While the Leica screw-mount and M bayonet mount rangefinder lenses are familiar to most camera collectors, Leitz also produced a wide range of lenses for its single lens reflex cameras. These cameras have a long history, starting out with the original Leicaflex , the auto-exposure R3, the famous all-mechanical R6, and continuing on to the current Leica R9 which accommodates an 11-megapixel digital back.
With the exception of auto-focus, the Leica SLR system is just as advanced as their equivalents from Canon or Nikon. However, because Leica always stood for precision, ruggedness, reliability, and mechanical perfection above everything, they never went towards the lightweight plastics and looser focusing tolerances that auto-focus cameras entailed. Thus, all Leica R lenses are manual focus only. For the same reasons, Leica has not produced as many zoom lenses as its Japanese competitors. In fact, a couple of Leitz’s SLR zooms are actually Minolta designs. Ask around, it’s easy to find out which.
Leica R Lenses
For the most part, R lenses are interchangeable with any age Leica SLRs. Except for the newest ROM lenses which should not be used on Leicaflex cameras, at most you lose the ability to matrix meter, or to meter at full aperture (stop-down metering only).
|There are some series variations in Leica R-Mount lenses:
||Exhibit A: Overview of cams #1-#3
Thanks to reader Ken O’Kelley for supplying this photo!
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Key: O=fully compatible; X=won’t mount; ST=stop-down metering;
NR=Not Recommended (may damage ROM contacts)