Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Review: Leica Tri-Elmar MATE — buy one, get two free

Review: Leica Tri-Elmar MATE — buy one, get two free

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  Leica 28-35-50 Tri-Elmar-M getting MATEy with Mike
Leica 28-35-50 Tri-Elmar-M getting MATEy with Mike’s “vintage” Mark I Monochrom. Note the complex depth-of-field scale and the 35-50-28 zoom ring (Photo Panasonic GX8 and 12mm f/1.2 Leica DG Summilux)

An M zoom? Is there such a thing? Well, there is and there was. And there are fresh rumours of another. As any rangefinder fan will know, the concept of an infinitely variable zoom lens doesn’t match the requirements of the rangefinder with its collection of alternate framelines for specific focal lengths. So any zoom lens has to have a step function locking in specific focal lengths for which suitable framelines exist.

  Fine detail at the London Bus Museum at Brooklands, Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica Monochrom Mk.I
Fine detail at the London Bus Museum at Brooklands, Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica Monochrom Mk.I

I rather warm to the idea of a stepped zoom. It’s welcome on the little Leica D-Lux, for instance, which can be set to step between conventional focal lengths. In some ways it is preferable, from a creative point of view, to having an infinitely variable range of focal lengths.

Many beginners (who almost always start with a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a kit zoom, usually 28-85mm (or 18-55 in APS-C,  14-42 in m4/3), spend too much time zooming and not enough composing the picture properly. It’s something else to adjust and slows down the picture-taking process. Worse, it can result in over-cropping which cannot be recovered subsequently.

With the Tri-Elmar you have the best of both worlds — the fixed focal length of a prime lens with the convenience of a bag of lenses in one compact unit.

  Above and below: Oxford street scene, Tri-Elmar at 35mm, Leica M-D.
Above and below: Oxford street scene, Tri-Elmar at 35mm, Leica M-D.

There’s nothing new in the idea of an M zoom. It has been well explored in Leica M circles. There have been two such lenses, both called Tri-Elmar, each offering three distinct focal lengths. The wider lens, with 16, 18 and 21mm framelines, is still in the catalogue and is known as the WATE (Wide-Angle Tri-Elmar).

  Tri-Elmar at 35mm, Leica M-D
Tri-Elmar at 35mm, Leica M-D

But its forerunner, the MATE (Medium-Angle Tri-Elmar) — the subject of this review — with its trio of 23-35-50mm focal lengths is no more. It was discontinued in 2007 after a production life of only nine years. Designed by the legendary Dr. Walter Mandler, the lens comprises eight elements in six groups. Cost of manufacture — this is a very complex lens apparently — is generally believed to have been the reason for its premature demise.

Yet this doesn’t explain why the WATE, which was introduced only in 2006, is still a current lens. I would have thought that the manufacturing challenges are similar. A lens expert such as Erwin Puts will probably have the answer to that. In any case, I suspect the MATE would still be a popular option if it were still in production. Fortunately, it is still available on the secondhand market but is quite sought after, thus not too common. 

  Portraits at 50mm with the Tri-Elmar: Above, My friend Steven Kwan, another keen Leica photographer, taken at ISO 1600 with the Monochrom Mk.I. Below, Steve Beeley, head porter at Queen
Portraits at 50mm with the Tri-Elmar: Above, My friend Steven Kwan, another keen Leica photographer, taken at ISO 1600 with the Monochrom Mk.I. Below, Steve Beeley, head porter at Queen’s Oxford, Leica M-D.

Recently, with the introduction of the much-improved Visoflex on the M10, the attractions of a zoom lens are again apparent. There have been rumours of a new M zoom but no concrete information. It is possible to use R zoom lenses on the M10, so a slightly smaller iteration with an M mount, avoiding the need for an adapter, is an enticing thought.

  University town Oxford: Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica M-D.
University town Oxford: Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica M-D.

What form could such a lens take? I think we need look no further than the stunning 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit of the SL system. Scaled down, by removing all the electronics and, of course, the autofocus gubbins, a manual zoom with high image quality potential is a viable proposition. I for one would welcome such a beast. Rangefinder fans wouldn’t use it exclusively (and nor, as far as I believe, did they ever use the Tri-Elmar exclusively) but it would be fun to own and use on occasion.

  The Brooks bus, Oxford, Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica M-D. Inspirational....
The Brooks bus, Oxford, Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica M-D. Inspirational….

But let’s stick to what we know. I don’t have direct experience of the current WATE (16-18-21mm) but I do own a fine late example of the MATE (28-35-50) and a superb lens it is. I bought mine from David Stephens of the Leica Store Manchester a couple of years ago. The MATE has a fixed maximum aperture of f/4 (it goes down to f/22) which is better than you will get on a typical kit lens. Even at f/4 it can produce a good amount of subject separation and bokeh. And, with the higher ISO capabilities of the M10, the scope of both Tri-Elmars in low-light conditions is widened.

  A touch of bokeh at f/4.8, taken at 50mm with the Tri-Elmar and Leica M-D
A touch of bokeh at f/4.8, taken at 50mm with the Tri-Elmar and Leica M-D

Don’t be put off by the f/4 maximum aperture. The MATE makes a great general-purpose lens and is ideal for travelling. Not only does it remove the need for lens swapping, it helps keep your sensor free of dust. In hot, dusty climes this lens could be your saviour. For landscapes, portraiture and street photography it makes a lot of sense. Set it to f/8 and you have the perfect street photography tool. The three focal lengths are the very ones that occupy centre ground in the street photographer’s rule book and are really all you ever need.

The middle setting, 35mm, is the generally acknowledged sweet spot for street shooting, with 50mm being the “standard” focal length for Cartier-Bressonist traditionalists. The wider 28mm focal length, after going somewhat out of fashion for a time, is now back in vogue among Leica owners following the success of the Leica Q. I have the personal experience of growing to like and appreciate the 28mm focal length during my time with the Leica Q, my Leica of the Year in 2015

  Queen
Queen’s College Oxford, Tri-Elmar at 50mm, Leica M-D

So, all in all, this MATE is just what you need to replace three individual lenses. For what it achieves, it is remarkably compact. Measuring only 70mm from tip to tail, the lens is commendably slim (49mm diameter) and light (330g). It compares well with a typical kit zoom in these respects. On the other hand, it is built like a tank and exudes typical Leica M quality. Admittedly it is 28mm longer and about 100g heavier than a 50mm Summicron; if you prefer to work with 28/35 and never use 50mm, the added length could be seen as a nuisance. But as an allrounder it is unique in the Leica firmament. It is certainly lighter than carrying three separate prime lenses and you can get away without a camera bag.

  Queen
Queen’s College Oxford, Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica M-D.
  The same subject seen through the mirror at Queen
The same subject seen through the mirror at Queen’s College Oxford, Leica Tri-Elmar-M at 50mm, Leica M-D

The Tri-Elmar MATE has two adjustment rings — aperture to the front and zoom behind. This comes as something of a surprise to seasoned M-lens users and takes a little getting used to. The zoom element has just three click settings, 28, 35, 50. What most people notice, and initially dislike, is that the markings are 35-50-28 with 50mm as the central, default position. There could be very good optical/mechanical reasons for this layout but, after time, you do begin to appreciate it.

With 50mm as the central reference point, you can adjust the focal length easily by feel. Turn to the right and you are at 35mm, two clicks back and you are at 28mm. I am fully at ease with this layout and wouldn’t want to change it. Incidentally, it is possible get a picture at an in-between setting if you are lucky, but I don’t see any particular reason to want to do this.

  35mm is the sweet spot for general street photography, Leica M-D
35mm is the sweet spot for general street photography, Leica M-D

Inboard of the zoom ring, next to the lens mount, is a confusing depth of field scale. Yes, even with this stepped zoom creation you get your precise scale to help with calculation of zone focus. The graphics and crazy connecting lines are a work of art and take some fathoming. But, again, it’s something you soon get used to.

  Happy snappers: Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica M-D.
Happy snappers: Tri-Elmar at 28mm, Leica M-D.

My example, which is the later 49mm-diameter Tri-Elmar, has exceptionally smooth control rings and it is generally an ergonomic delight. You’ll be at home with this lens in minutes. Note that the earlier lenses, made between 1998 and 2000 had a wider diameter filter ring of 55mm. The two versions of the late model, with the 49mm filter like mine, are the more popular and more plentiful. Black is more plentiful, chrome will command a premium.

A relatively small point is EXIF data with this unusual lens. Most examples of the MATE were not six-bit coded. Indeed, although there is a code to match the lens I am not sure if any of the production lenses were in fact coded at birth. I’ve had mine coded by Red Dot Cameras in London and it’s worth doing if you intend to make a lot of use of the lens. All M digitals will recognise the selected focal length, because of the linkage which selects the appropriate framelines, but the lens designation will not be recorded unless the lens is coded. Incidentally, I believe that the wide-angle Tri-Elmar doesn’t transmit focal-length details to the camera because there are no framelines to select at wider angles. On the plus side, though, most  — if not all — WATEs will be six-bit coded..

While an M rangefinder will recognise the focal length and populate the EXIF data accordingly, if the MATE is used on a non-M camera (such as the Leica SL or a Sony A7) the camera has no way of knowing which focal length has been selected. I found this a disadvantage on the few occasions I used my Tri-Elmar on the SL. But then do I have a proper zoom for the SL, if a bit on the large side.

  Shopping in Portobello Road: Tri-Elmar at 50mm, Leica M-D
Shopping in Portobello Road: Tri-Elmar at 50mm, Leica M-D

So how does it perform? Does the zoom facility impair image quality as is often the case with a cheaper multi-purpose lens, but less so with professional lenses built to Leica’s exacting standards? Well, as you can imagine with Leica, this is a well engineered confection both mechanically and optically. I have been delighted with the overall results. I find the lens sharp even at the widest f/4 aperture and notice no real improvement in sharpness as it is stopped down to f/8. This is unusual and helps us live with the relatively slow aperture. I am happy to use it at full aperture without any worries about sharpness. As Leica expert Erwin Puts says,

“The (Tri-Elmar) hardly improves on stopping down and this statement is true for all three focal lengths. This behaviour is only possible in a very well corrected optical system. It also means that the (Tri-Elmar) exhibits excellent optical performance at its full aperture.”

He is the first to say that the MATE does not ultimately perform as well as modern prime M lenses in the three focal lengths, but

“The Leica user who needs outstanding performance at apertures wider than f/4,0 and/or big enlargements showing the smallest image detail with great clarity and contrast needs to (use individual prime lenses)”

The point is that Erwin is talking about the very top level of clarity and sharpness, not to mention the very top level or pernicketiness among photographers. No names, no pack drill. For lesser mortals such as me and thee the Tri-Elmar’s three focal-length options provide more than adequate performance. Add in the convenience of the three-in-one focal lengths and you have a compelling lens.

Below: Three-in-one without changing lenses. Small beer for mirrorless or DSLR fans but an unusual opportunity for M shooters. Tri-Elmar at 28, 35 and 50mm, Leica Monochrom Mk.I (Click to enlarge)

I find only one annoying problem with the MATE and that is the minimum focal distance of 100cm. It can be restricting, even for Leica-M photographers who are used to the 70cm distance of most modern lenses. And for users of mirrorless cameras and DSLRs with autofocus lenses, even 70cm comes as a shock. (Note that the still-current WATE lens features a surprising minimal focal distance of only 33cm and also differs from the older MATE in stopping down to only f/16 instead of f/22).

  Don Morley tries a zoom with a difference — the Leica X Vario. This taken with the Leica Monochrom and Tri-Elmar MATE at 50mm
Don Morley tries a zoom with a difference — the Leica X Vario. This taken with the Leica Monochrom and Tri-Elmar MATE at 50mm

My old friend Don Morley, a seasoned and noted photo journalist, has been a Leica user for over 60 years, cutting his teeth on the IIIf before moving to Ms. He it was who first interested me in the Tri-Elmar when we went out on a photo walk back in 2014. I had the opportunity to try his late-model MATE and it was this that prompted me to buy my own copy.

Although Don no longer owns the lens, he tells me that he has always loved the late-model MATE (the one with the 49mm filter, just like mine). The original (55mm filter) version, he says, made it easy to miss pictures because it would sometimes fail to locate properly in its focal-length notch. However, he does have reservations over the performance of the later MATE at 28mm:

“Basically the MATE was pretty near as good in optical performance terms at 35mm and 50mm as the 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH and the final 50mm f/2 Summicron. However it was not as good as I would have liked at 28mm. As I happen to like the 28mm focal length and use it a lot (Leica Q for instance) I found this frustrating as it meant I also had to carry my 28mm f/2 Summicron ASPH as well — and this rather defeated the object. Additionally I was often very frustrated by the fact the MATE does not focus in nearly as close as any of the primes, indeed this often was its biggest downside.”

Above: Subtle but different: The first three views of the ancient Dove pub on the River Thames at Hammersmith in London show the Tri-Elmar at 28, 35 and 50mm, taken with the Leica Monochrom Mk.I. The fourth shot was taken on an earlier occasion with the 50mm Apo-Summicron ASPH mounted on the Leica M-P and converted in Silver Efex-Pro  (Click to enlarge)

  Will Tang of Aperture:
Will Tang of Aperture: “One of the least common lenses to see someone using” (Leica M-D and 50mm f/2.8 collapsible Elmar-M)

That said, I think he would agree with the statement that the Tri-Elmar 28-35-50 is an interesting lens that makes a fine addition to your lens collection. It is unsurpassed in convenience for travel purposes and as a general-purpose optic.

One dealer in used Leica equipment, Will Tang of Aperture Photographic, told me that they don’t see the Tri-Elmar in any of its forms very often.

“This is probably one of the least common lenses to see someone using, with most people falling for the allure of a Summicron or Summilux prime lens. Often, however, the Tri-Elmar is billed as a travel lens for photographers not wanting to carry around a stable of lenses. For that purpose, the smaller aperture allows for a smaller and lighter lens.”

I would go as far as to say that this is a perfect lens for street and urban photography, despite its 70mm length. These three focal lengths are all you really need for a city walk — 28mm for the wider scenes including architecture, 35mm for general shots and 50mm for the odd portrait or closer view. While I wouldn’t recommend the Tri-Elmar as your only Leica M lens — it is a bit of an oddball after all — it does make a very interesting and convenient alternative to a bag of primes.

If you can find a good example buy it. This is a lens that can only go up in value. 

All photographs in this article taken by Mike Evans

Above: A complex lens. The later version of the Tri-Elmar Mate has a 49mm filter thread and is relatively compact, with the benefit of a focus tab. Note the complex depth-of-field scale and the two adjustment rings, focus nearer the front of the lens and zoom in 35-50-28 steps to the rear (Photo L-Camera-Forum Wiki – see the full entry here).

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the excellent review Mike… You make some references that set me off though…

    You mention that the lens was designed by Walter Mandler… I have two Mandler lenses, a new 50mm Summicron and a 1980’s 90mm Tele-Elmarit. But here is the thing, without being an Erwin Puts type expert… My latest iteration of the Summicron 35mm, Peter Karbe does not seem to produce the glow (if that is what I mean) of the older lenses.

    Am I mistaken, or is there something, e.g. the transition from film to digital sensor, that would cause the new lenses to have a different design brief?

    On the subject of the six bit code, I have carried this out on the 90mm Tele-Elmarit myself… I purchased a new cheap charlie Chinese M bayonet fitting, with indentations for the code, I dropped some black and white Humbrol into the correct places according to the table highlighted in the article URL posted below, and was instantly gratified… (£12ish).

    http://lavidaleica.com/content/converting-coded-m-lens-mount

    Ultimately though, this lens is a bit of a handicap, as you mention Mike different focal lengths come into and go out of fashion… You mention the 28mm, I really don’t get on with that lens, there is too much to compose for a landscape, or you have to get too close for a street portrait, which makes me very nervous, and it is not that different from a 35mm.

    I think that I would rather have a 50 and a 90/70, or a 35/70…

    Having said that, I am also curious about the M10 version of the SL kit zoom that you and I seem to be mentioning… or Rumourmongering… 🙂

    • Thanks, Stephen. There’s nothing magical about 6-bit coding as you know. While I got the Tri-Elmar done through Red Dot, you can do it yourself using a cheap kit as you experienced. I don’t suppose it makes much difference. I just thought that the Tri-Elmar would benefit from professional job if ever I came to sell it.

      As for Mandler v. Karbe, I wouldn’t like to be dogmatic. Many people prefer the rendering of the older lenses, all of which were clearly designed for film cameras. Karbe has taken sharpness to new heights, as with the 50mm Apo-Summicron which, is the sort of no-compromise lens Erwin would be thinking of for the more demanding of applications.

      Mike

  2. I have the WATE as I like wide zooms. Unlike the MATE, the WATE is a true zoom, but I tend to use it only on the designated focal lengths. The reason for this is that the WATE does not bring up frame-lines as it is too wide and therefore no mechanical coupling is needed except for the rangefinder. You do, of course, have to use a separate finder such as the infamous ‘Frankenfinder’. The six bit code will only identify the lens as a 16mm but you can dial in 18 and 21mm via the menu. As you say, the MATE has the advantage of the mechanical coupling with the camera giving information on the focal length which has been used.

    Six bit coding will give you some protection against red edge or ‘Italian Flag’, but using Lightroom is quick and generally more reliable than relying on the 6 bit code. I would never ‘ruin’ a true vintage lens by adding six bit coding, but I suppose this is not too bad for lenses which immediately pre-date this feature which are going to be primarily user items.

    Most vintage LTM lenses will only focus down to 1 metre. The 0.7 metre came in with the M lenses and I have some lenses in both LTM and M versions where the minimum focusing distance went down to 0.7 metre on the introduction of the M version eg the 35mm f 2.8 Summaron. I suspect that the higher minimal focal length distance for the WATE relates to mechanical tolerances. The WATE will focus with the rangefinder down to 0.7 metre, but will also focus without rangefinder assistance down to 0.3 metre. You can, of course, use the EVF with the WATE or indeed the MATE to give seamless zooming and focussing down to the real minimum focus distance of each lens with focus peaking. The other design parameter is moving OVF frame-lines. Fujifilm manages to do this with some of its zooms on the X-PRO 2, but I suspect the ‘coupling’ is electronic rather than mechanical.

    A Leica M zoom with a 24-90mm range might seem attractive, but I suspect that it would be both large and very expensive. Among the issues to be dealt with would include true zoom v multi focal length, frame-lines and their activation, six bit coding and how this functions (should probably be for the widest focal length where red edge issues are greatest), EXIF issues and, of course functionality with an EVF. This is quite a complex group of interacting functional issues and I have not even touched on the optical issues eg I have yet to see a zoom that is equally good optically at all focal lengths.

    Just some thoughts to be going on with. Meanwhile Mike, hold onto that MATE. From the examples posted above, it seems to provide might good optical performance.

    William

    • I think that any new M zoom will forego the framelines and will be for use with the EVF only. In this respect it could mimic the SL. Of course it would be quite hefty, even without electronics, but it need be no more expensive than the equivalent 24-90 SL lens. That Vario-Elmarit is one of the few zooms where I can honestly say that I never wish I had a bunch of primes. It lacks nothing in image quality, falling down only on the relatively slow aperture range — hence it is no bokeh king. But as a general-purpose zoom and M version that performs as well would be welcome.

      • A zoom for EVF only makes sense and might save some costs that would impact on selling price. It would probably upset some traditionalists. Not me though, as my main potential issue would be size rather than OVF or EVF.

        William

    • Some good points William but I don’t think that enhancing a lens for use on a digital M or SL is ‘ruining’ a lens, particularly when that enhancement can be undone by the replacement of the original uncoded lens mount that is sitting in a safe place for those that don’t like such things. It’s really not much different to adding a filter or a third party hood.

      I also agree with Mike that the principle point about the posited zoom lens is the same as the MATE and WATE, only it would mimic the SL ‘kit lens’, and be used exclusively with the appropriate EVF, by doing this Leica would offer something similar to to the core Fuji systems X-Pro 2 and X-T2.

      • A few points. For an out and out collector’s item, putting a six bit code on it would greatly reduce its value. For a user item, the effect would be the opposite and the six bit code would probably increase its value somewhat. For myself, I can fix any issues with red edge in Lightroom in a matter of seconds. This is also more reliable as you can fix any vignetting/red edge issues to taste with a much greater degree of precision. I have one lens with six bit coding since birth (a 24mm f3.8 Elmar), images from which still require further adjustment in Lightroom.

        I agree with Mike about making any new zoom an EVF only job, but there would be a lot of Leica purists who would not like this.

        William

  3. I take your point, Mike about stepped zooms. ("In some ways it is preferable, from a creative point of view, to having an infinitely variable range of focal lengths.") As someone who likes to protect his sensor, I would certainly try to find a MATE if I had an M. As it is, I tend to use my zooms, whether fixed or interchangeable, in this way wherever they are marked to make that possible. Prime example is the super lens on the X-vario. Not full frame, I know, bur very satisfying to work with.

    • John, I’m not sure if the X Vario has the stepped zoom feature, as on the D-Lux. I don’t think so because it has a true zoom ring. On the D-Lux the zoom is controlled by a toggle button on the top plate near the shutter release. By default, it zooms continuously as you hold the switch one way or the other. If you activate stepped zoom in the menu it steps forward to the precise focal length every time you nudge the lever. So, 24-28-35-50-75-90-135. If the optical zoom is activated, the step system works right up to the limit. I found this particularly useful in the normal range of 24-90, particularly since the selected zoom length can be programmed to stick even when the camera is switched off. It means you can turn the camera into a fixed focal length according to whim. Quite brilliant, and the Tri-Elmar gives a touch of this utility on the M. Sadly, the MATE covers a relatively restricted range of 28-50 when it would have been brilliant if it had been a five-Elmar or even a six-Elmar. Too much to hope for.

  4. Thank you for your interesting and balanced review of the Leica Tri-Elmar 28-35-50 (TE). I bought my Version 2 in 2001 together with an M6 TTL, both new and for travel photography. I used it extensively and was well pleased. Eight years later I bought an M8 and found that the TE gained from a retrospective upgrade to 6-bit recognition. The lens had to go back to Germany in those days, where is was modified and checked against specification. The cropping factor introduced a new set of focal lengths, losing a little at the wide end and gaining at the other.

    It reverted to its normal spec on the M9 and MP240 with interesting results. In my opinion, the higher grade sensor for the first time recorded detail not present with film or even the M8 or M9. This judgement is very subjective, but the physics of sensor size and higher resolution would seem to support this view.

    Your report photographs are really excellent, particularly the mono. I presume they were jpegs tweaked in PP, judging by the shadows in the Portobello Road portrait? Whatever, your pictures illustrate the fine results possible with the TE on modern digital camera bodies. Like Don Morley I was less confident about using the TE28 setting, particularly in the early days. Its performance was visibly weaker. Now I not so sure. Somehow the factors mentioned above support the view and I would now safely use that setting as part of the tri-lens set.

    You didn’t mention ‘flare’, hopefully because you did not encounter any. In certain scenarios, mainly with TE50 which has the least natural shading by the lens barrel, flare can be a slight problem. That is why Leica produced a special lens hood for the lens. I bought one second-hand, but they are quite difficult to find. It does help, but it has a slight downside. The metal hood sprung clamp can mark the black paint on the lens barrel if regularly fitted and removed. So I reluctantly leave mine fitted when bagged between shooting.

    Finally, back to coding, Brian Bower bought one of the last Tri-Elmar lenses made and I am sure it left the factory 6-bit coded. Thinking back, long before the M8 was launched, all new Leica lenses were produced with the coding flange in anticipation of the digital models to come. In his book ‘Leica M Digital Photography’ based on the M8/M8.2, Brian used quite a few of his travel pictures taken with his Tri-Elmar. I always recommend to new owners that the TE be coded, not only for EXIF reasons, but Lightroom does take account of any corrections needed after entering Development.

    Will Leica reintroduce the Tri-Elmar 28-35-50? I rather doubt it. There was considerable preference for various Bi-Elmar candidates, such as 35/75, when the topic was discussed in a forum some time ago. We will see. Meanwhile, continue to enjoy the versatility of your Tri-Elmar.

    • David, Thank you for your kind comments which, I am sure, will enhance the content of the review. The photographs are a mixture of Monochrom (Mark I) which were processed in Silver Efex Pro and Leica M-D, again converted and processed in SEFEX. As far as I can remember almost all would have been taken from RAW. I am not sure what happened with the Portobello Road shot as I ought to have been able to eliminate the shadows to some extent. It’s a year since I processed it so I’m not sure.

      You are right that I didn’t encounter flare and I don’t have the hood. I note that the front element sits rather far back so to an extend there is built-in protection. On the other hand, I have read that some users have experienced flare. In general, though, I tend to avoid hoods unless I absolutely feel I need them. They inevitable turn a compact lens into a large protruston (here I’m thinking of the 28mm Elmarit and 35mm Summicron in particular. The new f/5.6 Summaron hood, while period, is an egregious example).

      I had a feeling that the later examples of the Tri-Elmar were six-bit coded but I couldn’t find a definitive reference so didn’t make a statement. I suspect overall very few lenses now on the market were coded originally although many will have been coded later.

      I too think it unlikely that there will be another stepped zoom such as the Tri-Elmar. Any new zoom would have to cover a greater focal-distance range (28-90, for instance) and would be a true zoom, relinquishing the rangefinder and requiring the EVF. I think such a lens would be welcomed by Leica users, particularly those who have used the SL and enjoyed the monstrous 24-90 (in every respect other than bulk and weight). Occasionally, a zoom in the bag could be useful even for rangefinder addicts.

      Your thoughtful contribution is much appreciated and I intend to continue enjoying this unique lens.

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