A Complete Guide to Using Lens Mount Adapters

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Ever wondered how you can use a lens of a different make to your camera brand? Read on to find out how to make the most of all the photography kits available with an easy to use accessory that’s a staple in every camera bag.

A lens adapter helps bridge the divide between mismatched brands and mount types of lenses and camera bodies. So if you want to use a Canon lens with a Sony camera, a lens adapter can make that happen. Lens adapters could be your ticket to an entirely new world of vintage and modern glass. There’s so many options and so much potential for new and exciting ways to shoot. 

What is a lens adapter?

A lens adapter allows you to connect lenses with a different lens mount to your camera. It means you can connect Nikon lenses to a Canon camera body or even vintage lenses to your camera body.

Why use a lens adapter?

Why would you want to use a vintage lens on a digital camera? Because great quality vintage lenses are so much cheaper than their modern counterparts. 

While a professional lens for a digital camera can cost thousands of dollars, you can pick up high quality vintage lenses for hundreds of dollars, or less if you know where to look. And with the right lens adapter, you can shoot with great quality lenses without the expense.

Urth ambassador Carla Step used a lens adapter to turn one of her father’s vintage lenses into a macro photography powerhouse. See the photos here. 

This all  begs the question, why not use a lens adapter? One thing to keep in mind is flange focal distance, which for an interchangeable lens camera is the distance from the mounting flange (the interlocking metal rings on the camera and the rear of the lens) to the film or image sensor plane. The range of this distance, which will render an image clearly in focus within all focal lengths, is usually measured to a precision of hundredths of millimetres and shouldn’t be confused with depth of field.

Macro photo shot with a vintage lens and a lens adapter.Shot with a Sony A7III camera, a vintage 55m Pentax lens and an Urth M42 extendable lens adapter.
Macro photo shot with a vintage lens and a lens adapter.Shot with a Sony A7III camera, a vintage 55m Pentax lens and an Urth M42 extendable lens adapter.
Macro photo shot with a vintage lens and a lens adapter.Shot with a Sony A7III camera, a vintage 55m Pentax lens and an Urth M42 extendable lens adapter.

Where should I use a lens adapter?

You can use a lens adapter wherever you usually shoot; they open up more creative possibilities. If you have a photography adventure planned, you can take your digital or mirrorless camera (and an analogue one too if you have one!) and, with the correct lens adapter, mix and match your lenses. With so many different combinations, it makes you reconsider your perspective and framing, and can open up creative opportunities.

The Canon EF lens range is typically easy to find in second-hand shops and online marketplaces, which makes for some great choices for use with adapters. EF S lenses can easily be adapted for use with a variety of bodies, and even though many features such as auto focus don’t carry over by using an adapter, you’ll still get the full benefit of using sharp, expensive glass that might be inaccessible to your camera otherwise.

Who should use a lens adapter?

Photographers on a budget or those looking for inexpensive ways to level up their images and experiment with their style could benefit from trying out a lens adapter, especially if you’ve already got some various camera brands or even vintage lenses in your kit. 

You can browse our lens adapter collection by camera body and explore which vintage lenses might suit your style best. Canon EOS lenses are particularly popular, with many photographers opting to use adapters so that they can affix a Canon L-series lens to Sony E Mount camera bodies.

If you’re interested in shooting with better glass, you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on a new lens when a lens adapter might be a more accessible but equally rewarding alternative.

Here’s a handy guide to the best vintage lenses you can use on a digital camera using an adapter for that lush, nostalgic film aesthetic.

How do I use a lens adapter?

To use a lens adapter, simply treat it like you’re mounting a lens to your camera. Start by removing your lens and storing it safely. Install the lens adapter to your camera, and then mount your lens to the adapter.

It doesn’t really matter if you’re using a zoom lens or a prime lens, a telephoto lens or a wide angle lens – as long as you’ve got the right adapter for the mount types you’re trying to connect, you should be fine. Some photographers worry about aperture control when working with adapters, this guide to changing apertures with a lens adapter should provide all the helpful details on their functionality.

If you’re keen to go in-depth and learn the ins and outs of using a lens adapter, this easy to digest complete guide on how to use a lens adapter is a must-read. 

Do lens adapters affect image quality?

Mount adapters have no glass and generally do not affect the optical performance of a lens unless it is faulty or poorly made. Speed boosters do add extra glass, which can affect image quality.

Many photographers new to using lens adapters worry about focusing so it’s worth checking out this ​​guide to lens adapters and focusing to infinity to discover more.

Do lens adapters affect focal length?

No, the true focal length of your lens won’t change when using an adapter.

However, if you’re using a full frame sensor lens with an ASP-C or cropped sensor camera, this can change the equivalent or perceived focal length. The camera will apply a crop factor in the lens field of view, which will make the image appear more zoomed in than it did through your viewfinder.

Here is an analogy to help you think of this in a different way: Imagine you have a projector and it’s set up to create an 8×10 metre image – this is your full frame lens. But you only have a projector screen that is 6x8m – this is your APS-C sensor. The screen you have to capture the image is smaller than the image itself, so you can only capture a smaller part of it – your image will be cropped.

Which lens adapter should I get?

This is largely down to the mount type of your camera and the mount type of the lens you want to use – finding a match between the two will lead you to the mount adapter you need. 

Many people just look for generics with a search for something like ‘Canon Lens Adapter’ but there are a lot of options and compatibility issues you should consider before you make a purchase. Our complete guide to finding out which lens adapter you need is a great read if you’re ready to try one out. 

Did you know Urth plants 5 trees for every product purchased? Shop our range of lens adapters and camera filters here.

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2021-10-26T03:08:36+00:00Categories: Gear|Tags: , |