Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35 f/3.5-4.5 ASPH Preview

If you are reading this then you know that Leica has recently started shipping the Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35 f/3.5-4.5 ASPH lens in limited quantities. The other day, I managed to get a hold of one, so here we have a limited preview of the lens. The full review will be published as soon as I have had a chance to thoroughly shoot the lens and examine it’s attributes.


Order number – Number of lenses/groups – 18/12
Number of Aspherical Lenses – 2

Entrance pupil position
Focal length 16mm: 105.9mm
Focal length 24mm: 101.5mm
Focal length 35mm: 105.0mm

Distance setting Working range  – 250mm to infinity
Smallest object field Focal length 35mm – 90 x 135 mm
Largest reproduction ratio Focal length 16mm – 1:7.7
Focal length 35mm: 1:3.7
Aperture Setting/function Electronically controlled aperture, set using turn/push wheel on camera, including half values.

Aperture setting range
Focal length 16mm: 3.5-22
Focal length 35mm: 4.5-22
Lowest value 22

Bayonet/sensor format Leica L bayonet, full-frame 35mm format
Filter mount E82 or 82mm

Length to bayonet mount 123 mm (without lens hood)
Largest diameter 88 mm
Weight – 990 g

Bag weight (with generic front cap, end cap, and a B+W UV Filter) – 1.05kg/1050g


My initial impressions of the lens are, that it is slightly shorter than the 24-90mm, and slightly lighter. It is about 230g lighter than the SL 24-90mm zoom. It is the same form factor in terms of width, and just a bit shorter in length, as you can see in the photo.

The 16-35mm rounds out Leica’s zooms for the SL, with an operation range from 16-280mm using the 16-35mm, 24-90mm, and the 90-280mm. This is now a very flexible system with excellent optical quality, albeit somewhat heavy.  The 16-35mm is an 82mm filter mount just like the other two zooms, so all of your filters and attachments will work on this lens.

Using a single filter polarizer/UV did not vignette, I did attach my Variable ND B+W 82mm filter, and it did vignette at 16mm. Using an 82-95mm Step ring and a B+W 95mm variable ND does not vignette.

In the hand, operation is almost identical to the 24-90mm, however, this lens does not have any sort of stabilization. I do hope that Leica adds stabilization to the next SL body (hint). In use,  the autofocus is accurate and fast. I did not experience any hunting or focus misses with firmware 3.2 installed.

The images below were all shot at F/8.0 because I wanted to gauge the maximum performance of the lens. In my full review I will post wide open samples and further detailed images.

Check out our Leica Tri-Elmar review in the meantime

Here are some full size sample images, click on the image for the full size version.

16mm @ F/8.024mm F/8.0
28mm @ F/8.035mm @ F/8.0