Perhaps it’s fitting, so close to Halloween, that Leica is summoning an old lens back from the dead.
The lens in question is the Thambar-M 90 mm f/2.2, which was originally produced in 1935. Like its forebear, the new lens is less about sharpness and more about soft focus and bokeh.
In fact, Leica says the Thambar’s soft focusing is the result of intentional under-correction from its spherical lens elements. “This under-correction increases towards the edges of the frame, allowing both the degree of softening and the depth of field to be precisely controlled by the smoothly-turning ‘stepless’ aperture ring. The effect is most pronounced at wider apertures, and is progressively reduced as the lens is stopped down,” the company said. (Fun fact, Leica says the lens’ name is derived from the Greek work “thambo” which means blurred.)
The design of the M-mount Thambar has also been preserved, including the black paint finish, the proportions of the lens and its red and white aperture engravings. The principle difference is that this modern version features a lens coating to protect the lens surface. There are a few other subtler design tweaks that Leica made to ensure the styling of the Thambar is inline with the modern design of the M cameras.
You’ll even get a rigid leather case that’s identical to the case that shipped with the original Thambar 80 years ago.
The Thambar 90mm f/2.2 can focus on objects as close as 1 meter and stops down to f/25. It has a whopping 20 aperture blades.
You’ll find the updated Thambar in Leica’s boutique stores starting in the middle of November. It will retail for $6,990.