The Best Leica Lenses Under $3,000 (With a Gorgeous Render)

“I finally get it,” is what a friend and long-time reader of the Phoblographer told me recently. He tried out a Leica M4-P and realized immediately what he was missing out on. Leica cameras and lenses can’t be understood by looking at measurement charts or reading the comments from trolls on the internet. Like experiencing the perfect couch or bed, it has to happen in person. And once you get a taste, you’ll be hooked. So to help photographers dive in at a more affordable investment, we’re rounding up the best Leica lenses under $3,000. We’ve reviewed all of these ourselves, so check this out!

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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. We only recommend gear that we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Pro Tips on Using the Best Leica Lenses Under $3,000

Here are some tips for choosing and using the best Leica lenses under $3,000 and picking them:

  • The lenses in this roundup are all featuring brand new purchases. Of course, you might be able to get lenses like this for even cheaper if you buy used.
  • At this price point, you’re getting the best of many worlds. We’re focusing on small, lightweight primes. These pair best with any Leica M camera body because they’re just so small. 
  • All the best Leica lenses under $3,000 have a metal exterior build. However, they’re not weather sealed. Despite that being said, the best Leica Leica lenses under $3,000 have been said to survive brutal conditions.
  • You’re not going to get the fastest apertures at this price point. But you’ll get really nice renders that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
  • We reviewed all these lenses ourselves. So you know that we’re telling you exactly what we experienced.
  • Be sure to check out our complete guide to Leica M-mount  lenses.

Leica 50mm f2 Summicron (Non-APO)

Tech Specs

  • Diagonal picture angle: 47 °
  • Working range: 0.7 m to infinity
  • Largest scale: 1: 11.5
  • Number of lenses/groups: 6/4
  • Length * 1: 43.5 mm
  • Weight * 1: 240g
  • Lens hood: Pull-out
  • Filter/filter thread: E39
  • Made in Germany

Pros

  • Small
  • One of Leica’s most affordable M mount lenses
  • Beautiful image quality
  • Sharp without being overly sharp
  • Nice bokeh
  • Gorgeous colors
  • Truly a lens you want to bring with you everywhere

Cons

  • Not a thing!

How’s the Bokeh? We Tested It!

In our review, we state:

“The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M isn’t as bokehlicious as its f1.4 brother. But it’s still pretty beautiful overall. You may get some cat’s eye-shaped bokeh. However, I personally don’t mind that all that much in situations like the above. I think it can be pretty cool. And not all bokeh needs to be perfectly round. I’m also of the camp that never cared about onion bokeh. It’s not really a problem at all.”

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Leica 28mm f2.8 Elmarit

Tech Specs

  • Diagonal picture angle: 75 °
  • Working range: 0.7 m to infinity
  • Largest scale: 1: 22.2
  • Number of lenses/groups: 8/6
  • Length * 1: 30.7 mm
  • Weight * 1: 175 g
  • Lens hood: can be screwed on
  • Filter/filter thread: E39
  • Made in Germany

Pros

  • Excellent build
  • Tiny size
  • Sharp images that still have some character
  • Easier to focus than brighter apertures and longer focal lengths
  • Not as expensive as other M-mount wide-angle lenses

Cons

  • Manual focus only
  • Some onion ringing to the bokeh
  • No weather-sealing

How’s the Bokeh? We Tested It!

In our review, we state:

“Despite the wide-angle and being “only” an f2.8, the lens can still capture some nice soft backgrounds. Bokeh is nicely rounded, with minimal change in shape towards the edges. However, the bokeh balls sometimes have an onion ring edge, particularly with harsh light and towards the corners of the frame.”

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Leica 28mm f5.6 (Vintage Reissue)

Tech Specs

  • Optical design similar to the original Summaron 28mm f/5.6 lens
  • Most compact M-Lens, with an overall length of about 3/4” (less than 2cm) is unobtrusive and ideal for street photography
  • Provides unmistakable imaging signature which otherwise cannot be reproduced by digital means
  • Through its combination of large depth of field, natural contrast, excellent rendition of details, and visible vignetting, the Summaron-M gives images a unique character, reminiscent of analog photography
  • Combination of a clearly laid out depth of field scale and long focus throw allows precise and easy zone focusing
  • Depth of field scale is colored in red
  • Assembled by hand from top quality materials and finished in Silver Chrome
  • Made in Portugal and delivery scope includes metal lens hood and cap.
  • The design and manufacturing process of the metal lens hood has been recreated to match the original Summaron lens. It is first machined from solid brass and then given its ultimate form by a turning and bending process.

Pros

  • Very low profile build
  • A very classic look to the image quality that I seriously wish more manufacturers did
  • F5.6 is probably what I would use for street photography anyway
  • Smooth operation

Cons

  • Full stops for aperture, though if you’ve shot film that shouldn’t be an issue at all
  • Weird zone focusing scale so it’s tough to figure out what you’ve got in focus

How’s the Color Render? We Tested It!

In our review, we state:

“The color rendition for the Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 is fairly muted. It’s classic and really nice on digital sensors. On a Sony sensor, it’s obviously going to be more saturated.”

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Chris Gampat

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