DPR Forum

Welcome to the Friendly Aisles!
Register now and use your old dpreview username.
Enjoy this modern, easy to use software. Look also at our Reviews & Gallery!

R lenses on digital SLR bodies


New Member

The R4s Mod2 body has been with me almost 2 decades. Together with a couple of the R lenses, the system supported my quest into photography without failure. With the advance of the digital photography, I bought a compact digital camera, the image quality is never in the same class although the camera is lightweighted and handy compared to the Leica system. I read from the news that Leica is going to release it digital back, but it only fits to R8/R9. My body is several generations back and I'm not ready to reach so deep into the hip pocket to buy a new R8 body and the digital back. I wonder is there any mean to use my existing R lenses on any digital SLR body?

Best regards


Active Member
Well, Anthony, the only way you CAN repurpose your R lenses on a NON-Leica R body and have them focus at infinity is to invest in a Canon digital SLR body (Rebel Digital, 10D, 1Ds, etc,). With a suitable adapter, you'll be able to use your lenses. The question is, "Would you really want to do that?"

The is what you'll get: 1) abiltiy to focus throughout the range of your R lens AND 2) get Leica quality digital photos - something that is IMPOSSIBLE with anything higher than 5MP (the Digilux 2 has a FANTASTICALLY sharp Leica lens but is ONLY a 5MP camera). The minimum cost for accomplishing these feats: $1,075, not including taxes and shipping costs.

Here is what you'll be 'confronted' with with EACH exposure you make: 1) the auto-diaphragm feature of your R lenses is GONE, 2) luckily, I believe that on the Canon DSLR bodies (please check this out) you have a least 'stop-down' exposure metering with non-electrically coupled lenses - good thing as your R lenses will easily enable you to do this, 3) of course you'll never be able to have any sort of auto-focusing, and 4) of course too, you'll never be able to use any of the more advance features of your Canon DSLR body.

With these pros and cons in mind, the least expensive Leica digital R system (not including the cost of the possibility of needing to upgrade your lenses to function with the R8 and R9 bodies) is about $6,200 and the time you'll NEED to wait for their digital backs to be available. $1,075 vs. $6,200 . . . mmmmmmmm

Source for the adapter I mentioned above:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

Good luck.



Tsun: It seems to be the only possibility to have the red-dot digit option NOW! Indeed.
And if You use the Lenses with high quality performance open (like the APO 100 or a simple Summicron 50), You have only "problems" with the aspect "depth of field".
The only "BUT": with 35mm CANONs You have the same angle like Solms has calculated in the "Rechenbuero"; but with digits it depends, of course.
Many freaks say: "Leica glass" comes first. So do it!


Well-Known Member
If you use R Lenses on a Canon DSLR, you'll also have a crop factor. I'm not sure what the exact figure is, but probably 1.55.

So your wide angles will become standards and standards short tele-photos etc.

I 'went digital' a few months back. I had more Pentax Super-Takumar lenses than Leitz, so I got a *ist D, and have never regretted it. I use all my M 42 lenses with an adapter, and apart from the crop factor, have the same functionality as I had with the original SLRs for which the lenses were designed.

But I also have the convenience of digital.



Well-Known Member
The new R Asph zoom lens ( 28-90 ) has apparently landed here at about $3300 or so. I wonder if anyone has had the opportunity to use it already, and if so, if an opinion has been formed. It would be disappointing to pay for this lens, and find it not as expected. I would fully anticipate that this lens will be everything we might have hoped for...imagine having an asph 2.8 zoom lens that will take the place of four primary lenses ( obviously not as fast as several ). Intriguing, and very tempting....ease of travel is just one application...but the price?

I look forward to Erwin's evaluation.



Well-Known Member
Corrrection....takes the place of 5 primary lenses ( 28,35,50,75,90 )....forgot about the 75...



Actually, Erwin's review was published in Leica Fotografie International, and it was less glowing than usual, which is worrisome considering the source and the price. After reading it, one got the feeling a Contax N1 with a Zeiss 24-85 was a better idea for much less money...but, more to the point, that the Vario Elmar 28-70 is a better deal at 1/3 the price.



Well-Known Member
Thanks Juan. I no longer receive Fotografie...is the publication available on line? I agree that the 28-70 is an excellent...but, never-the-less, somewhat neglected, lens. The newer lens is obviously quite a bit faster, but "worth it", especially given the excellence of today's faster films?

The sophisticated lens testing that is done by Erwin and others may not translate in to discernible differences in the field. Indeed, Erwin himself points out numerous times that there are many other factors that are responsible for the degradation of images, the majority of which are "user error " ( not his phrase ) and not due to any characteristic (s) of the lenses in question. He also states that in most applications the resolving power of lenses being tested are in excess of that required, or even appreciated, by even informed and very critical photographers. We have all read that many photographers still prefer the "foot-print" of some of the older Leica lenses. I suppose the choice of lenses, as is the case in virtually every situation in which a choice is available, is personal and based upon perceptions that are hard to analyze.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.




After reading your reply I had second thoughts and fetched the LFI (1/2004) from the shelf (as far as I know, it is not on line). The review was indeed glowing. The lens records more than 150 lines/mm in the center and, at 50mm and f:5.6, is better than the 50mm Summicron. And the best performance is at 90mm!

I don't know why I had the opposite impression. Erwin states that "The Vario Elmarit picture is superior to what one would expect from high-grade fixed focal lengths".

I apologize for my mistake.



Well-Known Member
HI Juan: Gee whiz, no reason to apologize. Thanks for going back to the original source and checking. With all their recent work on special glass and sophisticated aspheric and apo lenses, I was asking myself how Leica could have made such a boo-boo. Good to know that Leica continues to work hard for its' supporters, and that evidently they are committed to producing great lenses for those who still shoot film. Still is very expensive though! Wonder if anyone on this forum has bought and used one. Would be great to have a "field report".