The 35-70mm ƒ2.8 VARIO-ELMARIT-R ASPH saga
Been dying to get the 35-70mm (#11 275) zoom since it was announced in 1998, and have been unable to find one?
As you probably guessed, the esoteric price, impractical size and weight (145 mm long, 89mm dia, 1 kg!) killed this baby at birth. Only a few hundred were ever made - at a loss - and then production ceased.
Much to everyone's surprise however, a few "new" lenses appeared on dealers shelves and on ebay in early April 2002. At the time, a US Leica dealer provided the following explanation:
Here is what I know of the story. ( I have now received 4 of these lenses in the past two weeks from two different sources...)
1. Leica made parts to make 300 of these lenses as a "run"
2. They made 200 in 1999 or so
3. They lost money on them, stopped making them at "about 200." Lots of rejects
4. Leica users had panic attacks, fits, and disorders of the nervous system yet to be explained!
5. Parts sat there until about six months ago when they decided to "get rid" of the parts by making the remaining lenses and raising the price by 80%. Covers the cost of many rejects. ( I give Dr. Joseph Yao some credit for helping Leica see the logic in this btw!)
6. Four (from two different sources) pop up in two weeks. A frenzy ensues and quite quickly it looks as if the remaining 100 will be gobbled up
Well, is it "worth" $7k+ for one of these babies? I think we can all see this to be an obscene price for any lens, but it is as "worth it" as the market will bear I suppose. My view of this at the moment is that YES, the market is finding it to be "worth it."
My two New, USA ones sold fast as did one import one... and I have one more new import remaining, I hope soon to be sold.
One was sold to a LUGer who I bet is shooting it already...and I know for a fact he is not a "collector." I bet we will see some photos done with it eventually ... if he cares to share.
I do NOT believe they are going to make these regular production lenses again.
Everything points to the idea that these are "old stock" including the serial numbers I have seen on each one.
While I have done my best to find out about a "Make II" of this lens, I have had a few "in" people deny such a thing would happen. (No, these are not the same folks who denied the existence of the M7 btw! <bg>)
BTW, these are NOT folks who work for Leica that I'm talking about...so treat that info. as what it is...rumor!
Dr Joseph has been a strong proponent of them making a new version of this lens a regular production piece and I believe I would be too if they could get the price down a bit.
By the way, YES, I do want one for myself and NO I don't have one for myself...so YES they are still pretty darn rare. Don't let two on ebay fool you...that is "today" from dealers who normally don't know what to do with such things and need a wider audience. Tomorrow will be different for these unless I'm very wrong.
Don't count on a price drop for those babies is my guess. Once they are gone, that will be it for the run and soon we'll see them traded around like so-many gold bars on ebay.
As you can gather from the above, Hong Kong based Dr Joseph Yao is a huge fan of these 35-70mm zooms. So if you want to find out more or try and locate one, then he is currently the best person to contact and ask.
In September 2002, Mr Heyman sent me the following note:
[BTW,] there are complete sections [on my www-site] which have been taken with the 35-70 ASPH: such as the one on the hardened WW2 bunker sites in northern France, and the Hungary and Denmark pictures under "travel".