Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica announces 18mm f/2.8 Elmarit L-mount pancake lens

Leica announces 18mm f/2.8 Elmarit L-mount pancake lens


One of the missing links in the Leica L-mount lineup was a really compact lens to turn the TL2 (and the new CL) into a true, lightweight carry-round camera. I noted this omission in the recent review of the TL2 and suggested a pancake lens would be welcomed. 

  The f/2.8 Elmarit-L is also available in silver finish
The f/2.8 Elmarit-L is also available in silver finish

I knew from rumours that there was a good possibility of such a lens and now we have it — a light and compact 18mm f/2.8 which is equivalent to 27mm in full-frame equivalence. If it as good as the ultra-compact Leica 28mm Elmarit-M I shall be more than satisfied. 

With a depth of only 20.5mm, the Elmarit-L is claimed to be the smallest pancake on the market. It needs no hood, allowing full advantage to be taken of the tiny dimensions at all times, and weighs only 89g. By comparison, the 18mm Fuji pancake weighs 116g while the Panasonic 20mm pancake, built for the more compact m4/3 system is 100g.

Leica claims that this pancake lens is the best in class for optical performance.

The new CL with this pancake lens is not exactly a replacement for the much-loved X1/2 Cameras — it is slightly bigger and has the wider angle — but it is a significant step in the right direction. Many of us renewed our acquaintance with 28mm when the Leica Q was introduced and will be all the more keen to sample this autofocus L-mount lens.

  The new pancake lens perfectly complements the compact dimensions of the Leica CL. It is the smallest pancake on the market yet offers best-in-class optical performance. It turns the CL into a very usable street photography tool
The new pancake lens perfectly complements the compact dimensions of the Leica CL. It is the smallest pancake on the market yet offers best-in-class optical performance. It turns the CL into a very usable street photography tool

The 18mm Elmarit reminds me of the 18mm Fuji f/2.8 which has always been a very underrated lens in the X lineup. I tested it 2014 and suggested that the then current X-T1 offered a more versatile solution for street photography than the cult X100 range. The same principle could now be applied to the CL and 18mm Elmarit combo — it has an ideal form factor and performance for general street photography.

The lens will retail for £1,020 but is also available as a kit with the CL camera at £3,150. 

Read more about the CL system


Press information

Free for release after: 21 November 2017 at 3 p.m. (CET)

The Leica APS-C System:
high quality cameras and lenses that impress with compact size, stylish design, intuitive handling and exceptional picture quality.

Wetzlar, 21 November 2017. Leica Camera AG has expanded its APS-C System product portfolio. The Leica TL2 has now been joined by the Leica CL, a further camera with a high-resolution, 24 MP, APS-C format sensor. Also new in the system is the Elmarit-TL 1:2.8/18 ASPH. lens. This wide-angle offers imaging performance and compact dimensions that ideally complement both cameras and is available not only in black, but also in a silver anodised version. Thanks to these new additions, the Leica APS-C System now offers a diversified portfolio of cameras and lenses that combine compact design with exceptional picture quality and enable users to experience a truly special kind of photography.

Both camera models, the Leica CL and the Leica TL2, are made in Germany. In technical terms, they are equals, but their design and handling concepts could hardly be more different: reflecting the traditions of Leica in the form of the iconic Leica CL and, in contrast, the futuristic look of the Leica TL2.

The Leica CL is an intuitive tool, with all essential controls located on its top plate. In addition to the high-resolution electronic viewfinder, there are two dials for setting the aperture, shutter speed ISO value, and exposure compensation. Everything is so conveniently located that photographs can be taken without moving the camera from the eye. An additional display on the top plate instantly provides information about all relevant settings and exposure parameters. Together with the perfectly defined release pressure point, this ensures that users have absolute control over every picture they take with the Leica CL.

The Leica TL2 impresses with its unmistakeable looks, the haptic experience and its handling concept. The heart and soul of the handling concept – from settings, capturing and reviewing images to menu navigation – is a clearly laid out, bright, high-contrast 3.7-inch touchscreen with control functions similar to those of a smartphone. It also has four haptic, ergonomically positioned control elements that enable users to concentrate on composing their subjects without any unnecessary distractions. The creative freedom and convenience offered by the Leica TL2 can also be further expanded with a state-of-the-art Visoflex electronic viewfinder.

Both camera models can take advantage of an extensive portfolio of TL-Lenses. The lenses offer superior imaging performance and are responsible for the exceptionally high picture quality delivered by the Leica APS-C System. The portfolio of compact and fast lenses with focal lengths from 17 to 200 mm offers infinite opportunities for all kinds of creative photography. The elegant simplicity of the design of the three zooms – the Super-Vario- Elmar-TL 1:3.5–4.5/11–23 ASPH., Vario-Elmar-TL 1:3.5–5.6/18–56 ASPH. and the APO- Vario-Elmar-TL 1:3.5–4.5/55–135 ASPH. – and four prime lenses – the Elmarit-TL 1:2.8/18 ASPH., Summicron-TL 1:2/23 ASPH., Summilux-TL 1:1.4/35 ASPH. and the APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 1:2.8/60 ASPH. – perfectly complement the Leica CL and the Leica TL2, not only in terms of technology, but also in looks.

Developed by optical engineering specialists in Wetzlar, the Leica TL-Lenses all offer the exceptional imaging performance for which Leica lenses are famed. The combination of optical and precision engineering expertise and the use of finest materials in their construction ensures their constant quality and reliability in use. Thanks to the L-Bayonet mount shared by the Leica TL- and SL-Systems, SL-Lenses can also be used without an adapter on the CL and the TL2. Appropriate adapters are also available for using Leica M- and R-Lenses on the cameras.

An extensive range of technical- and style-accessories ideally complements the APS-C System.

The black version of the Leica CL will be available from the end of November. The Leica TL2 is offered in a choice of two colour options, black and silver.





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