Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5


The Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5 is the most extreme of the Leica wide-angle lenses (110° viewing angle). It was designed and manufactured by Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen, Germany and its optical configuration and mechanical engineering are identical to the Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/3.5, except for the special Leica element coatings, the built-in filters and the barrel finish.

The lens consists of 13 elements in 12 groups. The correction of optical errors is very good for this type of super wide-angle lens. Stopping down to f/8.0 delivers best quality. There is some fall-off in illumination towards the corners, but this can be almost fully reduced when stopping down slightly. Thanks to a floating element the lens maintains a high resolution at close range (minimum range is an amazing 16 cm).

The lens fills the complete frame and thus produces a rectilinear image. Filters are built-in. The incorporated lens hood is mainly intended for protection of the big front lens.

Use of this lens requires special care in order to avoid an impression of distortion when the lens is not on the theoretical central axis of an object. An ideal lens for picture-taking in confined spaces such as inside churches and buildings. Landscape and architectural photography can get a new meaning with this lens as objects close to the camera appear much larger than in reality, thus creating an impression of great spatial depth. An extreme depth-of-field makes it possible to render both near and distant objects in sharp focus.

An especially creative use of the Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5 can be obtained by exploiting the exaggerated close-up perspective. The minimum focusing distance of 16 cm can render scale models as if they were life-like. A type of lens much used in advertising.

The French photo magazine Chasseur d'Images awarded this lens 3 stars for optical performance (their test system penalizes lenses with large f-stops; star results can only be compared among lenses within the same f-stop category). The German photo magazine ColorFoto awarded this lens 67.1 points (2 stars), the best lens in this category of super wide-angle lenses.

Weight: 910 gr, length from bayonet flange: 92,5 mm, built-in lens hood. Built-in filter turret (UVa, yellow, orange, blue correction).

Its Leica catalog number is 11213 or 11325 (with ROM). First introduced in 1980, discontinued in 2000 and replaced in November 2001 by the Super-Elmarit-R 15mm f/2.8 ASPH (made by Schneider in Germany). A rare lens. Only about 450 samples of this lens have been ordered from Zeiss. The inscription on the barrel says "Leitz Wetzlar". A ROM strip was added with the arrival of the R8 camera in 1996.

Super-Elmarit-R 15mm f/2.8 ASPH

This Schneider-developed successor lens to the Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5 was introduced in November 2001. It is 1/2 stop faster compared to the earlier Zeiss-developed lens, and also more compact and lighter. Like its predecessor it has a built-in filter turret (NDx1 neutral density filter, KB12 blue color correction, yellow green filter, orange filter). The length remains constant thanks to the internal focusing mechanism.

The lens has 13 elements in 10 groups. It builds upon the already high quality of its predecessor.The highest optical performance is obtained thanks to the use of aspherical lens elements and low dispersion glass. Other optical characteristics include very low distortion, very low vignetting for an extreme wide angle lens, and low curvature of field.

As a result of the extremely large angle of view (110°) and the characteristic perspective rendition, the new Leica Super-Elmarit-R is particularly well suited for landscape and architectural photography, as well as for reproducing any wide angle close focusing situation. The very short close focusing distances of only 18 cm also provides for realistic portrayal of small models. It weighs 710 gr. Designed and made by Schneider in Germany. Its Leica catalog number is 11326.

An in-depth test report can be read here.