Leica M mount lenses on the X1D

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f1.4, medium format, comparable size and weight to ‘pro’ M4/3. What’s not to like, other than the price?

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been shooting with the rather unorthodox combination seen above. I’ve found it answers two questions/ solves two problems for me: firstly, the desire for something that operates in the way you want (i.e. transparently) and that makes you want to shoot with it; and secondly, the small/light question. (There’s also a whole separate discussion on the concept of practical equivalence and envelope that I’ll discuss at some later point). But the journey getting here wasn’t quite so straightforward, unfortunately, and this combination is not a Swiss Army knife – it’s got some pretty big limitations. But when it delivers, I find that it delivers something quite special by the truckload.

Additional X1D coverage is here: long term review; assessment with Nikon F mount lenses; field use in Iceland.

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The perils of lots of ideas, but not quite enough sleep

I couldn’t sleep last night (again) but as compensation I did wake up with an idea.

Put your favorite lens on your favorite camera.

Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

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Not this, but close. I have thought of this before, but it only works for macro, and not that well.

So I dug out the adaptor rings, to make another sacrilegious unholy matrimony between systems.

This guy (Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon):
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Plus this guy (the M9-P. A lens-lens thing goes beyond wrong and into completely impractical territory.):
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Yee har!

Except, there’s no RF coupling or live view.

Oops. *slaps forehead*

The very limited testing I did do (you didn’t think I’d just mount it and not try to take a picture, did you?) showed the combination definitely has promise. And f2 still requires some finesse to focus accurately on full frame, especially high resolution full frame. But there were no odd artifacts, and the lens is definitely capable of resolving more than the sensor. Curiously, I think it might even perform slightly better on the M9-P’s offset microlens-and-non-telecentric-wideangle-corner-optimized sensor than the D700’s uniform one. Too bad we’ll have to wait until Leica eventually brings live view functionality to an M body to find out.

In the meantime, I’m going to find out if Miyazaki-san of MS Optical (makers of those lens-cap triplet designs and noted lens surgeon) can make an RF-coupling, though I suspect it may be tough because the focusing ring rotates the wrong way, and the focus throw is much shorter than normal Leica M RF lenses. MT