Leica Vario-ELMAR-R 35-70mm F/4

Standard zoom lens • Film era • Discontinued

Model history (3)

Features highlight

Constant
F/4
1
ASPH
MF
Auto
8 blades
E60
filters
TC

Specification

Production details
Announced:1997
Production status: Discontinued
Order No.:11277 - ROM
Original name:LEICA VARIO-ELMAR-R 1:4/35-70
System:Leica R (1964)
Optical design
Focal length range:35mm - 70mm [2X zoom ratio]
Speed range:F/4 across the focal length range
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Leica R [47mm]
Diagonal angle of view:63.4° @ 35mm - 34.3° @ 70mm
Lens construction:8 elements - 7 groups
1 ASPH
Zooming
Zoom mechanism:Manual
Zoom control:Zoom ring
Zoom type:Rotary
Zooming method:<No data>
Focusing
Closest focusing distance:0.6m
0.26m [MACRO 1:2.8]
Maximum magnification ratio:1:8 @ 70mm at the closest focusing distance
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:<No data>
Number of blades:8 (eight)
Physical characteristics
Weight:400g
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀70×84mm
Accessories
Filters:Screw-type 60mm
Lens hood:12437
Lens caps:14233 (front)
14162 (rear)
Teleconverters:Leica APO-Extender-R 2X → 70-140mm F/8

*) Sources of data: Manufacturer's technical data ● Leica R-System: Lenses booklet (April 1999).

Manufacturer description #1

Vario-Elmar-R f/4/35-70 mm: New standard zoom lens for Leica R cameras (2/97)

The new Vario-Elmar-R f/4/35-70 mm zoom lens for all Leica R cameras is not only compact and lightweight, but also powerful. With its diameter of 70 mm, length of 84 mm and weight of 503 grams, it fits into any camera bag. The new Leica R lens covers the most commonly used focal length range from the slight wide angle to the short telephoto. Due to the high quality imaging right down to the macro range, it can well be used as a standard lens.

The new Vario-Elmar f/4/35-70 mm has two rubber-armored dials, one for distance setting (focus) and the other for focal length setting (picture area). This prevents accidental shifts of either value.

The photographs taken with this new lens are impressively sharp and rich in contrast even in the corners. Definition and contrast can both be enhanced slightly by stopping down by one value. Apart from this, the distortion for which zoom lenses are notorious is extremely slight at all focal length settings, making this lens comparable with good lenses of fixed focal length.

This optical performance is achieved through eight elements, four of which consist of highly refractive glass. One of them is also aspherically ground and polished according to an innovative technique which Leica Camera helped to develop.

Through the precise and durable brass/aluminium mechanical elements, two groups of lens elements are pushed against each other when the focal length is adjusted, whereas only the front group is moved when the focusing is adjusted. The focusing range extends to the close range of 60 cm, an additional macro setting even enables photos to be taken as close as 26 cm. This corresponds to a smallest object field of about 6.7 x 10.1 cm, allowing frame-filling exposures of small objects and animals.

The new Vario-Elmar-R f/4/35-70 mm is compatible with all former Leica R models from the Leica R3 to the Leica R8, including the additional electronic data and signal transmission for the new Leica R8. A contact strip in the lens bayonet indicates the integration of a data memory.

The new standard zoom lens therefore offers the Leica R photographer the whole range of photography from close-up via landscape to portrait.

Manufacturer description #2

With the use of one lens element with an aspherical surface, contrast and imaging quality of this lens are at least as good as those of lenses with comparable fixed focal lengths. With its excellent gradation in shadow areas and highlights, it is particularly well suited for subjects with strong light contrasts. Thanks to a macro setting, close-up pictures as near as 26 cm (10.5 inches) are possible, which corresponds to a reproduction ratio of 1:2.8. As a universal zoom lens, it covers the classic focal lengths. All these qualities make it an indispensable standard lens in the Leica R system.

Manufacturer description #3

This lens covers all the classical focal lengths. A handy two-ring zoom lens with normal speed, it offers very good imaging qualities as well as ease of operation. High optical performance is achieved via aspherical lens element and other refinements. Contrast and image reproduction quality are comparable to those of lenses with equivalent fixed focal lengths. Because of its very good gradation of shadow areas and of highlights, it is ideal for subjects with great lighting contrasts. In the macro range you can shoot as close as 10 1⁄4". That corresponds to a reproduction ratio of 1:2.8, permitting format-filling photographs of very small subjects

From the editor

It looks like the datasheet provided by the manufacturer contains lots of errors. For example, the focusing range is stated as 0.5m to infinity, while the closest focusing distance of 0.6m is clearly indicated on the lens barrel. Also, weight and dimensions are indicated as "ca." (circa). Therefore, exact weight and dimensions were used on this page according to the "Leica R-System Lenses" brochure.

Typical application

Class:

Slow full-frame standard zoom lens

Genres or subjects of photography (6):

Landscapes • Cityscapes • Buildings • Interiors • Portraits • Travel photography

Adaptation to digital SLR cameras:

Canon EOS SLRsSigma SD SLRsSony SLRs/SLTsPentax SLRsNikon SLRsMore information

Not adaptable

In order to adapt the lens, the flange focal distance (FFD) of the lens mount must be equal to or greater than the FFD of the camera mount. This lens has the Leica R mount with a FFD of 47mm. This is even shorter than the FFD of Canon EOS digital SLR cameras, which have the shortest FFD of 44mm of any modern digital SLR cameras. Therefore, this lens cannot be adapted to any digital SLR camera.

Recommended slowest shutter speed when shooting static subjects handheld:

1/80th of a second @ 70mm • 1/40th of a second @ 35mm

Alternatives in the Leica R system

///// Sorted by focal length and speed, in ascending order /////

Lenses with similar focal length range

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

MF

Sorry, no additional information is available.

12437 (1998)

For Vario-Elmar-R 28-70mm, second version, and Vario-Elmar-R 35-70mm, ROM version.

14233

Replacement lens cap for the VARIO-ELMAR-R 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5, VARIO-ELMAR-R 35-70mm f/4.

14162

Replacement rear cover for Leica R-mount lenses except 21mm.

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.

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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.

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 can also be different.

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

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.

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".

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.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/4 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

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.

Teleconverters

Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.

Rotary zoom

The change of focal length is achieved by turning the zoom ring and the manual focusing - by turning the separate focusing ring.

Push/pull zooming allows for faster change of focal length, however conventional method based on the rotation of the zoom ring provides more accurate and smooth zooming.

Push/pull zoom

The change of focal length happens when the photographer moves the ring towards the mount or backwards.

Push/pull zooming allows for faster change of focal length, however conventional method based on the rotation of the zoom ring provides more accurate and smooth zooming.

Zoom lock

The lens features a zoom lock to keep the zoom ring fixed. This function is convenient for carrying a camera with the lens on a strap because it prevents the lens from extending.

Zoom clutch

To set the manual zoom mode, pull the zoom ring towards the camera side until the words "POWER ZOOM" disappear.