Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Leica X1 adapter tubes and lens hoods

I finally finished the last bit of painting on my Leica X1 adapter tube prototype last night. All in all, it didn't come out too bad.

Leica X1 with adapter tube and lens hood

However, because I was using a handheld cut-off wheel instead of a fixed saw, I ended up lightly nicking each of the three tubes at least once in the raised grip-like area around the end. I know, I know, I should be using the right tool for the job, but I don't own a pipe saw, nor do I have the capital to invest in one just for this project.

Leica X1 adapter tube

The paint came out ok, but it took a few attempts. While I was rather proud of the color-matching I did with the silver paint, I found that I had to wait at least 24 hours before I could mask over it to paint the black sections or the tape would rip the silver right off. Then the slightly recessed area towards the rear between the sections I painted black and silver never seems to want to come out all black or all silver. It kind of goes back and forth in color down in the crack, which drives me nuts.

From five feet away, these things look great. Unfortunately, due to the various nicks and imperfect paint edges, I don't feel like I can manufacture and charge people for them. People that use Leica cameras want a perfect finish, and I think I'd just have unhappy customers returning them. Even if I gave up on the two-tone paint job, they'd still have nicks in the metal. Hopefully I can sell the three I've made at cost for $50 each to recoup those funds for other projects. Of course, I'm keeping the original for my own use.

Despite the fact that I can't keep the paint from bleeding in the cracks, these things work great. I was able to screw on a Quantaray circular polarizer, a 52-49mm step-down ring, and a Leica vented lens hood with no vignetting. I think I could add at least one more filter to the stack, but I was out of things to screw on to it.

Leica X1 adapter tube and lens hood

Now that the shortened adapter is done, I'm turning my attention back to lens converters. I have an old 135mm Leica Wetzlar Hektor on its way via eBay. I hope to use the elements to test some ideas for creating a wide-angle converter and teleconverter, but even if they don't pan out, I can at least create a Leica-quality macro converter.
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