Turning A Sony Into A Leica Through Extreme Camera Modding

The quality of a photograph is a subjective measure depending upon a multitude of factors of which the calibre of the camera is only one. Yet a high quality camera remains an object of desire for many photographers as it says something about you and not just about the photos you take. [Neutral Gray] didn’t have a Leica handheld camera, but did have a Sony. What’s a hacker to do, save up to buy the more expensive brand? Instead he chose to remodel the Sony into a very passable imitation.

This is a Chinese language page but well worth reading. We can’t get a Google Translate link to work, but in Chrome browser, right clicking and selecting “translate” works. If you have a workaround for mobile and other browsers please leave a comment below.

The Sony A7R is hardly a cheap camera in the first place, well into the four-figure range, so it’s a brave person who embarks on its conversion to match the Leica’s flat-top aesthetic. The Sony was first completely dismantled and it was found that the electronic viewfinder could be removed without compromising the camera. In a bold move, its alloy housing was ground away, and replaced with a polished plate bearing a fake Leica branding.


Extensive remodelling of the hand grip with a custom carbon fibre part followed, with significantly intricate work to achieve an exceptionally high quality result. Careful choice of paint finish results in a camera that a non-expert would have difficulty knowing was anything but a genuine Leica, given that it is fitted with a retro-styled lens system.

We’re not so sure we’d like to brace Leica’s lawyers on this side of the world, but we can’t help admiring this camera. If you’re after a digital Leica though, you can of course have a go at the real thing.

Thanks [fvollmer] for the tip.

12 thoughts on “Turning A Sony Into A Leica Through Extreme Camera Modding

  1. While it’s VERY impressive workmanship I just can’t shake the one, constant thought: “Why? Why go through all this trouble?”

    “Because I can” is an answer to that, but usually there’s more to it than that.

    1. I’ve read a few lines of the (translated) article, and those happen tot touch upon that subject: “For the looks”. Now that for the looks can still be “because I like that look” or “because XX had to look like he had a Leica in the movie we were shooting” or something like that. I don’t know which one applies.

    1. Huawey phones & Panasonic cameras have Leica lenses… and they’re not Leica…
      And the lens he mounted on his camera looks a lot like an Elmar f:3,5/5 cm (but maybe it’s a Zorky).
      The work is incredible but, even if the Sony viewfinders are in my opinion not the best ones, a camera without viewfinder is NOT a camera ;o).

      1. Mostly agreeing with you, zit, just using your Leica lens branding thing to rant a bit.

        First of all, I liked this project, utility be damned, he did something just because he could and that’s enough in my book. However, Leica is one of those brands that has hardcore, snob, bordering on obnoxious fans. And bear in mind that I might be reading Dov Ritz’s tone wrongly, but I really don’t rate Leica that highly nowadays (their lens quality is top notch, of course), but with models oriented at casual shooters like the Q2 costing almost 5000 euros, I personally classify them as bling, luxury items just like a Rolex, fine if you like them for what they are, just don’t try and convince me they are the ultimate timekeeping machine.

        Leica still makes really good stuff, but like everyone else they are milking the brand recognition, Panasonic’s Lumix high end Leica branded lens are really good, but deep down the Leica badge is just marketing (quote from Panasonic):
        “Leica is a registered trademark of Leica Microsystems IR GmbH. Leica DC lenses are manufactured using measurement instruments and quality assurance systems that have been certified by Leica Camera AG based on the company’s quality standards.”

        So they are made in Japan or China by Panasonic and Leica just let them use their name. On the other hand, some Leica digital cameras are actually made by Panasonic, like the Leica 109 is a rebranded Lumix LX100 and the D-Lux 7 is a rebranded LX100 II (the rebranded Leica models with a considerably higher price tag, of course). When they came out, the Panasonic LX100 cost something like 900USD, the Type 109 from Leica was 1200USD, that’s a very expensive badge.

        (And I love Panasonic’s Lumix cameras, btw, GX80 user here).

  2. TBH, I didn’t even notice it was missing it’s EVF until the article pointed it out. The whole grip would need to be replaced somehow or altered in such a way that one could mistake it as a Leica.So I assume he shoots it using the rear display? Maybe it would have been better to keep the EVF, extend the top raise the dials and buttons somehow and stick a fake 3D printed viewfinder window on the front ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ good effort though. But I’d say he just devalued a perfectly working A7R, which I’d gladly buy in spite of its downgrade to a PAS, for a discount.

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