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Regarding the "Elmarit Lens"


peterb

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I'm a bit puzzled. On page 13 of the X1 Brochure (Leica Camera AG - Downloads) the company says, "The Leica Elmarit 24 mm f/2.8 ASPH. is a true Leica

lens with outstanding optical performance."

 

Now at B&H in New York a 24mm f2.8 ASPH Elmarit M goes for $3795 (used for $2999). If the 24mm Elmarit ASPH lens on the X1 that's a 'true Leica Elmarit 24mm f2.8 ASPH' is the same optic, why is it the one that comes attached to a digital body and and CMOS APSC sensor (and from what I can tell the same sensor found in the Nikon D300, no less) goes for a paltry $2000 when a fully machined one with black anodized metal construction half-stops and NO body or sensor goes for $1795 more? Does the machining, aperture blades, focusing helical, f-stop ring, silk-screened depth of field cost that much more to get it right?

 

Or, as I suspect, the X1 Elmarit is not as true as the gold (or Leica) standard 24mm ASPH Elmarit?

 

Just curious.

 

(Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the X1 lens is a superb optic but I question the claim that says an entire fixed lens digital camera costs with that lens costs the half as much as the fixed lens alone.)

Edited by peterb
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hmmmm ... maybe "machining" the Elmarit on the X1 is very more easy and simple (due to contrast autofocus included in the body) compared to machining the "M" Elmarit (manual focus ....... precision machining) .... The size of the Glass is surely not the same also, and the price of the glass is doing almost all the price of a lens ... I don't know I am not a specialist in optics fabrication ... maybe some peoples can reply more "in deep" as I did ...

 

I am sure the X1 lens is a true Leica, but for sure not the "same" as a M series.

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The rangefinder coupling requires +/- 3 micron accuracy (or better) of the helicoid that is in contact with the cam (in the camera mount). Getting an absolute accuracy of the focal length and machining the focussing and rangefinder helicoids with close to zero play is a major feat of precision engineering. In fact it is surprising they can do this at at all.

 

In a AF lens you can use the feedback control to iron out any inaccuracies that may be there. Less absolute precision => much less cost.

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In addition to the answers others have given:

  • The "big" (expensive) Elmarit is designed for "full frame" (i.e. the size of a film negative) while the one on the X1 obviously isn't - it only needs to cover the area of a D300 sensor.
     
  • They said it was a "true Leica lens", not a "true Leica Elmarit 24mm". There is no such thing as "the one and only Elmarit". Words like "Elmarit", "Summicron" or "Summilux" are used by Leica as collective terms for lenses with the same speed but not necessarily the same focal length or mount. (And they keep the name even if they update the lens.)
     
  • The M lenses are manufactured in Solms. My guess would be that the X1 lens will be made elsewhere.

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Thanks for the responses. That DOES make more sense now. You're right Elmarit refers to aperture not a design (but possibly a lens configuration with different glass but still following the layout). And it makes sense that this was probably a 'true Leica lens' OPTIMIZED for the APS-C sensor. Just as the Summicron on the Digilux 2 was optimized (perhaps) for that sensor.

 

And yes I can see how the precision engineering for each M lens must lead to a lot of rejects (even if occasional) and, ergo, a higher cost of production to insure that precision before it goes into a box vs, say, a more forgiving arrangement when used in an contrast detect autofocus.

 

And that mount looks real plastic-y.

 

Thanks again.

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I was wondering when this would come up! I noticed that the 3K Elmarit has 7 elements in 5 groups one ASPH. The X1 Elmarit has 8 in 6 and one ASPH. Sounds like it could be the same optical formula with another element for the proper coverage of the sensor size. Even if you take out the close tolerance machining not needed for a rangefinder, it looks to be a fine lens if Leica would use the same designation as the M mount version.

 

If true I've been thinking that all the handwringing about the X1, what it has and doesn't have and its price has really obscured the real value proposition!

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Elmarit is simply a name tied to aperture - it has no bearing on design or construction. There are 135 Elmarits and 21mm Elmarits (obviously vastly different optically) There is the 24 Elmarit-R (massively retrofocus to clear an SLR mirror), the 24mm Elmarit-M (slightly retrofocus to allow M metering) - and now the 24mm Elmarit for the X1 (probably should be "Elmarit-X" to match the R and M). Eventually there will be a 24mm Elmarit-S for the S2. All very different optics, despite the name.

 

I haven't seen a lens cross-section yet for the X1, but from the amount it extends out when shooting, I'd guess it is a digitally-optimized lens with no relationship to the legacy film Elmarit 24s, or the massive (and not yet finished) S 24.

 

Except for the S lenses, this is probably Leica's first fully in-house purely digital lens (the PanaLeica lenses are just that - a joint venture). I expect it will challenge the sensor just as the Digilux 2 lens did.

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I suspect that the lens is a unique design by Leica for this camera, but made for them by Panasonic.

 

Rather like the lens on the Minilux - which was superb.

 

I'd guess the production of this camera is like the M9, but with the far east replacing Portugal as the location of the initial assembly.

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Thanks, Jaak! Good info there!

 

 

 

Thanks also to Gary. I only dared to follow your link after checking Jaak's, because it presents itself as a weird set of ASCII characters on my screen. :o

 

Welcome aboard! Great to see such a helpful entry as a first post. :)

Edited by ho_co
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