Since the Nikon and Leica R distance from mounting flange to sensor is just about identical what you have to do is remove the leica lens mount and replace it with an adapter with the Nikon mount that preserves the proper ∞ distance.
I haven't bothered to do this yet on my Leica R glass, but I have seen nice sample images from converted lenses. They have the Leica color rendition on the nikon sensors. For film, you might as well use a Leica-R body (like I do).
Sat 02-Mar-13 03:08 PM | edited Sat 02-Mar-13 03:09 PM by CaptainYooh
I have a few Leica -R lenses. I highly recommend using Leitax adapters ONLY. Other, mostly Chinese-made brands are not good. Also important, while on Leitax site, check photos of actual installation of the adapter to the specific lens you have. Some are relatively easy to install, but some are quite tricky. I had David Llado at Leitax installing two adapters himself. It costs a few extra euros but it is totally worth it. You will have to send your lens to David and pay for return shipping as well plus installation fee, if you choose to have it done by him.
While I have a few Leica R lenses I've never converted them. I know that Leitax makes the best adapters but when I posted I forgot their name. However I have 6 different adapters purchased from Fotodiox and they have all been very good. In any case there is no other way to get the R lenses to focus properly on Nikon bodies.
Sat 02-Mar-13 06:45 PM | edited Sat 02-Mar-13 06:53 PM by CaptainYooh
My experience with Fotodiox on Leica was not good, Len. I purchased three and then had to change them, as all three lenses had trouble focusing to infinity with them mounted. David Llado told me that they have literally copied his first adapter but had not improved its design since after learning about various bugs, while he had. None of the Leitax adapters had these problem on my Leica-R lenses (I have 7).
Fotodiox Hasselblad to Nikon adapter, on the other hand, has been performing great on all of my Hasselblad lenses.
Anyone have some pics with Leica lenses (or better yet, Nikon AND Leica lenses of the same subject)? I really want to see the difference in these brands. And is there a difference in how you post process each? Thanks.
Rich, I am not a pro and should not be attempting to provide the accurate technical comparison details about the differences in glass resolution, colour rendering, half-tone contrast etc. While a lot of people might disagree, I don't really believe that Nikon glass is technically worse than Leica per se, especially at its pro range. It is at least as good and as professional as Leica high-end glass. I have been a Nikon shooter for over 20 years, and I am loyal Nikonian with a decent collection of Nikon glass. But...
I also believe that many photographers like Leica glass because of how good it feels to shoot with. Things that come to mind first: just the right weight on camera, smooth focusing rings, skin tones etc. I only have six Leica-R lenses that I have converted with Leitax adapters to fit Nikon bayonets and I love shooting with these lenses, even though they are not their top of the line APO lenses. I just don't have enough time to shoot more, unfortunately. From my limited experience, even less expensive Leica lenses render skin tones very naturally and better than comparably priced Nikon lenses.
Here are some of my images taken with Leica glass. These are test images, mostly handheld. I can see the shortcomings in the image quality but they are mostly due to my handheld technique that needs improvements. But I think the images are telling of what these lenses can do:
These a 400% crops from images taken with a $600 Leica Telyt 400mm/6.8 handheld on D800E:
This is a slightly cropped full frame shot with the same lens and no post processing:
This one is taken with Leica Summilux-R 50mm 1.4 on D5100:
This is approximately 100% crop from a staged shot taken with Leica Elmarit-R 60mm Macro off a tripod:
P.S. I don't believe there are any special differences in PP of images made with Leica glass vs. Nikon glass other than some built-in lens correction features in PS and LR that are not available for Leica.
That version of the 400mm Leica has some serious CA associated with it Capt.
Leica glass renders differently than Nikon. I find the slides from my Leica glass a bit warmer in general. I wish that I could give you direct comparisons, but I have not converted my Leica glass and shoot film with it.
Interesting stuff, guys. I've been surfing at the Cafe and Fred Miranda to find more photos. On FM there is an extensive collection of R lens photos on d700. Just what I'm looking for. After surfing thru several pages, I found one comment where the photographer said he pumps up saturation a lot, then sharpens, then reduces saturation again until he likes it. I tried that approach with some Nikon lens photos in Capture NX2, and I think that I see some of what is happening with the Leica lenses. Greater saturation and sharpness. I haven't discovered how to make a Nikon image look like it was taken with a Leica, but I do think that approach yields some interesting results! I played with Saturation in NX2 (raising it to about 75-90 or so), then sharpened, then reduced saturation until I liked it. The results seemed to "approximate" Leica glass, but still fell short, IMHO. It was a very interesting discovery to me.
I'm seriously considering selling my Nikon Pro lenses (20-35 and 35-70) to fund the purchase of a 50 Summicron R. I had been skeptical about whether the lenses themselves were that much better, or if post processing routines made the difference. At this point, I think it may be both. I have a trip coming up and don't think I can get all the transactions done prior to that, but I'm getting excited about the prospect of a 50 Cron for my D700!
Summicron 50 is a great lens to walk around, for sure, although you would be replacing quite a useful focal distance range with it, Rich.
I also find it interesting that even experienced professional photographers cannot describe the "Leica feel" cohesively. It is almost universally "It's there, you'll know it when you see it". Kinda makes me feel a bit silly, to be honest.
It is easier to describe the IQ differences for the old German Zeiss medium format glass. The way I understand it (and it might be a simplified understanding), Zeiss renders half-tones with more contrast than any other glass, which gives the images a lot more 3D look. They are heavy as dumbbells though, very difficult to handhold for a non-athlete. I took several head shots with Nikon, Leica-R, Voigtlander and old Zeiss lenses to compare. No lens rendered human eyes with more volume than Zeiss in my tests.
Hmmm. Interesting analysis. Any comment on just getting a Zeiss 50 rather than the Summicron? I know a lot of guys here rave about Zeiss lenses, but I had always thought Leica glass was even better. This discussion grabbed my attention as a way to get the best glass for less than the new cost of Leica glass - or even Zeiss for that matter. BTW, I have Nikon primes in the range of the zooms I'll be selling, along with the new 24-120. The 24-120 is really an excellent lens, especially for travel. OK, time to come clean - yes, I'm something of a gear head.
Old Zeiss lenses are massive. They are way too heavy and overbuilt to be used on Nikon FX/DX camera bodies. Plus, you'd have to deal with lens shutter, which is annoying. The optics are superb though. Old Leica-R lenses ARE designed and built specifically for 35mm cameras. They are much more elegant and better suited for this purpose. I would much rather walk around with a inconspicuous 50mm Summicron than a giant 50mm Carl Zeiss lens mounted on my camera for simply practical reasons. So, it's not that Zeiss is better than Leica. It's what you are looking for in a lens, I guess.
I would be looking at the new ZF.2 Zeiss Planar which is not that large. But one last question, then I'll butt out of hijacking this thread. I read somewhere yesterday that the Leica lenses on Nikon require Stop Down metering/viewing. Is that correct? I also read about a ROM for the Leitax which, presumably, allows you to view and meter wide open, and is controlled by the camera like a manual focus Nikon lens would be, once you enter the lens data in the camera menu. I just wouldn't be willing to use a lens I had to manually stop down to meter. Appreciate any info on this question.
I sold my Leica R3-MOT camera and don't shoot on film any more. I use Leica-R lenses on D3X & D800E. Both Nikon camera bodies allow for normal metering in A & M mode using Leica-R lenses. Leitax does offer a lens chip installed on their mounts that allows metering in consumer grade Nikon digital cameras, but I have never needed them myself. I did try using Leica lenses on a D5100 and, to my recollection, it did meter in LiveView mode as well, but I am not 100% sure now.
Ah. Got it. You've been a huge help! Thanks very much. Now, can I borrow your checkbook? Oh, anything special to look for in R lenses? Am I correct that 3-cam lenses are preferred? Anything else? Thanks again.
You will find the 3-cam and ROM lenses are the newest. They are all well built. The build quality is on par with, or exceed the old Nikon AI style which was Nikon at it's finest.
As far as Zeiss is concerned, the 50 f1.4 ZF lens isn't all that much better, and in some ways worse, than the current Nikon offerings, so I wouldn't bother. There is a new 50-ish Zeiss in the works that will cost better than $3,000 that should blow the rest away, but no one has seen it yet in the real world.
There is a Leica Aspherical 50mm f2 APO that is said to be spectacular, but that is Leica M mount, and costs about $7,000.
You can get a 50mm Cron from KEH that is 3 cam for about $400 so it shouldn't break the bank.
Thanks Jeremy. I took a look at KEH and see different types of offerings in 3-cam lenses. Are the later Leitz Canada lenses with mm rather than series filter rings any better or worse? Oh, and the aperture is controlled from the front command dial, correct?
Thu 21-Mar-13 02:19 AM | edited Thu 21-Mar-13 02:21 AM by CaptainYooh
1, 2 or 3-Cam versions make really no difference if you are planning to adapt these lenses for Nikon. As pointed out earlier, 3-Cam versions are a bit newer, so the coatings are supposedly a bit more modern and better.
Leitax.com has a complete list of Leica-R lenses that can be adapted using their adapters and those that cannot.
You will have to look up the serial number to see if the lens is newer or older. Series VII filter, for example, is not that expensive or difficult to get, btw.
Aperture cannot be controlled from a body command dial, it's all manual.