Using Adapted 3rd Party Lenses with the Olympus E-M1

I included the watch just to show the small size of this lens

One of the wonderful features of small sensor, ILC (interchangeable lens) cameras like the Olympus OM-D series (and Pens), is their ability to use almost any lens ever made … IF, someone has made an adapter for it.  And luckily for us, there are already adapters out there for many of the “other” manufacturer’s lenses.

Here, I have the Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f/2 (Leica M-Mount) and I use an adapter from Novoflex, which fits perfectly.  I tried a cheaper Fotodiox Pro adpater first and, like others have discovered, found that it would not fit my camera.  BTW, a word of caution.  An adapter should fit like your lenses do … snug but not overly tight.  If it doesn’t seem to fit right, don’t push it, as I’m sure you don’t want to get that thing stuck on your camera.  🙂

Although there are a few adapters that have some electrical contact with the camera, most don’t.  So this means these lenses are purely manual in focus and f/stop, and also transmit no EXIF data to the camera.  For the E-M1, this causes a couple of additional problems … since the camera has no way of knowing when you’re turning the focus ring, it can’t automatically invoke Magnify or Focus Peaking for you.  But don’t despair because there are ways around this.  🙂

One great thing about the E-M1 is the high level of customizability, which lets you set many different functions to just about any of the external buttons.  In this case, I’ve chosen to use the Preview Button (camera front, right of the lens, lower of the two buttons), and the Movie Button (red dot, top right).  With the Preview Button set to Focus Peaking, I can easily turn it on or off without ever taking my eye from the viewfinder.  Plus, with the Movie Button set to Magnify, I can zoom in for very precise focusing AND use Peaking at the same time.  Nice!

There are a couple of things you need to know about the Magnify function.  The first press will bring up a green rectangle on the LCD (or EVF) showing the portion of the image that will be enlarged, and a second press will actually enlarge it.  Once enlarged, you can also change the magnification factor by turning the Rear Dial to set either 5x, 7x, 10x or 14x.  Once enlarged, it will stay that way from one shot to the next.  So to get out of Magnify, just press the Movie Button again; or select a different Shooting Mode, Menu, or turn the camera off and back on.  To get rid of the green rectangle, just press the OK Button on the back of the camera.

This is the simplest way to use Magnify, but there is one other more useful and slightly more complicated setup.  That is to set the desired button to Multi Function, which gives you more flexibility by letting you choose between Highlight & Shadow Control, Color Creator, Magnify, and Image Aspect.  Then when you press and hold the button and turn the Rear Dial, you can select which of these four functions you want to use the button for.

As for the Voigtlander 28mm f/2 lens … I like it!  It’s a nice focal length giving you an effective 56mm lens on a M43 camera.  It’s got lots of character with excellent color and contrast and while sharp in the center at f/2, you will need to stop down to about f/4 to get good sharpness across the frame.  This lower image was taken on the E-M1 with this lens at f/4.