Adapting problems


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You may have read, I have a long-time dream about adapting vintage SLR lenses because they are (can be) affordable and there's a magnificent selection to choose from.

After the disappointment from EPL5 usability, I'm choosing to place more and more eggs in one (Leica M) basket and this means I'll need a macro option (loosely meaning something that focuses closer than 70 cm). Leica native glass will not do this for me and I'm not exactly partial to the expensive Leica 90mm Macro even though it's probably a swell piece of glass.

The biggest problem I have is that Nikon F is not very sexy in my opinion. Are there any SLR Nikkor F mount lenses they sing songs about?

Are there sexy high performing primes like Olympus OM has?
Any superb pancake lenses like Pentax K?

Of course good/legendary glass is expensive no matter how vintage.

And a big benefit for collecting F lenses is when I might start to consider the Df as an optical/mechanical TTL option to optical/rangefinder option. I'm increasingly convinced that DSLRs are the only other option for me when I have to have fun shooting. :)

To my surprise I can't find smart 24-70 normal zooms in aperture f/4 for Nikon F? Considering how excellent the Df's ISO performance is I find this funny I would have to get a heavy and lightstrong f/2.8 zoom if I chose to go that route.


I'm musing out loud that it'd be basically very neat to own three types of digital cameras: rangefinder, SLR and mirrorless (EVF). Each has its strengths. But then I also consider this selection further down and realise that my rangefinder M is also capable of doing the mirrorless activities that I desire, (just not as well as a dedicated modern mirrorless camera body). So basically two bodies can cover the three usecases.

  • TTL / Rangefinder composition : Df or MILC / M
  • Autofocus / pleasant MF : Df / M
  • Lens adaptability: MILC
DSLRs are becoming to MILC cameras just like rangefinder cameras are. They are more close to the mechanical realms of operation than most of the mirrorless ones...
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My road has been to two cameras and one almost-vintage for fun:
1) Nikon Df + mostly MF lenses
2) Leica Q for point and shoot and when Df is "too much"
and for the fun part and meditation: Leica M8 with just Voigtlander F1.4 35mm to keep my "photography brain cells working"

I don't see any use for mirrorless (= Olympus OM-D E-M5.2) anymore, although I have some really marvelous lenses for it ;(


Hall of Famer
Everybody keeps saying how Df is great with MF glass, but surely it can't be as easy to focus those as with a rangefinder?! Especially in diminishing light.

That's one thing that keeps my enthusiasm in check.

Would love to start with Df using some simple autofocus lenses, get going from that. If it proves to be easy to focus manually with Df, then all the better!


Leica Q must still be the single most perfect digital camera I've ever shot. Sadly it just lost the taste when I entered the wonderland of M.

Nikkor-O 35mm F2, wide-open, Nikon Df
Nikon MF lenses to own.

Nikkor-NC 24/2.8
Nikkor 28/2 Any
Nikkor 50/1.2 Ais
Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5
Nikkor 85/1.8
Nikkor 105/2.5 Get both the early Sonnar version and later Planar version. Small rear element= Sonnar, large = Planar.
Nikkor 135/3.5 Ai/Ais
Nikkor 200/4 Ai or Ais

AF lenses to own.
AF-D-Micro-Nikkor 60/2.8
AF-D Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8
AF-D-Micro-Nikkor 200/4
AF-D Micro-Nikkor-Zoom 70~180/4.5~5.6


Bet people did not think I'd use a zoom lens.
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Central Ohio, USA
Real Name
Nikon never really did an f/4 in zooms. They either did f/2.8 or variable aperture f/3.5-4.5 in legacy lenses.
Even with that they do have some gReat legacy AF lenses that will work nicely with the Df if you ever get one.
I’ve used the 28-85, 28-105, 70-210 4-5.5 and constant 4, as well as the 35-135/3.5-4.5. Most of these can be found for under $100.

ive reviewed all these lenses and a ton more Nikon manual focus lenses on my photo blog here:

Feel free to search about and see if those are helpful for you.


Hall of Famer
Real Name
One of my favorite MF is the Nikkor 135 f2.8 AIS.
Another is the Nikkor 55mm f1.2 pre AI. Is not super sharp wide open, but renders nicely my Df.
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Jonathan F/2

Top Veteran
Los Angeles, USA
The Nikon 24-85mm 3.5-4.5 G VR lens is the closest you'll get to a 24-70mm f4 sized lens. Your other option is the Nikon 24-120mm f4 VR. It's bigger and at 120mm it needs to be stopped down a bit, but in terms of colors and contrast, it's very close to Nikon's 2.8 zoom lenses. Also the VR is quite effective on all those lenses.

In regards to MF lenses, I'd checkout either Zeiss or Voigtlander MF lenses if you want something a bit more modern in terms of rendering and glass coating. Nikon AI-S lenses tend to be a bit more cooler and neutral compared to their newer AF lenses which are more contrasty and warmer in colors.
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New Member
Real Name

Some trivial observations:

.Adapting unoriginal automatic lenses demand electronic translation inside the adapter, so going outside the original makers mount is difficult . Even if one might get usable second hand adapters : lens + adapter might cost as much as a used original. So I assume that you are not looking for autofocus. .It is not clear which mount you will use. any adapter will demand a shorter mount to film/sensor distance than the lens was designed for, so a digital mirrorless apparatus should be the most flexible, avoiding mirror clearance issues I take it that you prefer not to shell out too much on optics, but would like reasonably high resolution and contrast at close range with an easily adapted lens. In sum, you may not only be looking for a suitable lens+adapter, but for a suitable camera to use unoriginal lenses on.

You might conclude from the posts so far that an ancient Nikon optic might suit your needs. If so, an easy method would be to use a Nikon camera, The only optics with longer mount- distance that will easily fit this with an adapter will be Leitz R, where the 60mm macro will handle both closeups and more distant subjects, is sturdy, reasonably good and not exorbitantly expensive but as opposed to Nikon macros, aperture will need to be set manually. Moving to a Canon EF mount will enable all kinds of older SLR lenses to be easily adapted, except Minolta, Konica and Alpa, With the less convenient focussing options of the EF mounts , your choice might include the simple but good 4 element macros like the Takumar 50mm , the more elaborate Zeiss creations or the much underrated, dirt cheap eastern European stuff.

If you wish to try cameras with L , Z, R or MFT mounts the choices of vintage optics will be even wider, but focussing convenience will need to be examined in each case. Proper focussing ability is key to success, especially if moving close.. Since simple mechanical adapters do not operate stop-down aperure mechanisms, you will be more dependent on the camera viewfinder. It must enlarge the point & plane you wish to have in focus enough to decide when to press the trigger (even with the added depth of field of a stopped down aperture ) If you also find that hunting for and trying several cheaper lenses might be interesting, adapters can be found for almost all available types.


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