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Leica goes wide with a new 16-35mm zoom for the SL camera


Leica SL shooters can soon have glass to shoot as wide as 16mm — on Monday, April 9, Leica announced the new Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35/3.5-4.5 ASPH wide-angle zoom lens for Leica SL full- frame bodies. With the lens, the SL lens family now extends from 16 to 280mm. The launch also comes with updated firmware for the Leica SL, based on user requests.

Leica says that the new lens is designed for optimal image quality at every focal length within the zoom range. Constructed from 18 elements in 12 groups, the lens design also focuses on keeping distortion to a minimum. Two of those elements reduce monochromatic aberrations with aspherical elements, while another three work to correct chromatic aberrations. The design, including lens coatings, also works to help avoid lens flares and light leaks.

While built from several parts, the autofocus motor only controls a single glass focusing element to get sharp shots by using a mix of linear positioning with a stepping motor. This design, Leica says, allows the autofocus to offer faster performance because that moving piece weighs less than autofocus system moving multiple pieces. The company is also claiming the same autofocus system is also quiet.

On the exterior, the 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 lens is also constructed to protect the lens. Along with the protected exterior, the front lens element also has a special lens coating, called AquaDura, that’s designed to protect the front elements from moisture. The lens also stays one length even when using the zoom, a design that also helps keep dust and moisture from entering the lens.

The new lens joins the existing 24-90 and 90-280mm zoom lenses for the SL line as the widest zoom in the category. The lens is also wider than the family’s prime lens selection as well. The 16-35mm lens will list for $5,495 and will start shipping April 23 from Leica Stores, boutiques, and dealers.

That same day, SL owners can also download upgraded firmware for the camera body. The firmware adds an Eco Mode for extending battery life, allows the joystick to controls to be locked to prevent accidental bumps and changes the white value balance for daylight settings. The firmware also brings bug fixes and compatibility with the Leica SF System Flash and SF C1 flash controller.

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