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Archive 2023 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II


I recently began researching the Leica monochrome M cameras and decided that for the time being, I might invest in one or two
Leica M mount lenses and try it on a Nikon Z7II (partially for the IBIS and I already own the Z7II). My interest for the lens(es) would be mostly for the tonal range in black and white.

I'd like to begin in the 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, range for travel, street and or landscapes. I already have a Voigtlander 50mm F2 APO lens designed for the Z system. I also have a Nikon 85mm F1.8 that I for now use for portraits, so using a Leica lens for those uses would be down the road. At least for now, I'd like recommendations of Leica lenses in the 21,24,28 range that will result in in a possible wider tonal range for black and white than the Nikon 20mm F 1.8 or the 24-120 F lenses. The differences might be so small that I might just stick with the Nikon lenses, but I am curious to try a Leica lens.

One day, I might invest in a M10 or M11 monochrome, and I would already have a start with the lenses, but for now I'm more interested in the lenses to see if I can get better results from the Leica lenses as opposed to the Nikon or even the Voigtlanders.

Any advice on where to begin in the Leica world would be appreciated. It can be vintage or newer lenses, larger or smaller.
Also, any advice on the adapter for the Z system as well. Do the $20 adapters work as well as the more expensive adapters?


Apr 23, 2023 at 09:42 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

I would suggest you post this on the Sony Forum. There seems to be an army of guys who have experience with this subject. The Leica boys will recommend you stop fooling around and get yourself a
proper monochrome body. Good luck with your quest.

Apr 23, 2023 at 09:55 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

How happy you're going to be adapting an M-wide to a stock Z7II, particularly as a landscape lens, is going to depend a lot on your tolerances and how willing you are to work around the issues. The steep angle of incidence created by the short exit pupils on RF wides causes problems like increased field curvature, smeared details in the corners and edges, and cross-talk (or color-cast), particularly at or close to infinity. You can mitigate some of that in post or you can have your hot mirror replaced with thinner glass and it's possible you won't be bothered by it, but you're still going to be paying a lot of money for a lens that will always be sub-optimal on your chosen camera.

The second problem I see is that what you're trying to gauge (a lens' potential performance on a mono sensor by creating mono conversions from a color camera) isn't going to be as informative as you'd want, because the two aren't really analogous. A sensor without a color filter array is recording absolute black and white and all the tones in between. A sensor with a CFA is doing the same thing with a permanently installed multi-color filter in front of it that impacts tonality. Then the post software works with the resulting file to interpret color from the collected values and that impacts tonality. Then you tell it to interpret a monochrome image from the interpreted color image, and that impacts tonality. Both methods have their positive and negative aspects, but I wouldn't rely on performance with a lens on one to inform what I'd find with the same lens on the other.

Finally, I'm a little confused about what you expect out of the Leica lens in regards to tonality. When you shoot mono conversions now, do you appreciate the strong global contrast of your APO-Lanthar 50 or the lower global contrast of the 20/1.8? Are you looking for something between the two?

Apr 23, 2023 at 06:12 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

Not sure, but I doubt wide angle lenses will work well on the Nikon. Generally, they only work well on the Leica SL series, on modified cameras and they’re okay on the R5 and R6 (but not the R6II).

And you mean Leica lenses or M-mount lenses? In my case, I got the Leica camera but no Leica lenses. You can afford a lot of glass from Zeiss or VL for the price of Leica glass.

Apr 23, 2023 at 06:43 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

I doubt wide angle Leica M lenses will make you happy on a stock mirrorless body. Take a look at this: https://phillipreeve.net/blog/review-kolari-ultra-thin-sensor-stack-modification/

If you would consider Leica R lenses, then the 28/2.8 V2 will perform very well, but it won't be a convenient lens on a Leica M body later on (relatively large, no range finder coupling).

Personally, I would leave Leica M lenses on M bodies and use more native glass on the Nikon.

Apr 23, 2023 at 06:44 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II


If you want to use M glass, buy an M body. Look at the reviews Fred Miranda does, the snesor thickness etc just don't work.

I have tried all 5 of my Leica M lenses on Sony bodies and they all look meh. Not worth the investment unless you have an M body to put them on.

Thats my opinion from experience, I'm sure others may feel differently.

M Lesnes I have used with an A7R5. Yes not the Nikon but the sensor thickness and distance from rear element to sensor is different as well. They just aren't designed for it.
21 SEM
28 Lux
35 Lux
50 Lux
90 APO

Apr 23, 2023 at 09:55 PM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

If the point of using Leica M lenses on the Nikon is for image quality (glass rules) ... one should consider why they would want to take a good lens, and push it's light projection through an improper sensor stack.

If the goal is merely to get smaller lenses (than AF counterparts) mounted on the body, then there are some Voigts and Zeiss options, as well as some older C/Y or R lenses that might work well enough. But, as to spending the $$$ for Leica M lenses, only to push them through a wrongly dimensioned sensor stack (and the problems it causes with smearing / color shift, etc.), seems a bit

If the goal is for a specific lens drawing style in the Leica arsenal (which it sounds like that's not the case, since you're asking for recommendations), then it might be that you accept peripheral issues caused by the angle of incidence, that is out of design specification.

As others have mentioned ... the wider you go, the worse it gets (angle of incidence / refraction). If you do want to use an M lens (iirc), you'll be best suited to use normal or tele focal lengths. That, and use their slower versions. Fast glass will have that large rear element / exit pupil and we are back to the angles of incidence being improperly aligned due to the steep angles of incidence.

Normal - Tele ... slow-ish ones. I think those are your safest bets, because they have the more tolerance in the light path than fast or wide M glass does.

+1 also ... check in with the Nikon folks to see what their experience has been. I know when the Sony folks were busy doing the same, there was plenty of info / reports going around. I've lost track of all that ... too easy, when you're using M glass on an M body. But, I will say, that seeing all the issues that the Sony folks went through along the way ... made me a believer in the proper light path through the (BTW, the microlenses are elliptical on the M) sensor stack.


As you take notice of the drawing, the quantity of the light rays hitting the sensor is illustrated, but there is also the alignment of the rays, with a "less divergent" or "more convergent" path, to bring a more acute projection. Plenty of folks will dismiss this as being of any significance. BUT, here's the thing ... the Leica engineering that goes into this level of consideration to the light path is part of why Leica costs what Leica costs (some folks lean on the "luxury" thing, I lean on this level of optical engineering).

It's kinda like dipping steak in ketchup, when you put the Leica M lens on a Sony, etc. with a wrongly designed light path.

NOTE: That is not to say anything bad / poor of other brands ... just that it is a mismatch in optical engineering design of the light path, to put the Leica M glass on anything other than the Leica M.

Kinda like buying $$$ filet mignon ... then dipping it in ketchup, or trying to fly a plane through mud. Just not what it was designed for, and the effects of it (smearing, color shift, etc.) are self-evident, that you are "de-optimizing" the excellent engineering design to a level of sub-par in the field / periphery where it is most challenging ... and thus the reason for the engineering design of the elliptical microlenses and thin sensor stack (with glass well suited to such thin application).

You don't buy a scalpel to cut carboard. As most folks know, carboard will dull a blade a fine edged instrument rather quickly.
Putting a finely (light path) engineered optical instrument of the Leica M lens on a different shape microlens and sensor stack of different thickness and different optical properties will dull the optical acuity of the projection.

For me, the "acuity' of the Leica M lenses, as it travels the projection of the light path to the film plane ... IS the reason for spending that extra $$$ for their optical engineering. Might as well put knobby tires on a Formula One race car.

Granted, my examples are a bit hyperbolic, but all that smearing and color shift aren't. They are real, and they are the real evidence that it is a mis-application, which in turn is diminishing your projected image from being the best it can be. So, why go down that path?

NOTE: I did go down that path, but with using the Leica M lens on APS-C, where the effects of the periphery impact were less evidenced. I quickly moved to FF Leica from there, with the M240 as my entry into Lecia M. Once I saw the graphic below, I knew the M was going to be my body of choice for Leica M lenses.


HTH and Good Luck with your quest.

Edited on Apr 24, 2023 at 07:00 AM · View previous versions

Apr 23, 2023 at 10:18 PM
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

I have a number of M mount lenses from both Leica and Voigtlander I shoot native on my M10-P, and M11. I have the excellent Voigtlander M to E adapter. I have tried these on My A1 a number of times in different circumstances. Honestly, I have never been satisfied with the results I get. I never shoot them this way any more.

I also have a number of Voigtlander lenses in native e-mount versions. These produce excellent results, and I use them frequently. In fact, the Voigtlander 40mm f/1.2 Nokton is one of my all time favorite e-mount lenses. I often chose it over my GM lenses in similar focal length situations.

I suspect that reults will be similar with a Nikon Z Mount camera. If you want to shoot one of these excellent Voigtlander lenses on your Nikon, just buy the native Z Mount version. You will get much better results.

If you want Leica M Mount glass (and who doesn't they are incredible) , I suggest you buy an M body to shoot them with. That "leica look" is best produced full native Leica. I will suggest one of the M10 family of bodies as a starter. If you were going to buy two Leica lenses, just buy one, and one body. Price will be close, but experience will be miles better.

I will add that as excellent and "unique" as the results are image wise, the shooting experience in an all M setup is just as important. No matter what, you won't experience that with any adapted lenses on a Nikon Z body.

In short, in my opinion the best leica lens for a Z7II shooter is any Leica M mount lens mounted on a Leica M body. Nothing comes close.

Apr 23, 2023 at 10:21 PM
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

1bwana1 wrote:
In short, in my opinion the best leica lens for a Z7II shooter is any Leica M mount lens mounted on a Leica M body. Nothing comes close.

+1 that Leica M belongs on Leica M.

The only thing that can happen from taking an M lens ... away from an M body ... is to make it less than it was designed to be, by introducing more optical deviation into the designed light path. Which, is the antithesis of what the optical engineering sought to achieve. Less deviation = more acuity. This is yet another aspect of the "less is more" principle ... get rid of the stuff that gets in the way.

Incorrect microlenses and incorrect sensor glass / thickness ... just get in the way.

Apr 24, 2023 at 07:07 AM
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

RustyBug wrote:
+1 also ... check in with the Nikon folks to see what their experience has been.

I've been using LTM/M glass on a Z7 for five years or so, since 2018. Did similar with a Sony a7ii for a couple of years. Previously used LTM glass with film, later with an M-240 and recently added a Barnak, back to film.

I can't say the edge results on the a7ii were bad, unlike some users who couldn't get good results even with a sensor mod, but there was the ever-present issue of field curvature, depending on the distance of the point-of-focus (FC changes as the point of focus changes). Can't speak to the newer offerings from Sony.

Some lenses like the 28/1.9 Ultron could get very good edge to edge sharpness on the 7ii when the lens was focused short of infinity (letting the FC take over). Other lenses never resolved the edges, but they never did on film either... So there's a whole lot of opinion about what works on what, based on relatively narrow use cases. All I can say is that the Ultron 28/1.9, for example, is excellent on film, an M-240 and the Z7.

My wide/ultra wide LTM/M lenses such as the 21/1.8 Ultron on the Z7 work the same way as the Nikkor 20/4 and the older 20/3.5 UD work. That's taking into consideration the field curvature and rendering differences between the 20/4 and 20/3.5 UD. The 20/4 maintains sharpness across the frame but the UD is sharper in the center, loosing definition on the edges (point-of-focus differences not withstanding).

At any rate, Leica designed a sensor stack, photosite well and microlens array, and an image processing pipeline, with legacy lens use in mind, covering ultra wide to short telephoto. Leica also added lens profiles to help clean up images. So if one is talking M glass on digital M bodies it helps to know if software profiles were used for the final images shown.

Nikon and Canon, DSLR and mirrorless, are also designed to support a wide range of legacy glass. Both, like Leica, design their own sensors. It helps to compare mp to mp sensors rather than compare a high mp to a low mp. The low mp body will always gloss over issues that a higher mp sensor will accentuate; although down-sampling using a good resampling algorithm, on a high mp image, will do better than a stock low mp image... Comparisons always contain a caveat, spoken or unspoken.

If I was going to look at using a manual focus lens, especially a legacy lens, on a current mirrorless digital body, I'd look at a brand that has an extensive array of legacy lenses that it supports, and evaluate how the brand's own legacy glass does before adding a lens from a different mount. Regarding the Z7 for example, one can pick up some excellent manual Nikkors for very little money. As far as using M glass on a Z7, sure; but understand the issues inherent with the particular lens in the first place. M glass isn't going to magically make your images better...

Apr 24, 2023 at 07:38 AM
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

Thanks everyone for the comments. It was quite the eye-opening experience. I've watched a few videos on youtube on how the M mount lenses would work, I guess it's not that simple. I guess it's back to looking for a good used Q2 or M10 and decide what lens to try or stick with the Voigtlanders designed for my Nikon Z.


Apr 24, 2023 at 07:56 AM
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Best Leica lens for Nikon Z7II

mapgraphs wrote:
Regarding the Z7 for example, one can pick up some excellent manual Nikkors for very little money.


I had some fav AIS glass adapted onto the EF years back before mirrorless reached the F mount.

Apr 24, 2023 at 08:56 PM

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