Tuesday, May 11, 2021

My Last Post about the "Monster Adapter" (LA-EA4r)

The Monster adapter was originally mentioned in my blog post from July, 2020.  It is a printed circuit board designed to replace the one in Sony's LA-EA4 adapter, allowing your Sony and Minolta A-mount lenses to benefit from the new features (like tracking and Eye-AF) found in most modern E-mount bodies.  (The biggest benefit going to owners of the Minolta 500mm f/8).  I've been playing with this adapter since last July, essentially being a beta tester and keeping a private email list heavy on details to those who expressed interest early on.

The product has matured significantly since that time, and just recently I created a video comparing Sony's new LA-EA5 (which only works on 3 camera bodies - the A1, the A7R IV, and A6600) with the LA-EA4r "Monster Adapter" which works on most bodies having phase-detect AF baked into the sensor.  Which one is better?  And will I take on this product personally?



As I said in the original blog post, as a one-person effort the "Monster Adapter" is an amazing feat of engineering.  But I've decided not to take this project on as either a distributor or a person who does the modifications - I simply lack the spare time.  

I've done a lot of testing of this product in the last year, and those of you who have subscribed to my private "Monster Adapter" mailing list know all the sordid details.  For those of you not on the list who are still curious to learn more, here are some of the highlights from my video tests since last July:



Here's a better test of the 500mm f/8 in good light using pre-production firmware.  This video has 3 tests; the first showing off Eye AF, the 2nd showing the lens on an A99 II for reference, and the 3rd showing a similar test on an A7R IV. 


Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What lenses are supported?  What about my popular 3rd party lens?
A: You can find a list of supported lenses on their Facebook page  

Q: Where can I buy the printed circuit board so I can do my own LA-EA4 modification?

Q: Will this adapter make my lenses focus faster than the LA-EA4? 
A: As the videos demonstrate, probably not. The goal is to add new intelligent focusing modes that you can’t get with the LA-EA4.  If you want the fastest focusing, the A99 II will perform significantly faster than either the LA-EA4r or LA-EA5.

Q: Will I be able to use SSM and SAM lenses on the Monster Adapter? 
A: No. That capability could be added later, though. I tried to convince the team that it should be added now since people will only need to have one adapter. Instead they decided to prioritize adding more lenses to the ‘supported’ list. 

Q: I have a very popular 3rd party lens. Will it work on this adapter? 
A: Most likely not; however the list of supported 3rd party lenses is growing. 

Q: Will it work with video? 
A: No.  The designers are adamant that the focusing would not be smooth and this would call attention to itself in videos, and so it is intentionally not supported. Plus motor noise would be picked up by the camera’s built-in mics if you don’t use an external mic. (The LA-EA5 doesn't support AF in video either.  Again, the A99 II is your best bet here.)

Q: Will it AF stopped-down like native E-mount lenses? 
A: No; it will meter and focus wide open just like all A-mount lenses. 

Q: What if I attach a lens not on the ‘currently supported’ list? 
A: It will be Manual Focus only. 

Q: How are firmware updates done? 
A: The same way you do for a lens or a normal adapter. Attach the adapter to a camera body, connect the camera to a computer via USB, and run some software. 

Q: Will Xi lenses be supported? 
A: Those lenses were not known for their optical excellence. And not many people have expressed interest. So currently it’s not on the ‘to be supported one day’ list. 

Q: Will it work with the A7S II? 
A: No – the camera it’s connected to has to have phase-detect AF points baked into the sensor. Neither the A7S II nor the original A7s have this – they are contrast-detect AF only. 

Q: Will it work in conjunction with a matched 1.4x teleconverter? 
A: That’s much harder to do in software; so while it won’t be initially supported that’s something that can be added down the line. 

Q: Will the board swap also work with the LA-EA2? 
A: No. The board shape and connector pinout are similar but different. If you try to install this board on an LA-EA2, it might burn the adapter. 

Q: How about other Zeiss AF lenses? 
A: Only two have the screw-driven AF. Both are supported. 

Q: Is all the normal LA-EA information retained in EXIF metadata? 
A: Yes. In all of my images taken with the adapter, the EXIF information shows the lens’s focal length and max. aperture. 

Q: Will you be able to easily reinstall or remove the AF mirror in case you wanted to use other lenses not on the list - in current LA-EA4 mode? 
A: You can restore the mirror if you want to, but if you want to go back to the old functionality, you’ll have to restore the original circuit board as well. 

And that's that!

Disclaimer: I get no financial reimbursement for my postings on this subject (although, let's face it, I should after putting in all this work. :-) ) They sent me the sample board for free, and that was it.

Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman

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