The Leica 18mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH is one odd-ball lens. Built when the Leica M8 was the latest and greatest digital Rangefinder, it served to fill the void of a 24mm lens that Leica was lacking in their crop sensor line-up. When the M9 came out the lens became popular with some individuals as it offered a very odd but pleasing image. Some people dislike it and go for the 21mm Super-Elmar while others love the look it gives them. I, personally, love this lens. Since picking it up, it’s the one lens that’s been pretty much permanently mounted on either of my M’s.
Now. This lens has one major flaw. There are only two options for mounting filters on this lens. You can either pick up the Leica 13422 UV/IR filter, Leica offered when the M8 was around. Or the Leica 77mm hood they offered when the M9 was released. The Leica 13422 filter mounts directly to the lens and allows you to mount the square hood that comes with the lens. Problem is, the M9 and newer lenses don’t require a UV/IR filter and more importantly this option would cause an enormous amount of vignetting. The second option replaces the hood altogether and gives the option of threading 77mm filters onto the lens. Unfortunately this option comes with its own issues. The vented hood would allow dirt, dust and debris to still collect on the lens element and some users have reported getting reflections in their photo’s caused by the distance the filters sits away from the actual lens element.
For me, both options wouldn’t work. With me traveling so much I need to protect the lens as much as possible from dust and debris. I’ve been putting this off for too long and finally decided I needed to do something sooner rather than later. I decided to try an experiment and see if it succeeds. If not, no big deal, I would just end up purchasing the Leica 77mm hood. Browsing through some forums there were quite a few people discussing mounting step up rings on the lens, or purchasing filters and popping out the glass and doubling it up like a spacer. This… Essentially, is what I did. I purchased a 58mm super cheap filter, $2.50, popped the glass off and threaded it on the lens. I then picked up a relatively good, low profile filter and put it on top of the “spacer” filter. This worked like a charm and caused a very slight vignette. Now the hood is a bit tricky to thread on as it no longer has a locking position to put it in the right place. So it’s a bit of trial and error to get it to sit correctly on the lens. Once the hood was on the vignette was quite apparent, but nothing that a 2% crop wouldn’t solve.
So there we go. Cheap and cheerful filter for the Leica 18mm lens that allows you to use the original rectangle hood. Feel free to share your thoughts.