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Thread: DSLR solution for R lenses

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    DSLR solution for R lenses

    Versions of this question appear from time to time, and I have read those threads from time to time. I'm interested in seeing the range of current opinion.

    What is the best full-frame DSLR setup that will enable me to use my R lenses--consisting of modern primes including the 19mm Elmarit v.2--effectively? My top priority is to be able to nail focus at wide apertures and in low light (i.e., as close as possible to what I can do with an R8).

    I do not rule out Leitax, third-party screens, lens or camera surgery (not favored), or waiting for cameras expected out later in the year.

    Thanks.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Sony A900. Big, bright 100% viewfinder ... Excellent 24 meg, FF sensor, and file quality out of the camera is superb. Unlike any other DSLR, very lens you put on it is stabilized in the camera!

    Or wait for the rumored A99 which is sure to increase manual focus abilities over the A900.

    Marc

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Unlike any other except for the A850.

    Marc are you able to focus spot-on with the standard focusing screen?

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Sony A900. Big, bright 100% viewfinder ... Excellent 24 meg, FF sensor, and file quality out of the camera is superb. Unlike any other DSLR, very lens you put on it is stabilized in the camera!

    Or wait for the rumored A99 which is sure to increase manual focus abilities over the A900.

    Marc
    Another advantage of the A900 and A850 is no mirror clearance problems. The 19mm Elmarit-R version 2 has problems with C and N full-frame bodies.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    D800E?

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Sony a900: 100% VF + Type M (super spherical acute matte) focusing screen.

    Unless someone figures out how to install a similar focusing screen on the D800E.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    If you need a camera now, Sony A900. If you can wait, D800e or A99. The D800e will have an optical viewfinder, the A99 will likely have an electronic viewfinder with focus peaking. If spot on focus is your priority, the A99 is probably the way you want to go.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    maybe you are lucky and there will be a mirrorless Leica camera with ff? sensor one day. I believe chances are not too bad.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Erm
    Well, I know you want full frame, and I guess there will be a Sony A99 along in the near future.
    However, in the meantime, if you can deal with APSc, then a Sony A77 does really well, the advantage is the focus peaking in the EVF, which makes stopped down focusing really successful and natural.

    So - that's what I'm doing, using the A77 until either a Leica full frame solution or a Sony full frame solution comes along. I think there'll be something this year from Sony. Tom seems to think there'll be something from Leica.

    all the best

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Here I come and believe that the difference in optical quality has changed a lot over the years.
    If you buy top quality lenses from Nikon or Canon there is only a small gap (if any) compared to Leica R lenses.
    Take a Canon 50/1.2, or Zeiss 24-70, or Canon 135/2.0, or Nikon 200/2.0 or Nikon 14-24, Canon 300/2.8 (I choose those examples because I have used all of them) so personally I would go this way-plus a fast AF and IS are nice to haves as well and expand the area where you can use such lenses.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    Here I come and believe that the difference in optical quality has changed a lot over the years.
    If you buy top quality lenses from Nikon or Canon there is only a small gap (if any) compared to Leica R lenses.
    Take a Canon 50/1.2, or Zeiss 24-70, or Canon 135/2.0, or Nikon 200/2.0 or Nikon 14-24, Canon 300/2.8 (I choose those examples because I have used all of them) so personally I would go this way-plus a fast AF and IS are nice to haves as well and expand the area where you can use such lenses.
    Different character and feel to the R line of glass. The 35, 50 and 80 Luxes are unique in how they render. Still haven't seen anything to match the R180/2.8 APO ... or the 100/2.8 Macro ... at least not in 35mm lenses.

    Me personally? I'm done with manual focus lenses of any flavor (except M).

    But that isn't what the OP ask for ... I think he already has the R lenses.

    -Marc

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Thanks for these interesting responses. I had not considered the A77 as a possible "bridge" option, nor had I considered an EVF camera. I've been wary of EVF but can see the advantages once the technology is sufficiently advanced. Jono, have you been happy with the A77's EVF? Are there bothersome lag issues of any kind?

    I have considered moving out of Leica R into a DSLR system and native lenses. But it seems worth some marginal inconvenience to continue using the great R lenses I have, or some of them, on a DSLR platform. Another thing I'm thinking about is pairing a DSLR with a native mid-range zoom, such as the 24-70 Sony/Zeiss, and converting my 19, 80 and 180.

    Matt

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    I have an a900 that I use periodically with an R 50/1.4 (leitax adapter and Lao chip). The screen is the standard screen that ships with the camera.

    It is a very nice combination but it takes a bit of getting used to. The focus confirmation is more accurate if I focus the lens from one direction than if I focus from the other direction, is just one example of the quirks I am finding as I use the combination more. Yet, I am still thinking of getting more R lenses for the camera.

    Absolute pin point focusing is irrelevant for most of my work (I am an attorney who takes pictures of women placing their babies for adoption and adoptive parents seeing their new babies for the first time) so now that I am over the frustrating learning curve of the camera - lens combo, I am very happy. By the way, I also shoot my son playing soccer and my other son swimming with this camera - lens combo. While not ideal, some of the images (cropped) I am thrilled with. Then again I will shoot my kids playing sports with a Leica M and ancient 90/2.8 because that is what I have to shoot with.

    By the way, I have the 135/1.8 Sony/Zeiss, which I find to be an incredible lens.

    Marc, which R lens do you like better, the 80 lux or the 100/2.8 macro?

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Runkel View Post
    Thanks for these interesting responses. I had not considered the A77 as a possible "bridge" option, nor had I considered an EVF camera. I've been wary of EVF but can see the advantages once the technology is sufficiently advanced. Jono, have you been happy with the A77's EVF? Are there bothersome lag issues of any kind?
    Well, the modern Sony EVF is a fine and splendid thing - of course, it's not as 'nice' as the optical finder in the A900, but it's much much much easier to focus manual focus lenses with focus peaking (even in very low light).
    There isn't any bothersome lag - and when you've got used to it it's great to be able to see the white balance and exposure. To be honest, one often simply forgets that it's an eve - it's that good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Runkel View Post
    I have considered moving out of Leica R into a DSLR system and native lenses. But it seems worth some marginal inconvenience to continue using the great R lenses I have, or some of them, on a DSLR platform. Another thing I'm thinking about is pairing a DSLR with a native mid-range zoom, such as the 24-70 Sony/Zeiss, and converting my 19, 80 and 180.

    Matt
    I've just started buying the R lenses - and as you say, they're fantastic (I want your 19mm!).

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Canon 5D3 is now available for pre-order.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    I've just started buying the R lenses - and as you say, they're fantastic (I want your 19mm!).
    No silly, if you are shooting with an A77 you want my 15mm.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Runkel View Post
    ... I'm thinking about is pairing a DSLR with a native mid-range zoom, such as the 24-70 Sony/Zeiss, and converting my 19, 80 and 180.

    Matt
    I have the A900 with the matt screen and these four lenses you mentioned plus the R 80-200 f4. The 19V2, 80, and the zoom are Leitax converted and the 180 I use with my 2x converter with Leitax.

    Other than the 19, critical focus is still an issue (at least for my aging eyes). Especially with the 80. Low light adds to the chances of misses. So I am on the fence re A77 or wait for A99. Leaning towards A77 if I keep the A900, but perhaps should wait for the A99 and sell the A900 since I use M9 most of the time for FF. Tough call...

    Alan

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    This is not meant as a soapbox or thread hijack, but I know it is both.

    Here is my logic: To get the most out of a manual focus/stop down lens on a high megapixel camera you need to work slowly (slowly relative to AF at 10 fps), and probably either tripod or monopod mounted. If you are working that way, you might as well shoot with a larger format. People look at the cost of MFD and freak out, but you can get into a low end system for about the same price as a 35 mm system.

    When I shot Nikon I needed something faster so I moved to Canon. When I had Canon I needed better lenses so I went to Leica. The Leica had all the disadvantages of medium format digital and few of the advantages and I needed reliability, so I moved my Leica glass to Sony. Now at the old age of 35 (you can all laugh now) my eyes aren't good enough to nail focus as accurately or as quickly as I need (though oddly more reliably than my partner's 5DII). When I have to get it right, I focus bracket. It's 2012, that shouldn't be necessary.

    I'm at the point where I am selling my Leica glass and will move to a single DSLR body and a couple AF zooms and replace my current Leica/Sony setup with medium format digital and a couple lenses. At least that is the plan today. I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow.

    Photographically, I was happiest when I had a Nikon FM to carry with me, a Canon when speed mattered and medium format when it didn't. For the past several years I have been trying to make a DSLR with good glass do the work of three systems and have been perpetually frustrated.

    Leica made wonderful lenses, but I'm not totally convinced that -- at least for me -- they are worth the effort.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Bill,

    I'm interested in where you are thinking the imaging chain breaks down when using these manual lenses in stop-down mode on a high megapixel camera. My thought is that it should be possible for such a setup to deliver results in line with what I achieve handheld with an R8 shooting within a few stops of wide open. I give up resolution with either the R8 or DSLR hand-held, and have larger cameras for tripod work. I have always used manual-focus lenses and don't view them as demanding a tripod.

    I have been using what I consider a kluge setup to shoot full-frame digital with my R lenses, an original Canon 5D that a prior owner had fitted with a Contax RTS screen, and a mount adapter with focus confirmation chip. The results are not bad, but this is not a reliable setup for nailing focus in demanding conditions. My assumption has been that there are too many potential ways to go wrong with a setup like this, but that a different solution could bring me closer to what it is like using the lenses with a body designed for them.

    I am an M shooter as well and there are good arguments for the M9, but I'm not quite there yet.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Matthew, what are the demanding conditions under which you shoot or intending to shoot?

    Some of the possible issues that I and others have run into when adapting an R lens to a ff camera, at least a Sony a900 are: focusing is more accurate when focusing from one direction as opposed to the other; the adapter is machined poorly; the Lao chip malfunctions or isn't installed properly; etc. My 50 year old eyes could really use a decent 1.5 x so I could see if I am focusing the camera properly when I shoot on manual. The 2+x sony that I have is pretty useless because I can't see the full frame.

    I have never been a crazy fast shooter even when I use the a900 on automatic with the 135/1.8. Yes, I shoot more than I would with medium format film and 35 mm film but not substantially more.

    By the way, I am an M shooter and have been for 11 years. Love the system but can't afford an M9. Not sure I would buy one if I could.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    This is not meant as a soapbox or thread hijack, but I know it is both.

    Here is my logic: To get the most out of a manual focus/stop down lens on a high megapixel camera you need to work slowly (slowly relative to AF at 10 fps), and probably either tripod or monopod mounted. If you are working that way, you might as well shoot with a larger format. People look at the cost of MFD and freak out, but you can get into a low end system for about the same price as a 35 mm system.
    HI Bill
    Of course - this is why so many people have given up on using Leica R glass on other SLR cameras - stop down focusing/metering is a real PIB.

    However - with an EVF and focus peaking, you simply shoot at the aperture you want - the EVF gains up quite well enough for any aperture/light combination which is of any use. The focus peaking means that you can focus perfectly straightforwardly, even in rather poor light.

    I had a lot of fun shooting the 28-90 on the NEX7 - no obvious constraints, and it was just as effective as shooting any lens in MF mode.

    You may not like EVF (not terribly keen myself) but the combination of focus peaking plus visible exposure and white balance makes it thoroughly useful, and, as I say, shooting R lenses on the A77 is no different from shooting the Ziess 135 f1.8 in MF mode.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    I also have gone through many options on Canon 1DsM3 camera - I tried different focusing screens, even a screw on diopter. I still had problems with critical focus, and only live view saved my tush many times.

    So I would say LiveView based camera would be better than just optical viewfinder that you can not magnify.

    Best of luck!

    P.S. It is easier to focus longer lenses than super wides - I have 19mm and 21-35, and both are a bear to focus through the viewfinder. Live View gets focused though. So I would shoot using zone focus on the street, and landscapes would get LV treatment.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Runkel View Post
    Bill,

    I'm interested in where you are thinking the imaging chain breaks down when using these manual lenses in stop-down mode on a high megapixel camera.
    Matthew, I'm no expert, but I think that everything Mikal and Jono said are spot on. For me the imaging breaks down on three places:
    1. Focusing screen and camera. None of the screens that I am aware of really snap in and out of focus. I'm still not sure that my screen is really aligned perfectly and there isn't quite enough magnification. With the R8 I had an aftermarket screen as well as a magnifier.

    2. Higher resolution cameras are very unforgiving of sloppy technique or lens imperfections. Slightly missed focus results in a totally unusable image.

    3. Not all lenses are easy to focus because the focus throw is not linear. For example on the 180/2.8 I have a hard time focusing precisely between about 75-100 feet. Also as you stop down the lens it becomes much harder to tell the difference between in focus and almost in focus.

    Note that everyone's eyes are different and a problem for me may not be a problem for you.

    Jono, I am trying to wait patiently for the A99, but I'm hearing rumors that it may be another year out, and while I've heard great things about the A77, I'm not sure it will quite be what I need.

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    Re: DSLR solution for R lenses

    Mikal,

    I am thinking of indoor lighting at night generally and small, poorly-lit music venues. Fast lenses from 35mm to 90mm shot at f/1.4 or f/2.0. Subject distances in the range of 6 to 20 feet.

    I think of this kind of shooting as the M's bread and butter, but I can do it very reliably with an R8 too.

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