Other bodies (the best EVIL).

If you are a user of telemetry Or if you’ve been saving up for years to buy a digital Leica body, you probably have some lenses that you treat like your own children (and if you don’t, maybe you should). If so, you may have a great chemical camera to use them with, or even a great Leica M9, ​​but, why not use them in a second digital body as well?

Also, many photographers choose to buy these lenses even if they have never had a camera of this type, knowing that they always hold their value while the bodies are devalued little by little. After all, a good Summicron or Summilux should last forever, right?

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

We are going to see then which cameras can take advantage of these objectives, and which ones cannot, and above all we are going to see why the well-known EVIL or CSC They have earned the nickname of the “Leicas of the poor”.

With this article I intend to show how the most traditional photography can coexist with the most avant-garde electronics. That’s why I encourage you to read it both the most staunch rangefinders and the most recent fans. Hopefully, you can both discover new ways to enjoy photography.

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

Before starting this little review, we are going to eliminate a good part of the market at a stroke, remembering one of the fundamental differences between SLR and rangefinder that we talked about in the first article: the distance to the focal plane.

In the reflex camerasthe mirror is located between the sensitive element and the objective, and the design of all its elements is carried out taking this space into account. A rangefinder target will not work properly with themsince it was designed to project the image at a much shorter distance.

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

On the contrary, we will be able to place a reflex lens on a mirrorless camera, but we will have to separate it from the body enough so that the image is properly projected on the sensor. For this reason, reflex lens adapters for mirrorless cameras are much more cumbersome.

So, the EVIL have been twinned with the rangefinders, by adapting almost perfectly to use its objectives. The problem is that no compact has a sensor big enough to take full advantage of them, so we will always have to make certain concessions in terms of quality, equivalent angle or depth of field.

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

Also, we can meet wide angle problems (apart from the logical ones due to the crop factor) and lenses with very protruding rear elements, in which light from the corners arrives at the wrong angle for the sensor and quality is lost. The Leicas have taken this into account in their design, but in the EVIL I only know that Ricoh has done it.

We see what we have on the market, ignoring everything that does not interest us (autofocus, specific lenses, etc.), and focusing on the union of the classic and the digital, especially regarding the focus of M-mount lenses using viewfinders and screens electronics.

Micro 4/3 cameras: half of half

We start with cameras with a sensor size as far away from the classic 35mm as possible (with permission from the recent Pentax Q, and the future Nikon): the mic 4/3, authentic innovators in this world. In fact, it was the Olympus Pen E-P1 that sparked the craze of using thousands of Euro Leica lenses in a body of a few hundred.

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

For a price of between 30 and 60 euros (depending on its quality), we will have a adapter for M mounts (bayonet, current) or LTM/L39 (thread, older) from Leica, which will open up a huge range of possibilities in terms of objectives of all prices and qualities.

It is difficult to recommend a specific camera because the final image quality is quite homogeneous among all the Micro 4/3, as well as the types of focus assistance (increasing a part of the image), so in this case I would use the viewfinder electronic or stabilizer as differentiating elements.

In the Olympus partall cameras will automatically stabilize to all the lenses that we mount, as long as we indicate by hand the focal length that we are using (there is no communication between the lens and the body).

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

As for the viewers, there are no integrated viewers, but instead we have what is possibly the best external electronic viewfinder available, the bulky and expensive VF-2 (recently revamped for a cheaper and smaller version, but with lower resolution). Therefore, the most recommended would be the E-P2 and E-P3 with its corresponding viewfinder.

In the Panasonic partthere will be no stabilization, but we will have very good integrated viewers. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, at least until the Sony NEX-7 arrives, the Panasonic G3 and GH-2 are the best choices in this regard.

EVIL APS-C cameras: Sony’s overwhelming technology

Going up to sensors with a crop factor of 1.5 or 1.6X (the standard in mid-range SLRs), we find the range Sony NEXthe Samsung NXand since very recently, the Ricoh GXR A12 module.

By having a larger sensor, the results of these cameras will be more similar to what we could obtain in the original format of the rangefinder lenses (remember that we are always taking the 35mm as a reference), getting much closer in terms of angle of view. and depth of field.

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

As for technology, I’m going to start ruling out Samsungbecause although their cameras are perfectly capable, they do not offer any features that their competitors do not offer, and they lack some of the technologies that we will see next.

what do they have then Sony and Ricoh to get so much attention? Nothing more and nothing less than focus peaking, a manual focus technique that is proving to compete in speed and comfort with rangefinder focus.

When working with the full screen, it allows viewing the final frame, and gives information on the focus of elements in any part of the shot (improving the rangefinders themselves in this regard). On the downside, it can be annoying and intrusive at times.

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

As for the Sony range, it must be said that they have some of the best sensors currently available in this size: good in the old NEX-3 and NEX-5, very good (at the level of some “classics”) in the NEX-C3 and NEX-5n, and well loaded with megapixels in the upcoming NEX- 7.

For the use at hand, I would save a little and would point directly at the NEX-5n: the price is not unreasonable (about 650 euros), and we will have 10 shots per second, optional electronic viewfinder, touch screen, and in general a lot of technology everywhere.

Of course, I would wait to see what Sony does with an annoying bug whose existence has already been officially recognized and for which there is still no solution: apparently, when recording video, the sound is distorted in some cases with a constant “click” that makes the recorded audio unusable.

The NEX–7 has not yet arrived, but we can assume the same and more, with a integrated electronic viewfinder on the camera body, and adding more manual controls. Will it be the best compact body for a Leica lens? We will know when we test whether its 24 megapixels (and 1,200 euros without a lens) are not an exaggeration.

EVIL APS-C cameras: Ricoh A12, the unexpected rival

The Ricoh GXR has been a rather misunderstood and even ignored camera since its inception and has never fully developed its potential. Let us remember that its main characteristic is that sensor and lens are a separate part of the body.

Its new A12 module comes with even more controversy due to its high price, almost 600 euros (it is not yet definitive in Spain) that are added to the more than 300 that the body costs.

To make up for it, Ricoh has thrown all the meat on the grill in the details, starting with the firmware that accompanies the module: apart from the aforementioned focus peaking, we can, for example, add specific corrections for each lens, avoiding a post-process that may be necessary with any other digital body.

In the hardware part we find another detail that draws our attention: we have a classic focal plane shutter that works between 180 and 1/4000 seconds, but also a electronic shutter on the sensor itself, absolutely silent and jitter-free up to 1/8000″, but that can cause problems with subjects that move during the exposure.

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

Thanks to the fact that the sensor (of “only” 12 megapixels) is unique to this module, certain concessions have been made: no anti-alias filter neededand has a design of microlenses specific to solve the problem that we mentioned at the beginning with the wide angles. Personally I am impatient to what extent all this affects the result, but it does not look bad at all.

Still, I think the price It only justifies the investment in the NEX if you already own a Ricoh GXR body, complete with external viewfinder and all its accoutrements, and are reluctant to stop using it with our Leica-mount lenses. In addition, it does not seem that it will be manufactured and distributed in mass.

We haven’t had the opportunity to test it, so I strongly recommend you read Valentín Sama’s detailed pre-analysis that we link to at the bottom of the article.

Summary of pros and cons

Once again, we have packed a lot of information into this article, so let’s summarize the most important points:

Other bodies (the best EVIL)

Micro 4/3 format (2x)

  • Olympus EVIL is the only one to offer classic lens stabilizationbut to have a good viewer we will have to buy an external one.
  • Panasonic EVILs integrate very good electronic viewfinders (in some of their bodies), but they are never stabilized.
  • In both cases we can opt for bodies with sufficient manual controls, although the trend is to gradually replace them with touch controls.

APS-C format (1.5x)

  • Sony’s new NEX-5n and NEX-7 have the best technology available today when we talk about the combination of classic lens + digital body.
  • The M module for the Ricoh GXR has a very high price, but it has a more specific designwith an electronic shutter, wide angle corrections, and many customization options.
  • Focus peaking is one of the best options to focus manually that currently exist, and is integrated by both manufacturers.
  • Noise at high ISOs speaks volumes with the Leica M9 and clearly outperforms any other EVIL or digital rangefinder.
  • In all cases we move away from a classic use and touch and move on to a more technological use. Everyone will see if this is positive or negative.

Header photo | Andrew Xu
Video | Wentbackward (Youtube)
More information | Analysis of the Ricoh A12 module by Valentín Sama in DSLR Magazine
More information | Sony NEX–5n review by Steve Huff (English)