It’s an old lens..
Apparently, from around 1950, this lens is one of my favourites for my film Leicas.
This isn’t a review of any sort, no nerdy technical statistics, just a little cheerleading to a lens that I really like using. I was lucky enough to purchase my copy at a very good price on eBay and couldn’t be happier with its performance!
Aside from the cool collapsible aspect of the lens, it produces contrasty sharp images and satisfying reach for capturing images from a moderate distance. However, the frame lines of a Leica are open for some sort of interpretation, though composing does become instinctive after some familiarisation.. and a ton load of exposures.
50mm has been my preferred focal length for a while now, though the 90mm is rapidly climbing the preferred focal length ladder.
The lens produces contrasty images that are sharp wide open at f4. Its not a ‘fast’ lens but it is perfect for what I shoot. I have a Summarit 50mm f1.5 which is from the same vintage as the Elmar, but my experience has been that the Summarit it soft wide open and has a ‘vintage character’ with a particular Bokeh and low contrast. The 90mm Elmar responds more like a modern lens.
I’ve been preferring the tightness of the framing of a 90mm over my 50mm recently particularly how it slightly compresses my subject and magnifies the background which draws the viewer into the scene more effectively.
Where the 21mm forces me to get in close to the subject, the 90mm allows me to exercise compositional practices and the use of dynamic symmetry.
I realise that I slow down my shooting and wait for the moments when using the 90mm, whereas the wider the lens the faster and more spontaneous I shoot.