Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
The Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 is the ‘kit’ zoom for Leica’s mirrorless interchangeable lens T system. It offers a 27-84mm equivalent zoom range, and uses an internal focus design for fast, quiet autofocus. It comes at a significant price premium over lenses with similar focal length and aperture ranges for other systems, as a consequence of its anodized metal body construction and highly-corrected optics.
The optical design is relatively simple for a zoom lens, with ten elements arranged in seven groups. Four aspherical surfaces are included as part of the design. As with the Summicron-T 23mm f/2 lens, we assume some form of coating has been applied to suppress ghosting and flare.
Supplied with the lens are a petal-shaped lens hood, soft fabric pouches for both the lens and hood and the usual front and end caps. The front cap has a pinch-style clip which is secure when in position and easy to remove and re-fit.
Since this lens is designed specifically for the Leica T mount, it’s only usable on the new Leica T camera, which limits the number of potential purchasers. On this camera, it covers a range of popular focal lengths from moderate wide-angle to short telephoto/portrait magnification.
Like most kit lenses, it’s not particularly fast; but it’s a good choice when you start out with a new camera because it provides the flexibility to shoot subjects as diverse as landscapes, documentary pictures and portraits. Internal focusing means the front of the lens doesn’t rotate when focus changes. But there is some rotation when zooming from the 18mm to 56mm positions.
The AF drive uses a stepping motor, making it quiet and relatively fast so it’s a good choice when you want to record movie clips. The front of the lens is threaded to accept 52mm filters, the same size as used for the 23mm prime lens.