6 Bit your old lens!

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Photo Blog
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had some time over the Thanksgiving break to play with something new or rather old!!

I’m sure there is a lot of you that have non 6 Bit Leica Lenses you would like to use it with the Digital M body (M8, M8.2, M9, and M9-p). There is a handful of solution from DIY to 6 bit coding kits that you can buy. I know for the die hard Leica Fanatics, only shipping it to Leica would work for you. I done some research on the prices and I seen anywhere from $100 ~ $300 to get it professionally coded either by Leica or renown CLA shops. For that price, I could live without the 6 Bit (Since it’s selectable in my M9).
Then I saw a post in one of the forum with someone talking about these code-able ebay rear flange. I have yet to see anyone do a write up or tutorial. I thought I share my experience.

This is where I got mine. Yes it’s shipped from China and it does take a few weeks to get it to the states.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140597071401?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

The first impression I got the flange was fairly well made. Further inspection with comparison to my original flange show why the German made was superior to the Chinese version. The biggest gripe I had was the edges were very sharp. It felt like the flange just came out of the CNC machine without any finishing. Minor sanding on the edges does smooth it out. Regardless, this was under $13 shipped per mount.

Here is a comparison picture of the eBay flange on the left coded with the original 24mm flange on the right.

6 Bit Flange

6 Bit Flange


The next test was to see if the coding cutouts were matched as well as how well the bracket sits on the camera. Things I look for was of course, is there any lens play.

Quick Google search brought me to this excellent site with all the Leica M Lens codes and sample pictures. This provides a great reference on which lens you want to code.
Leica M Lens Codes

The lens I was going to code was my Leica 24mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH. I enlisted my wife’s help on painting the 6 bit code. Her dexterity is much better than mine, not to mention she’s use to paint small things on her nail with nail polish. She started coding the 28/90 frame line bracket with the code 011001 (1 being black and 0 being white). It didn’t work. Since the M9 does not have a frameline of 24mm, I figure 28mm would be the closes. I thought it was a problem with the nail polish. So we wipe it clean and started over again with acrylic paint instead. We ran into the same issue. The camera could not read the code. After couple of days of trial and error, I found out that the 6 bit code is link to the frames.

TIP #1: Make sure you use the correct frame line for the bracket. Both the Leica M8 and M9 does take into account the Frame line as well as the code. i.e. Using a 28/90 frame line bracket with the 24mm will not work. Instead, you will need the 35/135 frame line with the 24mm. The above website does list the Frames required.

After switching over to the 35/135 and painted the correct code, it worked flawlessly on my M9. I also tried it with my friends M8.2. It even picked up the 24mm frame line that the M8.2 has!! Best of all, no lens play. It fit just as snug as the original flange.

So quick summary and tutorial for those that knows how to use a screw driver and remove 6 screws.

Disclaimer: I will not be hold responsible if you damage your lens or camera in the process of using this tutorial. This tutorial is provided as a guide. Remember if you still have warranty on your lens, this might void it. Though, I assume most of you that’s doing this to lenses that’s already out of warranty. Regardless, proceed at your own risk!!

Tools needed:
-Small Eye glasses Screw Driver
-Nail Polish or acrylic paint
-Fine paint brush
-Tooth pick
-Q-tip
-Nail Polish remover or Thinner

Tools

Tools

1. Go to this site to see what frame line flange you need.

2. Order the flange (ebay link)

3. Paint the codes per the site listed above. Do the black first. The white is purely cosmetic.

TIP #2: Here is a tip from my wife on how she clean around the edges. She uses this to do her nails. Pull off a tiny chunk of cotton from the end of the Q-tip and wrap it around the blunt end of a tooth pick. Dip that end with nail polish remover. The hard surface of the wood tooth pick with the nail polish remover cotton will give you more control to clean the edges of the coding groove.

4. Let it dry for a few hours.

5. Remove the 6 screws from your lens. Make sure you don’t move the focusing ring after you remove the 6 screws. I actually counted how many turns it took to take the screw out so you can put it back the same way.

6. Take the original bracket off.

7. Match up the holes with the new bracket. (The ones I got matches up perfectly)

8. Put all the screws back in but don’t thread it tight yet.

9. With the screw mostly in, I now turn the focusing ring one full turn both ways. This will help with the alignment as well as provide equal pressure on the rings so that focus will stay smooth.

10. Now tighten the screws in a star shape (similar to tightening the lug nut on the wheel of the car.) I started with 2 screws across from each other then rotate the focusing ring to make sure it’s still smooth. Then tighten 2 more screws. Rotate the focusing ring again. Tighten the last 2 screws. Rotate the focusing ring. Give it a final tightening on all the screws in a star shape. **Make sure you do not over tighten the screws and stripe the thread.!!** Finger tight is good enough.

11. Check the focusing ring to make sure it’s still operating smoothly.

12. Put the lens on the camera and enjoy your new 6 Bit coded lens!!

24mm Elmarit Coded

24mm Elmarit Coded


M9 6 Bitted!!

M9 6 Bitted!!

Hopefully this tutorial was useful and takes away a lot of fears about operating on your Leica lens. It’s fairly simple and straight forward. Just use a little common sense and you will now have a 6 bit coded lens!

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Comments
  1. […] 6 Bit your old lens (DIY) I had some time over the US Thanksgiving break to write up a quick DIY tutorial for modification that I'm sure a lot of you been wanting to do!! It's actually a fairly simple process and totally reversible if needed. Not to mention, pretty economical! All you need is a screw driver, some nail polish, some common things around the house, and an ebay account. I'm not affiliated with the ebay seller. You should be able to find the bracket from other places as well. This is the one I ordered and it works! I have more detail on my blog. 6 Bit your old lens! […]

  2. Chris says:

    I found the the #00 cammed out, and had to switch to #0 size. I wish they’d make these flanges to fit the Zeiss ZM lenses (different screw pattern than either Leica or CV)!

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