The best digital bodies for manual focus Nikkors are......, Leicas

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by asiafish, Dec 11, 2017.

  1. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    I've built up quite a nice collection of manual focus Nikkor lenses and enjoy shooting them on both digital and film. Finding a good film body for Nikon is easy as other than the FM10 and FE10 (both actually Cosinas) there really weren't any bad Nikon bodies. My personal favorite is the F3, though I own and am happy enough with my second favorite, the F2 (mine is an F2A).

    Digital is more difficult. The Df is close; very close, but I find it feels a lot more plasticky than I would like, and despite all of the nice retro dials, it still feels like a modern DSLR complete with far too many buttons, menus and the like for my taste. It also has a modern DSLR focusing screen that while good for manual focusing by modern standards, sucks compared with any good film SLR. My Df was modified with an FM3a focusing screen which solved that one shortcoming.

    Still, I shoot more Leica than Nikon and I always had to choose which system to shoot with no interoperability between them, until now.

    I upgraded from the Leica M-D to the new M10 and found it's EVF with the Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux so easy to focus, that I became curious about using my Nikkors with it. One Novoflex Nikon F to Leica M adapter later and I can tell you that the M10 makes a better digital back for my Nikkors than the Df did. Focusing is extremely easy, especially with the magnification and peaking though honestly it's already so fast and easy that I don't bother with either feature. With the adapter, I can add a few Nikkors to my Leica kit and not have to bring an extra body, and nice as the Df sensor is, the M10's is nicer, with 50% higher resolution (not so important) and no AA filter (more important).

    I was so happy with this set up that I have sold my Df. I am also so happy with certain Nikkors (200/4 Q and 24/2.8 K) that I see little point in buying Leica lenses in those focal lengths. The 43-86/3.5 AI is also surprisingly good (thank's Brian) on the M10.
     
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  2. JonVdG

    JonVdG Leica Place Regular

    32
    Apr 29, 2016
    Boulder, Colorado
    Jon
    Thanks for sharing your perspective on this. I've long been a fan of the Nikon AI and AI-S lenses for their great IQ, high build quality, and superb ergonomics (the 135mm f/2.8 is about as smooth as it gets for manual focus). I've used them with some success on the D200 and D300, but I've also noticed some limitations. I considered doing exactly what you did - adapting the Nikkors to my M8, etc., but ended up adapting my Leica M lenses to the Leica T body instead. I prefer the rendering that only Leica-on-Leica can give, but I don't mean to take anything away from the Nikkors. They really are great lenses that deserve a great body like the M10. And yes, the Novoflex adapters seem to be the way to go - they have never let me down. Perfect infinity focusing with almost every lens. I had a couple Nikkors that needed some adjustment, but that took just a few minutes and now they are perfect.

    Happy shooting!
     
  3. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    815
    May 1, 2013
    Hmmm. If you like them on the M10, guessing on the SL would be the cat's pajamas. The ability of the SL to manually focus lenses is just superb, and I don't know of anything that can touch the SL's EVF.

    Of course if you already have the M10 there's very little chance of getting an SL as well. Although they are coming down in price, especially used. Not to tempt anyone. :biggrin:

    As to lenses, there's something neat about the Leica lenses. Again not that someone would get them if they already have coverage from another top-drawer lens. Nope, no need to consider it. Heh!

    Here's from the 50mm f1.4 ASPH on the SL:

    36123299513_d69df643d5_b.
    along the boardwalk
    by Carl B, on Flickr

    And the 21mm SEM:

    36931586435_91fb9760cf_b. grass to rice lake by Carl B, on Flickr
     
  4. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    I would like to see a DF-2, with a menu closer to Leica. I have mine setup to use all dial controls, the exception being formatting a card and adding a lens. Ten slots is no where near enough for my collection.

    It's nice to know the M10 is available, it appeals to me- but I have gotten so used to the M9 and M Monochrom, just not ready to move on. How many people write their own DNG processors, get it just like they want. Probably about as many that still use DOS for image processing.
     
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  5. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    815
    May 1, 2013
    Using DOS ... would that be PC or MS DOS? I think I have Oregon Trail on a 5-1/4" disk somewhere if you're interested ... Hah!

    One of these days Brian, you could translate that to Python or the like. Just a passing idea. :popcorm2:
     
  6. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Python... nah. FORTRAN-77 + ASM. DOS 7.1, ie Win98se Booted into real-mode using BOOTGUI=0. Pharlap DOS Extenders, 4GBytes of RAM available for use. 512GByte FAT-32 SATA drive, one-big Bootable partition.

    If they ever make the M10 open-source code, I'll definitely get one... Probably C/C++/ASM. I have a 5.25" floppy drive 3ft from me, right now.
     
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  7. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    I also own and love the 135/2.8 (mine is a K type, last pre-AI with factory AI conversion). That lens is a joy to use, but I see little reason other than one more F stop to use it on the M10 as my old Leica 135/4 Tele-Elmar is even better, not to mention RF coupled,
     
  8. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    I had a very difficult time deciding between getting the M10 and the SL, but since rangefinder is my preferred way to shoot, the M10won out.
     
  9. JonVdG

    JonVdG Leica Place Regular

    32
    Apr 29, 2016
    Boulder, Colorado
    Jon
    I have the 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar (1980’s version) as well and it is the best 135mm I have ever used. Interestingly, the Nikon 135mm AI 135mm f/3.5 is nearly as good, and noticeably better than the Nikon 135mm f/2.8. It has really surprised me. In today’s market, it can usually be found for half the price of the f/2.8. All that being said, I still reach for the Elmar first.
     
  10. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    The Nikkor 135/3.5 is a Sonnar, I believe the last in the Nikon Line-up. Designed and introduced in 1950. It's a great lens- often overlooked. Same formula as the Leica mount 13.5cm F3.5 of the 50s, which go for under $100.
     
  11. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    815
    May 1, 2013
    Sounds like either the 135mm f3.5 of the fifties through eighties, or the eighties 135mm f4 Tele-Elmar would be great for the M ... Thinking of advice to give my dad for his M240. They have hawks and finches and roadrunners and lizards in their back yard, all drawn because of their feeders.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
  12. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Or the 200/4.5 Komura... RF Coupled. How far away are the Hawks and Finches? Even 30 ft away, birds are somewhat small with a 135.
     
  13. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    815
    May 1, 2013
    For the most part, well within 30 feet ... But that 200 Komura sounds quite intriguing. Does RF coupling hold up well for that? Even at f4.5, the depth of field is going to be pretty thin. Although he does have the EVF that he likes to use with the 240.
     
  14. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    The Komura- the trick is the minimum focus is ~20ft. It is RF coupled, and it works. At 20ft- F4.5 is not bad. Found this lens cheap at a camera show, added the zoom-finder that goes to 200mm this year. It's a novelty lens. For birds- would be good, but the 135 is easy to find and more practical.
     
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