Anyone using Leica R lenses on Nikon

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by nick_baker, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. Has anyone here used Leica R lenses adapted to their D3/D700? Are these lenses giving you the same quality of image as you saw on the film body? I might go ahead and modify mine if so, instead of keeping a film body just so I can use these lenses occasionally. It would be great to hear from anyone with experience doing this. I will post the same question in the Leica forum.
  2. Hello Nick:
    I adapted a Leica R lens (180mm APO Elmarit f2.8) on my Nikon DSLRs (D300 and D700) using the Leixtax bayonet from David (owner of Leitax) and it works perfectly well. I took pictures of the conversion process to help David enrich his on-line collection of instruction guides and it is now posted on his web site:
    It works like a charm and I must say that I sold my Nikon 180mm ED AF f/2.8 because I could not stand the comparison anymore. I have a series of pictures taken with the Leica Elmarit 180mm APO lens and Nikon D300 at the following link:
    I recommend highly this conversion as you combine the best of both worlds: best lenses and best digital bodies (for the time being the D700 remains for me an unbeatable value performance/price)
  3. I have converted the Apo-Telyt 180/3.4 to F-mount using the mount supplied by leitax - the lens is now used on D200/D300. Optical quality is outstanding, of course, but manual focusing on a DX camera has its problems - with the stand screen one has to rely on the focus indicator - which precludes shooting anything that moves. -These problems may or may not occur with an FX camera - if you can reliably manual focus with your camera, things will be fine with the Leica lenses too. Make sure to study the list of lenses that cannot be adapted or that need "shaving" to clear the mirror movement of an FX camera.
  4. I don't recall whether it was Eric or Dieter but a couple of folks have uploaded to the weekly Wednesday Pic threads using Leica R lenses on Nikon bodies.
  5. There is an "older" related thread in the Leica forum: - not specific for the D3/D700 but more generic for the conversion itself.
  6. The extreme purists may say no but in all practical purposes I love my Leica R lens on any body. I changed the mount to Nikon F and I can use them on the Nikon digital bodies or I can use them via a Nikon F to EOS adapter on the Canon bodies or I can use them with the Nikon F to Micro 4/3s on the Panasonic G1. I have also put on the Pentax mount and use them on the Pentax bodies.
    I can't tell the difference in image sharpness between the digital and the film bodies personally but I don't quite qualify to make judgement because I simply don' shoot either film to compare. However I love the way the lens works on the Nikon except for my D90.
  7. I changed the mount of an Apo-Telyt-R 180mm/3,4 and of a Summicron-R 90mm/2,0 to Nikon.
    To be honest I haven't used both lenses that much - while the Summicron 90 is really nice I have found it's harder to focus than the Nikkor 105/2.5. Same goes for the Apo-Telyt - for sports or other press-stuff AF is clearly an advantage.
    I have plenty of other lenses in both focal-lenghts and see the strengths of the Apo-Telyt in static subjects like city-scapes or other pictures when I have the time to set-up a tripod and work without time-pressure. Without tripod and careful focusing (live-view is a great help) I feel I can't squeeze the legendary sharpness out of this lens.
    The Summicron 90 is already my preferred lens for shooting smaller stills like sculptures.
    PS: If you do the conversion use a quality screwdriver - I've used a really cheap one for the first conversion and damaged the tiny screws.
    Please excuse my english, georg.
  8. Thanks for all the responses. I have a D300 and already use some Nikon manual focus lenses on it. I also know that the conversion process works. I am mostly interested in whether, if I switched to a D700, the Leica R lenses would continue to perform as well optically as they do on film. I find myself finding excuses to use my Leica R6 film camera because I so like the lenses, 35/2.8 Elmarit particularly, and wonder if it makes sense to consolidate the systems. From the replies, it seems that everyone is happy with their converted lenses, and there is not reason to think their performance suffers with a digital sensor. By the way, my photography is strictly a hobby, not for professional purposes.
    Thanks again
  9. I haven't done it, but have done a lot of background research related to it. I think that for some lenses it would be worth it, but not necessarily all (esp. older lenses). In any case, the conversion is reversible, so if done carefully it only costs time and money if it doesn't work out as expected.
  10. Nick,
    I have used R lenses, 19mm, 28mm, 50mm, 90mm, 100mm Macro, 180 APO on a variety of Leica film cameras from R6 to R8 and then with adapters on a variety of Canon Digital Slrs up to and including the D1 and 5D.
    I found accurate exposure and wide angle focusing to be a problem for me with the Canon 5D and finally sold that and moved over to the Nikon D700 where focusing seemed easier and there was no exposure drift as you shut down the lenses (these problems are well discussed in the archives of various forms), I have exchanged bayonets on all my R lenses except the 28 and the 100 (both ROM lenses) and those will be done shortly. I don't want to start a film versus digital war but at higher ISOs the D700 has much less noise than the equivalent film ISO
    please see:
    for pictures,
  11. I confirm what was said previously by various persons:
    - manual focus on D300 is difficult with focal length over 100mm because depth of field at 2.8 is narrow especially using the Leica 180mm APO-R. I got 30% of my shots not 100% sharp. Following the green dot AF is not good with D300.The photo below is not sharp on the persons in the middle although the green dot of my D300 confirmed focus. Front focusing seems to be a consistent problem on my D300 with the Leica Elmarit 180mm APO. This has nothing to do with the lens but with the reliabiity of the green dot. I always focus using my own eyes but this exercise is much easier with D700.
    The situation is much improved with D700 due to better reliability of green dot and better viewfinder. Liveview function is ideal for still subjects.
    The quality of the Leica lens on a D700 should be very good as well (you are probably wondering about corner sharpness on a full frame sensor using a lens designed for film). I think that each lens behaves differently in the corners (vignetting, sharpness, etc....) and you need to read some tests done with this specific lens. I will use again my D700 soon (got it stolen and I am in the process of getting a new one).
    The benefit of the D700 is its great sensibility and low noise at ISO 3200 as opposed to D300 where quality of the image is deteriorated at this ISO setting. If you like low light pictures (concerts, night scenes,...) you will have great details in shadows and the blacks will be blacks (not grayish). A Leica lens will enhance such a photo in my opinion.
    Other pictures taken with Leica 180mm APO-R 2.8 and D300 are available in my Leica collection set at:
  12. I received my Nikon D700 body and it is indeed much easier to focus accurately with manual lenses of long focal lengths (80mm and above) compared with the Nikon D300.
    Playing with the difficult to focus Leica 180mm f/2.8 APO Elmarit lens was a real pleasure with the D700, I could play with the zone of selective focus...

Share This Page