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I'm planning on buying a Leica film body. However, newer lenses are much easier to find.
Presumably, newer lenses have been designed for digital bodies.

I read that the new Leica lenses for M mount are optimized for digital. I don't know what that means.

Would it still be ok using them with film cameras?

  • Possible duplicate of Can I use lens brand X on interchangeable lens camera brand Y? – xiota Jul 15 '18 at 9:51
  • @xiota I don't think that question applies, since this is about lens and camera bodies of the same brand. – mattdm Jul 29 '18 at 10:52
  • Also, with the same mount. In any case, one is tempted to answer "only if the combination of lens and camera is considered hip, if it is considered lame the leica police is going to come for you". – rackandboneman Jan 4 at 22:50
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The Leica M mount is the Leica M mount. Whether the camera is film or digital, a Leica M lens should work with a Leica M mount camera.

In the other hand, Leica L mount lenses (introduced in 2014) will only work on recent Leica L mount cameras, all of which are digital.

In the early 1970s Leica released an M mount camera named the CL. It used M mount lenses.

The current L mount lenses are for the Leica TL , Leica CL (2017) and Leica SL systems.

There were also Leicaflex and Leica R series SLR cameras that use the Leica R mount. The medium format Leica S series also have their own S and SL mount lenses, as well as adapters that allow the use of many other mechanical only lenses from other systems. There are also Leica C lenses made to be used by PL mount cinema cameras.

It's all covered at the Wikipedia entry for Leica.

From a comment:

I read that the new Leica lenses for M mount are optimized for digital. I don't know what that means.

It mostly means they are coated on the back as well as the front of elements to reduce internal reflections that are more problematic for digital than film. It can also mean they are sharper to hold up to the increased scrutiny that 'pixel peeping' in the digital era places on the expectations of lens quality. Please see Does high reflectiveness of digital sensor lead to poor lens performance? and Is there a real difference between “digital” and “film” lenses? for more.

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Assuming you are talking about a Leica "M" rangefinder camera and not one of the "R" SLR cameras.

You will not have any problems using any new "digital optimised" lenses with a film camera. One difference between newer digital era Leica M lenses is the encoding system. This is a series of black and white dots on the mount of the lens which tells the digital M cameras what lens is being used. These don't affect the use of those lenses on film bodies in any way (they will just be ignored).

The opposite is not 100% the case. You can experience some issues using film oriented leica M lenses with digital cameras. This is particularly true of wide angle lenses where the rear lens element can protrude quite far backwards and is close to the film/sensor plane. This results in colour shifts, most noticeable toward the left and right edges of the frame. This issue is unique to digital and does not cause any problem with film. Note that there are quite modern M mount Voigtlander lenses which exhibit this phenomenon, but their advertising material obviously does not warn you against using them with digital cameras!

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