Using Zeiss M-Mount Leica Lenses for Real Estate Photography First Thoughts

New Tech Tuns Zeiss Manual Focusing Leica Glass Into Fast Autofocusing Lenses

Each year during late February, I head to Las Vegas for the annual WPPI convention. It’s a great place to meet up with industry friends and family. Another aspect I like about attending WPPI is their trade show.  Even though I use the Sony a9, Sony a7sii in my daily luxury real estate photography  I  like to see what other camera manufacturers are bringing to market.  All the big names are there, Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Panasonic, Hasselblad  Leica and of course Sony. I spent the better part of two days walking the floor, speaking to camera and lens reps. And even caught up with my friends at Think Tank Photo.  There was one thing that really stood out for me at the trade show. One thing that excited me so much…I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. How new tech turns Zeiss manual focusing Leica glass into fast autofocusing lenses. It’s the marriage of legendary Zeiss manual focusing Leica glass coupled with newfangled tech. I’ve ordered the lenses and adapters below. And they’ll be coming next week.  I’ll be putting them through rigorous real-world testing during real estate photography shoots and my travel schedule. 

Legendary Glass Coupled with Cutting Edge Mirrorless

When at WPPI, I always visit with Richard, Sr. Director, Americas, Camera Lens Division.   Richard is a light-hearted guy of great intellect and always brings a smile with him.  He and I were talking {of course} about Zeiss lenses.  I own a couple.  The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8  that I use for executive portraiture and the  ZEISS Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T* which I use for both street photography and luxury real estate photography.    He mentioned that he had something that he wanted to show me and reach into his showcase pulling out the following lenses Leica M-Mount lenses… the Distagon T* 1.4 / 35 ZM, Planar T* 2.0 / 50 ZM, and the Tele-Tessar T* 4 / 85 ZM. Keep in mind these are Zeiss lenses produced specifically to the Leica camera system.  For me, the three biggest selling points of the Leica system is the size of the camera body  {so small}  and the quality of the glass, legendary {small and light weight}.  The icing on the cake is the ability to zone focus.  Scale Focusing or Zone focusing allows you {by means of using the etched scale on the bezel of the lens} to chose an appropriate aperture to dial in your in-focus distance:  For example, you could choose to have everything in focus from  5 feet – 10 feet or from 5 feet to infinity, the choice is yours to make.  Put two bodies in a small shoulder bag with 3-5 lenses and you can travel the world photographing your heart out.

New Tech Tuns Zeiss Manual Focusing Leica Glass Into Fast Autofocusing Lenses

Best Adapters for Zeiss ZM to Sony E-Mount

I’ve always wanted to own a Leica camera system. Now I can…sort of…but in a much better way.  What I’m getting in this package is the best of two worlds.  IMO, better than owning a Leica. Legendary, manual focusing, fast, Zeiss, rangefinder glass coupled with the cutting-edge full framed goodness of the Sony system with all the tech that is packed into the 7 series bodies.  But it gets even better.  Call it witchcraft, magic, voodoo or simply innovative tech…couple the Zeiss M glass to a TechArt Pro smart adapter {TAP} the Zeiss M lenses are magically transformed into very quickly autofocusing lenses. Why am I so excited about this?  Using the Zeiss M glass coupled with the TAP  and Sony mirrorless bodies will allow me to fit two bodies, these small lightweight rangefinder lenses, a few extra batteries in a small shoulder bag for all-day city touring, architectural photography and street shooting instead of carrying a hefty backpack packed with full-size lenses.  A quick comparison in size: All three of the  Zeiss lenses {above} weigh less 37.7 oz. compared to a single Sony 24-70mm f/2.8GM which weighs in at 1.95 lbs. And all three Zeiss lenses take up less physical space of a 24-70 f/2.8 GM.  Here’s a bit of extra goodness from Sony:  Turning on the Super 35 mode on my a9  will increase the focal length of each of the Zeiss lens by 1.5x.  So the 85mm becomes a 135mm lens {127.5mm}. Now I have 4 focal lengths. To hedge my best while traveling, because the TAP is mechanical in nature {has a built-in motor,} like anything else it is susceptible to failure I’m also purchasing a Novaflex adapter for full manual focusing of the Zeiss ZM glass. It should be noted that the TAP adapter will focus fastest with  Wide Area Focus, and will not yet work with Eye Focus Capabilities.

Update:  Just checked in on the TAP Facebook page and they have a video showing that the TAP now functions with Eye Focus on the new a7RIII! I can’t yet confirm the validity of this but will see for myself.  My lenses and TAP will arrive by the end of this week.

Stay tuned, I’m planning on photographing and traveling extensively with this setup.  I’m looking forward to writing a real-world review of the Zeiss-TAP-Sony setup.

Marc Weisberg is an architectural and luxury real estate photographer based in Irvine, California. You can find more of his work on his website. Weisberg is also teaching an upcoming workshop in California, in May 2018. And others in the US and Europe.