Leica M zoom lens? (Leica Vario-Elmar-M 28-75mm f/3.4-5.6 ASPH)

#Leica #TriElmar 28-35-50 f/4 Aspherical (MATE) lens cutout

A photo posted by LeicaRumors 🔴 (@leicarumors) on

This picture posted in the dpreview Leica forum seems to be a prototype of a Leica Vario-Elmar-M 28-75mm f/3.4-5.6 ASPH lens. The poster (Dr. Ulrich Rohde) is known to be a tester for Leica equipment. I have no idea if this is an old lens prototype or a new upcoming lens. I asked on social media a week ago and did not get any results.

Update: this is an authentic prototype Leica lens based on the design of the X-Vario zoom. Only 3 lenses were produced (source).

This Leica Vario-Elmar-M 28-75mm f/3.4-5.6 ASPH lens is not to be confused with the already existing WATE (Tri Elmar 16-18-21) and MATE (Tri Elmar 28-35-50) - it is labeled as "Vario" which in Leica's language means a real zoom lens - this is confirmed also in the dpreview comments section:

"This test lens is continuous like a zoom."

"I was asked yesterday to put the M Vario on the SL. This experimental lens behaves like a zoom and I find it extremely well designed."

"First are the 28 mm to 75 mm Leica M Vario, f =4, the M 240 camera does not know the lens.:

Pictured above: Leica TriElmar 28-35-50 f/4 Aspherical (MATE) lens cutout.

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  • eric

    ive never found zooms to be that great unless your traveling and only want to carry one lens with more reach. primes also tend to make you a better photographer because youll learn to think in a certain length.

    • Charles

      How does that make one a better photographer?

      • David

        Because you start being able to visualize the scene without having to have the camera to your face. I was shooting basketball yesterday and I definitely missed some shots because I wasn’t thinking/visualizing quickly enough what the scene would look like. Meant my process was camera to eye ->check scene–>change focal length—>snap. Zooms are often a necessity for these kinds of sports but having that instinct is very helpful. Most of my shots ended up being at 24-28mm, ~40mm, and 85mm.

        • Charles

          Wouldn’t a person who could visualise the scene in different focal lengths, and choose the appropriate focal length for their creative vision, be better than a photographer who could only see the world through a single frame?
          Primes do not make one a better photographer.
          Practicing photography with any sort of lens makes one a better photographer.

          • David

            That is very true, which is why I like Thom Hogan’s suggestion to use a zoom like a series of primes. What you are suggesting is basically someone who has mastered more than one specific focal length.

          • El Aura

            Yes, but how do you get from A to B, ie, from not being able to visualise how a scene would look like with a specific focal length to being able to do so?

            The answer is that walking around with a prime (or two or three) does train you to see in this way. Once you have mastered this, you can go back to using zooms.

            That is the idea at least.

          • Charles

            Provided you can make a conscious creative decision about the frame you want to put around a subject, the perspective you want to apply, and the foreground-background compression, then I don’t think it matters one jot whether one uses a zoom or primes.
            The only valid criticism of zooms in developing the photographer is that too often people don’t make such conscious creative decisions but just frame a photograph from wherever they happen to be standing.
            Provided one is consciously making creative decisions, is doesn’t matter whether one is using zooms or primes. You can become conscious of all those creative elements without ever touching a prime lens.
            Primes do not make one a better photographer; learning to make creative decisions does.

          • El Aura

            Just because it is possible to learn something without a specific tool, does not mean that for a lot of people the learning process is easier with this tool. You seem to hold the position that any tool that can be substituted by pure willpower is not of any use since any ‘proper’ person would just employ willpower.

          • Charles

            No, I just think you become a better photographer by taking more photographs and doing so in a creatively conscious way. I don’t think that prime lenses have any magical powers to help you to do that.
            I’m not sure why you refer to willpower or put ‘proper’ in quotes, as my post did not refer to either.
            I did refer to being conscious about creative decisions, but that’s just what good photographers do. That’s why they’re good.
            If primes have been essential for your learning, though, that’s great. Fill your boots.

          • El Aura

            Is it not exactly ‘willpower’ that is necessary to “consciously make(ing) creative decisions”, for it not to “matter whether one is using zooms or primes”?

            You “don’t think that prime lenses have any magical powers to help” but then you say that they might very well have some power (“if primes have been essential for your learning, though, that’s great”).

            Which of the two is it? Do you think (a) there is no way that restricting oneself sometimes to primes-only can help with learning to visualise or (b) it is quite possible that this helps some people?

          • Les

            Correct, except that you won’t want to go back to zooms.

  • Bo Dez

    This may also be hinting at a messucher evf/ovf hybrid finder.

    • Max

      That really doesn’t seem likely given m10 leaks.

      • Bo Dez

        consider “leaks” only the few small details Leica want you to know.

        • In that case I am sure Leica did not plan for the M10 leaks.

  • Max

    Serial number is from mid 2012. Might be a legit old prototype.

    • scott

      The lens is coupled to an M 240. It’s possible that Leica has been prototyping a continuous zoom M lens made possible by the live view in the M 240.

      • Max

        Yeah, totally. Though evf m240 experience turned out to be more than a bit shit. Good that it’s there but certainly not as a primary. Maybe in m10 it will make more sense. Likewise, for me personally, a large slowish zoom mostly defeats the point of an m, but it’s still seemingly much more compact than other ff zooms so nice that it’s there..

    • That probably means they decided against it or are waiting for a M model with EVF.

      • CHD

        Well good to know I’m not the only one waiting for an M model with EVF…

  • scott

    This is Leica’s answer to those “Leica is dead” naysayers. As far as I can remember, there’s only one continuous zoom lens for rangefinder: Contax G2 35-70mm. Due to the optical viewfinder mechanism, zoom lens are poorly suited for rangefinder. This lens is only possible with EVF advancement and Leica has shown a pretty exciting EVF future through the Q and SL. Leica being Leica, I would expect a bit of mechanical ingenuity here: it will have detents for certain fixed focal lengths and rangefinder coupling like the MATE for those Ms without EVF.

    • Les

      They could have detents for backwards-compatibility with existing Ms, and zooming projected frame lines on an M11.

    • Charles

      Interesting point. I would if it says something about the coming M10 design?

  • Denis

    The 16-18-21 WATE is also a true zoom lens, just with hard stops is it not, but the 28-35-50 MATE isn’t.

    • I did not know that.

    • Jeremy Allen

      I can second that. When I use my WATE on my mirrorless, I use the zoom function. When on my M9, I dont bother.

  • CHD

    Still trying to figure out why Leica would send Ulrich Rhode anything….he’s a genius when it comes to RF theory and microwave radio but he is NOT a photographer. Anything he’s ever posted is absolutely terrible….in every sense of the word terrible.

    • BL

      I am second in que to find out why Dr Rhode is beta testing. He is a rich man so I assume he bought a beta lens.

  • Klaus

    Focal length 28-75 is interesting, but the light intensity 3.5-5.6 at the M rather boring – at the SL without AF? But Leica as a small company does not have to sell large numbers of units – so it can be imagined …

  • Boris but No Johnson

    The question is whether it is coupled to the RF and can bring up the appropriate frame line…

  • Enche Tjin

    Before I saw the picture, I thought it is an affordable compact zoom lens for SL. But later I think it is better for M system. I know many people want zoom lens for traveling, and M system has none at the moment.

  • Mistral75

    From fiatlux, a fellow member of the Chassimages forum:

    J’ai Ă©changĂ© quelques messages avec l’auteur du fil et il prĂ©tend que
    c’est bien un authentique proto (3 auraient Ă©tĂ© produits), basĂ© sur le
    design du zoom du X-Vario.



    I exchanged a few emails with the original poster and he claims that this is indeed an authentic prototype (3 would have been produced), based on the design of the X-Vario zoom.

    • Thanks for the update. I also contacted the original poster but he did not bother to answer my question.

    • Max

      Wasn’t that zoom a 6.3? Supposed to be a good one in any case.

      • Mistral75

        Based on” meaning ‘deriving from’ since the X-Vario zoom is a 18-46mm f/3.5-6.4 limited to the APS-C image circle and this prototype is a 28-75mm f/3.4-5.6 covering the 24×36 image circle.

  • Licheus

    Slow, ungainly (by M standard), priced at $4995 (or more). And EVF only, which makes one wonder why shell out over ten grands for such a conventional solution.


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