A modern Chimera?

jk4u59

Mu-43 Regular
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Dec 29, 2020
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58
Location
Milan, Italy
Real Name
Ivan Dalmonte
Hi guys,

I have a strange question: a dear friend of mine has just inherited by his father a magnificent 1955 Leica Is, a special version of the Leica IIIb for scientific purposes. But I'm more attracted by its lens, an Elmar 50mm f/3.5 with M39x1 screw mount, that is described as a still sensational lens even with respect to any recent one.
My friend is read to lend me the whole camera (he proposes to buy a film and make some shoots together for test), but I'd rather be interested to mount it on my OM-D E-M5 Mk.II: I've seen a video on YouTube where an old Summicron was mounted on an OM-D with exceptional results in both colors and contrast. So, it seems that me too can have a similar unexpected possibility (now you can understand the post title: I'd like to build a modern Chimera, the mythological creature made out of different animals. I would have a '30s lens working together with a 2016 camera body and its digital sensor!)
Well, how to do it in practice? Mounting the M39x1 lens on a MFT body is trivial, I'd just have to buy the proper adapter. But now it comes the tricky part… I'm also planning, sooner or later, to buy an used Russian lens, the Helios 58mm f/2, quite well known for its bokeh. It has a M42x1 screw mount, requiring the related adapter to be used on an MFT.

Here is my question: instead of buying two different screw-mount/MFT adapters, I've seen that there are available also some very cheap M39/M42 adapters (actually, simple aluminium rings with two different kind of threads, a M39 inside and a M42 outside). So, can anyone of you tell me if the complex mounting solution I'm figuring out here would work? I mean: no mechanical hangs and problems, and the lens still able to focusing at full range:​

ELMAR lens <-> M39/M42 ring <-> M42/MFT adapter <-> OM-D body

The alternative is to buy two separate adapters, an M39/MFT and an M42/MFT, which I would like to avoid (the M39 would be used only for some tests). What is you advice?

Thanks in advance
Ivan (Milan, Italy)
 

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DeeJayK

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Keith
While you can get an adapter to mount an M39 lens into an M42 adapter, I can see at least two issues with this approach:
  1. The flange focal distance of the M39 lens mount is 28.8mm while it's 45.5mm for the M42 lens mount. So mounting the M39 lens in the M42 adapter is going to put the lens 16.7mm further away from the focal plane than the lens was designed for. This will make that lens all but unusable.
  2. On a practical note, the cost of a cheap M39 lens adapter is pretty similar to price of an M39 to M42 adapter, so your potential savings of taking this approach would appear to be minimal.
If it were me I'd just buy two adapters.

- K
 

jk4u59

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Dec 29, 2020
Messages
58
Location
Milan, Italy
Real Name
Ivan Dalmonte
So I was right to ask here for an expert opinion, after all! Well, my assumption was wrong, I saved money. Actually, the prices I see from the Italian sites change a bit, from some 8 / 10 € for the M39/M42 ring to 25 - 35 € for a srew mount to M43 adapter. But I'll follow you warnings, for sure.

Thank you,
Ivan
 

jk4u59

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Dec 29, 2020
Messages
58
Location
Milan, Italy
Real Name
Ivan Dalmonte
Hi all,

a short update: I eventually received from my friend his father's Leica IF (1957!), fitted with the Leitz Elmar 50mm f/3.5 (awesome, and kept perfectly!). I can use it for all summer...
I immediately tried to mount the lens on the L39-M43 adapter that I bought in advance (8 €, it's worth the expense!), but I noticed that:
  • the lens could not focus to infinity
  • the "infinity mechanical block" typical of the Elmar couldn't work, because there were no empty space for its small button to operate
So, I tried to solve at least the second issue, and dug out a small space (about 1 mm deep) using an iron file. The result is not professional, but it works, and when I covered the naked aluminium with a black felt this small work could hardly be seen.

The results are that the infinity stop now works and releases the lens barrel so that it can be rotated to focus, but above all now the lens can focus to infinity! I assume that the L39-M43 adapter' lenght is not precise, so that the stop couldn't give the correct position to focus at infinity. But now, with a small repositioning, the correct position is reachable. Good!

So, next steps are the following:
  • try the "strange coupling": a 2017 digital camera body and a lens designed in 1930
  • try the Leica and its Elmar, buying a color film and doing some "ol'fashion" shots
I'll report them both soon.
 

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