Photography / Hands-on Review

An Overview of Lens Adapters


Creative minds love flexibility, and photographers are certainly no exception. Over time, both amateurs and professionals alike tend to amass an impressive collection of gear. What happens when you inevitably come across a beautiful lens that isn’t compatible with your camera system? An adapter can come to the rescue.

Lens adapters are a fairly simple concept. A fitted, threaded ring allows you to attach the specific brand or type of lens you’d like to use on your camera body, connecting two otherwise incompatible units. This opens up an entire new realm of possibilities for some photographers whose misfit lenses have sat too long collecting dust on the shelf. Others, instead of relying on the “best” glass each specific manufacturer has to offer, choose to use the best of the entire market. Also, it’s an easy way to fill in the gaps of a collection when your camera brand might not sell the type of specialty lens you need. And it can be a cost-effective way to expand a kit, with some older or alternative lenses being considerably cheaper (even with the added expense of the adapter) than purchasing a new, high-end brand.

Adapters can bridge formats, not just systems, and enable the paths between full-frame, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, and large or medium format to converge. As a general rule of thumb, it’s usually easier to “adapt down” by using a larger format lens on a smaller format camera. Some photographers switch camera systems halfway through their career and would hate to see thousands of dollars spent on lenses go to waste. While not every lens is adaptable to every camera platform (Nikon cameras can be tricky to use with alternative lenses, while the Sony NEX cameras are adaptable to nearly any glass on the market), these little metal rings can often be a lifesaver.

The primary downside of adapters is their mechanical nature. With the majority of available adapters, no electronic communication can pass between the lens and the camera. This means that autofocus, AE metering, and other functions dependent on this communication will be rendered useless. Some modern adapters do include a built-in chip that can alert you with a beep or icon in the viewfinder when a subject is in focus. Either way, adapters generallly require that you focus and set exposures manually. Many adapters are made for older lenses that have manual aperture rings, something that has been largely replaced today with electronic control. This is convenient with compatible platforms, but doesn’t work between different camera systems. Some adapters today contain a workaround by including their own integrated aperture control ring. Otherwise, the aperture will be stopped down to its smallest f-stop.

Much like lenses themselves, the market for adapters is broad. Many camera manufacturers offer a handful of adapters to work between their own camera and lens systems. Vello and Dot Line adapters are straightforward and sturdy and offer compatibility between select Nikon, Canon, Sony NEX, Pentax, Micro Four Thirds, and Leica systems. They are designed for easy attachment and removal with manual or aperture priority exposure control.

Novoflex and FotodioX adapters encompass a much broader range of systems, also offering rings for Mamiya, Hasselblad, Fujifilm, and many more. Many Novoflex and FotodioX adapters come with an integrated aperture ring, which provides greater exposure control.

Metabones Speed Boosters have an integrated optical element, which makes them a bit more than just an adapter. They are used to attach lenses from larger format systems to smaller format cameras and  increase aperture by 1 f-stop and angle of view by 0.71x. They offer two shooting modes: Green Mode is designed to conserve battery power by reducing certain functions such as depth of field preview or auto magnify manual focus assist; Advanced Mode activates these assistive features for full-functioned shooting.

Whether you’re experimenting with very new or very old lenses or integrating specialty lenses into your camera system, adapters make it possible. If you are someone who appreciates the finest lenses and uses them regularly with your DSLRs, you might consider buying several adapters and just keep them always attached to your lens. Any way you utilize them, adapters are a simple and affordable way to increase your options and enable your creativity.

Items discussed in article


I have a Canon EOS M3 camera. I also have a CIMKO MT series 1 : 4.5 f=80-200mm. Is there an adapter mount available so I can use this lens on my Canon Camera?

To assist you with your inquiry, I would need to know the lens mount type currently on the rear of the lens you own, or on which model camera the lens was originally designed to connect.  It appears the Cimko MT Series 80-200mm f/4.5 manual focus lens was manufactured for use on a multitude of lens mounts, including the Canon FD, Pentak K, and Minolta MD lens mounts.  As such, we would need to know which mount is on your lens to see if we have an adapter to allow you to connect the lens to the EF-M lens mount on the Canon EOS M3 Mirrorless Digital Camera.  If you can provide this information, or if you may e-mail us the model of your camera to, we may then assist you with your inquiry.

I use adapters for my legacy lenses to my Fuji X and M43 cameras.  Now I would like to experiment with my Canon FD or Minolta Mc/MD lenses to a body that takes LTM (M39) mount.  Like a Voigtlander L or R.  I see Fotodiox offers a Nikkor F to LTM mount.  But nothing else.  Is this a lost cause and I shoud seek LTM lenses?  Jerry

There are few different apdaptes avilable for M39 Mount lenses, included Canon FD lens to M39 body. They can be found here.

I have a Tokina 80-200mm smz-825 lens for an older pentax. I'm now shooting with a Nikon d-3300.

Cant seem to findan adapter to use the Tokina on the D-3300. Any suggestions?

From what I can tell, this lens was made in several mounts. Do you know if your lens has the Pentax K (bayonet) mount, or if it has the M42 (Pentax Screw) mount. If you aren’t sure, do you know which camera the lens had been used on? If you send an email to our Photo Department with this information, we would be happy to check on possible lens adapter options for your Tokina lens to a Nikon DSLR (D3300).

Thanks Christina. I sent an email titled "Lens Adaptor Help," to the address listed.

what are the advantages of having glass in the adapter ring compaired to ones with out?

One reason certain adapters have optics in them is because an optic is required for the lens to retain focus at infinity for the specific lens/camera combination.  The optics in these adapters tend to have a negative impact on the quality one would otherwise get from the lens, though without the optic the lens would not be able to focus on subjects in the distance.

I have many lenses that were for my Chinon camera...  Does anyone know if there is an adapter that would be compatible to either Canon or Nikon? 

It looks as though most of the Chinon SLRs used the Pentax K-mount.  We do carry one adapter that would enable one to mount a K-mount lens onto a Nikon F-mount camera, and one adapter that would enable one to mount K-mount lenses on a Canon EF-S mount DSLR (APS-C size sensor camera).   Keep in mind that there will be no auto functions. 

i have a canon t2i camera and want to mount a 

Nikon AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D Lens on it.

i bought the adapter:

K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter For Nikon AI AI-S Lens to Canon EOS EF EF-S Mount Adapter 60D 50D 550D 500D 5D

and wanted to know if it would work with this lens?

We do not carry this particular adapter, but from what I can tell of it, it should work with your Nikon 50mm f1.8 D lens.  Keep in mind this adapter will not communicate any exposure data and focus will be manual focus only. 

I am looking for a lens adapter to use Exacta camera lenses on my Nikon D80 DSLR.  Any made?  I also have 3 very nice lenses for my Pentax 6x7 camera can these be adapted to my D80 as well?

Advise thanks

Walter Druker

P.S. I have been a B&H customer from the time you were on 19th (?) street, before you moved to 9th Ave.

FotodioX makes an adapter for mounting Exacta lenses on a Nikon body, such as the D80.  They also make a Pentax 67 to Nikon lens adapter.  Thank you for continuing to choose B&H!

I have a fujinon 4.5-77mm 1/3" bayonet mount lens I'd love to bring back into use - any chance of an ef adapter?

I own a NEX (5N) and it is a great system with which to use adapters. I have adapters for use with M42, Leica M- and LTM, Nikon, Contax, Retina, and I might even be leaving some out. What is important to know, but not frequently identified is that every adapter I have used -- and I do not, nor can I, speak for all -- permits focus beyond infinity. What this means in practice is that a user of an adapted lens cannot simply through the lens being used to infinity for a distance shot. Each exposure must be separately focused.

My $0.02. YMMV.


Suggestions on recommending an adapter for Olympus OM mirror less; I have lens for my older DSLR OM-10?

If you consider using old manual focus lenses on a mirrorless camera: have a very very close look at the Sony NEX system - all NEX cameras offer focus peaking display (highlight in-focus areas realtime). This function is simply outstanding. I almost stopped using AF lenses as focus peaking on the NEX allows for reliable manual focus within 1-2 seconds on exactly the area YOU consider as important, additonal focus magnifier is mostly not needed but also very comfortable on the NEX. Invaluable with old mamual-focus high-speed glass like Minolta MD 58/1.2, 85/2.0 or 85/1.7 and similar.

Looking for a good Nikon to Canon EF mount. I have one from KIWI and I hate it, it sucks! Trying to upgrade to one without wobble issues, and without back-focus issues. Does anyone have a recommendation?

All 35mm-format dSLRs can use aperture-ring-containing medium format lenses with adapters, though the adapters can be hard to find and can be expensive. The MF flange distances are much greater than the Nikon flange distance of 46.5 mm. Nikon has among the deepest flange distances of all 35mm-format dSLRs. Check out (that's "manual focus" lenses) for their forum. Canonistas: no problem with using appropriate Nikon, Pentax K, M42 mount lenses for the APS-C format, but do your research before trying such lenses on full frame cameras - some lenses can obstruct the mirror's movement at infinity. I have a bunch of Nikon manual-everything and M42 manual-everything legacy lenses from my old film days and from relatives - work fine with my 60D, testing many with my 6D. Here's a helpful, if incomplete, resource concerning lens compatibility with full frame Canons:

I chose a Lumix body because I could adapt my old Leica R lenses via a Novoflex ring. The results are quite good and I am happy that the money I spent on the lenses will not go to waste. A doubling of their effective focal length was a nice surprise as well, since I like long lenses in general.

Question: Do the adapters vary with how big or small they make the image? It's easy to imagine that if the tube is longer the image will be bigger. (This is what "extension tubes" do.) Shorter will be smaller. do I know what the adapter is doing to my image vis-a-vis a different adapter. Will one adapter give me a more full frame image than another one? And how do I know, in advance, what the adapter will do?

What kind of adapter do you recommend to attach Contax lenses, both G1 lenses as well as for the RTS III, to Sony cameras?

Is there any lens, not made for Nikon, that can be used with an adapter? Put another way, for clarity, is there any Canon, Zeiss, Tokina, Tamron etc mount lens which can be adapted to a Nikon body?

I am using a novoflex adapter for my beautiful but almost unused leica R lenses on my Sony Nex 7. Wow! What gorgeous images. The distortion free leica lenses on the Nex are spectacular.