Using Manual Focus Lenses on the Leica T

Feb 8, 2016  By Jonathan Slack
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For several years I have been trying out legacy lenses on a variety of cameras. It’s great to be able to reinstate some of the lovely older lenses. I also have an unhealthy collection of M lenses, and although they mostly get used on my M cameras, it’s good to use them on other cameras as well.

I’ve tried using M lenses on the Sony A7 (quite good) A7r (not so good) Fuji X-T1, Olympus E-M1 and various other cameras. Some cameras produce colour casts with wider angle lenses, especially full frame cameras. None of them include the lens information in the EXIF, which is not quite a show stopper, but is irritating. In the end I had mostly given up on it – too many compromises, and most of the cameras worked better with their native lenses. An interesting experiment, but not that interesting!

When the Leica T came along last autumn and the Leica M-Adapter-T and EVF appeared around Christmas time, I was expecting to be enthused for a short while, and then rapidly run out of enthusiasm. Not so fast!

The first wonder was that the Leica M-Adapter-T saves the EXIF data relating to the lens if it is 6-bit coded. This is great – I like to know what I’ve been shooting with. I’m much too lazy to make a note of it, and not nearly clever enough to work it out from the image. Of course, this does not work if you stack adapters.

Above: Bracken in the morning dew.

Above: Bracken in the morning dew.

FOCUS ASSISTANCE

Very soon after the introduction of mirrorless cameras with electronic viewfinders (EVF), various electronic focus helpers were introduced.

ZOOM TO FOCUS

(The T has this.) Initially this seems like a great idea: point somewhere, zoom in, check the focus, zoom out take picture. This is fine on a tripod, not so useful otherwise, as either you will have moved, or your subject will have, or both. Added to which any idea of the composition of an image you might have has completely gone. With most cameras you can choose where to zoom in. With the Leica T you can only zoom in to the centre spot, making it even more problematic (especially with lenses with a curved focus plane, in which case focus and recompose doesn’t work either).

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