In 2003, Leica introduced the Vario-Elmarit-R 28-90 mm f/2.8-4.5 Asph, a truly universal lens with a large range of focal lengths and high starting aperture.
It was the first Leica zoom lens with a range of focal lengths of more than 1:3. Compared to the earlier Vario R lenses that were developed and/or manufactured in Japan, the Vario-Elmarit-R 28-90 mm f/2.8-4.5 Asph was a lens completely conceived and produced at the Leica plant in Solms.
The Vario-Elmarit-R 28-90 mm f/2.8-4.5 Asph was made up of eleven lenses lined up in eight groups. The performance of the newly designed and very compact lens matched the level of fixed focal lengths lenses.
The relatively short production phase of the lens (2003 to 2008) was due to the discontinuation of the whole R series. However, the good experiences with the new Vario R lenses were later incorporated into the new S series.