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The M Files Jubilee: Creating the largest knowledge base for M-Mount photographic gear

Product image showing photographic gear which is reviewed in the M Files, a series on Macfilos
All with Leica's M-Mount, but non made by Leica: lenses and cameras from Konica, Zeiss, Minolta, Voigtländer, Contax are some of the products that are being reviewed in the M Files series.

The jubilee has passed almost unnoticed: This summer saw the twentieth episode of The M Files. And the most comprehensive series we have ever had on Macfilos will continue. The idea is nothing less than to create the largest knowledge base for non-Leica M-mount lenses, cameras and accessories. 

The M Files anniversary is a remarkable one. In 20 episodes, our author Jörg-Peter Rau from Germany has covered an astonishing range of cameras, lenses and other items that fit the Leica M-Mount standard but are not part of Leica’s own M-System line-up. These include rangefinder cameras and lenses from Voigtländer, Zeiss, Konica and Minolta. In some side projects, Jörg-Peter also reviewed attachable light meters for mechanical rangefinder (and other) cameras, as well as external viewfinders. And his review of the Pixii, the new digital rangefinder camera from France, is also related to this project. The Pixii article is, by the way, the most read story on Macfilos this year.

All reviews are focused on practical aspects

The M Files jubilee episode, number 20, is quite typical of the series. Many articles are joint reviews of two or more lenses (or a camera and a kit lens, or otherwise well-matched lenses). This is a deliberate choice, says Jörg-Peter: “I tend to think in terms of small kits that might be of interest to working photographers. They are my target group for the M-Files, rather than collectors”. So for episode 20, he combined a fast 21mm and a fast 75mm (Voigtländer Nokton 21/1.4 and Nokton 75/1.5) and tested them for their practicality as a high-end travel kit.

Many new readers come to Macfilos thanks to the M Files

For Macfilos, the M Files jubilee marks a success story. Even the back episodes continue to attract a wide readership, often enthusiasts who discover our site by googling for an in-depth review of a Minolta CLEHexar RF or Zeiss ZM camera. Since January 2021, the series has grown to include no fewer than nine cameras (including the Pixii) and 33 lenses.  Many of the products are attractive and affordable alternatives to Leica products, which, as Jörg-Peter says, are “without question also attractive, but often not that affordable”.

No benefits from manufacturers or dealers

While the M Files project continues to evolve, the core principles remain the same. All products are reviewed after extensive practical use, usually over several months. No gifts or benefits are accepted from manufacturers or retailers. If an item has to be borrowed, it is usually from private individuals who simply want to support the project. So the M Files remain independent. And they remain focused on practical use, without MTF curves and series of pixel-peeping comparison images. One last unique aspect will also be continued: The M Files will appear simultaneously in English here on Macfilos and in German on Germany’s biggest rangefinder photography blog, www.messsucherwelt.com. In fact, Jörg-Peter writes each article twice.

The M Files jubilee is a step, but not the end

After the M Files jubilee and 20 in-depth articles, there is no end in sight. “It neither bores nor strains me so far”, says Jörg-Peter. He still loves putting unknown gear through its paces and making unexpected discoveries. He plans to create about five new episodes per year. This frequency maintains the character of the series while allowing enough time for careful testing and writing as well as for creating relevant images that show the characteristics of a particular lens. In 2023 we can expect two more episodes. “One will be about an M-mount camera that many people do not even know exists,” says Jörg-Peter. The other will be about Voigtländer’s answer to Leica’s legendary Summilux and Noctilux 50mm lenses.

The M Files Navigator gives access to all reviews

All M Files content is accessible via the unique M Files Navigator, a dedicated page here on Macfilos that systematically lists all reviewed products in a logical order (first, cameras – second, lenses by focal length and speed – third, accessories). Feel free to try this access to a fascinating world and all the articles with their interesting product and sample images. The navigator will be updated after each new episode is published.

On the occasion of the M Files jubilee: Might we ask for your help?

We know from many readers that the M Files have been a great support to them. They have told us how, after a few costly mistakes, they finally found the lens they really wanted. Or that the M Files reassured them about which lens would not suit them. So as well as being entertaining and informative, the series has a proven practical use. For this reason, we take the liberty of reminding you of our fundraising efforts. If you find Macfilos useful, please consider making a one-off or regular donation. All funds are used to cover the costs of running the site. We never buy equipment or cover travel expenses with our readers’ donations.

The M Files: Get in-depth knowledge of M-Mount lenses, cameras and suitable accessories

The M Files is an ongoing project on Macfilos that focuses on photographic equipment with or for Leica M-Mount, made by companies other than Leica or which are otherwise not part of Leica’s M system. It follows a more or less encyclopaedic approach without being scientific. The focus is always on the real-life use and usability of cameras, lenses and other items. Products covered by The M Files include cameras, lenses, viewfinders, light meters and more. Brands on the growing list include Contax, Konica, Minolta, Rollei, Voigtländer and Zeiss. 

Click here for the M Files Navigator, which gives you easy access to all articles and reviews by product type and brand.

Die M-Files: M-Mount-Objektive, -Kameras und passendes Zubehör jenseits von Leica M

Die M-Files sind ein Langzeit-Projekt, das sich auf Foto-Ausrüstungsteile mit oder für Leica M-Bajonett konzentriert, die von anderen Firmen als Leica hergestellt wurden oder die nicht zum M-System von Leica gehören. Es verfolgt einen mehr oder weniger enzyklopädischen Ansatz, ohne wissenschaftlich zu sein. Der Schwerpunkt liegt immer auf der praktischen Nutzung von Kameras, Objektiven und anderen Produkten. Zu den in den M-Files besprochenen Produkten gehören Kameras, Objektive, Sucher, Belichtungsmesser und mehr. Einige der Marken auf der wachsenden Liste sind Contax, Konica, Minolta, Rollei, Voigtländer und Zeiss. In deutscher Sprache erscheinen die Inhalte auf www.messsucherwelt.com.

Hier geht es zum deutschsprachigen M-Files Navigator, der einen einfachen Zugang zu allen Artikeln und Reviews nach Produkttyp und Marke ermöglicht.

Join our community and play an active part in the future of Macfilos: This site is run by a group of volunteers and dedicated authors around the world. It is supported by donations from readers who appreciate a calm, stress-free experience, with courteous comments and an absence of advertising or commercialisation. Why not subscribe to the thrice-weekly newsletter by joining our mailing list? Comment on this article or, even, write your own. And if you have enjoyed the ride so far, please consider making a small donation to our ever-increasing running costs.


    • Tank you. John. Indeed there is much positive feedback, and to be honest, this is my main motivation to carry on with the project. At times I ask myself why the heck I could have started this, but then comes some feedback that shows me how useful many readers find the series. If this also applies to you, you might want to think about a small contribution. We cover all costs for running this blog from our private funds and are grateful for any support!

  1. .
    I notice that the Cosina/Epson RD-1 isn’t really covered in the ‘M Files’ articles, though other M-fit cameras are ..like Voigt, Zeiss, Minolta, Konica, etc. (The ‘Epson’ is really a variant of the Voigtländer R series, but with a sensor and electronics inside, instead of film.)

    If J-P would like one to try it – and to compare it, like the other cameras, with a M-series Leica – then I’ll be happy to send him mine. (I briefly mentioned, and included one or two pics from, the RD-1 in this old Macfilos article ‘Leica M10-D meets M3, Minox, Yashica Y35 & Epson R-D1’ from December 2018: https://tinyurl.com/Eps0nRD1 ..but maybe J-P would like to write about it himself in more detail.)

    Even though it has only an APS-size sensor – like Leica’s own, later, M8 – it’s a great little M-fit camera! (Incidentally, in case anyone wonders; that almost-all-blue photo taken with the RD-1 – in that article – is a shot of two aeroplanes crossing each other in the blue sky overhead ..or maybe just think of it as an ‘abstract’.)


    • David. I am sure JP will reply on this. Incidentally, I don’t like to be picky with a such an expert, but didn’t the M8 have an APS-H sensor with a 1.33 crop factor? So bigger than APS-C…

      • .
        No, I don’t like to be picky, Mike! ..but “expert” you say..?! But I only mentioned “..an APS-size sensor..” and didn’t qualify it as either APS-C or APS-H ..nor APS-P..! (And there are different sizes of APS-C, varying by different manufacturers.)

        Maybe I should have been more precise!

        The Cosina/Epson RD-1 has an APS-C (23.7 x 15.6 mm) sensor (..Canon’s APS-C sensors are 22.2 x 14.8 mm..) and the Leica M8 and M8.2 have a slightly bigger APS-H [so-called Hi-Def] 27 x 18 mm sensor.

        The RD-1 has a 6 megapixel CCD sensor, the M8 & 8.2 both have a 10 megapixel CCD sensor.

        The RD-1 has the same Leica-M lens mount as the M8 & 8.2. The focal length ‘multiplier’, or ‘crop factor’, of the RD-1 – because of its reduced sensor size compared with a ‘full frame’ sensor – is 1.5 ..so a 35mm lens on an RD-1 works like a 52.5mm lens would on a ‘full-frame’ sensor such as that in an M9.

        The ‘crop factor’ of Leica’s M8 & 8.2 is 1.33 – being a slightly larger sensor than in the RD-1, and thus being a bit closer to ‘full-frame’ size – so a 35mm lens on an M8 or 8.2 gives a similar view to what a 46.5mm lens would give on an M9.

        So you get a slightly more ‘telephoto’ effect with any lens on an RD-1 compared with the same lens on the similarly ‘crop-frame’, but APS-H, sensor of an M8 or 8.2.

        I think that’s covered all bases ..or the various sensor sizes! 😎


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