Skip to main content

blinded by emotion - problems using adapted lenses with the α7

Sony α7R
There are some interesting posts coming out now about the success (or not) of adapting alien lenses to the Sony α7/α7R dynamic duo, in that it might not be what everyone has initially hoped for.

Right now is the honeymoon phase of the Sony α7 releases, where a golden light shines over the universe and the Sony α7 can do no wrong. One of its vaunted features in the minds of its most ardent supporters is that it's a better camera body for every other lens ever made, especially Leica lenses. All you need is an adapter...

Perhaps, and then perhaps not. The first word of caution I read comes from The Online Photographer (yes, those guys) and a post made back last Wednesday titled "Two Reasons..." Give credit to Mike Johnston for publishing both sides of issue, in this case the use of Leica lenses via an adapter on the Sony α7 bodies.

The first reason in the post is a link back to Roger Cicala's article "There Is No Free Lunch, Episode 763: Lens Adapters" at LensRentals. I'd read that post already, and was glad to see it referenced in the post. If you haven't already, go read Roger's post, and pay close attention to the summary in "What Does It Mean in the Real World?" at the end of the article. It's not all gloom and doom, but it's not all sunshine and unicorns either.

The second reason was a comment that Mike elevated into that post, written by Bruno Masset. The key take-away from Bruno's comments are how Leica lenses on the Sony α7 "...hoping to use (for instance) old wide-angle rangefinder Leica lenses using mount adapters, are going to discover how mediocre the imaging performance of such lenses might be on a digital sensor." It comes down to how Sony has tuned the sensor at the corners to work with FE lenses, with a specific flange-to-sensor distance of 18mm, compared to Leica's M-mount 27.8mm distance. Leica has tuned their sensor, especially in the corners, to work with their lenses and their mount. The Leica lens and body are a system. So is the Sony α7. You purchase a Leica adapter to use your Leica lens on your new Sony body, and it won't work well because the Leica lens is now too far away from the sensor by about 10mm.

There's nothing wrong with this, and in the case of the Sony α7 it's vital to have it considering how close a 135mm sized sensor is to the exit pupil of any E mount lens. And therein lies the problem. A sensor with microlenses that are angled to make the best of the 18mm distance between flange and sensor will not work anywhere as well for lenses that are further away from the sensor, especially those on adapters and especially away from dead center.

Sure enough, over on a post by Ron Scheffler, "Sony a7 torture test with Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander rangefinder lenses," he writes and I quote:
My take on the results: I’m hoping these lenses will fare better on the a7R. Results on the a7 are for the most part disappointing. All I can surmise at the moment is that the toppings on the a7′s sensor work against achieving optimal (or in some cases, good enough) results with the rangefinder lenses I had available for this test.
I personally don't think it will be any better (but no worse) on the 7R.

This is not a slam against Sony, but a word to the wise: if you're going to buy Sony then use Sony, not just for best results, but even for good enough. I know there's a bit of pent up anger against Leica over the exorbitant price and mediocre quality of the Leica digital bodies (especially the M-9), but buying a 7 or 7R may not be the right solution. The Sony FE lens selection might be a big thin at the moment, but if you want to get the best from the Sony system, then invest in lenses specifically made for the Sony system.


Flange focal distance -


Popular posts from this blog

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…

vm networking problem fixed

Over the weekend I upgraded to Windows 8.1, then discovered that networking for the virtual machines wouldn't work. Then I tried something incredibly simple and fixed the problem.

Checking the system I noticed that three VMware Windows services weren't running; VMnetDHCP, VMUSBArbService, and VMwareNatService. VMware Player allows you to install, remove, or fix an existing installation. I chose to try fixing the installation, and that fixed the problem. The services were re-installed/restarted, and the virtual machines had networking again.

Once network connectivity was established there was exactly one updated file for Ubuntu 13.10, a data file. This underscores how solid and finished the release was this time. Every other version of every other Linux installation I've ever dealt with has always been succeeded by boatloads of updates after the initial installation. But not this time.

Everything is working properly on my notebook. All's right with the world.

sony's pivotal mirrorless move

I'm a died-in-the-wool technologist, even when it comes to photography. I have always been fascinated with the technology that goes into manufacturing any camera, from the lenses (optics) through the mechanical construction, the electronics involved, and especially the chemistry of the film and the sophistication of the digital sensor. It's amazing that the camera can do all it's asked of it, regardless of manufacturer.

Of all the types of cameras that I've really taken an interest in, contemporary mirrorless (again, regardless of manufacturer) are the most interesting because of the challenging problems the scientists and engineers have had to solve in order to build a compact but highly functional camera. In particular I've followed the sensor advances over the years and watched image quality climb (especially with μ4:3rds) to exceed film and rival one another such that there's very little difference any more as you move from the smaller sensors such as 4:3r…