5 Frames With A Leica Tele-Elmarit 90mm f/2.8 – by Aukje

Although I mostly shoot a 50mm Summilux on my Leica M2, I do enjoy a different focal length every now and then. What I don’t like is adding lots of weight to my bag. The one lens that tends to surprise people with a proper (heavy!) DSLR-kit the most is my Tele-Elmarit 90mm. It’s tiny and light, and you can keep it inside the pocket of your ripped jeans if you like.

The addition ‘Tele’ means that the lens is shorter than its focal length, in this case it sticks out about 62mm. That is about as tiny as you can get for a relatively long lens. For example Leica’s other 90mm lenses (the Elmarit or Summarit for example) are all larger and heavier.

Although it might be a suitable focal length for portraits I use it mostly for landscapes or nature. If I want to do some kind of close-up (I don’t do macro) I use it at f/2.8 where it has a nice small depth of field. For landscape photography I use it for cherry-picking areas of interest, or when there is too much water between me and the subject to get close 🙂 .

Although very small, the tele-elmarit performs pretty well. It is sharp enough, and has a nice soft, unobtrusive bokeh. It is not perfect, for example the contrast is lower than I am used from my summilux and summicron, and it is slightly more prone to hazing (as you can see in the shot from the Lake District and of the cactus). That means that there are some circumstances where the result lacks a bit of punch, but most of the time it performs good enough for me. And I do shoot it against the sun, where hazing is a potential hazard…

I choose some shots from different locations and different time of the year, just to give you an idea of the versatility of the lens. I developed the film in Tetenal Colortec C-41 chemicals and scanned it on an Epson V800.

Veluwe (National Park in The Netherlands) / Kodak Ektar
At the end of my street / Kodak Colorplus
Garden on Bonaire (Netherlands Antilles) / Kodak Ektar
Lake District (United Kingdom) / Kodak Ektar
Karpathos (Greece) / Kodak Portra 400

Thanks for reading, and Hamish thanks for having me!

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19 thoughts on “5 Frames With A Leica Tele-Elmarit 90mm f/2.8 – by Aukje”

  1. An alternative to the Tele-Elmarit 2.8 are the 90/4 Elmar-C and the 90/4 M-Rokkor, bith in M-mount, made for the Leica CL and the Minolta CLE. The Rokkor (marked ‘Made in Germany’) works perfectly on both the CLE and my M4-P assuming you take proper care in focusing. The lens is 72mm from flange to front and weighs 250g. Contrast is slightly higher than with the 2.8.

      1. Aukje, the Elmar C f4/90 is generally regarded as a better lens than the Tele-Elmarit. It was the last of the f4 designs and has been described as the pinnacle of Leitz’s evolution of this design. Resolution of both these 90mm lenses is very close, with I believe the C just edging it, but the Elmar-C has high contrast wide open compared to the Tele version’s medium. Distortion is non-existent with the C, but vignetting is marginally higher at 1.1 stops, versus .7 of the Tele version but the Tele also has some pincushion distortion.

        Unfortunately, as you’ve discovered, the Tele is known to be prone to flaring (the term I believe you are looking for) haze is something else and is an atmospheric condition.

        I love your first image. With Christmas not far off, you’ve got the makings of a personal Christmas card.

        1. I’ve never seen the pincushion distortion, but then again, I never looked for it. I think it would be difficult to spot in a nature shot.
          Good suggestion for the Christmas card! 🙂

    1. I’ve had Elmar-C 90/4 and then snagged tele-elmarit as well (for 100 eur!) Kept the later. Both are equally sharp wide open, but TE is significantly sharper, and better bokeh at f4. Plus extra stop is very handy indoors. I also found TE to be it less prone to veiling flare, although the contrast drops a bit on both in complex situations.

  2. i’m jealous of those that can use telephoto lenses well. maybe it’s just that the subject matter i shoot is better represented with a wider field of view. in any case, it looks like you’ve found a great lens and you’re making great images with it.

    1. These are well selected pictures ! Very nice !
      My favourite is the branch of a pine and the shots in the lake district and in greece.
      Very interesting for me, actually i’m testing a similar focal length, namely a SMC-M Pentax 100mm f2.8 on Pentax ME/MEsuper.
      Of course, lenses between 80mm and 120mm are famous for portrait photography, but i use it in landscape photography as well.

  3. I bought a Tele-Elmarit some years back, but rarely use it, mostly because I did not really know what it is suited for. Your nature shots prompted me take it out shoot some of my own fall nature shots. Now I know! Beautiful! Thanks!

  4. I too have come to love my Elmar 90mm F4 much more than I thought I would.

    a cheap screw in hood is a must though for these early 90’s and it will transform your lens both in terms of contrast and flare prevention.

  5. It uses the same non-folding hood as the 135 Elmar and Tele-Elmarit. I have the folding hood but don’t use it; the regular hood stays on the lens. I’ve had a 90 TE for years and it’s my favorite lens of that length. I only switch to the Summicron when I need the additional f stop. The lower contrast makes the TE a wonderful lens for black and white, and all of my film work is in black and white. Often maligned by people who have never tried it, the TE is indeed a wonderful lens and your work shows it at its best. Thanks.

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