Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

Started Dec 12, 2020 | Questions
RSColo Senior Member • Posts: 1,594
Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

The 90mm f/4 Macro is a collapsible lens. In its collapsed state, any resulting photos are totally blurry. The lens needs to be extended in order to function normally. Leica has also made an adapter for the lens which is basically an adjustable close-up ring. The adapter attaches between the lens and the camera. It then extends from 18mm to 30mm by turning a ring. Note that with the adapter either live-view or the Visoflex needs to be used as the combination does not link with an M camera’s rangefinder. The adapter can also be used with other M lenses for close-up shots. But uniquely it can allow the 90mm lens to stay collapsed and still focus throughout the lens normal focus range all the way to infinity. But here things get complicated.

Let’s start with a look at the cut-away diagram of the lens and its elements:

In this view of the lens extended, there are three elements that extend out and one that remains behind. This allows the lens, without the adapter, to operate normally. If the lens is collapsed and attached to the camera with the adapter in between and set to 18mm the lens will also operate normally. But these two configuration are different. In one case three elements are extended out by considerably more than 18mm. In the other all four elements are kept together and extended only 18mm. How can both of these situations result in the lens operating “normally”? Is there any difference in optical quality? They are both supposed to result in infinity focus, but is the closest focus different?

Now let’s explore the question of close-up photography. I am using the term “close-up” instead of macro because the latter term is supposed to refer only to images that are 1:1 or more. I am interested in the case of the 90mm lens attached to the camera with the adapter in between. The photographer has two choices: extend the lens or dial out the adapter. What happens in each case? Is one sharper than the other? Can the lens be used in any configuration other than fully collapsed or fully extended? Finally, what happens if both are extended?

I have searched on the Internet and found very little answers to any of these questions. I only own the lens and can only partly answer one of the questions. The lens can be extended anywhere between collapsed and fully extended, but only locks into place at one end or the other. Without the adapter the lens is only usable in the fully extended mode. So anything less with only my lens is just not of any use. I am considering getting the adapter, but it is very expensive for what it is (over $700 and contains no Leica glass). Has anyone out there had any experience with this lens/adapter combination? If so, can you answer any of my questions? Thank you.

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Reid Shay
www.sawatchpub.com
Colorado, USA

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ANSWER:
Tomm111 Senior Member • Posts: 1,719
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

Interesting but understandable that the lens can be used collapsed with the macro adapter. Since the macro adapter is an extension tube it is the equivelent of extending the lens. The lens though is designed to be used extended, on most Leica collapsibles the mount is not stable collapsed, locking into the extended position stablilizes the lens. I would also think that the lens collapsed wouldn't have full focus capabilities for instance infinity would be off.

The definition of macro varies, mostly 1:4 and closer, I have heard micro for 1:1 and closer, of course Nikon reverses this definition. The 90 with the macro adapter goes to 1:2 I believe.

I don't see any problem with using the lens collapsed except that the barrel of the lens may be out of alignment. I would also check infinity focus with the lens collapsed. So usable but maybe not as Leica would like to see it used.

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OP RSColo Senior Member • Posts: 1,594
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

Here is a sentence from the Leica page about the adapter:

When mounted on the adapter, the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 can also be used in its collapsed position for exposures up to infinity.

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Reid Shay
www.sawatchpub.com
Colorado, USA

 RSColo's gear list:RSColo's gear list
Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Leica M-Monochrom Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH +8 more
Tomm111 Senior Member • Posts: 1,719
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

RSColo wrote:

Here is a sentence from the Leica page about the adapter:

When mounted on the adapter, the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 can also be used in its collapsed position for exposures up to infinity.

So they made the adapter the same length as the lens extension, that is cool. As I said the Leica collapsible lenses I have used are a little sloppy when not locked, interesting design element, so you can keep the macro adapter on all the time. Hope you enjoy the lens.

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Bags27 Senior Member • Posts: 1,632
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

All this is way too complicated for me. But I do know that there are two versions (the older 11633 and the current 11670) and I believe the difference involves shooting at infinity.

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/90mm_f/4_Macro-Elmar-M

LCT
LCT Senior Member • Posts: 1,210
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions
1

Been using the 90/4 macro v1 (11633) and both v1 (14409) and v2 (14652) Leica adapters for many years with no problem at all. Compared to the 90/4 macro v2 (right), the v1 can focus at infinity too but it needs to be extended a bit to rotate the aperture ring when it is mounted on the adapter. The current lens is more handy from this viewpoint but the 12575 hood cannot be mounted in reverse position on it due to the larger diameter of the aperture ring.
Best,
LCT

selected answer This post was selected as the answer by the original poster.
OP RSColo Senior Member • Posts: 1,594
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

LCT wrote:

Been using the 90/4 macro v1 (11633) and both v1 (14409) and v2 (14652) Leica adapters for many years with no problem at all. Compared to the 90/4 macro v2 (right), the v1 can focus at infinity too but it needs to be extended a bit to rotate the aperture ring when it is mounted on the adapter. The current lens is more handy from this viewpoint but the 12575 hood cannot be mounted in reverse position on it due to the larger diameter of the aperture ring.
Best,
LCT

LCT,

I was hoping to find someone who had both.

Again, I'm talking about the current lens and current adapter. I am curious about the differences in how they operate together. Since the collapsed lens with the collapsed adapter can operate in a similar way to the lens extended alone, what is the difference in quality? In the first case all the elements are kept bunched up and just moved out 18mm. In the second three elements are moved out and one held back. Also, what is the difference between extending the lens and dialing out the adapter when they are mounted together? Is there a difference in quality or enlargement factor? And what happens if you extend both? Super enlargement or too close to even focus?

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Reid Shay
www.sawatchpub.com
Colorado, USA

 RSColo's gear list:RSColo's gear list
Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Leica M-Monochrom Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH +8 more
LCT
LCT Senior Member • Posts: 1,210
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

RSColo wrote:

LCT wrote:

Been using the 90/4 macro v1 (11633) and both v1 (14409) and v2 (14652) Leica adapters for many years with no problem at all. Compared to the 90/4 macro v2 (right), the v1 can focus at infinity too but it needs to be extended a bit to rotate the aperture ring when it is mounted on the adapter. The current lens is more handy from this viewpoint but the 12575 hood cannot be mounted in reverse position on it due to the larger diameter of the aperture ring.
Best,
LCT

LCT,

I was hoping to find someone who had both.

Again, I'm talking about the current lens and current adapter. I am curious about the differences in how they operate together. Since the collapsed lens with the collapsed adapter can operate in a similar way to the lens extended alone, what is the difference in quality? In the first case all the elements are kept bunched up and just moved out 18mm. In the second three elements are moved out and one held back. Also, what is the difference between extending the lens and dialing out the adapter when they are mounted together? Is there a difference in quality or enlargement factor? And what happens if you extend both? Super enlargement or too close to even focus?

I have both adapters but only the v1 lens sorry. Now v1 and v2 are exactly the same lens optically. Whatever way you focus those lenses, i.e. with or w/o adapter, the four elements are moving altogether. There is no floating element in those lenses so there is no optical difference when focusing.
Best,
LCT

OP RSColo Senior Member • Posts: 1,594
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

Thank you for that information.  The lens diagram looked like there wasn't enough room below (behind) the back element to fit in the lens when not collapsed. I guess it is just an optical illusion. So what happens when you extend the lens or extend the adapter or both? Are these just different ways of getting various levels of close focus?

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Reid Shay
www.sawatchpub.com
Colorado, USA

 RSColo's gear list:RSColo's gear list
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Godfrey Forum Pro • Posts: 29,547
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

Just because you can use the lens in its collapsed position with the macro adapter ring installed doesn't mean that you should, regardless of what Leica says is possible.

It is nearly always better (for imaging performance and to minimize potential mechanical interference issues) to use the lens in its fully extended and locked position, and to use a macro adapter ring (or extension tube) with the fully extended lens. An extension tube should be considered a way to increase the close-focus capabilities of a lens, not as a bodge to allow a greater range including infinity focus.

Collapsible lenses are created in order to make the camera smaller and handier for carrying, that's all, not to provide shooting convenience.

G

OP RSColo Senior Member • Posts: 1,594
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

Thank you again.

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Reid Shay
www.sawatchpub.com
Colorado, USA

 RSColo's gear list:RSColo's gear list
Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Leica M-Monochrom Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH +8 more
jonfrank New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions
1

I have the 90mmf/4 macro lens and macro adapter M.  I have read this thread and the following are my personal observations.   An intelligent, experienced contributor to this thread is theorizing that the lens barrel can't be "Leica" perfect in the extended position and or the retracted position.   It is of note that the barrel of the lens will lock in the extended or retracted position.   I have put this combination through the paces and I really like it.   With the lens mounted to the adapter with the barrel retracted I can focus on infinity.   It is also of note that once you install the adapter the rangefinder focusing no longer works and I have to use the LV or EVF.    I will confess that I haven't felt the need to do serious pixel peeping and maybe I am in naive bliss with this setup.   I really like it.   If I don't think I am going to be needing macro I won't mount the adapter and like the ranger finder focusing.   When I am in a macro mood, the adapter is mounted I also mount the Visoflex!

OP RSColo Senior Member • Posts: 1,594
Re: Leica 90mm f/4 Macro Lens and Macro Adapter M Questions

I was definitely confused. But thanks to everyone's input I eventually figured it out. I have since bought the adapter and like it very much. I already used the Visoflex whenever I used my 90mm or my 135mm. I just found that I had too many unfocused images with the rangefinder. I'm fine with the 50mm and 28mm. So I leave the adapter on the 90mm all the time. Here is a shot I took in San Francisco this spring.

Yellow Rose

This was taken with my M10-R next to Grace Cathedral.

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Reid Shay
www.sawatchpub.com
Colorado, USA

 RSColo's gear list:RSColo's gear list
Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Leica M-Monochrom Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH +8 more
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