CI Photocommunity

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

60mm f28 MacroElmaritR lens



Macro (extreme close-up) photography requires a lens with special properties, including a flat field where every part of the image is in sharp focus and the ability to focus at very close distances with good reproduction. Some zoom lenses have what is called a "macro" setting but it's a bit of a fraud, being really just an extension of the focusing range to enable close-up shots to be taken. Neither the quality of results nor the magnification of a "macro zoom" are in the same league as a purpose-designed macro lens.

If a macro lens can also perform well at normal distances, up to infinity, then it can be a very versatile tool indeed. The Leica 60mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit-R lens is very well corrected, not only at the extreme close distances for which it was designed but also at ranges up to infinity. If you don't need the extra speed of faster lenses, such as Leica's 50mm f/2 Summicron-R or 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-R, then the 60mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit-R can serve as an excellent all-round standard lens with macro capabilities. Its slightly narrower angle of view is not a significant factor in most circumstances.

The 60mm macro lens has a flat field with excellent resolution from center to edge, high contrast and brilliant colors. Color rendering is strictly neutral, there is no distortion or vignetting and it is resistant to flare. The quality of out-of-focus areas (bokeh) is first class and provides a smooth "creamy" background, which is especially important for macro lenses.

Leica lenses are known for their ability to be used at maximum aperture with no significant image degradation and the 60mm macro is no exception. Its performance is excellent at f/2.8 and It can be improved slightly by stopping down to f/4 or f/5.6 at normal ranges. At macro ranges, stopping down further still to f/8 or f/11 will help to maintain excellent reproduction at close distances and is usually necessary, anyway, at macro distances for increased depth of field. The minimum aperture of this lens is f/22.

The 60mm macro lens is quite an old design, the first version dating from about 1972. The current version was introduced in 1997 but the optical design is essentially the same. At its closest focus of 27cm, the lens is capable of up to 1:2 reproduction. A number of more modern macro lenses can give up to 1:1 reproduction. However, used in conjunction with Leica's optional macro extender, 1:1 reproduction can be achieved with the Leica 60mm macro lens. There are two versions of the extender, namely, the 14198 which can be used only with the 60mm macro lens, and the later, more versatile 14256 which is also compatible with other Leica-R lenses. With a bellows-R or extension tubes, the 60mm macro can provide much greater reproduction ratios.

Like other Leica lenses, the 60mm macro is sturdy and built to withstand heavy use. Owing to its macro design, it is rather bulky compared to most standard lenses, although it balances well with Leica-R camera bodies. Its length is 62.3 mm, its external diameter is 67.5 mm and it weighs 400 grams. Optically, it consists of 6 elements in 5 groups. It has a deeply recessed front element and, thus, does not require a lens hood. Filters (E55) can be attached if required.

For many years, this lens set the standard by which all other macro lenses were judged. Nowadays, however, some people prefer the more recently introduced (and considerably more expensive) Leica 100mm APO-Macro-Elmarit-R, since it offers superlative performance and allows the photographer to work at a greater distance from the subject. That can be an advantage when photographing live creatures that may be easily disturbed (or even dangerous!).

Because this lens is quite an old design, both 2-cam and 3-cam versions are around. 2-cam versions, which are suitable for the old Leicaflex SL and SL2 cameras, are cheaper to buy but the third cam is needed for use with an R camera. A 2-cam lens can be fitted with the third cam by Leica. Contrary to popular belief, a lens does not necessarily need to have ROM contacts to be used with a Leica R8 camera.


Having used the Contax/Zeiss 60/2.8 macro for some years and then switching to Leica R here is my opinion on the Elmarit 60;

The Zeiss is quite a hefty piece, quite heavy and very well made. Focus at near distances renders very crisp photos at full aperture. Compared to the Elmarit it is significantly sharper at full aperture. Stopping down the difference isn't there. At medium to infinity distances the Elmarit is clearly superior at full aperture, sharpness is very good at "all" apertures.
At near or at infinity the Zeiss 60 must be stopped down to at least f5.6 or it will look quite fuzzy. Stopped down to f8 the Zeiss lens is incredibly sharp and from shooting on the same location it seems like it is slightly better than the Elmarit when stopped down.
When it comes to "bokeh" or out of focus rendering the Leica lens sweeps the floor with the Contax lens; I have plenty of people shots with the Zeiss 60 and though they are sharp and have nice contrast and tonality the bokeh is ... not bad ... but not great. The Elmarit has very nice bokeh and pictures turn out smooth and creamy.
Conclusion; in terms of raw resolution at close range the Zeiss 60 wins out. In terms of allround capabilites and overall quality the Elmarit 60 wins out; pics are not "sharper" but print better and look more pleasing to my eye. I am very pleased with this lens.

I only wish I could stick it to a Contax RX or RTSIII.


Well-Known Member
Historically, Zeiss macros have always been superior to Leitz. Your results go to show that this one lens is not truly universal. Zeiss is great in close up(what it was designed for) and Leitz is more pleasing in more situations.
When I had an early model Macro Elmarit adapted by Leitz to the then new 55mm filter front(from 60mm) I informed them that I was not pleased with the overall performance of the lens. When it came back adapted, it was vastly superior!!A truly outstanding performer; the equal of any in my arsenal at the time.
The Zeiss 60mm/2.8 Macro is the "budget" macro lens for the Contax. The Zeiss 100/2.8 Macro Planar blows it out of the water. It is spectacular everywhere from 1:1 to infinity. It is an astonishing lens.


New Member
When talking about a "budget" macro lens, are you referring to the 2.8/60C (weighing 260g and providing 1:2 magnification) or the 2.8/60 weighing 570g and giving 1:1 magnification? I suppose there must be a certain price (and quality?) difference between these two?

Audun I.


Hi Wrench head and Audun.
Optically the Zeiss 60 "C" (C for compact) IS the same. The 60C focuses down to 1:2. The Zeiss 60 (without C) is heavier and allows focusing to 1:1. None of them can be considered "budget" though the "C" version hasn't the same quality feel as the heftier 60. The "big" 60 drops in performance quite a lot between 1:2 and 1:1 and must be stopped down a lot.
I have owned both the big one and the "C" as well as the Makro Planar 100/2.8 mentioned by wrench head. The makro 100 is a "much" better performer at far ranges whereas the 60:s are a bit better close up and at wide apertures. Sorry for turning this thread into a Zeiss thread ;-).
My understanding is that the 60mm/2.8 "C" (for compact) replaced the older 60mm/2.8. However, their lens design (6 elements in 4 groups) is virtually identical. By limiting the magnification ratio of the "C" version to 1:2 they were able to reduce its size and weight (even taking smaller filters -- 55mm vs. 67mm), but I am not completely sure how that was accomplished. Quality should be about the same, but (obviously) capability differed. (1:1 vs. 1:2 magification ratios which is a minimum focus difference of .03 meters or .7 inches) The "C" benefited, however, from having the later "MM" Contax lens mount which allowed shutter-priority and program exposure modes. The older lens' "AE mount only allowed aperture-prefered and manual exposure modes.


Hi Wrench head.
The optical formula IS identical. The lens elements are configured exactly the same. The lenses used are quite small - it is the larger helicoid of the older AE 1:1 that might lead one to think they are different. Yes, the C version is MM and the older AE. It was by limiting the focusing range from 1:1 to 1:2 the managed to make the lens smaller and lighter. The 60 C is virtually the same size as the Nikkor 55/2.8.
As mentioned earlier the performance of the AE 1:1 at 1:2-1:1 wasn't that good so I can se the reason for the C version apart from sheer size and bulk. This is evident in the MTF charts provided for both lenses as well as the fact they show same configuration and identical performance from infinity to 1:2 (quite a few graphs included).


In case anyone is interested, I have a Leitz 60 1:1 in like new condition for sale. (3 cam) serial#2799870.