Date: 09/12/2016 | By: Mathieu
Techart Pro review – Leica M to Sony E-mount Autofocus adapter
Since its announcement earlier this year, we’ve been curious to try the Techart Pro adapter. Up until recently, the use of Leica, Zeiss or Voigtlander M lenses was strictly a manual operation and to be honest, this was part of what made the user experience so enjoyable since all these lenses have precise mechanical rings.
The thought of autofocus with any of these lenses was just a dream. By including an internal motor that moves the lens back and forth and works with the phase detection points of your Sony mirrorless camera, the Chinese company brought that dream to life. But how does it work and more importantly, is it reliable?
To answer these questions, we produced an-in depth video review that you can find below.
We decided to go with the video format because there are tricky parts to explain related to metering and EXIF data. You will also find a summary of our conclusions and a gallery of sample images shot with the Techart Pro adapter, the Voigtlander Ultron VM 35mm f/1.7 and Heliar VM 75mm f/1.8 lenses.
Ethics statement: the Techart Pro adapter was loaned to us for review while the two Voigtlander lenses were kindly provided by Flaghead Photographic Ltd. We were not asked to write anything about the products, nor were we provided any other compensation of any kind. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission that helps to support our this website. Don’t worry – prices remain the same for you. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!
Table of contents:
- 1:19 – Design and build quality
- 2:14 – Focus distances
- 5:59 – Autofocus and image stabilisation
- 8:59 – Metering and Exif data
- 15:12 – Conclusion
In a nutshell: things to know about the Techart Pro
Below is a summary of the most important specifications and features of the adapter:
- It is compatible with Sony E-mount cameras that enable phase detection points with third party adapters and lenses (A7r II, A7 II, a6300 and a6500)
- It works with all M-mount lenses
- It can work with other lenses via a second adapter (Canon FD, Contax C/Y, Minolta MD, Leica R, etc)
- The maximum weight supported for the lens or the second adapter and lens combined is 700g
- With lenses up to 50mm, you set the focus ring to the infinity mark. With longer lenses and short focus distances, you may need to pre-focus with the lens first (for example set the distance to 5 meters)
- It can shorten the default minimum focus distance of your lens
- Zone AF, Lock-On AF, Eye AF, AF-A and DMF are disabled
- It doesn’t work in movie mode
- It is compatible with sensor stabilisation (A7r II, A7 II, a6500) but only 3 axes will be used (like with adapted lenses that don’t transmit the focus distance)
- You can record the correct EXIF data for aperture and focal length but the operation is tricky and not without its flaws (more in the video).
- It can take firmware updates via bluetooth and a mobile app
Considering that this adapter is unique as of now, I have to praise the Techart team for bringing to the market a product that actually works. The autofocus is fast and reliable in good light and I find it particularly useful with telephoto lenses. While with wide angle lenses you can use zone focusing, AF can come in handy for portraits when using a fast 75mm or a 90mm (I wish EyeAF could be compatible).
It doesn’t come without its flaws though: the AF becomes slow or unreliable in low contrast (even on a cloudy day) and in low light. Continuous AF has difficulty following a slow moving subject and it doesn’t work for video. The mechanism used to record the correct EXIF data can be frustrating. But considering that before that, there simply wasn’t the possibility to use autofocus with an M-mount lens, you can easily accept these drawbacks and enjoy the positive aspects.
What I like about the Techart Pro Autofocus adapter:
- Solid build quality
- The autofocus is fast and reliable in good light and at close focus distances
- It can shorten the minimum focus distance of your M lens
- Works well with sensor stabilisation
What I don’t like about the Techart Pro Autofocus adapter:
- The autofocus becomes unreliable in low contrast or low light
- Continuous AF is slow
- The EXIF data management is complicated and limiting
- It may drain the battery life of your camera faster but in my tests I didn’t find a relevant difference
- Using a lens heavier than 700g is not recommended. You could use one hand to hold it underneath but it then becomes a two-handed operation and a moment of carelessness could damage the internal motor.