Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm F/3.4 ASPH.

Ultra-wide angle prime lens • Digital era

ASPH. The lens incorporates aspherical elements.

Model history

Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm F/3.4 ASPH.M8 - 70.7mE46 2011 
Leitz Wetzlar Super-Angulon 21mm F/3.4M8 - 40.4mA52.5 1963 
Leitz Wetzlar Super-Angulon 21mm F/4Pancake lensM9 - 40.4mA42 1958 

Sample photos

F/5.7
F/4.8
F/5.7
F/4.8
F/4.8
F/5.7
F/4
F/4.8
F/3.4
F/4
F/4.8
F/4.8
F/3.4
F/4
F/3.4
F/4
F/3.4
F/4
F/4
F/3.4
F/3.4
F/4
F/3.4
F/3.4
F/3.4
F/3.4
F/3.4

Designed for

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Features highlight

Extreme AoV
1 Bi-ASPH
4 AD
Manual
9 blades
MF
Compact

Specification

Production details
Announced:June 2011
Production status:In production
Production type:Mass production
Order No.:11145
Original name:LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 1:3.4/21 ASPH.
Optical design
Focal length:21mm
Speed:F/3.4
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount:Leica M
Flange focal distance:27.8mm
Diagonal angle of view:91.7° (35mm full frame)
75.5° (Leica M APS-H)
Lens construction:8 elements - 7 groups
1 Bi-ASPH, 4 AD
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Manual
Number of blades:9
Focusing
Coupled to the rangefinder:Yes
Closest focusing distance:0.7m (coupled focusing)
Maximum magnification ratio:1:29.8 at the closest focusing distance
Focusing method:<No information>
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing tab
Physical characteristics
Weight:263g
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀66×43mm
Weather sealing:-
AquaDura coating:-
Accessories
Filters:Screw-type 46mm
Lens hood:Screw-type 12465 (rectangular)

*) Source of data: Manufacturer's technical data.

Manufacturer description #1

21 June 2011, 18.00 GMT: Leica has today added a new, high-performance wide-angle lens to its portfolio of short focal length lenses for Leica M cameras. The Leica Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. sets new standards in imaging performance and is characterised by its particularly compact size and suitability for a wide range of photographic situations. Whether used for photojournalism, architecture or landscape photography, the Leica Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. provides photographers with an extremely small, light and versatile wide-angle lens, particularly suitable for travelling.

The performance of the Leica Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. is reminiscent of one of the all-time favourite classics amongst M lenses, the Leica Super-Angulon-M 21 mm f/3.4. This much-praised lens was an integral part of the Leica M lens portfolio from 1963 to 1980, and made its name and reputation as an ideal tool for available light photography and photojournalism. Even today, the Super-Angulon-M 21mm f/3.4 is extremely popular and one of the most sought-after M lenses amongst connoisseurs of fine optics.

The new Leica Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. is a worthy successor, with further improvements over the already outstanding performance of its predecessor. The lens reveals its excellent reproduction of detail and superior contrast at maximum aperture. Of particular note are the extremely effective flare characteristics of the Leica Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH., which allow the capture of fascinating 'contre-jour' images with absolute clarity and contrast.

The intricate optical design and construction of the lens are responsible for its outstanding sharpness and imaging qualities. The Leica Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. is constructed with eight lenses in seven groups. At the same time, the use of one lens element with two aspherical surfaces and four lenses with anomalous partial dispersion ensure that aberrations are reduced to an absolute minimum.

As with all Leica lenses, the Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. was designed and developed by Leica specialists in Solms, Germany, and represents the perfect combination of optical and technical expertise. Particularly reliable and with enduring value, every Leica lens is manufactured from only the highest quality materials and is assembled with meticulous precision, completely by hand. The combination of cutting-edge technologies and extremely thorough manufacturing processes guarantees consistently excellent quality.

The Leica Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. is supplied with a high-quality, all-metal lens hood, which should be mounted at all times. The hood not only protects the lens effectively against reduction of contrast by extraneous light, but also against damage and the accumulation of dirt on the front lens element.

Manufacturer description #2

With the LEICA SUPER-ELMAR 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH., Leica is extending the range of M lenses in the super wide angle range with a model that combines outstanding reproduction with a compact design.

It delivers uniformly excellent reproduction quality over the entire fi eld of view, with only a very slight deterioration at the edges in the close-up range. This performance can only be improved slightly by stopping down, which means that you can take photographs with full stop with no concerns, unless your compositional ideas call for a greater extension of the depth of fi eld that can only be achieved with smaller apertures.

The vignetting characteristic of every optical system is more pronounced on a super wide-angle lens than on normal lenses and those with long focal lengths. At full stop in 35mm format it is a maximum, i.e. in the corners of the image, of around 2,1 stops, around 1,2 stops on Leica M8 models with their slightly smaller format. Stopping down to f/5.6 reduces this light falloff at the edge of the image – to 1.6 and 1.0 stops respectively. Stopping down further does not result in any further reduction as essentially only the natural vignetting remains. The maxim um distortion of the lens of around 1.5 % is hardly perceptible. The retrofocus-like construction is made up of a total of eight lens elements, and the use of a lens element with two aspherical surfaces and four lens elements made of glass types with anomalous color dispersion (partial dispersion) make a crucial contribution towards restricting aberrations to an absolute minimum.

Summary: The LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. combines optimum reproduction with compact dimensions, offering all M users a wide range of options in the spontaneous super wide-angle photography that is typical of the Leica M.

Manufacturer description #3

The new Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH. is characterized by superb imaging performance and amazingly compact construction. This powerful combination makes it ideal for many applications, such as landscape or photojournalistic photography. Even at maximum aperture, the lens delivers outstanding rendition of details and optimum contrast up to its closest focusing distance.

The sophisticated design and construction comprises eight elements - including one with two aspherical surfaces and another four with anomalous partial dispersion - and plays a decisive role in reducing distortion and vignetting to an absolute minimum. The lens is supplied with a metal, screw-mounted lens hood to prevent flare effects and ensure perfect image sharpness.

Typical application

landscapes, interiors, buildings, cityscapes, travel

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm

Travellers' choice

Note

Among autofocus lenses designed for 35mm full-frame mirrorless cameras only. Speed of standard and telephoto lenses is taken into account.

Professional lens

One of the best ultra-wide angle prime lenses

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Unique Leica Look

Leica lenses are one-of-a-kind optical masterpieces that are impressive because of their unique Leica Look. This is ensured through exceptional optical design combined with selected materials and the highest quality standards.

Leica lenses reveal their full potential only when mounted on Leica cameras, since only these have sensors precisely matched to their optical characteristics.

Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

MF

Sorry, no additional information is available.

Aspherical elements

Aspherical elements (ASPH, XA, XGM) are used in wide-angle lenses for correction of distortion and in large-aperture lenses for correction of spherical aberration, astigmatism and coma, thus ensuring excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. The effect of the aspherical element is determined by its position within the optical formula: the more the aspherical element moves away from the aperture stop, the more it influences distortion; close to the aperture stop it can be particularly used to correct spherical aberration. Aspherical element can substitute one or several regular spherical elements to achieve similar or better optical results, which allows to develop more compact and lightweight lenses.

Use of aspherical elements has its downsides: it leads to non-uniform rendering of out-of-focus highlights. This effect usually appears as "onion-like" texture of concentric rings or "wooly-like" texture and is caused by very slight defects in the surface of aspherical element. It is difficult to predict such effect, but usually it occurs when the highlights are small enough and far enough out of focus.

Low dispersion elements

Low dispersion elements (ED, LD, SD, UD etc) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. This type of glass exhibits low refractive index, low dispersion, and exceptional partial dispersion characteristics compared to standard optical glass. Two lenses made of low dispersion glass offer almost the same performance as one fluorite lens.

Low dispersion elements

Low dispersion elements (ED, LD, SD, UD etc) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. This type of glass exhibits low refractive index, low dispersion, and exceptional partial dispersion characteristics compared to standard optical glass. Two lenses made of low dispersion glass offer almost the same performance as one fluorite lens.

Canon's Super UD, Nikon's Super ED, Pentax' Super ED, Sigma's FLD ("F" Low Dispersion), Sony' Super ED and Tamron's XLD glasses are the highest level low dispersion glasses available with extremely high light transmission. These optical glasses have a performance equal to fluorite glass.

High-refraction low-dispersion elements

High-refraction low-dispersion elements (HLD) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture.

High Index, High Dispersion elements

High Index, High Dispersion elements (HID) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture.

Anomalous partial dispersion elements

Anomalous partial dispersion elements (AD) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture.

Fluorite elements

Synthetic fluorite elements (FL) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. Compared with optical glass, fluorite lenses have a considerably lower refraction index, low dispersion and extraordinary partial dispersion, and high transmission of infrared and ultraviolet light. They are also significantly lighter than optical glass.

According to Nikon, fluorite easily cracks and is sensitive to temperature changes that can adversely affect focusing by altering the lens' refractive index. To avoid this, Canon, as the manufacturer most widely using fluorite in its telephoto lenses, never uses fluorite in the front and rear lens elements, and the white coating is applied to the lens barrels to reflect light and prevent the lens from overheating.

Short-wavelength refractive elements

High and specialized-dispersion elements (SR) refract light with wavelengths shorter than that of blue to achieve highly precise chromatic aberration compensation. This technology also results in smaller and lighter lenses.

Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics

Organic Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics material (BR Optics) placed between convex and concave elements made from conventional optical glass provides more efficient correction of longitudinal chromatic aberrations in comparison with conventional technology.

Diffraction elements

Diffraction elements (DO, PF) cancel chromatic aberrations at various wavelengths. This technology results in smaller and lighter lenses in comparison with traditional designs with no compromise in image quality.

High refractive index elements

High refractive index elements (HR, HRI, XR etc) minimize field curvature and spherical aberration. High refractive index element can substitute one or several regular elements to achieve similar or better optical results, which allows to develop more compact and lightweight lenses.

Apodization element

Apodization element (APD) is in fact a radial gradient filter. It practically does not change the characteristics of light beam passing through its central part but absorbs the light at the periphery. It sort of softens the edges of the aperture making the transition from foreground to background zone very smooth and results in very attractive, natural looking and silky smooth bokeh.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.

Format

Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),

where:

CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.

Mount

A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance from the lens mount to the film or sensor can also be different.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Flange focal distance

The flange focal distance (FFD), sometimes called the "flange back", is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.

Speed

The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Electromagnetic diaphragm control system

Provides highly accurate diaphragm control and stable auto exposure performance during continuous shooting.

Convex protruding front element

The convex front element protrudes from the lens barrel, making it impossible to use filters.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.

Weight

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.

Filters

Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.