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Leica 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-SL ASPH: Assessing Distortion at 16mm, 25mm, 28mm, 35mm, plus MTF

See my L-mount mirrorless wishlist

The Leica 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-SL ASPH relies on software correction for distortion, including a jaw-droppingly huge amount at the 16mm setting—perhaps taking a cue in optical design from the extreme distortion of the Leica Q.

Distortion correction required for
Leica 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-SL ASPH

The degrading effects of distortion correction in both single shot mode and especially Multi-Shot High-Res mode are well worth understanding for anyone thinking of high resolution capture.

I take a close look at distortion and the effects of distortion correction in diglloyd L-Mount Mirrorless:

Distortion correction relates directly to MTF: I also discuss MTF in depth, noting two points that make the Leica MTF charts misleading at best:

MTF for Leica 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-SL ASPH

I’m stunned that an about $5500 lens with an exceptionally dark f/3.5 to f/4.5 maximum aperture relies upon sharpness-robbing distortion correction to combat extreme distortion at 16mm that seems more fitting for a consumer-grade APS-C kit lens.

Below, the uncorrected distortion at 16mm with the Leica 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-SL ASPH. Image processed with Iridient Developer, which allows raw conversion with or without “mandatory” distortion correction—Adobe Camera Raw in either Photoshop or LIghtroom provides no option to disable correction for built-in lens profiles (those that the camera writes into the EXIF).

Uncorrected distortion at 16mm
f8 @ 1/4 sec Multi-Shot HighRes, ISO 50; 2019-04-18 19:28:37
Panasonic S1R + Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH @ 16mm

[low-res image for bot]

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