Confirmed: Leica to announce also a new THAMBAR-M 90mm f/2.2 lens

A few weeks ago I received a tip about a new Leica THAMBAR-M 90mm f/2.2 lens but I did not report it on the blog because it came from a new source and I wanted to get at least one more confirmation before publishing online. I usually never report on "unconfirmed" rumors coming from unknown sources or questionable websites. A few days ago I even mentioned the exact same lens here in the comments section of LeicaRumors:

The Japanese site Nokishita just confirmed today that in addition to the Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 ASPH, Leica will announce also a new Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2 lens:

  • Leica NOCTILUX-M 75mm f/1.25 ASPH lens: late 2017 announcement (was initially scheduled for April)
  • Leica THAMBAR-M 90mm f/2.2 lens: to be released in the first half of 2018

The new lens will be a re-edition of the famous Leitz Thambar 9cm f:2.2 of the late 1930s, a portrait lens with adjustable blur - see this eBay listing for pictures:

Here is some additional information on the original Thambar lens:

The screwmount 90 f2.2 Thambar enjoyed a production run from 1935-49 during which less than 3000 were made. Specially designed for portraiture, the accompanying, original filter with its silvered center spot, is used to create soft focus effects. This showpiece collectible is absolutely striking. Features: dual aperture scales for use with (red) and without (white) filter Supplied with the original lens hood. (KEH)

But one Leica 90mm seems to keep us sleepless even it was made in 1935 to 1940, and only in 3,000 samples. It's the Leica 90mm Tahmbar f/2.0 which was made as a deliberately soft-focus lens. It even came with a Soft Focus filter that would blur the center of the image; so as to assure that everything was blurred! (Overgaard)

Check also the specs of the original version (mir):

  • Marketed: 1935~1949
  • Focal Length: 9cm (90mm)
  • Mount: LEICA SM
  • Min. Focusing Distance: approx. 1m (3ft)
  • Minimum / Maximum Aperture: f/25~f/2.2
  • Filter Attachament Size: E48
  • Weight: approx. 520g

The optical diagram of the historical Thambar is a simplified version of that of the Hektor:

Pictures via eBay

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  • Mistral75

    A clean copy of the Leitz Thambar 9cm f/2.2 costs between €2,500 and €5,000 (latest actual transactions on eBay).

    The optical diagram of the historical Thambar is a simplified version of that of the Hektor.

    • thanks, will update my post

  • Mistral75

    To obtain the desired softening effect, it is necessary to screw in front of the lens a special “filter” (for lack of a better word, this one being inappropriate) which, in fact, is a clear glass whose centre is an opaque disc made by silvering.

    This disc eliminates the light rays whose path is close to the optical axis (those which confer the maximum sharpness) in order to let only pass the peripheral rays. Some residual aberrations (notably spherical aberration) are thus deliberately used to obtain the desired effect, which results in a kind of halo nimbing the image, softening its fine details without masking them.

    It is possible to control the extent of this halo and attenuate it by using the aperture, which – as soon as it begins to be closed – interrupts the path of the more peripheral rays (those which bring the most aberrations).

    With this additional “filter” one shall only stop down to f/9; with a lesser aperture there would be not interval for the light rays to pass through between the central disc and the aperture.

  • eric

    I bet this will be made to order and in limited quantities. It’s cool tho they are bringing back more old designs.

  • Jeff Bridges

    I’d bet the lens will be a LHSA special edition, announced during their meetup in Chicago.

    • I agree – I heard something about a new LHSA special edition – not sure if it will be a camera or a lens.

  • Eloise

    I think you need to read and correct the headline for grammar…

  • Lee

    Just as BS when Leica does it as it is when some randos on Kickstarter who have bought an old German brand name do it.

    Stop paying absurd sums for incredibly simple ancient lens designs that shouldn’t cost a fraction just because someone puts them in a nice fancy new metal barrel.

    • eric

      Yeah, but all Leica stuff is absurdly expensive. It’s just the way it is. If you want something they make you’re going to pay a premium.

      • Lee

        Yeah but usually, at least with the lenses, you get some really excellent optical performance. This nonsense is on a whole other level.

    • Les


      Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be a cheap copy of this lens available shortly.

      That being said, I doubt the copy will hold its value in the long term like a real Leica M lens does.

  • rolandfleming

    Looks like a very difficult lens to work with. Really only useful for carefully posed portraits in B&W. Great when it works, but truly awful when it doesn’t

  • Noodle

    This is great !

  • Mr B

    No more whispers on the fabled SL lenses?

    • Les

      Leica regularly posts social media updates on those. It is interesting that their PR strategy is completely different with SL lenses (which are well known long before they are officially released), and M lenses. It shows how the two systems are sold to different markets.

      The only things we do not know about the new SL lenses at this point are the in-store dates and the exact price. Leica has revealed everything else: what they look like, their specifications, sample shots, etc… We’ve seen several generations of prototypes and pre-production samples, it’s like flipping through someone’s baby pictures!

  • The usual approach, as used in the excellent DC-Nikkor 105mm and 135mm portrait lenses (DC=Defocus Control) is adjustable correction for spherical aberration. The center-grad ND filter looks more like the supplied with my Fuji G617 to control vignetting.

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