Review and Photo example of the APO ELMARIT 180mm F2.8.

Table of contents


  • Photo example by LEICA SL Typ601


The Apo Elmarito 180mm is a Leica R-mount telephoto lens of which 1,900 were made between 1997 and 2005. It appears that it may have been manufactured between 2006 and 2009, but details are unknown.

There is a very detailed lens report on the reference page, so here is the information I gleaned from there and Wiki, and my impressions after using it myself. It is smaller than the Vario Apo Elmarito 70-180mm F2.8, which has the same focal length, but it is large enough to achieve a focal length of 180mm.

I’ve read that the depiction is better than that of the Vario Apo Elmarito 70-180mm, and it certainly seemed like this lens had better resolution in the peripheral areas. The image circle is wide, and even when using the X1D’s 44×33 sensor, the corners are not cut off, so there is an image circle that easily covers a 35mm full-frame sensor.

This lens comes in early and late models, with different model numbers and specifications. The model number of the earlier model I owned was “11273,” which had aperture blades that produced shuriken-shaped edges when the aperture was stopped down, and was not compatible with 1.4x apo-teleconversion.
The model number for the later model is “11357” and it seems to have improved blur by changing the aperture blades and is compatible with 1.4x apocalypse and teleconversion, but I have never used the later model, so I don’t know the truth.
Looking at the serial number table on Leica Wiki, it seems that 400 late models were manufactured, so all serial numbers after serial number 3953501 should be late models of 11357. However, on eBay, there was an item with the model number “11273” written on the silver box, even though the lens serial number was 3953501 or higher. It’s possible that the serial numbers on the box and the lens don’t match, or that Leica’s management has been sloppy, but the late model number “11357” may be fewer than 400 pieces. Leica’s serials seem to be controlled, but it’s not, which is interesting.

Also, the lens configuration is said to be the same for the first and second models, so I’m not sure what x1.4 teleconverter compatibility means. I wonder if the ROM contents have been updated to support x1.4?
The x1.4 Apo Teleconverter had a 3-CAM version without ROM, but this lens is expensive and the rear element is located at the back of the lens barrel. I installed an x1.4 apo teleconverter, where the front element is inserted into the lens, and I didn’t have the courage to try it considering the damage it would cause to both of them if it hit the lens.

An example of Ninja Star’s work at the time of shooting is shown below.

F2.8 Circle boke

The Ninja Star seems to be the most obvious at F4, and becomes almost invisible at F8.
Since there are only a few new models, the probability of getting one is low, but I would like to try using it someday.
I was able to confirm the relatively new product made in Canada after 2000, serial number: 3897356, using the Kitamura camera. The aperture is F4, which is close to a perfect circle, so it is assumed that the ninja bokeh will not appear. The individual number 3897356 is displayed as 11273 in the lens recognition of LEICA SL, and the earlier model number seems to be registered in the ROM.
It is unclear whether all Canadian-made lenses made after 2000 have new aperture blades or whether they are compatible with 1.4 teleconversion. If Leica had the parts available at the time of the request regarding the aperture blades, they would have replaced them for free or for a fee. Therefore, it is no wonder that the earlier model had a circular aperture. It is also unclear whether model number 11357 is recorded in the ROM of later models.

In the end, for my personal use, I didn’t use the 180mm focal length very often. If I were to take this long and fairly heavy lens with me, the APO-VARIO-ELMARIT 70-180/F2.8 would be more convenient with its zoom, so I sold it considering how often I would use it. Since it is a rare lens, I was able to sell it for the same price as the purchase price.


SN Start SN End Product Year Total

  • early-type(11273)
  • 3798410 3798909 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R /y1997 /500
  • 3815125 3815624 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R /y1997 /500
  • 3840000 3840499 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R /y1998 /500
  • 3896051 3897500*1 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R (ELC*2) /y2000 /1450

*1: This number may be assigned to other lenses.
*2: Ernst Leitz Canada

  • late-type(11357)
  • 3.953.501 3.953.750 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R /y2002 /250
  • 3.986.434 3.986.583 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R /y2005 /150

(The above data is reproduced from Leica Wiki)

focal length(mm)180
Maximum aperture2.8
Minimum aperture22
Lens configuration5groups 7elements
Leaf blade10
Minimum distance(m)1.5
Lens length(mm)132Distance form mount flange
Lens max diameter(mm)76
Filter diameter(mm)67
Release dateYear 2004
List price(Yen)

Reference links

Update history

  • 2024.02.25
  • 2022.06.17

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