Summi-what? Leica is a consistent brand and their line of lenses have some pretty funky names. Here are the Leica lens names meaning for the uninitiated.
Why Leica lens names meaning article?
In the old days, and still in some parts of the world today, names have deep meaning attached to them. Like “Prudence” or “Grace”, they telegraph what the child is, or more accurately what their parents hope they would grow up as.
This is a bit of the same thing with Leica, even if you do not have the full specifications of the lens, they telegraph what the lens speed is. They are not chosen at random and each are synonymous with a f-stop (aperture) number. So if you tell me you have a Summilux, I know it is a f/1.4 lens. Before getting into the Leica lens names meaning we have to see how the names are structured first, getting us into…
The Leica lens naming system
Here’s a graphic of a Leica lens naming system and let’s look at what each part means:
First up you have the brand name. It’s Leica, duh. Then you have the series (more on this below) this also subtly tells you the maximum aperture.
Next up you have your focal length so in this case a 50mm, followed by the mount. When people are talking about Leica lenses they usually mean the M lenses, but for a while Leica had the R DSLR line and the only way to differentiate if it was for one mount or the other was the -M or -R in the name.
This is followed by the focal length, the maximum aperture and lastly if the lens has aspherical components or not. Now that we’ve seen the naming system, let’s look at…
What do the Leica lens names mean?
Now let’s get into the Leice lens names meaning with definition. You can find a comparison of all Leica lenses here:
1. Noctilux are f/1 lenses
“Noct” means night in Latin.”Lux” is not short for luxury as many would think but means light in latin. So Noct + Lux literally means “night light”, or more conceptually it can see light at night. They put an “i” between the two Latin words to make it sound better. They are f/1 lenses and above like f/0.95. For that speed however they are larger, heavier and much more expensive lenses. They also usually block the viewfinder.
2. Summilux are f/1.4 lenses
Comes from the latin for summit, “summa” + lux, the word for light. So the height of light gathering, the highest level. These are f/1.4 lens and they strike the balance between speed and moderate size. Check out the best Summilux lenses.
3. Summicron are f/2 lenses
“Summi” is the same as above, means summit and “cron” is short for chroma, or color.Practically that means f/2 lenses. Probably the best lenses Leica offers in terms of practicality, size and speed. Check out the best Summicron lenses.
4. Elmarit are f/2.8 lenses
Comes from the names Ernst Leitz + Max Berek (the inventor the othe LTM, Leica thread mount). The original line was named “Elmax” then because of copyright issues and updates the name is now Elmarit. This is Leica’s f/2.8 lens collection.
5. Elmar are f/4 lenses
Derivative and improvement of Elmax. Used mostly for Leica’s slower lenses at f/4
6. Hektor are f/4.5 lenses
Name of Barnack’s dog, name of Leica’s dog-slow (pun intended) f/4.5 lenses
In terms of speed: Noctilux > Summilux > Summicron > Elmarit > Elmar>Hector
Other Leica lens names meaning
While the Leica lens names meaning have to do with the lens family, there are also a few extra german/latin names that you should know:
- Leica: Combination of a personal name (Leitz) and camera: LEI(tz)CA(mera)
- Telyt: or telephoto
- Rigid: Does not collapse (older lenses used to)
- M: means rangefinder (Messuccher means rangefinder in German)
- LTM: Leica thread mount, an older type of mount used by older cameras
- Summarit: The fastest lenses before being replaced by the Summilux line
- TRI: Means 3 (There is no zoom so Tri-Elmar is 3x focal lengths at f/4)
- Vario: Means varied, meaning it’s a zoom
- ASPH: Aspherical
Who knew all of this information could be compacted in a name? Now that you know the Leica lens names meaning, you not only know a few Latin words but you also know for a large part what speed a lens is just by hearing it’s name. This is a testament to the Leica naming system that names their lenses rather then say something generic like 28mm f2.8.