Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/04/16

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Tri-Elmar
From: TEAShea <>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 14:06:57 EDT

These are some preliminary comments on the Tri-Elmar that I recently received:

The lens is about as long as a 90 mm lens (70mm).  It is lighter than I
expected - 340 grams.

Mechanically, the aperture ring is not as smooth as other Leica lenses.  It
does not feel like it has ball bearings (I don't know if it does).  It is very
well finished and mine is entirely free from any defects that I can see in
either the lenses or the case.

I am amazed at the simplicity of the optical design.  It has 8 elements in six
groups.  After I take some photos and get some enlargments made, I will report
on the optical quality.  There are two aspherical elements.  Element 2 is an
aspherical element that serves primarily to reduce distortions.  Element 4 is
an aspherical element that reduces the monochromatic image erors down to a
minimum.  Five of the elements use highly refractive glass.  

According to Leica the lens distinguishes itself with a good to very good
image performance with all three focal lengths.  At f 4 it has a richly
contrasting image with good detail reproduction.  Stopping down to f 5.6 can
increase the contrast even more.  The critical f stop lies between 5.6 and 8.
The lens peforms best at 50 mm.  

This is interesting --- Leica says: " Only at the 28mm focal length does the
lens not quite reach the high level of the corresponding Leica M fixed focal
length lens."  

"Due to a complex sliding mechanism, the lens does not have the usual helix.
A special ring made of an elastic, synthetic material ensures a smooth, steady
focus-setting even after many years of use." (instuction book).  The focusing
feels very smooth with a proper amount of resistance.  

Note, however: "When the lens has not been used for longer periods of time a
definite resistance might be felt when rotating the focusing ring.  This only
occurs at the first turn however and dose not signify a defect of the lens."
(instruction book)  This was very apparent to me.  In fact, when received, the
focus was set at the closest setting and was difficult to move at all.
However, after it moved and I turned it through the range once or twice, it
was fine.

A lens hood is integrated into the lens.  The longer the focal length that is
selected, the further the front lens lies back inside of the front mount.
This means that for all focal lenths, the len's path of light rays is not
interrupted by the hood.   An additional lens hood is available.

This is a facinating lens.  That much is certain.  It will be interesting to
explore its optical performance.  

By the way, the cost was a little under $2,000 including shipping.