The Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH is a small wide angle lens for the M mount system. We test it on our M240 and show you the results here.The samples that you see are unsharpened crops from the full image below, at full resolution.
Optical design: Number of lenses/groups: 8 / 7
Aspherical surfaces: 2
Position of entrance pupil: 15,6mm
Distance setting: Focus range: 0,7m – infinity
Aperture Setting/Function: F/3.4-F/16 With click-stops, half values available, manual diaphragm
Bayonet Mount: Leica M quick-change bayonet with 6 bit lens identification bar code for digital M models
Filter mount: 46mm
Lens hood: Non-rotating, Male thread with stop for lens hood (included)
Length: 43/55mm (with/without Lens hood)
Largest diameter: approx. 53mm
Weight: approx. 279g/9.8oz
This is a small, light wide angle lens that offers very high performance on M camera’s. At 279grams/9.8oz, it is very light and fits easily in the bag. As with all Leica M lenses it is dense and very well made. This lens is only available in the black aluminum version. As mentioned above it is a modern design featuring two aspherical elements in the optical design. The lens comes with the box, hood, caps, leather case and papers.
Click on any image below to see a full size version
|Top Left||Top Right||Center||Bottom Left||Bottom Right|
The location of the test was chosen to provide corner sharpness information, along with field curvature info. Most wide angle lenses display some field curvature, it is usually inherent in the design.
Center performance is already excellent wide open, with no Chromatic Aberrations (CA) visible in the centre region. Right from F/3.4, the centre region does not really change sharpness as we move up in aperture. The only change is, that the depth of field increases. This is excellent performance.
Corner sharpness. Lets look at the bottom right corner, again it is sharp wide open at F/3.4 with no CA. Moving up to F/8.0 we see a very slight improvement to excellent performance. Depth of field increases as well. The top left corner demonstrates this performance level as well.
The lens is demonstrating some field curvature. This is evident, as the bottom right corner is substantially closer to the camera. The field curvature does not affect infinity performance as demonstrated in the top left corner. This region is sharp by F/8.0 and is brought into sharpness by depth of field.
At 21mm the lens already has a substantial depth of field, especially considering is speed. Depth of field will be from 9 feet/2.74 meters to infinity. By F/8.0 depth of field is from approximately 5 feet/1.5 meters to infinity.
What can we say about this lens, its performance is superb. There are no appreciable dips in sharpness across the image plane. In real world use, it is an excellent example of Leica’s prowess in the M lens category. Distortion shows very slight, less than 2% pincushion type distortion. Vignetting is about half (0.5) of a stop wide open, and it is completely gone by F/5.6. As mentioned, there is no appreciable CA present when used on a Leica M system.
Is this lens sharper than the Tri-Elmar wide open? Is it lighter than the Tri-Elmar? The answer is yes. But you give up the other options with the 21mm SEM. It ultimately comes down to your enjoyment of the 21mm focal length.
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