Working with the Leica M PL Mount

Leica M PL Mount

GENERAL INFORMATION

What is it?
A two-piece unit comprised of a lens mount adapter and a baseplate/handgrip that allows PL mount cine lenses to be used on the Leica M (Typ 240), Leica M-P (Typ 240) and Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) cameras.

How does it work?
Attach the M to PL lens mount adapter to the lens mount on the camera. Attach the new baseplate in place of the existing baseplate and secure it to the camera base with a single screw. Secure the adapter to the collar on the baseplate with three screws. The baseplate will now support the weight of heavier PL mount cine lenses. The baseplate also has an integrated handgrip for better support with heavy lenses.

What are PL mount cine lenses?
PL mount cine lenses are the lenses traditionally used to shoot films, television shows and commercials. The PL mount is the standard mount used on almost all motion picture cameras including traditional 35mm film cameras, ARRI Alexa, Red Epic and many others.

How are they different from photography lenses?
Physically they are larger that photography lenses and have expanded focus scales. They have features that are optimized for moving pictures (no breathing, no image shift, less chromatic aberration, no-click iris, etc.), but they can also make excellent and interesting photographs.

 

COMPATIBILITY / SENSOR SIZE / FIELD OF VIEW / VIGNETTING

Compatibility
All PL mount lenses will physically fit on the Leica M PL Mount.

Sensor Size
The Leica M, M-P and Monochrom (Typ 246) cameras have full frame sensors (24x36mm). Most cine lenses are optimized for the Super 35mm film format (24.9×18.7mm, approximately APS-C). However, most of them cover a larger image area than only Super 35mm.

(Super 35mm should not be confused with the 35mm photography film format. Remember, Oskar Barnack developed the Leica format by rotating a motion picture frame 90° and doubling it.)

Comparison between Full Frame and Cine Formats

 

Vignetting
Even though cine lenses are optimized for Super 35mm sensor sizes, they do illuminate beyond that. Some of the more telephoto cine lenses will cover the whole sensor, but most lenses, especially wider ones and older designs, will shade or vignette in the corners. Exact coverage will require testing.

Different makes/models of cine lenses exhibit different characteristics near the edge of illumination. Some keep illumination while gradually or quickly losing resolution and sharpness. Others stay sharp closer to the edge. Experimentation can yield interesting and creative results.

 

Field of View
Because of the difference in sensor size, the effective field of view of cine lenses changes by a factor of .667. For example, a 75mm cine lens used on the Leica M will have the field of view of a 50mm M lens. 35mm cine lens = 24mm M lens. 135mm cine lens = 90mm M lens.

 

Leica M PL 35mm showing Academy

Leica M PL 100mm showing Academy

 

OPERATION SUGGESTIONS

Viewing and Focusing
The size of the cine lenses prevents the use of the optical rangefinder. There are two viewing options: electronic viewfinder (Leica EVF-2) (highly recommended for traditional camera-to-cheek Leica feel) or rear LCD screen (Live View). Both options allow the use of Zoom and Focus Peaking for focus assistance.

Zoom and Peaking for Focus Assistance
In the Menu, make sure that Focus Peaking is set to Red and Focus Aid is set to Manual.

To activate the zoom, push the silver button on the front of the camera under the “M”. Then use the thumb wheel on the back to switch between 1x, 5x and 10x zoom.

Red focus assist lines will appear around sharp edges to help gauge focus accuracy, which is very useful when using the cine lenses.

Pushing the shutter halfway down will return to regular framing.

Strap Suggestions
Due to the increased weight of cine lenses, it is not advised for users to rely on the standard Leica M strap. More robust, bottom-mounted straps are advised to more securely carry the weight.

The BlackRapid Curve is a good affordable option.
www.blackrapid.com/products/curve

There is a similar, classier solution coming from HoldFast that will be available in the next few months.
www.holdfastgear.com

OTHER QUESTIONS

The M PL Mount is very tight on my camera or difficult to get on. Is there something wrong with it?
Probably not. The M PL Mount is designed to attach very, very snuggly to your Leica M camera. This is so that the mount adapter and baseplate will take all of the weight of the cine lenses without putting unnecessary stress on the camera’s M mount. If it seems like the M PL Mount does not fit please try another order of attaching it.

For example, we find that it works best if you attach the lens mount adapter first, then the baseplate. When attaching the baseplate, fit the locking hole into the circle (just like with the normal baseplate) then pull the handgrip away from the body of the camera as you slide in onto the camera and around the lens mount adapter.

Is there communication between lens/lens mount and camera?
There is no electronic communication between the Leica M PL Mount and the camera. Lens selections will not be recorded in the file’s metadata.

Can I use my M lenses with the baseplate/handgrip but without the lens mount adapter?
Technically, yes, but you probably won’t want to. There is a collar attached to the baseplate that is used to secure the lens adapter. It is not removable from the baseplate and can get in the way when focusing M lenses, especially lenses with a focus tab.

Have a question that wasn’t answered? Email us at we’ll be happy to answer it.