Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

Started Jan 19, 2012 | Discussions
MT Senior Member • Posts: 1,934
Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

Will be getting a NEX 5n or 7 once stock becomes plentiful again.

I am aware that many are using manual lenses with an adapter for NEX. However, I have searched online for a primer without success. I sure would like to have an overview of:

a. What type of manual lenses would work with the NEX. (i.e old Canon, Nikon etc?)
b. What type of adapters does one need for each type of manual lens.

c. Are there some that work better with the NEX and require a minimally sized adapter to keep things small?
d. Anything else I need to know related to this question?

Thanks,
MTMT

Bill282 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

Your best primer will be provided by reading this forum and the numerous posts by others who have tried assorted MF lenses and adaptors and have been good enough to share their images and information freely with anyone who cares to read it.

I've been bookmarking posts regarding legacy lenses I may be interested in using with my 5N; they have become my primer.

tesilab
tesilab Senior Member • Posts: 2,741
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

This is not a manual, but a useful checklist of the some kind of things you will want answers for:

1 Know what camera modes work with manual lenses

e.g. shutter priority with auto iso (especially with longer lenses) since aperture priority set too slow shutter speeds.

2 What features are impaired
e.g. In camera panoramas are restricted to 1/500 sec shutter speed apparently

3 Optimizing the rendering settings for best peaking results

e.g. shooting raw, while fiddling with sharpness parameter for preview (in addition to peaking specific settings)

4 Consider focus distance scales to aid in zone focusing

5 Rangefinder lenses tend to be more compact and have shorter adapters (But compact wide angles will do much better on 5N than on the 5)

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SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,497
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

MT wrote:

a. What type of manual lenses would work with the NEX. (i.e old Canon, Nikon etc?)

For wide angle lenses you're generally safer with SLR lenses than with rangefinder lenses. That said, I use a rangefinder Contax G 35 on my Nex-7 and am happy with the results.

Regardless, you're better off with lenses that allow manual aperture control, and, for the most part, purely manual focus lenses will feel better being manually focused than autofocus lenses will.

There are plenty of good, relatively inexpensive, options among MF SLR lenses. Konica, Canon FD and new FD, Nikon manual focus lenses, Minolta Rokkors, Olympus OM lenses, Pentax manual focus lenses... all of these will work well on NEX.

If you're just getting started with manual lenses, though, you should probably start with wide angle to mild telephoto. Longer telephoto lenses can be tricky to get good results with. I think manually focusing a 200mm lens on a NEX is easier than it is on a film SLR, but it's still tricky. Something like a Canon nFD 28/2.8, which can be had in good condition for $40 or less, would be a good starter lens.

b. What type of adapters does one need for each type of manual lens.

You don't have to have an adapter for each lens, but you'll probably want a dedicated adapter for each lens you use often. The exception to this, I suppose, would be if you always use a particular brand of legacy lens... if you were always shooting Olympus OM lenses, then you could just leave the OM adapter on the NEX full time, and switch lenses to it. I have 3 Canon FD adapters, because I shoot mostly FD lenses, but I also have a Contax G, Leica LTM, Nikon G, and Konica adapters. I bought a bunch of extra E-mount end caps so I could treat the lenses-with-adapters like E-mount lenses.

c. Are there some that work better with the NEX and require a minimally sized adapter to keep things small?

Rangefinder lenses and adapters are small, and good, but generally pricey. Wider angle rangefinder lenses may have issues on a NEX with corner smearing and color shifting. If you're looking at a 35mm or longer, though, it should be OK. Something like a Voigtlander 40mm, with the rather thin Leica M adapter, would be pretty compact and quite effective. Still a lot more expensive than most of the legacy SLR glass, though. Among the SLR's, Konica's 40mm F1.8 is a very compact lens with one of the shorter SLR adapters.

d. Anything else I need to know related to this question?

Legacy glass can be addictive.

Thanks,
MTMT

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twald Contributing Member • Posts: 502
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

The manual lenses that you can use on a NEX camera are pretty much limited by your budget.

One exception is the wide rangefinder lenses that are of a Biogon design and other lenses with a similarly close back focus distance. The NEX-5n and the NEX-C3 work favorably with these but the rest of the NEX series, including the NEX-7, have some corner issues due to the high beam inclination angle in the corners.

As a rule, SLR lenses are larger and require a longer adapter than rangefinder lenses. Also, rangefinder lenses are generally sharper. These features make the rangefinder lenses more attractive on the NEX. The tradeoff is that they are more expensive.

The manual focus SLR lenses can be had for very cheap. For example, the Rokkor 50mm 1.7 and the Canon 50mm 1.8 FD go on ebay for under $30 and their optical performance is similar to the Sony 50mm 1.8 e-mount (to my eyes). Of course, they are not autofocus and have no OIS ...

Autofocus lenses are another matter. Many will simply not work because they are all electric and their electronics are not compatible with the NEX. This includes all other mirrorless cameras, such as the micro 4/3, Nicon 1 system, etc..

You can use all Sony A mount autofocus lenses with the Sony adapters.

As of yesterday, you can use Canon ef mount lenses with the new Metabones EF-Nex adapter. This adapter solves the problem posed by the electronic aperture.

I don't know anything about Nicon autofocus SLR lenses.

As for what you want, you will need to determine that yourself. If you are new to photography, I would suggest that you begin with the kit lens and find out what it can do.Then, as others have suggested, read up on alternatives to find out what kind of look you prefer.

I think that the NEX is a unique and interesting camera in that it is a platform on which you can successfully use a myriad of lenses. This capability makes it easy, when comparing different camera systems, to determine exactly which characteristics can be attributed to the lens.

tesilab
tesilab Senior Member • Posts: 2,741
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

While true that the rangefinder lenses ten to be more expensive, there are some real bargains with their own tradeoffs:

Contax G lenses range the the low hundreds for most of them. I paid least for one of the best lenses, the 90mm Sonnar for 162 bucks. Others cost more like 400 hundred. Biogons more expensive, and still very worthwhile, especially on the 5N (less so on the 7).

The drawback of these lenses revolve around focus (maybe also flare):they are autofocus lenses, with adapter-supplied focus rings to compensate. No focus range scale. Not ideal focus feel. Focus way beyond infinity which is an issue shooting stars in the dark.

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smallrewards Regular Member • Posts: 174
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

I just got three Canon FD lenses today with Fotasy rainbowimaging adaptor. So far, FANTASTIC. I mean, I understood the math already, but knowing the math and watching my shots go from 1/40 iso 1600 to 1/125 iso 200 is pretty spectacular, and the images look better, less distortion, and personally I love being able to use S mode, control aperature and shutter, but let the ISO run in auto. Just very pleasing...

OP MT Senior Member • Posts: 1,934
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

Wow, THANKS for all the responses. Not sure how I missed my own thread but just read these. THANKS!

I started photography with the Canon Ftb with 50mm f1.4. So I'm familiar with manual. Since digital, I've not used manual but do remember that 50mm f1.4 gave me a great 'look' that i've not been able to reproduce with my other dSlrs or digicam due to slow lenses.

If I may, I value compact size and am looking for a 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and probably at 80-100mm. I'll be looking for non-AF manual lenses but probably not rangefinder lenses due to the significantly higher cost apparently. (Based on the replies here.)

Are all the adapters for manual lenses about the same size or is there one that's particularly small and compact? I may leave the 24mm on full time for a 35mm full frame equivalent.

Thanks again everyone. Much appreciated.
MTMT

JohnK Veteran Member • Posts: 6,912
Adapter heights

Hi MT, below is a link to a table of flange distances for different camera mounts; from that you can compute the height of a given adapter on a NEX, by subtracting the NEX's 18mm flange distance. For example, a Konica AR lens has a flange distance of 40.7mm. Subtracting 18mm results in an adapter height of 22.7mm, on a NEX.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flange_focal_distance
I posted some samples from a Konica 50/1.4 on a NEX-5 here:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1042&message=40451424
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SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,497
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

All adapters for a particular mount type are the same size. There's no magic to it: it's the difference between the 18mm registration of the E-mount and whatever the registration distance is of the mount being adapted. For instance, Leica and Contax have registrations pretty close to 29mm, so NEX to Leica and NEX to Contax adapters are all about 11mm thick.

http://www.graphics.cornell.edu/~westin/misc/mounts-by-register.html

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amuro Regular Member • Posts: 306
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

I tried several MF lenses but at the end got SAL35F18 with LA-EA2 and SEL50F18.

MF lenses are fun but for what we tend to use our camera AF is the necessity rather than optional.

Also AF is far more SO friendly. Sure when we go out on weekend I tend to mount 28mm MF lens and take 35F18 in the bag.

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porrsha Contributing Member • Posts: 694
Re: Is there a primer for NEX and manual lenses?

I see the Leica R series requires a 47mm mount. I have a significant investment in the R glass. Anyone tried the R glass with NEX series? Any input is most valuable since who knows when the R-10 is ever going to be produced.

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