Photography / Features

Things We Love: Voigtländer VM-E Close Focus Adapter

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I always wanted to own a Leica but, cost factors aside, the camera wasn’t right for me because rangefinder cameras simply cannot focus close enough for the kind of in-your-face close-ups I enjoy shooting. I’ve long been a fan of Leica lenses and have shot with many over the years, but the inability to shoot close-ups without having to resort to additional hardware put the kibosh on any further action. Then Sony introduced its Alpha A7-series cameras, which ultimately ended my decades-long love affair with reflex cameras.

In addition to my tried-and-true Nikon lenses, I began experimenting with several smaller lenses in a bid to reduce the weight and form factor of my camera bag. Things started getting interesting when Voigtländer introduced the Voigtländer VM-E Close Focus Adapter for VM-mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera.

Voigtlander VM-E Close Focus Adapter for VM-Mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera

It’s not like there’s a shortage of M to E-mount adapters on the market, but Voigtländer’s VM-E Close Focus adapter has a 4mm helicoid that enables close-focusing, which means I can finally shoot close-ups with M-mount lenses. When fully retracted, the helicoid can be locked into place for infinity shooting and released again with the flip of a fingernail.

My M-lens arsenal currently includes two Voigtländer M-mount lenses (15mm and 40mm), a Zeiss 21mm f/4.5 C Biogon T* ZM, and an old Leica 90mm f/4 Elmar C. Rather than the standard 1' to 3.5' minimum focusing distances afford by these lenses, depending on the focal length, I can now focus my lenses down within a few inches of my subject. In a sense, I have my cake and I’m eating it, too. Life is good!

The 4mm extension helicoid built into the Voigtländer VM-E Close-up Adapter enabled me to focus a 12mm Voigtländer Ultra-Wide Heliar, which has a minimum focus of 12", within an inch of an engraving of the 1964 World’s Fair Unisphere, with the Unisphere itself in the background

The original Voigtländer optical company (1756 – 1972) designed and manufactured lenses (and later cameras) in its German factories to seriously Teutonic standards, and you can feel it when you pick one up. The Voigtländer VM-E Close focus adapter may not be made in Germany (Cosina, Japan, currently has licensing rights to the Voigtländer nameplate), but there’s no mistaking the 4.4 ounces of brass and stainless steel this adapter contains when you palm it in your hand. More importantly, after about three years of steady use, it’s as tight and smooth as the day I got it, which is something I rarely say when discussing most of the photo doodads I’ve owned over time.

I’m still toying with the idea of purchasing a Leica M camera—this time a digital M but, for now, I’m able to capture the type of photos I so much enjoy taking with a growing collection of small, high-quality M-mount lenses that I’ll be able to continue using regardless of whether I ever purchase a Leica M camera. 

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