With the best Leica M lens, you can get even more from your Leica rangefinder camera. All M lenses meet Leica’s high-quality standards. So you just need to find one that suits your style of photography. We have a broad selection of Leica prime lenses. And we’ve included the best third-party M lenses.
The Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH is the best Leica M lens. It’s a compact and lightweight prime lens. It has a beautiful wide-angle focal length that’s perfect for street photography. And the optical quality is fantastic. Plus, it’s one of the more affordable Leica lenses.
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What Are the Best Leica M Lenses?
Leica cameras are some of the finest machines in photography. They are made with care, precision, and expertise. So they are praised and beloved by photographers worldwide.
But a camera is only as good as its lens. And thankfully, Leica takes as much care crafting their lenses.
Leica M lenses are compatible with their M series cameras. These are the classic rangefinder models that have been popular for decades.
It started with the Leica M3 in 1954. And now we have the incredible Leica M11. And incredibly, the latest M lenses are compatible with all Leica M series cameras.
But Leica doesn’t have a big collection of M lenses. It’s not like Nikon’s F or Canon’s EF lens collections. You are limited to prime lenses. But Leica M lenses guarantee outstanding optical quality.
We’ve broken our list down into two sections. The first section looks at the best M lenses made by Leica. The second section then looks at the best third-party M lenses for Leica cameras.
We also have a FAQ section at the end for more information on the best Leica M lenses. And you can check out our review of the best Leica cameras.
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6 Best Leica M Lenses
This section looks at the best M lenses made by Leica. You can expect the highest level of optical quality. But you also need to expect high prices. They are beautiful lenses, but they come at a price.
It’s a stunning collection of Leica glass. And each one of the perfect match for a Leica M series rangefinder. Here’s a quick rundown of the Leica lenses. Scroll down to see each lens in more detail.
- Beautiful, wide field of view for landscape and street photography
- Fast f/2.8 maximum aperture
- Aspherical elements reduce aberration and distortion
- Metal lens hood and cap included
- Versatile 35mm focal length and wide aperture range
- Super-fast f/1.4 max aperture
- Aspherical lens element for improved image quality
- Excellent build-quality with all-metal design
- Apochromatic correction feature for enhanced image quality
- Fast f/2 aperture for excellent exposure control
- Aspherical element for reduce chromatic aberration
- Front and rear lens caps and leather case included
- Ideal for architecture, landscapes
- Superb imaging performance
- Minimized distortion, vignetting
- Compact, versatile design
- One lens with three wide-angle focal lengths
- Wide-angle fields of view for stunning architecture and real estate shots
- Two aspherical lenses for minimal distortion
- 13-inch / 33-cm minimum focus distance
- 90mm focal length for stunning portraits
- Super-fast f/1.5 max aperture
- Two aspherical elements for reduced aberration
- One floating element for enhanced image quality
1. Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 2.8|
|Focal Range||28 mm|
|Dimensions||1.9 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches / 5 x 4 x 4 cm|
|Weight||0.38 lb / 175 g|
|Other Key Features||Aspherical elements, metal lens hood, metal lens cap|
|Best For||Leica shooters looking for an authentic Leica wide-angle lens at a (relatively) reasonable price|
The Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH is the best Leica M lens. The optical quality is simply stunning!
It’s super compact and lightweight. So it takes up no space in your camera bag. And it comes with a metal lens hood and cap.
The 28mm focal length gives you a beautiful wide-angle view. It’s a great focal length for a street photography lens. And the wide angle allows you to shoot down narrow alleys and thoroughfares.
This is ideal if you love travel photography. It’s also great for landscape and exterior architecture photos.
The fast f/2.8 max aperture gives you excellent performance in low light. It allows you to capture sharp shots in dimly lit settings. And it helps you achieve a shallow depth of field for a smooth bokeh effect.
The lens has eight glass elements arranged in six groups. That’s a lot for such a small lens, so the quality is so sharp.
One of these is an aspherical element. This reduces chromatic aberration and distortion for even better image quality.
The Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH is one of the more affordable Leica M lenses. Of course, we’re saying “affordable” in relative terms. But it’s the best wide-angle prime lens for Leica rangefinders.
2. Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 1.4|
|Focal Range||35 mm|
|Dimensions||5.5 x 4.5 x 4.7 inches / 14 x 11.4 x 11.9 cm|
|Weight||1.1 lb / 500g|
|Other Key Features||Aspherical lens element, metal lens hood|
|Best For||Photographers looking for a super-fast and sharp 35mm lens|
The Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH is one of the best examples of Leica’s precision engineering. And it has a few features that set it apart from the others.
It’s not as compact as the previous 28mm lens. But it still slips nicely into your camera messenger bag.
The most important detail to note is its super-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture. This gives you sensational exposure control. And it allows you to capture detailed images in low-light situations.
Plus, it gives you an ultra-narrow depth of field. And this looks fantastic in portrait or product photography.
It has a wide aperture range. It goes from f/1.4 to f/22, which gives you excellent versatility. And the slower apertures give you the deep depth of field you need to shoot epic landscapes.
The 35mm focal length is great for street photography, which suits the Leica rangefinder cameras. It’s also great for portraits with a wide composition, like environmental portraits and group shots.
The image quality is razor-sharp with this prime lens. And that’s partly due to the aspherical lens element.
The aspherical glass was specifically engineered to reduce aberration and sharpen image quality. And it does it with great success.
The Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH has terrific build quality. And the all-metal construction continues with the lens hood and cap, which are included.
3. Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASP
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 2|
|Focal Range||50 mm|
|Dimensions||1.8 x 2.1 x 2.1 inches / 4.7 x 5.3 x 5.3 cm|
|Weight||0.5 lb / 230 g|
|Other Key Features||Apochromatic correction feature, metal lens cap, leather case|
|Best For||Those who want the best 50mm for Leica M cameras|
Every photographer needs a nifty-fifty lens in their camera backpack. And while the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH is pricier than most, it’s the best 50mm for Leica M cameras.
The optical quality is incredibly crisp and clear. It has an aspherical lens to reduce distortion.
But it also has an apochromatic correction feature that improves image quality even more. This minimizes color fringing and corrects color errors.
The 50mm focal length is one of the most versatile in photography. Travel and street photographers love it. It’s a fantastic lens for portrait photography. And you can shoot broad landscapes.
The fast f/2 aperture makes it even more versatile. You can shoot in low-light conditions with great success.
You have excellent depth of field control for artistic expression. And you have a manual aperture control ring on the lens barrel.
The APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH isn’t exactly a bargain. But it does come with everything you need to keep it in good condition.
You get a metal lens cap for the front. There’s a rear lens cap. And you get a high-quality leather case for transportation.
4. Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 3.4|
|Focal Range||21 mm|
|Dimensions||1.7 x 2 x 2 inches / 4.3 x 5.2 x 5.3 cm|
|Weight||0.6 lb / 279 g|
|Other Key Features||Aspherical element, metal lens hood|
|Best For||Landscape, architecture, and real estate photography|
The Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH is a superb wide-angle lens with some limitations. The price may surprise you if you’re new to Leica. But it’s a dream prime lens for many Leica users.
With a lovely wide angle from the 21mm focal length, it’s a fantastic lens for landscape photography. The broad field of view is perfect for capturing wide open spaces.
But it also allows you to capture closed interiors. That’s why it’s a top lens for real estate photography.
The quality of the glass is exceptional. The barrel contains an aspherical element to keep distortion to an absolute minimum.
And it also has four elements with “anomalous partial dispersion.” That’s all very technical and scientific. But it basically means sharpness and clarity from edge to edge.
The max aperture is a bit slow, with f/3.4 being your brightest option. That’s not too much of a problem for creativity because landscape photographers need a deep depth of field.
But low-light performance is limited with the Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH. You might need a photography tripod from time to time.
5. Leica Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 4|
|Focal Range||16-18-21 mm|
|Dimensions||5.9 x 4.8 x 4.8 inches / 15 x 12.2 x 12.2 cm|
|Weight||1 lb / 476 g|
|Other Key Features||Three focal length options, two aspherical elements, 13-inch (33 cm) minimum focus distance|
|Best For||Photographers who need a variable focal length lens|
The Leica Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH is a truly unique lens in the Leica M collection. It isn’t exactly a zoom lens. But the lens does have three focal lengths you can switch between.
Your focal length options are 21mm, 18mm, and 16mm. This gives you more versatility. But you still get the pristine quality of a prime lens!
The 21mm option is great for landscapes. The 18mm selection is perfect for real estate and architecture photography. And the ultra-wide 16mm view is close to that of a fisheye lens.
The f/4 max aperture isn’t the fastest. But it is constant for all the focal lengths.
That means you don’t lose any exposure options when you switch between them. And it’s also fast enough to achieve a nice bokeh effect if you want a shallow depth of field.
With two aspherical elements, the lens gives you no distortion or vignetting. You get crystal-clear optics with all three focal lengths.
And the element arrangement gives the lens a short 13-inch (33 cm) minimum focus distance. That’s handy for portrait, product, and food photography.
There’s nothing else like the Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH. But this individuality does come at a price.
It’s a high-performance lens with three separate focal lengths. And professional architecture and real estate photographers will realize it’s an investment they won’t regret!
6. Leica Summilux-M 90mm f/1.5 ASPH
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 1.5|
|Focal Range||90 mm|
|Dimensions||3.5 x 2.9 x 2.9 inches / 9 x 7.4 x 7.4 cm|
|Weight||2.2 lb / 1 kg|
|Other Key Features||11-blade aperture, two aspherical elements|
|Best For||Portrait, product, and food photography|
The Leica Summilux-M 90mm f/1.5 ASPH is the best telephoto prime lens for Leica cameras. And the lens itself is a work of art.
It’s the best Leica lens for professional portrait photography. It’s also exactly what you need for high-level food and product photography.
The 90mm focal length gives you excellent reach. And it’s perfect for closely cropped, intimate portraits.
It helps you achieve powerful compositions. And it creates a sense of separation between your subject and their environment.
The lens also has a super-fast aperture of f/1.5. You can get a razor-sharp focus with a rich background bokeh.
This adds sophistication to your portraits. And it helps you bring products into focus in commercial photography.
It’s one of the larger M lenses on our list. But it contains eight beautifully crafted elements.
Two of these elements are aspherical, and that prevents chromatic aberration. It also contains one floating lens element to further enhance image quality.
The Summilux-M 90mm f/1.5 ASPH is a dream lens for portrait photographers. The price means it’s a big investment. But if portraits put bread on the table, this lens will help you buy a bigger loaf.
4 Best Third-Party M Lenses
This section looks at M-mount lenses from third-party manufacturers. They are a great way to add variety when shooting with a Leica M camera.
These lenses don’t always reach the heights of the Leica lenses in terms of quality. But they offer affordable alternatives that still deliver fantastic photos.
Here’s an overview of the best Leica M lenses from third parties. All the lenses are covered in more detail afterward.
- Excellent-value lens for Leica M cameras
- Super-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture
- Special coating to reduce lens flare
- Ultra-compact and lightweight
- Beautiful optics with very little distortion
- Fast f/2 max aperture
- 10-blade aperture diaphragm for smooth bokeh
- High-quality all-metal construction
- Wide 28mm focal length similar to human-eye field of view
- Sharp optics for casual street photography
- Metal lens hood included
- Ultra-compact and lightweight
- Fast f/1.9 aperture for depth of field control
- Multi-coating on lens to reduce flare and ghosting
- Durable all-metal construction
- Compact for a telephoto prime lens
1. Voigtlander M 40mm f/1.4 for Leica
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 1.4|
|Focal Range||40 mm|
|Dimensions||2.1 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches / 5.5 x 3.6 x 3.6 cm|
|Weight||0.4 lb / 180 g|
|Other Key Features||Anti-flare coating, 28-inch (70 cm) minimum focus distance|
|Best For||Leica shooters looking for a versatile, affordable alternative to Leica lenses|
The Voigtlander M 40mm f/1.4 is one of the biggest bargains for Leica M cameras. It’s a versatile prime lens that performs well for many types of photography.
It’s pocket-sized for convenience. And it’s the most affordable lens on our list.
The standard 40mm focal length is great for street and travel photographers. And it works well with portraits and landscapes.
It has a super-fast aperture of f/1.4. This makes it a versatile lens that delivers in difficult lighting conditions. You also have total control over your depth of field, giving you fantastic creative options.
The optical quality is good overall. You might experience some aberration when working in bright, direct light. But the front element does have a special coating that helps reduce lens flare.
The M 40mm f/1.4 is ultra-lightweight and compact. So you don’t need a camera backpack to carry this lens around. You could almost put it in your pocket! (Although, we don’t recommend it).
2. Zeiss 50mm f/2 M for Leica
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 2|
|Focal Range||50 mm|
|Dimensions||2.7 x 2 x 2 inches / 6.8 x 5.1 x 5.1 cm|
|Weight||0.5 lb / 230 g|
|Other Key Features||10-blade aperture|
|Best For||Leica users looking for a 50mm bargain|
The Zeiss 50mm f/2 M is the best nifty-fifty lens if you want a true bargain. The optics are fantastic!
It’s a superb lens with an all-metal barrel construction. And you can save huge chunks of change by opting for a Zeiss lens instead of a Leica one.
Lenses don’t come much more versatile than a 50mm. And this lens has a fast f/2 max aperture. It gives you excellent exposure and depth of field control.
The lens has a 10-blade aperture diaphragm with a rounded finish. This gives you even smoother bokeh with more distinct bokeh artifacts. So it’s a great lens for a product or portrait camera.
The optical quality is fantastic, especially for a third-party M lens. There’s very little chromatic aberration. And you’ll only experience slight vignetting when working in very bright light.
The Zeiss 50mm f/2 M is a beautifully constructed lens. It feels solid yet is lightweight and compact. It’s a top option if you’re looking for great optics at a great price!
3. TTArtisan M 28mm f/5.6 for Leica
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 5.6|
|Focal Range||28 mm|
|Dimensions||1 x 1 x 1 inches / 3 x 3 x 3 cm|
|Weight||0.3 lb / 151 g|
|Other Key Features||Metal lens hood|
|Best For||Street photographers looking for something compact and affordable|
The TTArtisan M 28mm f/5.6 is the most compact lens on this list. It’s genuinely tiny. So you can travel light when out shooting. And it helps street photographers keep a low profile.
It does have some limitations. But you can’t argue with the price of this one.
The 28mm focal length is ideal for street photographers. It’s similar to the field of view of the human eye, which makes composition easy. You can quickly lift the camera to your face and snap the shot.
The lens doesn’t have the widest aperture range. The minimum f-stop is 22, which is great for landscapes.
But the max aperture is limited to f/5.6. This is slow by any standard. And it does mean the lens isn’t a great option for low-light photography.
The optical quality is good within limits. It uses fewer elements than similar Leica-brand lenses. And there are no aspherical elements to reduce aberrations.
It’s a good lens for casual street photography. But professionals might want to fork out a bit more.
4. Voigtlander M 75mm f/1.9 for Leica
|Maximum Aperture||f/ 1.9|
|Focal Range||75 mm|
|Dimensions||2.2 x 2.1 x 2.1 inches / 5.6 x 5.4 x 5.4 cm|
|Weight||0.6 lb / 290 g|
|Other Key Features||Multi-coated elements, 20-inch (50 cm) minimum focus distance|
|Best For||Portrait, product, and food photographers looking for a good-value lens|
The Voigtlander M 75mm f/1.9 is a brilliant portrait or product photography lens. It gives you a short telephoto view with sharp optics.
The build quality is very high. And it could be Voigtlander’s finest Leica lens.
The 75mm focal length is perfect for portrait photography. It lets you get a close and intimate composition without invading the subject’s personal space.
It’s a great addition to your Leica M lens collection if you have a passion for portraits. But it is also excellent for product and food photography.
You get a lovely f/1.9 max aperture for fantastic low-light performance and bokeh control. And the 7-blade rounded diaphragm makes the bokeh effect even smoother.
The overall optical quality is great. The images are crisp and clear from corner to corner. And the outer element has a multi-coating that reduces flare and improves color saturation.
The M 75mm f/1.9 offers professional lens quality at a reasonable price. And it’s also compact and lightweight for a telephoto lens.
FAQs About the Best Leica M Lenses
Finding the best Leica M lens isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.
What Is the Best Leica M Lens for Street Photography?
The Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH is ideal for street photographers. It’s lightweight and compact, which helps you keep a low profile. And the 28mm focal length gives you a lovely wide angle.
It helps you shoot in narrow passageways. And you can capture broad urban scenes.
50mm lenses are also popular with street shooters. And that’s why we also recommend the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. It’s the best 50mm lens if you use a Leica rangefinder.
The Voigtlander M 40mm f/1.4 is the best third-party option. The 40mm view gives you excellent versatility when roaming the streets.
And the super-fast f/1.4 aperture gives you fantastic exposure control. It’s also one of the best-value lenses on the list.
Does Leica Make Zoom Lenses for Their M-mount Cameras?
The simple answer is no. They don’t make zoom lenses for their M series cameras. The vast majority of the M lenses are single-focal length prime lenses. But there is one exception.
The Leica Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm f/4 ASPH isn’t a zoom lens. Rather, it’s a prime lens with three different focal lengths. They are 16mm, 18mm, and 21mm. And you can switch between the three.
There’s no zoom feature. So you can’t smoothly transition from one to another. But it is easy to switch from one focal length to the other.
Also, it doesn’t have the widest focal length range. But it is a unique design that gives you more versatility.
You get prime-lens quality at each focal length. And there’s no loss of image quality that you sometimes see with zoom lenses.
What Is the Best Leica M Lens for Portrait Photography?
The Leica Summilux-M 90mm f/1.5 ASPH is a professional-standard portrait lens. The optical quality is stunning. And the 90mm focal length is perfect for intimate portrait compositions. But it’s very pricy!
The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH is a good alternative. It’s not a specialist portrait lens. But the 50mm view gives you good options for wider portrait compositions.
It’s also a great all-around lens. So it’s definitely one to consider if you like shooting other types of photography too.
The Voigtlander M 75mm f/1.9 is a fantastic third-party option for portraits. The short telephoto field of view is ideal for portraiture.
And you have a fast f/1.9 aperture that gives you a shallow depth of field. It’s a great option to save a lot of money!
Why Are Leica M Lenses So Expensive?
It all comes down to quality. Everything Leica makes is crafted with precision, expertise, and care.
Leica M lenses, like Leica M cameras, have eye-watering prices. And if you’re new to photography, the price tags might surprise you. But Leica users know that Leica gear is worth the money.
Everything with the Leica name is produced in Germany, as always. They haven’t outsourced production to cut costs.
Vindication in their strategy comes from the loyalty of their customers. When a photographer starts using Leica cameras, they rarely turn back.
They become dedicated and loyal Leica users. And there seems to be a real bond between the camera brand and its users. They are more than just a camera manufacturer.
But prices can be an issue even for the most loyal Leica users. That’s why we’ve included third-party lenses in our article.
Third-party options don’t have the same exquisite quality. But they are good lenses at more reasonable prices.
Conclusion: The Best Leica M Lenses
Leica’s M series cameras are beautifully built and a dream to use. But a camera is only as good as the lens you have with it. And thankfully for Leica users, their M lenses are just as special. They do cost a lot. But we’ve included top-quality third-party M lenses to help you save a few coins.
The Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH is our top choice as the best Leica M lens. The 28mm focal length is ideal for street photography and popular with rangefinder users. The image quality is razor-sharp and clear. And it’s super compact for easy transportation.