Leica/Voigtlander Lenses on A7

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by joe_blowwe, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. I sold my Leica M film bodies some years ago, but kept all the glass I had, with the idea that someday I would buy a Leica digital or some other kind of body I could use them on.
    I never wanted to buy a Leica M digital body, because unlike the film cameras, you are not buying them forever -- technology marches on, and the sensors and electronics become obsolete.
    But now I've bought a Sony A7. I have been shooting with it over the weekend using the kit zoom, and I am quite pleased with it. I'm travelling and don't have my bag of Leica/Voigtlander glass with me, but am looking forward to trying that soon.
    What have others' experiences been with this glass? Reading suggests that there can be problems with the wide angle lenses, but that longer lenses may be good.
    I have:
    90/2 Summicon
    50/2 Summicron (my baby -- one of the best lenses I have ever used)
    50/1 Noctilux
    then a bunch of Voigtlander lenses including
    50/1.5 Nokton (another favorite)
    35/2.5 pancake
    some others I can't remember
    Has anyone used any of this glass with the A7?
    Other Leica mount lenses which worked either well or badly with the A7?
  2. The Summicron 90/2 works better on a Sony A7 than ever on a Leica M, if only for the precise focusing. It is long enough that there is no trace of smearing in the corners. The Summicron 50/2 also works very well, with only a trace of corner smearing. I have these lenses, as well as a Sony A7ii and A7Rii.
    I would suggest one of these m2 bodies rather than the original A7, for the benefit of in-body image stabilization (IBIS), much better ergonomics, and other features.
    I can't speak for the Voigtlander lenses, although the 15 mm vIII is supposed to do very well (Steve Huff Photo for examples). In general, lenses 35 mm and shorter, designed for rangefinder cameras, show excessive smearing in the corners.
    In order to take advantage of IBIS, you need to dial in the focal length of legacy lenses. Sony lenses do this automatically. You also need to program a button to engage focus magnification, also automatic with Sony lenses. Magnification is in two stages, 5x and 12x, making precise focusing easy. The viewfinder is always 100%, regardless of the focal length, like a DSLR.
    The sensor in a digital M camera holds its own against any modern camera. It is the viewfinder that I find wanting. Resolution and color rendition in the M9 (18 MP) and M10 (24 MP) are stunning. I have an M9P, but will probably pass on the M10.
  3. although the 15 mm vIII is supposed to do very well​
    I have it and it does fine on the A7.
    The Summicron 90/2 works​
    Confirmed; just traded mine for a Sony FE 70-200/4 nonetheless.
    Doubtful. I had the 21/4 and it was totally unusable on the A7; none of the suggested corrections got rid of the color shifts in the "corners" (actually across almost 2/3 of the image).
    I tried the 35/2 ASPH and while there is no color shift, there is corner smearing. I now have the Nokton 40/1.4 and it appears to be doing just fine. Lastly, I have the Voigtlander Ultron 21/1.8, doing fine on the A7.
  4. With a lot of money sunk in glass you could ponder having Kolarivision modify your camera. The 21mm would benefit according to their website.
  5. I too retained Leica mount lenses when I sold my M6. They worked well on the A7 I bought as a replacement: 35/1.7 Ultron; 50/1.4 Canon; 90/2.8 Elmarit; 100/3.5 Canon. In time I sold them and bought manual focus Nikkors, which cost less and are at least as good.
  6. The 21mm would benefit according to their website.​
    Improves on the sharpness but still has a color shift. Which may or may not be removable in post.
  7. Thanks for all the responses! Very useful indeed. So what I take away from this is that the 50's and the 90 should work ok, as should the VC 15, but that the other wide lenses may have smeared corners and other problems.
    I guess I'll try them all and sell the ones which don't work, and buy some Zeiss lenses to replace them.
    In addition to the lenses listed above, it turns out I have a 35/2 aspherical Summicron. I don't really like that focal length all that much, and if on top of that it doesn't work well on the A7, so I think I'll sell it. It is a recent model and should bring enough to buy a couple of Zeiss lenses. Also a Leica 90/4 and a 40/2 Summicron off a Leica CL I used to have. The 40/2 is a gorgeous lens and super compact -- that will just be great if it works on the A7.
    I also have a bag full of Nikon lenses which I had forgotten about. Old manual focus ones I used on an F3 a million years ago when I did it professionally for a while. I guess these should work excellently on the A7. As it turns out, the seller of my A7 threw in a Nikon adapter. None of this glass is anything like the Leica glass, but could be fun to play with.
    One of them is an old 28mm PC Nikkor -- perspective correction -- which I used to use for architectural stuff, but which I always LOVED. I hope it will work on the A7. I had great fun with this lens back in the day (and earned some money with it, too).
    If I can't get any of my wide lenses to work, then I will need something about 20 or 21 and a 28. I love my tiny VC 28, which would make the A7 truly pocketable, but based on what I have read, I guess there is little chance it will work well. Then I will have to choose between a bulky VC 28/2 or one of the Sony/Zeiss ones.
  8. Another rather unrelated question, but I might as well pose it here I guess: My A7 came with the kit lens -- 28-70 3.5-5.6. It is surprisingly nice, with very good contrast and reasonably sharp. I want to do a film project with this camera, and this lens looks like it would be good for that, or at least some zoom lens. If it were only just a little wider on the wide end . . . so there is the Zeiss 24-70, which has gotten bad reviews, as being no better than the kit lens, at double the cost. But that might be worth it for me to have 24 rather than 28 on the wide end. 24mm is a really useful focal length which I used to use a lot in primes.
    Anyone do this?
  9. as should the VC 15​
    only the latest version (III); certainly not the first and second.
    some Zeiss lenses​
    many of the wide-angle M-mount Zeiss lenses will have issues on an A7 body as well. The Biogons for sure. If I wanted manual focus Zeiss lenses for my A7, I'd just get the Zeiss Loxia ones. Or go AF with the Batis series.
  10. Oh, my VC 15 is probably v1. :( I've had it since forever.
    I really wanted compact RF lenses so I can put the camera in my pocket the way I used to do with my Leica M's. It is sounding less and less likely that I will manage that. Maybe the 40mm 'cron; or even the 50, would give me some of that, but it sounds like almost nothing among the really compact wides is going to work.
    I might just break down and acquire the 16-35 Zeiss zoom -- if I can't put the camera in my pocket, then the size of this is probably not going to be a big problem, and it will save me carrying a bunch of lenses. It's apparently pretty good optically and not expensive.
    The wide Loxia primes look rather bulky, and don't seem to be all that much better optically than the zoom.
  11. The Loxia 35/2 is designed specifically for the A7 line of cameras. It takes into account the thick cover glass of the sensor in its optical design. This is true of the Loxia 21/2.8, Batix 25/2 and Zeiss 35/1.4. These lenses are expensive, by Sony standards, but hold their own against Leica lenses, but without any smearing in the corners.
    I particularly like the Loxia lenses, completely manual and sized appropriate for the A7, which has a rangefinder-sized body.
  12. Thanks for all of the responses.
    I am starting to think about the 16-35 F4 Zeiss zoom. I'm in a bit of despair about the size of lenses which will work -- I had really wanted to rig to be pocketable like my Leica M's were, but this does not seem to be in the cards with wides. Maybe with the 40 Cron or 50 cron.
    The 16-35 zoom does not seem to be optically much worse than the primes, and not much bigger, and F4 is OK with the wides, especially with OSS.
    So I'm leaning towards this as a kit:
    24-70 F4 zoom
    16-35 F4 zoom
    90 'cron
    50 'cron
    50 Nokton
    40 'cron
    and one nice wide prime -- either the 21 Loxia or the 28/2 Sony FE. Or perhaps the VC 21/1.8, which is hardly bulkier or heavier than the Loxia, and more than a stop faster. I guess the 50 'cron would get the most use; it's always been my favorite lens anyway.
    I can easily fund this (and more) by selling the Noctilux and the 35 'cron ASPH.
    I can play around with the Nikon lenses if the spirit moves me -- and I have a 35/2 AIS if I want a prime in that focal length for some reason. I guess the 135/2.8 AIS Nikkor will work excellently also if I need a tele.
    What do you guys think?
    I am loving the images coming out of the A7 so far. This is so much better than the scanned film from my M's I used to do, that it's not even funny. The tonal range is simply gorgeous. And this is with the cheap kit lens!
  13. The Zeiss FE 16-35/4 is a very good lens, with good reviews. The Zeiss 24-70/4 is often down-rated for quality below its price point. From what I've seen, it is very sharp, at least in the center. However I went with the Sony f/2.8 version. It is large, heavy and over twice the price of the f/4 lens, but is as good as any of the FE primes in its range.
    The Sony 35/2.8 is rated highly for optical quality, but uses a lot of plastic and has no separate aperture ring. the Sony 35/1.8 is for APS-C only. The 28/2 is also rated very highly.
  14. The 50 Loxia f2 (a modern Zeiss Planar) is very good, although you my find your 50 Summicron equal to it. It is also small, like the Summicron (I sold my Summicron version IV so I cannot compare it directly with my Loxia on the A7RII). I use the Zeiss 16-35 f4 and can vouch for its quality, if not quite as good as the Zeiss prime (again, only my 50mm to compare it with).
    A smaller lens in the A7 than the 50mm? While it is true that the A7 requires different lens formulas than other cameras (film or digital), the offerings from Sony and its partners has not resulted to date in many, if any, compact wide angle optics. Given the absence of the mirror and the prior need to design longer retrofocus lenses, it seems that Sony to date has passed on an opportunity to produce small lenses.
    Perhaps things will change, but I am looking forward to testing some small optics on the A7, including the retractable 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M, the small Voigtlander Cosina classic 35mm f2.5 optic and others. Perhaps there are some that can better suit Sony's thick cover glass on the sensor. Optics that have more narrowly disperse rays arriving on the sensor might do better than those which impinge at greater angles on the sensor.
  15. (Double post, owing to local server on and off behaviour)
  16. Thanks!
    Yes, the Sony/Zeiss wide primes which I've seen are very large. I didn't understand when I bought the camera that I wouldn't be able to use the gorgeous, tiny VC 21/4 or 28/3.5, which would make such a perfect match with this compact body. :(
    I like the Planar look -- and I used Planars professionally, on Blad 500CM's. But I like the Leica look more, so I hope that the 40 and 50 'crons will work well with the A7. The very compact 40 should be a nice walking around lens.
    By the way, when using adapted lenses on the A7, I presume that I have to manually open and close the diaphragm for focussing, right? This just occurred to me. That will be a bit of a PITA, I'm thinking. A big advantage of the native lenses.
    I guess if I don't like it, I can just start selling off the Leica glass.
  17. when using adapted lenses on the A7, I presume that I have to manually open and close the diaphragm for focussing, right?​
    Depends on which lens and which adapter (there are adapters for Sony A-mount and Canon lenses that enable all the features of the lens on a Sony E-mount body; there's even one that turns M-mount lenses into AF lenses). But since M-mount lenses don't have an automatic diaphragm, the answer is yes, you may need to manually open and close the aperture but you may not want to. For example, the 40mm 'cron is know to exhibit some focus shift when stopped down, so it may be advantageous to focus at the working aperture.
  18. Hmm my experience from actually using a Sony A7ii to be honest was disappointing.
    I found the images were somewhat dark and gloomy regardless of the lenses i tried....and I really wanted to like the cam.
    Perhaps using Sony lenses, as Edward suggested, would have given much better results.
    The bottom line for me is about image quality not about the number of pixels....any cam can give you decent blow ups regardless of pixel count...really that simple unless you are lost in marketing hype.
  19. Lenses designed for the camera are lenses designed for the camera....others are not.
  20. You do not have to open the diaphragm for focusing, but it is an option if it fits your work style. Unlike a DSLR, the viewing screen maintains a relatively constant brightness, regardless of the aperture setting. While a wide aperture gives a sharper transition at the focal point, various focusing aids in an electronic finder render this advantage moot. in particular, magnified focusing (for the Sony A7ii it is 5x or 12x), makes precise focusing easy. In practice. I don't bother opening the diaphragm. It's not necessary and takes extra time.

    Some lenses exhibit a focus shift when stopped down. If you leave the lens at the taking aperture, this issue too is moot. In auto focus mode, the A7ii keeps the lens open until focus is obtained, the the diaphragm closes down to the preset value. This is good and bad. In continuous focus mode, final focus is obtained at the preset diaphragm opening. On the other hand, focus may hunt in dim light as a result.

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