Wednesday, July 12, 2017



For many years owners of Leica R cameras and especially the Leica R lenses have felt neglected by Leica.  Ever since the Leica R9 was discontinued, they have asked for a digital alternative to use their lenses with.

The digital back for the R8 and R9 cameras never got any nominal traction, mainly because it was not really able to compete with the digital offerings from Canon and Nikon.

An adapter to use Leica R lenses on the Leica M cameras has been available for a long time.  But that was never a viable solution since live view was not an option on the Leica M8 and M9.  Finally, with the introduction of the Leica M Typ 240, Leica offered a camera that was able to accommodate the R lenses, especially when equipped with the digital Visoflex finder.  That solution got even better with the introduction of the Leica M10.  But many of the former Leica R users never warmed up to that solution since these cameras are primarily rangefinder cameras. 

Leica R lens on Leica M240

Enter the Leica TL and the new Leica TL2.  These cameras offer an adapter to accept the Leica R lenses, and with the electronic viewfinder, operation is not unlike what was the case with the Leica R cameras.  In addition the Sl and SL2 cameras are very compact and therefore quite easy to carry.  However, they are not full frame cameras and therefore do present another compromise that many of the old R users reject.

Leica TL2 with 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-R

The best answer came with the introduction of the Leica SL, the first professional mirrorless camera to reach the market.  This camera is capable to use almost all of the Leica R lenses, although with an adapter.  Criticism that the Leica SL doesn’t have an optical viewfinder is unfounded because its electronic viewfinder is the most advanced unit of this type to ever have been put into a camera.  Its resolution is almost twice that of its closest competitor and it functions as well as an optical finder on all levels.

But one major criticism remained.  In order to use the R lenses on the Leica SL, it was necessary to stack two adapters, the M-Adapter T/SL and the R-Adapter M.  Not exactly an elegant solution.  This last problem was resolved with the introduction of the Leica R-Adapter L.  With this adapter added to the Leica SL camera, the Leica R lenses can be used as easily as on the old Leica R cameras.

Leica R-Adapter L rdf

As is the case with other mechanical adapters, the camera will not be able to read the aperture setting on the lens. Instead, with the use of an external secondary meter on the SL, the camera will estimate the aperture based on the exposure settings and ambient light reading. Focus assist is accomplished the same way as with all other lenses– one touch of the rear thumb joystick brings up 100% view in the EVF.

Leica SL with 50mm f/1.5 Summilux-R

Note that the adapter is only compatible with R lenses produced after 1976. Mounting an unsupported lens could damage the mount.  Still, Leica should be commended on supporting over 30 years of legacy R glass, with 43 officially supported lenses.

Below is a full list of supported lenses:

Super-Elmarit-R 15 mm f/2.8ASPH.
Super-Elmar-R 15 mm f/3.5
Fisheye-Elmarit-R 16 mm f/2.8
Elmarit-R 19 mm f/2.8
Super-Angulon-R 21mmf/4
Elmarit-R 24 mm f/2.8
Elmarit-R 28 mm f/2.8
Elmarit-R 35 mm f/2.8
Summicron-R 35 mm f/2
Summilux-R 35 mm f/1.4
Summicron-R 50 mm f/2
Summilux-R 50 mm f/1.4
Macro-Elmarit-R 60 mm f/2.8
Summilux-R 80 mm f/1.4
Elmarit-R 90 mm f/2.8
APO-Summicron-R 90 mm f/2ASPH.
Macro-Elmar-R 100 mm f/4
APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100 mm f/2.8
Elmarit-R 135 mm f/2.8
Elmar-R 180 mm f/4
APO-Telyt-R 180 mm f/3.4
Elmarit-R 180 mm f/2.8
APO-Elmarit-R 180 mm f/2.8
APO-Summicron-R 180 mm f/2
Telyt-R 250 mm f/4
APO-Telyt-R 280 mm f/4
Telyt-R 350 mm f/4.8
APO-Telyt-R 280 mmf /2.8
APO-Telyt-R 400 mm f/2.8
APO-Telyt-R 280 mm f/2.8 (Module System)
APO-Telyt-R 400 mm f/2.8 (Module System)
APO-Telyt-R 400 mm f/4 (Module System)
APO-Telyt-R 560 mm f/4 (Module System)
APO-Telyt-R 560 mm f/5.6 (Module System)
APO-Telyt-R 800 mm f/5.6 (Module System)
Vario-Elmar-R 21–35 mm f/3.5–4 ASPH.
Vario-Elmar-R 28–70 mm f/3.5–4.5
Vario-Elmarit-R 28–90 mm f/2.8–4.5 ASPH.
Vario-Elmar-R 35–70 mm f/4
Vario-Elmarit-R 35–70 mm f/2.8ASPH.
Vario-APO-Elmarit-R 70–180 mm f/2.8
Vario-Elmar-R 80–200 mm f /4
Vario-Elmar-R 105–280 mm f/4.2

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