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Leica Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 (WATE) first impressions

I’ve been looking for a Leica Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 lens for some time already. Despite of the fact this is not fast a fast lens (f/4 – f/22), it’s expensive when compared with other Leica lens with similar aperture range and is one of the reasons this lens is not so popular, which can be a good thing since it may reduce its used price.

Once my Tri-Elmar arrived last week I remembered  why Leica lens are so praised by it’s owners. The build quality is something you don’t see matched by other manufactures saving a very few exceptions and, despite of the wide angle capability of this lens, the size is relatively small. It’s truly a piece of great engineering work.

Despite of the fact that this lens can be technically considered a zoom, it was designed to be used with an optical external viewfinder where 3 specific focal lengths (16-18-21) are available. It can be adjusted by an additional ring next to the aperture ring. You will notice that the focal length is set with a click, the same way as the aperture ring does.
If you use a camera with an EVF, however, it is possible to stop the focal ring between the clicks, this would give ou a “zoom like” experience. Maybe Leica will to remove these clicks on future iterations of this lens, who knows.

Angle of view (diagonal, horizontal, vertical)
at 16 mm: 107°, 97°, 74°
at 18 mm: 100°, 90°, 67°
at 21 mm: 92°, 81°, 60°

Length: 62/72 mm (with/without lens hood)
Diameter: 54 mm (53 x 58 mm with lens hood)
Weight: 335 g

Highest: 4
Lowest: 22


Universal Wide-Angle Viewfinder
Due to the very wide angle of the Leica Tri-Elmar 16-18-21, the standard viewfinder from a Leica M camera can’t be used. Leica M240 shooters can, however, use the electronic view finder or set the camera to live view mode.

If you don’t use a Leica M 240 or neither want to use the EVF nor live view, this lens can be bought together with an universal view finder with a discount.

In my case I have opted to buy the Tri-Elmar without the view finder.

Captura de Tela 2015-03-01 às 14.43.06

To use filters with the Tri-Elmar, a filter holder, which is sold separatelly is needed. Unless there is a big camera store in your town, it will probably necessary to order one since it is usually not in stock.The official Leica price for a new filter holder is € 85,- (Product code 14473).
***Filters with 67mm will fit into this holder***

06-03-2015 10-01-20

The quality of the images you can get with this lens is great and the results from my first images didn’t disappoint in any aspect. One can use the images taken with this lens without any correction or further post processing if wanted.

The images below were processed with Lightroom 5 using the built-in lens correction profile.


Leica M 240 with Tri-Elmar f/4 16-18-21mm asph.


Leica M 240 with Tri-Elmar f/4 16-18-21mm asph.

I didn’t regret even a bit about the acquisition of this lens, it greatly covers my wide angle photography requirements. I can say I am very satisfied and looking forward to create more images with it.