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Jono's Review: Leica Vario Elmarit SL 24-70 f2.8 ASPH


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Posted (edited)

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Hi, 

 

yes, I agree that 2.8 is beside other topics, also a marketing topic. That lesser and lesser optics are parfocal is something which also stills-photographer do not like, but it's not such a big deal for them. 

 

With all the whining about this only being a re-badged and therefore too expensive solution, it's in the end all about choices (so for me positive).

First, there is now a Leica "entry-zoom" people can buy in the the kit or as an extra to have one affordable Zoom by Leica, and not buying a Leica camera to then have a Sigma-zoom on it. That's mainly a psychological topic, but very important for consumer products, where buying decisions are only to a very small fraction being carried by rational decision processes. 

For many such a purchase is for their hobby and to reward themselves for hard work, saving up money or whatever. And in the area of these price levels, people will easily spend some hundred bucks more just too feel better. I know the rationalists here will deny, but that's a fact not to be denied - at least in my experience.

 

So we are back to have more choices. Here are the choices in the range of standard zooms we now have:

- Leica 24-90 - the great and superior choice for focal range and optical quality. Huge and very expensive, but a great lens and with IS

- Leica 24-70 - smaller, constant f2.8, optically very good, if though maybe not a masterpiece. Leica like build quality, haptic and appearance - still expensive, but kind of affordable

- Panasonic 24-70 - Huge lens (like the 24-90), optical possibly better than the Leica 24-70 (based on tests with the Sigma and the Panasonic and only in the farthest corners), market price roughly the same as the Leica 24-70  --> so here is the first real like to like choice: Smaller, a bit lighter and Leica - or larger, optically better in the corners and a Panasonic - I think for the 24-70 2.8 range the Panasonic is, like the Leica 24-90, a nearly perfect lens. But it is sooo huge ....

- Panasonic 24-105 - constant f4, larger focal-range, optically very descent, relatively compact for the focal-range, and for a very modest price  --> maybe the best bang for the buck zoom here (especially as used lens), if you just want to have a very good "leisure-time"-zoom in addition to your primes, this is a very good choice

- Sigma 24-70: Constant f2.8, most probably the same optical performance as the Leica 24-70, slightly worse in haptic and appearance (matter of taste of course), but half the price of the Leica --> tough call. To be honest, if I would think about buying a 24-70 f2.8, I would decide between the Panasonic and the Leica (if the Leica feels in hand how I expect it too feel) - the touch and feel and aesthetics are a very important parts of the user experience for me - foolish but true.

- Sigma 28-70 2.8: Smallest of the 2.8 bunch by a good margin,  relatively low in price and optically quite good. No real weathersealing, but really light and compact - if this is important, the 28-70 is a worryless choice for a standard zoom - in essence the real Kit-lens for L-mount cameras when you need a 2.8, stay compact and don't want to spend an arm and a leg for it. Great move by Sigma

- Panasonic 20-60: Nearly forgot this one: Ok, it's a 3.5 - 5.6 kit zoom - but if you ask me, a strike of genius with the 20mm on the low end. Optically very descent, small, versatile and very, very price worthy. Know people who use this lens as there single to go lens for hiking, while using SL-primes for everything else.

 

So, take your choice and be happy :D

 

Cheers

Daniel  

 

Edited by Daniel C.1975
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Here it is, Leica have just announced the new Vario Elmarit SL 24-70 f2.8 ASPH for L mount cameras. It's smaller and 300gm lighter than the 24-90, has a constant f2.8 aperture and is only a little bit more than half the price of it's bigger sibling. Even cheaper if you buy it as a kit with the SL2 or SL2S. Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden! Hello guest! Please register

Hi guys, sorry to hijack Jono's thread but since I do have both the Sigma and Leica lenses with me right now I might share some insights after shooting with both side by side in my living room: The Sigma is a tad sharper wide open in the center, the Leica is sharper in the corners...again only a tad and differences are only visible when zooming in (like 200%). The more you close down the aperture the sharper the Leica gets overall.  On my SL2-S the Leica seem to be metered a bi

Hi,    yes, I agree that 2.8 is beside other topics, also a marketing topic. That lesser and lesser optics are parfocal is something which also stills-photographer do not like, but it's not such a big deal for them.    With all the whining about this only being a re-badged and therefore too expensive solution, it's in the end all about choices (so for me positive). First, there is now a Leica "entry-zoom" people can buy in the the kit or as an extra to have one affordabl

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8 hours ago, Apoqualia said:

Very strange lens. The optical characteristics of the output look .. strange.
The lens is definitely NOT an optical design done by Leica, and definitely not by some top tier Japanese optical designer. 
 

What makes you come to this conclusion? I am no physicist who designs optics, but I cannot possibly believe that what you are saying is correct. 

  

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7 hours ago, hansvons said:

Well written, competent and thought-out review. You certainly know how to take excellent photographs (which most reviewers on YouTube don't). Great work, thanks!

But I disagree with your quote above. Cinema zooms in the past, and even today do ramp, some visibly, some only a tad, meaning that pictures get darker when zooming to the lens' long end. Cinematographers know their trade and compensate for that accordingly by closing the aperture. But one thing you cannot compensate for: keeping the focus while zooming.

A cinema zoom that isn't parfocal and doesn't keep the focus throughout the range (every lens has some dents in the focus curve at specific focal lengths. That's why you put them on a projector to know them) isn't considered to be a proper cinema zoom. The 24-90 I happen to own, and I use for filmmaking, isn't parfocal, and I don't expect the 24-70 to be either. This means that zooming in and out while filming doesn't work correctly with regular stills lenses, and we just don't do it. Thus, a fixed f stop isn't required for video.

In the end, the fixed aperture is a marketing tool. The market's fixation on a fixed aperture with "pro" zooms makes the wide end unnecessary slow and the long end ramp a bit. It's somewhat telling that Leica is going down that route with their new 24-70. But anyone who wants the best "standard" zoom on the market for the L-mount can purchase the 24-90. But I'm sure its sales will go down rapidly. 

Interesting developments, and with the advent of the SL2-S somewhat inevitable.

Hi There 

Thanks for that glad you enjoyed it and thanks for chipping in - I 'know' that constant aperture isn't relevant for stills. Parfocal does't matter so much for stills either - and I'd guess you're right that the 24-70 isn't that any more than the 24-90.

Your explanation makes perfect sense to me (ie these lenses aren't good for zooming when filming anyway). 

So - as you say, a marketing tool, but it's certainly the case that lots of photographers consider it important, so they'll be pleased about it!

I hope it doesn't radically affect sales of the 24-90, such a fantastic lens (mine's staying right here on my camera). At least the new lens is no slouch optically.

All the best

 

 

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6 hours ago, Daniel C.1975 said:

Hi, 

 

yes, I agree that 2.8 is beside other topics, also a marketing topic. That lesser and lesser optics are parfocal is something which also stills-photographer do not like, but it's not such a big deal for them. 

 

With all the whining about this only being a re-badged and therefore too expensive solution, it's in the end all about choices (so for me positive).

First, there is now a Leica "entry-zoom" people can buy in the the kit or as an extra to have one affordable Zoom by Leica, and not buying a Leica camera to then have a Sigma-zoom on it. That's mainly a psychological topic, but very important for consumer products, where buying decisions are only to a very small fraction being carried by rational decision processes. 

For many such a purchase is for their hobby and to reward themselves for hard work, saving up money or whatever. And in the area of these price levels, people will easily spend some hundred bucks more just too feel better. I know the rationalists here will deny, but that's a fact not to be denied - at least in my experience.

 

 

Hi Daniel

Good Post - choice is good - I just hope that it doesn't drive people away from the lovely 24-90

best

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, jonoslack said:

Hi Daniel

Good Post - choice is good - I just hope that it doesn't drive people away from the lovely 24-90

best

The is 24-70 is 272 g./0.6 lb. lighter than the 24-90, it is $2800 USD less costly, and it is a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture; that doesn't sound like good news for the 24-90.

Providing the SL community with a less costly option in that focal length range is commendable but beyond that, I am puzzled as to what Leica's thinking is behind this lens.

Edited by Herr Barnack
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7 minutes ago, Herr Barnack said:

Providing the SL community with a less costly option in that focal length range is commendable but beyond that, I am puzzled as to what Leica's thinking is behind this lens.

Leica's thinking is probably that they would rather lose a 24-90 sale to their own 24-70 than to someone else's 24-70.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Herr Barnack said:

The is 24-70 is 272 g./0.6 lb. lighter than the 24-90, it is $2800 USD less costly, and it is a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture; that doesn't sound like good news for the 24-90.

Often there is more to a lens than its specs, MTF curves, corner sharpness, distortions and other things that can be objectively measured. Colour comes to my mind, the flaring, so does the focus roll-off and the lens' rendering of proportions. The two latter ones are closely related to what is often called dimensionality or "3D pop". The rendering of faces with identical focal lengths but different lenses can be visibly different. Personally, I prefer a slimmer rendering. But to assess that, a side-by-side comparison is needed. I'd be surprised if the 24-70 and the 24-90 would offer the same look. As Jono stated, colour rendition is already different. 

One of those can force a photographer to decide for the more expensive choice. 

Edited by hansvons
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16 minutes ago, BernardC said:

Leica's thinking is probably that they would rather lose a 24-90 sale to their own 24-70 than to someone else's 24-70.

Yep, and they sure wouldn’t market a budget friendly kit for the SL2-S by mating it with a Sigma. New Leica customers typically end up buying more stuff.

Jeff

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Posted (edited)

I have used the 24-105 PANA quite often instead of 24-90 because of the smaller size and weight.

The Pana 20-60 is fun range.

I keep the 24-90 but often dislike the size weight of it.

The new 24-70 is lighter but still heavy. Personally I find the 24-105 Pana the most useful zoom for the SL.

Eventhough the 24-90 is probably the best one in regards of IQ.

I think the new lens is interesting for people stepping into the SL system as a first relatively reasonable (for Leica) priced flexible lens.

 

Edited by tom0511
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Thank you Jono for another well thought out review and unbiased opinions.  Sharing this review here is very generous of you.  Your new review of the SL2-S on your site is a very good read.

I use the Sigma 24-70/2.8 as my normal lens on my SL(601) and I am more than satisfied.  As akin, the SL2S/24-70 combo is hard to beat...

My question is the nuanced differences between the Sigma and the Leica: Does the Leica version include better weather-proofing? Better coatings?  Better warranty?

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8 hours ago, tom0511 said:

I have used the 24-105 PANA quite often instead of 24-90 because of the smaller size and weight.

The Pana 20-60 is fun range.

I keep the 24-90 but often dislike the size weight of it.

The new 24-70 is lighter but still heavy. Personally I find the 24-105 Pana the most useful zoom for the SL.

Eventhough the 24-90 is probably the best one in regards of IQ.

I think the new lens is interesting for people stepping into the SL system as a first relatively reasonable (for Leica) priced flexible lens.

 

The Pana 24-105mm is surprisingly good. Leica should have rebadged this one. MTF's show that the Pana 24-70mm is better than the Leica... A real world test would be quite interesting!

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Andrew Gough said:

The Pana 24-105mm is surprisingly good. Leica should have rebadged this one. MTF's show that the Pana 24-70mm is better than the Leica... A real world test would be quite interesting!

I had the 24-70 pana before I bought the 24-90 Leica.. I compared the two with several shots in my backyard and couldn’t tell them apart.. of course there are many other tests one can do to compare but I was happy with results from my tests and the pana held perfectly well against the Leica.. I only went with the Leica for the brand name, the extra focal length and I try not mixing brands. There’s that battery issue with pana lenses too to consider 

Edited by aksclix
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12 hours ago, SonomaBear said:

Thank you Jono for another well thought out review and unbiased opinions.  Sharing this review here is very generous of you.  Your new review of the SL2-S on your site is a very good read.

I use the Sigma 24-70/2.8 as my normal lens on my SL(601) and I am more than satisfied.  As akin, the SL2S/24-70 combo is hard to beat...

My question is the nuanced differences between the Sigma and the Leica: Does the Leica version include better weather-proofing? Better coatings?  Better warranty?

Thank you for the kind words. I don’t know whether the weather proofing is better, or weather the coatings are different, and I guess that the warranty varies depending on where you are. Not much help I’m afraid! 🤪😂

I’ll do a bit of research. On the other hand I’m pretty certain that the residual value of the Leica will be better, and it seems to me that the metal construction is also an advantage. 

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Posted (edited)

Jono,

Do you think there will be a firmware update in connection with  the new Leica 24-70/2:8 lens and the SL 2 cameras?

I always read your reviews with great interest.

 

Edited by Jeffry Abt
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17 hours ago, Jeffry Abt said:

Jono,

Do you think there will be a firmware update in connection with  the new Leica 24-70/2:8 lens and the SL 2 cameras?

I always read your reviews with great interest.

 

Hi there

There has just been an update for the SL2-S, which I’m sure covers the lens. Hopefully there will be one for the SL2 soon. 

There may also be an update for the lens in the medium term. 

Best

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vor 35 Minuten schrieb jonoslack:

Hi there

There has just been an update for the SL2-S, which I’m sure covers the lens. Hopefully there will be one for the SL2 soon. 

There may also be an update for the lens in the medium term. 

Best

According to Leica the next update for SL2 coming in July will give us all the futures the SL2-s got 1:1 - so just wait a bit :)

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