You’ve seen how much they sell for and now you are wondering are Leica lenses really better or is it just a marketing trick?
Before getting into are Leica lenses really better, we need to ask ourselves which ones because Leica has multiple lens lines. The one people think of as “Leica” is the M mount, some of the most expensive in the world.
When it comes to Leica M lenses people say that the quality justifies he price while others say that it is just price psychology. They price things high so that you can think they are better. There’s experiments made that show that when someone believes they are drinking expensive wine, they rate it better. Is there something at play like this here?
The price is right
The price of Leica lenses is first and foremost due to the fact that they are NOT mass produced in a factory but handmade in Wetzlar, Germany. So this blows the “price psychology” argument out of the water. You could have made it if these lenses were mass produced like Fuji or Sony but it is the same approach as buying a handmade bag. You know it will be expensive because they are not made in bulk.
3 ways Leica lenses are better
There are a few reasons why pretty much everyone can agree that Leica lenses are better.
First is size. Because they lack electronics, Leica lenses are small compared to their modern full frame counterparts. Also see why are Leica lenses so small.
Second is durability. 50 year old Leica M lenses still work as well as they did on the first day. They are so durable in fact that they will likely outlive you. This won’t be the case for other modern lenses.
Last reason is compatibility. Leica is still pushing Leica M cameras to this day and pretty much every lens mount has a Leica M adapter for it. This is especially true for mirrorless cameras, the diminutive size makes them look right at home.
Summing it up, what’s amazing with Leica lenses is that the lenses are the constant and the cameras come and go.
Sharpness is no longer an advantage much
One of the answers for a long time to “are Leica lenses really better” was that they were sharper. And that is still somewhat true but manufacturers like Sony and Fujifilm has some premium lenses that can rival Leica’s offerings.
Take everything into account and Leica M lenses are really better
So while some rival lenses can be as sharp as Leicas, they are nowhere near as small and nowhere near as durable. Some photographers still shoot Leica M lenses they got decades ago. Also considering that Leica lenses hold their value and you can see why Leica lenses can be considered better.
Rival M lenses
But what about rival M lens makers like Zeiss and Voigltander, they too are small and durable. These are usually wonderful but also often inferior in terms of sharpness and fringing. They also do not hold their value as well as the Leica M mounts.
The SL Lenses
While the M mount has somewhat lost the sharpness edge but makes up for it in other ways, the Leica SL lenses are really better in terms of sharpness, bar none.
Why? Because the SL lenses give you a medium-format like image even tough the format is full-frame. That is still unmatched by other lenses to this day and some of the sharpest lenses Leica has made.
But because there’s electronic in there it is not durable and in terms of size these are massive
So are Leica lenses really better? While Leica M lenses have some serious rivalry in terms of sharpness, once you take everything into account, size, durability, value keeping and more it is clear that Leica lenses are better in the long run.