Leica M cameras are legendary in the photo industry. History plays a role—the series has been in production for the better part of six decades, and Leica’s legacy goes back farther, to the very first camera to use 35mm film more than a century ago. And, with a few exceptions here and there, a modern digital Leica M10-R supports both M-mount and its predecessor, Leica Thread Mount (LTM) lenses, without any sacrifices in functionality.
A lack of in-lens electronics plays a big part. Leica lenses are purely mechanical, and while you shouldn’t expect a lens from the 1950s to be as optically sublime as modern glass with exotic aspherical elements, you can expect the same experience when using them regardless of whether it’s with a 35mm Leica M-A or digital M10 camera.
Leica, Voigtlander, and Zeiss are the major brands making M lenses today. They all share German roots, though the Voigtlander imprint is now owned by a Japanese manufacturer, Cosina.
They’ve been joined in recent years by some very boutique brands. Some, like one-man shop MS Optics, concentrate on short production runs of lenses set apart by ultra-slim designs or extra-bright apertures, with pricing that’s competitive with Voigtlander and Zeiss.
Others are up-and-comers: 7artisans, Kipon, TTArtisan, and Venus Laowa are newer names to photographers, but have all released M lens designs in recent months. Their lenses tend to be less expensive than other brands. TTArtisan, for example, sells a 50mm F0.95 lens for $755—Leica’s Noctilux-M 50mm F0.95, for comparison, costs $12,495.
You shouldn’t expect the same level of craftsmanship from a budget lens as a hand-built Leica lens, but not everyone shopping for M glass is pairing it with a rangefinder. Anyone with a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can use M lenses with a simple adapter.
We’ve even seen some adapters that add autofocus to the purely manual lenses. The Techart Pro Leica M adapter is an interesting product, but is a little bit of a pain to use in practice, as well as expensive.
Now, that’s true of pretty much any fully manual lens, but M lenses are typically smaller and lighter than those made for vintage SLRs, and adapters are shorter too. With an EVF camera, you’ll focus an M lens manually with a through-the-lens view, a bit different from an optical rangefinder.
Regardless of what type of camera you use, there are a wealth of M lenses to choose from, both new and old. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites that we’ve reviewed over the years here, along with some advice for shopping for vintage lenses.Source