The Leica Elmar-M 50mm f/2.8

Panos Voudouris
6 min readNov 15, 2021

Welcome to my little review of a little odd lens from Leica: the Leica 50mm f/2.8 Elmar-M. What makes it odd you ask? The fact that it is one of the few collapsible lenses ever made!

The Elmar-M on my M4. Plus some Halloween decorations in the background.

A little bit of history

In the long list of 50mm lenses Leica has produced, this is a rather special little one. It was one of the first ever Leica produced for their screw mount lenses, first appearing in the 1930s! It has since gone a through a few iterations, going from a f/3.5 lens to f/2.8 and from screw mount to M. Mine is the latest version, which changed a fair bit compared to the previous version. The one I have was produced from 1994 until as late as 2007, had coated glass (unlike the previous ones) and came with a usable focus ring and aperture ring. As such, it is referred to as the Elmar-M, while all the previous versions are just plain “Elmar”.


So what is it? It is a slow, f/2.8 lens that is tiny when collapsed! The whole idea is that a collapsible lens makes the camera much smaller, ie much easier to carry. In fact, with the lens collapsible the camera can easily fit in a jacket pocket. If you think about it, the main reason cameras are awkward in shape is because the lens sticks out.