Megadap is a name you might not immediately recognize, with their product lineup consisting entirely of adapters. These adapters aren’t just your basic mounting rings, however. In the case of the MTZ11, the adapter brings autofocus to lenses that never had it: autofocusing Leica M lenses on Nikon Z cameras.
This interesting technical accomplishment includes all the usual features of Nikon Z autofocus, like Eye AF and AF-C, with a huge range of Leica M lenses. Beyond that, even non-Leica-M lenses can be mounted to Nikon Z cameras with autofocus by combining the MTZ11 with additional adapters.
But can this actually work? Can you actually get usable autofocus on a lens that has no autofocus abilities? In this review of the Megadap MTZ11, I’ll check out the performance under some of the most challenging autofocus situations.
The MTZ11 is an interesting product for a lot of reasons, even if it doesn’t immediately look like it. It’s not bigger than many other adapters, and is even smaller than my FTZ Nikon adapter in most dimensions. Beyond the lens release button and two mounting index dots, the adapter has a minimalist exterior.
There’s a small base along the bottom that may come close to big tripod plates or vertical grips, but never interfered with them in my testing. That base holds the serial number, focusing motor, and a micro-USB port for easy firmware updating (more on this important feature later). The backside is just a basic Z mount, made of metal, with Z mount contacts. The front is a Leica M mount, with no contacts. Mounting lenses and mounting the adapter to the camera both feel very smooth.
How It Works
Nikon Z cameras feature a very short flange focal distance – the distance between the sensor and the lens mounting flange. Because this distance is so short, it’s easy to adapt non-Nikon-Z lenses to Nikon Z cameras, like mounting Nikon’s own F-mount glass with the FTZ adapter. Meanwhile, adapting lenses in the opposite direction – like a Nikon Z lens on an F-mount DSLR – is impossible.
To be specific, the Z series has a 16mm flange distance, while Nikon F lenses have a 46.5mm flange distance. As a result, you can adapt F mount lenses to Z by extending the mounting flange out 30.5mm, and squeezing any necessary electrical contacts into that space. The FTZ doesn’t support autofocus with screw-driven F mount lenses, as an important note.
Leica’s M mount has a flange distance of 27.8mm by comparison. This means that Megadap managed to fit the mount adapters and a way of autofocusing into just 11.8mm, an impressive technical accomplishment.
So, how does this adapter turn a manual focus lens into an autofocus lens? Megadap says the adapter uses a circular extension mechanism to shift the lens forward and backward. This focus throw of 6.5mm is supposed to be enough for both adapted wide-angle and telephoto lenses. Meanwhile, that mechanism is supposed to support heavier lenses and avoid wobbling. In a moment, you’ll see what my tests say about those claims.
A further interesting feature about the MTZ11 is that Leica’s own M mount has quite a small flange distance at 27.8mm. As such, there’s an extensive list of lens mounts that can be adapted to Leica, and those have been around for a while.
The result is that you can make a chain to adapt almost any type of lens to Nikon Z cameras using the MTZ11. For example, you could us an M42-mount lens with two adapters: an M42 to Leica M adapter, and the MTZ11. The result is that any M42-mount lens can be used with autofocus on a Nikon Z body.
Admittedly, this chain sounds a bit awkward, but it represents a very unique opportunity to bring autofocus to a massive range of manual focus lenses. It can even capture better-than-expected image quality out of those lenses: The Nikon Z cameras have a large bayonet diameter, and thin filter glass, both attributes that can improve image quality on adapted lenses.
Megadap offers Leica M adapters for the following mounts: Canon FD, Leica R, Nikon F, Canon EF, Pentax K, C/Y, Minolta MD, M42, Olympus OM, Exakta, Konica AR, Contarex CRX, QBM, Arri, Alpa, and DKL. This covers just about every classic and significant mount option I can think of, only excluding Sony’s E mount (which they offer a separate E-to-Nikon-Z adapter for), and modern mirrorless mounts like Fuji’s X and Hasselblad’s XCD.
All of these technical promises don’t mean a thing if the product doesn’t actually work. This was the case with my experience right out of the box. On a Nikon Z7 running firmware 3.0, I wasn’t getting any autofocus functionality.
Fortunately, I just had to update the adapter’s firmware, which Megadap makes incredibly easy. To update, I just had to connect the adapter to the computer via Micro-USB, where it promptly appeared as a removable drive. I then just had to drag the firmware file over and eject the adapter. The process was quick and easy, a huge plus for firmware updates. Furthermore, Megadap has seemed to stay on top of the update cycle, with 5 updates already out, fixing small bugs and improving performance. As an example of the pace, they had a fix out in 10 days for an issue with the 1.3 firmware for the Z6 II and Z7 II camera. If you’re like me and wait a few days for new camera firmware anyway, this could mean basically no downtime.
All of my subsequent comments are based on testing with the Z7 running firmware 3.0 or higher, the MTZ11 on firmware 3.0, and a Leica M mount Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95. I chose this lens as it represents one of the most challenging scenarios: razor-thin depth of field, relatively lower contrast, and a beefy metal construction with a lot of glass. If this adapter can deliver with this lens, it’ll work with many others.
1. Still Photo Use
To use the adapter, not much needs to be set up. You can set the focal length of the adapted lens to be passed through the adapter by performing a little calibration involving the aperture priority mode (detailed in the manual). Setting that can help image stabilization performance via the in-body image stabilization. Additionally, you’ll want to roughly match your camera’s aperture value to that set on the lens, as this info isn’t passed to your camera. This has no effect on image quality but simply on giving you accurate EXIF data.
With the configuration out of the way, all that’s left is to manually focus the lens at infinity and start shooting. The adapter will subtly move the lens back and forth to achieve focus. I started with simple, static subjects and AF-S mode, and I was instantly impressed. It really does achieve focus, with repeatability and accuracy. At f/0.95, I was more limited by the sharpness of the lens than the adapter itself, as focus testing showed the lens wasn’t front or back focusing.
Stopping down to f/2.8 and f/4 presented no problem either, with the focus and metering still working fine.
Moving to more advanced modes, including AF-C and Eye Detect, I was still impressed. The lens was keeping up, although rapid movement could lead to suboptimal focus on a few frames. I’d put it somewhere around the performance of older AF-D lenses, like the 85mm f/1.4 AF-D. Against contemporary lenses with high speed motors, it’ll feel a little slow and unsure, but again, this was the worst case scenario at f/0.95. It’s perfectly usable, and as someone without a ton of manual focus experience, it delivered better results than I was capable of by hand.
One thing to note is that heavy use of this adapter will have some small impact on battery life. It is, after all, moving the entire lens back and forth. Compare this to shifting a single set of glass elements around, and you can see why it’ll pull down some more juice. Unfortunately, this is hard to test precisely, and will vary based on how you’re using it. AF-C will draw more than AF-S, as will switching repeatedly between near and far, or using a heavy lens over a light one. It’s not a deal breaker, but just something to consider if you’re planning a longer shoot that’ll predominantly use the adapter.
2. Video Use
I did some additional testing with the lens in video mode. Here, the adapter performed poorly. Locking focus took too long to make significant pulls easy, while the adapter itself was fairly loud.
Stopping down improved focusing performance somewhat, but at that point, it’s easier to just pull focus manually anyway. I can’t really fault the adapter here, as video autofocus isn’t really what this was intended to be used with, but if you’re considering it, understand that it won’t be easy.
The MTZ11 adapter is a very interesting product, and one which’ll represent a huge value to certain users. And if you’re a fan of classic lens mounts like Minolta, Pentax, or others, it’s a great way to breathe new life into those lenses, so long as you don’t mind using a stack of two adapters. Likewise if you shoot with Canon EF lenses – or even Nikon AF-D lenses that don’t autofocus with the FTZ adapter – you can get autofocus when adapting those lenses.
It’s not without limitations, however. I’d be uncomfortable using a big lens like a 150mm+ telephoto on this mount, as weight is a concern. Also, the continued availability of firmware updates is crucial. While Megadap has kept up so far, future Z bodies and firmware versions may break compatibility, necessitating another update.
At $349, the adapter isn’t cheap, especially compared to “dumb” adapters that just marry two mounts together. Instead, this lens presents a near-modern user experience for lenses going back to the 1950s, and is a unique value, but not for everyone.
If you’ve got some classic midrange lenses in the M mount or any of the compatible daughter mounts, this adapter and a Z7 can be one of the best ways to get them out into the field, with the added benefit of autofocus. If you’ve wanted to explore classic lenses, but are otherwise uninterested or unable to manual focus, this adapter is a great option.
The one concerning note is the disclaimer on the manufacturer’s website that they are not providing warranty service unless directly purchased from their store. I’m really not a fan of that policy, especially if it blocks out official, legitimate sources like B&H, or other authorized dealers. B&H currently lists the warranty as included, and a B&H staff member answered in late 2020 that “This item comes with a 2 year warranty from the manufacturer that will cover factory malfunction.” In any case, you can purchase it from either store here:
Overall, I really enjoyed using the Megadap MTZ11. Both it and Megadap in general exceeded my expectations for a boutique product, with great build quality and a very positive software experience. While it can’t turn your M mount lens into a Z lens when it comes to autofocus speed, the fact that it can deliver a competent AF experience on manual focus M mount lenses is impressive enough.
Megadap MTZ11 Leica M to Nikon Z Autofocus Adapter
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed
- Image Quality
- Size and Weight
- Metering and Exposure
- Movie Recording Features
- Ease of Use
Photography Life Overall Rating
Thank you for this very interesting review, Alex! One question: Is it possible to use the adapter for both shooting styles, AF and MF? I like the idea of having the possibility to autofocus, but I would love to have the freedom to focus manually, too.
Interesting article. A proof of concept for Nikon: why can’t Nikon (or others) make an adapter that includes a motor to drive AF-D lenses? I bet that would sell very well.
They probably can make one, but my guess is that it would not be at a good price, it may not even be practical in terms of autofocus speed either.
I have this Megadap Leica to Z adapter and use it in conjunction with a Canon FD to Leica adapter. It works brilliantly with my older 17mm, 20mm, 50mm, and 135mm wide-aperture lenses.
It is also fully functional with my FD 200mm f/2.8, although the weight of the lens is a little concerning to me. That particular lens has quite a bit of CA that is not related to the adapter, so I stick to the smaller lenses. I also have a 300mm FD f/5.6 lens that works well with the series of adapters, although it is a bit clumsy to operate due to the darker aperture.
I also have a Nikon F to Leica adapter and use my 24mm AF-D lens without any issue. This lens has floating focus elements, so I can also choose to focus the lens by hand and let the adapter fine tune the focus with its built-in motor. Again, it’s brilliant.
One does not need to invest in Leica glass to use the adapter. A follow-up review or post that utilizes secondary adapters would be fun to read. This is obviously how I use the Megadap autofocus adapter.
The Megadap housing does have a narrow opening and would probably be incompatible with the newer Leica Noctilux or other chunkier lenses. It does work with the original Noctilux f/1.0, as I had an opportunity to test the lens. It was a tight but compatible fit, and it focused perfectly.
The setup does benefit from the user applying some aperture settings on the camera for EXIF information, although this is not required. I usually just attach a lens and adapter to the camera and shoot.
It’s a bit of an investment at $350, but I find it refreshing to use my older collection of Canon FD and Nikon AF lenses. I’m sure it would work well with Pentax and other vintage glass as well.
So if you have a bunch of Leica M lenses sitting around gathering dust…sheesh.
The M mount is just the smallest flange distance mount. That whole range of other mounts listed can be further adapted to M, so it opens up the adapter to basically every other major mount.
Of several Leica M adaptors I have tried, Konica to Leica M, Canon EF(EOS)-Leica M all have severe mechanical interference with Megadap’s big buldge in the front. While Nikon F, M42, LTM39, Minolta MD adaptors works fine.
I end up had to get Techart’s version for its flat front that works with pretty much any Adaptors,
though usable travel is shorter than Megadap’s
Doesn’t Leica have M lenses with floating element designs where the focus distance set by the external focus lever changes the relationships of the internal elements?
If so, then does this reduce the optical optimization for those lenses, or does this not matter within the possible focus range?
I don’t think it matters too much within the limited range of focus, even though many lenses (of various makes) have, as you said, floating elements. E.g., all Nikkor IF (internal focus) and Nikkor CRC lenses.
QUOTE from Wikipedia, Camera lens
The lens usually is focused by adjusting the distance from the lens assembly to the image plane, or by moving elements of the lens assembly. To improve performance, some lenses have a cam system that adjusts the distance between the groups as the lens is focused. Manufacturers call this different things: Nikon calls it CRC (close range correction); Canon calls it a floating system; and Hasselblad and Mamiya call it FLE (floating lens element).
END of QUOTE [retrieved 2022-02-24]
See also Wikipedia, Movable element prime lens
Does this adapter AF speed good enough to stick on a person walking at normal pace?
That’ll depend on your lens and body. With my setup of the 50mm f/.95 and a Z7, it would be able to hold with them if you lock focus before they start moving, but may struggle to lock while moving at f/.95. A slower aperture lens shouldn’t have this issue, thanks to more DoF and lighter weight.
Looks like the Viogtlander 50mm 1.2 (350g) might be doable, thanks for your insight Alex.
One should realise the limitations of such kind of adapters with longer lenses. A maximum extension of 6.5mm will only get you, with the lens focused at infinity, a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:10 with a 65mm lens and only around 1:20 with a 135mm. This means no close-up photography or even tight portrait unless you pre-focus the lens at a shorter distance.
Still better than comparable adapters for E mount (the Techart adapter for Sony only has a maximum extension of 4.5mm), and quite useful overall.
That’s a good point. With 6.5mm of extension, I didn’t feel limited, and I honestly be hesitant to put something bigger than a 135mm on here anyway, just from a weight perspective.
I really see the sweet-spot for both usability and functionality in that wide to short-tele prime lens range, especially for some of these unique, but manual AF primes from Zhongyi, Venus Optics, etc.