Classic rangefinder lenses usually spot less staggering minimum focus distances compared to (D)SLR and the latest lenses for mirrorless cameras because of how focusing with rangefinder cameras works. In 2022 several manufacturers are offering close focus adapters. These adapters have their own additional helicoid which allows you to focus your lenses much closer than you could with a conventional adapter. I have used several of these myself, so let’s see which ones are worth the asking price.
- Sample Images
- What is the difference compared to a standard adapter?
- Are there any problems to be aware of?
- Close Focus Adapters
- Further Reading
What is the difference compared to a standard adapter?
In case the adapter is set to its parking/infinity position there is none, they work just like any other M-mount to E-mount adapter. But the close focus adapters double as an adjustable extension tube, thereby decreasing the minimum focus distance and increasing the maximum magnification of your lens. This is what the Voigtländer VM-E close focus adapter looks like with no extension and with maximum extension of 4 mm:
The effect is very strong on lenses with short focal lengths (wide angle lenses) and less so on longer (tele) lenses. In the table below you can see the differences an adapter with 4 to 4.5 mm extension makes when paired with some of the rangefinder lenses I have used:
|without extension||with extension|
|7Artisans 28mm 1.4||0.7 m||1:20||0.22 m||1:4.2|
|Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 Distagon||0.7 m||1:16.9||0.30 m||1:5.7|
|Leica 35mm 1.4 Summilux FLE||0.7 m||1:17.4||0.30 m||1:6.0|
|Voigtländer VM 50mm 1.2 Nokton||0.7 m||1:12||0.37 m||1:5.1|
|Voigtländer VM 50mm 1.5 Nokton||0.7 m||1:10.8||0.42 m||1:5.7|
|Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5||1.0 m||1:16.2||0.50 m||1:7.1|
|Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0||1.1 m||1:11.3||0.72 m||1:7.3|
|Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron||1.0 m||1:9.2||0.73 m||1:6.3|
|Minolta 90mm 4.0 M-Rokkor||1.0 m||1:8.8||0.74 m||1:6.0|
|Leica 135mm 4.0 Tele-Elmar||1.5 m||1:8.0||1.25 m||1:6.8|
Here is a comparison shot with the Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 showing the maximum magnification without extension and fully extended:
Are there any problems to be aware of?
For most older lenses which have a unit focus design it makes no difference whether you are using the adapter to focus or the lens’ focus ring, image quality will be the same.
For lenses with more complex optical designs (floating elements / internal focusing / rear focusing) this may not be entirely true: these lenses are optimized for a specific flange focal distance and will only show their full potential in case the flange focal distance is correct.
When extending the adapter, you are also using the lenses outside of the scope they have been designed for. I found fully extended most lenses don’t show entirely great wide open performance. The performance usually increases considerably when stopping down by just one stop.
Close Focus Adapters
Voigtländer VM-E Close Focus Adapter
I only have experience with the first generation of this adapter (since 2022 an improved 50g lighter Mark II is available) and while it was one of the first to hit the market it is still the sturdiest and most durable I came across. It is an all brass construction and even after years of (ab)use it worked like new – it didn’t look like new anymore due to severe brassing though.
The problem with this adapter: it is also one of the heaviest at 125g, which is the reason I replaced it with a much ligther Hawk’s adapter.
I wonder if the Mark II is still as sturdy despite being 40% lighter – I have my doubts.
If you want your close focus adapter to be as sturdy as possible in order not to introduce any unwanted tilt (especially when using heavier lenses) and don’t mind the high weight I can still highly recommend this one.
buy from B&H | ebay.com | ebay.de for $309 (affiliate links)
7Artisans Close Focus Adapter
The 7Artisans Close Focus adapter feels solid and also looks sturdy at first sight, but it definitely isn’t as sturdy as the aforementioned Voigtländer adapter. At 87g it is somewhere in the midfield weight-wise but at $59 it is surely one of the cheapest options.
I can only recommend this one if you are on a tight budget and mainly want to use lightweight lenses.
buy from amazon.de | B&H | ebay.com | ebay.de for $59 (affiliate links)
Quenox/Fotodiox Helicoid Adapter
This is easily the worst close focus adapter I ever laid hands on. Compared to all the others its diameter is huge, the operation very unpleasant due to a scratchy helicoid and on top of that it was also wobbly introducing unwanted tilt.
buy from amazon.com for $65 (affiliate links)
Fotodiox PRO DLX Stretch Adapter
Despite the questionable choice of color and the focusing tab this looks like an exact copy of the Voigtländer adapter. The helicoid operation is also smooth, but the lens sits very wobbly in the adapter (if extended or not doesn’t matter) which can easily introduce tilt and therefore decrease your lens’ performance.
buy from amazon.com | ebay.com | ebay.de for $110 (affiliate links)
Hawk’s Factory Close Focus Adapter
The Hawk’s Factory close focus adapters were one of the (or maybe the) first to hit the market. Their design has been steadily improved and the lastest version is V5. These are somewhat hard to get in Europe as they are manufactured in Taiwan and have to be ordered (and imported) from there or B&H.
These adapters are the most lightweight at 52g and they offer an unique yet amazing feature: an adjustable infinity hard stop (only on the later versions though).
This feature is what makes them my close focus adapter of choice, but the lightweight construction comes at a price: after a lot of use the helicoid has less resistance and the lenses don’t sit as tight as they used to.
The adjustable hard infinity stop and the low weight are stand-out features, but the long term durability unfortunately isn’t as good as that of the Voigtländer adapter. Still easily recommended for lightweight lenses and people that like actually functioning hard infinity stops.
buy from official homepage | B&H | ebay.com for $189 (affiliate links)
Shoten Close Focus Adapter
There are many close focus adapters I haven’t tried yet. The one I still think deserves to be mentioned here – as I heard/read a lot of good things about it – is the one from Shoten. It also offers the longest extension: 6 mm instead of the more common 4 to 4.5 mm.
buy from ebay.com | ebay.de for $108 (affiliate links)
Techart LM-EA9 Autofocus Adapter
This is not your average close focus adapter as it mainly uses the variable, motor drive extension to turn your manual focus M-mount lenses into autofocus lenses. It can still be used as a close focus adapter though. Best have a look at my review to find out more about this one, as it is too complex an adapter to fully cover in a few sentences here.
buy from official homepage | B&H | ebay.com for $399 (affiliate links)
Being able to use the small rangefinder lenses on a digital fullframe camera was one of the main reasons for me to get a camera from the A7 series in the first place. Their long minimum focus distance was a huge bummer compared to my DSLR lenses (e.g. Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G) though, so the Voigtländer VM-E Close Focus Adapter was one of the first accessories I bought for my Sony A7 back in 2015.
A lot has changed since then: we can choose from a wide variety of close focus adapters these days with different features and at different price points. What hasn’t changed: I am still using such adapters regularly.
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12 thoughts on “Leica M to Sony E Close Focus Adapters”
Do you find that any lenses have worse image quality when focused via helicoid adapter vs their native focusing mechanism at normal distances? In other words, would an adapted lens suffer in image quality when used with the AF adapter?
See the chapter about problems to be aware of 🙂
As long as it isn’t an internal focus lens: no.
Scott, for most of the lenses of that era it won’t be a problem. Very few lenses had floating elements, most focused by moving the entire lens group.
I use the Yeenon LM-NEX Leica M VM-E Close Focus Adapter.
+ weight = 88 gram
+ extension = 6 mm
+ very sturdy, solid build and finish
= focus ring pretty firm, not suitable for fast focusing but precise
= all chrome or black and chrome version
– pricey = $ 160
– E-mount screw is tight, does not easily get on or off on camera
– with very fat lenses there might be issues to press the lens unlock lever
I hope it is ok to post an Ebay link here because it is not easy to find: https://www.ebay.com/itm/265020716975?hash=item3db47737af:g:z7AAAOSwDjFgB5tZ
The Yeenon looks pretty much the same as the Shoten one.
They offer a lot of Mount-X to Leica M adapters too. But beware of the Contax RF internal adapter. The measurement is off. So almost no 50mm lens can be physically mounted on this adapter. And since this CRF – LM adapter has no moving parts it can not be used without any close focus adapter to focus a CRF lens.
I use my Voigtlander close focus adapter to focus my MS Optics 28/2 and 50/1.5. Arguably the Voigtlander adapter has better focus ergonomics than the focus stick on my two MS lenses 🙂
Can’t argue with that 🙂
Thanks for this and for all of your very informative reviews!
What can you say about the lubrication of the adapters you tested? I ordered a 7Artisans adapter but returned it as the exposed internal helical surface was covered with what looked like excessive lubricant, and I had visions of lubricant mist ending up on the camera sensor.
The Hawk’s Factory adapters have the helicoid hidden the best.
I tried out the Shoten adapter. It really does extend 6.5mm!
Downside is that when using it with lens over 75mm in focal length, the corners turn pitch black. Kind of like the Zenitar 50mm, except much more noticeable. The vignetting on a 135mm lens is quite bad, and isn’t fixable.
On the other hand, the Shoten adapter is really amazing in combination with the 7Artisans 28mm!
Another note about the Shoten adapter, it’s slightly short. Every lens needs to be stopped down to at least F8 to have infinity in focus.
Not necessarily a bad thing, since the infinity hard stop is now conveniently perfect for hyperfocal shooting.