Mirrorless and legacy manual focus lenses

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by miha, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. Hi,
    After long years shooting different DSLRs and LF cameras, I have acquired many old legacy lenses. They are hard to adapt to my current DSLR so I am thinking about buying a used mirrorless camera. At first I was considering the Sony alpha 7 (full frame, no crop factor) but these cameras are quite rare on the used market and quite expensive too.
    I was also considering some MFT cameras, but the crop factor (2x) makes all my old lenses effectively tele-lenses.
    Now I found a used Fuji X-Pro 1 for a reasonable price. My question is, can a Fuji X-Pro 1 ‘APS-C rangefinder’ camera be suitable for the use with manual focus lenses? How easy/hard is getting the corect focus using the EVF? At least I could focus using the LCD screen although I do not like ‘chimping’. What are your experiences?
    Thanks for your inputs and suggestions.
    Regards, Miha.
  2. SCL


    I can't speak to the Xpro-1, but can speak to MFT cameras in general with legacy lenses. EVF focusing at first (especially if coming from RF cameras) can be a little slow and disconcerting...but most have a magnifying option which really allows the nailing of focus. While my DSLR has a similar function for the screen on the rear, it would be nice to have it available in the viewfinder as well. As you discerned, using legacy lenses on MFT bodies does have the effect of them becoming longer. At first I saw this as a disadvantage, but after working for a couple of years with this arrangement, I've found that one just has to be selective in use, or buy an ultra-wide for more wide shots. I've found the MFT/legacy lenses setup really nice for a lot of work, especially close-up & macro work, and for portraits. IMHO it does take a little practice to feel comfortable with this arrangement, but like everything else, practice, practice makes better.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    It is not an answer to your question, but I bought a used Ricoh GXR with A 12 module for Leica, and a Nikon adapter to fit that in order to be able to use all my old Leica and Nikon lenses. Results have been excellent. The camera and Leica module can be found easily and inexpensively the EVF is harder to find and comparatively expensive, but works quite well for focusing -- will even let you compose IR with heavy filtration. Numerous samples are posted in my gallery (breaking in a used GXR and others). Just another possibility. Good luck with it!
  4. The only digitals I really enjoyed focusing manually so far are my Leica Ms. In ordinary DSLRs the screen was optimized for anything else but focusing and the Fuji X-E1 I have annoys with visibly low EVF refresh rates indoors.
    Being the first of that tech generation the X-Pro1 is unlikely to be better. The magnification for focusing seems to be pixel level, like barely more of the bulls eye, when you are framing a dart board. - This increases the optical lever of your lens drastically and from 100mm onward you'll see what you are focusing on popping up at random corners of your EVF screen (or already outside of it)
    I'd also appreciate if the focus peaking was bolder in the EVF, it seems OK on the rear screen.
    I think the first generation Fujis aren't ideal for handheld use of all kinds of legacy lenses although their higher ISO performance would be nice to employ.
    With the X-Pros' OVF you 'll be able to avoid the framing issues due to EVF lag. But I think its a better idea to buy the seller a beer or two in a pub while you are trying out if that camera works for you than to mailorder it blindfolded.
    Also keep in mind that it can be rather hard to stop down legacy lenses manually and keep a subject framed while your EVF darkens because you set the camera to sync speed.
    I have no clue if it is an option to switch from EVF for focusing wide open to OVF for shooting stopped down or if the camera feels too slow or you 'll start dreaming of a 3rd hand.
  5. I have successfully used wide-angle legacy lenses on a Fuji X-E1. The Nikkor 24 mm for instance. I stop down to 8 or 11 and set the hyper-focal distance and leave it that way. I found focusing too troublesome except when using a tripod and the back screen.
  6. EVF cameras have two main features which enhance the use of manual lenses - focus peaking, and focus magnification. The former is good for general purposes, as it highlights edge contrast in a bold color, usually white, yellow or red. The latter is better for precise focus. A Sony A7Rii, for example, offers a 5x/12x view. However you momentarily lose sight of the overall composition.
    The Fuji X-Pro2 has an hybrid optical/digital viewfinder with optical rangefinder focusing. It's easy to switch between optical and EVF, but I don't know specifically what the X-Pro2 offers. Please consult the manufacturer's literature or reviews for details.
  7. @ Edward: indeed easy to switch between VF modes, just a lever with 3 settings, but I forgot how (in?)convenient it might be placed and I believe it was slower (reactions wise) than bringing up another frame line in an M. And one still needs one hand on the shutter and move the other from focusing to aperture ring and should count clicks precisely or watch meter readings while one twists it... the "digital RF patch"might need getting used to it too.
    Maybe starting a "Heritage lens with Fuji hybrid finder?" thread / search will be helpful.
    Another issue: you have to manually set heritage lens' focal length in the Fuji menu (to bring proper OVF frame lines up). - It feels hidden even deeper than in M9's.
  8. In experience with my EOS-M correct focus with the screen is a pain in the butt. Even with magic lantern installed and focus peaking enabled it's usually best to just zoom in when focusing and out to recompose. It's probably worse with an EVF (given the low resolution), but the EVF should shut out light and distractions making composition much easier.
  9. Jochen,
    You bring up very good points about using legacy or third-party lenses on mirrorless cameras. I believe the Fuji EVF mode shows the entire field of view for any lens. You could leave it in that mode rather than switching to optical frame lines.
    Fuji has some very attractive features, but I went with the Sony A7ii, which has a full-time EVF with no noticeable lag (< 15 msec). You must manually enter the focal length to take full advantage of image stabilization, and count clicks of the aperture ring. Focus magnification must be manually activated, but turns off when you press the shutter release half-way (or after a pre-selected time delay). I programmed buttons to make those tasks easy.
    The EVF maintains a constant brightness level, automatically adjusted by ambient light. That feature can be turned off to reflect actual lens and exposure settings. It's not hard to focus in full frame mode. The image sort of shimmers when the focus is correct for a particular object, due to aliasing. In some respects, it's like the "pop" you get in a Leica rangefinder when the images line up.
    You enter the focal length in an M9 for certain image corrections and accurate display of the f/stop. Frame lines are mechanical, from the mount or using the side lever.
  10. There are updates for the Fuji:
    I don't entirely follow your argument about focal length effects of crop factors. Your lenses will still have a x1.5 factor on the Fuji.
    I find the x2 factor of m4/3 a real bonus, especially for macro.
    The only way to get the correct FL performance from your legacy wideangle* lenses is to invest in a full frame body. I have recently purchased a Sony A7R for just this. There are some shutter shake issues with telephotos (except with flash) and you may be better of with a body with IS.
    All of the above is in the context that I use, almost exclusively, legacy lenses, some of which require the short registry distance of the m4/3.
    * I have recently invested in a Pentax 15mm and a Laowa 15mm macro, mainly for use on the A7R. My 24mm and 17mm lenses also work well on it.

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