Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm Lens Review


per·fec·tion (noun) – the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

The Leica T (Typ 107) wasn’t on my radar until I read an excellent article written by Josh Lehrer from Red Dot Forum – GOING WIDE: LEICA SUPER-VARIO-ELMAR-T 11-23MM LENS REVIEW. Upon reading the blog post, I immediately emailed a friend and colleague the article for his feedback. My friend is an excellent architectural photographer so I knew he would provide an objective analysis of the images in Josh’s blog post. Can the Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm lens be the “perfect” wide angle lens? Well, Fred immediately emailed me to say how impressed he was with the image quality from the Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm lens. He has worked with many different types of camera systems from the Contax 645 to Tachihara 4×5 field camera so I consider him an “authoritative voice” when it comes to evaluating camera systems and image quality. Based on reading Josh’s article and the constructive feedback from my friend, I went ahead and ordered the camera and lens.

Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm

Copyright © 2015 Leica Camera

Having the camera system for a couple of months, I can say without a doubt I’m very happy with my purchase. Phenomenal image quality, manufacturing precision, operational simplicity, and Leica’s reputation is worth the money I paid for the Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm and Leica T (Typ 107). When compared to my Canon 5D Mark III camera ($2,795.00), Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens ($1,999.00), and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens ($2,199.00), the Leica T system is a bargain at $3,795.00.

Here are my first impressions using the Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm on the Leica T (Typ 107):

  • In my opinion, the best image quality ever produced from an APS-C camera and wide angle lens (please note my comments are based on shooting with the Fuji, Sony, Canon, and Nikon APS-C camera systems)
  • Images captured from 11mm through 23mm are “jaw dropping” crisp from corner to corner
  • The depth of field of the Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm lens reminds me of images captured using the Leica 35mm f/2.5 Summarit-M lens on a LEICA M (Typ 240).
  • The images produced with this camera and lens combo have a three dimensional look and massive dynamic range
  • No barrel or pincushion lens distortion

Note: Please keep in mind, the true capabilities of the camera lies in the RAW files produced by a camera system. For my evaluation of the Leica T system, I processed the RAW files using Capture One Pro 8.

The below image is provided for the analysis of the depth of field and corner to corner sharpness of the lens. Click Here to download the high resolution file to view on your computer.

Crest Sacramento Theater

Sacramento Crest Theater

Based on using many different digital camera systems since 1998 (my first digital camera was the Olympus, D-500L), I can truly say the Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm and Leica T (Typ 107) is the best camera system I’ve ever used when it comes to image quality (second place going to my Canon 5D Mark III camera system). I’m planing to use the Leica T system for both architectural projects and landscape photography trips. And yes, I will also continue to use the outstanding Leica X (Typ 113) for street photography.

I’m really liking the direction Leica is taking with their latest camera systems! Finally, awesome image quality from a compact camera system. Time to go hiking in Lake Tahoe! 🙂

The following images were captured off Historic Highway 49 in California (Aperture Priority mode at f/8). The RAW files were processed using Capture One Pro 8 and the black and white image with Silver Efex Pro.

Marshall Gold Discovery Park

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park – Bell’s Store

Knight Foundry

Knight Foundry – Sutter Creek

Sutter Creek

Old Historic Building – Sutter Creek

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