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

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
lattesweden
lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 5,454
Your favourite L-mount camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

The "Your favorite" series of threads now also include bodys, since no lens takes images without a camera body.

To avoid "brand wars" this thread is only for L-mount (Panasonic, Sigma & Leica mirrorless bodys with L-mount).

Similar threads focusing on each of the other brands have been launched, and the remaining will follow.

So, which L-mount (FF or crop) body do you think is the best for use with vintage manual focus lenses and why?

Bonus questions:

  • What are the pros and cons of your favorite body?
  • How do you manual focus with it (describe the process)?
  • Does your favorite body have IBIS and how well does it work?
  • Does your favorite body have a database function one can build up in the body that stamps the lens name into the Exif and sets the IBIS right (if it has IBIS)?
  • Does your favorite body support adapted lenses in any other good way?
  • Which MF adapter brand and type (tube type with or without optics) do you use with your favorite body?
  • Which camera body from L-mount that you have tried, should be avoided for manual focus vintage lenses and why?
  • Is there in your view a budget body from L-mount or manual focus vintage lenses that would be good for a beginner or someone with a lower budget and why?

Extra bonus questions:

  • Since autofocus lenses have been around since the mid 80s and starts to become vintage as well: If you do use your camera body with adapted AF-glass, which AF-mount do you use it with and which adapter do you use? How do you think it works?
  • Any other thing about your favorite L-mount body that is worth to mention?
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Best regards
/Anders
*********************************************************************
Used camera brands over 40+ years:
Minolta, Nikon, Balda, Ricoh, Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony.
*********************************************************************
In the photoworld all companies are polyamorous and it is just like a big swingers party behind the scenes.
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Any photographer can have a camera painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.
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Some of my images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/66357766
*********************************************************************
Article, how to FTP-transfer, edit & share RAW-images wireless out in the field:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4609147
*********************************************************************
Timeline over all mirrorless autofocus fullframe cameras:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65760019
*********************************************************************
Article about Sony EVF/LCD modes:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65550258
*********************************************************************

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 45,881
"Not Leica?"

Well short of the king there were only two princes.

The short-lived Epson RD something or another which rapidly became a crazy cult object just as soon as they stopped being sold. I could hardly imagine a digital camera that might have been more tricky to use. But they must have had something going for them other than being an early interesting type and rare.

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.

But I will have to come back to this as i have run out of time.

So I was in a rush and I chose to laud the Ricoh GXR-M with Leica M mount, sorry .....

-- hide signature --

Tom Caldwell

Diacyclops81 Contributing Member • Posts: 677
Re: Your favourite L-mount camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses
1

For a lot of analyses and photos with a number of various lenses, I would default to kirk tuck’s blog, as he has been eat up with the L-mounts, sigma and leica for some time now. Of those he has discussed the CL strikes me as especially handy. A drift over to the L-mount forum here…seems like a few too many issues that pop up about the lumix s5. So, if I were to go L, it would be a CL in good condition. Of course M-mount digital is a different deal.

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 45,881
Ooooh - was that the ell mount?
2

I only have one L-mount body so by definition that has to be my favourite ....

This is the entry level S1 which has about everything that theS1R has except its more highly populated sensor.

I chose the S1 as an experiment as I have become quite happy with the Panasonic deign philosophy in its M4/3 range.

Also I was severely caught out by the abundance of pixels in the Sony A7R quite a few years ago. I bought the A7R as a potential replacement for my Canon 5D dslr for theatre shoots. I was devastated (quite unhappy) with its low light performance.  If I had my thinking hat on I should have gone for its sibling the A7S with its low pixel count much better low-light performance.  This was not helped by the awful A7R interface. I ended up continuing to use the 5D happily for another five years.  Bearing in mind this was kit-for-a-job and my M4/3 kit had become my everyday pleasure gear.

The S1 was experimental as I had already found that good M4/3 gear was quite capable of matching what my 5D and EF lens kit could do and far far better than the A7R's impoverished efforts.

So 20mp it was and i am not at all disappointed.  I would rather a riskless 20mp than a megapixel failure in low light, but of course Sony's high mp count sensors have improved since the A7R's day.

Back to the S1.

It is a delight to use and very comfortable - Panasonic certainly got the body shape and ergonomics right with their first attempt in the FF sensor department.  There are grumbles about is size - many suggest it as too large.  It is close to regular dslr body size but not a thick heavy handful and balances well in hand.  This does not worry me as it is a special purpose camera body for me and I continue to principally use M4/3 which gives me the most pleasure.

It is the most highly configurable camera I have known and offers 16 custom button settings of which a good number are not even assigned out of the box. A tip here is to assign the 'left arrow' key as a second playback button which allows all regularly used functions to be reached by finger and thumb of the right hand.  This additional playback is cancelled by shutter soft press which is exactly what this user needs who turns auto playback off on all his camera bodies.

Issues? - the major one is that if you don't use your camera for about two week you will probably find that the rather large fully charged battery in the camera body has gone flat.  The spares that you have also tend to lose their charge - but not as quickly.  Not yet found the unused camera and its spare batteries all flat at the same time yet - but it is possible.

I can leave my old Ricoh cameras a year or more and their much smaller batteries are still chirpy.

The other issue which is personally a bit of a bother is that there is no EF-L adapter yet that is as widely compatible as the Metabones adapters are for EF-M4/3.  Metabones and Viltrox don't make for EF-L and of the two better types for EF-L the Fotodiox Fusion is somewhat more widely adaptable than Sigma's own MC-21 adapter.  But of course Sigma's adapter seems to do what it is meant to do - make the best part of Sigma lenses in EF mount work acceptable S-AF.  It is just that the Fusion does that as well and adds some wider compatibility for the rest.

As I am not really interested in yet another set of lenses for yet another mount system the lack of a high degree of EF lens support is a bit of a limiting factor for me.  But reports of the excellent performance of native L-Mount lenses are widely made. But there are enough of my EF mont lenses working that this is not a terminal issue.  Nor am I really into chancing it with legacy MF lenses for my theatre captures - but they do work well when adapted on the S1.

The other strange issue is that I can use my Sigma DC lenses in EF mount focal reduced on to 20mp sensor M4/3 mount bodies where the full aps-c image circle is place on the 4/3 sensor.  On the other hand the same lenses work perfectly on auto-crop sensor for a 10mp image on my S1.

I have not tried to compare quality as both image types seem quite good.  But it is a conundrum that even my tiny eight year old GM5 can capture at least 16mp images with these lenses.

But I will leave that as a conundrum - I am not into pixel wars here.

-- hide signature --

Tom Caldwell

Jesse Vincent New Member • Posts: 11
Re: "Not Leica?"
1

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

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.

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 45,881
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.

-- hide signature --

Tom Caldwell

Photodog2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,908
Re: Your favourite L-mount camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

I like the looks, small size and unorthodox (compared to the usual Japanese) style of the Leica TL2 and CL. Since they seem to be out of production now and they've never been accepted by Leica collectors as "true" Leica maybe their used prices will become reasonable in the future. Leica lenses are out of my league price wise but Zeiss ZM is more in reach and I actually prefer their rendering. So I see a used CL or a TL2 in my future with some used ZM glass adapted with an M to L adapter. My interest is in the 25/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.8 and 50/2 ZMs w/c w/d would make 37.5, 42, 52.5 and 75 equivalents. That would make the perfect standard set of primes for me. I prefer modern AF zooms for telephotos, and modern non-vintage primes for WA and UWAs.

 Photodog2's gear list:Photodog2's gear list
Pentax K10D Pentax K-5 IIs Nikon D600 Sony a6000 Sony a7 II +9 more
MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 45,881
Did Mr Reality meet Miss Speculation?

Photodog2 wrote:

I like the looks, small size and unorthodox (compared to the usual Japanese) style of the Leica TL2 and CL. Since they seem to be out of production now and they've never been accepted by Leica collectors as "true" Leica maybe their used prices will become reasonable in the future. Leica lenses are out of my league price wise but Zeiss ZM is more in reach and I actually prefer their rendering. So I see a used CL or a TL2 in my future with some used ZM glass adapted with an M to L adapter. My interest is in the 25/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.8 and 50/2 ZMs w/c w/d would make 37.5, 42, 52.5 and 75 equivalents. That would make the perfect standard set of primes for me. I prefer modern AF zooms for telephotos, and modern non-vintage primes for WA and UWAs.

Perhaps it was Leica's need to update bodies and possible lack of capital to do so. When combined with Panasonic's need for a RF-Style flat top camera body to round out their current variety of bodies styles in L-Mount which resulted in the L2 joint venture announcement.

Presumably Leica wanted to reserve the RF-Style bodies in L-Mount as their preserve and found that they struggled to fund an updated body that could be sold at anywhere near a highly vendable price.

So along come their mates from Pana-inc with a bucket full of development cash and a joint venture deal that seems like a marriage made in heaven for the good old consumer's benefit. Same camera body, Leica's version has solid gold buttons and wheels.

If the TL2 and CL are out of production then I think that Mr Reality is now talking to Miss Speculation.

-- hide signature --

Tom Caldwell

lattesweden
OP lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 5,454
Re: Did Mr Reality meet Miss Speculation?

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Photodog2 wrote:

I like the looks, small size and unorthodox (compared to the usual Japanese) style of the Leica TL2 and CL. Since they seem to be out of production now and they've never been accepted by Leica collectors as "true" Leica maybe their used prices will become reasonable in the future. Leica lenses are out of my league price wise but Zeiss ZM is more in reach and I actually prefer their rendering. So I see a used CL or a TL2 in my future with some used ZM glass adapted with an M to L adapter. My interest is in the 25/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.8 and 50/2 ZMs w/c w/d would make 37.5, 42, 52.5 and 75 equivalents. That would make the perfect standard set of primes for me. I prefer modern AF zooms for telephotos, and modern non-vintage primes for WA and UWAs.

Perhaps it was Leica's need to update bodies and possible lack of capital to do so. When combined with Panasonic's need for a RF-Style flat top camera body to round out their current variety of bodies styles in L-Mount which resulted in the L2 joint venture announcement.

Presumably Leica wanted to reserve the RF-Style bodies in L-Mount as their preserve and found that they struggled to fund an updated body that could be sold at anywhere near a highly vendable price.

So along come their mates from Pana-inc with a bucket full of development cash and a joint venture deal that seems like a marriage made in heaven for the good old consumer's benefit. Same camera body, Leica's version has solid gold buttons and wheels.

If the TL2 and CL are out of production then I think that Mr Reality is now talking to Miss Speculation.

We on the outside can only speculate and so I will do.

If one looks at the latest CIPA report: https://photorumors.com/2022/09/04/the-latest-cipa-report/

The trend has been looking like this for quite some time, meaning that compacts and DSLRs are going down in both volume and value where mirrorless goes up in volume and value, especially 35 mm or larger formats like:

Lenses for smaller than 35mm Units: 2.693 million –10% YTD
Lenses for smaller than 35mm Shipped Value: ¥47.91 billion +7% YTD

Lenses for 35mm and larger Units: 2.606 million +4% YTD
Lenses for 35mm and larger Shipped Value: ¥189.1 billion +37% YTD

Which tells us that it is the pricier stuff that sells and especially 35 mm or larger, that is where the money is, so I guess Leica just rides on this trend and goes FF all in.

Also together with Panasonic Leica can share development cost on L-mount FF bodys, but not on APS-C since Panasonic don't do those and won't go there since they are invested in m4/3 as their crop format and explicitly has stated that they won't do APS-C L-mount.

-- hide signature --

Best regards
/Anders
*********************************************************************
Used camera brands over 40+ years:
Minolta, Nikon, Balda, Ricoh, Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony.
*********************************************************************
In the photoworld all companies are polyamorous and it is just like a big swingers party behind the scenes.
*********************************************************************
Any photographer can have a camera painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.
*********************************************************************
Some of my images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/66357766
*********************************************************************
Article, how to FTP-transfer, edit & share RAW-images wireless out in the field:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4609147
*********************************************************************
Timeline over all mirrorless autofocus fullframe cameras:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65760019
*********************************************************************
Article about Sony EVF/LCD modes:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65550258
*********************************************************************

Qwerty 2001 Forum Member • Posts: 65
Re: Your favourite L-mount camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses
1

I love manual focus lenses and when I was deciding which full frame mirrorless body from any manufacture to choose I selected the Lumix S1.

Why?

1) It is considered to have among the best IBIS among full frame mirrorless cameras. Very important to me when using my manual (or AF) lenses.

2) It's larger size handles superbly with lenses, without requiring me to buy a vertical grip to improve handling (I always used vertical grips for the handling with my APC and m43 mirrorless bodies). Small light full frame bodies like the S5 are beautiful but don't balance as well as the larger S1 with many full frame AF lenses or medium to larger size manual lenses either.

3) The S1 has a great high res viewfinder.

In terms of usage with vintage lenses. I prefer using a magnified viewfinder view over focus peeking most of the time except when I don't have a lot of time to focus the subject. I find it to be more accurate for critical focus when peeking. I just programmed the WB button to be my magnification button. After achieving critical focus, half-pressing on the shutter and the view returns to the normal non-zoomed view for final composition and taking the shot.

I use a few older AF lenses as well, but just use them as manual focus (Nikon ones that also have an aperture ring). I also have the MC21 Sigma EOS to L AF adapter, but have not really found any EOS lens that I prefer enough to buy.

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