Review of using the LEICA R mount VARIO-APO-ELMARIT-R 70-180 /F2.8 with a digital camera.

Table of contents

VARIO-APO-ELMAR-R 4/70-210 Photo example (ESO1DsMKIII)

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This zoom lens is made in Japan and distributed very cheaply.
Although it is inexpensive, I feel that the quality of the images is very stable.
The front and rear bokeh is smooth and not noisy like two-line bokeh.
There are no noticeable false colors at any focal length, backlighting is not a problem, and this level of performance is sufficient for the price.
The direct-zoom operation feels dated, but for a manual-focus zoom lens, it is a reasonable method of operation that allows zooming and focusing at the same time.
Perhaps because of its maximum aperture of F4, the focus peak is easy to grasp even with the EOS viewfinder in bright locations such as outdoors on sunny days.
Weighing 720g, it is not heavy. It is long and narrow, so it does not look well-balanced when mounted on a large camera, but this is not a problem when using it.

Speaking of straight-through zoom lenses, when I first started using cameras, AF zoom lenses were in full swing and it was common practice to have a separate zoom ring and focusing ring, so I remember being impressed by this type of operation when I used the straight-through zoom of Tamron’s Adaptor 2, which I purchased for fun with a mount.

The lens I own is a 3CAM specification, one of 3000 made in 1991 with serial number 358xxxx, and is a relatively common inexpensive lens on the market.
I have never seen this lens other than the 3CAM version, and there is a fourth generation ROM version made by Kyocera for the R8/R9 zoom lens, which is probably responsible for this lens.
It is a medium telephoto lens with no protruding rear element, so it can be used with the EOS-1DsMKIII without error.

The VARIO-ELMARIT-R 70-210mm is the third generation of Leica-R’s four F4 class zoom lenses, and was designed and manufactured in Japan by Minolta in large quantities (14,000 units).
Of the four generations of F4 class zoom lenses, the first three were made by Minolta and the fourth by Kyocera.
The Minolta model number for this lens is MD ZOOM 70-210mm F/4. The difference between the Minolta and Leica versions is that the Leica version has a built-in hood and the filter diameter is 60mm, and the lens design is different.
Since this is a zoom lens from the manual era, it uses a straight-through zoom. The focal length can be changed by moving the lens barrel back and forth (210mm when retracted and 70mm when extended), and the focus can be adjusted by rotating the barrel.
The minimum focusing distance is 1.1 m throughout the entire range, and at 210 mm, the magnification is 1:4.

focal length(mm)70-210
Maximum aperture4
Minimum aperture22
Lens configuration9groups 12elements
Leaf blade7
Minimum distance(m)1.1
Lens length(mm)163-195Distance form mount frange
Shortest = focal length 210mm / Longest = focal length 70mm
Lens max diameter(mm)73.5
Filter diameter(mm)60
Release dateYear 2000Product end y2000

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