Home L-Mount Leica announces the Vario-Elmar-SL 100-400 f/5-6.3 telephoto zoom

Leica announces the Vario-Elmar-SL 100-400 f/5-6.3 telephoto zoom

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The new Leica Vario-Elmar-SL 100-400 f/5-6.3 further expands the extensive range of Leica SL lenses at a relatively inexpensive cost of under £2,000. An additional extender can take the telephoto end to 560mm but costs a further £785.

Wildlife, sports, action

This lens offers the widest zoom in the SL-System and combines “high-end technology with the advantages of a compact and lightweight design.” According to Leica, the range of use has dramatically increased, particularly for nature, wildlife, sports and action photography. Notably powerful in its performance and image quality over the entire zoom and aperture range, the Vario-Elmar-SL 100-400 f/5-6.3 also contains an optical image stabiliser and precise autofocus, ensuring steady images and excellent focusing on moving objects.

The Vario-Elmar-SL 100-400 f/5-6.3 has an ARCA-SWISS compatible tripod base that can be removed and inserted directly into a suitable coupling system without a quick-release plate. This provides a secure hold at all times when photographing or filming with a tripod. A lockable tripod clamp also allows the lens to be fixed securely at any angle, with the clamp locking every 90 degrees for quick changes between landscape and portrait formats.

The lens features a magnesium and aluminium full-metal housing, black anodised, with dust and splash protection. The optical system comprises 22 surfaces in 16 groups, and the electronically controlled aperture can be set (via the camera) to half or third stops, with the smallest aperture being f/22. The lens weighs 1530g without the hood (1620 with) and has a diameter of 88mm (97mm with the hood). At rest, the lens is 198mm long and is approximately 298mm at its furthest read.

140-560 mm zoom capability

The Leica Extender L 1.4x, which is available at extra cost, comprises seven lenses in four groups and is capable of altering the reach of the lens from 100-400mm to 140-560mm. The extender weighs approximately 182g. Both the extended focal length and the aperture are also written into the image data, ensuring the settings used are always accurate.

The Leica Vario-Elmar-SL 100-400 f/5-6.3 will retail for £1,910, including UK tax, while the Leica Extender L 1.4x is £785, including tax. Both are available globally in Leica stores and authorised dealers from today, 9 March 2023.

Download the full specification of the new zoom:


The alternative: Sigma’s 100-400 f/5-6.3 telephoto lens for the L system

The new Leica Vario-Elmar appears to have a very similar optical specification to the Sigma 100-400 f/5-6.3. The housing is typical Leica, more streamlined than the Sigma. The biggest difference is in weight, with the Leica turning the scales at 1530g (without hood) compared with the Sigma’s 1139g. This suggests a sturdier construction to justify the additional cost. As usual, there could also be differences in the standards of the optical elements. The Sigma 100-400 is available for £849, and the 1.4 extender costs £329.



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7 COMMENTS

  1. I am very excited about sharpness and preformance with extender 1.4 x. As a nature and reportage photographer. If leica has made an extender especially for the Leica 100-400. (anyone know anything about it?) so it’s interesting !! Other brands often lose a lot of quality and sharpness when an extender is used. Perhaps because their extender has to fit several types of lenses.

  2. Adding that the extender only works with the 100-400. It will not work with the 90-280 nor with any other Leica SL lens.

    • Well, I have the Sigma as well, and I will be fascinated to see how inferior it is to the new Leica version. The difference in weight slightly concerns me, suggesting Leica has tweaked things, but it could just be a mistake on the specs sheet. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll take my Sigma to Red Dot Cameras and make a direct comparison with the Leica Vario-Elmar. But I seldom use a zoom lens of this type, and the Sigma cost was acceptable. I’m not sure I’d spend over twice as much for the Leica lens, even if it can be proved to be superior in some way. And even less would I be inclined to buy a real Leica zoom (other than the 24-90, which I own and has been a long-time favourite).

      • Mike, Your reply seems somewhat biased in advance in saying ‘You will be fascinated to see how inferior (The Sigma version) is to the new Leica version’ Surely any idea the Leica version might be better in any way is a doubtful assumption!

        • I suppose this was cynicism. I suspect the optical performance of the two lenses will be identical. However, if you spent the extra £1,200 for the Leica version you can expect a more robust housing and proper weather protection. Sigma relies mainly on weather sealing the mount. But that is £1,200 (not to mention the ridiculous price of the Leica extender) so I think I prefer to take my chances with the Sigma version.

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