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Friday, 16 October 2009


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"Oh, and this is fun:"

but slightly misleading if the implication is that this is a workable cheap way of using leica lenses to take advantage of their high quality.

When Leica first reported that they couldn't make a digital rangefinder years ago it was because they found the light fall off on the outer edges of the sensor due to the small distance between the lens and sensor was too great (3-4 stops if my memory is correct) to make a quality image. Leica M8-9 sensors are built with special microlenses in the sensor chip which distribute light more evenly across the sensor and then Leica have several software algorithms and have coded their lenses to compensate for various problems which arise.

The lumix GF1 and other m4/3 chip cameras like the EP1 lack all these workarounds. Anyone thinking they can buy a leica lens and stick it on a m4/3s camera and essentially get "cheap" leica will be seriously disappointed not to mention significantly poorer if they bought the lens specifically for this purpose. This has been well documented by countless people. Even people who own Leica lenses routinely are disappointed when they try this approach.

I would assume you're just teasing us with the photo of what many of us would want "someday" but I thought it important to clarify lest anyone not too experienced with the issue misconstrue what you've posted here.

Thanks, but...you got all that from "this is fun"?

As far as I can see, there's no need for microlenses with a 4/3 sensor. It just uses the middle part of the image circle.

Of course I wouldn't recommend buying a Leica lens specifically for a GF1. (Would anybody really do that?)

It is, however, er, fun to be able to attach the two if you already have the lens.

We'll be publishing a guide to Micro 4/3 adaptors soon.


re: eric
You don't suppose that since 4/3 has a such substantial crop factor, the light hitting the sensor from the center of the lens is more parallel-ish and therefore light falloff issues and the need for microlens arrays is less necessary? And surely if Leica lenses are as great as everyone says*, cropping out the center of a great lens should still lead to great results, right?

Anyway, I love the idea of having a fast (f/1.4! ) fixed tele (70mm!). Between the telecentricity of 4/3 and ever better fast isos, I think concert photography got a lot easier.

*trick question. It's the whole system that matters, not just the lens, but it's a slam dunk that the IQ is not proportional to the increase in resale value.

All the complexities and controversies aside, I still think that is a beautiful setup. No question that for digital I'd still prefer an M9, but this is nearly an order of magnitude cheaper.

Will anybody be kind enough to attach, say, a Pentax DA 40 2.8 limited to the body of the GF1, and post a picture?

If´that´s possible, I mean.
And, does anybody have the suspicion that the real sweeties for those cameras are not leica lenses, BUT current Cosina lenses?

Of course I wouldn't recommend buying a Leica lens specifically for a GF1. (Would anybody really do that?)

Umm... (whistles, shuffles feet)

Of course, using a deep-seated wide-anlgle like a classic 21mm Super Angulon might give you some fall-off in the corners, but a 50mm like Mike used, combined with the crop factor, will be an interesting combination. As Carl Mosher pointed out, a Noctilux suddenly becomes a dream portrait lens (100mm f1.0? Even on a crop sensor, the DOF-isolation will be pretty darn impressive). Check this out, for example.

You should've put a M-mount Voigtlander on there and avoided all the Leica cost / quality distractions. (I use Voigtlanders exclusively on my M2 and E-P1 because I'm not rich.)

Can you use the electronic viewfinder and still have an external flash?

@Eric: Actually, the ability to use crisp M-mount lenses is a big draw for these (relatively) inexpensive little cameras. As others have noted, the smallness of the micro four-thirds sensor alleviates the technical issues of the severe angles that rangefinder lens' close proximity to the sensor create in, say, the M8 and M9. The micro four-thirds sensor only captures the centermost part of the image circle.

Nevertheless, it turns out that using better glass does not generally achieve markedly better results with these cameras. I can't speak for the GF1 but I have used a wide variety of my M lenses with my E-P1 during the past several months. I have to honestly admit that the Oly E-P1 kit lenses produce equivalent, and often better, images on the E-P1 in terms of sharpness and color contrast. It turns out that the camera may process images from its own lenses differently than it does for "strange" lenses.

So while the fast, high-quality M lenses will buy you extra stops on these micro four-thirds cameras they won't necessarily buy you a commensurately better final image.

Wow, the GF1 with the Leica lens looks serious, doesn't it? And fun, yes. Point-and-shoot: ha! This rig requires skills...

Yes, let's make it very clear: there is to be NO photography without microlenses.
Whew! That was close!

-- Greg Heins

Ummm, I use a Leitz 100mm f4 lens on bellows with my E510 all the time. No problems whatsoever with light falloff.

Same thing with a very battered and ugly Leitz 180mm f3.2 APO that I got on eBay.de for just a few Euros. No problems whatsoever with light falloff, and it is a 360mm f3.2 APO lens on the 4/3 system. I use to on an E510, stopped down to 5.6, mounted on a gigapan head for panorama work. No vignetting whatsoever in sky areas, which would otherwise be heavily mottled...

And I actually bought those lenses specifically for use on my 4/3 bodies.

Leica may well have said what they said, but it may also have been said to explain why they missed the boat for so very, very long. After all, it sorta kinda sounds like a real reason.

Eric, you may actually want to try this instead of simply dismissing it out of hand.

Me, I am seriously torn between the MF1 and the EP1, leaning towards the latter but disappointed that the MF1's autofocus speed and handling isn't coupled with in-body IS...and yes, I am looking for nice vintage Leica glass for exactly this reason. The killer is the focal length doubling: this makes the classic lens for street photography into a moderate telephoto.

But with bokeh to die for. :-)

The salesman at the local camera shop where I bought my first digital camera (Nikon Coolpix 5000) considers the 4/3 and m4/3 to be the wave of the future: it's a camera you can use virtually any lens on, and after all, it's all about the lens, isn't it?

"As far as I can see, there's no need for microlenses with a 4/3 sensor. It just uses the middle part of the image circle."

Sean Reid tests a 28 cron on a G1 and discovers that indeed there is rapid fall off of quality towards the edges, unlike on either the Leica or the Epson that he copmares.

So it seems that, at least on wides, microlenses are a must.

An old Canon FD mount 55mm f/1.2 would be pretty nice on that camera, and a lot cheaper.

J.F.Opie: Longer focal length lenses will have less problem; the two examples you give are moderately long. The cases where people really report problems are rangefinder wideangle lenses, like the classic 21mm that extends a ways back into the body.

I've been using my CV 15mm on my E-P1 and I notice no fall-off in light or sharpness toward the edges.

I have a CV 15mm f4.5, 28mm f2, 50mm f1.1 and a Minolta 90mm f4, which I use with the Pen, not one of them vignettes to any degree that is really noticeable.

I'll go "hookstrapped" and "Ray" one better and add that (for 90+% of my images) my CV 12mm f5.6 doesn't evidence any significant vignetting or loss of sharpness toward the edges when used on either my L1 or G1 bodies.


Why of course you can. There's a adapter for that as you will see.


I have been using exactly the same Leica lens on my G1 - since I had the lens previously, I have bought G1 just to be able to use it (of course, I do not have the money for M8/9).
In my experience, image quality of this combination is outstanding - I'm using it wide open 90% of the time, but I have tried it stopped down also. There is no loss of quality near the edges, and you can really see "Leica look" on the images, even you are using small portion of the lens. I have not compared it to kit lens (or any other), since I do not have comparable lens (summilux is meant to be used wide open, of course).
What I would like to know is how the lens behaves on GF1 - not the image quality (should be the same), but how it handles and how easy is to focus on the back screen. I'm using EVF most of the time, and I find it somewhat difficult to precisely focus on the subjects that are far of the camera (for example - person on 3-4 meters, F1.4).


"Of course I wouldn't recommend buying a Leica lens specifically for a GF1. (Would anybody really do that?)"

Mike, there are people doing even crazier things out there. And yes, I am included in the group ;-)

Besides, I tried the CV 28/2 and 35/2.5 Skopar and the 35/1.7 Ultron on a friends EP1, and was not too impressed. Focussing was surprisingly easy (I find the display quite OK), but the IQ especially wide open declined dramatically not only in the corners, but just outside the center. Still, the 35's are much better then the 28. Here is my main problem with this setup: you can only shoot tele with good qualtity, because for normal FLs you have to use already wide to extreme wideangles. This is the caveat of the 2x crop factor. But if one is a tele shooter it can be really fun. And honestly, the M lenses match the EP1 body delicately, much better then the m43 plastic lenses.

Am I the only guy out there thinking about one of these for things that may not be quite as sharp...pinholes and single element lenses, fer instance?

Steve, actually I have tried to do macro with the 35 2.5 Skopar on the EP1 by unmounting the lens and moving it a little further away from the sensor. This really works, and you can also do some perspective control. All to the limit where light enters on the sides of course, but fun nonetheless.

How about Leica R lenses on the GF1? Would those exhibit similar shortcomings?

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