Best mirrorless for legacy lenses?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by philip freedman, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. I would like to use my Leica M lenses on a small camera such as the Sony NEX, Pany G or Oly EP series. I found the Leica M9 clumsy, unreliable to wake up and show the in-viewfinder settings, and with very imprecise framing. I have tried a 35 Summicron on an old GF1 but it take two different button presses to trigger the focus magnifier. I have read that the NEX 5N and NEX 7 have focus peaking to assist with manual focus - can that facility be left on at all times? If not, is it easy to switch on? Are there any other views about the best mirrorless small camera to use with an adapter and manual lenses? Thanks Philip
     
  2. I place some more restrictions on my mirrorless that I want to use with my M lenses (and at least one Nikkor) - the camera must have a useable eye-level viewfinder and at least an APS-C-size sensor. This currently leaves the Sony NEX7 and the Fuji XPro-1 in the game - and once there are some reviews out on the latter and when I can get my hands on both, it just might be decision time. Or I will have to wait for the next round of updates....
     
  3. I use the Sony 5N with the add on EVF. I only use CV lenses with this camera: 15mm f4.5, 28mm f2, 50mm f1.5-S, and 85mm f3.5-S. The peaking function can be left on all the time. I generally use "low" setting for the 15mm, "mid" level with the 28 and 50 lenses, and "high" with the 85mm. I use Yellow as the color, and I set the camera to display black and white on the LCD at low contrast (set at -3) to make the peaking "shimmers" more noticeable. (Since I shoot RAW the original color is always available).
    I prefer the 5N for two reasons: I'm left eye dominant, and the swivel EVF on the 5N is a whole lot easier for me than the built-in v/f on extreme left of the NEX 7 (no, I have not used it but I've been in touch with folks who have). Second, the touch screen on the 5N is more useful than I thought to get precise focus with the screen magnification feature.
    Another "plus" for the 5N is less corner color shifts and vignetting than with the 7 with UWA lenses. I use CornerFix with the 15mm (also I set up a profile for the 28 but never had to use it). This works provided you shoot RAW and convert to DNG files.
     
  4. I'm not a big fan of the NEX system, but that's largely because I think the native lens selection pretty much sucks. But if the primary goal is legacy lenses, NEX has a lot to offer. I'd agree the 5N is the sweet spot in that system right now.
     
  5. With the high megapixel sensors and optical means (microlenses) of allowing so-called legacy RF lenses to be used on full frame digital bodies, I wonder why there are not more mirrorless cameras like the Leica M9 that exploit the full frame. The Sony NEX-7 and the Fuji Pro SPro-1 are apparently competent machines, but why not other full frame mirrorless cameras? The larger pixel size would be a plus for image rendition. Are they in the offing, and worth the wait?
     
  6. I concur with the Nex 5N. I use mine with CV, Nikon, Contax G and Canon FD lenses. With the optional EVF it is a pleasure to use and very quick to focus. The NEX-7 just has too many MPs for my tase. I don't want to worry about noise with high ISO shots.
     
  7. I would suggest looking into the Ricoh GXR with the leica m mount module.
     
  8. I would have thought the Olympus cameras with body IS might be attractive to you. Since panasonic have connections with Leica they have adaptors for your lenses mentioned in the manual which came with my G3. Depends on if you want the crop factor or larger sensor, not that much different You could read the report of a conversation with Panasonic's marketing manager linked from the Olympus and 4/3 forum, which talked about different processors.
     
  9. Phillip,
    After the past several years of examining interchangeable lens mirrorless camera models I finally purchased my first in November, a NEX-5N, for three primary reasons: IQ up to ISO 3200, the flexibility using the EVF and LCD, and MF peaking. I don't have M-mount lenses currently, but as others here, I have and use a wide variety of old MF optics including Contax G, C/Y, Leica R, Nikkor AIS and earlier, Canon FD, OM, and more. I've since purchased adapters for each native mount to the NEX, and peaking makes all of them just FUN to use as well as bringing out their best qualities again, and that was my primary reason they were purchased and kept in the first place.
    The Contax Gs are the most difficult for me to use on NEX, between their close registration as well as the sometimes rough focus operation of the adapters. But the IQ results are more than worth any effort.
    The 5N is a little small in my hands, and it needed to be well customized for the ways I wanted to work with it, but overall much easier than using these old lenses on my Canon DSLRs whether with live view, focus screens, angle finder and other visual aids, all lacking the aid of peaking. I use S and M modes primarily on the 5N with the MF optics, with peaking active all the time, but it's only obvious when an MF lens is attached and peaking is visible only on the in-focus areas. You'll have to handle and see this for yourself to appreciate or reject.
     
  10. From all that I've heard and read in this thread and elsewhere, it seems that the Sony NEX bodies are the ones to beat.
    I had a Panasonic G1 on which to use my Canon FD lenses, and I found the viewfinder to be very poor. The NEX-7 reportedly has the best viewfinder of any mirrorless body, so I'm considering acquiring one once it's released.
     
  11. It depends...
    • Oly has IBIS and 2x
    • Sony has the best focus peaking and an awesome EVF
    • Fuji has the only OVF
    • Ricoh has native M mount and a similar peaking focusing implementation
     
  12. Leslie, what pray tell is IBIS and 2x? Agree that NEX has a competent EVF, but there is apparently still room for improvement in that category. Leica M8 (about $2000 on used market) or the expensive M9 have OVF, in addition to Fuji's still awaited X-PRO1
     
  13. IBIS = In Body Image Stabilization

    2X is the crop factor
    I might say wait to see how the Fuji does in real world testing.
     
  14. I'm not sure 2x crop factor is a plus or a minus, depends....
    The Sony sensors seem to have better dynamic range and better high ISO performance. To my style, using a telephoto lens with a fast shutter speed if you can just crank up the ISO more or less obviates the need for image stabilization.
     
  15. I may be the only one here interested in a full frame mirrorless digital body. When you have highly corrected wide angle "legacy" lenses, it is not fun to have a 21mm become an effective 28mm, 35mm or even longer focal length lens, quite apart from the benefit of a larger pixel size in a larger (full frame) sensor of the same MP count as a 1.5X or 2X mirrorless camera. As Sony, Nikon, Canon and others have full frame sensors in their flagship models, why not in their mirrorless cameras, in addition to the M9? It's not just a question of camera size, as the full frame sensor M9 has a smaller body than the new 1.5X crop factor Fuji interchangeable lens digital camera.
     
  16. I'm not sure 2x crop factor is a plus or a minus, depends....​
    Peter, yes, that's why I said it depends. I like wides so 1.5 would be better but others might like tele...
    Arthur, we sure like FF but there's none unless you shell out 7k. There's no point in talking about what doesn't exist, right?
     
  17. Arthur, there's probably a few of us. I asked about that six months ago, and you had some good comments then. The balance of opinion was it's unlikely we'll see one soon.
    Sony could presumably make one now, and perhaps they've made a prototype. It means a full-frame sensor in an oversized NEX-type body that takes full-size Alpha lenses. They have all those technologies already, but why would they market something that would compete with their own full-frame dSLRs?
    My personal rash guess is that full-frame (or at least large-sensor) mirrorless will be the next big paradigm shift in high-end cameras. I think it could replace the 60-year-old SLR design, maybe starting in five to ten years. To do that, it would need a really good live viewfinder, which might be the rate-limiting step.
    Incidentally, I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm a die-hard film user, but I follow these things because they could make excellent backpacking cameras.
     
  18. Dave, your earlier post and the contributions to it makes good reading. The DSLR - mirrorless market positioning you mention here is probably key to the present industry hesitation for FF mirrorless cameras. I would like to see higher quality digital for colour capture and digital printing work, but I am very happy, like you, to use my rather simple but good quality MF film cameras for B&W landscapes and other B&W photography and traditional printing. I realize that puts me out of most marketers targeted audiences.
     
  19. Many thanks to those who answered my question! I have ordered an NEX 5N and an EVF. Philip
     
  20. Good choice !
    Enjoy !
     
  21. Nice review. Thanks. If Ricoh comes out with another new M mount adaptable body this year it will be interesting to see and to compare it to the Fuji and Sony offerings.
     
  22. My NEX 5N and the EVF arrived and I have just run off a few test shots with a 35 f2 Summicron ASPH and a Metabones adaptor. The results are truly excellent in terms of resolution/sharpness and colour and so far I have find no chromatic aberration fringing even in shots against the light with a bright white sky (the sun wasn't out for long). I have not quite got the customisation right but I am getting there and the manual focusing is simple and accurate. Thanks again. Philip
     
  23. I bought a Panny G1 when they were on sale just before they came out with the GF. I bought adapters for Canon FD, Nikon and Pentax. Shot all the lenses for a year and then got tired of the big lenses on the small to hold body such as the Canon 80-200 F4 and others. Now I'm tired of changing lenses period especially when I loose OIS. So, I keep the 14-45 on for quick uploads, birthdays and that sort of thing and have gone back to shooting my A1 with the 50mm 1.4ssc and Nikkormat FT2 with 35mm F2, and that's my kit now. Full frame with superior lenses, OVF and a tripod when needed.
     
  24. M, that helicoid seems stupendous. Have you used it? More importantly, would it extend itself under force of a heavy lens?
     
  25. parv. the only lenses that can be used with the Hawks are Leica M so they are not *heavy* and the helicoid does not creep.
    My CV 28mm f2 Ultron has a MFD of about 29.5" (0.7meter) but with the Hawks set at its closest focus distance (i.e. extended all the way) I can get down to about 9" subject distance
    http://refiningman.smugmug.com/Bulletin-1/Nikon-Cafe/9498635_pjB7hF#!i=1685917004&k=Wt4vWJG
     
  26. I've been down this path, having bought a NEX-5N and EVF (and Hawk adapter too) to give my M rangefinder lenses a digital back.
    The 5N wasn't my first choice, I'd really wanted a NEX-7 but flooding in Thailand meant waiting much longer than my plans would allow for, so I went for the NEX-5N and EVF. It turns out that the wait was a blessing in disguise, as my wide angle lenses are known to perform more poorly on the NEX-7 at the edge and in the corners in terms of retained detail and sharpness.
    I wish I could say that I was completely happy with the 5N's performance *with my lenses*. Closer in, I really had no complaints. My ZM25/2.5 and ZM35/2 did very well with subjects at close to intermediate distances. Longer lenses - no problem. At infinity, I was less happy with the performance of my wide angle glass. Edge performance wasn't as good as I wanted to see.
    A white paper by Zeiss identifies the problem - *digital* camera/lens combinations with short back focal length (The M Mount is ~27mm as opposed to SLR mounts which trend towards ~45mm) can have problems with astigmatism when an anti-alias filter is part of the sensor implementation, due to the relatively sharp angle of the light path from the rear element of many wider angle lenses.
    This problem is made worse at infinity; my Zeiss Biogons are of a symmetrical design and the rear lens element is at its closest to the sensor when the lens is at infinity.
    I've done some comparison shots of subjects at infinity with the same lens selection, one set backed by the NEX-5N, the other by the Ricoh GXR M mount (no AA filter), and the results were enough to cause me to sell the 5N and keep the GXR. While I certainly do not shoot all landscapes at infinity, enough of my outdoor shooting involves distant subjects that I was willing to trade off some NEX capabilities for the better frame-wide performance on the GXR.
    One of the trade offs means no Hawk adapter - that is both a good and a bad thing. The Hawk adapter is brilliant as it instantly makes all your lenses more useful, allowing for much closer minimum focus distance as noted. My ZM25 has a MFD of 0.5M; with the Hawk adapter fully extended (we are only talking a few millimeters) the MFD drops to several finger widths in front of the lens. Not true macro but darn close and a huge improvement over what film rangefinders can not do. Win: live view cameras!
    On the GXR one could use a 10mm Leica M to M extension tube; this isn't as flexible as the variable Hawk, but it is a potential solution. They can be had on the used market for ~125 - 150 dollars from time to time.
    One concern I have with the Hawk adapter is whether all my lenses were hitting infinity or not. I had some doubts about this but can't explore this further as I've since sold off both the 5N and Hawk adapter. On the GXR M Mount all my Zeiss lenses hit infinity dead on at the stop.
    The NEX has superior high ISO performance. At or near base ISO the GXR M Mount 12.3 megapixel anti-alias filter free sensor produces files with as much or more detail than the NEX - call that a wash. At infinity or with wides, GXR pulls ahead. Closer in? Maybe the NEX pulls ahead. The Sony EVF is superior, but if you only experience the GXR EVF you won't care. I've used both, it was only odd at the transition time. Personally I prefer the focus assist (Mode 2) of the GXR over Sony's focus peaking and I much prefer how Ricoh has implemented it such that the effect is disabled on the half-press of the shutter. Sony should do this in their firmware too but still hasn't.
    Overall, I give the GXR two thumbs up for handling, and the NEX one thumb and a pinkie. The GXR is more customizable and often is described as a photographers camera. I'm not sure I am comfortable saying that - the NEX is a fine photographic tool as well, but I do prefer the layout of the GXR as well as its button customization and menu organization. It also delivers features like +/- 4 EV of exposure compensation or +/- 2 EV of auto exposure bracketing in any three image spread you wish instead of a mere +/- 0.7EV.
    Things I miss about the NEX? The variable Hawk adapter; better shot to shot buffering / response; less viewfinder lag - the NEX is a very fast feeling system; the tilt rear LCD; better noise performance at higher ISO sensitivity levels.
    Things I'd hate to give up from the GXR: bigger EV comp/auto bracket spread, feel and layout (the GXR is a very solid camera, the NEX feels less durable to me); wide angle lens performance; Mode 2 "Predator Mode" focus assist - makes for very rapid focus confirmation; shutter half press disable of focus assist display; more convenient button and dial configuration for use in full manual mode; the My 1/2/3 settings feature with other banked setting collections able to be pulled into service and selected from a dial.

    A combo of NEX and GXR could be ideal if they chose the right features to merge.
    Will Ricoh update the GXR body or M Mount this year? Who knows. If you need a camera that delivers M lens compatibility across the broadest range of lenses, the GXR is probably the best choice in APS-C sized format at present.
     

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