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Funleader CAPLENS 18mm F8.0 for M mount review

The Funleader CAPLENS 18mm F8.0 for M mount gives Leica users a cheap, super-slim, ultra-wide lens with a focus lever

Funleader CAPLENS 18mm F8.0 for Leica M
(Image: © Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Our Verdict

The Funleader 18mm F8.0 for Leica M mount is slim, feels rather well made and has a smart retro look without the price tag of a regular retro Leica fit lens. Unfortunately, the optical performance doesn’t live up to the smart metal exterior, with heavy vignetting and softer edge detail on the left side than on the right.

For

  • Good build and finish
  • Smooth and positive focus lever
  • Ultra-slim profile
  • Low price

Against

  • Fixed f/8 aperture
  • Disappointing image quality

The Funleader 18mm F8.0 for Leica M is sold alongside the regular Funleader 18mm F8.0 for mirrorless cameras that we’ve already reviewed. This one, however, is made to fit cameras that use the Leica M bayonet mount. That includes old Leica film-based rangefinders and the latest digital versions.

You might wonder why someone with enough money to buy a Leica would want a lens as cheap as this, but there are lots of Leica M mount cameras in circulation, and lots of analog experimenters looking for a different kind of visual rendering.

What’s different about the M mount lens compared to the mirrorless version is that it has a focus lever, while its stablemate is fixed focus only. The focus lever on this lens is another nod towards Leica lenses.

Specifications

Format: 35mm Full-frame
Mount: Leica M-mount (adaptors for other cameras available)
Focal length: 18mm
Aperture: f/8.0 fixed
Field of view: 100°
Lens construction: 6 elements in 5 groups
Coating: Multi-coated
Closest focusing distance: 1.48ft (0.45m)
Body material: Aluminium
Size: 51 × 14mm
Weight: 40g

Key features

The Funleader CAPLENS Leica M edition has a nice retro look and a focus lever – which the 'mirrorless' version does not. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Although this lens comes with a Leica M mount, Funleader can supply adapters for use on other cameras. We used a Sony FE adapter to try it out on a Sony A7R II (we don’t have a Leica).

The availability of adaptors means that even if you don’t have a Leica, you can get the extra versatility of the focus lever compared to the fixed focus ‘mirrorless’ version.

There are five marked focus positions, from 0.45m through 0.7m, 1m, 2m and then infinity. The 0.45m and infinity settings have hard stops so that you can find them easily by touch, and the middle 1m setting has a firm detent to make that easy to find too – it’s probably closest to a ‘hyperfocal’ distance for this lens.

Build and handling

The Funleader CAPLENS for Leica M has a Leica bayonet fitting, but Funleader can supply adapters for use with other cameras like our Sony A7R II. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Attaching the lens to our Sony FE adaptor proved fiddly, but that’s more to do with the adaptor than the lens, we suspect.

The lens itself feels really nice to use. The aluminium barrel feels classy and hard-wearing and reassuringly heavy too, even though this lens actually weighs just 40g.

The focus lever is extremely smooth with no play or vagueness and just the right amount of ‘weight’. The looks indicate that this is clearly an experimental ‘novelty’ lens, but it has the handling and feel of a quality lens.

Performance

The strong vignetting can work in your favor, drawing attention to your main subject.  (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

The ultra-wide angle of view and heavy vignetting can create a bit of drama even in the most ordinary scene. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

It is possible to correct the vignetting in software, but the corners of the frame also have a yellowish colour shift which is harder to fix. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

The Funleader CAPLENS can work well for interiors, where the lighting can disguise the strong vignetting effect and the ultra-wide angle of view is welcome. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Unfortunately, its performance lets it down. We remarked on the heavy vignetting and average sharpness of the ‘mirrorless’ version of this Funleader lens, both of which proved correctable in software – though that ‘look’ is arguably part of this lens’s character.

This lens has exactly the same characteristics, but our sample was noticeably softer towards the left edge of the frame than the right. We don’t know if that’s just random sample variation or just a side effect of the focus movement – either way, it feels like one aberration too many.

Verdict

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

The Funleader 18mm F8.0 for Leica M mount is a great lens to look at and to use. The build quality feels a couple of steps higher than you would expect at this price, and the shooting experience is both disorientating and rewarding at the same time.

However, the optical quality does let it down. The vignetting, you could argue, is part of the ‘look’, as is the relatively low contrast. But it was the asymmetric left-side softness of our sample that grated the most. It is a fun lens, to be sure, but there’s probably more fun to be had from using it than from the pictures themselves.

Read more:

Best Lomography lenses
Best Leica M lenses
Best wide-angle lenses
Best pancake lenses

Rod Lawton

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio. Previously he has been Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. 


Rod's near-encyclopedic knowledge of cameras both old and new makes him an invaluable resource, whether we need to ask a question about transparencies or the latest X-Trans sensor. He owns all manner of cameras, from Nikon DSLRs through Olympus, Sony and Fujifilm bodies, and on any given day you'll see him using kit from just about every manufacturer.