vigneting.

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One small point of caution.  It has been my practice with the 24-90mm to leave the UVa II filter on when using the Leica Polarising filter.

 

Leica seem to recommend this by emphasising that the UVa II has a front thread for exactly this purpose.

 

However, with the 16-35 it does not work, particularly at the 16mm end.  The result is severe, sudden corner Vigneting.

 

Below image is taken with Leica UVa II on and image was not cropped, only slight adjustment to brightness in LR. I did not see any hint of Vigneting:

 

L1000046 by sillbeers15

Edited by sillbeers15

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