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Thursday, 11 August 2011


Okay, but why do you equate the M module with adapters? It seems to me that it's designed from scratch to interface with Leica M-mount lenses, and should do so very well; it shouldn't be any sort of kludge.

I have lots and lots of older Leica lenses that I'd love to use, but first among them are 50mm that's not worth crap on a reduced sensor digital camera.
Meanwhile, the grease in the six Leicas that I've accumulated over the last 60+ years is slowly hardening. (Notice that I say accumulated, NOT collected.)

I do understand a dislike for adapters.

But I seem to have missed your point on "designed for one type of camera on another type of camera". At least regarding the "Ricoh GXR A12 M-mount" camera as having been designed to work with M-mount lenses.

I can't really see the difference between the Ricoh and, say, the Zeiss Ikon — regarded as cameras designed for use with M-mount lenses.

Both are cameras. With a M-mount. They're not made by Leica.

One takes film and is a rangefinder. The other's a digital camera with live-view and an upgradable body or sensor part.

Nevertheless I can't seem to regard neither as adapters.


Although the lenses weren't designed for the camera, the camera was designed for the lenses.

You could say the same thing of an M9, since most M-mount lenses predate it.

It'll be interesting to see how this Ricoh module compares to the NEX-7. Truthfully, the NEX cameras are ideal for adapting other lenses, with focus peaking, focus magnification, etc. I prefer using many adapted lenses on this camera more than the camera they were originally made for!

All of this being said, this Ricoh has an actual M mount, so using M lenses on it wouldn't be considered adapting, right?

Is "adapting lenses" a photo-gearhead phase to be passed through?

As a current Pentax DSLR user, it's hard to turn my back on the myriad M42 lenses out there (for cheap) when the adapter for them is well-made by Pentax. Not to mention the plum additions of stabilization and focus-confirmation to offset the flare, metering restrictions, and MF tribulations. I might never know what "swirly boke(h)" really is otherwise...

I have taken a few (emphasis on the word "few") photos with a Mamiya 645 lens on my Canon DSLR using an adapter. Awesomely sharp and detailed images. Sharper than any lens I have for the Canon (I don't own any "L" lenses) and a different, difficult to define quality but...

You are right. It is a kludge. It's interesting but I wouldn't call it fun and most of what I shoot doesn't require the particular qualities that putting the Mamiya lens on my Canon offers. Hence the "few".

I've been fascinated lately with my Canon 35/2.8 Photo Macro lens adapted to a Leitz "Leica R" bellows adapted to my Nikon D700. (The lens is a tiny bugger and seems uncommon because I can't find any material on it.)

"Then one morning I just woke up and I was done with all that."

Well, that made me laugh. I was preparing to read about your careful shimming and other hardcore nerdery.

On another subject, you asked someone to remind you about the follow-up to your article on Wahol's Marilyns. I'm keen to read more.

My own experience with using unnaturally-mated lenses with has also been mostly disappointing. Using my favorite rating system, the Pain/Gain Ratio has often exceeded 1.0.

For example, using Leica M-mount lenses with a MFT Oly Pen E-Px camera has been mostly a fruitless inconvenience. The 2x focal multiplier limits possibilities and manual focusing still remains a bit awkward, even with the E-P3's new MF support features. In the end, as John Camp recently mentioned of his own experience, I get far better results from MFT auto-focus lenses on my Oly E-Px body than from M lenses. Of course one reason, and a big reason, is that the MFT camera can sometimes recognize a MFT lens and make various corrections to its optical shortcomings before writing the image file, something not (yet) possible with unnatural matings.

In the end, the effort generally does not return significant advantages for its many disadvantages, particularly today when so much remedial power lies on nearly everyone's desk.

Having said that, however, I must note currently enjoying one exception. Since May I have often been using M-mount lenses (28mm, 35mm, and 40mm) with a Sony Alpha NEX-5 camera. The results have often been startlingly good particularly in moderate light. The NEX's APS-C sensor is every bit the equivalent of the M8's and M9's, and far superior at higher ISOs. Sony's latest firmware update introduced a manual focus peaking display which greatly bolsters the ability to quickly grab good manual focus, especially with the NEX's gorgeous articulating LCD. Frankly, someone interested in producing very Leica M8/M9-like images on a much lower budget couldn't do better than to use a NEX with M-mount lenses.

Still, the new age of mix an' match photography can be great fun, particularly for folks who have a drawer full of old lenses looking for new missions.


To adapt or not adapt, that is the question!

The answer is (wait for it);

Anything your little cotton pea-pickin' heart desires.

Yep. I bought Leica M and Pentax screw-mount adapters for my Panasonic G2, and was uniformly disappointed. I was really surprised that my prized M lenses just didn't look all that good in digital. I think partly it's because 35mm lenses just cover too much. Any bright object in the lens's field of view, but outside of the frame, lets light rattle around the inside of the camera. Helps if you put a 90mm lens hood on your 35mm lens, but with all the kludge issues you mentioned it's still not worth the effort.

I would guess that most of the Nikon/Canon/Hasselblad adapters get used once or twice and spend the rest of their lives in a drawer.

There is one exception, though. Olympus Pen (half-frame film) lenses are brilliant. The 40mm f1.4 becomes an 80mm f1.4, now my favorite portrait lens. The used-to-be $20 throw-away 38mm may be the sharpest lens I have for the G2 (and yes, I have the 20mm f1.8.) Again, it might be because they're designed for a smaller format. Plus, they're not very big, AND they have a little stop-down button that hugely reduces the kludge factor.

Strictly manual focus, of course. Not sure they'd be much fun on a camera that didn't have a viewfinder.

I love the look of the images my Pentax 50mm F/1.2 produces when adapted on a m4/3 body.

I agree with Mike on the use of the word "adapter" in the sense that the modus operandi differs completely from using the lenses on the type of camera they were intended for. Placing an "adapter" of that kind between your brain and the camera can - indeed - be considered a kludge :-)

I found my way into manual focus lenses as my desire to acquire more focal lengths grew but my willingness to spend did not.

I use a Canon XSI almost exclusively with older Nikkor prime lenses (SC, Pre AI, AI and AIS). It works and yes you have to deal with stop down metering and manual focus. I still prefer it to have a few expensive AF lenses.

One of my favorites is a Super Takumar 50 1.4 8 element version. Dirt cheap and a blast to use - umm, I think you had some glowing words for the lens at one time...

Mike, I think the GXR's chameleon nature confounds the "adapter" issue. Ricoh has created a mount/sensor pairing that is specifically dedicated to M lenses. If the GXR's M Module is to be classified as an adapter, then I'll suggest that the Leica M8 and even the M9 must suffer the same fate.

Put another way, we may legitimately dicker about the quality of execution between Leica digital cameras and Ricoh's M Module, but I think that the "adapter" question falls into a bit of a philosophical morass. Photography has enough of those already!

My next purchase of a digital body will be based on what adapters I can get for it. So....most likely an E-PL2 plus VF-2. As you say, fun is where you find it.

"As you say, fun is where you find it."

Yep definitely.


This stuff on the M module sounds more like Ctein than Mike. Are you sure you're back from holiday?

I use some adapted primes on my 5D MkII, not for the fun of it nor for some guearhead experimentalist thinking. I decided to go this way because I wanted to take good advantage of the 5D MkII 21MP with good glass, didn't really need AF and didn't had money to spend on Canon L lenses.

After some investigation on various websites and forums I've picked a set of lenses that are superior to the medium-grade Canon lenses and with excellent "adaptability" (no focus problems, etc.). The tiny size of some of this MF lenses is a great plus also.

But from what I've read, I think that maybe in pre-liveview times using adapted lenses could be much more fastidious.

Regarding the Ricoh's M module I just can't see it work with a 1.5 crop sensor. IMHO they should have used at least a 1.3 crop sensor so it could appeal to the people who already have a M8 system.

I've done LTM on M, C/Y on EOS, M on MFT, M on NEX, and LTM to MFT direct. Who'd begrudge me the occasional AR to MFT, a cheeky AR to NEX. I got on the 'C to MFT' bandwagon before lens prices went crazy, and had a darn good time. I want to try a G in M. During a period of embarrassing adaptor conventionality I tried M42 to PK, C/Y, NAI, EOS and AD2 to C/Y, NAI. I've got an R in NAI that hasn't seen enough action. Did I mention C/Y to M? And C/Y to M to MFT? And who can forget the NAI to C to MFT debacle - terrible idea.

I hear you. The last "adaptation" I did was using a set of Suntour XC-Pro shifters with some XTR derailleurs. It has worked quite well for the past 10 years.

Cameras and lenses... no thanks.

Mike does that mean you only use Deardorff lenses on a Deardorff camera? :)

While it is true, as some have argued, that the GRX module has a true M mount, it does not take advantage of the single lens-camera interface in the Leica mount: the rangefinder coupling. All of the Leica "copies", of which there are many, use the rangefinder coupling, as do the M8 and M9. In contrast, with micro 4/3 and NEX adapters, as well as the GRX M-module, this key functionality. So, I tend to agree with Mike in thinking of the GRX M-module as more of an "adapter" than a real M camera. I have to say, that I don't see the appeal.

By the way, there is at least one example of a fully functional lens adaptor: the ones that allow Leica thread mount (LTM) lenses to be used on M cameras. These preserve all of the functionality of the older lenses. In fact, I wonder why Ricoh didn't put a LTM on the GRX module, to give experimenters even more options.


The GXR M module is most definitely not in the same class as any adapter that I know. The module itself contains the guts of the camera and should, in theory, be capable of performing as well as an M8. Time will tell if the execution by Ricoh is well done, but based on the IQ produced by the other A12 modules, I see no reason for pessimism.


"Then one morning I just woke up and I was done with all that."

That was your sub-consious mind working while you were sleeping and solving a problem that was bugging you. Works for me too on all sorts of things. Hence the age-old expression about big decisions: "sleep on it".

Your writeup is the first reference to an Exakta 66 I have seen in years.I gather that you never used that lens on anything else. Too bad. It would have been interesting. I owned an Exakta 66 for a while in the '60s. It was great. The negs were razor (no, Microtome) sharp with excellent contrast.But the film advance kept breaking. After 3 expensive repairs, I finally gave up and traded it in on a 4x5 Speed Graphic.
Richard Newman

Hi Mike, I tried using my 50 Leica M lens on my GF1 but I hated it. I prefer using the 20/1.7 on my GF1 for snapshots. However, I have been enjoying shooting my Leica R lenses on my Nikons. I am having so much fun using the 50/2, 90/2.8, 180/3.4 and now I'm in the process of converting my 100/2.8.

I almost fully agree with your point from practical experience. I have adapters for Leica R lenses to Hasselblad XPan, Canon EOS and to 4/3; Hasselblad to Leica R, OM to 4/3; M to m4/3; 4/3 to m4/3 (now that one is okay, but still a bit of a kludge). I have probably forgotten a couple. I tried them all but the only one I sometimes still use is the 4/3 to m4/3. But I also fully agree with the points made above that the GXR M is not an adaptor, it is a camera body system designed from scratch to use M lenses. Basically just like M7 and M9. If you have some M lenses and want to move to digital, you basically have 4 choices: used M8, a somewhat flawed crop-sensor camera at great expense and questionable future value; M9, clearly the best choice if money is no object, but for most of us it often is; GXR M module; or a lens adapter with compact digital camera from Olympus, Panasonic or Sony. Among the last two reasonably priced alternatives, I am pretty sure that the GXR will be the better choice, and at least a very serious alternative.

Yep, that was one of the problems I had--specifically frame overlap. Then there was the infamous film buckling problem, and one of my cameras arrived new from the factory with the screen installed upside-down. Which took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out.

I still miss that lens, though.


"But I also fully agree with the points made above that the GXR M is not an adaptor, it is a camera body system designed from scratch to use M lenses."

Well, I can't really agree with that. The camera wasn't designed specifically for M lenses. Hopefully the module will work well, and people who buy it will be happy with it. I'd be willing to bet it won't be as easy to focus as an M9, though, to name just one thing.


I had a Pentacon, which was a close cousin of your Exakta, I think. I bought it in Prague w/ 50, 80, 120 and 180mm lenses for the equivalent of ~$300 in 2001. I got some good pics with the kit (I waited until returning home to try using it and had it serviced first). I was always careful to not let the wind lever snap back, as I had read that was the cause of damage to the fragile film transport mechanism. I bring this all up because I had also briefly dallied with adapting. I had purchased a Zoerkendorfer panoramic adapter (I think thats the name) to allow using the Pentacon 6x6cm lenses on my Contax Aria. Let me tell you, a 180mm Sonnar on a tiny camera like the Aria is weird. Only thing weirder was the old Vivitar Series One 800mm Cat. That thing dwarfed my Contax AX!

One place I think adapters do make real sense is for format shifting to get shifts like that Zoerk I had. Because it mounted a lens for 6x6 onto 35mm, I could get something like 30mm of rise. And though I don't really know much about proper PC lenses, as I understand it, one typically loses auto diaphragm anyway. It is a cheap way to get some PC capability.

But I'm with Mike, as far as using adapters for my own use. But I'll put it a different way. I'm too lazy to deal with the hassle!

I got rid of the Pentacon years ago, but one ergonomic feature I really liked was how the shutter button rose out of the front face of the body at about a 30 degree angle. It seemed to fit the angle of my finger better than vertical on the top plate like every other camera I've ever used.


I have a question: is the EVF for the GXR good?
If yes, focusing with the M module could even be better than with the ever problematic rangefinder. You could enlarge the picture for fine tuning and you would have depth of field preview (or lets better say shallow depth of field preview), something that does not exist in rangefinders.
The EVF of my Sony A 55 is good. The camera has a depth of field preview button. I use it rarely, but when I do, I get a depth of field preview without the darkening of optical single reflex finders, a quite remarkable advantage.

Okay. But what is that Ricoh branded 28 mm M-mount lens that I see on the module?


A manual focus lens on any EVIL is limited to hyperfocal.........since critical focusing is virtually impossible even with an electronic "focusing loupe." I can just about manage, but having said that, a day's worth of shooting manual with a GF1 results in an ample dose of aspirin (or one of its derivatives) having to be applied to my system. Yes, it well and truly gives me splitting headaches.

Greetings, Ed

"I even know a few photographers who have done serious work with such pairings."

Really? Thats what I am wondering about adaperts all the time.

Could you post some links? Thank you

I'm waiting for some sample images. Leica went to great lengths to design the M8 & current M9 sensor to accomodate the special characteristics of the M lens series. I'm curious if Ricoh did the same?

Slight variation on the adapter theme was Tamron's Adaptall system, where you added the appropriate mount to adapt their lenses to suit your (35mm) camera. Still have a couple of their lenses that I bought in the early '80s, along with k-bayonet adapters for my... er, Ricoh.
(More information - http://www.adaptall-2.org/ )

I'm with many of the others: this isn't an adapter, it's a new Leica camera (made by Ricoh). The question then becomes whether old manual focus lenses with aperture rings are still a valid way to shoot. To a lesser degree the question is whether the Leica mount lenses really are so much better that they justify stepping away from the automation of modern cameras.

I think we have the answer to both questions in the mini-popularity of the X100 and M9.

I'm personally quite fond of using adapted lenses, frankly my one real issue with the Sony/Minolta system I settled on as a primary system is that mount replacements are required for using non-M42 lenses on A mount.

Of course I don't mind stop-down metering and a lack of EXIF (I'm mostly a film shooter so the last part doesn't matter), I prefer manual focus and generally dislike zooms. That makes adaptation ideal for me. If only I got along better with Canons which are ideal for adaptation.

As to the M Module, it's not adaptation in the least. It's a lens & sensor package specifically designed for M lenses. The fact that the grip module isn't is irrelevant to me as I consider the mount/shutter/sensor package to be the camera, not the grip/display package.

Ricoh's MOUNT A12 is more than an adapter; it's a lens mount, sensor, and focal plane shutter. (http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/press/release/nr_gxr_unit6.html)

In fact, I wonder why Ricoh didn't put a LTM on the GRX module, to give experimenters even more options.

Actually, that would give LESS options: Now an LTM lens can be adapted to M mount, and be used. M mount lenses can't be adapted to LTM.

"...but one ergonomic feature I really liked was how the shutter button rose out of the front face of the body at about a 30 degree angle. It seemed to fit the angle of my finger better than vertical on the top plate like every other camera I've ever used."

The late Burt Keppler of "Modern Photography" and then "Popular Photography" also loved that feature--in one of his columns he specified his "perfect camera" gleaned for decades of using and testing various cameras, and it had a front-mounted shutter release.


That's cute. Going by memory, I think Ricoh made a few one-off M-mount lenses a number of years ago. They must have dusted one off for the pics of the new module? Just guessing.


"this isn't an adapter, it's a new Leica camera (made by Ricoh)."

I just don't agree. Of course it's more than "just" an adapter, in a very interesting way, but it's hardly a through-designed, from-the-ground-up system. Accommodating the lenses has to be worked around, and I doubt the operability will be as convenient as an integrally-designed camera. But we really should have this discussion after the module is in users' or testers' hands and we have firsthand reports of actual operability.


The big bird is a vulture, not a hawk. (Birders lesson for today: vultures soar and fly with their wings in a "V," where eagles and hawks keep their wings level or down.)

Won't try to add much more to what was said so above just want to say that using my NEX-3 with adapters to allow use of my wonderful sets of M42, Contax/Yashica Zeiss, Nikkor and Contax G lenses has been great fun and also resulted in some wonderful images.

I occasionally use adapted lenses for still photography, but generally agree with you that it's not a great choice.

But - and it's a big "but" - where I find it really makes sense is when using a digital camera for video. When you're shooting video you don't use autofocus anyway, and most modern DSLR and MFT lenses are (1) too slow, and (2) too "clinical" to give the look we've been trained to expect by 35mm movie film. So when I'm shooting video on my Panasonic I use exclusively adapted lenses - a "modern" Cosina Voigtlander and a bunch of older PEN and Leica lenses.

Bill Mitchell: The V of a Black Vulture in flight ranges from shallow to nearly horizontal. Turkey vultures roll in flight and their wings have a distinct V shape.

"In fact, I wonder why Ricoh didn't put a LTM on the GRX module, to give experimenters even more options.

Actually, that would give LESS options: Now an LTM lens can be adapted to M mount, and be used. M mount lenses can't be adapted to LTM."

Oops! You are, of course, absolutely right.

You really piqued my curiosity with this post, Mike. What was the lens you were trying to adapt, pray tell? 180 2.8 (of zeiss jena fame)comes to my mind as the only one really unique for this system - any medium format system to be precise...

The Miranda Sensorex had a front-mounted shutter release button, which I found not a problem for horizontals and a significant improvement for verticals -- I could keep both arms tight to my body while holding vertical and still get a finger on the release. That was my first SLR, in 1969. I have to describe it as "a mistake"; it wasn't bad, it didn't really hurt me, but I replaced it within four years. Would have been better off with a Nikon or Pentax at that point in time I think. That was my first experience learning that Consumer Reports (a very good consumer testing organization) was in fact testing for ordinary consumers, not enthusiasts.

I had a few fairly close escapes from the Exacta 66 and several of the other cheap medium-format SLR systems. But in the 70s and 80s, even those were expensive enough that I didn't fall. Just as well, sounds like.

Like many others I've shamefully experimented with adapters. Getting less than ideal results but gaining experience of lenses I can't yet afford.

However I have ended up with what I call my "magic" lens. The adapter contains a lens element to allow it to focus more than a few feet away. With the lens element the lens takes fantastic shots, very clean, very sharp, creamy soft bokeh.

With the lens element in the adapter it transforms the lens. It is still super sharp but now the colours are saturated with a strong soft focus bloom over everything mid-lit or stronger. Sort of an orton effect but straight out of the camera in raw.

Such an unexpected result from a cheap f1.4, not what I was expecting when I got the adapter but now it's a tool in my kit when I want to get artistic!

Mike, I'd like to bring to your attention that in some cases there is no any other way but adapter way. E.g. tilt and Pentax. Pentax doesn't offer native tilt lens, only shift one, and that one is rather old too. Obviously this is a specialty but adapter nonetheless.

I just bought CSJ Flektogon 50/4 and Ukrainian Pentacon 6 to Pentax K tilt adapter. Specifically in my case I expect to learn a thing or two about photography by using this combo on my K-5.


"...But we really should have this discussion after the module is in users' or testers' hands and we have firsthand reports of actual operability."

Glad to see you agree with the comment I made in my deleted post that didn't make it into the thread.

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