In my last post, I shared theories regarding my obsession with Leica M mount digital cameras.
I have found another reason.
Having only dabbled in film M mount cameras and third party focus adjustable lenses before there was always one question for both.
Is this camera’s rangefinder calibrated properly?
Is this lens calibrated properly?
Because of this, missed focus could be due to one or more of three scenarios:
- The lens is out of calibration.
- The camera is out of calibration.
- I just stink at rangefinder focusing.
And I had my doubts about my Hexar RF. Each lens I used it with focused a little differently.
…and (a recently acquired) 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4…
…performed perfectly. Sharp pics were a breeze.
But the longer, faster lenses I had were not as consistent.
My long time favorite, 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 was a bit hit…
Same goes for the 7Artisans 75mm f/1.25. Also hit…
Sidebar: None of this matters when adapting to mirrorless since there is no rangefinder involved. Could be argued as another advantage to adapting.
Task at hand. Rangefinder focusing.
While it is good that you can adjust TTArtisans and 7Artisans lenses this is not of much use if, like me, you had no access to a digital Leica M. Theoretically you could calibrate an M mount lens with a film rangefinder. but the two methods available are less than optimal.
- Have seen some open the film back and shutter, place transparent tape over the opening, and attempt to confirm focus that way with the test chart. Nope. This all sounds wildly inaccurate and unpleasant.
- Shoot a test shot. Develop film. Adjust. Shoot a test shot. Devel… Nope. This sounds even worse.
For reference here is an excellent video outlining the calibration process.
After a quick watch, it quickly becomes apparent why it is far better to have a digital M at your disposal.
More on this later, but it is a good thing that some of these lenses have consistently accurate focusing results. These lenses above are how I quickly realized that the recently acquired Leica M Type 240 was out of calibration. I tested the M240 with them all and not a single shot focused by rangefinder was in focus. Some pics out of focus would have me looking at the lenses, but when none came out I knew there was no way that the camera was calibrated properly.
As a result, this confirmed to me that the Hexar RF was in fact spot on calibration wise. In an act of faith that KEH would right this, and calibrate/repair the M240, I went ahead and acquired a deal I could not refuse 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 mentioned above. As luck would have it this lens proved to be perfectly calibrated when used with the Hexar RF. A perfect 100% focus hit rate with my first test roll of film. That is almost unheard of for me. This is also a relief as it also vindicated the camera. This is also good news because I had the perfect lens to test the M240 with when KEH returned it.
Perfect focus just like with the Hexar RF.
This was followed by some ups and downs.
Just like the 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 the TTArtisans 28mm f/5.6 focuses perfectly as well. Nice.
Verifying my mixed results with the Hexar RF both the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 and 75mm f/1.25 were slightly out of calibration. Nice.
Why nice? I now have an easy means of adjusting the lenses myself.
Adjusting the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 following the steps above took less than 10 minutes. And now it focuses perfectly.
I was able to adjust the 7Artisans 75mm f/1.25 also but, perhaps owing to the longer focus length, it took considerably more back and forth. All in I would say it took 20-30 minutes or so to properly adjust the 75mm. But now it focuses properly also.
Technically this should also mean that these lenses will have a greatly improved accurate focus rate with the Hexar RF and other M mount cameras also. Nice.
I consider this yet another perk to having a digital M. One review of the 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 made an assessment that seemed odd to me. It was given high marks for IQ which is good. Also said that any small issues they had with build could be forgiven considering the very reasonable price. I was on board up to this point. But then they said that since you would potentially need to adjust the lens they would only recommend the lens if you were going to adapt it to mirrorless. If you were using digital M they recommended that you purchase a more expensive brand lens that will likely come properly calibrated.
If they had said do not buy if you have a film M mount that would make some sense. In that case there would be no reasonable way to adjust the lens.
But if you have a digital M mount camera you could adjust it for yourself in about 10 to 20 minutes, by my experience. Then you would have a heck of a lens value that focuses perfectly. And that is only if you need to have it adjusted. Over time I have tried and owned many TTarisans and 7Artisans lenses and I have only encountered two that needed to be adjusted. And that was only recently. I would rather save myself thousands, especially compared to the Leica options (28mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm), and have a viable lens to use.
Are these lenses as good as the Leica variants?
Of course not.
But they are very good when judged in isolation. But few could argue and even fewer likely have the means to justify 10x to upwards of 32x as much. If you do have the means more power to you. Have fun. For much less than one of any one of these Leica lenses above you could purchase all four TTartisans and 7Artisans lenses along with a film M mount camera or even a digital M mount camera in some cases.
So it is knock off adjustable lenses for me, thank you very much.
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