The Essential Guide to the Leica SL Lenses

For well over a decade, we’ve worked diligently to review as many lenses as we possibly can. We believe that lenses are the lifeblood of a camera system. The Leica L mount camera system is one of the oldest mirrorless full-frame systems, and Leica SL lenses have grown since it started. In our typical fashion, we dove into our Reviews Index to find all our reviews of all Leica SL lenses, and we’re putting them all in this roundup for you. Interested in a Leica SL2 or Leica SL2-S? Well, here are the lenses you might be interested in.

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This piece is presented in partnership with Leica. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the lenses in this roundup already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you. The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product.

As a further Editor’s note, the reviews aren’t sponsored content. We don’t do sponsored reviews: it’s against our ethics. But over the past year, we’ve done a lot of sponsored roundups for Leica. To provide variety, we’ve reviewed a ton of Leica cameras and lenses. And that helped us create this guide.

Nomenclature for Leica SL Lenses and Understanding Them

Some things about Leica SL lenses might not be very clear. So here are a few things worth explaining:

  • Summicron: Leica’s designation for a lens being an f2 maximum aperture.
  • Summilux: Leica’s designation for a lens being faster than f2.
  • SL: Meaning the lens is designed for full-frame L-mount cameras. For reference, all Leica SL lenses can go onto the smaller system cameras like the Leica CL.
  • ASPH: Aspherical lens elements.
  • APO: Apochromatic design.

Pro Tips on Using Leica SL Prime Lenses

Here’s what you need to know about Leica SL lenses:

  • All Leica SL lenses have weather sealing built in. Considering that Leica SL series cameras have an IP-rating attached, you can guarantee the lenses will be just as durable.
  • These lenses have a metal exterior, so they’re durable enough to handle lots of abuse.
  • Leica has a series of f2 prime lenses that are pretty much the same size.
  • Leica SL lenses are autofocus. There are no zone focusing or depth of field scales like their M-variants. This means if you’re shooting a portrait, you can use the face and body detection built into the cameras.
  • A lot of these lenses have an Apochromatic design. In our findings, this is what helps give Leica lenses a bit more “pop” than regular lenses. These are the universal findings of our entire reviews team.
  • On the Leica SL2, Leica SL Prime Lenses will render their sharpest images because of the resolution of the sensor.
  • On the Leica SL2-S, Leica SL Prime Lenses will focus faster and help passionate photographers in low-light situations.
  • This guide has tech specs provided by Leica’s website listings, snippets from our reviews with links to the fuller review, and e-commerce links.

Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f3.5-4.5 ASPH

In our review, we state:

Something I adore about the Leica 16-35mm f3.5-4.5 SL is the color. Combine that with fixed white balances, and you’ll be very happy. Part of that comes from Leica’s sensors and processors.

Essential Tech Specs

  • Improved frame geometry and high quality coating
  • High flexibility
  • High product quality and exceptional imaging performance with specially developed focus motor
  • Newly developed optical design
  • Wide-angle photography
  • Focal length of 16-35 mm expands existing portfolio
  • Fast and almost noiseless autofocus
  • L-mount bayonet

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Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm f2.8 ASPH

In our review, we state:

The Leica 24-70mm f2.8 SL is in this beautiful place between being pretty standard and pretty saturated regarding colors. It’s beneficial as a photographer. I like it, and when combined with the right sensor, it will mean your colors are that much better.

Essential Tech Specs

  • 19 elements (3 with ASPH surfaces on both sides) in 15 groups
  • Consistent f2.8 maximum aperture through full zoom range
  • Fast internal focusing with a single, lightweight lens element
  • Compact dimensions and lighter weight thanks to omission of OIS
  • Lens is stabilized by the SL2 and SL2-S BIS systems
  • Excellent sharpness across all f-stops and focus distances with creamy bokeh and the Leica look
  • Metal body with weather sealing
  • Durable in any environment, making it suited for even the rigors of outdoor landscape and adventure photographers or the hustle and bustle of a pro wedding photographer

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Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f2.8-4 ASPH

In our review, we state:

One of the reasons you pay for a Leica is that they don’t play around with build quality. Leica went ahead and IP rated their cameras, but not their lenses. However, the Leica SL 24-90mm f2.8-4 is very weather sealed. We’ve taken it out into the rain, snow, and other conditions and the lens kept working. This is a very reliable lens.

Essential Tech Specs

  • Ideal standard varifocal lens
  • High imaging performance from infinity to near range
  • Optical image stabilizer
  • Creative use of sharpness and blur for the plastic detachment of motif details
  • Fast and quiet focusing
  • Seal against dust and spray water
  • Leica Aqua-Dura ® coating effectively protects the outer glass surfaces from dirt and scratches
  • Elaborate coating of all lens surfaces effectively minimizes reflexes and stray light
  • L-mount bayonet

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Leica 28mm f2 APO-Summicron SL ASPH

In our review, we state:

“What’s to hate about the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL’s image quality? Honestly, nothing. Leica’s colors are always outstanding. The bokeh from this lens is beautiful and surely has a bit of character. On top of that, it’s an incredibly sharp lens.”

Essential Tech Specs

  • Fast wide-angle lens with f2 aperture
  • Excellent optical performance
  • Extremely fast and reliable autofocus with Dual Synchro Drive
  • Close-focusing down to 0.24m
  • Same dimensions and filter size as all APO-Summicron-SL lenses
  • L-mount

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Leica 35mm f2 APO-Summicron SL ASPH

In our review, we state:

One of the best things about this lens is the color it can produce. It’s truly stunning. In my tests, I felt I got better colors straight from the Leica SL2s’s RAW files in Capture One.

Essential Tech Specs

  • High performance in a handy format
  • Classic reportage focal length
  • Quick and quiet focusing thanks to precision autofocus system with Dual Syncro Drive TM
  • Precise production “Made in Germany” under the highest quality standards
  • Reflection and scattered light optimization through high quality coating and optimized frame geometry
  • AquaDura ® coating for dust and spray protection for use in everyday photography under extreme conditions
  • The eye detection enables sharp, pinpoint portraits, even with very shallow depth of field
  • L-mount bayonet

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Leica 50mm f2 APO-Summicron SL ASPH

In our review, we state:

“While it’s not the brightest nifty fifty for L mount shooters, the Leica 50mm f2 SL still delivers beautiful bokeh, solid contrast, and minimal distortion. The lens offers an ideal balance of the things modern photographers are looking for without eliminating the potential for a bit of character. The lens mixes minimal distortion and good sharpness with the potential for some flare.”

Essential Tech Specs

  • High performance in a handy format
  • New dimension of visual aesthetics
  • Versatile standard focal length extends the lens portfolio of the Leica SL and other L-mount systems
  • Quick and quiet focusing thanks to precision autofocus system with Dual Syncro Drive TM
  • Precise production “Made in Germany” under the highest quality standards
  • Reflection and scattered light optimization through high quality coating and optimized frame geometry
  • AquaDura ® coating for dust and spray protection for use in everyday photography under extreme conditions

Buy Now

Leica 50mm f1.4 APO-Summicron SL ASPH

In our review, we state:

“The image quality from the Leica SL 50mm f1.4 Summilux is arguably the best thing about the lens. Despite its big and heavy build mixed with slow focusing, it’s got incredibly image quality. The bokeh is gorgeous. Further, we couldn’t find a single problem with fringing or distortion. So, in post-production, that means you can focus less on the flaws and more on the images. Then there are the gorgeous colors and the sharpness that is better realized on higher megapixel camera bodies.”

Essential Tech Specs

  • Powerful high-performance lens
  • Creative use of sharpness and blurring
  • Fast and quiet focusing
  • Sealed against dust and splashes of water
  • Leica Aqua-Dura coating effectively protects the outer glass surfaces from dirt and scratches
  • Elaborate coating of all lens surfaces effectively minimizes reflections and stray light
  • L-mount bayonet

Buy Now

Leica 75mm f2 APO-Summicron SL ASPH

In our review, we state:

“The Leica 75mm f2 SL has SPECTACULAR image quality. Part of this is because of just how versatile this lens is. However, there’s a lot to really like about the Leica 75mm f2 SL. It’s sharp, got nice bokeh and really beautiful colors, and there are no optical issues with it. Best of all, it’s an odd focal length. So, it means you’re working in a different way. But at the same time, it’s not that unusual of an optic.”

Essential Tech Specs

  • High performance in a handy format
  • Quick and quiet focusing thanks to precision autofocus system with Dual Syncro Drive TM
  • Precise production “Made in Germany” under the highest quality standards
  • Reflection and scattered light optimization through high quality coating and optimized frame geometry
  • AquaDura ® coating for dust and spray protection for use in everyday photography under extreme conditions
  • The eye detection enables sharp, pinpoint portraits, even with very shallow depth of field
  • The high detail contrast in combination with the maximum magnification of 1: 5 provides impressive images
  • L-mount bayonet

Buy Now

Leica 90mm f2 APO-Summicron SL ASPH

In our review, we state:

“Optically speaking, there isn’t much to say about the Leica 90mm f2 SL besides the fact that it’s pretty perfect. It’s got colors you’re going to love. And that bokeh? Oh, man! You’ll almost feel like you’re shooting with a 135mm lens instead! It’s also sharp without being too sharp.”

Essential Tech Specs

  • High performance in a handy format
  • Quick and quiet focusing thanks to precision autofocus system with Dual Syncro Drive TM
  • Precise production “Made in Germany” under the highest quality standards
  • Reflection and scattered light optimization through high quality coating and optimized frame geometry
  • AquaDura ® coating for dust and spray protection for use in everyday photography under extreme conditions
  • The eye detection enables sharp, pinpoint portraits, even with very shallow depth of field
  • The high detail contrast in combination with the maximum magnification of 1: 5 provides impressive images
  • L-mount bayonet

Buy Now

Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f2.8-4

In our review, we state:

The bokeh this lens creates is beautiful. You’ll get the best at the longer end when shooting wide open. If you’re shooting portraits with this lens, we think you’ll like the bokeh and the little bit of “pop” this lens can give. When the sun hits your subject just right, the words “Magic Hour” ring true!

Essential Tech Specs

  • Super versatile focal length from 90 mm – 280mm
  • Highest image performance at every aperture and distance
  • Silent and precise Auto Focus
  • Leica Optical Image Stabilization
  • Excellent close focus distance of 0.81 meters or 2.7 feet
  • Dust proof and water proof with AquaDura water repellent coating for outer lens elements
  • Detachable tripod mount

Buy Now

This piece is presented in partnership with Leica. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the lenses in this roundup already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you. The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.