LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M ASPH LENS REVIEW

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M ASPH LENS REVIEW

Introduction

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is a compact ultra-wide-angle lens that delivers excellent detail and contrast even at the wide open aperture. This is the best lens Leica ever made from a  price-value point of view. Unfortunately, this lens was so good that Leica Camera decided to discontinue its production.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Instead, Leica camera now offers Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH lens, a much slower, more expensive lens priced at $2,995 USD. The alternatively there is the Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH lens which is priced at $7,795 USD.

Thankfully, you may find LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens listed on eBay or other online sites for which I have provided links at the end of this article. If you ever find one, buy it, because it is both practical and incredibly sharp for just about all photography applications.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens will offer a field of view of 92° which is perfect for landscape photography, coupled with the fact that this lens can open to f/2.8 also means you can photograph in relatively low light circumstances.

Leica Camera has taunted this lens as a photojournalism lens for which it can be used but what LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens excels at is architectural and landscape photography due to its low distortion and beautiful detailing in the corners.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens will work on just about any Leica M camera made since the fifties but is most suitable with modern M cameras as the later versions of the lens featured a 6-bit coding which allowed the camera to apply automatic lens corrections to the image as it was being recorded to the memory card.

If you find an older version of this lens without the 6-bit coding, you can still do corrections in Lightroom or other photo editing software and the results are equally good.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Optics

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is constructed from 9 elements in 7 groups using high quality, exotic optics that render exquisite detail and image quality.

This lens also features one aspherical element to help reduce some of the artifacts and distortion.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Filters

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens can be used with a variety of filters to achieve various artistic effects including long exposure. The standard 55mm filters will work well with this lens, and I highly recommend ND filters for astronomy and long exposure type photography. I have provided links for my choice of filters at the end of this article.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Minimum Focus

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is a wide-angle lens; hence, it can focus relatively close, in this case, you can photograph subjects at a distance of 2.3 feet or 70cm.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Aperture

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens can be stopped down in half-stop increments all the way down to f/16. The lens features eight straight blades. The bokeh from out of focus light sources will not be perfectly round but more a stop sign shaped.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Lens Hood

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens features an anodized aluminum lens hood which somewhat appears as an afterthought as it is a clip-on type hood prone to be bumped off the lens at the slightest aberration.

On the plus side, the lens hood works with a lens filter attached. It would have been a wise choice to have a lens hood that screwed on to the lens body rather than snapping on.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Weight

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens weighs in approximately 300g (10.6 oz.). There is also a chrome version of this lens which is 415g (14.6 oz.) due to all brass design.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Performance

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is a very sharp lens which improves in sharpness as it is stopped down reaching its best performance at around f/8. If you carefully examine the photos, you will see that corner sharpness is well retained while other lenses at this focal length tend to have much softer corners.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

This lens will have some distortion which is either automatically corrected if there is a 6-bit coding on the lens or it can be done in the post, either way, the distortion is very minimal considering that this is a 21mm lens.

Bokeh

Wide angle lenses are not known for their bokeh characteristics, LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is not one that excels at the bokeh. It is best left to its much more expensive sibling, Leica Summilux M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH lens at the wide open aperture.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

If you are aiming to get bokeh from LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens, it is best to place the subject close to the lens while the distance in the background is relatively far from the lens. The results will be interesting and beautiful as this focal length is often not used for portraits at close distances.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Distortion

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is a retro-focus lens which produces a bulging effect at the center which is to be expected from a wide angle lens of this focal length. The design is a compact one which makes wide angle lens photography possible without being burdened down with heavy optics.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Sharpness

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is very sharp at the center. The corners are sharper than most other lenses in the market. The best results are attained as the lens is stopped down. There is a noticeable sharpness improvement as the lens reaches f/4 and beyond.

For the most part, this lens offers incredible results for landscape and architecture with plenty of room for street photographers to snapshots of strangers at f/8 or F/11 without having to dial in for focus.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Falloff

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens has some fall which is to be expected from a wide angle lens at this focal length. This is somewhat noticeable if you are photographing at f/2.8 against a monotone background, but for the most part, it is a non-issue which can easily be corrected in Lightroom.

If you dial the aperture down by one full stop, you will have almost no visible fall off which is perfect if you are photographing anything with the sky in the background.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Focus

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens has a classic lever focusing dial located at the bottom of the lens. The short throw of the focus means you can dial the focus relatively fast without needing to worry about lining the frames on top of each other on your Leica M camera.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

The lens is pretty much in focus anywhere from f/5.6 and above if you are photographing anyone or anything beyond 2 meters (4 feet). LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens although excellent for photography is not very suitable for videography due to the short focus throw and lack of follow focus gear adaptability.

Alternatively, prefocusing and dial down aperture will provide excellent results if LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is adapted to video cameras.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

The lens is pretty much in focus anywhere from f/5.6 and above if you are photographing anyone or anything beyond 2 meters (4 feet). LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens although excellent for photography is not very suitable for videography due to the short focus throw and lack of follow focus gear adaptability.

Alternatively, prefocusing and dial down aperture will provide excellent results if LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens lens is adapted to video cameras.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Viewfinder

Leica Camera has never really had a great compact solution for viewfinders for their wide angle lenses. The truth is if you are not comfortable estimating the composition in your viewfinder in your camera, the chances are you will need to have a 21mm viewfinder placed on top of your camera.

There is the infamous, “Frankenstein” viewfinder as it is commonly referred to among Leica enthusiasts for their 16, 18, 21mm compatible lenses. As the name suggests, it is a true “monster” of a viewfinder but will help you to compose.

Personally, I prefer EVF for the modern Leica M cameras which removes any guesswork on exposure and framing with any lens attached to the camera body. I have also provided links for these viewfinders at the end of this article.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Other Leica 21mm Lenses

It is important to take the time to know the differences in lenses produced by Leica Camera in the 21mm focal length range. As I have mentioned earlier in the article, Leica Camera offers a Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH lens. The most overpriced lens in Leica Camera’s line up in my point of view.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

The only advantage of having a Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH lens is that it has 6-bit coding for auto-correction by the more recent Leica M cameras. Otherwise, it is dreadfully slow and unusable in most low light scenarios.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH lens which is priced at $7,795 USD is the best alternative in Leica Camera’s 21mm selection of lenses. This lens is particularly important as it is very fast, providing incredible ability to photograph even in extremely low light but also very good for unique applications like portrait photography where the background could be rendered out of focus.

The bokeh characteristics of the Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH lens makes it, one of the best lenses from Leica Camera. For me, it is worth owning despite the high price tag.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Yes, Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH lens is large but for the alternatives from other manufacturers it is relatively small and straightforward to operate when you are on the go.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Competition

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens has plenty of competition. For example, Zeiss produces ZEISS C Biogon T* 21mm f/4.5 ZM Lens priced at $1,201 and ZEISS Biogon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZM Lens at $1,499. Both lenses are exceptional performers in sharpness and quality.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

If MTF charts are to be compared Zeiss does outperform LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens in sharpness and contrast. However, LEICA ELMARIT is more compact and easier to use if you are comfortable with the thumb lever system.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

On the personal preference side, I tend to like the LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens for travel but when it comes to choosing a lens for color rendition and contrast I tend to prefer ZEISS Biogon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZM Lens.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

For obvious reasons, LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens will cost you more to own it. This is partly due to the pricing policy of Leica Camera, but since this lens is no longer in production, you can purchase it for an excellent price online. For this, please visit the links I have provided it below.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

How to use Leica Elmarit M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens for best results?

Use the focus scale, for accurate focusing when you want to shoot from the hip. Most street photographers want to be discreet and not draw attention to themselves as they photograph on the street, one of the most common techniques employed by them is shooting from the hip level, commonly referred to as “shooting from the hip.”

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is ideal for this kind of shooting if you know that you have set your focus dial correctly before firing off your shots. Utilizing the focus scale on a Leica M lens is very simple covered in my other lens review and tutorial videos.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Dial your aperture to f/8 that is right, when you are at f/8 much of the focusing aspect is handled by the physics of the lens design where anything beyond two meters is in focus if you have set your focus in between f/8 aperture mark and the focus dial sits around 2 meters in these parameters.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Street photography is effortless if you know how to utilize this lens for a variety of circumstances on the streets, learn to set your aperture at f/8 or f/11 then fire away to get some of the most interesting photographs on the streets of your city.

Remember setting your lens at f/8 is great for daytime but you must dial your aperture to f/2 when the sun goes down.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Shooting at f/2.8 is best if you are attempting to isolate the subject matter. The bokeh will dictate the subject and background separation which is why in my photography workshops we deal with using LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens and other wide angle lenses for creating clear subject matter.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Remember to take your camera and LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens for your travels as this lens will cover a wide range of photography applications from capturing landscape to photographing everyday life of the places you visit.

Utilize lens hood, LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is a wide angle lens which means it is prone to having artifacts from light rays entering the lens from unwanted angles. The lens hood is a practical solution for controlling the light direction for attaining great results when photographing in high contrast situations.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Attend a photography workshop, and many people buy wide angle lenses like LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens realizing that it takes a good amount of skill set to use it efficiently. Unfortunately, these skills and techniques can’t be learned by just watching videos but requires the guidance of a master photographer instructor to learn and apply.

So, take a photography workshop in your city and make sure your instructor know how to use a Leica camera and understands the characteristics of Leica lenses well.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Verdict

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is a great lens to own and use for years. The simple fact that it has been discontinued by Leica Camera to boost their slower and more expensive Leica 21mm lens is a definite advantage when it comes to finding bargains in the second-hand market.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

There is excellent LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens available on eBay and other online retailers. I have provided links at the end of this article, and please know before you buy that the lens must be in good condition and well maintained to avoid issues that may arise from improper care.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

If you love landscape photography, you are going to get excellent results from a LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens because it offers corner sharpness and a great deal of contrast. This means your photographs will stand out if you can utilize this lens properly.

LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT M LENS REVIEW by Master Photographer OZ YILMAZ examines the features and offers tips for best results with LEICA 21MM F/2.8 ELMARIT

Where to buy your Leica ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 lens?

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens can be purchased at a great value by clicking the links below, plus, other Leica cameras that are on sale can be found by following these links.

LEICA ELMARIT M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH lens

Leica TL2 Camera

Leica X-U (type 113) Camera

Leica CL Camera

Leica Elmarit-TL 18 mm f/2.8 ASPH. Lens

Leica Super-Elmar-M 18mm f/3.8 ASPH. Lens

Leica M10 Camera

Leica Q Camera

For my upcoming 2018 photography workshops, here are the links

Barcelona April 19 – 22

Rome April 26 – 29

London May 3 – 6

Paris May 10 – 13

Vancouver June 7 – 10

San Francisco May 24 – 27

Tokyo November 8 – 11

Hong Kong November 22 – 25

I hope you have enjoyed this article.

Thank you

OZ YILMAZ

Camera Review Team

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