Home News TechArt Pro Adapter: Autofocus for M-mount manual lenses

TechArt Pro Adapter: Autofocus for M-mount manual lenses

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  A brand new   TechArt Pro   adapter, the trusty   YNOS   αIII7   and a classic    50mm   Z   eiss Sonnar f/1.5  . Could this be the ideal testbed for autofocusing M-mount lenses? Mike aims to find out
A brand new TechArt Pro adapter, the trusty YNOS  αIII7  and a classic 50mm Z eiss Sonnar f/1.5 . Could this be the ideal testbed for autofocusing M-mount lenses? Mike aims to find out

Readers will remember that I tried out a TechArt Pro autofocus adapter for manual M-mount lenses during the Bièvres Photo Fair in early June. I’d borrowed the adapter from David Babsky and was under strict instructions not to attempt to upgrade the firmware. David had it working well with his a7rII and didn’t want to mess things up. I can sympathise. 

Below: A quick experiment. The autofocus is actually very fast, although perhaps not as fast as with a native AF lens. But it is perfectly acceptable and it works reliably (so far). The willing subject is a European member of the Brough motorcycle community who had ridden over from, I think, Zuerich for the occasion. Click on these images to enlarge

  The old TechArt Pro mounted on the 7III during the Bièvres Fair. The little motor under the adapter makes a very good lens propstand....
The old TechArt Pro mounted on the 7III during the Bièvres Fair. The little motor under the adapter makes a very good lens propstand….

I was using it with the latest a7III and encountered some difficulties. Occasionally the AF just wouldn’t work for no apparent reason. I surmised that the latest firmware — and, indeed, perhaps a newer adapter — might produce different results. As it turns out, I was right. I think.

The latest TechArt Pro with firmware version 6.0 is now in my hands and I took it out over the weekend to grab some sample shots. With the classic 50mm Zeiss Sonnar f/1.5 attached to the TechArt, the Sony is a compact and well-handling rig. If you have a few M-mount lenses lying around, the TechArt is a sensible alternative to native E-mount AF designs. At around £300 it’s cheaper than buying a new bagful of E-mount lenses

Over the weekend, while recovering from my 16-hour Hong Kong-Vienna-London flight, I took the TechArt Pro to Brooklands Museum to grab a few test shots. I was surprised to find the Brough motorcycle club in residence — they were starting a week-long programme of festivities, involving a trip on Sunday afternoon to the wonderfully named Piddletrenthide in Dorset followed by a full-blown Brough Rally at Middle Aston, near Bicester in Oxfordshire, on this coming bank holiday weekend (August 25-27, 2018). Sunday’s the day to go if you are interested in seeing a magnificent collection of Broughs. 

  My old friend Nick from the motorcycle industry who had ridden his Brough Superior to Brooklands and was all set for the   long trek to Piddletrenthide on his 1930s behemoth. I couldn
My old friend Nick from the motorcycle industry who had ridden his Brough Superior to Brooklands and was all set for the long trek to Piddletrenthide on his 1930s behemoth. I couldn’t let him set off without his posing for the TechArt-equipped Sony — and as you can see, the autofocus adapter didn’t let us down.

Anyway, I met some old motorcycling friends, including my Nick from the motorcycle industry whom I’ve known for most of my working life but hadn’t seen for some years. I managed to get some rather interesting shots and I will be sharing them later in the TechArt review.

  And in case you are wondering, the top image is a crop from this frame, which puts the scene into perspective. Not only does it show the accuracy of the autofocus, it demonstrates the quality of such a massive crop from the Sony
And in case you are wondering, the top image is a crop from this frame, which puts the scene into perspective. Not only does it show the accuracy of the autofocus, it demonstrates the quality of such a massive crop from the Sony’s full-frame sensor — something that would be difficult with micro four thirds or the new crop of 1in sensors

I suspect there’s a tendency to regard this adapter as something of a Heath Robinson device if you haven’t handled and used it. In the metal, however, the adapter is extremely well constructed and looks the business. It is anything but Heath Robinson and it successfully turns almost any M-mount lens (up to 700g) into a fast AF device.

It’s too early to reach a firm conclusion, but my efforts at the weekend were rewarding. Now I am aiming for some more experience. But so far, so good. I am impressed.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. What? ..nobody’s responded yet?

    But this is the simplest and smallest (..and cheapest..) way to have a miniaturel ‘Leica SL’ with autofocusing M-fit lenses as great and diverse as the minuscule Voigtländer 15mm, the great Konica dual 21-35mm, the Leica 24mm f1.4 ..and so on, and so forth.

    • Yes, rather disappointing, David. Personally I am sold on the TechArt. I suspect not many readers are into Sony — Leica always seems to get more response. For me, though, this is a good way of putting a bit of extra interest into using manual lenses on a modern digital.

  2. Interesting article
    Have you had the Kolari mod on the Sony sensor? Or do you just ignore the smeary results at the outside of the frame? Especially near to infinity?

    • Ah!! All bog standard of course. I am struggling to see the smears (as I’ve mentioned in my separate email to you) but I confess I was wholly focused on the focus as far as the TechArt was concerned. Any shortcomings could be down to my processing from RAW but I’m interested to explore this further.

    • I’m not sure if you’re asking me or Michael, Jonathan. In Michael’s pictures above, of course, everything’s out of focus at the corners anyway, and nothing appears to have been shot at infinity. I hardly ever shoot anything at infinity – and gr-rrrr; the M8 and M9 wouldn’t even let my favourite all-purpose Leica lens (the dual-range 50mm) focus at infinity! ..What were they thinking? (Though things look better with the M10 and M10-P.)

      The only two pictures I’ve shot at infinity ..as far as I remember.. in the last few years were one of a cruise liner heading for a hotel swimming pool in Mexico (..but that was taken with an Oly E-M5..) and one of a winding road in New Zealand taken with the 16-18-21mm Leica lens on an M9. In both cases, the top corners were plain sky, and the bottom corners were out-of-focus indistinguishable foreground ..so any similar shots I might take, or have taken, with a Sony and a Leica-fit lens wouldn’t really show any "smeary" results, as the corners are unlikely to have any noticeable features visible in them.

      As I don’t take photos to be verisimilitude, or copies of whatever’s in front of the lens, but I take pictures to convey what’s in my head (..and I’m not a landscape photographer..) I don’t really bother about any "smeary" effects at the edges, so – in answer to your question – I’m perfectly happy with assorted non-Sony wide-angle lenses on the A7 cameras and the Techart.

      Yours,

      David.

      • We-ell ..it looks – in the camera body – as if the M10-P can take the DR 50mm lens ..but the instruction book says that the DR 50 cannot be used! ..They’ve done it again! Gr-rrrr, gr-rrrr!

        • Now having tried the Dual Range 50 I find that – despite what the M10-P instruction book says – it DOES work perfectly with the P.

          Maybe whoever writes the instructions just copies and pastes material (..and, maybe, mistakes too..) from previous instruction books..

  3. The TechArt would interest me if it was compatible with the Sony A7SII … my grab and go camera (with R lenses) when not wanting to the carry the SL/24-90.

  4. Mike

    I am very interested in seeing more of your experiences with the Tech-Art, M-lenses, and the Sony body.

    I am using a Kolari Ultra-Thin V4 modified A7II with adapted M-lenses, Canon EF lenses, and the manual focus lenses. And in my experience focus peaking is alright, except it makes using the camera more deliberate. On average I am having better results with auto-focus with the EF lenses, than manually focusing the M-lenses. So an AF adapter for M-lenses may be the ticket.

    PaulB

    • I don’t have the Kolari mod (which Jono mentions in his comment) and my concern so far has been in checking the reliability of the autofocus. The problem with all mirrorless cameras, even the SL and CL is the you must manually activate focus aids when using manual lenses. As you imply, this slows down the process and makes photography more deliberate. Only the M rangefinder can sense focus ring movement and bring up the aids.

      The TechArt certainly speeds up the process and makes it more fluid. It makes the Sony second only to the M in ease of use. I am concerned by Jono’s comments about smearing and need to investigate this. Thanks for your input.

  5. I’m an early adopter and I’ve been using the Techart adapter on my A7rII since it was released. Works fine with all M mount lenses. I even sold my Voigtlander M-FE adapter after a few months with the Techart!
    I think it’s a great tool, and you can always switch the autofocus off. Too bad documentation is so poor. If you haven’t done it already, I’d recommend having a look at Fred Miranda’s forum for all advanced instructions regarding the various undocumented features of the adapter.

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