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Best mirrorless for legacy lenses?

Philip Freedman , Jan 22, 2012; 05:36 p.m.

I would like to use my Leica M lenses on a small camera such as the Sony NEX, Pany G or Oly EP series. I found the Leica M9 clumsy, unreliable to wake up and show the in-viewfinder settings, and with very imprecise framing. I have tried a 35 Summicron on an old GF1 but it take two different button presses to trigger the focus magnifier. I have read that the NEX 5N and NEX 7 have focus peaking to assist with manual focus - can that facility be left on at all times? If not, is it easy to switch on? Are there any other views about the best mirrorless small camera to use with an adapter and manual lenses? Thanks Philip


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Dieter Schaefer , Jan 22, 2012; 06:53 p.m.

I place some more restrictions on my mirrorless that I want to use with my M lenses (and at least one Nikkor) - the camera must have a useable eye-level viewfinder and at least an APS-C-size sensor. This currently leaves the Sony NEX7 and the Fuji XPro-1 in the game - and once there are some reviews out on the latter and when I can get my hands on both, it just might be decision time. Or I will have to wait for the next round of updates....

Peter Gilbert , Jan 22, 2012; 08:15 p.m.

I use the Sony 5N with the add on EVF. I only use CV lenses with this camera: 15mm f4.5, 28mm f2, 50mm f1.5-S, and 85mm f3.5-S. The peaking function can be left on all the time. I generally use "low" setting for the 15mm, "mid" level with the 28 and 50 lenses, and "high" with the 85mm. I use Yellow as the color, and I set the camera to display black and white on the LCD at low contrast (set at -3) to make the peaking "shimmers" more noticeable. (Since I shoot RAW the original color is always available).
I prefer the 5N for two reasons: I'm left eye dominant, and the swivel EVF on the 5N is a whole lot easier for me than the built-in v/f on extreme left of the NEX 7 (no, I have not used it but I've been in touch with folks who have). Second, the touch screen on the 5N is more useful than I thought to get precise focus with the screen magnification feature.
Another "plus" for the 5N is less corner color shifts and vignetting than with the 7 with UWA lenses. I use CornerFix with the 15mm (also I set up a profile for the 28 but never had to use it). This works provided you shoot RAW and convert to DNG files.

Bob Meyer , Jan 22, 2012; 09:40 p.m.

I'm not a big fan of the NEX system, but that's largely because I think the native lens selection pretty much sucks. But if the primary goal is legacy lenses, NEX has a lot to offer. I'd agree the 5N is the sweet spot in that system right now.

Arthur Plumpton , Jan 22, 2012; 11:03 p.m.

With the high megapixel sensors and optical means (microlenses) of allowing so-called legacy RF lenses to be used on full frame digital bodies, I wonder why there are not more mirrorless cameras like the Leica M9 that exploit the full frame. The Sony NEX-7 and the Fuji Pro SPro-1 are apparently competent machines, but why not other full frame mirrorless cameras? The larger pixel size would be a plus for image rendition. Are they in the offing, and worth the wait?

Juergen Sattleru , Jan 22, 2012; 11:38 p.m.

I concur with the Nex 5N. I use mine with CV, Nikon, Contax G and Canon FD lenses. With the optional EVF it is a pleasure to use and very quick to focus. The NEX-7 just has too many MPs for my tase. I don't want to worry about noise with high ISO shots.

Josh Root , Jan 23, 2012; 02:13 a.m.

I would suggest looking into the Ricoh GXR with the leica m mount module.

JC Uknz , Jan 23, 2012; 03:51 a.m.

I would have thought the Olympus cameras with body IS might be attractive to you. Since panasonic have connections with Leica they have adaptors for your lenses mentioned in the manual which came with my G3. Depends on if you want the crop factor or larger sensor, not that much different You could read the report of a conversation with Panasonic's marketing manager linked from the Olympus and 4/3 forum, which talked about different processors.

Joe Allebaugh , Jan 23, 2012; 08:38 a.m.

After the past several years of examining interchangeable lens mirrorless camera models I finally purchased my first in November, a NEX-5N, for three primary reasons: IQ up to ISO 3200, the flexibility using the EVF and LCD, and MF peaking. I don't have M-mount lenses currently, but as others here, I have and use a wide variety of old MF optics including Contax G, C/Y, Leica R, Nikkor AIS and earlier, Canon FD, OM, and more. I've since purchased adapters for each native mount to the NEX, and peaking makes all of them just FUN to use as well as bringing out their best qualities again, and that was my primary reason they were purchased and kept in the first place.

The Contax Gs are the most difficult for me to use on NEX, between their close registration as well as the sometimes rough focus operation of the adapters. But the IQ results are more than worth any effort.

The 5N is a little small in my hands, and it needed to be well customized for the ways I wanted to work with it, but overall much easier than using these old lenses on my Canon DSLRs whether with live view, focus screens, angle finder and other visual aids, all lacking the aid of peaking. I use S and M modes primarily on the 5N with the MF optics, with peaking active all the time, but it's only obvious when an MF lens is attached and peaking is visible only on the in-focus areas. You'll have to handle and see this for yourself to appreciate or reject.

Mark Pierlot , Jan 23, 2012; 09:44 p.m.

From all that I've heard and read in this thread and elsewhere, it seems that the Sony NEX bodies are the ones to beat.

I had a Panasonic G1 on which to use my Canon FD lenses, and I found the viewfinder to be very poor. The NEX-7 reportedly has the best viewfinder of any mirrorless body, so I'm considering acquiring one once it's released.

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