Leica 100 APO Macro-Elmarit *vs.* Voigtländer 125 APO Macro

Started 1 month ago | Discussions thread
Flat view
RazorSharpWO Regular Member • Posts: 270
Leica 100 APO Macro-Elmarit *vs.* Voigtländer 125 APO Macro

In response to Hilifer's post, which was a deviation from my original post, I thought it was warranted to create a separate discussion topic, focusing on these two legendary macro lenses.

Truly, after owning it more than 30 different macro lenses, the following two lenses still stand out to this day:

  • Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8
  • Voigtländer Macro APO-Lanthar 125 f/2.5 SL

After 15 straight years of being a "macro junkie," I can say these two lenses stand out over all the others (at normal magnifications).

Before the advent of the Z-Mount, the Leica was unknown to most of us Nikon photographers (who were unwilling to bother themselves with expensive "lens adaptations" in order to avail themselves of the Leica lens).

As a result, there is a large number of Nikon shooters familiar with the Voigtländer 125 APO (because it was originally offered in F-Mount), but who have never experienced the delicacy of the Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit R 100.

As someone who has utilized and deployed them both, I post the following for those who are "macro connoisseurs," but who have not made their own comparisons. To understand the subtle differences between the two lenses, let's look at the same images taken from each:

Thanks to the Nikon Z-Mount, the legendary Leica lens is available to us, with a Novoflex adapter:

Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit R 100 w/ Novoflex R to Z Adapter

Meanwhile, thankfully, the legendary Voigtländer APO Macro has always been available to us in the F-Mount:

Voigtländer Macro APO-Lanthar 125 f/2.5 SL

As any macro-photographer, who's been around the various options, has realized—these two lenses stand head & shoulders over all other options.

Until now, only the Voigtländer APO has been available to Nikon users. With the benefit of the Z-Mount, the Leica APO is now available also.

Naturally, because both of these lenses have legendary status amongst the photography community (and deservedly so), "inquiring minds" want to know which is BEST:

Short Answer = Neither is Best: both Excel in different areas.

While this entire topic is worthy of 20-pages of detailed analysis, the condensed opinion (of someone who has used both lenses, challenged against each other), as well as against 6-different "standard" macro lenses, is this:

  • For "3-D Pop", the Voigtländer is the better lens;
  • For Absolute Color Accuracy, the Leica is the better lens.

On a simple Internet post, I am not going to go into the intricacies of the differences between the two.

However, I am creating a multi-faceted blog post on the precise variances between these intricacies, all of which will be posted here within the next 30 days.

As a "teaser," I will post images taken by both of these lenses, to give a prelude as to which lens itself at what unique thresholds each has.

Keep in Mind: I test against the most challenging, "over-the-top" possible colors:

Spoiler: IMO, the Leica is the better optic: Subject movement notwithstanding, the Leica produces the best, most accurate colors.

Leica and Bougainvillea

The color accuracy of the Leica is unmatched, IMO.
Here are more examples:

Z7 + Voigtländer 125 APO Macro

Z7 + Leica 100 APO Macro

Against very difficult color challenges, at the same apertures, the Leica demonstrates better color fidelity + less "bleeding" of color, IMO, as well as more consistent resolution, all across the frame. Here are additional "extreme" color challenges:

Voigtländer APO //

Leica APO //

I've done 200x more tests than these, privately, and at the end of the day, your eyes may reach different conclusions.

I love each of these lenses (albeit, for different reasons), but if someone made me choose "one" ... it would be the Leica.

-- hide signature --
 RazorSharpWO's gear list:RazorSharpWO's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon D850 Nikon Z6 Nikon Z50 +27 more
Nikon Z7
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow