Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH lens announced

Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH lens announced


Leica has today rounded off the current SL zoom range with the introduction of the much anticipated wide-angle 16-35mm Super Vario Elmar. The company says that the new optic, which complements the existing 24-70 and 90-280mm zooms, is ideal for interiors, group portraits, concert photography and landscapes.

Unlike the two longer zooms both of which have a f/2.8-4.0 aperture range, the new lens is slower throughout the range at f/3.5-4.5. Also the newcomer does not feature image stabilisation, presumably because it was not considered necessary.

The optical system contains a total of 18 elements in 12 groups, including two aspherical to correct monochromatic aberrations. The lens is 120mm long at rest and weighs 990g.

Leica claims outstanding quality and imaging performance, and from my experience of the 24-90mm this is likely to be very accurate. As with the other zoom lenses in the range it is sealed agains spray and dust. The SL system is thus ideal for use in unfavourable conditions — quite unlike the APS-C range of TL lenses for the CL or TL2.

The lens is on sale from April 23 and will cost £4,700 in the UK.

A firmware update will be available at the same time as the new lens. Version 3.2 incorporates “wishes for general improvements requested by SL photographers”:

  1. The joystick can now be deactivated from the menu to prevent inadvertent changes to settings while the camera is in use
  2. Eco Mode can be set to reduce the power consumption of the camera
  3. The standard white balance value for daylight has been changed from 6600K to 6500K
  4. Various improvements have been made for entering text/numbers (eg at WiFi password
  5. Compatibiliyt with the Leica SF 60 System Flash and the SF C1 wireless flash controller
  6. Other bug fixes



  1. That is huge – having tried the Noctilux 50mm on the M10 during my recent visit to Leica Mayfair, which weighed a fair bit – I dread to think how much this would weigh attached to an already sizeable bit of kit. The lens weighs more than my trusty old Nikon D300s on its own – without the camera bolted to it.

    • All the SL lenses are huge and heavy unfortunately. I think the 24-90mm is one of the best zoom lenses I have ever used. If it were only smaller and lighter (perhaps the same size as an equivalent Sony FF zoom) I’d be delighted with the SL system. As it is, everything is just too big and heavy for me. The TL/CL zooms, which are broadly equivalent in scope, are so much lighter and smaller and the system is thus much more manageable. However, the RL lenses lack the stabilisation and weather protection of the SL brood. I suppose we can’t have everything.

  2. Having owned the Leica SL and 24-90mm when it was introduced I was more than happy with it’s performance and images however the reason I sold it was the weight.
    Loving the Leica CL and my trusty M10 but the lighter the gear the more inspired I am to use it.

    • As I said to Brian Nichol, my thoughts exactly. The CL system is a revelation, although ultimately it faces problems for its lack of stabilisation and weather protection. There is no reason why those issues shouldn’t be addressed with another CL model — I’d love a mini SL version — and redeveloped lenses. Leica has a good foundation, it just needs to build the house better.

  3. This will be another superlative piece of glass but I will be selling my SL and 24-70 as I needed more glass than that and it was just too heavy for me. I owned the Sony 24-70 GM lens which was amazing but the SL system colours were much better and the 24-90 was at least as amazing in rendering and I prefer the longer reach of the 24-90 but with my whiplash injury the weight of the SL system takes the joy of usage away for me. I would love a smaller SL system with no video. I am not slamming the SL as it will be a superb system for those where weight is not a factor. I would take it any day over a Nikon or Canon full frame professional camera if that was my personal choice. Luckily there is great camera for everyone these days and the Leica X series proves you do not need the latest camera to capture wonderful images within its shooting envelope.

    • Brian, my thoughts exactly. I would dearly love to love the SL system and I’ve made several attempts to bond. The native lenses are a joy and produce wonderful results. But all this is to no avail if I can’t carry the kit. It’s not just the weight, though, the SL with one of the zoom lenses (or, even, a native prime) takes us back in size and aggressiveness to the days of the DSLR. That’s why I gave up on DSLRs; apart from the weight and bulk they were just too intimidating in general use. For me, the M10 or the CL are as much as I really want to carry.

      All that said, for anyone who doesn’t mind the weight and can cope with the bulky lenses, the SL is a superb system and I cannot criticise it on technology or image quality.

  4. Maybe Leica should consider sponsoring an SL weightlifting category at the 2020 Olympics . The first lift would be just an SL body and the competitors could progress by lifting a body with increasingly heavy lenses.
    Maybe they also should co-opt some senior citizens for the product development department so that they could get some real world feedback on the portability of their cameras. I’m a volunteer as long as chiropractic services are available.


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