Leica VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24-70mm f/2.8 ASPH. Review
The Leica VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH. is an incredibly well-built, very fast standard zoom lens that delivers superb image quality for L-mount camera owners, joining the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art and the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm F2.8.
In terms of its optical performance, it's tack-sharp in the centre throughout all of the zoom range, with sharpness only falling off a little at f/2.8 at the very edges of the frame. It also produces some very nice bokeh effects thanks to the 11-blade iris diaphragm.
There's some vignetting at wide-open apertures, barrel distortion at 24mm and slight pincushioning at 70mm, but all of this can be corrected either in-camera or during post-processing.
Auto-focusing proved to be very quick on the Leica SLS-2 camera that we tested the lens with, and manual focus over-ride at any time is a great feature, although we did miss having a dedicated AF/MF switch on the lens barrel.
We also missed the zoom lock switch and configurable AFL button that can be found on the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art, both of which have been omitted from the much more pared-back design of the Leica VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH.
This lens also doesn't have a built-in optical image stabilisation, instead relying on Leica's in-body system, which on the SLS-2 camera that we tested it with provides a respectable 5.5 stops of compensation.
Build quality is outstanding, though, with the all-metal construction a notable step above the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art, which uses a mixture of metal and plastic.
Leica have also included a very good metal lens hood, too, although sadly there's no case included, again something that Sigma offer with their lens.
The Leica VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens is also very usefully weather-sealed.
As with virtually all Leica products, the price of the VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH. is rather eye-watering at £2299 / $2795, although the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm F2.8 is pretty comparably priced at £2149 / $2199.
Both of those lenses look horribly overpriced next to the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art, which is literally half the cost of the Panasonic lens, never mind the even more expensive Leica, whilst being a fantastic lens in its own right.
So fantastic, in fact, that Leica have essentially commissioned Sigma to produce a better built version of their 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art lens to create the new VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH. It tellingly has exactly the same optical construction as Sigma's lens whilst being made in Japan, the home of Sigma, rather than Germany, the home of Leica.
The Leica outscores the Sigma original in terms of build quality with its all-metal chassis, but loses out in terms of features and controls with its much simpler design.
Crucially we couldn't detect any differences in image quality, so choosing the VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH. over the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art comes down to how much you value the Leica badge and the more robust construction. And don't forget the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm F2.8, either, which boasts a manual focus clutch and build quality that's almost on par with the Leica.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||3.5|