Friday, October 26, 2018


Leica rangefinder cameras used to be relatively awkward for close-up photography.  The rangefinder focusing is not well suited for this task by itself and always requires special close-up accessories. Over the years Leica has produced a relatively large variety of them, the most versatile of which arguably were the Visoflex housings which essentially converted the rangefinder camera to a single lens reflex (SLR) camera. But they were bulky and added a lot of weight.

It wasn’t until the introduction of the Leica M 240 that easy close-up photography could be done with a Leica rangefinder camera.  The live view of the CMOS sensor allowed real time observation of the image, either on the camera screen or with the electronic viewfinder, the electronic Visoflex. 

The new Visoflex in use on top of a Leica M10

This once again has become easier with the introduction of the Leica M10.  The electronic Visoflex of the Leica M (Typ 240) has been greatly improved.  The M10 can be equipped with the Visoflex  Typ 020.  Thanks to its swivel action, the 2.4 MP (up from 1.4 MP), high-resolution Visoflex electronic finder enables photography from unusual angles – and simultaneously expands the photographer’s creative horizons. A sensor system in the viewfinder registers when it is held up to the eye. This automatically switches the monitor display off, and on again as soon as the camera is moved away from the eye. It also features an integrated GPS module that can be switched on for geotagging image files.  This is the very reason why the electronic Visoflex housing is made of a plastic material.  Metal would shield the interior and render a GPS module useless.

Of course even here some accessories are needed to overcome the limited close focus abilities of the lenses.

In order to focus any lens closer than what the standard focusing mount of the lens allows, it has to be moved further from the sensor plane.  The simplest means to do so is with extension tubes which usually come in different lengths to allow for a variety of minimum focusing distances.

Novoflex offers a rather versatile extension tube system with their LEM/VIS II extension tube set for the Leica M.  It greatly enhances the versatility of the camera.  The entire set has the same length as the Leitz Visoflex II and III.  Subsequently, it can eliminate the use of the Visoflex units when using any of the so-called Visoflex lenses on the Leica M.  Instead either live view or the auxiliary electronic Visoflex finder can be used for viewing and focusing.  In addition, the extension tubes in various combinations can be used to achieve close focusing with any Leica lens.  The set consists of five separate sections, the lens mount, the camera mount and three extension rings that can be used in various combinations to achieve a variety of close-up ranges with Leica and other M mount lenses.


For even greater versatility this extension tube set can be used in conjunction with the Leica Bellows II.  This bellows was meant to be used with the Visoflex I or II.  It allowed infinity focus with any of the so called Leica Visoflex lenses, but offered very close focusing without the need for any other accessories.  Since the Novoflex LEM/VIS II set is designed to replace the Visoflex housing, the use of the Leica Bellows II offers the same versatility without the need of the Visoflex.  Using standard Leica lenses will offer a great variety of close-up ranges, making the Novoflex a LEM/VIS II a welcome addition to the Leica M system of anyone interested in the world of close-up photography.

For example, the Leitz Telyt 560mm f/6.8 will focus to infinity when mounted on the Visoflex II or III.  Replacing either Visoflex with the Novoflex LEM/VIS II extension tube set will allow for the same use on the Leica M (Typ 240) and the Leica M10.  This would also be the case in the setup below, which added the Leica Bellows II for a much greater close focusing range.


 This is a photograph taken with the above system.  Replacing the Visoflex III with the
Novoflex extension tube set would render exactly the same result.

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