Mods & DIY

Canon AF-10 DIY LTM lens conversion

For a good while now I have been fascinated by the idea of hacking compact camera lenses to work on my Leica cameras. So far this has taken me down a few paths, with one end of the spectrum involving MS-Optics, and more recently an independent lens manufacturer in the states (more on that another time). At the other end of the spectrum I’ve been having some fun mounting lenses extracted from compact cameras (such as the Yashica T4) into dumb mounts made out of 3d printed or hacked body caps – which is exactly what I did to the lens out of the very basic, yet not-without-charm Canon AF-10.

The Canon AF-10

The Canon AF-10 is a fairly inconsequential little point & poke camera. It has a basic AF system, and I suspect actually relies mostly on its f/6 26mm lens to obtain good focus purely through broad depth of field.

My initial interest in this camera as a donor for a lens hack was just based on this focal length and fixed aperture. The specs as they are would mean I could mount it in some sort of none-focusing dumb mount, set it at its hyperfocal distance and just use is as a daylight snaps lens.

After I took the camera apart a realised something else of interest. The lens appears to be made out of coated glass rather than plastic as I had originally expected. Since the time I started this project (it’s taken a while) I’ve grown to realise that there might well be a place for plastic lenses in my life (see here). I haven’t always felt this way though – at the time I started the project I had a little bit of a phobia of the sort of flare they invariably create, so in finding the Canon AF-10 lens was glass made the idea of the project a lot more interesting.

Extracting the lens

Extracting the lens was remarkably simple. This sort of process is very easy when you don’t care about smashing the crap out of the camera’s poor worthless body.

Of course, no post that involves showing taking a compact camera a part would be complete without a warning about the flash capacitor. Those things will give you a very nasty shock if you touch them, so please be careful! (…says the guy who once punched himself in the face through a shock from the 240v uk mains supply – don’t ask!)

Remounting the lens

Once I had the blighter out I decided that rather than make something out of plastic, I would have a chat with my mate Tom who at the time had access to a lathe. Between us we figured we could drill a hole in a metal thread mount body cap, and then he could turn a little piece of aluminium to hold the lens in place. After a bit of too and fro working out the back focal distance for hyperfocal focusing this is what he came up with.

Actually, in the picture above, the lens element, drilled body cap and turned bit of aluminium are still all lose. To fix them together a applied a not insignificant amount of Sugru.

Tom’s turned component Sugru’d into the drilled lens cap

The lens element Sugru’d into the turned part

The finished lens

It’s fair to say that this is a very basic chunk of metal, glass, plastic and Sugru, but actually it works pretty well.

The results

Shot on the M9, needless to say, it creates a big chunk of vignetting and colour shifting toward the edge of the frame. But it’s nothing that a black and white conversion doesn’t fix. In fact, combined with something close to my normal process of converting to black & white I found myself with some quite atmospheric shots.

Family snaps

Family snaps

Family snaps

Family snaps

Family snaps

Closer focusing

Obviously with lens lens being fixed at a hyperfocal distance closer focusing isn’t possible… Unless – as I soon realised – I unscrew the lens from the mount a bit. It took very little practice to work out just how much unscrewing of the lens would be needed to get a half decent closer-up shot.

Family snaps

Family snaps

Final thoughts

These sorts of conversions might seem pretty inane to some, especially since they result in such simple lenses, but I find the whole process very satisfying, and the results just as pleasing.

Of course it is fair to say that this little Canon Af-10 lens conversion isn’t going to replace my Zeiss 28mm ZM Biogon as my now-default wide lens choice. But, more often than not when I go out with a Leica I just take a single lens, and quite often, that single lens is my 50mm Sonnar rather than the 28mm. On those occasions having this little DIY very pocketable wide angle “pancake” lens adds nothing to the weight of what I am carrying. In fact, since me and Tom made this, I haven’t seen any reason not to chuck it in my pocket any time I go out with the Leica. In short, I’m really pleased with it!

I shall share some film shots when I finish the roll that’s currently in my M3.

Cheers,

Hamish

If you are interested in what the Canon AF-10 can do when it’s still intact, you can see some shots here
My flickr album of images taken with this lens is here

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Ted
    May 27, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Wow. That’s quite a journey. Excellent piece.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 27, 2017 at 9:07 am

      Cheers 🙂

  • Reply
    Mick
    May 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    I thought you’d be using it on your M3

  • Reply
    jeremy north
    May 27, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    | love these diy projects. Ironically, it is digital which provides the opportunity to mess about with the lenses which will provide analogue photographers yet more creative options.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 28, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Brilliant int it – I can’t wait to see the film results!

  • Reply
    George Appletree
    May 28, 2017 at 12:03 am

    That’s quite far from the perfect Sonnar!
    Maybe you also can keep on using the Canon if placing a pinhole in it

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 28, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Yes, it’s definitely not a Sonnar 🙂

  • Reply
    karellen
    May 30, 2017 at 8:45 am

    I did the same thing taking the lens of an old compact camera I was about to throw away. I glued to a leica-m body cap, so I can use it on a sony A7 with a voigtlander adapter with focusing helicoid, so I can also focus! But I did a wrong thing, that 35/2.8 had originally a fixed aperture, in the form of a sticker glued on the back lens, that I ruined taking away the lens. Without it (or maybe even before) that lens really have no contrast, and it does circles around lights! I haven’t yet found a use for it, but anyway it’s a funny lens to use!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 3, 2017 at 9:27 am

      I’d be interested to see some results – what camera was it from?

      • Reply
        karellen
        June 3, 2017 at 11:34 am

        If I recall correctly it comes from a konika compact camera my dad found in the mid ’90s, a black plastic camera on which you can set nothing. Surprisingly I just checked with a light meter and it seems that without the sticker it behaves like a f/2.2-2.4, so there might be room to stop a little down and make it sharper! Unluckily I have no samples, they were among the pictures that didn’t survive when I moved away from aperture and I cleaned my library, but I attach a picture of the lens: https://ibb.co/c9pLFv

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          June 4, 2017 at 9:12 am

          It certainly looks cool! If you search ebay for “iris” you can buy mechanical apertures. I’d bet you could fit one behind the lens to good affect

          • karellen
            June 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

            I didn’t know aperture iris were sold alone, without needing to brake another lens to harvest the aperture from. I just bought one from China for 12€, we will see how it performs! Thanks for the suggestion!

          • Hamish Gill
            June 5, 2017 at 8:57 pm

            I’ll be very interested in how you get on

  • Reply
    Michael
    August 21, 2017 at 12:34 am

    WOW! what a great mod! do you have any data and measures so that some of us can try to do the same?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 21, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      I don’t really – to be honest, we tweaked and sanded and filed it so much, I’m not sure I could give you anything useful. I find experimenting the best way to go

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