Monday, December 14, 2009

Cross-Platform... Adapting to old lenses...

In the digital age, one cannot resist the ability to do more with their camera. I know I can't.

Having said that, there are many individuals out there that have taken to adapting or using adapters for their own lenses. In some rare cases, the camera's have been adapted to take older lenses. The advantage of adapting is that you are able to re-purpose your old film lenses. The disadvantage is, not all lenses are adaptable - but there's two sides to that unfortunate coin.

One is that, the register distance is quite different. The other is, the image circle is different.

Now, there are some cases, where a smaller lens can be adapted to a larger mount, but the results aren't always inspiring. This is the rarer of the two cases unfortunately. The more common problem in cross-platforming is the register issue.

Now, many mechanical adapters are out there, ready to allow you to mount Lens A to Camera B. For the most part, the more successful cross-platform matings belong to Canon, Nikon, Leica, Olympus and Pentax. I don't really know much about the other brands, but from what I understand, Nikon's and Olympus's are generally the other favourites. Leica cameras are often hideously expensive, so anyone wanting to adapt something to that kind of camera, most likely has the money to do so. :P

As for Canon... Canon has a register distance of 44mm, which is pretty short by modern standards, however, it is still longer than older standards. This means that, if you want to mount an older lens on a Canon, you're going to lose infinity focus. Alternatively, if you use a lens that's native to a longer register, you end up winning in infinity focus, but probably lose in minimum focus. No one really talks about that, so I'm only speculating on that. (stands to reason, right?)

Additionally to the shorter register, is the fact/possibility that older lenses will extend into the body, thus introducing the possibility of damaging your mirror.
There are examples of adapters for those kinds of lenses that maintain infinity focus and prevent mirror damage, but there is a cost... Image Quality. These kinds of adapters introduce (diopter) glass that acts as a weak teleconverter. In quite a few cases, I've read that 2/3rds of a stop are lost - sometimes more. No matter how good that lens is, losing that much is generally considered not worth the investment. Plus, the quality of said glass may be poor, so it ends up being money flushed down the toilet.

Bob Atkins created a nice little table with the different types of lenses out there that can and cannot be adapted to EOS mount. However, I felt that it fell short given the wide range of available lenses out there. (please note: i didn't say a wide range of awesome lenses)

CANON EOS 44.0mm CAMERA WE'RE MOUNTING THESE LENSES TO
BODY REGISTER NOTE
BODY REGISTER NOTE
CONTAREX 46.0mm ADAPTABLE
CANON SCREW (M39) 28.8mm NAWM
LEICA R 47.0mm ADAPTABLE
CANON FD 42.0mm NAWM
NIKON 46.5mm ADAPTABLE
FUJICA X 43.5mm NAWM
OLYMPUS OM 45.5mm ADAPTABLE
KONICA F 40.5mm NAWM
PENTAX K 45.5mm ADAPTABLE
MINOLTA MD 43.5mm NAWM
PENTAX M42 45.5mm ADAPTABLE
MINOLTA SR 43.5mm NAWM
YASHICA YUS/DSB 45.5mm ADAPTABLE
MIRANDA 41.5mm NAWM
CONTAX/YASHICA 45.5mm ADAPTABLE
KONICA HEXAR 28.0mm UNKNOWN
CONTAX RTS 45.5mm ADAPTABLE
LEICA SCREW (M39) 28.8mm NAWM
PRAKTICA / HANIMEX 44.4mm ADAPTABLE
OLYMPUS PEN F 28.95mm NAWM
K-mount 45.46mm ADAPTABLE
HASSELBLAD XPAN 34.3mm UNKNOWN
M42 Screw 45.46mm ADAPTABLE
CONTAX RF 34.85mm UNKNOWN
Olympus OM 46.0mm ADAPTABLE
NIKON RF 34.85mm UNKNOWN
Arriflex 52.0mm ADAPTABLE
CANON R/FL/FD 42.0mm UNKNOWN
Mamiya 645 63.3mm ADAPTABLE
PAXETTE 44.0mm UNKNOWN
Pentax 645 70.8mm ADAPTABLE
SONY ALPHA 44.6mm PA
Kiev 60/Kiev Six 74.1mm ADAPTABLE
Nikon F 46.5mm ADAPTABLE
Hasselblad/Kiev88 82.1mm ADAPTABLE
Contax N 48.0mm UNKNOWN
T2 MOUNT 55.0mm ADAPTABLE
Mamiya RZ 105mm UNKNOWN
RICOH BAYONET 45.5mm ADAPTABLE
Mamiya RB 112mm UNKNOWN
PETRI BAYONET 45.5mm ADAPTABLE










Legend: NAWM NEEDS ADAPTER WITH MULTIPLIER

PA POSSIBLY ADAPTABLE


Please note: the availability of adapters isn't exactly solid across the range. Some may need hunting.

If you're a lucky soul that has an older lens that has amazing optics, but is one of those listed as not having the ability to be adapted, don't despair. There are talented individuals out there that can modify the mount of your lens so you can continue using the lens on your dSLR. The more commonly modified/updated lenses tend to be Canon FD's, because there were many amazing lenses made back in the day.

Now... the Cavaet!

Some lenses, while they can be used with an adapter, they cannot be used on Full Frame cameras. They can only be used on crop cameras (EF-S mount [rebel series and xxD]). Always check to make sure that the lens in question is compatible in this way.

2 comments:

storpotaten said...

Thanks for the most extensive table of potential lens compatibility I've seen posted so far! It is worth keeping in mind a few things when playing with "alt glass" like this:

Lenses with a longer registration distance may still not work 100% with an adapter; e.g. quite a few lenses have the rear elements bang into the mirrors of a 5D/5DII.

Some lenses like many Pentax K-mounts require minor modification (in this case, removal or cutting of the aperture lever) to be safe to use on a Canon body.

Some lenses with a too-short registration distance like the Rokkors (Minolta mount) can be adapted to Canon using various degrees of surgery on the rear mount.

It's an incredible amount of fun playing with these old lenses (the Olympus OM mount Zuikos are by far my favorites!), and when you find that occasional real gem it's worth all the hassle that can be associated with it.

Tesseract said...

crap! i knew i forgot something in that write-up.

Thanks Storpotaten. I'll have to edit the above info to reflect that.

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