What are lens adapters used for and how can you use them for your photography?

by Jeremy Gray

published on Friday, November 5, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. EDT

As Canon and Nikon continue to expand their selection of mirrorless cameras and lenses, more and more photographers are buying new mirrorless cameras and looking for adapters for their older DSLR lenses. For example, if you’ve been shooting with a Canon DSLR for years, you want to be able to use your EF lenses on a new Canon mirrorless camera or maybe even a third-party mirrorless camera. There are many ways to mix and match lenses and cameras with a plethora of adapters. So many ways, in fact, that it can be confusing to figure out which lens adapters will work for you. More than Lensrentals, photographer Zach Sutton wrote a new item all about lens adapters, how they work and why you should try them.

First of all, what are lens adapters? Each camera has a lens mount. Each format and brand have their own distinct lens mounts. For example, the Nikon Z mount is different from the Nikon F mount, and they are both different from camera mounts from any other manufacturer. While you can’t mount a Canon EF lens directly to a Fujifilm GFX camera, for example, a lens adapter allows you to do this by creating a connection between the two different mounts.

In Sutton’s article, that is precisely what he did. He mounted a Canon EF 85mm f / 1.2L II main lens on a Fujifilm GFX 100S camera using the Vizelex Cine ND Throttle Fusion Smart AF adapter. One end of the adapter has a GF mount and connects directly to the GFX 100S camera. The other end of the adapter has an EF mount, allowing Sutton to mount an EF lens to a GF mount.

Shot using the Fuji GFX 100s with a Canon 85mm f / 1.2L II lens and adapted using the Vizelex Cine ND Throttle Fusion Smart AF Adapter. Image credit: Zach Sutton

Some adapters are “smart” adapters, while others are “dumb”. Smart adapters allow electronic communication between the camera and a suitable lens. In some cases, this just means that the automatic exposure is working and you can adjust the aperture electronically. In other cases, a camera can autofocus with a suitable lens. A “mute” adapter has no electronic communication and requires manual control of focus and exposure settings. Some adapters also do not record EXIF ​​data for the lens, which can be problematic in some cases.

If you’re trying to fit a full frame lens, like the 85mm f / 1.2L II, to a camera with a larger image sensor, like the GFX Medium Format, what happens to the quality of your image? It depends. Some adapters include internal optics that can enlarge the image circle of a lens to accommodate the image sensor area of ​​a different camera system. Other adapters don’t magnify or shrink the image area, and you may need to crop the final image for presentation to remove the smoothness of the corners or the vignette.

Some adapters are called “Speed ​​Booster” adapters. These shorten the focal length and give you a greater f-stop. As Sutton says, “Think of it as the opposite of a teleconverter adapter. A teleconverter will use a convex lens (or magnifying lens) to increase the focal length of a lens by 1.4x, 2x, or even 4x magnification. As a result, these lenses will collect less light when shooting and cause you to lose one or more light stops, depending on the magnification level. Speed ​​boosters reverse this idea – placing a concave lens between the sensor and the lens, giving you a shorter focal length (to better fill the sensor frame) and bringing more light to the lens – giving you extra shutdown light .’

Shot using the Fuji GFX 100s with a Canon 85mm f / 1.2L II lens and adapted using the Vizelex Cine ND Throttle Fusion Smart AF Adapter. Image credit: Zach Sutton

There are other specialty lens adapters on the market for a wide variety of lens mounts and camera systems. Lens adapters are used to greatly expand the lenses that you can use on any camera. Adapters can breathe new life into old lenses and can even fill in the gaps in a range of native lenses.

However, there are potential drawbacks to using lens adapters. There are tradeoffs to be made in fitting lenses. Head to Lensrentals to learn more about issues you may encounter when using lens adapters, and how to successfully integrate them into your photographic workflow.

(Going through Lensrentals)

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