Lens Adapters

Finally back here. I’ve had the mother of all colds, together with a lot of stress with the impending arrival of our baby girl (probably already with us when you read this post!).

Lens Adapter Nikon F-Mount Lens to Canon EF mount camera.

Lens Adapter Nikon F-Mount Lens to Canon EF mount camera.

A bit of background story. My parent had a Nikon F-501 in their shelves, since the metering was not working properly and film … is kind of last century stuff. They moved to digital compact cameras a while ago. As my mom says “fits her purse and her photographic needs at the moment”.

In this set my parents had a 50mm f/1.8, the classic that cameras use to come with back in the 80′s, a regular 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 and a sweet 70-210mm f/4.

Problem is, I shoot Canon … I thought about getting a D90, or even a D7000, to use the lenses, but there was no sense in having two systems at home.

One day, talking to my friend and fellow Brazilian working at ESO, Raquel Shida, she mentioned an adapter that she uses for a very dear Nikon lens she has. Simplest piece of gear. A Nikon camera F-Mount on one side and a Canon lens EF mount on the other side. I borrowed the adapter this weekend to test it and the result was very nice. That’s how contradictory a Canon camera looks with a Nikon lens :-)

Canon 60D with Nikon lens (Nikkor 50mm f/1.8)

Canon 60D with Nikon lens (Nikkor 50mm f/1.8)

The market offers a great variety of options. From 6 to 160 Euros, clamming all the advantages in the world. From high quality to very simple, but mostly coming from China or Hong Kong.

The one I borrowed is failsafe. Just a mechanical part, no electronics. So it works flawlessly. The draw backs are: the expected lack of auto-focus (didn’t find one that offers that, and have already wondered if there’s market for that, since it won’t be cheap); the lack of auto-focus assist (the camera doesn’t know it has a lens, so it doesn’t help you with the focus) and the lack of EXIF information after the shots (which for someone that likes metadata as I do …).

Found on-line options that have some electronics in it and can tell the camera it has a lens, so the auto-focus assist would work and another one that the electronics allows you to set a value for the aperture in camera (it has no actual effect in the lens) to mimic the value in the lens, so the EXIF is contains the information. Of course the more complex you get, the larger the chance for something to go wrong.

To test the adapter I took the chance to shoot some little baby clothing for my daughter having the nice Bokeh of a f/1.8 (ok, it’s not a f/1.2, but one can only do what one can). Again the funny experience of shooting with a 50mm f/1.8, what doesn’t happen all that often.

I liked the results, for example that shot here.

Baby clothing shot with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, @1.8 with a Canon 60D and a lens adapter.

Baby clothing shot with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, @1.8 with a Canon 60D and a lens adapter.

Still thinking about the whole thing.

First the usability of the lenses. No auto-focus, so the 50mm won’t work well with kids running and the 70-210 also not (I’m not that good focusing manually).

Getting the adapter. Which one? The simplest and fail-proof, or the fancy one?

The lenses need some internal cleaning, which can likely cost more than they’re worth. I’ll get a quotation anyway. Though dirty they are not bad to use, could probably be better, but not a killing issue.

But at the end of the day, I have the lenses with me and there’s no harm putting them to use when the best cost-benefit adapter costs 15 Euros.

On the EXIF for the aperture and lens I’ve bumped into a great Lightroom plugin, LensTagger, that provides a nice interface for exiftool (software that writes into the raw files EXIF). To my surprise the plugin was written by a colleague that also works at ESO, Dirk Essl. Check his portfolio, specially the Infrared part! Really cool!

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About Cris Da Rocha

Astrophysicist, DB manager, cyclist, musician and, why not, "photographer to be". Back to enjoy photography after many years ... it's cool. Might share something nice and get something new.
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2 Responses to Lens Adapters

  1. Antonio says:

    Great post (as usual).
    I know what you mean about manual focusing modern DSLRs. Apart from macro photography, manual focusing a crop sensor DSLR is a royal pain in the butt (dunno how better doing it on a full frame would be a lot easier). That Magic Lantern firmware thingie offers focus peaking, but you’d have to use live view (then some – like me… – would complain about buying a DSLR to shoot like a compact camera…). It seemed so easy on the old pentax some 15 years ago.
    Again, nice post, and congrats for your Nikkor lenses. By the way, have you considered a switch to Nikon?
    Cheers

    • Thanks Nene!

      Man, focusing the 60D in live view is a nightmare. I’ve been thinking about Magic Lantern, specially for the 5 shots bracketing, but still reluctant due to the change of bricking! Don’t want to have a 60D shaped paper weight :-)

      I had in this shooting several situations which my impression was tack sharp, but the outcome was terribly blurred, that’s why I’m considering the option that allows me focus assist.

      One day I’ll build an adapter with electronics and a motor drive inside to allow all the information to be parsed back and forth and the Nikon lenses to be autofocused on a Canon (yes, those lenses I have are for cameras that have the motor drive inside D7000 to D4s). Just have to win the lottery, or start a kickstart for that hehehehehe

      About switching to Nikon? When I got back to photography I tested the 60D and the D7000. I knew very little (what less than the little I know today), so the choice was on feeling. And the camera feeling was better with the 60D. I know, the D7000 has more autofocus points and other features … IF I knew I would be able to use those lenses my decision would have been the D7000.

      Today I already have some “modern” Canon gear, I like the Canon feeling (like exposure compensation and zooming in a intuitive direction), but what holds me to Canon is the bracketing!! And I use that A LOT!!

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