The L-mount Alliance have been busy with over 55 L-mount lenses now available in the range. Leica isn’t slowing down having just released the first constant aperture Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm f2.8 ASPH. lens. We've got our hands on sample images from this new standard zoom and provide 100% crops for our readers to pixel peep to check the quality for themselves.
With the rise in popularity of the still relatively new full frame L-mount system all three Alliance members are busy designing lenses to meet the demands of their users. Leica themselves have already got the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90 f/2.8-4 ASPH. This lens offers a 20mm longer range together with optical stabilisation, however these come at the sacrifice of a variable aperture, whereas the 24-70mm has a constant f/2.8 aperture. This benefit alone will appeal to a number of users who shoot wide open for subjects such as portraits or documentary.
Naturally lit window portrait. Camera: Leica SL2-S. Focal length: 48mm. Exposure: 1/320 sec. f/2.8. ISO 100. No flash.
Other notable features which the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens offers include extremely quick and quiet AF. This works seamlessly with mirrorless Leica camera AF systems, most notably with the SL2 and SL2-S which both have 225 autofocus metering fields. Leica has also been busy developing focus algorithms, which can now quickly acquire and track human faces and bodies. With cameras like the SL2-S capable of a blisteringly quick 25fps the 24-70mm has its work cut out, but performs AF duties admirably whichever focal distance you happen to be at.
This 100% crop shows the detail which can be gained from the SL2-S, 24 megapixel sensor. It’s not only fast but also performs very well in low light, with the brighter aperture providing extra light gathering capabilities and a shallow depth of field.
Cityscape. Camera: Leica SL2. Focal length: 28mm. Exposure: 1/320 sec. f/8. ISO 100.
The quick and near silent AF system also suits videography as we don’t want to hear focus motors whirring away whilst recording demonstrating that this lens is very much intended for both stills and video. With Leica’s new cameras boasting extremely capable movie recording both in-camera and externally to recorders, video compatible lenses are a must-have for many.
Crop 1 at 100%, centre. In case you were wondering about the resolution of Leica’s SL2 camera, it records 8179 x 5458 pixels and just WOW to those details, plenty enough for a billboard. Two crops are shown from the centre and the edge of the frame.
The hybrid nature of the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70 lens is cemented by the fact it is available not only as a standalone offering, but also comes as part of two kits, with either the SL2 or SL2-S cameras. I would say this makes for an excellent choice for newcomers to the mirrorless Leica SL ecosystem with instant gratification for anyone switching systems or bayonets.
Crop 2 at 100% - edges, minor distortion is visible at the very edges as expected with 28mm wide angles, but look at those details captured, with each individual light bulb previously unseen lining the rooftop, aided by the lack of an anti-alias (low-pass) filter. If you need buckets of resolution, this is the camera for you.
We have a review of the Leica SL2-S Camera in our blog for those who would like to know more about the more affordable hybrid model in Leica’s full frame range.
Work tools close-up. Camera: Leica SL2-S. Focal length: 70mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec. f/2.8. ISO 125.
With over 55 lenses available for L-mount you’d be right in thinking there are going to be some options with a similar focal range. Currently both Sigma and Panasonic have a 24-70mm lens with the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens for L-mount and Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 L-Mount. Both of these are top-end options with Sigma’s ‘Art’ optics and Lumix ’S Pro’ optics. Whilst we don’t have sample images to compare from these two we can advise that they offer excellent optical performance and give Leica’s lens a run for their money. Both are designed with several special glass elements, excellent build quality with weather resistance with similarly optimised AF characteristics.
With close-focus of just 18 cm we can see endless compositional possibilities, especially with the narrow depth of field afforded by the f/2.8 aperture.
Many manufacturers produce a ‘holy trinity’ of three constant aperture zoom lenses usually covering focal distances between 15mm - 200mm. These have an f/2.8 aperture as is the case with Leica’s Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70. 24-70mm is the middle ‘standard’ zoom in this trinity, covering wide to short telephoto lengths and is arguably the most popular due to that versatile range. If we think about popular primes (fixed focal length lenses) some of the most common are 24mm, 35mm and 50mm, all of which are covered by this middle zoom.
Cityscape. Camera: Leica SL2-S. Focal length: 34mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec. f/5.6. ISO 100. This modern cityscape demonstrates the type of snapshot you can capture with everything you need to tell the story in the frame at around 35mm.
Professional photographers and videographers will almost certainly have a 24-70mm in their kit thanks to its versatility. Whether they are shooting portraits, pets, products, weddings, architecture, landscapes or any other paying genre. A fast 24-70mm is typically considered essential for pros.
The samples shown here cover virtually every focal width that the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70 f2.8 ASPH offers, demonstrating the diverse subjects, speeds and depth of field users can enjoy. We have even more samples on each product page, so why not take a look before adding this spectacular lens to your collection.
If you enjoyed this article we have plenty more camera gear reviews and buying guides which are all packed with loads of info to help our customers make the right choice for them. If you have any questions get in touch with us and we will be happy to help. And finally, we have an article with two videos from Leica HQ discussing why Leica equipment is worth the cost.
By Nick Dautlich on 06/05/2021
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