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Using old manual focus lenses on EOS

Allan MacDonald , Sep 18, 2009; 07:07 p.m.

I have been taking pictures for the last four years and have always been using some of the lenses we normally use today; EF, EF-S and Sigma. All of the lenses I have used have had autofocus and as I use the Manual mode on my EOS 40D and 350D most of the time, I have decided that I want to go as 'manual' as I possibly can. I prefer setting the camera settings manually, as I like to feel that I, not the camera, have taken the picture when I look at one of my photos.
I would like to purchase one or two manual focus lenses that are compatible with my 40D and 350D but are still cheap. I have looked a lot on the internet to try to work out what lenses I should be looking at, but I just don't know where to start.
I'm sure that there will be someone on this forum who could help me out and point me in the right direction as to what lenses I should consider investing in. I don't plan to spend a lot of money. It's really experimenting I want to do with them. I also realise that I will have to buy an adapter to go from the lens mount to EOS mount, so could anyone suggest any good manufacturers for lens mount converters?
Allan, 16, Scotland.


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Alan Bryant , Sep 18, 2009; 07:31 p.m.

I have used some old Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses with Canon EOS. They work fine. The most annoying thing is the fact that the apertures are not automatic, so if you want to shoot at f/8 you set the lens at f/8 and the viewfinder gets very dark. You'll have to meter the scene with the lens stopped down. Which is why it's called "stop down metering". You can do it in full manual mode or aperture priority mode.

If you can live with that, there are lots of lenses available at steep discounts. I don't know of any well-known manufacturer of mount converters, but "no brand" converters are available on eBay and sometimes in stores, and are usually not very expensive.

Ralph Jensen , Sep 18, 2009; 09:48 p.m.

I like the M42 screwmount Pentax/Takumars (that's the same brand), with any cheap M42 > EOS adapter from eBay. Some real bargains in those lenses, and there are enough Pentax forums and blogs to let you decide before you spend your money which old lenses are well regarded and which are turkeys.

You might do some poking around in the "Alternative Gear and Lenses" forum at FM , which is peopled by many, many Canon users who like to use classic manual-focus lenses on their EOS bodies. The search function there might turn up things like best adapter, best old 50mm lens, etc.

Dennis Hussey , Sep 18, 2009; 10:13 p.m.

I do ALOT of manual focus lenses adapted to my Canon 10D and 20D bodies. You can adapt Nikon (both manual focus and auto focus lenses as long as it has the manual aperture), Pentax screw (also called M42), Pentax K, Olympus OM, Leica R (their SLR's), Hasselblad, Mamiya 645, Pentax 645, and Pentacon Six/6 (also Kiev 60 - same mount). You can get adapters with AF confirm chips on ebay (I use them). I have used a couple of ebay brands and they have been fine.
I do find that I usually compensate exposure -1 with the adapters. I love using the old lenses.
There is some great old glass out there and they can still be found for nice prices. Nikon, Pentax, Olympus Zuiko, Tamron (especially SP and older adaptall), Vivitar (look for serial numbers starting with 22 - Kiron, 28 - Komine, and 37 - Tokina), most German (some Meyer Optik are mediocre and some are very good), most Russian are quite good. There are also some very good lenses from Soligor (some are just OK). Also the medium format lenses are typically very good (Hasselblad, Mamiya 645, Pentax 645, Pentacon 60/Kiev 60).
I like the look of using a nice fast lens to have that shallow depth of field and dreamy look - while I would love Canon's own - they are expensive that I cannot afford. I have the following fast lenses - all of which I paid less than $100 each for (most closer to $50 or less):
Vivitar 28mm f2.0 by Kiron ($45), Nikkor-O 35mm f1.4 (yes - I got one for $45!), Olympus Zuiko 35mm f2.0 ($35), Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4 (I have a couple - both less than $30), Sears 55mm f1.4 (Tomioka made), 85mm f2.0 Jupiter-9 (Russian - $83), Vivitar 90mm f2.5 1:1 macro (Tokina AT-X lens - absolutely amazing mine is the 1:1 native not the 1:2 version that needs an adapter for 1:1 - $75), Nikkor-P 105mm f2.5 ($69), Vivitar 135mm f2.8 (Komine version - $15 - not especially fast, but very sharp even wide open), Vivitar 200mm f3.5, Tamron 200mm f3.5, and Pentax 300mm f4 ($89).
I will say I have been seeing the prices for like lenses going up as more people are doing this, I got in to it sooner and built my collection.
Other lenses I use - I have a couple of the Soligor 350mm f5.6 lenses (t-mount - there are a few versions some that focus fairly close and others not close at all). I love this for my telephoto work - it is very light (less than a pound), and is very good wide open, exceptional at f8 and f11 (pixel peep 8 megapixel at 100% - seriously sharp). I liked it so much, I found another for $25 and bought it as a backup. There is one of the close focus ones on ebay #230376132644 now for $41.85 shipped buy-it-now. A great lens for less than $42 shipped!

Stephanie Maks , Sep 18, 2009; 11:07 p.m.

I have some old Minolta MD and MC lenses that I've been using on my 450D and an EOS 3000 body. I have an e-bay adaptor and it does the job. Using either aperture priority or manual mode and 'sunny-16' both work well. I leave the aperture wide open for focusing then stop it down just before taking the picture.

Mark Pierlot , Sep 18, 2009; 11:11 p.m.

Allan, just to add to what the others have said, I have found older Zeiss M42 lenses to work very well on EOS bodies. The newer Zeiss C/Y mount lenses also work well, but you have to be more careful with them, since some of them have trouble clearing the mirror box of full frame bodies such as the 5D and 5D II.

A great irony is that many MF Nikon users have come over to Canon because they can use their lenses on EOS bodies; and it's doubly ironic that Canon FD users cannot do the same. Sadly, apart from macro use, FD lenses are incompatible with EOS bodies.

Roger Porter , Sep 18, 2009; 11:23 p.m.

I use an Olympus 55mm 1.2 on my 30d, and adore the results. It used to just be for weekend fun, but it has quickly become a standard lens at weddings, especially at indoor receptions. I would second the motion too and say spend a little more and get the adaptor with the focusing chip in it, it's good peace of mind in lower light that you've nailed the focus.

JDM von Weinberg , Sep 18, 2009; 11:26 p.m.

In addition to those already mentioned there are the M42 lenses from Zeiss Jena in East Germany. Still pretty cheap, but going up.The earlier ones were "pre-set" lenses anyhow so they are as easy to use on a Canon as they were on the original Contax S and all. Later M42 lenses often have a M="manual" and A="auto" (diaphragm of course NOT focus) switch. Later, fully automatic M42 lenses of any make will have a pin that needs to be pushed in to stop down the lens for shooting. Please do not mutilate these old timers by gluing down the pin-it may not work anyhow and it will ruin the lens. Instead, there are special M42>EOS adapters for just a few bucks more that have an additional flange on the adapter to depress the pin.
Some of the best lenses ever for a nice Canon camera are the Nikon manual lenses. The more recent versions in AI and AI-s usually are snapped up by Nikonites, but the older non-AI or pre-AI are a little more difficult to adapt to modern Nikon digital cameras and even the later film cameras, so are sometimes considerable bargains. For example, I got a Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8 mirror lens for under US$200 and a Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 for about a $100. The latter one is widely thought to be one of the best Nikkors ever made.

Of course, you will need to focus with the lens wide open for critical sharpness, and then stop down the lens manually to the shooting aperture. Before automatic lenses (aperture) were invented, that's what everyone had to do all the time anyhow. If this sounds like a pain, you've just discovered that you don't really want to shoot with old manual lenses anyhow.

Dennis Hussey , Sep 18, 2009; 11:26 p.m.

"A great irony is that many MF Nikon users have come over to Canon because they can use their lenses on EOS bodies; and it's doubly ironic that Canon FD users cannot do the same. Sadly, apart from macro use, FD lenses are incompatible with EOS bodies"
I agree - it is funny because ALL of the Canon EOS bodies work better with the Nikon manual lenses than most Nikon bodies (only D200 or greater will meter them stopped down). You can even get focus confirmation with adapters. Even the Nikon autofocus lenses work as long as they have the aperture ring.
Most of the lower end Nikon bodies won't even autofocus with the older Nikon AF lenses because they don't have the focus motors in the lenses. Oh, yeah - Nikon advertises their lenses ("Nikkor lens makes it a Nikon), but don't buy a D40, D60, D40x, D3000 or D5000 because most of the previous lenses won't autofocus. Granted those lenses won't autofocus on the Canon EOS either, but I find this a poor decision on Nikon's part.

Kasper Hettinga , Sep 19, 2009; 02:13 a.m.

I bought an Olympus OM-2n with 3 Zuiko lenses (28/2.8 50/1.4 and 135/3.5). I actually use these lenses most often on the OM-2n body with B/W film, but with a cheap adapter these lenses give great results on my EOS 20D as well.
But for shooting all manual, I like my OM-2n more than my 20D: the body and lenses are designed for manual operation, making it easier (especially focussing is much easier, but also the automatic aperture operation - I still find stop-down light measurement on the 20D somewhat awkward)

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