Film Meets Digital: TECHART LM-EA7 Vintage Lens to Digital Adaptall
This is not my first experience with Techart adapters. I have been and continue to be impressed by the Contax G lens to Sony E mount adapter. While I appreciate that they built it, I was always perplexed as to why. Why such a massive effort for such a niche product? Are there really enough Contax G nuts who also happen to own a Sony A7 out there? Now I realize they were not done. Once a screw drive AF motor was accomplished, they built upon their Sony AF code cracking experience with a universal AF drive.
Universal? Yes. While billed as a Leica M AF Adapter, a task it does quite well, it will also adapt near any 35mm MF lens with caveats:
- Lens and adapter together weigh less than 700g.
- Flange distance short enough to accommodate an adapter, i.e. near any 35mm lens in existence.
- Someone made an adapter for it. Evidently there are some mad-persons already out there adapting non-Leica mount lenses to Leica M Mount cameras. I do not get why you would want to mount a non-rangefinder lens to a manual focus rangefinder camera, but thank goodness they do.
Warning: One must have nerves of steel to mount a M39 screw mount adapter. Lens and adapter went on fine. Worked fine. Lens came off fine, but the adapter decided to hang on for a while. While well-built I would not recommend wrenching on the front of the LM-EA7. After some physical cajoling and words not fit for print, it came off. But trust, there will not be a second attempt.
The Techart Contax G adapter successfully gave me an "as close to a digital Contax G" camera as I can ever realistically expect to have. But, that was an AF system to start out with. Same for when I adapted legacy Minolta/Sony A mount AF lenses to Sony digital full frame AF via the LA-EA4. Same for when I adapted Canon digital EF AF lenses to Sony digital AF using the Sigma MC-11. All of these lenses were designed for AF from the start.
Now this adapter allows me to adapt nearly any manual focus lens mount regardless of vintage. When paired with an A7III it also adds:
- Phase detect AF.
- Image stabilization.
- Face and eye detect focusing.
- For normal operation, you set the lens to infinity and go.
- Thanks to the nature of adjustable lens adapters it adds close focus pseudo macro capabilities. Just focus closer with the lens just as you would with a helicoid lens adapter like the one I previously reviewed.
With two caveats:
- Not for sports or fast-moving objects. Not a ding. Not a surprise. Not what these MF lenses were meant for to begin with.
- Video? No. Not what this is for.
This does not mean AF is slow. AF speed is more than acceptable by normal standards. Take into account what all is going on to accomplish this and it is quite amazing. Noise is no louder than what one would expect from a vintage AF camera,
Is there value here? Admittedly, at just north of $350 this is a little pricey. Picked up mine for about a $100 less on eBay. But I still say yes, there is value to be had here if you fit into one or more categories.
The Leica adherent
If you already have a digital Leica and more than one lens an A7III plus an LM-EA7 is a drop in the bucket (comparatively speaking half or less than a few Leica lenses) for a giggle or the occasional instance where AF (dare I say) might be advantageous with your existing lenses.
Own a A7III:
Sony lenses are great, but many are pricey. Once the LM-EA7 is purchased, I was able to use nearly any wide to short tele MF lens. I gained AF for the price of a $19 whatever mount to M mount adapter. And there are plenty of great MF lenses for not a lot of money.
Own a collection of great film cameras and vintage MF lenses to go with them:
I don’t know. Digital and AF may not be your thing if you are enjoying what you are doing.
Own an A7III and a collection of great vintage MF lenses:
Just buy it.
The optical qualities of these lenses are a known variable unchanged by focus method. What is not known is how sharp they can be with a proper automated focus system. I definitely saw an increase in keepers over manual focusing. Of course, those who regularly zone focus will not reap such benefits. Being able to routinely nail eye focus on an f/1.1 or near MF lens is a wonderful thing. As a result, I realized some lenses were sharper and more wide open than I had thought they were.
I began with no adapter and needed M mount lenses. I have a film M Mount so I had a couple of lenses to try out.7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 (M Mount)… Autofocus f/1.1! Nikon Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 (Camera shop test drive) Voigtlander Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III (M Mount) Soligor 28mm f/2.5 (Contax C/Y Mount)
You may have noticed that I have not talked a lot about the actual act of focusing. That is because it is just like using any Sony AF lens. It just works! You retain only AF-S and AF-C focus modes, but these are the only two I use anyway.
Verdict? Two thumbs up from this guy. Here is a link to an ongoing gallery.