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Leica M Lenses on Modified Canon 5D Mark II Prove Anything is Possible

10.7.12 @ 3:15PM Tags : , , , ,

Camera modifications never cease to amaze. We’ve already seen some really nifty lens modifications with the Canon 5D Mark II, but this is in another league entirely. Robert Benson, a professional photographer, had a $6,500 Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.0 lens but no Leica M9 camera to put it on (as you do). What’s the next best thing? Take a cheaper full-frame camera like the Mark II, gut it, and put a mount on there capable of taking M lenses. Check out a little bit of the process and some of the results below.

Details of the modification:

For modifications, the camera is completely dissasembled and the mirrorbox is stripped of its components and removed. The mirrorbox is then machined by a precision machinist – 30 years experience with hyper-minute detail – to the correct flange distance for Leica, 27.8mm. The mirrorbox is reinforced with a two-part plexiglass frame. It is further reinforced with a 3mm thick piece of steel which serves as the lens mount. As a result, the mirrorbox is more durable than when it came out of the camera…I make the lens mount a universal 44mm screwmount. There are a butt-ton of screw mount lenses out there, and I didn’t want to be limiting, so that’s what I chose. Included in the mod is a 44mm to 42mm step up ring and a 42mm Leica lens mount flange, which can be attached to your favorite Leica lens with five small screws (goes in place of the bayonet mount).

This is a remarkable mod, and it’s actually a more fully featured camera than the Leica M9 it’s standing in for, since you can now finally see what you’re shooting, it has more frames per second, and better low-light performance. Since the mirror is replaced, the LCD must be used in live view mode to actually take photos. What’s even more interesting, is that this modification actually opens up the Mark II to a number of other lens options, though you should at least be able to mount the EF lenses that used to work natively with the camera. Having access to M lenses is really the best reason to do something like this, but if you’re planning on using manual lenses that cover full-frame, there are a few more out there, and you should still be able to adapt lenses that already worked with the Mark II, like Nikon and Leica R lenses.

So what if you want your very own Leica Mark II? For $2,950, Robert will be doing this modification for anyone – he buys the camera, modifies it, and then sends it back to you. At the moment, however, he will only be considering modifying a camera you already own on a case by case basis (and for possibly less money). A lot of the Leica look is attributed to the lenses, and anyone who has used or seen them in action, knows this to be true. Shooting video on this camera would be very interesting, and it would be great to see some adventurous people making a movie with all Leica M lenses — though with the new Leica M now shooting video, we may not be far off from this anyway.

The pictures taken at full-frame with the f/1.0 lens almost take on a medium format look, and it’s something that really needs to be seen, so thankfully Robert has snapped a few photos at that f-stop. Check out that photo and another of the body below, and head on over to Robert’s site for more information.

Link: Canon/Leica Mod — Robert Benson

[via Canon Rumors]


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  • john jeffreys on 10.7.12 @ 3:23PM

    Pretty awesome. I wish he offered a service in which you can send in your mark II and he modifies it for you, for a smaller price.

    • At the bottom of his link he says he does. I don’t really understand the need for this mod especially if you don’t already own a Noctilux and if you do, why not wait to see what kind of video is coming out of the new Leica first?

      For the price of the lens and the mod you can get the new c100 and some canon glass.

      • Joe Marine on 10.7.12 @ 4:46PM

        Yes, somehow I misread the bottom, he does say he will consider modifying your own on a case by case basis. I’ve adjusted above to reflect that.

        • john jeffreys on 10.7.12 @ 6:01PM

          Haha shit I’d be down to get my 5D modded. Filming with M lenses (and not being constrained to 50mm + like on the RED DSMC mount) would be insane.

          • you would still have the color shift problems with anything under 50mm like the RED.

          • john jeffreys on 10.8.12 @ 12:28PM

            Hmm? I thought the reason for the 50mm + compatibility was because of the rear elements on wider M lenses protruding too deep into the little chamber in front of the scarlet/epic’s sensor.

          • Leica’s sensors are specially designed to accommodate for the high light ray angles. Even with that they still do software correction. I can’t imagine a 5ds sensor that isn’t optimized and without software correction will work very well with anything wider than 35mm.

  • Just shot a documentary on a GH2 with Leica M lenses. Amazing quality, sharpness and colors.
    It is also very unobtrusive ;-)
    Now let’s wait if the new M can give the same quality and beat the GH3.

  • Shot last 2 years with Leica R lenses on 5D (19mm,24mm,35mm,60mm,80mm,135mm,180mm set)

    Had my mirror removed by Canon so my summiluxes didn’t hit it. Leica is incredible lenses, very film like.


    or here:


    My new toy is Sony NEX 5n with Canon FD lenses. This is very very mini rig, I got the EVF for it and it’s crazy small :)

    So far I got Canon FD 24mm f2 / 35mm f2 / 50mm f1.4 – testing diferent settings. My next quest is soft filters for it. It’s very sharp for my taste… slowly getting hang of it to dial it just right :)

    I will post some tests as soon as i have something nice…

    • john jeffreys on 10.7.12 @ 7:18PM

      Yeah I currently have a leica r 50mm summicron in my bag. Great lens. looks so much better than the typical canon L crap that people use.

  • Yikes, this camera would win the Congressional Medal of Ugly!

  • Pretty pointless.
    The Noctilux is plagued by fall-off, coma, soft edges and horrid bokeh wide open and doesn’t even become acceptable until f4. Which kind of defeats the object of it being so fast.
    Plus the depth of field will be so narrow at f1 you’ll have trouble getting even static objects in focus and you’ll come away with everything looking soft because it’s out of focus.
    Save yourself a fortune and buy a lens designed to work with your camera and some lights a Takumar 50/1.4 (if you want to go aperture crazy and see how hard it is) or anything rather than wasting your time and ruining your camera.