Legacy lenses and mirrorless camera systems

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by david_mcewan, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. I would appreciate the advice of contributors to this forum.

    In the 1990s I switched to the Canon EOS system and then to Canon dslrs in the early 2000s. Sitting rather forlornly in my camera bags now are some excellent FD Canon lenses and, in particular, a mint Canon LTM 50 mm f1.4 from the last of the Canon rangefinder series.

    What I would like to do is to buy a mirrorless camera body and then use suitable adaptors to make use of these lenses. I would be using the camera strictly for leisure photography.

    My questions are as follows:

    Is there a best mirrorless system for legacy lenses? Is there a best brand of lens adaptors for legacy lenses? I do not want to buy a camera only to find that there is no adaptor able to deliver satisfactory results.
    brett_w. likes this.
  2. SCL


    IMHO there is no best, as technology moves forward at an incredible pace. Thankfully there are lots of adapters for various systems. The Sony top of the line mirrorless bodies seem to have shown very strong capabilities as well as acceptance in the professional and semi-pro category, but Olympus & Panasonic have both produced quite versatile and capable bodies and lenses in the micro 4/3 system. It really is courses for horses as well as what your pocketbook can stand. I've been using the Olympus MFT sytem for a couple of years now and have had no problem finding inexpensive but well made adapters for the following legacy lenses: Leica M, R and screwmount (LTM) , Olympus OM, Canon FD, Nikon, Contax/Zeiss/Yashica, Pentax screwmount, and Minolta.
  3. Since most legacy lenses are designed to cover a full frame (24x36), a full frame mirrorless camera lets you take advantage of that coverage. I bought adapters for Nikon and Leica M lenses for my first Sony (A7ii), and used my existing lenses for the better part of a year. I gradually replaced them with dedicated lenses for compatibility and image quality.

    Nikon lenses 50 mm and shorter work better than Leica lenses. The thick cover glass on most digital cameras causes the edges to be blurred in a circular fashion, deemed "smearing." The extra back space to clear the mirror results in a shallower angle, hence less smearing. The downside is that most legacy lenses were also designed for film or 12 MP digital sensors, and aren't quite up to higher resolution. Most do not perform well when wide open. Native lenses (and Leica lenses) are designed to work very well wide open, and tend to be diffraction-limited beyond f/8.
  4. I suppose it depends on the camera system. With the Canon M mirrorless all you need is a $19 adapter to use Canon EF and EFS lens. Other DSLR lens, Nikon, Sony, etc you would need another type of adapter.
  5. You actually have two very good choices.

    1. A Sony A7 or A9 series body. The best adapters are probably by Novoflex, although they are expensive. Metabones and Fotodiox are very good, too, and they are not very expensive.

    2. An APS-C body by either Sony or Fuji. You can either use your lenses as-is, which would mean that your angle of view is effectively reduced (this is how I use adapted lenses). Or you can use a focal length reducer like the Speedbooster so that your lenses retain the angle of view that you would expect them to have on their native cameras. The Speedbooster only works with SLR lenses, and not rangefinder lenses.
  6. Ditto the previous votes for the A7 or A9, but if you want to spend a little less, a Sony a6000 with a crop sensor would be a lot of fun.

    IMO, there is nothing quite like the combination of legacy glass in front of a state-of-the-art sensor. You won't be disappointed. Here's something I took on my a6000 with a Yashica ML 50mm 1.9 lens on the front.


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