Discussion Forum Leica M System M Lenses Leica Lens Prices and Availability
  • #1354
    dscott77

    Greetings. After 40 years using mostly Nikon equipment, I'm now brand new to the world of Leica. I've acquired an M9 and a 50mm Summicron f/2 lens, both of which I absolutely love. However, I'm curious. What's up with the backorder “unavailability” of many Leica lenses from folks like B&H, Adorama, etc.? Has the M9 caused large numbers of Nikon and Canon users ditch their heavy SLRs in favor of Leica gear? Also, have prices of used Leica lens skyrocketed as of late? There seems to be a huge discrepancy between what used Leica lenses should cost according to the likes of Ken Rockwell and others vs. what they're selling for at KEH, eBay and even the specialty Leica sites with classified sections. Have I entered “at the top of the market”? Any guidance from a Leica veteran would be appreciated. For example, I'd love to obtain a 35mm Summicron f/2 but new ones seem scare at three grand and used ones, depending on condition and model, are fetching between $2,600 and $3,600 and up! I know I've entered rarified air but have prices taken a particularly sudden and dramatic swing upward?

  • #1356
    Doug

    Welcome, dscott! I was fortunate to acquire “sufficient” Leica M lenses before the M9 came along and the pricing took off. I do think it's the popularity of the M9 that is driving the demand, coupled with Leica's limited production capability. Short supply and a healthy demand results in sky-high pricing. And now Leica has the S2 system in production as well. I don't know how this will play out in future. Maybe the demand will gradually be satisfied.

    In the meantime, there are two other main options for new M lenses, from Voigtlander and Zeiss. Careful shopping in that direction can result in finding some useful gems at modest cost.

  • #1359
    Josh Lehrer

    A large percentage of M9 purchasers have never owned a Leica before, which has created a huge demand for lenses. The used market for Leica lenses peaked around late May, and while it has not gone down very much since then, it is possible to find good deals on used lenses like the 35mm and 50mm Summicron if you are patient.

    Any large Leica dealer will have considerable waiting lists for the popular lenses like the 50mm Summilux and new 35mm Summilux. Here at Dale Photo & Digital we do not require deposits or prepayments for a spot on our waiting lists, so it never hurts to let us know what you are looking for.

  • #1361
    David Farkas

    I'll add to what Josh wrote.

    In the past when Leica would come out with a new camera body, they might sell an average of one lens with each body as the vast majority of purchasers were already existing owners of the M system. These owners already had some lenses, so many didn't need the standard focal lengths of 35 and 50.

    With the M9, almost 60% of purchasers were (and are) brand new to Leica. With over 35,000 M9s sold, this means that roughly 20,000 are new to the M system. All of these new owners, like yourself, need lenses to go along with the body. The highest demand for lenses falls into the standard focal lengths range, although the demand for almost all focal lengths has skyrocketed as new users try to build full kits.

    Leica is not artificially trying to create a low supply. They are manufacturing as many lenses as they can. These lenses are hand made and it takes many hours to produce each one. With tens of thousands of lenses on backorder and a production capacity of maybe 100 lenses a day, you can see where the shortage lies.

    The reason that used lens prices are higher than new prices is that they are available now. For some, the value of time is worth more than the value of money. The price is simply what amount buyers are willing to pay and what price sellers are willing to sell at. As a dealer, we still sell at the new price for new product.

    As Josh mentioned, we work off of pre-order lists. One of the reasons that you don't see lenses marked in stock on dealer websites (like ours) is that while we do receive deliveries from Leica, this product is going to customers who placed their orders with us previously. Until we fill a list, we don't mark the item in stock. So, it appears on the outside that product never comes in, but this isn't the reality. Leica wouldn't be having such amazing prosperity and financial success if they didn't ship any product.

    Hopefully, we will see Leica catch up to fill the current demand for lenses. The new factory, which will be double the size of the existing facility should be complete in less than two years. This move should help Leica to better balance supply and demand.

    In the meantime, enjoy your new M9!

  • #1526
    allegretto

    Not just that

    Many of the new smaller format cameras from Sony, Ricoh, Oly, Pana and a couple more now have sufficiently short FFL's and adapters for M-lenses and the net camera blogs are touting the advantages that we long-time Leica uses know; NO ONE makes glass as Leica does.

    So a whole new class of camera owners are now Leica lens users…

  • #1919
    Dan Sackheim

    This has been extremely informative. Thank you all.

    Like Josh, I'm a new Lica user, having recently purchased an M9. I've been looking for a good price on a Elmarit f2.8 90mm, and I've been scratching my head, trying to reconcile what I've read on posts about fair prices being under $800 for a mint condition lens, with the sky high prices (over $2,000) I'm seeing now on eBay.

    What would you, in this current market, consider a fair price for a used lens as described above?

    Dan

    Dan

  • #1922
    Roger

    Dan

    First the 90/2.8 EM is an excellent lens that I use frequently. The M version of the lens (latest ) has the pull out shade and uses a 46mm filter . The used price can vary considerably based on the age and condition of the specific lens. A mint 6 bit coded lens in the silver box will be considered the current model and will sell for over $2000 and can get up over $2500 if its like new. A used older model (white box) without 6 bit and in used condition can still run near $1500 . Occasionally you can find a used lens for a few hundred less.

    The prices have increased significantly over the past two years …the good news is that the prices look to hold up well . I found a nice used one and sent it to DAG for 6 bit coding and calibration ..now its one of my favorite lenses.

  • #1923
    Dan Sackheim

    Thanks Roger,
    This is very helpful. The world of Lica can be a bit intimidating and, at times, confounding. I feel better equipped to bid on the lens now.

    Best,
    Dan

    Roger;1775 wrote: Dan

    First the 90/2.8 EM is an excellent lens that I use frequently. The M version of the lens (latest ) has the pull out shade and uses a 46mm filter . The used price can vary considerably based on the age and condition of the specific lens. A mint 6 bit coded lens in the silver box will be considered the current model and will sell for over $2000 and can get up over $2500 if its like new. A used older model (white box) without 6 bit and in used condition can still run near $1500 . Occasionally you can find a used lens for a few hundred less.

    The prices have increased significantly over the past two years …the good news is that the prices look to hold up well . I found a nice used one and sent it to DAG for 6 bit coding and calibration ..now its one of my favorite lenses.

  • #1925
    David Farkas

    Dan Sackheim;1772 wrote: This has been extremely informative. Thank you all.

    Like Josh, I'm a new Lica user, having recently purchased an M9. I've been looking for a good price on a Elmarit f2.8 90mm, and I've been scratching my head, trying to reconcile what I've read on posts about fair prices being under $800 for a mint condition lens, with the sky high prices (over $2,000) I'm seeing now on eBay.

    What would you, in this current market, consider a fair price for a used lens as described above?

    Dan

    Dan,

    First, welcome to Red Dot Forum (and the world of Leica).

    The 90mm Elmarit-M (latest) is one of my favorite lenses as well. It's my second most used M lens behind the 50mm Lux ASPH. It's sharp wide open, easy to focus, has great bokeh and a great look overall. Unfortunately, Leica stopped producing this lens in 2006 when they introduced the 90mm f/2.5 Summarit. The Summarit was a half a stop faster, lighter, more compact and cost $500 less. So, away went the Elamrit. Personally, while the Summarit is a fine lens, I always preferred the Elmarit and still use it.

    Yes, they used to sell for $900-1000 used a few years ago. Last year the price hit around $2500 for a mint one. Now, the price has settled to $1300-2000. Roger's analysis is very accurate. Older 90m f/2.8 lenses like the Tele-Elmarit “thin” or “fat” sell for $700-800, but these have a different optical design. I'd say if you can find the latest one (with the pull out metal shade) for $1500, I'd jump on it.

  • #1926
    Dan Sackheim

    David,

    This forum is a fantastic resource and has proved very helpful in navigating the world of Lica lenses. I was a bit confused by the various versions of the Elmarit-M, but you've cleared that up, so thanks.

    I lost two auctions in a row, where a mint versions of the lens sold in excess of $2,200. Deals clearly are few and far between in this market. I finally opted to purchase one in E++ condition for $1,600.

    Best,
    Dan

    David Farkas;1778 wrote: Dan,

    First, welcome to Red Dot Forum (and the world of Leica).

    The 90mm Elmarit-M (latest) is one of my favorite lenses as well. It's my second most used M lens behind the 50mm Lux ASPH. It's sharp wide open, easy to focus, has great bokeh and a great look overall. Unfortunately, Leica stopped producing this lens in 2006 when they introduced the 90mm f/2.5 Summarit. The Summarit was a half a stop faster, lighter, more compact and cost $500 less. So, away went the Elamrit. Personally, while the Summarit is a fine lens, I always preferred the Elmarit and still use it.

    Yes, they used to sell for $900-1000 used a few years ago. Last year the price hit around $2500 for a mint one. Now, the price has settled to $1300-2000. Roger's analysis is very accurate. Older 90m f/2.8 lenses like the Tele-Elmarit “thin” or “fat” sell for $700-800, but these have a different optical design. I'd say if you can find the latest one (with the pull out metal shade) for $1500, I'd jump on it.

  • #1934
    stephan

    Indeed the Elmarit 90 is a very pleasing lens, I love it too. I especially apreciate the built-in lenshood.

    If you can live with a half stop less light, then considering the Macro-Elmar is an option. More compact (collapsible), it delivers excelent result.

    The beauty of the Leica lens-line-up is that you can use most older lenses without hesitation. I recently discoverd a Summilux 50 I which renders very nicely (not as nice as the actual asph though).

  • #1945
    Al Tanabe

    +1 for the Latest Elmarit! The size and performance are really good and sharp wide open! You may also want to look at the Summarits and see if they will work for you. The price tends to scare people off, it seems that they are priced too low. I have the 75 Summarit and love the handling of the lens and it is very sharp. In fact I have been shooting more with the 75 than the 90 lately. Good luck in your search for one.

    -Al

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