General How And Why Guide Learning Series Video

Lens Adapters For Mirrorless Cameras

With the advent of mirrorless cameras, there was a shift in registration distance for lenses. That opened possibilities to use existing lenses on these newer mounts.

My video on the subject of lens adapters.

Check out Fotodiox lens adapters through my B&H Photo Video affiliate link.

This is all about flange focal distance. It’s the distance from the lens mount ring to the sensor or film plane.

Older camera systems have a long distance. Newer camera systems have a short distance. So that means with something between an old lens and a new mount you can make the combination work.

The distance is measured in millimeters.

A few examples:

  • Canon FD: 42mm
  • Canon EF: 44mm
  • Canon EF-M: 18mm
  • Nikon F: 46.5mm
  • Nikon Z: 16mm
  • M42: 45.46mm
  • L39: 28.8mm
The 30D next to the M50. You can see the difference inside the sensor area.

A little test you can do is holding a lens like the EF 50mm in front of the M50 camera without a lens. Moving it back and forth shows where that registration distance is… the same as the thickness of the adapter.

Technically you could make a simple adapter with something to block the stray light…

The details of adapters are not so simple.

Let’s talk about some of the adapter types…

It’s a metal tube with the proper connections.

The cheapest and most common have no control through the camera or any levers.

  • Cheapest more available type.
  • The simplest option for old film era lenses because you don’t need anything more.
  • If your lens doesn’t have a manual aperture then you will not be able to adjust it. This is the case for Canon EF lenses. You can see the two that I have would not work with a basic adapter.
This Nikon-F to Canon EF-M adapter has a mechanical ring for Nikon lenses that have a mechanical aperture.

There are adapters that have a mechanical way to control aperture. This depends on the lens being adapted. Only certain ones have mechanical properties to them that allow this type to work.

  • Some older lenses had a physical lever for controlling aperture. In my case I have a Nikon F-mount lens with the lever and an M42 lens with something similar.
  • The adapter I have for F-mount does physically adjust the adapter, but it is imprecise with no way to set a specific value.
The official Nikon F to Z adapter has full control with some lenses, but the d-type lenses without a motor inside can’t autofocus.

Some control through the camera.

  • There are adapters that allow for some level of control.
  • For example, the official Nikon F to Z mount adapter can control aperture, but does not have a motor for autofocus with D-type lenses.
  • These are better than basic adapters when you need some level of control through the camera.
  • There are other adapters that have quirks or limitations like not being able to do a special focusing mode that a native lens would be able to do.
Canon EF lenses have a more technological design, so nothing special is needed with the adapter to allow for full control from RF and EF-M.

Adapters with full control through the camera.

  • These adapters allow for the same amount of lens control compared to a native lens usually.
  • The official Canon EF lens adapters for EF-M and the RF mount have full control.
The Viltrox speedbooster next to the official Can EF EOS M adapter.

Speedbooster adapters (focal reducer)

  • These adapters take lenses meant for a larger format such as Full-Frame but focus the light into the area of a smaller format like APS-C.
  • It reduces focal length and increases lens speed.
  • You can see that my Viltrox 0.71x speedbooster is physically shorter than the standard adapter and it has optical glass inside.
  • Most of these adapters are fully electronic and work with a specific lens and mount combination.
  • These tend to be some of the most expensive types of adapters.
  • Expect overall image quality to depend on the optics of the speedbooster.

Other more obscure adapters

I hope that helped you understand what lens adapters for mirrorless lens adapters do. Having a change in flange focal distance allowed for a lot of inventive adapters to be created. It’s a reason to hold on to your older lenses and a reason to pick up a mirrorless camera if you haven’t yet.

The official Canon EF-EOS M adapter (B&H Photo Video, Amazon, Used on KEH, and eBay.

Metabones Speed Booster 0.71x Adapter for Canon EF to EF-M Mount (B&H Photo Video, Amazon)

Viltrox EF-EOS M2 Speed Booster 0.71x Lens Adapter (Amazon, eBay, B&H Photo Video, and used on KEH.

Below are the subtitles for the attached video if you prefer to read it than watch…

Hey, this is Scott of Photography Banzai.

Today we're
talking about attaching non-native

lenses to mirrorless cameras.

There are a lot of adapters out there. I'm gonna go over

why they work, and a few of the different
types. So let's get started! All of this

about the flange focal distance. It's the
distance between the lens mount... that

metal ring you see. It's a bayonet mount
usually. And then the sensor plane or

film plane. So at the most basic level,
older lenses have a longer distance and

newer lenses have a shorter distance. All
this means is that having something

between the older lens and the newer
camera makes it work properly.

That flange focal distance is measured in
millimeters. I'm going to talk about a

few different mounts and their
measurements. Just helps you get an idea

of how it all works together. Most of my
current equipment is Canon, so I'm going

to use them as the main example. They had
the FD mount, which is 42 millimeters for

that flange focal distance. And the EF
mount.. DSLR.. SLRs, but that is 44

millimeters. So they actually made it a
little bit longer than the older FD

mount. And the EF-M mount, which is the
M50 that I have. It is 18 millimeters.

That difference between 44 and 18 allows the
EF lenses to work on the EF-M cameras

with the proper adapter. Another example
is the Nikon F-mount. It's 46.5 mm...

So that's even a
little bit longer than the EF mount from

Canon. And Nikon's new Z-mount is 16
millimeters. So that's even shorter than

the canon EF-M mount.

And I also have an M42 lens. It's an older film lens. Pentax...

A lot of other little companies. Some
Russian lenses are in that M42 screw mount.

That's 45.46mm for that flange focal distance.

I have a Canon EOS 30D. It has a
standard EF mount. You can see that

distance on there. It's a large area
inside. Because they had a mirror. They

had various optics that they needed to
fit inside there which explains why

they're so long compared to the new
mirrorless cameras that don't need that

technology inside. Because they have an
electronic viewfinder. I can actually

hold the EF 50mm lens up to the
M50 camera, and if I get the distance

right between the lens and the camera
don't even need an adapter. You'll still

see a sharp image in the back of screen.
Because you can basically get that flange

focal distance when you're moving it
back and forth. Of course, there'll be a

lot of extra light in there that you
don't want. But it does work for the most part.

The specific details on lens
adapters are not so simple. There's a lot

of them. There's a lot of different types,
which I'll go over some of them in this

video. Help you out. Try to get you an idea of what you might need.

The cheapest and most available
lens adapters have no information going

between the lens and the camera itself. So think about old film era lenses that have

an aperture ring on them. They don't need
the aperture control through the camera.

Those work just fine. You just need
basically a separator to get the right

distance. If you have some old M42 lenses
like the one that I do have. Has an

aperture ring on the lens itself. Just
keep in mind there is usually a setting

in the camera you need to toggle to
make it possible to take photos without

the camera sensing a lens attached.
However, these basic adapters do not work

with all lenses, of course. With these EF
lenses they do not have an aperture ring...

So you need a more advanced
adapter to get aperture control through

the camera. Otherwise, you just will have
to use the largest aperture and that's it.

Some adapters allow for mechanical
control of the aperture. So we don't need

actual data connections between the lens
and the camera. You get that mechanical

control. I do have a Nikon F-mount lens
that has a mechanical aperture on it. And

the adapter that I have has a little
ring on there that physically moves that

aperture lever back and forth. It's not
ideal. It does not allow you to get exact

aperture sizes, but it works well enough
that you can adjust your aperture if you

need it super wide or more narrow.
Other adapters allow you some level of

control through the camera. So, for
example, the Nikon official adapters from

F to Z mount allow you to control the
aperture. They allow you to control

autofocus, with most of their most recent
lenses for the DSLRs, but not all of the

older ones. For the D-type lenses that do
not have a motor inside the lens

itself... like the one that I have. You
can't do autofocus.

There are definitely little quirks here
and there with some adapters you need to

know about. But there are so many
different types of combinations. It's

really going to be up to what you have
or what you want to use. Other adapters

allow you full control from the
camera to the lens and back. So with my

EF to EOS M adapters, the EF-M mount... I
get full control for those EF lenses. The

aperture, the autofocus... everything works.
There are speed booster adapters

available. These are a special type.
Usually third parties make these, and

they're called focal reducers. What it
does is that you take a larger format

like full-frame. Put it into an APS-C
sized area. Gives you a focal reduction.

And you get more light for that smaller
area. I have this Viltrox 0.71x

speed booster that I use with the EF
lenses to the EF-M camera, which is APS-C...

You can see that this Viltrox adapter
is actually shorter than the standard EF

to EOS M adapter. And it also has some glass
inside that allows it to do that speed

boosting ability. That focal reduction.
For Canon's newest mount, the RF Mount,

which is mirrorless and it's also 
full-frame for the moment. You have a few

unique official adapters. You've got one
for filters. Where you can do a circular

polarizer, or a variable ND filter. So
those are pretty interesting. There are a

lot of third-party stores and companies
that sell very unique adapters. I'm gonna

go over a few of them. Fotodiox has a
huge amount of adapters on the website.

For example, they have a tilt-shift
adapter. So you put a standard DSLR or

SLR lens, and then the mirrorless camera,
with that tilting adapter. That allows you

to do things like architecture with
straight lines. Because you can

physically shift the lens without buying
a specialty lens. So that's pretty cool!

They have internal iris adapters. Also,
they have auto focusing adapters for

very old lenses. Having that change in
flange focal distance from the older

cameras to the new mirrorless ones allows for
a lot of possibilities with adapters.

So I just scratched the surface here with a
few of them, but know that they're out there.

And a lot of them are pretty
interesting. Might want to check them out!

Hope you enjoyed this video on lens
adapters for mirrorless cameras

with older lenses.

I'm Scott from Photography Banzai.

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