I've become a fan of macro (or Micro in the case of Nikon) lenses. When you can really snuggle up close to your subject, it opens up a whole new way of seeing the world. With all of the advantages of macro lenses, there are some disadvantages. Some are quite large and heavy. And some are pretty slow, like my f/4 50mm Macro-Takumar. That's why I was pretty excited when my good friend and Leica guru Ken Hansen told me about a Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit R f/2.8 lens he had for sale. I am pretty familiar with most of the lenses available for the R series Leica bodies, but I had never heard of this one. As a Leica dealer for over 40 years, Ken knows what he's talking about, so when he told me that the Macro-Elmarit was a superb performer, both for macro photography and as a general walk around lens, I was sold!
Leica's R body SLR cameras are not as well known as their M rangefinders. And while photographers have varying opinions on the cameras, almost everyone agrees that the Leica R lenses are every bit as good as their M counterparts, both optically and in build quality. When the lens arrived, it had that familiar Leica heft, silky smooth focus, perfect aperture actuation and an appearance of something that was crafted with pride and care. Being a photographer and not a collector, the real proof would be in the shooting. So I mounted the Macro Elmarit on my Leica R5 body and boarded the Smart Train at the Sonoma County Airport for a Sunday afternoon ride down into Marin County's San Rafael.
It was a partly cloudy day. I was using Kodak's Portra 400. I set the Leica to 200 ISO and used the aperture priority metering mode. A nice walk through downtown. Care to come along?
Back home, I experimented a bit with the macro capabilities of this lens. I am going to try a tripod and some better lighting to get in closer and use a higher shutter speed next time. However, this lens has possibilities for sure.
And of course, the end of roll selfie.
I enjoyed using this lens a lot. Like all Leica lenses, it is a joy to handle and use. It is pretty close in size and weight to the 50mm Summicron-R lens I own. At f/2.8, it's plenty fast. It is very sharp at infinity and if I want to get serious about macro photography with it, I need to tripod mount the camera and get serious about my lighting. I own two Leica R bodies, this R5, which offers various manual shooting modes plus programmed auto-exposure and a manual mechanical body, the R6. This Macro-Elmarit will find a permanent home on one of them.