Your favourite L-mount camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 45,908
Re: "Not Leica?"

Jesse Vincent wrote:

The other prince came later and being a Ricoh GRD user I was a sucker for one.

The was the GRX with "mount module". Part of the GRX series with various sized sensors combined with fixed lenses in modular form - all fitting the same camera body back. The "mount module" was a manual focus (only) nut and bolt replica of the Leica M mount attached to a 12mp apsc sensor with Ricoh designed micro-lenses. Unlike our usual adapters it not only had nicely machined LM mounting lugs but inside the cavity it had more of less the same size space of the film LM mount - no nasty baffles or electronic contacts to mess with your lens that might have significant rear protrusion.

It came with a newly designed metal focal plane shutter that defaulted shut.

Furthermore the firmware was optimised for use with MF Lenses and included two types of focus peaking systems - Mode2 was for those wishing to live dangerously and quite unlike any other that I have seen. With some practice in using Mode2 accurate focusing could be very quick indeed.

I desperately wanted one of these when they first came out and finally got my hands on one...a week ago. Mode2 is revelatory. I desperately want it on a modern full frame body. Not that I expect much will come of it, but I wrote to Sigma begging them to add it in a future fp firmware update

I just wish that the GXR body had a half-decent built in evf instead of their clip on evf which was vulnerable to snagging in a bag and made a mockery of the nice clean top-plate lines.  Usually left at home so that it did not get lost somewhere and never ever left on when packed in a bag as it made the camera more bulky and delicate than a faux dslr type.

Between configurable peaking colors, full-finder 8x zoom, and the LVF-11 LCD finder, I *am* finding the manual focus experience on the fp pretty nice and intuitive. It gets even nicer if you set the camera to monochrome emulation mode and shoot raw. You get nice brightly colored peaking lines and a greyscale image to compose with.

For some time Panasonic has been allowing a "shoot in B&W mode" via the evf and capture in colour.  Capable of being switched to normal at a press of a customised button - usually I pick the evf to lcd switch button next to the evf and make it a B&W to colour switch instead.

I quite like composing in B&W anyway and the peaking is that much more obvious.

All cameras should have this facility.  Years ago there was a movement in Sony-land where the odd focus peaking ranges of their products provided such extremes of sometimes 'hunt the flicker' or a flood which I termed 'ink blot'.  The general idea was to shoot B&W jpg and recover the colour image from RAW.

I do agree that the Mode2 is so different and so good that it should be emulated.  But with focus peaking it was a case of a feature box to be ticked and then forgotten.  No milage in improving it once provided as the big business is in selling oem AF lenses.

Furthermore Mode2 would offend the purists who like to look at a pretty picture when making a capture.  Mode2 is all about getting the full screen focus information up as quickly as possible.  With a bit of practice MF with Mode2 can be very quick indeed and you can actually keep a moving object in focus with it.

The tip with the GXR is to set Fn1 (left arrow) to preset magnification on/off and Fn2 (right arrow) to Mode2 on/off.  Then set the camera to default start up in Mode2 (can be cancelled by Fn2) then the soft press switches to a (normal) composition mode from whatever focus-mode you were using as a toggle before capture - release after checking composition and you are straight back into your focusing mode.

Press hold the nearby delete button and. a slider scale pops up so that you can change screen magnification (which is remembered).

What is there not to like about the way the GXR-M (in particular) was optimised for manual focus speed and accuracy?

Not only is the system brilliant and intuitive but they provide all this with a limited number of controls to manipulate and no touch screen. An elegant method - every user of legacy MF lenses should have had one.

Mode2 gives 100% relative focus strengths on the full visible screen area in real time - no other system does anything more than highlight the actual edges that are more or less in-focus.

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Tom Caldwell

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