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Angineux 70210 How good



I am considering trading my 180 elmarit 2.8 in for an 80-200 Vario Elmar 4.0 to cut some 300 gm. of weight from my bag. Another lens that shows up in that range is the Angineux 70-210 f3.5. I can't seem to find any good reviews of just how good the Angineux is in comparison to the 180 or the 80-200. Its about half the price- but is there a big trade off in quality of the optics or construction? Thanks
My understanding is that these lenses are made in Japan and may not have the same high image contrast of the Leitz lens. Having used Nikon and Olympus for many years and recently started using R series, I can vouch for this.

Probably worth shooting a test role before you buy. The 3.4 Apo 180mm is slightly lighter and has a better image quality I understand.

Hope it helps
Chris, the Leitz zooms were made in Japan. ( Minolta and later Sigma) The Angenieux lenses (there's also a short zoom with a Leica fitting as well as an APO DEM 180/2.3 and a DEM 200/2.8) were made in France.

I've got the 70-210/3.5 and the 180/2.3. If you can find the latter, I think it's one of the best lenses I've used.

The 70/210/3.5 is also an excellent lens, and I found it better than the Leitz equivalents.

I think if Paul went for this lens, he wouldn't be disappointed.

I think Angenieux invented the zoom lens, originally for movies.

They were (I shoukd have said "he was" since Angenieux is the name of the person) also the first one to use electronic beams to coat their lenses (56 layers, if my memory is correct).
p.s. Paradoxically, I think the 'best' Leica mount zoom I have is a Sigma APO 50-200/3.5-4.5. I did a series of tests a few years ago and found the lens had warm colour saturation that appeals to me. Good though the Angenieux 70-210/3.5 is, in comparison the colours are a little 'cool'.

I was told that Leitz took legal action to prevent Sigma from using the mount. This may not be true, but if it is there is a nice symmetry about the fact that Leitz later turned to Sigma to make their own zooms.

I should also mention that I use a little Tamron 70-210/4-5.6 with a Leica Adaptall mount for travelling sometimes. I know purists won't like this, but it's a very handy light lens and the results are not at all bad.

I think I've mentioned both these points here before, so for those who've already seen them I aplologise for the repetition.

First..The Angenieux lenses are simply great in my opinion. The came with a lifetime warranty including re-incarnations! (seriously) The French must know something the rest of us don't
Second...I believe it was Voiglander who invented the zoom(though it was varifocal in reality)
Pierre Angénieux invented the retro-focus lens.

The first variable focal length lens was the Voigtländer Zoomar.

The 80-200 Vario Elmar f/4 as is presently available from Leica, has been designed by Leica in Germany, and is being manufactured by Kiocera, in Japan. This lens is very good, mechanically and optically speaking, and to me is the best vario lens available on the market in this range presently. The only better lens I know is the Vario Elmarit 70-180 from Leica too, that is twice as luminous, but nearly three times more expensive and also bigger and heavy. To me both lenses are equal in quality at f 5.6, but the vario-elmar is already very good at f 4, even if the vario-elmarit has the lead.
Also the vario-elmar has very low tendency to flare, is really very sharp, especially around focal 100 - 180, also in the near range, where it goes closer than the apo-telyt and the vario-elmarit, and has very low distortion. Handling of the vario-elmar is easy, with its two rings, one for distance setting, one for focal setting. The Vario-Elmar (as the vario-elmarit) keeps the distance setting unchanged, when you change the focal, and that is very good, as you can set the distance at a higher focal (let say 200) and then shoot at the needed focal (let say 100) and be sure of where you set the distance exactly. I compared the 80-200 vario-elmar with the summilux 80 and the Apo-telyt 180. The vario-elmar beats the apo-telyt in the short distance, where it is sharper, and gets also a lot closer (1.1 meter instead of 2.5 meter - the apo-telyt has been corrected for infinity where it is better than the vario-elmar, but its closest focusing distance is less good - the new Apo-elmarit has corrected this problem to 1.5 m, but even here the vario-elmar has the lead).

Typically I use that lens at 5.6 or between 4 and 5.6 at the highest speed I can, stopping down further is not necessary, but for the dept of field. Best focal length 100-180. A joy to use.

I still use the apo-telyt at infinity where it really shines, even at the widest aperture, but this lens is not as flexible as the vario-elmar, as it is less good at the closest distance and of course , it is not a vario-lens.

I have not yet been able to decide which one is the best, between the 80 summilux and the 80-200 vario-elmar. To me there are different lenses, not competing together. I keep the summilux 80 because it is so luminous (1.4) and handy; also the summilux does not distord at all.

On my M6, I also use the 90mm AA, which is now also available for the R. This lens is an exception and it is better than anything else Leica has built up to now. It is a strong performer, and gives outstanding pictures particularly wide open. Colour wise the vario-elmar and the summicron 90 AA are close, but the rendition of very fine details is better with the 90 AA, which is also more luminous. The summicron gives finer pictures at f4, but both lenses give clean pictures (pure colors, no flare, very sharp details, high contrast, but these are different lenses to be used in different situations - I am using the 90 AA wide open with low sensitivity films, and the vario -elmar at f 5.6 with high speed films - so the results are different, but in both cases outstanding ).

I checked a few times the latest Angenieux zooms, which I find very sharp too, but their technology is dating already, and to me the vario-elmar is better. Mechanically, the Angenieux are made is a sort of plastic with glass fiber, which is not ageing as nicely as the Leica lenses do; the finition of the vario-elmar is superb, as for all Leica lenses.

I advise you to have a go with the vario-elmar 80-200, you will not be disappointed.
'I checked a few times the latest Angenieux zooms, which I find very sharp too, but their technology is dating already, and to me the
vario-elmar is better.'

Interesting post, thank you.

Perhaps there is a misunderstanding here?

What 'latest Angenieux zooms' are made in a Leica mount? I thought they went out of production about 20 years ago?

I thought that Paul was referring to the Angenieux 70-210/3.5 which dates back to the 1980s, and was certainly superior to the Minolta made Vario-Elmar-R 70-210/4 of the day.

I can't compare these old lenses with what's made today, (because I don't have any current Leitz lenses) except to say that in the 1980s Angenieux had a fine reputation, and although their technology may be dating this doesn't imho affect the performance of the lenses.


I remember of a 35-70 f2.8, a 70-210 and there was also a APO 180 2.8. All of them were available in several mounts, including Nikon, Canon and Leica. They were in plastic plus glass fiber finish and sold in nice red boxes, like jewels, which they were. Today Leica zooms are more contrasty (generation of 1990...), but of course we have now better glass and technology.

Best regards.