Leica's bring and buy sale: 28mm Elmarit resurrected
Last year I sold a two-year-old 28mm Leica Elmarit lens. It was a mistake. I ignored the maxim never to sell a Leica lens or you will regret it. Regret it I did. Despite the pleasure of banking the proceeds, when I came to my senses I had a renewed hankering to replace the Elmarit, one of the smallest and sweetest little marvels in the current Leica catalogue. Pin sharp, with a massive depth of field that makes street photography a doddle, the tiny Elmarit is a massive performer.
This 28mm piece of glass had a welcome resurgence at the time of the crop-sensored M8, when it became, effectively, a 37mm to keep the 35mm brigade happy. In recent years, following the introduction of the full-frame M9 and, latterly, the M, the twenty-eight has been rather sidelined. Everyone cleaves to the faster and slightly narrower 35mm Summicron which has become the new standard lens for street work.
But the wider Elmarit still has its followers and combines well with a 50mm as a star travelling lens pack. I seldom pack both a 35mm and a fifty because they are too close in focal length. But 28 and 50 makes sense and together creates a winning combination for the street photographer. Don't worry about the maximum 2.8 aperture because in street work your lens will be stuck on 5.6 or, even, f/8 to maximise depth of field. In fact, I think the rather slower Elmarit links well with the 50mm f/1.4 Summilux when travelling. The 28 is good for quick, zone-focused street work while the Summilux excels in low-light shots and is an impressive portrait lens, contrary to the common prejudice in favour of 75mm-plus glass.
Buying and selling lenses commercially can be a mug's game. So I've taken to tipping my wide circle of Leica owning friends the wink when I am in the market for a deal. It's surprising how often I desire something that a friend is just thinking of selling. Or vice versa, as the case may be. It's a small world, the Leica world.
An example in point: Earlier this year I was chatting to a friend at the opening of Leica's Burlington Arcade store. He was extolling the wonders of his new Sony RX1 which he had bought from a Sony dealer of our mutual acquaintance. It didn't take me long to discover that his new toy was my old RX1 which I had sold on commission in anticipation of the arrival of the A7r. Had we known in advance we could each have saved a bob or two.
So it was that only this week I happened to be chatting with my friend John Cartwright (@JohnLeitz who bought Hercule Poirot's MP) and mentioned my much-mourned and hastily sold Elmarit. Quite by chance he was thinking of selling his mint version following a sudden lust for the faster (and bigger, it has to be said) 28mm Summicron. His lust is my gain because tomorrow we head from our different directions to central London to seal the deal. We might even find time for a couple of street shots if this fine weather holds. I will then have the Elmarit back on the shelf: Satisfaction all round and a price to keep us both happy.