Leica Lens Adapter for NX10?

January 16, 2010

When Samsung introduced its new NX10 “EVIL” camera, it also created a new NX lensmount standard. (Samsung couldn’t use Micro Four-Thirds lenses, since the NX10’s APS-C sensor requires an image circle 6.5mm larger.)

One of my immediate questions was, could Leica lenses be adapted to the NX mount?

First, a little background:

The Micro Four-Thirds standard set itself the goal of producing DSLR-quality cameras, but in a smaller body.

Thus, µ4/3 is based on a lensmount with an unusually short flange focal distance (aka “register”) of only about 20mm. Because virtually all other camera mounts use longer flange distances, it’s possible to mount a huge variety of lenses to a µ4/3 body, using an appropriate adapter.

Adapters won’t communicate aperture or stop down the lens (except in the case of “original” Four-Thirds lenses). So everything must be done in manual mode. But otherwise, the only limitation is whether some clever machinist has decided there’s enough of a market to crank out a few adapters for some really obscure mount (Alpa, anyone?)

Some of the most revered lenses ever made are ones using Leica’s bayonet M mount—or its predecessor, the 39mm Leica thread mount (“LTM” to its friends). Over the decades, many other interesting Japanese and Russian lens brands have adopted the same mount standards.

Like µ4/3, rangefinder film cameras also have a mirrorless body, and a shallow lens register. But even in the case of LTM or M bayonet lenses, a µ4/3 mount leaves plenty of room for an adapter that maintains infinity focus.With Leica’s own digital camera offerings costing a bit of money, many Leica-mount lens owners are grateful to have another digital alternative—even one with a limiting 2x crop factor.

So could rangefinder lenses work on an NX?

NX Mount Size

Samsung NX10 from DPReview.com

What I’ve attempted to do above (click to enlarge) is to estimate the diameter of the lens throat, scaling from the stated dimensions of the NX10 sensor. With the unknown perspective distortion here, 39.8mm is the maximum possible diameter—it might be smaller.

The quoted flange distance of the new NX mount is 25.5mm. The Leica M bayonet is 27.8mm. That sounds like good news, right? A whole 2.3mm to spare?

Unfortunately, No.  The tabs of the M bayonet extend behind the flange by almost 7mm, and are 43.5mm in diameter. Thus they would collide with the inner throat of the NX mount. Doesn’t look like an M-mount adapter is going to happen. (Or, not one that can focus at infinity, anyway.)

Okay, what about 39mm LTM lenses?

The flange distance of LTM is 28.8mm, so we’re safe there. And the threads of an LTM lens truly are 39mm in diameter—maybe more like 38.8mm. They extend about 4.1mm behind the flange.

With the uncertainty of my NX diameter estimate, this is cutting it awfully close—but it’s just possible LTM lenses could squeak into the NX mount.

At the back of an LTM lens, there’s also a protruding inner barrel. On a film body this makes contact with the rangefinder cam, and extends about 7.5mm behind the flange (when the lens is focused to infinity). Will this run afoul of the electrical contacts in the NX mount? Hard to say, until someone can get their hands on a body to try it.

So, sorry to all you Leica M fans. With its 1.5x crop factor, the Samsung sensor could have been an appealing alternative to µ4/3. But it ain’t happening.

I don’t own any M-mount lenses. But I do have some interesting LTM ones I’d enjoy trying on digital. How about that Jupiter-9, which becomes 130e at f/2.0?

I’ve already taken a few swipes at this first Samsung NX model. And if the lens mount really can’t accept LTM adapters, it’ll be very hard to win me back.


12 Responses to “Leica Lens Adapter for NX10?”

  1. robert e Says:

    Graphically estimating using official body dimensions gets me similar numbers: the NX throat looks to be about 38mm inside the flanges, about 42mm w/o flanges. So M adapter not possible; LTM not probable.

    However, this leaves open the possibility of replacing the mounting flange ring with one that will accommodate an M (or LTM) lens. (The electrical contacts seem to be independent of the ring.)

    Unfortunately, there is one more consideration: Even moderately wide Leica-mount lenses extend the rear element into the body–beyond the inner focusing barrel. So even if one could make the NX accept an M or LTM lens, I suspect that any non-retrofocal lens wider than about 40mm would foul before reaching infinity focus. And, of course, the sensor will crop the FOV.

    • petavoxel Says:

      Regardless of the optical design, Leica-mount lenses have an inner moving lip intended to ride on the rangefinder-focus linkage.

      Even replacing the flange, I believe this moving lip would collide with the NX electrical contacts when the lens is focused at infinity.

  2. […] for Leica M lenses and this post clearly explained to me why one won’t be forthcoming: https://petavoxel.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/ltm-on-nx10/.  The article will matter to those who were hoping for such adapters, like me, but the blog as a […]

  3. micha Says:

    But why could Epson with there R-D1 do a APS C Chip together with Leica lens on a Bessa R Based Body ?

    • petavoxel Says:

      All the Cosina-built 35mm rangefinder Bessas from the R2 onwards were natively designed for M-mount lenses. So was the Epson R-D1 based on them. It’s a curious hybrid where you have to re-cock the shutter with a “film advance” lever, even when there’s no film.

      Epson’s digital rangefinders cost a lot and weren’t marketed very effectively. Apparently you can still buy them in Japan, though.

  4. […] that shallow register distance and wide throat (seemingly about 42 mm in their mockup) it will be much friendlier to lens adapters than the Samsung NX mount. Leica lenses on an affordable APS-C sensor, […]

  5. petavoxel Says:

    Although Novoflex has announced several lens adapters for NX mount, m39 Leica Thread Mount was notably not among them.

    My current best estimate of the NX throat diameter (scaling from various photos) is 38–39 mm. So the odds are rather against the threads of an LTM lens fitting inside that.

    Also, if you start watching this video at about the 3:00 point, you’ll see that the electrical contacts of the NX lenses are actually recessed into the lens bayonet.

    An LTM lens focused at infinity would extend more than 4mm behind the lens flange; so it seems quite probable that it would collide with the body’s electrical contacts.

  6. Melvyn Cobb Says:

    I think you are all missing the point. The NX system wasn’t designed for people like you with exotic leica glass to ‘mess around with’ . Rather it was designed for novice photographers, who have maybe had a basic compact camera for a few years and are now wishing to expand their photographic horizons a little. I don’t suppose people like you even made it into the design brief for the NX system.


    • petavoxel Says:

      For the NX10 model specifically, I think you’re right: it’s aimed at the mainstream.

      But Samsung has made brave statements that they want to “own” the mirrorless interchangeable-lens market; and that they’re planning to introduce additional bodies to address other segments. That spectrum needs to include both soccer-moms and “enthusiast” photographers. (And Samsung does want to court the enthusiast market, as you can see from their recent TL500 announcement.)

      When Olympus announced the E-P1, one of the factory accessories available straight out of the gate was the MF-2 adapter for Olympus OM lenses. And one centerpiece of their booth at this week’s CP+ tradeshow in Yokohama was a “lens bar” where people could try out various adapted lenses on an E-P2. There are a lot of enthusiasts who do this, including trying some rather strange combinations.

      A Leica M adapter is a factory accessory from Panasonic.

      The µ4/3 lens mount makes it highly adaptable; but the sensor size leads to a 2x multiplier in effective focal length. There is currently no affordable option for mounting short-register lenses on a larger-sensor body (only costly Leica & Epson rangefinders).

      This is the reason for a lot of initial excitement about the NX mount (which admittedly, will still work fine to adapt most long-register SLR lenses). I don’t see how making the NX mount a little larger would have interfered with any of Samsung’s other design goals for the system.

      By the way—I don’t own any “exotic Leica glass.” Just two nice Cosina-Voigtlander m39 lenses that would work well on APS-C, plus some older Russian m39 oddities that it would be fun to try.

  7. […] from Petavoxel’s site traffic that Samsung’s NX-10 generated curiosity wondering if it could accept an adapter for Leica-mount lenses, in M bayonet or 39mm thread. (The answer seems to be no, unless someone can show me otherwise.) […]

  8. […] whether Leica lenses could be mounted on the Samsung NX10 with an adapter, the answer from petavoxel is no: “The quoted flange distance of the new NX mount is 25.5mm. The Leica M bayonet is […]

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