Review: Techart PRO Leica M – Sony E Autofocus Adapter
I’ve got a few questions from friends about what I think about Techart PRO adapter, so this short article is something like an answer, just my personal opinion.
Disclaimer: I didn’t have any deals with Sony and Techart companies.
Why Techart PRO:
I bought a Sony A7 the first mirrorless Full Frame camera immediately as it became available. At that moment I already had a quite good collection of manual lenses and didn’t like to use them on digital crop-cameras. Also, I make many photos of my family and friends, so thin DOF is required quite often to hide the home- or street- environment on the pictures. ‘Focus peaking’ can help photographers in many cases but it definitely unusable for portraits because people moves and time for focusing with focus peaking is insufficient. For me at least. After I’ve read fresh reviews about Techart PRO I ordered an adapter and changed my A7 to A7II, because the first generation of ‘Sony7’ isn’t supported.
The text above is for a better understanding of my goals in photography. For me, Techart PRO is the great savior, but in other cases, it can be not so good as expected. So, point #1 – I already have all lenses that I need and all of them are manual point #2 – I need autofocus because I’m taking photos with people with thin DOF on Full Frame camera.
- It works not the same way as the original autofocus system because of some restrictions. I don’t tell about software features in modern cameras, but about things that can not be fixed by a firmware update. Some of them are neutral, some – really negative. Do not expect much. For me, it looks like ‘semiautofocus’ system, because can help in about half of the way.
- SLR lenses usually have a helicoid ‘stroke’ longer than Leica lenses, I mean the size of the way which helicoid need to pass from MFD to infinity on a specific lens. For rangefinder lenses, it is enough to set the helicoid on infinity position, but if you use SLR lenses, you need to make corrections during the session if the distance to object significantly changed. I can try to describe it in other words: you have to keep manually the object all the time around in focus and Techart PRO just helps you to make final thin tuning. It’s not a problem for anyone who has little experience with manual lenses. After the time this correction became like a habit for me, so now I don’t think about and perform it ‘automatically’. The operation also helps to noticeable decrease the time of focusing, because Techart PRO doesn’t need to go through all the way, and just need a short correction. Note: I know that increasing the size of ‘stroke’ for Techart PRO mechanism in the next model is often wished by users, but I don’t care about and understand that it can make an adapter not so universal.
- Lenses with floating elements can be operated with less convenience because the photographer always needs to set and keep the correct distance on the scale of lens. It is a problem because it needs attention and can lead to leaks of good shots. On the other hand, a little help is better than no help, and you always can quickly switch to full manual mode.
- My experience with zoom-lenses is short, so I can miss something important to tell about. But I’ve tried to make a few test shots and believe that this is close the same to operational with lenses with floating elements.
- Heavy and long-sized lenses can break your Techart PRO. I don’t use monsters, so it’s OK for me.
- I like how it works with really big and heavy Minolta MD 135/2 – no inconvenience for me, but Minolta MD 200/2.8 is not so good, so for me, the border of convenient/inconvenient is lying somewhere between this two lenses.
- The first copy of my Techart PRO didn’t work when I’ve unboxed it and attached it to my camera. On the other hand – I’ve sent it back to the company and they replaced it. On the other hand – I paid for sending my broken copy back and had to wait about the month additionally.
- Of course, one additional adapter from your lens to Leica-M mount is needed. Adapters for many popular SLR mounts are available on the market. Very important to be sure, that specific adapter can operate with Techart PRO – not all are good because of physical dimensions. Ask the seller or read comments.
- Hotkey for fast switching off/on of autofocus should be set for situations in which DOF is big because in this case full manual focusing with ‘focus peaking’ can be better than the result of sum Techart PRO and Sony. I don’t know who of these two is the weak link but sometimes I spot the missing focus on long distances and closed apertures. Actually, I’ve seen the same mistakes with original Sony lenses, so I’m ready to enable manual focus in such cases.
- I know that people use a lot of tricks with this adapter, so be ready to spend some time to study how to become better with Techart PRO.
- Price. Example: Sony sells 55/1.8 lens for $1000 and 35/2.8 for $800. I’ve got MD 50/1.4 and 35/2.8 lenses less than $200 for both and Techart PRO less than $400. Of course, all manual lenses which will be bought by me in the future will be ‘autofocused’ too.
- Range of choice. Sony produces two fifties – FE55/1.8ZA and FE50/1.8. From my point of view, the first is good in sharpness but the worst in rendering. Second has the same speed of AF as any other fifty with Techart PRO. So, I can buy any other manual 50mm lens and use it with autofocus. All manual lenses in the world, from C-mount or rangefinders up to medium format.
- I have no issues with focusing on my shots with thin DOF. It’s like a miracle for me – absolutely precision focus. It works great on all lenses, which previously gives me just a 50% chance to get correct focusing with Focus Peaking. Even something like 50/1.2, 135/2 – no problem. This ability – is the main advantage for me from Techart PRO, and all cons are worth it.
- A trolley with batteries is required. Sony A7II is a really bad camera from a battery life point of view, and Techart PRO increases this effect.
- Additionally to the first cons we have the battery leak if the camera switched off. It’s not a big problem, because the photographer just needs to take off and then put back battery or Techart PRO, but I exhausted to do it every time when I’m going to put aside camera for an hour or more.
- Techart PRO increases the size of the camera. Noticeable. The camera can stay on surface or tripod only with Arca Swiss Plate or something like this on the picture (vertical part isn’t needed and can be removed). As a result, the combination of plate and adapter increase the weight too.
- No more any straps – only bags.
I would like to recommend this magic Techart PRO for photographers who meet the following requirements:
- Prefer to taking photos with thin DOF
- Often taking photos on portraits distances
- Have a number of manual lenses
- Ready to use full-frame cameras Sony A7II or newer
- Don’t like a rendering of modern lenses
- Want to save a little
It looks like not a crowd of users but some people can get good help.
(One more: if you are not a collector of manual lenses – forget about all of this and use normal cameras and normal lenses)