Leitz Wetzlar ELMAR 50mm F/2.8 [I]

Standard prime lens • Film era • Discontinued


Model history (8)

Leitz ELMAR 50mm F/3.5 [I] [LSM]CollapsibleM4 - 31mA36 1930 
Leitz ELMAR 50mm F/3.5 [II] [LSM]CollapsibleM4 - 31mA36 1951 
Leitz Wetzlar ELMAR 50mm F/3.5 [III] [LSM]CollapsibleM4 - 31mE39 1954 
Leitz Wetzlar ELMAR 50mm F/3.5 [III]CollapsibleM4 - 31mE39 1954 
Leitz Wetzlar ELMAR 50mm F/2.8 [I] [LSM]CollapsibleM4 - 31mE39 1957 
Leitz Wetzlar ELMAR 50mm F/2.8 [I]CollapsibleM4 - 31mE39 1958 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 for M6J (1640 units)CollapsibleM4 - 30.7mE39 1994 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 [II]CollapsibleM4 - 30.7mE39 1995 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 “Anton Bruckner” (200 units)Collapsible 1996 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 “Schmidt Centennial Anniverary” (150 units)Collapsible 1996 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 “Jaguar XK” (50 units)Collapsible 1998 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 “150 Jahre Optik” (30 units)Collapsible 1999 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 “HANSA 80th Anniversary” (100 units)Collapsible 2001 
Leica ELMAR-M 50mm F/2.8 Gold (1 unit) 2020 

Features highlight

15 blades


Production details:
Announced:February 1957
Production status: Discontinued
Order No.:ELMOO / 11512
ELMOO / 11012
Original name:Ernst Leitz GmbH Wetzlar Elmar f=5cm 1:2.8
System:Leica SM (1930)
Optical design:
Focal length:50mm
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Leica screw mount [28.8mm]
Diagonal angle of view:46.8°
Lens construction:4 elements in 3 groups
Diaphragm mechanism:
Diaphragm type:Manual
Aperture control:Aperture ring
Number of blades:15 (fifteen)
Coupled to the rangefinder:Yes
Closest focusing distance:1m
Maximum magnification:<No data>
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing lever
Physical characteristics:
Weight:<No data>
Maximum diameter x Length:<No data>
Filters:Screw-type 39mm
Slip-on 42mm
Lens hood:ITOOY / 12580
IROOA / 12571
Lens caps:ORQDO / 14031 (front)
ORYFO / ORYFOCHROM / 14050 (rear)
Sources of data:
1. Leica lenses booklet (PUB. 11-34d) (January 1963).
2. Interchangeable lenses are giving your LEICA new perspective booklet (PUB. 11-34) (April 1960).
3. Leica lenses booklet (PUB. 11-34b) (October 1961).

Manufacturer description #1

From the Message to Leica dealers:

NEW 50mm ELMAR f/2.8 LENS

This new lens contains all of the optical qualities which have made the 50mm Elmar f/3.5 lens the outstanding lens of its class for many years. The additional speed of the f/2.8 lens gives it broader application, particularly for the slower color films. We anticipate that this lens will become one of the leading lenses in the Leica line. It is available at the present time only in screw mounting and there are no present plans for making it available in the bayonet mounting.

The 50mm Elmar f/2.8 lens is being announced in the same manner as the Leica IIIg Camera; and you are requested not to advertise the lens until after March 1, 1957.

The 50mm Elmar f/3.5 lens will continue to be manufactured in both bayonet and screw type mounting.

Manufacturer description #2

From the "New Leica Equipment Supplement to the 13th Edition LEICA MANUAL AND DATA BOOK":

The 50mm f/3.5 Elmar was the first lens available for the Leica camera. It is on the performance of this first Leica lens that the Leica reputation was made. Now, 30 years and countless Leicas later, a new Elmar, and with its speed increased to f/2.8, is available for the first time. The added speed of the f/2.8 lens gives the Elmar a broader application, especially with the slower color films. The new lens uses lanthanum crown glass in its formula.

At this time, the f/2.8 Elmar will be available only in the screw mount for IIIg and earlier standard Leicas. The previous 50mm Elmar f/3.5 lens will continue to be manufactured in both bayonet and screw mount.

Those who wish to use the f/2.8 Elmar on the Leica M 3 can, of course, do so by using the bayonet adapter for 50mm lenses.

Manufacturer description #3

The direct descendant of the famous 50mm ELMAR f/3.5 whose classic triplet-type construction won world renown, its 50% increase in speed was achieved by means of the most modern optical glasses. In its collapsible mount it is far and away the lightest and most compact of the LEICA's 50mm fraternity. Ideal for sportsmen and others to whom compactness is a primevirtue, the 50mm ELMAR is corrected for the widest range of shooting distances, from infinity to extreme close-up and macro applications. Very much less expensive than its high speed relatives, the 50mm ELMAR is recommended whenever considerations of compactness and cost out-weight the need for speed.


  • All LEICA lenses having a focusing lever are automatically locked at the infinity position. This feature enables the camera to be used for infinity scenes and subjects without danger of the lens becoming accidentally out of focus due to unintentional movement. To release the lever for focusing on nearer planes press the knob at the end of the lever.

Alternatives in the Leica SM system

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Standard prime lens

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35mm full frame

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


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ITOOY / 12580 (1956)

For ELMAR 5cm with E39 front flange. Double trigger fastening engaging in groove round front rim of lens. Early version had narrow chrome band engraved "Elmar 5cm", later version had wide chrome band engraved "1:2.8/50 1:3.5/50".

IROOA / 12571 (1959)

For 50mm and 35mm lenses with E39 mount. Double trigger fastening. Wide chrome band. Earliest examples were engraved "Summaron 3.5cm Summicron 5cm" but no codeword; later ones were engraved with either four or six focal length/aperture combinations and the codeword. Latest ones had the catalogue number and six focal length/aperture combinations.

12585 (1963)

For all 35mm and 50mm lenses with 42mm external mount diameter. All black. Engraved with either five or six focal length/aperture combinations and the catalogue number.


Rear cover, chromium plated, for screwing on base of LEICA lens when not in use.

ORQDO / 14031

Spare lens cap, chromium plated, for lens diameter 42mm: SUPER-ANGULON 21mm f:4, SUMMARON 35mm f:3.5, SUMMARON 35mm f:2.8, SUMMICRON 35mm f:2, ELMAR 50mm f/3.5 [III], ELMAR 50mm f:2.8, SUMMICRON 50mm f:2, ELMARIT 90mm f:2.8, ELMAR 135mm f:4.

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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 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),


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


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.


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/2.8 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.


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.


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 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.