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Leica 90mm Macro Elmar-M

i like turtles

I had posted the other month about 90mm lenses on RF’s over at rangefinderforum, and was about to pick up a used Summarit for a good price when the 90mm Macro Elmar M caught my eye. I found one used for a good price, with the macro adapter, and went for it. I know there’s not a lot out there about this lens, so here’s how I feel so far.

First of all, its small. Collapsed its about the length of the 28 Summicron (which is a bit smaller than the Zeiss ZM 35/2). Actually its a bit smaller—by the difference of a UV filter ring. Extended its the length of the 50 Summilux ASPH with its hood retracted. It’s smaller in diameter than either of those lenses.

flowers

Extending the lens is quick and easy. It focuses pretty close without the adapter and I think is going to be perfect for walking around - the extra bit of close focus distance will let you zoom in on details if you need too. With the adapter, which is smaller than I imagined, all of my close focus needs are provided for. I used to shoot macro stuff with a Canon SLR, 100mm macro lens, and flash setup. Obviously this won’t do that kind of macro—bugs, tiny stuff, etc.—but for flower-sized ‘macro’, it’s perfect. Flowers, food, signs, leaves are all fair game with the adapter. If you were going on a real macro adventure, bring your SLR, but for travel, you extend your capabilities quite a bit with a unit the size of a deck of cards.

leaves + part of 'S'

The lens seems sharp with nice bokeh. Sharp enough, even wide open. It’s not the fastest thing in the world, but I have other lenses for that. I think in low light, I’m better with a 50 or a 28 anyway. I can hand hold it to a surprisingly low speed, so all is not lost. I don’t know how it does with flare. I don’t have a hood for it, so I would imagine I’ll find out at some point.

This has got me to thinking though. When I do go out with my SLR, I’m going to start bringing the appropriate sized extension ring from now on. Tiny and who knows when it might come in handy.

While this lens is expensive new, you can probably find them used for around the $1k mark if you keep your eye out. At some point, I’ll flesh this review out a bit with some pictures of the lens and adapter.

BABY CRAB

More photos from this lens can be found on my flickr page.

Update

So I’ve had this lens now for about 2 years. I don’t use it much, which is pretty much what I expected. It’s a bit slow for anything other than outdoors, so I usually don’t use it when I’m at home. It is perfect for travelling though. I travel (alone) a couple times a year for work. This lens takes up very little room and is plenty fast enough for outdoors. It really gives me the extra bit of reach for certain kinds of shots. I recently went to Japan and used this it a couple times. The turtle shot above is from that trip. Even though I had the 75mm Summilux before the trip, there was really no reason to lug around such a heavy lens when I could pack this one instead.

It is the kind of lens that I need to remind myself to use more often though. There are quite a lot of opportunities with this focal length, but I’m just don’t think in those terms a lot.