After owning this lens for more than 2 year I finally decided to write an article about it.
The reason behind the delay is that this is not my most used Leica lens. Leica 90/2 APO was added to my bag in order to be able to shoot from a distance without the additional weight added by adapters for my Leica R 100/2.8 lens. The last one is one of my favorite lenses as far as versatility and picture characteristics but it is way too heavy to use on day to day photography. It is mostly used for product photography as it also requires the use of EVF in order to focus. This brings me back to Leica M 90/2 APO
that I can use with the rangefinder and thus walk a whole week with it without having to worry about battery life and so on. Also when taking photographs of stage performances the 90 APO is way more easier to use.
Color rendition is as expected on par with any Leica APO lens. It is very natural and accurate. That does not mean that when you take a picture the skin tones will be perfect just because the camera might mess it up. What it means is that once you calibrate the white balance either before or after the photo session then you will get very accurate colors or in other words your Red, Blue and Green colors will match.
Sharpness is amazing. Wide open this lens is already sharp from angle to angle. MFT confirms this. Vignetting is not an issue wide open either.
The hood is retractable which is a big plus. My Leica 50 Summilux ASPH
, 90/2 APO
, Leica R 100/2.8 APO Macro and Leica R 80-200 lenses all have this type of hoods which is nice that it is there if you need it. I do not like how the 35 and the 18 mm are - they are screw on and this is one of the reasons why on my Leica 35/1.4 FLE
I do not use it. It brings more weight and vignetting which is a bad thing.
Focusing is where this lens does not give the satisfaction compared to my 35 mm and 50 mm lenses. In general the object is so far away that you would have an issue to properly focus it. Because it is a longer lens a small movement on the focusing ring changes your focusing point dramatically. Again because it is a longer lens at wide open apertures (f2) the depth is so shallow that it is impossible to focus it properly. This is why I had to get a small Chinese made adjustable viewfinder magnifier
in order to compensate for this issue. It really makes a big difference. It is adjustable from 1.1x to 1.6x magnification and now I can really use this lens with the rangefinder on Leica M
. Your other option to get spot on focus are back screen LCD if you have one and EVF. EVF will slow you down substantially and is not suited for moving objects. On the other hand it depends on which camera you are using this lens. I tested Panasonic S1R and that is the best electronic viewfinder I have ever seen. It beats all cameras on the market as of now: the old Leica SL (new SL2 is coming so it will take its crown back I am sure about it), Sony and Nikon's are nothing in common. On the Panasonic the resolution is so big and the colors so clear that it really feels very organic and I could properly focus without the need of focus peaking.
Mechanics on the Leica M 90 APO are superb as one can expect. Mine is a just a little stiffer compared to my 18, 35 and 50 mm lenses but I guess it is because there is more glass to be moved and it is a longer lens. Aperture stops clicks nicely so no issues here.
I hope you enjoyed the article. Bellow are some sample pictures taken with this lens.