Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nikon G lens to Leica M 240 adapter

Today I received the adapter I ordered to connect a Nikon lens, including G lenses, to a Leica M 240 -- combining two of my favorite camera systems. The interesting thing about this adapter is that it allows you to open and close the aperture of the G lens.  Since I shoot both Nikon and Leica professionally, having this adapter will allow me to bridge the two systems.  I often carry both a Leica and Nikon system with me when I do travel photography.

Adapters like this are readily available on eBay for around $45. Nikon G lenses do not have an external aperture ring. To use them you will need an adapter that can open and close the lens diaphragm. Adapters are also available that do not synch with a G lens. Make sure you have the right one if you plan to pick one up. Note that on the adapter photo below there is an external ring with the words "Lock" and "Open" on it.  Turning this ring opens and closes the G lens aperture.

I didn't expect any of the lens data to make its way to the final image, and was surprised to learn that the camera was at least able to figure out the aperture that was used. There are no f/stop markings on the adapter and the control ring moves smoothly without any clicks so you can't use it to count the stops. What I did was rack the diaphragm open, note the shutter speed, and then slowly close the aperture while watching the shutter speed change.  Each change in shutter speed indicates a corresponding change in the aperture.

The "lock--open" ring on the adapter turns to open and close the Nikon G lens aperture.
The new EVF (electronic view finder) on the Leica M 240 is going to make connections like this possible. I expect to see a flood of such adapters becoming available.

Here is Nikon's latest 70-200mm f/4 G lens adapted to the Leica M 240.  Not only does it work, it works well!
Here are a couple of sample images that show the results you can expect.  There is a link below the image to download a high res version.

This photo and the one below were both taken with the new Nikon 80-400mm lens mounted on the Leica M 240.  Click here to download a full res version.

Click here to download a full res version.

Click here to download a full res version.
This sort of precise alignment with the sun just peeking out from behind the blossoms was hit or miss using a rangefinder viewfinder. The new EVF finder on the Leica M make it as precise as on DSLR.  Taken with the new Nikon 70-200mm f/4 lens.

The new World Trade Center is seen out of focus in the background of these blossoms taken with the new Nikon 80-400mm zoom lens on the Leica M 240.
A new Nikon 80-400mm zoom lens mounted on the Leica M 240.  Awesome!

I suppose the most important thing I can say about this adapter is that it works. It was made in China, not to the most exacting standards.  While it fit snugly on the Leica -- maybe even a bit too snugly -- I did detect a bit of wobble on the adapter-to-lens side. This didn't seem to cause any problems with resolution, as the sample photos above will attest, but it is disconcerting. Hopefully, as the new Leica M 240 enters the mainstream, other manufactures will come out with more precisely machined adapters.

I will use this adapter primarily for mounting long telephoto lenses or a macro lens onto the Leica.  I don't see much reason for using it with mid-range lenses where a real Leica lens would be a much better option. Of course, that said, I did try it out with the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 zoom, and found it quite handy to carry as an all around lens.

I prefer using the long Nikon lenses on the Leica as opposed to the actual Leica-R lenses because the R lenses rack out much more than the Nikon lenses do beyond the infinity setting.  I find this makes the R lenses more difficult to focus on the Leica M 240.

Top of the new World Trade Center taken with the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 zoom.  Click here to download full res version.

Taken with the Nikon 24-120mm. Click here to download full res version.


  1. That's great but what I would really like to find is the reverse. I want to try my Leica glass on my D600. Anything for that?

  2. Unfortunately, that will never work. The distance between the lens and the sensor plane is shorter on the Leica than on a Nikon so the lens could never focus at infinity.

    1. *thumbs up* Good job Tom. Shame on you Michael.

  3. Will this adapter allow autofocus? :P

  4. There is no autofocus on a Leica M camera.

  5. If you carry both systems when you travel I fail to see the benefit of using the Nikon lens on the Leica. What do you get from it other than the ability to say "this was shot with a Leica"?

    For all practical purposes those images could have been shot with a 24MP D600 and nobody would know the difference. And since you're using a huge AF telephoto lens why not just use a body that supports all features of the lens including AF and VR? You're not conserving a lot of space by using a rangefinder body as opposed to an SLR body.

    From someone who also shoots Leica and Nikon, as a novelty this is kind of cool, but in practical terms it's kind of pointless to me.

    *no offense is meant here, just my own observations.

  6. I probably wasn't clear enough on how I use the equipment. For travel photography I walk around a lot, carrying my equipment with me. In the beginning, I use the Nikon system, which is heavier all around. After covering the location for a few days, I switch to the Leica system where I can walk around much more unencumbered. Unlike the Nikon gear, which requires a large camera bag, a few Leica lenses fit in my vest pockets. With the new M 240 I can now throw in a 70-200 f/4 zoom instead of the 135mm Telyt, and have a full focal length coverage with me. I don't carry both cameras at the same time.

  7. Sure that makes more sense. I just have a different shooting technique. I'd cover the location and get the shots I need with the DSLR and then switch to the Leica even if it means being restricted by lenses.

    Actually, since I'm a bit compulsive, I'd probably bring a small camera such as a D5200 along with the Leica just in case (if it were a paid gig)

    Lately, I find I just bring the Leica and a CV 35mm Nokton and make do with it.

  8. J. Dennis If it works for Tom then isn't it cool? we all have different methods of doing what we like, in this case if he uses the adapter to match his Nikkor lenses with a smaller lighter body and he's happy with the combo then: who are we to argue about his choice? sure we can chime in with our opinion however dissing his opinion won't make yours stand more.

    The article is pretty clear to say that the choices he makes is to have a smaller camera with the convenience of a zoom lens.

    Just a nice quote to keep in mind: "The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions."
    Leonardo da Vinci

    Tom thanks for the article! pretty nice :)

  9. Tom, I saw this on Leica Rumors. Personally I would prefer two M9s or M-Es than one M240, but that is just my preference. However, this is Leica we're talking about so I had to look. :-)

    Firstly, thank you for providing full sized JPEGs. Some photographers either won't or can't be bothered. I'm glad you did.

    BTW one of your links is incorrect - the last photo actually links to a bunch of flowers. IMO I'd say that you can recover some detail in the super-saturated yellows and reds with a setting in DxO (I think it's called Color Rendition). It saved a few of my photos once, mainly the ones of a girl wearing a 1960s overcoat. The RAW file apparently had no detail in the fabric but a bit of PP fixed that.

    Secondly, I would be more excited to use Contax Zeiss lenses than anything else. Some of those lenses are still cheap - I got an 80-200/4 for a bit over $200 (I'd have payed more). I'll compare this to the Nikkor equivalent (both are one-touch) on the NEX and see how I go. I actually want to be using film more these days - and the only digital cameras that get me excited about digital photography are the Leicas. ;-)

    J. Dennis, I respect critical feedback and I'm glad that you just said what you felt. I expect the same from others whenever I express a POV or methodology. I disagree on one point: I don't think that the D600 would match the M because, on paper, the M images should be sharper and therefore would have a higher enlargement factor. But for the web, nobody needs anything more than micro 4/3. :-)

  10. Regarding the adapter's "wobble": every Nikon mount has a simple solution of adjusting the "tightness" of mount by adjusting 3 small springs with in a mount by micro screwdriver. I do that with almost every Nikon mount adapter for various camera systems (from Canon to Sony FZ..). Even different brand/type lenses require different adjustments on particular mount adapter. Just a nature of the Nikon F mount design. Back to adapter you got: simple screwdriver "pry adjustment" will fix the small issue you have with it.

  11. Good idea, Steven. Thanks for sharing.