Mark-2-leica-m-camera-front-224x170Camera 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]