Review: Voigtländer VM-E close focus adapter

Introduction

vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Voigtländer VM-E close focus adapter

Classic rangefinder lenses focus much less close than their SLR-counterparts because of how the focusing with rangefinder cameras works. With the  Voigtländer VM-E adapter you can focus these lenses much closer when using them on an E-mount camera. The adapter is not only a Leica-M to Sony E adapter but also a variable extension tube. It has its own helicoid by which you can focus your lenses much closer than with a conventional adapter. I have been using the Voigtlander VM-E close focus adapter for more than a year now and it has become a valuable addition to my kit.

Sample Images

vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7rII | Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 T* Distagon + VM-E | f/1.4
vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7s | Voigtländer 28mm 2.0 Ultron + VM-E | f/2.0
vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre Asph + VM-E | f/2.0

Specifications

    • Diameter: 62.7 mm
    • Weight: 125g
    • Maximum extension: 4 mm

These are only rarely sold used, you can get one new for 309$/269€ on ebay.com/ebay.de (affiliate links) or for 309$ on Amazon.com (affiliate links).

What is the difference compared to a standard adapter?

In case the adapter is set to its parking/infinity position there is none, it works just like any other M-mount to E-mount adapter. But this adapter doubles as an adjustable 4 mm extension tube, decreasing the minimum focus distance and thereby increasing the maximum magnification. This is what the adapter looks with no extension (before) and with maximum extension of 4mm (after):

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 the adapter makes when paired with the various rangefinder lenses I have used so far.

vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s

This list is far from being comprehensive, it just contains the lenses I have personally used with this adapter. All values may have also been subject to rounding.

Here is a comparison shot with the Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 showing the maximum magnficiation without extension (before) and full extension (after):

Handling / Build Quality

From what one can see the adapter is completely made of metal which is the reason for the substantial weight but also for its sturdiness. The helicoid runs smooth and is well dampened, and still so after more than a year of constant use. It travels a little less than 180° and so offers very precise focusing.

vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Infinity / Parking position locking knob

There is also a little red knob for locking it at infinity position but unfortunately I have more than once accidentally locked it. As the knob is below the lens at infinity setting you can’t see it at first glance either.

Are there any problems to be aware of?

For most old lenses which have a block focus mechanism it makes no difference whether you are using the adapter for focusing or the lenses focusing 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 distance and may only show their full potential in the case the flange distance is correct.
Furthermore when extending the adapter, you are 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 but gain considerably from stopping down by just one stop.

Alternatives

Quenox/Fotodiox Helicoid*:
I ordered one and it is really bad. Compared to the VM-E the diameter is much higher, the helicoid is very scratchy instead of smooth and it is wobbly. Don’t buy!

Fotodiox PRO DLX Stretch*:
Despite the questionable choice of color and the focusing tab this looks like an exact copy of the VM-E. 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 decrease your lenses performance. Don’t buy!

Hawk’s Factory V5*:
As far as I know Hawk’s Factory were the first to develope such a close focus adapter. There have been quite a few different versions, the most recent being the V5 which also offers infinity adjustment (which the VM-E doesn’t). Unfortunately there is no German/European distributor so your only option here is ordering one via ebay with horrendous shipping fees, so I did not yet get a chance to test it, unfortunately.

Techart Pro AF Adapter*:
This is not exactly a close focus adapter like the others, as it mainly uses the extension of the adapter for focusing but it can be locked at the maximal extension of 4.5mm.  See Phillip’s review.

*affiliate links

Conclusion

As the more regular readers already know: I am a huge fan of rangefinder lenses because of their small size. An unfortunate legacy of the rangefinder coupling is the long minimum focus distance you find on many of these lenses and a close focus adapter partly makes up for this, especially in combination with wide angle lenses.
But unlike when I bought this adapter there are now small and capable native E-mount lenses available and so I have changed my kit from 5 M-mount lenses to 3 E-mount lenses in combination with just 2 M-mount lens.  Depending on what you are planning to do you might want to ask yourself, if spending this much money on an adapter is worth it in the long run.
For me it definetly was and in case you already have a closet full of M-Mount lenses it will probably be for you, too.
After having used this adapter extensively I have a high confidence in its build quality, something I absolutely can’t say about the other two I have already tested (see Alternatives section). You really get, what you pay for.

These are only rarely sold used, you can get one new for 309$/269€ on ebay.com/ebay.de (affiliate links) or for 309$ on Amazon.com (affiliate links).

Sample Images

vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7rII | Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 T* Distagon + VM-E | f/1.4
vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7 | Voigtländer 28mm 2.0 Ultron + VM-E | f/4.0
vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre Asph + VM-E | f/2.0
vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7 | Voigtländer 28mm 2.0 Ultron + VM-E | f/4.0
vm-e close focud helicoid adapter nahadapter nah voigtländer zm leica m m-mount emount e-mount a7 a7r a7rii a7s
Sony A7rII | Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 T* Distagon + VM-E | f/1.4

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and for many years I have been mostly shooting Nikon DSLRs. As of today I have made my transition from Nikon to Sony and I am mainly using small but capable manual lenses. My passion is landscape photography but I also like to delve into other subjects from time to time.

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21 thoughts on “Review: Voigtländer VM-E close focus adapter”

  1. Nice review, and as usual on this site: lovely images.

    I use a Tinray version: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tinray-LM-NEX-Leica-M-Lens-to-Sony-E-Mount-Macro-Brass-Close-Focus-Adapter-A7-/172389634153?hash=item2823391069:g:enwAAOSwKIpV-3nd

    with a Leica M to M39 screw mount adapter (that is probably permanently stuck but that’s ok since I only use it with russian lenses) and it works very well with the Jupiter 8 for instance. It feels solid in use and while I was worried that the visible helicoid grease would somehoe make it unto the mount of the camera, that hasn’t happened yet. Does the Voigtländer version have visible grease?

    I need to stop the Jupiter down to f/4 at the very least to get some semblance of sharpness but that’s ok, it takes very nice closer-up images 🙂

    1. That is an interesting one I didn’t know about.
      Also looks like a copy of the VM-E but maybe better executed than the Fotodiox DLX stretch…
      The Voigtländer also has visible grease, yes.

      Edit: now that I have seen the video on the Tinray: the VM-E does not nearly have as much grease!

      1. Very interesting review and comments. I too have the tinray version and i don’t like it very much. Ther was so much grease that it once blocked the electronic contacts on the camera. I opened the adapter to remove some of the grease but then there was too much play in the helicoid. The adapter may have the same finish as the Voigtländer but inside its not well made. You get what you pay for …

          1. Well, I’ve sat the adapter on a piece of paper when not in use and it hasn’t greased anything yet so it doesn’t seem to be of the runny kind. http://www.sonyalphaforum.com/topic/3553-close-focus-adapter-tinray-lm-nex-for-leica-m-mount-lenses-on-a7/ would indicate that other than the grease, potentially, there’s not a lot of difference, so I doubt “you get what you pay for” in this instance as the price difference is rather significant. But everyone buys what makes them happy, of course 🙂

  2. Bastian, great job as usual. I own and use the same adapter and I also love it. Excellent construction and workmanship.

  3. How’s the focus ring? is it smooth to use it? I’m quite concern about that close focus adapter with Voigtlander 40mm f2.8 cause it has small focus ring to focus and the ring itself is too close to camera body.

    1. Very smooth and I didn’t encounter any handling issues (despite the infinity lock which I sometime accidentally lock).
      I also tried the Heliar 40mm 2.8, very nice lens, but unfortunately no click stops on the aperture ring 🙁

  4. again thank you for your great work!

    i have the hawks factory and it is very good
    i had a cheap one before 30€ also not bad but a little bit wobbly
    i did not used the voigtländer VME so i can not compare them but the adapter works since years without problems
    it is from aluminium so maybe not as sturdy as the voigtländer
    as i don´t use the lens for focussing, only the adapter, i demounted the infinity stop
    i bought it at ebay and shipping was very cheap, but time has changed

  5. Long time lurker around here and love this website!

    Just thought I’d add my 2 cents.

    I shoot a lot with my LTM and M mount Leica and Voigtlander lenses on my Sony A6000 and was on the hunt for a cheaper alternative to the VM-E as reviewed here. After much reading and then some E-Bay trawling, I discovered a bargain version (£25!) which I thought I’d try my luck on.

    I’m happy to report that it actually works very, very well. It doesn’t have any of the “grease” issues others have spoken of here affecting some of the cheaper alternatives. It fits snugly with all the lenses I have and there is no vertical or lateral play. It’s helicoid mechanism is smooth and responds well. Maybe I got lucky with this one?

    I’m sure it’s not as well built as the VM-E but for a tenth of the price, I really don’t care. My images are sharp and that’s all that matters to me.

    I found mine locally on eBay UK, but that seller no longer stocks it. However, I did some searching and found it being sold, albeit coming from Hong Kong with free postage, for £22!

    Search for “AD7u Macro Helicoid Adapter Ring Leica” on eBay and you’ll find it.

    Good luck!

  6. Hallo , I just bough the Carl Zeiss Hologon 8/16 T* for Contax G1 / G2 lens, for my new Sony a7ii camera. Who Adapter would be better to buy??? The { New Voigtlander Leica M VM E Adapter II Type 2 Sony E Mount }, or the { TechArt Golden Eagle mk III fast phase detect AF on the Sony a7RII} or the { https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d68lc_MZCBA }, or some other ??? I feel blind and scared because is very specific lens, your opinion would be very helpful…Regards Odysseas from Athens Greece.

    1. I am not so sure if the Hologon is a good performer on the A7 series cameras,
      but nevertheless: as being a Contax G lens you need a Contax G to Sony E adapter,
      the ones you listed are Leica M to Sony E adapters.
      You need something like this: http://amzn.to/2m0mzIN (which offers AF) or this: http://amzn.to/2m0jmJl (no AF).

      I did some digging and you should be careful using this lens as the rear element might interfere with the mechanical shutter: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3802736

  7. Hi. Nice review. I have a question: have you tried to use your DSLR lenses adapted to the M mount for use on the Voigtlander adapter? I know that this is asking to use two adapters, and it introduces more potential errors. But I have a load of quality Canon glass that I want to use on my a7sii, and I’m unhappy with the results for the EF to Sony adapters. I own the Voigtlander, and I love it, and I keep thinking that it has to be better than what I’m getting. I don’t care about auto focus, just nice end results. Thoughts?

    1. I did that with Nikon lenses which worked well.
      With Canon EF lenses you won’t just have no autofocus, but you won’t be able to change the aperture as well.
      So I would stick to EF -> Sony adapters with electronic contacts.
      By the way: the only EF -> Sony adapter I can recommend so far is the Sigma MC-11.
      The ones below ~100$ are pretty much junk.

      The expensive Metabones are often too short for UWA lenses with floating elements
      (see this article) and I have a few lenses that work with the MC-11 but didn’t with the (newest) metabones.

  8. I’ve been a reader of your site for awhile but have never written in before. So first off, many thanks for all great reviews and info.

    Afa this particular article, do you experience any smeared / blurred corners at all when using the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM on the A7RII (regardless of the choice of adapter)?

    Thank you

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