UPDATE: The Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH has now been officially announced worldwide by Leica, which proclaims it a "universal zoom lens" for L-mount camera bodies.
While it doesn't carry any official badge of the "economy line" that had been rumored, the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm is priced at $2,795 / £2,300 / AU$4,200 – which is notably cheaper than other Vario lenses, including the comparable Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH that sells for $5,595 / £4,150 / $7,600.
• Read more: Best Leica SL lenses
Leica does, nonetheless, point out the lens' "excellent price-performance ratio" that "also represents a perfect opportunity to upgrade to the SL-System." So it's certainly an economy line lens in spirit, if not in name.
The optic features 19 elements in 15 groups, with 3 dual-sided aspheric elements, and 9 specialist elements with anomalous partial dispersion for chromatic correction throughout the zoom range.
It boasts 11 aperture blades, weather sealing, and a minimum focusing distance of 7.08 inches / 18cm at the 24mmm wide end, and 14.9 inches / 38cm at the full 70mm extension. The focusing mechanism is internal, and features a stepper motor for quick and quiet focus.
Pre-order the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 at Adorama (US)
Pre-order the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 at B&H (US)
Pre-order the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 at Park (UK)
Pre-order the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 at Wex (UK)
ORIGINAL STORY (06 May): After being leaked last month, the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH has been officially revealed – albeit only by Leica Japan.
While initial reports were that it would be the first of a line of Leica "economy lenses", the Japanese product description of the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH makes no mention of this fact – though we haven't been yet able to find Japanese pricing, so this may well be confirmed or refuted by the RRP.
(In addition to the claim that it would be an economy lens, previous reports stated that it is essentially a rebodied version of the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 AF DG DN – and Leica does have a history of rebadging Sigma lenses.)
We will provide an update when the lens is officially announced in the West, with full specifications, pricing and release info. Until then, here is the official text (machine translated) from the Leica Japan website (hat tip to Nokishita for spotting).
"The Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH. With a wide focal length and bright F-number has an extremely short minimum shooting distance of only 18cm when the focal length is 24mm, and it has a wide range of scenes for both still and video shooting. It is a zoom lens that plays an active role in. This is the perfect one for photographers who like to travel lightly.
"With a maximum aperture of f/2.8 over the entire zoom range from wide-angle 24mm to telephoto 70mm, stable shooting is achieved not only for still images but also for moving images. In addition, the wide focal length and compact, ergonomic body design allow you to quickly respond to any situation without changing lenses.
"An elaborate optical design that uses three double-sided aspherical lenses achieves excellent depiction performance over the entire zoom range. In addition to the almost circular design of 11 diaphragm blades, chromatic aberration can be corrected well, so smooth bokeh can be obtained. Taking advantage of this beautiful bokeh, you can pursue various possibilities of expression.
"Achieves autofocus with high speed, high accuracy, and excellent quietness. Since the high-speed stepping motor only moves one lightweight lens, autofocus with almost no time lag is possible. It can be used not only with the Leica SL2 and Leica SL2-S but also with cameras made by other companies that use the L mount."