Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x Review

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Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x Review:

A lot of people love to shoot with fast lenses on their Leica cameras these days, and sometimes those lenses can be hard to focus, especially when you’re using longer focal lengths.  If you own the Leica M 240, you can buy the EVF2 or use the live view to assist in accurate focusing.  However, if you don’t own an M 240 or you don’t like using an EVF, then what would you use?  Well, there is another option: You can purchase the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x.

Build Quality of the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x:

There are two versions of the Leica viewfinder magnifier: a 1.25x and the version that I’m reviewing here, which is the 1.4x.  The Leica viewfinder magnifier really does feel like a high precision, high quality product.  Build quality is top notch as with pretty much all Leica M products, and it should be considering this magnifier costs around $300.  The magnifier is made out of anodized aluminum, and the image quality of this loupe is excellent in terms of clarity and brightness.

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↑ This part of the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x screws into the camera.

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↑ This is the part of the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x that you look through.  It also has a thread for a diopter.

To attach the magnifier, you simply screw it into the eyepiece of the camera.  If you need a diopter, there is also a thread on the magnifier, so you can screw one in as well.  For added security, the Leica viewfinder magnifier can be secured with a chain, and connected to the neck strap eyelet with spring catches.  Personally, I find the string a little cumbersome, so I don’t use it.  Also, there is a leather pouch that comes with the magnifier, which can be attached to the camera strap.

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↑ You can secure the magnifier with a chain, and connect it to the neck strap eyelet with spring catches.

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↑ The Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x comes with a leather case.

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↑ You can secure the leather case to your neck strap.

Why I Like The Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x:

I was always curious about the Leica Viewfinder Magnifer M 1.4x but for the most part, I don’t really have any problems focusing an M camera if everything is properly calibrated.  I didn’t want to pay $300 for something that I didn’t feel like I needed.  I sometimes find it difficult to focus my 75 Summilux wide open in certain situations but my EVF2 helps out a lot, and I can also use it with my 18mm Super Elmar as well.  Plus, as a personal preference, I don’t like my cameras adorned with a lot of accessories.

But I got my 1.4x magnifier free from a very kind uncle who didn’t need it anymore, and I have to admit, I really like it a lot.  It makes focusing with the optical viewfinder so much easier.  Leica says that the 1.4x is really designed for focal lengths of 75mm or longer but I personally find it perfect for the 50mm focal length.  For my M6, it essentially converts my 0.72x viewfinder into a 1x, which is fantastic.

Sure, there are things that I don’t like about the Leica Viewfinder Magnifer M 1.4x.  For instance, when the magnifier is attached to the camera, it pokes out of the back.  It’s also another accessory to think about, and keep track of when you’re shooting.  Plus, if you like to see what’s coming into the frame to anticipate the shot, which is one of the major characteristics of rangefinder photography, it’s extremely difficult to do so at the 50mm focal length because the focal length frame line essentially fills the viewfinder.  However, since you’ll be getting a 1x or near 1x view from your optical viewfinder, you can shoot with both eyes open because both eyes would essentially see identical images.  So in this respect, you’ll still be able to anticipate the action.

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↑ The Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x pokes out from the back.

Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x vs. The Leica EVF2:

If you own the M 240, you have the option of purchasing the EVF2 (you can check out my review).  I was a little wary about the EVF2 at first because for me, one of the hallmarks of the Leica M system is its analog feel, and I was afraid that the EVF would take some of that magic away.  But since the new M is already vastly technically different from the M9, I thought I’d welcome, and embrace some of the new technologies of the M 240 like the EVF2, and I’m extremely glad I did so.

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↑ The Leica M Typ 240 with the EVF2.

With the EVF2, I can zoom in, and use focus peaking to help me focus more accurately.  Focusing lenses like the Noctilux is a lot easier and much more efficient.  I also like the fact that I won’t need to buy multiple viewfinders if I later decide to buy different wide angle lenses.  This will save me money, and I won’t have to carry additional viewfinders.  I also really like the tilt function, which allows me to shoot more easily at different angles.

So, why buy the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x if the EVF2 already does a lot of the same things?  Well, for one, if you don’t own the M 240, you can’t use the EVF2.  Also, I use the EVF2 a lot with my 75 Summilux but there are times when I want to use the hot shoe for either my flash or one of my Pocket Wizards, and I can’t because of the EVF.  Lastly, the EVF2 can make the M 240 feel a little bulky, so the magnifier can be a great substitute for that.

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↑ Here’s another view of the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x attached to my M6.

Also, some people just prefer to use the optical viewfinder.  The M’s OVF is one of the best out there, and that’s what many people pay for including me.  In many ways, I still find focusing with the rangefinder easier to achieve than focusing through an electronic viewfinder, and this goes for all EVFs.  For me, nothing is a replacement for a good OVF.  With the EVF2, I still have to zoom in and use focus peaking for precise focusing, whereas with the optical viewfinder, all I have to do is align the image in the focusing patch.  Doing so, especially with the magnifier, is extremely easy.

So Who is The Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x For?:

So, here is a basic checklist for who the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x is perfect for:

  • If your eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be.
  • Photographers who prefer to use longer focal lengths.
  • If you prefer shooting with larger apertures with longer focal lengths.
  • If you have difficulty seeing the smaller framelines.
  • No ability to use the EVF2 but still want to focus more precisely.
  • Prefer to use the OVF instead of an EVF.

Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x Verdict:

If you have issues focusing or if your eyes just aren’t as good as they used to be (me included), I wholeheartedly recommend the Leica Viewfinder Magnifer M 1.4x.  At $300, it’s priced pretty high, and there are other third party manufacturers that also make magnifiers more cheaply like Match Technical or Phottix but I have not used any of those before.  All I know is the Leica version is built up to the same standards has other M accessories, and it works extremely well.  It’s also small, and very robust.  But that’s not to say other manufacturers’ versions aren’t built well either.

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↑ The Leica Viewfinder Magnifier M 1.4x with its leather pouch.

Again, Leica also makes a 1.25x version, but you have to decide on which version best fits you.  I personally found the 1.4x perfect for my needs, especially when paired with my 50 Lux ASPH.  I want to emphasize again that it’s A LOT easier to focus and see the frame.  Whichever one you decide to buy, one thing is for sure: you’ll definitely increase your keeper ratio dramatically.  To me, there is a world of difference when using the Leica Viewfinder Magnifier.

18 comments… add one

  • Kerwin

    Hi Patrick, great review on the Magnifier. I was thinking of getting the 1.25x to pair with the 75mm. Now you got me thinking that maybe I should get the 1.4x instead. I was able to try the 1.25x, since a friend has one and let me borrow it for a few weeks. I agree that focusing with this help a lot! I mean even with the 1.25x I can immediately see the difference on how much it helped with focus. I used it with my 50mm since I’m still waiting for my 75mm to arrive. The frame lines of the 50mm and 75mm are pretty close so I was thinking that the 1.25x would be good enough for me. Also, I like how the 1.25x sticks out less when attached to the OVF. But of course the 1.4 would probably help focus better. I would say for 90mm lens, that the 1.4 is better. So now, I’m not sure which one to get. LOL! Any suggestions?

    Cheers,
    Kerwin

    • Patrick

      Hey Kerwin,

      It’s always great to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time out to read my review! Honestly, I love the 1.4x version. If you don’t wear glasses, I really think you can get away with using the 1.4x because I can see the 50mm focal length with my M6 (0.72x). Even if I wore glasses (contact lenses usually), I still would probably go for the 1.4x. It would be harder to see the 50mm focal length with glasses but the near 1x view is great, which would be fantastic for a lens like the 75 Lux. Plus, if you don’t have any trouble focusing with a 50mm or wider lens, then you won’t need to worry about seeing the 50mm frameline perfectly, so it’s probably more reason to buy the 1.4x.

      The 1.25 does stick out less but you might have an easier time focusing the Lux with the 1.4x especially when you’re shooting the lens wide open. It would definitely be easier to focus the 90mm as well. Of course, it really comes down to what you’re comfortable with and your personal preferences, so my advice would be to try them out side by side in person when you visit NY. Anyone who sells Leica should have them in stock, and they should definitely let you check it out and play around with it. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

      Take care,

      Patrick

  • rachel

    Thanks for this great article. With the 0.72x VF on the M6 / 1.4X magnifier / 50mm lens combination, can you still see the frame lines at all? I worry that I would have problems seeing what I’m going to capture exactly. Or is that not really a problem?

    Kind regards

    • Patrick

      Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for taking the time out to read it! The 50mm focal length is tight but I can definitely see the frameline. If you want a little more space, the 1.25x will work better. However, my M6 has the 0.72x viewfinder as well, and I absolutely love using the 1.4x with a 50mm lens. It reminds me of my M3’s viewfinder, and it’s so much easier to focus. The only time you’ll have a problem with seeing the frameline is if you wear glasses. I hope this helps. Please feel free to message me back if you have any other questions!

      Take care,

      Patrick

  • rachel

    Wow! Thank you sooo much for replying!!! THis is very helpful. I have no interest in seeing outside of the frame lines to see what’s coming into the picture, so the 50mm frame lines *just* being visible is kinda perfect for me. Effectively, when I look through, what I see is probably close to what I’ll get. OK I’m convinced. The 1.4X is for me :)

    • Patrick

      Hi Rachel,

      It’s not a problem at all! Thanks again for checking out my site! The focusing will definitely be a lot easier, especially for those faster lenses. Let me know how it works out for you,

      Take care,

      Patrick

  • Jörgen Larsen

    Hi Patrik.
    Great article. I have just order 1,4X for My Leica ME, but not get it yet. I want mostly to use it together with 90mm.
    I have used Leica since 1968.
    I have one huge problem, and I see that you know a lot about Leica. When I use 90mm, the frame from 90mm show 105mm, but the picture are only 90mm. Leica says so is it! Have you or anybody heard about this??
    My M4-2 frame is very close to 90mm!
    Jörgen

    • Patrick

      Hi Jorgen,

      I’m glad you liked it, and thank you for taking the time out to read it! Wow, you’ve been using Leica since 1968? It’s always great to hear from a long time Leica user! The ME is a great camera, and I hope you’re enjoying it! The 1.4x magnifier should definitely help you focus the 90mm with more ease.

      I just want to make sure I understand; when you use your 90mm lens, the frameline is closer to a 105mm frameline rather than a 90mm frameline? I’ve never experienced this issue myself but I’ve heard of a couple of people who’ve had slight inaccuracies with their M9 framelines that also differed from their film Ms. The only thing that I can think of is that it’s a rangefinder, so the framelines aren’t always going to be 100% exact. I’m sorry if I haven’t helped much. Have you brought your camera in to Leica to have them check it out?

      Happy Holidays,

      Patrick

  • Jörgen Larsen

    Hi Patric.
    Thank you very much for your helping and answer.
    Yes I have had the Leica ME in Germany on the factory, But Leica says my camera is OK!
    My wife has a Nikon D800. The frameline in my Leica show with using 90mm exactly the same as the Nikon show with 105mm, but the photo is only 90mm!
    I am a educated commercial photographer and the last 30 years I have sold high-end equipment to photographer and the last 15 years Leaf, Phase One and Hasselblad backs. Leaf Aptus 12 are the BEST digital result I ever have seen. Converted in Leaf Capture!
    Therefore, I private use Leica, because it’s come close to Leaf files.
    Jörgen

    • Patrick

      Hi Jorgen,

      I wish I could help out more. The good news is that at least according to Leica, your ME is okay. Other than that issue, are you enjoying it? I love the M files. Have you ever tried the Monochrom? By the way, did you receive the 1.4x magnifier yet?

      By the way, that’s great that you’re a commercial photographer, and it sounds like you used some really nice equipment! Back in the film days, I use to shoot a lot with medium format. I specifically used the Mamiya rangefinders (6 and 6MF) but since I’ve been in digital, it’s pretty much just been the Leicas and the Fujis. But I did try the Leica S2, which created some amazing images. I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to purchase an S camera :).

      Happy Holidays,

      Patrick

  • Jörgen Larsen

    Hi Patric.
    Merry Christmas to you too.
    Yes I got the 1.4X Magnifer. it’s good, but I’m surprised that it also changes the diopter. I wear glasses -3, but I need my computer glasses -1.5. So everything is perfect with -1.5. I did not know that, and I can´t find any things about changing diopter? What is your opinion about this??
    I am happy because of my job I can test the camera, before I buy it. I have testet the M, but the c-mos looks very much like the Nikon D800. In my world I can make better photos with M9/ME because the file looks like the best back Leaf Aptus/Credo. Of course the files are smaller, but big enough for my private photos.
    Jörgen

    • Patrick

      Hi Jorgen,

      Sorry for the late reply! I still have some family over for the holidays. I haven’t heard anything about the diopter issue. I don’t normally wear glasses when I shoot but I do wear contact lenses, and haven’t experienced any problems. You might have to ask Leica about that one.

      Wow, that’s great that your job let’s you try out new photographic equipment. It definitely sounds like a dream job :). I haven’t tried those backs yet but I definitely want to. The image quality must be amazing.

      I’m sorry I wasn’t much help with the diopter issue. If you find out any info on this, please let me know.

      Happy Holidays,

      Patrick

  • Jörgen Larsen

    Hi again.
    Sorry, in the company, we have Leica S as demo camera. It’s good, but still the Leaf back’s are better!
    Certainly the Leica S are the most delicious.
    Jörgen

    • Patrick

      HI Jorgen,

      Yes, the Leaf is better but I still love that Leica S lol :)! The size of the S is nice…not completely too big although my M looks so small next to it ;).

      Happy Holidays,

      Patrick

  • Hello Patrick,

    First off thank you for giving us a good review of the Leica 1.4x magnifier. I have used a leica M quite number of times, mostly the old film ones. And I really like the M3 and I predominantly use the 50 summilux as my main lens. My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, and I am wondering though the M3 has such a high magnification (0.91x) I still could use a bit of help when focusing wide open. I shoot predominantly portraits and less candid street photography so I am more concerned about getting the eyes sharp wide open. And since I’m shooting film, I like to get it right every shot. Have you tried using the 1.4x on your M3? I will be using a 50 summilux, do you think this will work with this combo considering the high magnification of the M3s viewfinder? Thanks I appreciate any feedback.

    • Patrick

      Hi JC,

      Thanks for taking the time out to check out my site! I definitely understand what you mean; my eyes are definitely not as good as they used to be as well, and I definitely have trouble focusing the Lux sometimes :). I’m not sure if you really can attach the magnifier onto the M3. I just tried it, and I couldn’t get it to screw on. I’m sorry for not being much help. If you find something, please let me know. Btw, your photos are amazing…I love your portraits!

      All the best,

      Patrick

  • Patrick,

    Many thanks for your reply. You’re actually very helpful and it makes me decide which M to get sometime soon. I have heard the 75 1.4 summilux is an amazing lens and that might suit the work I wanna do. I mainly shoot with a Mamiya RB67 but the weight and tripod dependency of it is sometimes of a cumbersome. I would like to travel lighter and keep my gear small. Keep up the great work Patrick. Many thanks again.

    JC

    • Patrick

      Hi JC,

      Thank you for your kind words! Oh that’s cool that you shoot with an RB67. I used to shoot with a Mamiya 6MF. In terms of the 75 Lux, it’s one of my favorite lenses. I’ve had it for years, and I’m planning to keep it for life. I’m finding it harder to focus nowadays because I think my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be but still, I really love the results I get from that lens. Anyway, I’d be interested in knowing what Leica equipment you end up with, so keep in touch!

      Take care,

      Patrick

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