Tuesday, October 2, 2012


One of the much talked about accessories for the new Leica M is the adapter R which allows the use of Leica r lenses.  When combined with the new digital Visoflex finder, it converts the Leica M to a virtual DSLR like camera, allowing proper focusing with the R lenses.  It is looked upon as the long awaited answer of Leica R lens owners for a viable digital camera to use their lenses on.

Leica M with Leica M adapter R and mounted R lens

There have been several questions regarding this adapter.  One is if there is any electronic coupling.  The answer is “no.”  The adapter is strictly a mechanical device.  But it does have the 6 bit code, common on many of the M lenses, which lets the camera recognize that the R adapter is mounted. The camera’s menu then offers a selection of about twenty R lenses. Those have been tested and calibrated to ensure perfect quality of the image. This does not mean that other R lenses will yield poor results.  You can properly use any of the lenses not listed on the menu by simply selecting a similar lens. Depending on the market’s acceptance Leica might add some more lenses to the menu.

The new R adapter will be available soon for slightly more than 300 dollars.

Many Leica owners have asked the question if the old Leica #22228 R adapter can be used also.  This adapter was developed in the 1970s to allow the use of Leica R lenses on the Leicina Special motion picture camera.  Since that camera was equipped with the Leica M mount, many Leica owners used this adapter successfully to mount R lenses on the Leica M cameras.  However, it has limitations.  Only the older R lenses can be mounted on the adapter.  Any of the newer R lenses with the ROM contacts won’t fit.  Don Goldberg of DAG Camera Service in Wisconsin can modify the adapter for about 30 dollars to eliminate that problem.

Leitz 22228 adapter

Another possibility is the Novoflex LEM/LER adapter.   It can be used with any of the Leica R lenses without restriction.  Of any of the aftermarket adapters, this is without question the best one.  It is very close in workmanship and precision to the Leica adapters.  It is listed on the Novoflex website www.novoflex.com for 149 euros.

Finally there is a fairly large number of inexpensive R adapters.  All of them will function correctly, but their overall precision does not match the Leica or Novoflex adapters.  

One important consideration in choosing an R adapter is the fact that many of the Leica R lenses are fairly heavy and therefore can put considerable strain on the adapter.  Leica has always used six screws to secure the lens mount.  In this regard, all other adapters lag behind, even the rather excellent one from Novoflex.  These all have only four screws to hold the lens mount in place.  This is definitely something to consider.

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  1. Does it really make a significant difference if the adapter has four or six screws? The Novoflex adapter is about 100 dollars less expensive than the Leica one, yet Novoflex has a good reputation for making excellent equipment. Seems to me it is the better buy.

  2. I agree that the four screws vs. six does not make that much of a difference, as long as you are careful with heavier lenses. Besides, many of the longer and heavier R lenses do have their own tripod socket which allows for better balance and less stress on the lens mount. However, there is another, possibly more important advantage to the Leica M Adapter R, the six bit code. It definitely allows to optimize the overall performance of the R lenses. I guess it needs to be seen how much of a difference that might make.