One of the big hurdles for DSLR camera owners considering the switch to mirrorless, is the notion of having to buy brand new lenses to accompany their new purchase. While it’s ideal to have brand name lenses that match your camera body, it’s not at all necessary, thanks to third-party lens makers and lens adapters. This article discusses the latter option, specifically, a lens adapter that allows just about any Canon EF lens, to be used with a Sony E-Mount camera.
My Camera Background
As a corporate event and food photographer, the Canon 5D Mark III, plus an array of Canon zoom lenses and a handful of primes, are my go-to choices for professional photo work. However, the desire to carry a smaller camera while traveling casually, led to my recent purchase of a Sony a6300 camera, my first investment in a mirrorless system. While I did opt for a Sony 16-50mm kit lens and a 20mm f/2.8 prime lens, I wasn’t financially ready to invest in any more Sony brand lenses. Instead, research and recommendations from other fellow photographers led me to purchase a lens adapter, which promised the ability to use my existing Canon EF lenses with my new Sony E-Mount camera body.
If you’re in a similar position, where you’ve accumulated a collection of DSLR lenses and are considering adding the Sony a6300 to your kit, this article is for you!
Lens Adapter Options
Third-party brands have already hopped on the lens adapter train, and there are quite a few options available, but two main ones that came up in research were the Metabones Smart Adapter IV and the FotodioX AF Adapter. At first glance, both options seemed comparable in their offerings:
- Compact, lightweight, all-metal design.
- Allows for automatic focus and aperture control from the Sony E-Mount camera body.
- Infinity focus allowed if needed.
- Removable tripod mount included to help distribute the weight.
The main difference between the two products came down to price: the Metabones version is priced at $385.99, while the FotodioX option is considerably cheaper at just $99.99. In the end, the price was the determining factor, and I went for the FotodioX lens adapter.
How did it perform?
The first thing to note about using an adapter is how it will impact the overall heaviness, bulk, and appearance of your system. The FotodioX adapter itself is truly compact, and isn’t much larger than the Sony a6300 kit lens. As a result, it looks like a natural complement to the a6300 when it’s connected. Adding on Canon EF lenses changes the look and feel of the a6300, depending of course, and which lenses are paired. Small, lightweight, prime lenses such as the Canon 50mm f/1.8 don’t add a lot of bulk to the camera, and also look like a natural fit.
However, adding larger zoom lenses such as the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 definitely make the camera more front-heavy, to the point that it makes sense to grip the rig by the lens rather than the camera body. Still, the rig is considerably lighter than pairing the same Canon lenses with a DSLR such as the 5D Mark III.
Apart from aesthetics, the adapter actually performed surprisingly well! There are many reports of adapters causing autofocus to be either painfully slow, or lost altogether. While autofocus was not as snappy and accurate as it was using a Sony brand lens, the a6300 was still decently responsive, even with the FotodioX adapter and a Canon EF lens attached. If autofocus wasn’t working properly, which tended to happen for close-range shots, it was easy to switch the lens to manual focus and still capture a photo. Image quality was also tack-sharp, here are some image examples:
Using a lens adapter isn’t a perfect solution. The lagging autofocus was fine for casual use, but eventually became more noticeable and cumbersome when trying to shoot anything that moved. I’d hesitate to rely on an adapter when shooting something where quick autofocus mattered. It also felt like a pretty big tradeoff to not be able to take full advantage of what Sony purports to be the “world’s fastest autofocus” in the a6300. But other than that, the ability to use my existing DSLR lenses with a new camera body made by another manufacturer is a convenient luxury.
Have you tried a lens adapter before? What was your experience like?