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Leica R lens adapter


Raven 930

This may well have been covered here before, but I can't find an answer....
I'm fortunate to have a very good selection of Leica R lenses, and an R5 and R6.2 to go with them. However, I always found the R8 and R9 rather bulky, plus the DMR was very expensive, so my pricey glass has been underused.
I want to buy a Digital camera body that I can use these lenses on, with a good adapter.
I'd thought I was going to be getting a Canon or Nikon body, but then came acoss the Panasonic G1..... is this what I should be purchasing to use as my digital back? And if so, which adapter do I use, and which functions do I lose / retain?
I look forward to your words of wisdom!


Well-known member
Leica R lenses work beautifully on Micro-FourThirds bodies, like all adapted manual lenses. I particularly like to use them with those mFT bodies that have the high resolution EVF (Panasonic G1/G2/GH1 with built in EVF and Olympus Pen E-P2/E-PL1 with the optional EVF).

Adapters are easily available. Panasonic sells one themself, but you can just go to Ebay, search for "Leica R to G1" and see a range of products available from $20 to $100. Most anything in the $30 and up range is probably indistinguishable in quality. Cheap ones are, well, cheap.

Regards what you "lose/retain", it's like using any adapted manual lens:

- manual focus and manual aperture control only, the body doesn't know there's even a lens fitted. This means you have metered manual and aperture priority exposure modes available, none of the others work well because they presume control of the lens aperture. All metering patterns are available. Focus, set aperture, set exposure, frame and shoot. I often forget the lens was designed for something else.

- none of the camera functions dependent upon the AF system work ... like face detection or face recognition, focus tracking, etc.

- focusing with the EVF or LCD is very good because of the manual focus assist magnification feature. You have to enable this manually, however: it can't switch on automatically when you touch the focusing ring like it does with Micro-FourThirds or FourThirds SLR lenses in MF mode. (Again, the camera doesn't know that you have a lens attached..)

- Remember that FourThirds format is significantly smaller than 35mm film format (13x17.3 mm vs 24x36 mm). This means that field of view is substantially reduced when you compare what is imaged with a specific focal length to what you see through the viewfinder of your Leica R SLR. The difference is referred to as my the misnomer "crop factor" ... a 50mm lens fitted to a FourThirds format camera provides the field of view of a 100mm lens fitted to a 35mm Film format camera, so the "crop-factor" is considered to be 2x.

I like to think of it more simply: where a 50mm lens is considered to be a normal lens for 35mm Film format, the equivalent field of view on FourThirds is provided by a 25mm lens. So for any field of view you want, you need a lens with half the focal length.

This means that your Leica R lens collection, if it went from ultrawide (20mm) to tele (200mm) is going to go from a wide normal to a very long tele on Micro-FourThirds cameras. Ultra-wide to wide field of view requires very short focal lengths not generally found for 35mm Film cameras (the two choices in Micro-FourThirds mount lenses at present are the Panasonic 7-14 and Olympus 9-18).

That's about the size of it. IMO, Micro-FourThirds bodies with their electronic imaging system are the best bodies made yet for adapting lenses to. Of my Micro-FourThirds specific lens kit with five lenses in it, only one of them is actually a Micro-FourThirds mount lens ...

Cosmicar 12.5mm f/1.4 TV (C-mount - covers central square of the format)
Panasonic 20mm f/1.7
Konica 40mm f/1.8
Olympus Pen F 70mm f/2
Pentax 135mm f/3.5


Active member
Leica R lenses can work on many digitals -- Pentax, Sony, Nikon, and Canon, not to mention the micro 4/3s (Olympus and Panasonic) 4/3 (Olympus) as well as the new Sony NEX.

The trick in getting them to work on DLSRs is focus. Modern digital SLRs are set up for autofocus, and their focusing screens are generally not contrasty enough and don't include split image, microprisms, or other features like on your film SLRs. The lenses I've adapted have required focusing screen replacement for accuracy. Going this route can result in no crop factor if you choose a full-frame digital (Canon 5D, 5D II, Nikon D700, Sony A900 to name a few.)

If you go with the micro 4/3 or Sony NEX, you'll have a 2x or 1.5x crop factor, but you won't have any focusing screen issues because focus is done directly off the sensor.

Here is the leading vendor of adapters:

Leica 77

New member
Leica R lenses that I own work beautifully on my m4/3 and regular Four Thirds bodies through the use of appropriate adapters. Here is an example that I previously posted in another thread:

G1 + Leica R Elmarit 19mm. :)

New member
I bought the pricey Novoflex adapter, which works excellently. I have no experience with other brands, but I just figured I could always recoup much of the Novoflex cost.

What to consider when chosing a camera body for the lenses... Design and control layout aside, if at all concerned with camera shake, IBIS and a good EVF should be interesting. Then there are differences in the implementation of AA filter. Scroll down for a side-by-side shootout between EP2 and GF1, both fitted with the Panny 20/1.7. To me, the results from the apparently weaker AA of GF1 makes a difference. You will notice that with the Panny lens, EP2 does not auto-correct CA.


Raven 930

Gentlemen... thank you. What a brilliant set of responses within 24 hours. Still open to other opinions.