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URL:   <leica.nemeng.com>
Site last updated:  Thu, 14 Jul 2016

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Leica R & M lens mount adapters ?

According to data on the LTF www page, Leica cameras have the following lensmount-to-film distances:

Camera Mount LTF (mm)
Leica R bayonet 47.00 mm
Leica LTM screw 28.80 mm
Leica M bayonet 27.80 mm

Thus from the above, you can mount both the R and LTM series lenses onto a Leica M via an adapter ring and still maintain infinity focus. You cannot go the other way though and mount M lenses onto Rs or LTMs, since the M lens LTF distance is shorter than that provided by the camera body mounts, meaning you would have to mount the lens inside the camera to maintain infinity focus!

( See also <graphics.cornell.edu/…/mounts-by-register.html> for a recent listing of LTF distances per camera manufacturer, sorted into descending order. To keep infinity focus, mount longer LTF lenses onto smaller LTF bodies. ).

Keeping this in mind, the following types of lens mount adapters are commonly available:

Leica LTM onto Leica M

Allow you to mount older (or newer Voigtländer) screw mount lenses onto Leica M camera bodies. These are easy to get from either Novoflex, Cameraquest or Cosina. With a bit of luck you can even buy adapters which bring up the appropriate rangefinder framelines when you use them with a matching lens (for example, use a 50mm LTM-M ring on a 50mm LTM lens to bring up the 50mm frame in the M rangefinder).

Important tip! Always screw the adapter firmly onto the LTM lens before mounting onto your M body. If do it the other way round and try to mount the adapter onto the camera body before screwing on the lens, then you can run into clearance issues with older lenses when their focus-tab infinity-lock collides with the camera's frame select lever.

Leica R onto Leica M

Let you use your Leica SLR lenses on a M rangefinder body. These mounts are made by Novoflex or Cameraquest, although you can also pick up used Leica (#22228) rings on the 2nd hand market. With these adapters there is no focus coupling, so focus will be by lens distance scale only. This means you will only want to use them with wider R optics like the 16mm Fisheye-Elmarit R or 19mm-28mm R Elmarits.

A note about the Cameraquest LR to LM adapter, the circular interior light baffle at the rear of the mount is annodized glossy black - this should be repainted with matt camera-black to reduce internal reflections.

A note about the Leica #22228 R-M rings: they were all made prior to the introduction of 3rd cam lenses, so they do not work with 3rd-cam only R lenses! The reason? Recent R lenses, because they only have the 3rd cam, have a small collar added to the lens mount ring to prevent you from trying to mount them onto older (1st cam) SL and (1 & 2 cam) SL2 R bodies. The presence of this "collar" unfortunately also prevents you from mounting these lenses onto the #22228 adapter ring as well! The only work-around it to machine a flange into the front of the #22228 lens-mount ring (not too hard or expensive to do).

3rd party lens onto Leica M

Similar idea, again with no focus coupling. They are commonly available for Nikon, Olympus, Contax or Canon FD lenses. Again, see either the Novoflex or Cameraquest sites for more info.

3rd party lens onto Leica M with focus coupling

Back in November 2004 Cameraquest used to offer rangefinder focus-coupled SLR lens mount adapters for $US 325.

They were claimed to work with SLR lenses from Nikon, Leica R, Olympus OM or Contax/Yashica (RTS). Focusing required a two-step process: first you focused using your rangefinder and the focus ring on the lensmount adapter, and then transfered the distance value by hand to your SLR lens. Regardless of lens focal length they always brought up the 50mm frameline.

AFAIK this adapter ring is no longer available new, although you may be able to track one down second hand.

Leica M lens onto Leica R body

Yes I know I said earlier that you cannot do this, but you can if you don't want or care about infinity focus! Eg. for close-up work or (very) in-close portraiture.

To work at all, the adpater ring has to keep the rear of the M lens well away from the mirror, and thus move the lens > 20mm further from the film than it typically is. Meaning you can forget about focusing on subjects more than 50cm from the camera.

There are a couple of additional issues here. Firstly, you can only use those M lenses which don't protrude too deeply into the camera body (and thus impede the movement of the SLR lens). Eg. steer away from the 21mm SA or any of the collapsible M lenses.

The second issue is communicating the max aperture value to the camera body lightmeter - some rings do this, others don't. Of course this is not an issue if you meter by hand!

So, which rings to use? The best options are to buy 2nd hand Leica rings designed to use Visoflex II/III lenses on the R. Either get the #14127 F or the #14167 with 3rd null cam. Both rings will work well, although being discontinued you'll have a tough time trying to find anyone who stocks them. Try (ahem) eBay.

In Nov 2003 these adapters were discussed in detail on photo.net at:

<Photo.net: #006ZtQ>

Leica M lens onto 3rd party SLRs

In 2004 Stephen Gandy sold lens mount adapters which allowed M lenses to be mounted onto third party SLR cameras, specifically Nikon F or Canon EOS. The product name was "Leica M Close-up Adapter" and at the time it sold for $US 175.

You could only use them for close-up and macro work, and like other adapter mounts mentioned above, there was no auto aperture or transfer of electronic information between the lens and body.

Unfortunately the adapter appears to be no longer available. For more information, contact Mr Gandy directly at <cameraquest.com/adaptnew.htm>.

Leica R lens onto Nikon camera body

You cannot mount Nikon F lenses onto Leica R cameras or vice-versa without modification as the LTF difference is only 0.5mm — too thin to be able to machine an adapter ring to fit.

So one solution is radical lens or body mount surgery by a camera technician.

Luckily in December 2008 David Llado started to offer a Leica-to-Nikon lensmount conversion kit. It allows you to DIY replace the lensmount ring on most (but not all) Leica R lenses so they can be used on Nikon F bodies. The price for the kit is € 68 Euro — see his Leitax website for more detail and instructions. The good news is that ring-mod. is fully reversible. You also get focus-confirmation and (unlike Canon EOS bodies) the Nikon lightmeter works accurately in stop-down mode at all ƒ-stops. The bad news is that there is no auto-aperture linkage, so like other adapter solutions you have to focus and shoot at working aperture.

In January 2008 Howard Cummer, in response to an online discussion about converting his R lenses to work on a Nikon D700, noted:

> Douglas Herr wrote:
>> David Young wrote:
>> Am I correct, that the Auto Diaphragm works properly?
> No. It's the same as using an R lens with adapter on a Canon EOS body.
 
It is the same with two differences
1. The focus confirmation works without a chipped adapter
2. The exposure is linear in Aperture Preferred - works well

Leica R lens onto 3rd party camera body

Allow you to use your hyper-sharp Leica optics on non-Leica camera bodies! Although you get focus coupling here, you lose auto-aperture and so will always have to focus and compose at the working aperture. The most popular of these mounts is the Leica R to Canon EOS mount adapters made by either Novoflex ($US 200), Cameraquest ($US 175) or Fotodiox ($US 89).

General notes

  1. You will always lose any electronic linkage between the lens and camera body, so forget about shutter priority or autofocus or auto flash TTL aperture control
  2. With the R-EOS adapter, be careful that the rear of the R lens doesn't protrude too deeply into the Canon body, preventing the viewfinder mirror from flipping up. This typically happens with wider optics like the 16mm or 19mm super-wides. (See the detailed discussion elsewhere in this FAQ.)
  3. You need to use a "chipped" adapter if you want focus confirmation. Again see the detailed discussion elsewhere in this FAQ.
  4. See this page by Paul Caldwell for a detailed discussion about mounting Contax lenses onto EOS bodies. A lot of the issues covered there also apply to Leica R lenses!

Novoflex vs. cheaper adapters

I use the Novoflex R->M adapter for my QTVR work. It's very well made - but relatively expensive. So you're probably wondering, are the cheaper Gandy or Fotodiox adapters good enough?

Yet again, see the detailed discussion elsewhere in this FAQ!

R APO extender conversions

Want to use modern R-ROM APO extender(s) with older Leicaflex cameras? No problem! In June 2005 Douglas Herr announced the following mount conversion service for $US75:

Don't you wish you could use your APO-Extender on your Leicaflex SL? For US$75 I'll replace the camera-end flange so you can.
 
Here's what happens: I remove the R-only flange from your APO-Extender and replace it with a gently-used Leicaflex-compatible flange, returning the original parts to you along with your modified extender.
 
With R3 or newer bodies the modified extender works exactly as it did before and it now can be used on any Leicaflex body as well, with stop-down metering on the SL and SL2.
 
Satisfaction guaranteed. Return shipping within North America is included, other continents cost extra. Limited parts supply.

3rd party SLR lens onto Leica R body

Can you mount Nikon or Canon SLR lenses onto Leica R bodies via an adapter ring? Why bother? Mainly because there are many specialist Japanese lenses which are unavailable in any other mount. Can you reuse them on Leica R bodies?

Unfortunately - no. In both cases the LTF distance adjustment is negative, meaning you would have to mount the lens inside the camera body to obtain infinity focus. For Nikon the LTF difference is -0.5mm, for Canon EOS it's -3mm while for Canon FD it is -5mm.

As this is realistically unworkable, the only option is to have a machinist re-engineer your lens' mount to Leica R. Alternatively - and more sensibly - why not just buy a "user" 2nd hand Nikon or Canon body? This would be a much cheaper way to go, no?

3rd party Medium Format lens onto Leica R body

Due to the larger LTF distance used by Medium Format lenses, it is easy to buy adapters which allow you to mount 645 or Hasselblad lenses onto Leica Rs. (For example see those made by Zoerk.) Like all other adapters though, you will of course lose auto-aperture.

Issues - flare & lower resolution

Keep in mind these lenses deliver a much larger image circle than standard 35mm SLR lenses. For example a 6x6 lens will project an image diameter of 85mm, as opposed to only 45mm for 135 film. This can result in a large amount of light-spill bouncing around inside the camera, increasing flare and reducing contrast. Also keep in mind that, generally speaking, Medium Format lenses cannot match the resolution of their smaller format cousins. This shouldn't be surprising, as M-F seldom needs the same degree of enlargement as 35mm.

Fill flash at 1/500th?

Can you use MF lenses to shoot in sunlight with fill flash at any s/speed?… Unfortunately - no. Most MF lenses lack the capacity to have their shutter work when not mounted onto a medium format body. Even if this was posslbe, usage would still be pretty awkward… (Open lens shutter; compose image; close lens shutter; open body shutter on "T"; take shot using lens shutter; close body shutter… Er, what was step #3 again?…).

Medium format Tilt / Shift lensmount adapters

In April 2005 Peter G. Kapper kindly sent me a note about the Mirex tilt / shift lensmount adapters. These exploit the wider image circle of Hasselblad or Mamiya M-F lenses, to give you a limited amount of tilt/shift on 35mm SLR bodies:

<mirex-adapter.de/tilt_shift_adapter.htm>

Lens mount converters FAQ

Still cannot find what you are looking for? Check out the monster Lens Mount Converters FAQ at:

<smu.edu/~rmonagha/bronmounts.html>

Tamron Adapt-All mounts and the Leica R8

There appears to be an incompatability such that although Tamron lenses will work fine with the older R4-R7 cameras, they however don't appear to work with the Leica R8. Although in shutter-priority or program mode it appears to function fine, in manual mode or AE the camera always indicates ƒ22!

In July 2002 a detailed discussion took place about this on the Leica Reflex Forum and the general consensus was summed up beautifully by David Young

Robert said:
 
"I tried the Tamron mount with the R8 and it didn't mate properly with the follower in the camera. Their design is not compatible with the R8 and will even get stuck on the camera. The little follower on the lens mount of the Tamron is a piece of metal bent like a L to get the proper width. On the Leica it is a solid piece the proper width. The L shaped follower on the Tamron mount gets jammed in the mating part in the R8."
 
"I have since given away this Tamron lens."

 
Thanks for your comments, Robert - and to all who responded to this thread.
 
Today I mounted the lens-mount (sans lens) on the R8 and discovered that it's not the L shaped arm that gets jammed, but rather a small spring loaded arm and matching lever in the mount which catch on the camera's feeler. This pushes the feeler all the way over and explains the ƒ22 indication!
 
And you're right, it is easy to see how it could jam. (Obviously the R8's feeler is taller than on previous models, for they all cleared the spring!)
 
Without disassembling the mount, I cannot see any purpose for this spring and lever. If it has no function (unlikely) it can be removed. More likely, it can be modified (that's a twenty-five cent word for 'bent') so that it will still function and clear the R8's feeler.
 
Of course, one could also file down the feeler in the R8's mount, but...
 
I used to do basic camera repair in the late 60's, and I still have my tools. On the weekend - we operate! Report to follow... if it's a success. :) If not, you'll know by the pall of silence emanating from western Canada.

Custom-built mounts

Finally, got a very unusual lens to camera mount problem? Then get a specialist camera technician to make you a one-off mount or even modify your lens or camera!

In the UK, contact: <www.srbfilm.co.uk>

In the USA, contact Ken Ruth at Photography on Bald Mountain, California.

In December 2002, Roger Michel noted that:

S.K. Grimes at <skgrimes.com> will do the conversion on a Nikon F2 for $350, including the Leica R ring.

(Mind you, this option may no longer be available due to the death of Mr Grimes on 16th April 2003 - see <Photo.net: #004wsI>.)

Whatever you do, forget about asking Professional Camera Repair in NYC, as they went out of business in July 2001! They claim it was due to problems with the IRS, but at the time there were complaints about sloppy workmanship or else charging for work never done.

For my personal experiences with PCR, see also this FAQ topic for notes about the conversion to my Nikon F2A so it could mount Leica R Lenses.

A note about possible broken links

This FAQ has over 900 external links. Over time it is inevitable some of them will break. If you are bothered by this, see this detailed topic elsewhere in the FAQ.

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