The Visoflex

Here we enter the mad world of the Visoflex! I'm currently using a Visoflex II with my old 90mm F4 LTM Elmar and 135/4.5 M Hektor. If you missed the introduction about the Visoflex and are wondering what i'm actually on about, the Visoflex was a device made by Leica, to enable you to turn your rangefinder into an SLR via a series of adapters, your existing lenses and a mirror housing: or Visoflex unit.

If you would like to read these pages offline there is a pdf version available. You won't have the internet links available in the pdf version, but it might be a handy text/image reference. Please click on the link here: Visoflex.pdf

I'm going to give a little information on the original Visoflex, but the bulk of the information will be placed on the practicality of using the Visoflexes for the M. I hope i'll add more to subsequent pages as time goes by (I haven't even started looking at the use of the Visoflex with bellows), but i hope after reading this that you won't be afraid of getting involved with this system should you choose to; and i hope there is sufficient information on one page to get you started.

If you are using an M5 or M6TTL and wish to use a Visoflex, please read on and be sure to head over the page.The other thing you may want to check out is Jay's Hexarflex. Yes that's right, the Visoflex on a Konica Hexar.

It might be worth keeping in mind that there were other manufacturers of reflex housings for the Leica. These come in all sorts of variations. From what i've been able to find out thus far, the most popular of these was probably the Kilfitt reflex housing, which was apparently well made and also possibly had its own adapters. Accura made one [see Illustration] as did Komura with a reflex housing called the Telemore. The Telemore used a 48mm mount compared to the Visoflexes 50mm, which suggests you would have to use the Komura produced adapters with it. This is something else to have in mind if you want to use another company's reflex housing. You may be dependent on finding proprietary adapters to be able to use your housing correctly, if at all. One of the many wonderful things about Leica is the longevity of their products. Most of the adapters that Leica made are still available used today.

This is Mike Durling's Accura LTM Reflex housing
on a Leica III F. Notice the cable release
for releasing the shutter which was standard on the
early Visoflexes. Thanks for the image, Mike!

In addition to the different reflex housings, you could also use a variety of different manufacturers lenses. There are a number of guides available about these lenses in Leica Thread Mount (LTM), but an excellent primer can be found courtesy of Marc James Small's 'Non-Leitz LEICA Thread-Mount Lenses - A 39mm Diversity' One example of these lenses is the Tele-Picon.

400/5.5 Tele-Picon
My thanks to Greg Benson for this image.

Produced by Paul Piesker, the Tele-Picon was manufactured by a Berlin-based company during the 1950's and 60's who mainly specialised in medium and long long-focus lenses. In the 1960's they "were not poorly regarded". Here endeth the sermon on the Tele-Picon.

Designed predominantly for 90mm lenses and longer, the Visoflex may help you in numerous ways. It is also a great way to make macro shots with your 35 and 50mm lenses. In many respects the Visoflex has almost become unfashionable, and almost impolite to mention in some circles, but like anything esoteric, it does have its adherents. The fact is--It works dammit! I hope this page doesn't come across as patronizing, but without illustrations it is more difficult, and Leica's code words are frequently more esoteric than a Masonic lodge!


The Visoflex comes in approximately 5 different main incarnations. They're pretty easy to tell apart, and for simplicity, are numbered 1-4. Eh? 5 different, but they're numbered 1-4? There are differences between the PLOOT and the Visoflex I, but there are a great deal more similarities, and for the sake of brevity....

1. The original Visoflex was called a PLOOT [1938], as it was Leica coded, and was for screw mount or Leica Thread Mount models. It was somewhat larger than the II, IIA and III Viso's and comprised of a mirror reflex housing that was factory bundled with two magnifiers and a double cable release unit. It went through a number of changes between 1938 and 1943 and then to 1951, where there is some expansion and differentiation's until becoming the Visoflex I in 1951. 1951 appears to be some kind of watershed for the Visoflex I, partially due to an expansion of magnifiers: These come under a different series of code words, such as PAMOO, a 5x right angle magnifier, and a PEGOO 45 degree magnifier that presented the image laterally correct.

Previously, the PLOOT had had a similar functionality with the PROON, which was the basic PLOOT that came with 5x and 30x magnifiers. There was also the POOIM and ODULO. These codes were descriptive of the magnifiers that the PLOOT came with. For example, the ODULO came with 5x, 30x [and later] the PAMOO [1951] viewfinder for 5x right angle focusing. As good as the PLOOT and Visoflex I idea from Leitz was, it was limited in its usage by only allowing focusing to infinity with lenses from 125mm or longer. Although rare, there is a version of this Visoflex for the M, but because of the focal length limitations it is limited in its usage; meaning i'd recommend getting a later one.

Visoflex I with 135 Hektor in short focus mount with PEGOO.
My thanks to Rob Deane for this image.

Are you still following ? Good ;-)

I'm kind of oversimplifying, but thus far we've been discussing two elements of Visoflex use, the PLOOT and Visoflex I: The main body and the magnifiers. The magnifiers attach to the main body of the PLOOT/Visoflex I, and they in turn then attach to the main body of the camera. This methodology is also applicable to the later Visoflexes and an image to keep in mind:

Camera--> Visoflex body--> a Magnifier attached to the Visoflex body--> adapter(s)--> Lens head

The Visoflex II, and IIA

This is the Visoflex II, OTXBO magnifier, with Bellows II on an M3.

The lens fitted is the 65/3.5 Elmar. To see the LHSA 'Viewfinder' article

this image is taken from, please click on the photo. My very large thanks

to Roy Moss for permission to use this image.

The Visoflex II appeared in 1960, and you could buy a piece of this hi-tech equipment in a number of combinations. I'm only being slightly funny here, because the workmanship on the Visoflexes is amazing, and they're still working now aren't they?

Here are the combinations you could originally buy in 1960:
An OCLOM included the Visoflex II for bayonet mounts and a 4x magnifier.

An OTDYM was the Visoflex minus a magnifier

An OTXBO/16499 was the 4x magnifier with prism for Visoflex

An OTYDO was a Visoflex II for screw mount Leicas without magnifier

Or you could have an OUCLO, which gave you a Visoflex II for the screw mount with a 4x magnifier.

However you could also buy separate magnifiers including the OTVXO/16461, a 5x magnifier.

Some folks wonder why some folks complain about consumer choices these days!

The Visoflex II dispensed with the double cable releases, and uses a lever on the side to lower the mirror. You can use a standard cable release on the Visoflex II, but the main advantage with the II over the I, is that it is easily used hand held. After each shot you have to move the lever to a downward position relocking the mirror for your next shot. Sound like an annoying process? Not really, depending on what sort of photography you're doing. This was later modified with an auto return system in the intermediate IIA and then further developed for the Visoflex III. But spending time DOING photography is why i started using a Leica to begin with, and the Visoflex III is a lot less streamlined and more expensive. Why not the IIA? It is rare and therefore usually far more expensive. If you have a choice? I'd far recommend the IIA as opposed to the III for most applications. Having said that, Matheson says you can't use the II or IIA Visoflex with an M5, so most definitely go with the III in that case, O.K ?

Here is the drill I go through for attaching the Visoflex:

1. Remove lens from camera
2. Attach Visoflex housing minus magnifier

(You can't attach the Visoflex II housing with 4x magnifier already attached to the Visoflex body because of the twisting of the bayonet mount on to the camera. However this appears to be possible with the 5x vertical OTVXO/16461)

3. Attach 4x OTXBO magnifier to top of Visoflex II

4. Attach OUAGO adapter to Visoflex II housing.

5. Screw in 90mm LTM lens head to OUAGO

6. Flip Visoflex release arm onto shutter release button

7. Wind and shoot.

This takes all of 2 minutes from start to shoot.

Now, the Visoflex release arm i mentioned is an adjustable arm with screw that swings forward and backward. In the forward position it leaves the camera unobstructed, but also leaves the Visoflex unsynched from your Leica's shutter. In the back position the small adjustable screw sits above the shutter release button. The arm controls the flipping of the mirror, therefore depending on the space between the screw and the shutter button, there will be either a short amount of time before the mirror flips up and the shutter clicks, or a longer amount of time before the mirror flips and the shutter clicks. If you're using a tripod you can have a kind of Mirror Lock Up (MLU) by increasing the space between the screw and shutter button, or alternatively leaving the release arm in a forward position and then pulling it slightly upwards triggering the mirror, then manually releasing the shutter.

The first time you attach the magnifier you will probably have to adjust it for your eye sight. Looking through the magnifier there should be a small black circle in the middle of the screen. If the screen is black, then you haven't lowered the mirror!
Turning the small chrome ring in front of the rubber eye piece you should be able to focus the eye piece until the circle is sharp. When done, you're ready to shoot!


This was the trickiest part of learning the Visoflex system and the main reason for this page's existence. There are a great many adapters around for the Visoflex, most of them being produced in 1960, and they are usually designated via a 5 digit numerical or 5 letter code. As i mentioned, sadly, they usually don't list both. I've tried to confine the number of adapters listed here to those that are used directly between lens and Visoflex. There are a whole other series of adapters for using lenses, Visoflex and bellows for macro/reproduction work. If you're interested in doing that, you're going to have to do some further reading. In fact, you should do some further reading anyway. I'd recommend Andrew Matheson's 'The Leica and Leicaflex way'. Usually there are two different types of adapter: One for attaching the lens head to the Visoflex, and a second adapter to increase the focusing length. My 90mm LTM Elmar is an o.k. example. I hope it makes sense.

Here are a few of the codes you may encounter:



Used with the 90 Elmar head, the 16467/OUAGO is a helical focusing mount. It can't be used with the collapsible version of the Elmar; and focuses from infinity to 3 1/4 feet.
If you want to extend the range you can use the adapter below.
One x 16468/OTQNO = 2 feet

Two x 16468/OTQNO = a little under 20 inches.
So, as you see, you can often stack the adapters to increase the focusing length
16462/ZOOEP Short focusing barrel for use with 90/2 Summicron Head(s) and 135/2.8 Elmarit
16453/ZOOEP Short mount to use 90 Summicron head on Viso II directly, with scale. Intended for the pre-set lens head.
16474/OUEPO Extension ring for 90 Summicron head and 135/2.8 Elmarit
16495/ZOOAN Short focusing mount for Hektor 135/4.5 lens head, used in combination with the OUBIO.
16464/OTZFO [Basic universal focussing mount] Adapter for 65 Elmar, 90 Elmarit, Hektor 135, and Tele-Elmar 135/4
16465/OTZFO Universal focussing mount with tripod plate foot like OUBIO
16471/OTRPO Adapter to use Elmar 65, Elmarit 90 and Hektor 135 at close range
16469/OUFRO [OTSRO/16472 is similar, specifically for the Hektor and Elmar 135] Can be used for all lenses at close range. Note: I'd recommend the OUFRO, it's a lot more functional, but how much do you want to invest in this system?

For Hektor 125 and 135, Telyt 200's with Viso II and III, and 400/5's with Visoflex II and III. LTM 280/4.8
None of the following will work with the OUBIO/16466: the M-mount 280/4.8, 400/5.6 or 400/6.8, nor do the 560's

MOOSP/14020 Came with Viso I, to be used with Telyt 200/4


Lenses on the Visoflex

The lenses you can use with your Visoflex are as follows:
65/3.5 Elmar

90/2.8 Elmarit

90/4 Elmar

90/2 Summicron

135/4 Tele-Elmar

Older 135 Hektor and Elmar

135/2.8 Elmarit

Long focus lenses from 125-560mm

35 and 50 lenses can be used on the Visoflex II and III at extraordinarily close macro range, but you won't be able to focus on anything beyond a couple of inches.

Notice how frequently an adapter seems to be designed for the 135 focal length? Please, don't stress about it and get discouraged. I currently use the 16495/ZOOAN and the 16466/OUBIO with my 135/4.5 Hektor's disembodied head- with just 2 adapters and the Visoflex II, you're off to a good start. As an aside, I recently went through some confusion with the numeric listing for the OTXBO, which John Collier brought to my attention. After doing some digging, and asking Marc Small if he knew anything about the conundrum, I found that there are three different numerical codes for the OTXBO. The functionality is no different, they are all interchangeable with The Visoflex II and III, but the numbers are unique. So i thought i had better warn you that the following numbers all describe the OTXBO 4x 90 degree finder.
OTXBO/16460 originally for Visoflex II and IIa

OTXBO/16716 for Visoflex II and IIa

And finally, OTXBO/16499 originally for Visoflex III, but can be used for the Visoflex II and IIa.

Why the different numbers? There were three separate stages of manufacturing and also some changes in development between the Visoflex II and III, consequently a change in the numbering.

I've recently found out more about the 16466/OUBIO adapter from Henning Wulff (amongst many other things, i might add). All lenses designed for use on the Viso I need the OUBIO/16466 on Visoflex II and III, because it changes the mount to Leica Thread Mount, and makes the Visoflex II and III plus OUBIO/16466 combination the same depth as the Visoflex I, excluding what happens at the camera end re: M or LTM.

Here are a couple of images that Rob Deane sent me from a Leica catalogue which illustrates some of the possible lens/visoflex combinations (Thanks Rob!). The top image has been reduced for display, if you save it to your desktop it will be far more legible. Hopefully this will help you visualise the process involved. I have a similar chart which outlines another couple of differing options which i will scan and put up at some point in the future.

I hope i've managed to get most of that right! If any of you are experienced Visoflex users and spot mistakes, i'm very open to correction. Or if you have any questions you think i might be able to answer, you can contact me here
There are a great many people i want to thank for suggestions, and for setting me straight about mistakes i've made. Henning Wulff for major corrections on this page in particular, but also to John Collier, Marc James Small, Ed Schwartzreich, Roy Moss, Kip Babington and Tom Abrahamsson. I'd also like to thank Christer Almqvist for the image of Che with the Viso on the opening page. Thanks Christer! Please continue over the page for more information regarding the Visoflex III.

Best of Luck!

Last updated 2/10/2004