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Leica Lens Buying Guide
Why did I get into Leica Lenses?
This is a very personal journey for me. If this is your first time to the site, you’ll see I only actually review stuff that I use on a regular basis. Life’s too short, otherwise. So you won’t see hundreds of different Leica lenses here, so the mega Leica nerds will be sad… You’ll just see what I consider the best (with several pricing options).
I got into Leica lenses because I bought one of the Sony a7 cameras. The Sony a7 series of cameras offer a full-frame sensor which can be coupled with lenses from most any manufacturer. Leica has a long tradition of quality — EXTREME quality. Leica lenses come in many flavors, and many of them are nice and small to fit with your new (or potential new?) mirrorless lifestyle. To read more about this particular camera, see my Sony a7R Review!
The purpose of this Leica Lens Buying Guide
I put together this guide to help people figure out how to get started with this powerful combination and to give advice on which lenses to get. Leica lenses have recently been a whole new world for me, and as I go through the process of figuring all this out, I wanted to share it with you!
I’m the first to admit that I am relatively new to Leica lenses, and others have much more knowledge than me. So, if you have advice or ideas (or maybe see where I am wrong!!), please leave your thoughts down in the comments. I’ll do my best to work them into this guide. I see this as a “living” document, which will grow and change as I continue to experiment.
Quick Sample Photos to get you in the mood
This photo of the Berber man might be worth clicking on and zooming into… The sweet sweet Leica M 50mm at f/1.4. Remember that you can click on these photos to zoom in and see all the details. It’s recommended on this one in particular!
Leica M 24mm f/1.4. Perfect for night shots, and, well many other things! More photos from this lens and many others below!
This was taken here near my home in Queenstown, New Zealand. I used the Sony A7r and the Leica 35mm f/1.4 lens (but shot this at f/8)
A small collection of my favorite Leica Lens shots
Leica Lenses – a Primer
Leica Lenses have many mount types, but I am going to keep it simple for my recommendations:
- M Mount – These full-frame lenses are small and amazing. These tend to be more expensive of the two.
- R Mount – Also full-frame, these lenses tend to be a bit bigger but are also more inexpensive.
One of the great things about the Sony A7 is you get to use adapters to fit any kind of lens. I’ll keep this simple for these two Leica Mounts.
- M Mount Adapter – Get this Novoflex M Leica Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – Fantastic for attaching any lens that uses the M Leica lens mount. This is what I use.
- R Mount Adapter – Get this Novoflex R Leica Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – If you choose to get some of the R Mount lenses too.
How much to spend?
For Leica lenses, you can plan on spending from $400 to $12,000. Actually I should not have said $12,000. That was kind of a random number because these Leica lenses can get a heck of a lot more expensive. But, if buying something something new, then that more or less defines the upper limit. This is all just to give you a general idea that you don’t HAVE to spend $10,000+ to get Leica lenses!
Remember that the “R Mount” lenses can be much cheaper, even though there are more expensive and rare variants. You can see more below.
Top 4 Leica M lenses
I hate to mention specific F-stops here because the price varies so much! The lower the F-Stop, the higher the price. Often, a lot higher! So, if you’re trying to save money, there’s no reason to get the f/1.4. There are many places to buy Leica Lenses, but I’ve chosen to link to Amazon and B&H below.
For cheaper prices, check the eBay listings for Leica M lenses. Leica owners tend to really take good care of these lenses, so you’ll probably have a great experience.
1) Leica 50mm f/0.95 and beyond – Check prices in Amazon — Check Prices on B&H – $1,600 to $11,000
2) Leica 35mm f/1.4 and beyond — Check prices on Amazon — Check Prices on B&H — $2000 to $7000
3) Leica 75mm f/2.0 and beyond — Check prices on Amazon — Check prices on B&H — $2,000 to $4,000.
4) Leica 24mm f/1.4 and beyond — Check prices on Amazon — Check Prices on B&H — $2,500 to $7,500
Top 5 Leica R lenses
All of the Leica R Lenses are a bit older, but still perfectly good. As I said above, Leica owners typically take very good care of their lenses.
It’s difficult to link to specific lenses with prices because the market is always in flux, but check this link on eBay to get the search started!
Prices are around $400 and up, depending on many factors!
- Leica R 50mm f/2 Summicron – Sample eBay Search
- Leica R 35mm f/1.4, f/2.8 – Sample eBay Search
- Leica R 135mm f/2.8 – Sample eBay Search
- Leica R 35-70 Macro f/4 Super allrounder – Sample eBay Search
- Leica R 70-210 f/4 – Sample eBay Search
- Bonus Macro Lens – Leica R 60mm f/2.8 – Sample eBay Search
- Bonus Amazing Lens – Leica R 100mm APO Macro Elmarit f/2.8 – Sample eBay Search
- Bonus Amazing Telephoto Lens – Leica R 280mm APO Telyt f2.8 – Sample eBay Search
First video on Leica Lenses
Here’s the first video I made when I was Leica-curious. It features Leica shooter Stu Robertson!
More Sample Photos!
On this road to my home in New Zealand, I took this with the 24mm f/1.4 lens.
Great for low-light photography. Here is a fisherman from Southern China. Also shot with the 24mm at f/1.4.
This was shot with the Leica 24mm f/1.4 lens.
This was taken with the Leica 50mm f/1.4. When you point it into the sun, you get the most amazing lens flares through the glass element. So fun! And it’s nice to see exactly what you are going to get. The actual scene was so bright, that I think an optical system would have blinded me! Since I was able to see a digital version, it made it much easier on the eye so I could actually compose the shot.
Here is a rather unusual photo of my friend Stu with my new friend Bob.
This 35mm at f/1.4 is amazing for night photography. No flash needed to get clean shots!
Speaking of Peace in 10,000 Hands, here I am back at Stu’s studio, taking a photo of some of his work in his gallery for the project. We also filmed a little video about how to use the Sony A7r with Leica lenses.
Here’s a lovely little schoolhouse in St. Bathans under stormy skies in the evening.
Here’s a good example of the Leica 24mm lens at f/1.4. I’m very excited to play with all these new lenses with this amazing body (the camera, not mine haha).
The shallow depth of field at f/1.4 really is amazing.. and the background is so buttery!
The focus-peaking on the Sony A7r allowed me to use the 50mm lens to find the exact spot where I wanted to focus.
And here’s my mate Stu with the 24mm f/1.4 talking to Management to check on the progress of Peace in 10,000 Hands.
Here is the Leica 50mm lens in its full f/1.4 glory.
Here’s a shot of my son on his first day of high school. I love the depth of field that a full-frame sensor provides.
I went for a walk along this fence in the late afternoon as a storm was coming in. I had a little friend with me. Say hello to my little friend.
Here’s a wonderfully bizarre photo I took at St. Bathans with the Leica 24mm lens.
Here’s one from Tokyo. I love how the out-of-focus area feels so soft, and, well, full-framey!
I stepped out from behind a small Bed & Breakfast I was staying at in Central Otago called Coombs cottage and saw this painted sky scene unfolding before me. This was shot at ISO100, shutter 1/500, 24mm. Actually, I’m not going to list out all the EXIF info in the future because you can just click through to my SmugMug Site to see all the details. If you click the little “i” it will tell you everything.