What's the case against using LTM lenses on an M8?

Discussion in 'Leica M and LTM Lenses' started by Quen234, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. Quen234

    Quen234 New to Leica Place

    Jun 24, 2014
    I'm hoping to get my M8 back from the Leica repair center in the next couple weeks and am looking to pick up a fast 50mm lens. I've been primarily looking at a version 4 Summicron, but then I was thinking, "Why not consider an LTM lens with an adapter?" I'm not sure any of my reasons are even valid now that I think about it; I've acquired the following impressions over the past couple months, while I've waited for my new M8 to undergo repairs:

    1) Older LTM lenses are less likely to be sharp than newer lenses.

    2) LTM lenses with an adapter will add more bulk that a bayonet mount 50mm Summicron or Summarit.

    3) An LTM lens has a lesser chance of being calibrated to focus correctly with an M8.

    My biggest concern is 3) that an LTM lens is less likely to focus correctly. I definitely want whatever lens I get to focus sharp wide open. Are there lenses to avoid, given that concern? I'm wary about buying an LTM lens because there aren't many used ones to be had locally, so I would likely end up buying something from the forums or eBay (without a return policy). But is this a valid worry?

    Are points 1) and 2) above at all accurate? I've been looking at images of some LTM-->M adapters online, and they don't seem to add much bulk at all, from what I can tell. I don't care about the lack of 6-bit coding on the adapter, as it shouldn't matter for a 50mm lens.

    Any advice here is much appreciated. Should I stick with newer M-mount lenses? Or are there some good deals to be had, without compromising focus, if I'm willing to use an LTM adapter?

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  2. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Get a good quality adapter of the proper thickness- many of the cheap ones are not the correct thickness, and often have an issue with the lens coming up "top center". Some LTM lenses were made to have the focus and aperture index point towards the viewfinder- that's normal.

    LTM lenses tend to be older designs, and the "super-Speed" lenses were best stopped down a bit. Many of the classic 1950s fast lenses were Sonnar desings- and suffered from "focus shift" as you stopped down.

    Focus-Shift explained here:


    Classic Sonnar on a Leica here:


    My Gallery- many LTM lenses on the M8, M9, and M Monochrom.


    As far as working properly- the Russian lenses need to be adjusted. Many older LTM lenses were optimized for being stopped down a bit, such as the Leica Summarit and Canon 50/1.5- both set for F2.8 optimal use. The Canon is easily adjusted by a technician.

    The case against them- Do they fit your style?
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  3. chalkdust

    chalkdust Leica Place Regular

    Apr 3, 2013
    If anyone else has this question, the most concise answers available are given here by Quen and Brian. I think all of the pros and cons are listed. The bottom line is that a good LTM (the Leica screw thread mount) to M adapter works well. I own and frequently use a Voigtlander 50mm f/3.5 Classic Heliar ( a LTM lens ) on my M8. It works beautifully. I simply leave the adaptor on the lens and seldom ever think about it.
  4. raid

    raid Leica Place All-Pro

    Apr 12, 2013
    I often use ltm lenses on my M8. Such lenses can be great.
  5. Mr_Flibble

    Mr_Flibble Leica Place Veteran

    Aug 16, 2013
    The Lowlands
    My case against it is that, people using modern cameras are snatching up our glorious historical LTM lenses, raising the prices. ;)
  6. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Well- cannot complain too much about that, ir paid for the M9 and M Monochrom, for me. Remember when Canon 50/1.5s cost $70 and collapsible Summicrons cost under $100...
  7. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    LTM lenses, especially 50s are fantastic on digital, and like Brian said, just get a decent adapter and there will be no issue. Leica's lenses usually work perfectly and are often extremely sharp. Summitars, Summicrons and Elmars are always sharp in the center, even wide-open.

    I currently have three LTM lenses that I use on my M Monochrom and I just leave the adapters on them full-time. I use the Rayqual adapters from Cameraquest, they seem to be of high quality and have a recessed area where 6-bit coding can be easily added and won't rub off.