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Alternatives

Leica used to offer two other 180mm telephoto lenses in its SLR lineup - Elmar 180mm f/4 and Elmarit 180mm f/2.8. Out of these three, only Elmarit 180mm f/2.8is still in production, with the latest variant APO Elmarit 180mm f/2.8 priced at ~US$4,500 new and fetching over US$2,000 on used markets.  An even faster and more expensive Leica APO Summicron-R 180mm f/2 is another excellent choice if you can afford it of course. Outside of the Leica R mount, it is worth taking a look at Carl Zeiss Contax lenses, specifically Sonnar T* 180mm f/2.8 and APO Sonnar T* 200mm f/2, both of which offer excellent image quality and are priced more reasonably. If you feel adventurous, you might even want to look at older Nikon lenses, including Nikkor ED Ai-S 180mm f/2.8 or its newer variant Nikkor AF ED 180mm f/2.8 IF.

 

Recommendation

Leica APO Telyt-R 180mm f/3.4 is a very solid lens, with pretty good overall performance,  outstanding and sturdy build construction and minimal amount of harmful artifacts (flare is the only exception here). This is certainly not the fastest lens on the market, but that is reflected in its price - anything faster would also cost almost twice as much. The bottom line is that those of you willing to shoot with manual lenses, would not regret choosing this lens. Of course competition in the telephoto segment is pretty stiff these days with both 800 pound gorillas (Canon and Nikon obviously) offering an excellent choice of telephoto lenses in their respective lineups.

 

Sample Images