I’m not the type of guy who likes to use 3rd party adaptors to Frankenstein the camera with lenses from other systems.
Nothing against experimenting, but I firmly believe the best image quality will come from the native lens because manufacturers design lenses, camera bodies, image sensor and processor to work together as a system. So everything is optimised to extract the ultimate performance.
Still, I decided to buy an adaptor – a very cheap one – to couple Leica M lenses to my Fuji X-E3 and give it a go.
For one thing, Fuji actually produces an adaptor for Leica M lenses and there is something right about using M lenses on Fuji cameras. Take a look at the photos above and you will see what I mean. Most people will tell you current Fuji cameras design are inspired by Leica. Whatever.
So how does it feel?
I spent a day out shooting with my Leica 35mm Summicron and it was good fun. The lens is small and size-wise it matches the camera perfectly. With the crop factor, it gives an equivalent 50mm focal length.
I used focus peaking and it worked perfectly. All I can say is that I enjoyed the experience, especially the manual focusing.
You can obviously manual focus with every native Fuji lens, but that will be through their by-wire focus rings, and frankly that’s no match for a real mechanical focus ring. With a mechanical ring there is no endless turning, whenever you reach the minimum or the maximum focus distance the ring will just stop. This alone, believe me, is a day and night difference in terms of feel.
Manual focus is really cool
Using manual focus is really liberating. In the sequence below I just pre-focused then waited for the right moment to shoot. These are all out of camera RAWs desaturated to black & white. No cropping or other adjustments made. You can click for full resolution and EXIF data.
Yes, with a native lens I could have done the same or use continuous autofocus and then shoot continuously at 8 fps, then just pick the right photo. But I’m not an advocate of the spray & pray technique. The way I did it, shooting only one single photo at the right moment, felt more deliberate and pleasant.
You can judge by yourself below, just take into account these were all taken indoors because the weather is shitty these days with a lot of rain.
The photos are sharp, colours are pleasant and the bokeh is creamy and smooth. I’m not surprised though, after all this is a Leica lens, right?
However, I have the feeling the native Fuji XF 35mm f/2.0 R lens would do a better job. I haven’t done any comparisons, just saying it based on my experience using that lens which is superb. Perhaps one day I’ll do a side-by-side just for fun.
The only bad thing worth mentioning is the minimum focus distance of the Leica 35mm Summicron, which is 0.7 meters. This is typical for Leica M lenses, you just can’t get too close to your subject. Whereas with the Fuji XF 35mm f/2.0 R, you can get a s close as 0.3 meters.
As a conclusion, I’d say don’t bother investing on Leica lenses for your Fuji X system – just stick to Fuji lenses, performance-wise you’ll get the best.
But if, like me, you already have some Leica lenses in your collection, then it’s ok to buy a cheap adaptor and have some fun.
All in all, it’s about having fun and I truly enjoyed the experience.