After recently exiting my Leica digital platform (dropped M9 in the harbour) and replacing it with the superb Sony A99SLT and 3 Carl Zeiss zooms, I wondered how I could use my Leica R PC28/2.8 SA? After spending numerous hours reading through countless forums it became apparent that using PC/Tilt/Shift lenses on non legacy platforms is a question often asked.
A few years back when I left Canon to go the digital rangefinder route with the M9, I owned the Canon 24TSE and the 90TSE and both those lenses were superb and were the only two I ended up missing from the Canon platform. I used them extensively for shooting panoramas. It seems if you don’t use the Canon system there aren’t too many options available now. Nikon’s aren’t well-regarded, there is an old Carl Zeiss option, a couple of Olympus OM’s, the delayed Samyang and the Schneider PC28/2.8 of which I have the Leica R variant.
I thought this post might help others who don’t use the Canon system to see what my experience is with this lens on the Sony platform shooting panoramas. I am not a reviewer and this isn’t a review but just my experience and a few photos.
The Leica R bayonet mount obviously is incompatible with the Sony A mount, so after searching through many forums I identified and then purchased a Leitax adaptor from David from Leitax.com and on his recommendation a M42c-L1 chip from James Lao.
It was a very easy install because if I can do it then a chimpanzee can. Just make sure you have a quality philips screw driver.
The lens feels great on the camera and the chip from James Lao means all of the main functions like Steady Shot, focus confirmation etc. are useable. The camera has aperture set at F1.4 and you adjust aperture manually on the lens.
The A99 EVF is awesome for using this manual focus type of lens because what you see in the EVF is what you get. Have read with interest how many people wouldn’t look at A99 because it has EVF rather than OVF, can’t see the problem myself. As you can see with my example shots I shoot a lot in low light and I feel EVF works better for focusing than a standard OVF.
I have always used a light meter with my Leica M9 because you need a consistent exposure over the three photos or they won’t stitch properly and I felt light meter was easiest way to achieve that with the M9. With the Sony I just set it to manual, select F11 on the lens and adjust shutter speed to what I like on EVF. Couldn’t be simpler.
The other great function is the magnified focus view on the rear of the camera. Push the button, select area you wish to magnify, check focus and the push shutter. Superb. The articulated screen is also very handy when you can’t get behind the camera.
One function I haven’t tried yet is the AF range button. This could also be something I might use with pano shooting.
This lens appears to me to be super sharp, as you would expect from a Leica product. I understand that it is actually a Schnieder lens but Leica wouldn’t put their name to a lens that doesn’t meet their standards. While researching this lens I read that Leica were allowed to pick the best lens from each batch, not sure that is true or just somebody justifying the fact he/she paid more for the Leica branded example.
Anyway enough waffling, here are some early shots.