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Leica R on Nikon F, share your experience
Old 08-13-2015   #1
bayernfan
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Leica R on Nikon F, share your experience

I understand that the Leica R mount has a slightly longer lens registration than Nikon F (0.5 mm), permitting infinity focus on a Nikon body. However, due to very close registration figures, the Leica R rear mount has to be removed and replaced with an adapted rear mount.

I also understand that there are relatively few options in terms of adapting. The fairly expensive Leitax adapters and the more economically priced fotodiox pro adapters.

My real question is: does anyone have first-hand experience with this setup (Leica R lens on Nikon body)? I've got two Nikon film bodies (F4 and FE2) that I thoroughly enjoy using, but I much prefer the Leica lens rendering to Nikon. Thoughts, suggestions, advice... all appreciated.
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Old 08-14-2015   #2
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My son purloined my 560 Telyt and replaced the Leitz flange with a Nikon fit one he had bought from somewhere, seemed easy to do, just a few screws and was entirely effective but remember that this is a completely manual lens, no aperture link etc.

Didn't get the lens back for months but when I did, turning it back to R was no problem.
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Old 08-14-2015   #3
jarski
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used this as my everyday camera back in 2009:



on Nikon FE, R-lens is bit more front heavy than same specced Nikkors, but I liked the results. Leitax conversion was relatively easy to make, and didn't think the adapter very expensive. eventually I preferred Nikkors so camera body can control the aperture, unlike with adapted lenses.
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Old 08-14-2015   #4
Rayt
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I had a D700 and converted a few R lenses with Leitax adapters. Most R lenses will clear the mirror. The Leitax site has a list. The conversion is easy to do. I sold the Nikon and reconverted the lenses back to R mount with no hassle at all. I still have the Leitax somewhere. I shoot film and have been itching to reconvert a few lenses to use with an F6.
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Old 08-14-2015   #5
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In general, I prefer to use Nikon lenses on Nikon cameras to get the benefit of auto-diaphragm and meter coupling.

I bought the Leitax kit to adapt my Elmar-R 180mm f/4, because it's such a nice light lens with such beautiful rendering qualities. However, shortly afterwards I saw an excellent deal on a Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AF-D ED-IF and decided to give it a try .. It's lighter than I thought it might be (previous experience was with the Nikkor 180/2.8 ED AI-S), and proves a superb performer. So I've put the Leitax conversion on the back burner ...

Maybe, if the same Leitax mounting flange fits, I'll convert my 1964 Summicron-R 50mm f/2 instead. It's a lovely old lens and is only single cam so it doesn't meter couple even with my Leicaflex SL or Leica R8. The other possible is to convert the Summicron-R 90mm f/2 but I like the Nikkor-H 85mm f/1.8 it's hard to imagine why I'd do so to end up with a fully manual lens.

G
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Old 08-14-2015   #6
mfogiel
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I am doing precisely this - putting Leitax adapters on Leica R Mandler lenses, as after much back and forth testing, I have decised I like the Mandler glass best. There are two things to consider:
- with ordinary (leitax or not) adapters, you lose the auto aperture, but Leitax makes now a "preset" adapter, that with a bit of practice lets you focus wide open, and closes the aperture to the selected stop just before the shot. This let's you use the lens across all apertures without losing the framing
- you should test modified lenses against the body you want to use them on, in particular it is difficult to match the 50mm summilux v 1 or 2. For this reason the ideal body is F3, as you can try multiple screens to find one that works best.
I am using 35mm Elmarit v2 for close up, 50mm summicron v1, summilux v2, summilux 80, summicron 90 and elmarit 135 mainly for portraiture, and the macro elmarit 60 for a bit of everything, as this lens is truly versatile and outstanding.
Last thing: if you only want sharp, you will probably be better served with Zeiss ZF line, the Mandler glass has a magic of its own which often plays out best in the bokeh.
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Old 08-14-2015   #7
FrankS
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I was thinking of doing this, but instead I'll just use my 50 Summicron R on the SL it came with.
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Old 08-14-2015   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
I am doing precisely this - putting Leitax adapters on Leica R Mandler lenses, as after much back and forth testing, I have decised I like the Mandler glass best. There are two things to consider:
- with ordinary (leitax or not) adapters, you lose the auto aperture, but Leitax makes now a "preset" adapter, that with a bit of practice lets you focus wide open, and closes the aperture to the selected stop just before the shot. This let's you use the lens across all apertures without losing the framing
- you should test modified lenses against the body you want to use them on, in particular it is difficult to match the 50mm summilux v 1 or 2. For this reason the ideal body is F3, as you can try multiple screens to find one that works best.
I am using 35mm Elmarit v2 for close up, 50mm summicron v1, summilux v2, summilux 80, summicron 90 and elmarit 135 mainly for portraiture, and the macro elmarit 60 for a bit of everything, as this lens is truly versatile and outstanding.
Last thing: if you only want sharp, you will probably be better served with Zeiss ZF line, the Mandler glass has a magic of its own which often plays out best in the bokeh.
I actually am using the Leitax adapter that is mentioned above. In practice it is like using a perspective control lens where a lever toggles between wide open and the set aperture when depressed. This makes it easier to deal with the stop down metering and the term "almost auto-aperture" is not an exaggeration. It makes setting focus and exposure almost seamless.

I use a 50 Lux "E60" which perhaps is the exception to what Marek suggests above (sharp latest version, post-Mandler I think) that is both sharp and reminds me of Noctilux bokeh.

Godfrey's point is also well taken. Because I'm lazy I mostly use my Noct-Nikkor on my F3P and D3X.

Cal
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Old 08-14-2015   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
...
- you should test modified lenses against the body you want to use them on, in particular it is difficult to match the 50mm summilux v 1 or 2. For this reason the ideal body is F3, as you can try multiple screens to find one that works best. ...
I use the A screen in both the F6 and the F ... I like the simple matte fresnel field with split image focusing aid for manual focus lenses shorter than 50mm.

I don't know whether Nikon has any available for the D750 and other DSLR models, but there is a third party supplier that might:
http://www.focusingscreen.com/index.php

G
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Old 08-14-2015   #10
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First, thanks all that have responded. I was looking for this kind of feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
- with ordinary (leitax or not) adapters, you lose the auto aperture, but Leitax makes now a "preset" adapter, that with a bit of practice lets you focus wide open, and closes the aperture to the selected stop just before the shot. This let's you use the lens across all apertures without losing the framing

- you should test modified lenses against the body you want to use them on, in particular it is difficult to match the 50mm summilux v 1 or 2. For this reason the ideal body is F3, as you can try multiple screens to find one that works best.

Last thing: if you only want sharp, you will probably be better served with Zeiss ZF line, the Mandler glass has a magic of its own which often plays out best in the bokeh.

Mfogiel,

As you and others have mentioned, the loss of auto-aperture is something to consider. The Leitax preset adapter certainly sounds like something worth investigating.

The meter coupling isn't a deal breaker as I typically use a separate spot meter.

Both of my Nikon bodies have interchangeable focusing screens. The particular screens I'm using have been working very well for my manual focus lenses, so no issue there. (B3 in FE2 and Type B in F4)

Regarding Zeiss ZF lenses, I do not like the image they produce at all. My favorite lenses are 1950s-70s Leica designs.
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Old 08-14-2015   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
I actually am using the Leitax adapter that is mentioned above. In practice it is like using a perspective control lens where a lever toggles between wide open and the set aperture when depressed. This makes it easier to deal with the stop down metering and the term "almost auto-aperture" is not an exaggeration. It makes setting focus and exposure almost seamless.
Thanks for sharing this info.
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Old 08-14-2015   #12
Rayt
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The lost of auto aperture is not a big deal to me since I shoot street and usually wide open or one stop down anyway. The idea to convert 1 cam lenses is a good one since they are cheaper and don't work on R bodies.
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Old 08-14-2015   #13
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I posted this a couple days ago on another thread - Nikon F2 and 50mm Summicron R 3 cam and Leitax adapter

[IMG]Umm...Roses! by Atwood90, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old 08-14-2015   #14
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[IMG]LEITAX-D700-2 by Atwood90, on Flickr[/IMG]Here's one with D700 and 50mm Summicron R 3 cam
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Old 08-14-2015   #15
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Another D700 50mm Summicron R 3 CAM

[IMG]LEITAX-D700-4 by Atwood90, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old 08-14-2015   #16
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...and another of the same

[IMG]LEITAX-D700-3 by Atwood90, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old 08-14-2015   #17
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..at this point I have F's thru F5 (9)...I really don't have any more room for a Leicaflex so the Leitax adapter works well anytime I want to use this superior glass. I have also converted a 90 mm Elmarit 3 Cam and I get excellent results with film or D700.

[IMG]LEITAX-D700-5 by Atwood90, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old 08-14-2015   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayt View Post
The lost of auto aperture is not a big deal to me since I shoot street and usually wide open or one stop down anyway. The idea to convert 1 cam lenses is a good one since they are cheaper and don't work on R bodies.
Interesting, I shoot street stopped down from f/5.6 to f/16 on a 35mm lens. When you say wide open, what aperture are you talking about? Or what lens in particular?
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Old 08-14-2015   #19
Rayt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
Interesting, I shoot street stopped down from f/5.6 to f/16 on a 35mm lens. When you say wide open, what aperture are you talking about? Or what lens in particular?
I don't think it matters which lens. Let's say all of them. I don't stop down unless I need the DOF. Outside of large format I don't think I have ever shot anything at f16 ever.
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Old 08-15-2015   #20
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Sorry to hijack the thread but has someone experience with a Nikon body permanently converted to take Leica R lenses? Would it resolve the meter coupling problem? I would like to use the largest aperture for framing and to get a correctly exposed photo when I press the shutter button.

If so, I would like to get it done on an F3 or an FM3A, if I could find a person willing to do it.

I have seen pictures of a converted F3, but have no other information.
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Old 08-15-2015   #21
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Why not just get a Leica camera? A cheap R3 or R4, or a mechanical R6? And if you're used to a Nikon F4, a Leica R8 or R9 won't be too big..... Just a thought.
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Old 08-15-2015   #22
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Leica R cameras suck, perhaps with the exception of the Leicaflex which by now is in practice no longer serviceable. Too much shutter lag, delicate, R5 onwards ridiculously small vf.
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Old 08-15-2015   #23
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I use regularly my cameras and require them to perform rapidly and correctly in my hands. The shutter dial of the R cameras turns in the wrong way, which is already a dealbreaker for me, since I use classic M cameras and shoot in manual mode. For someone who uses the M6 TTL, it would be perfect. I didn't like the autoexposure experience of the R7 either, it wasn't exactly like an extension to my hands or a pair of gloves, like the M6 is.

I must be asking too much for the SLR experience. But if I can get R lenses to work correctly on an FM3A, I would be very happy.
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Old 08-15-2015   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
In general, I prefer to use Nikon lenses on Nikon cameras to get the benefit of auto-diaphragm and meter coupling.
G
Years ago, if one of my Nikon F's suddenly developed a non-functioning auto-diaphragm, or the meter coupling no longer worked, I would have taken it for repair or replaced it.

Funny what we all fool around with these days, and say that as an owner of a "broken" Lomography Petzval 85 in Nikon mount.
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Old 08-15-2015   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ulrich.von.lich View Post
Sorry to hijack the thread but has someone experience with a Nikon body permanently converted to take Leica R lenses? Would it resolve the meter coupling problem? I would like to use the largest aperture for framing and to get a correctly exposed photo when I press the shutter button.

If so, I would like to get it done on an F3 or an FM3A, if I could find a person willing to do it.

I have seen pictures of a converted F3, but have no other information.
The aperture actuation and meter coupling mechanisms are incompatible in the standard form, even if the flange can be converted. It would take a clever bit of engineering and modification to provide full compatibility.

G
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Old 08-15-2015   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
Leica R cameras suck, perhaps with the exception of the Leicaflex which by now is in practice no longer serviceable.
Leicaflex service, like a good many things I love, might not currently be WIDELY available , but it is available. Both Sherry Krauter and DAG will service them, and Sherry Krauter recently did a CLA on my SL2 and re calibrated the meter to work-accurately-with currently available batteries. The Leicaflex is a wonderful camera. I've got an F6, which I also love, but, for me, Leitaxing R lenses to use on another manufacturer's film body makes no sense whatsoever, if you had the option of using those lenses on a Leicaflex. In oddball, difficult lighting situations, the matrix metering of the F6 is a little better than the simpler metering system of the SL2, but other than that, it's just easier to use the R lenses on the bodies made for them, if we are talking film.
I've got a couple of Leitaxes to use the R lenses on digital bodies, where I've got no choice but to put up with the aperture and metering issues of adapted lenses, but for film...........
The Leicaflex SL2. Every time I pick it up I think, "now THIS is a camera!" A joy to use, as are the lenses.
I'm not arguing with anyone else's preferences, life's too short, but these would be mine.
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Old 08-15-2015   #27
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That's a Leica Telyt 200/4 on a Nikon F3.
It's some kind of a screw mount not an R mount however, because it came with an adapter that looks more like a hollow tube.

Here's a picture from it:

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Old 09-29-2016   #28
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Over the years I've owned and used several Nikons (an F, F3, and F3HP), and even more Leica SLRs (original Leicaflex, SL, SL2 and an R7). I've also handled for extended periods of time various Nikon F2s, an Fm2N and a Leica R6 and R6.2. Any of these cameras are capable of great shots, obviously, but the camera I keep coming back to, and my favorite by a wide margin, is the Leicaflex SL. A big, bold and beautiful viewfinder, a near instantaneous shutter (like a rangefinder), and so well damped that hand held shots at shutters speeds one or two stops slower then Nikons. I also like Leitz optics better then Nikkors.

Just to clear up a few internet myths: 1. The Leicaflex SL body actually weighs less then a metered Nikon (F, F2 and F3). 2. Spare parts are available fro Leica techs (e.g., Sherry Krauter), and generally the camera is fully repairable.

All great cameras, but for me I'll go with the Leicaflex SL. In my 800 or so rolls worth of experience in using the Leicaflex SL, they generally proved reliable. I'm not sure anyone will use a film camera so much these days that it will push the limits of reliability.

Prices have come down so much on film stuff that maybe the trick is to own some of each.
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