Adapting old canon lense to new Nikon

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by kawasakiguy37, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. kawasakiguy37

    kawasakiguy37 TPF Noob!

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    My father has some pretty decent canon lenses (late 70s I believe), the main of which I want to use is the 200mm prime. Im looking to use these mostly for video (since they are great for manual focus) but want to adapt them to use on my friends nikon camera.

    What issues am I going to run into? I dont need any auto features, fully manual is preferred of course. I was looking on ebay at some cheap lense adapters (they screw directly onto the lense I guess)
     
  2. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    If that guess is correct, they would be Canon FD mount lenses. Adapting them to a Nikon is, in general, not practical for normal use.

    The register distance (body flange to film/sensor) is shorter on the Canon FD mount than on the Nikon. Even if an adapter had zero thickness (not possible) the longer register distance of the Nikon mount would have the affect of adding an extension tube preventing the lens from focusing to infinity. Given the adapter would have to have some distinct thickness, the total additional extension would make the Canon lenses, even the longer 200mm, only usable for closeup work.

    There are some cheap adapters that will provide infinity focus. These accomplish the trick by adding a lens element that is, in effect, a very low power tele-extender (~1.1x) which gives room the the two flanges. These do cause some significant loss of image quality and are of questionable value as a result. Also, there is no mechanical connection between the body and lens.

    With any adapter, the diaphram action is completely manual. This is not "manual exposure" is manual aperture stop down. When you set f/8 the lens will close to f/8 then and there. The view finder will darken and it will be difficult or impossible to focus. You have to manually open the lens to focus and frame and then close the lens to meter and shoot, hopefully without disturbing the focus and framing.
     
  3. kawasakiguy37

    kawasakiguy37 TPF Noob!

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    I plan on shooting wide open mostly with this lense ( I have access to a 55-200 nikon lense for anything less than wide open ) so I dont think that part will be an issue. I also want this lense mainly for video, looking for that "film" look with very thin depth of field. How close to infinity am I going to be able to focus, or not close at all? I definitely dont want the extra lense in the middle
     
  4. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    It depends on the thickness of the adapter and the focal length of the lens.

    The effect of the extension produced by the adapter is related to the focal length of the lens. If the extension (thickness of adapter plus the difference in the register distance of the two mounts, ~3mm) is a small percentage of the lens' focal length you will be able to focus further away than if it is a large percentage. When the extension is about 10% of the focal length, you will be able to focus to a distance of about 10 times the focal length (very rough approximation, BTW).

    Based on a rough guess, I would think the 200mm lens would be usable at a maximum distance of 4-6 feet. Shorter lenses would have proportionally closer maximum distances. You are probably far, far better off looking for a appropriate old used Nikon mount lens than trying to adapt a Canon FD mount lens to the Nikon.
     
  5. kawasakiguy37

    kawasakiguy37 TPF Noob!

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    Sounds like its not worth it. Would it adapt beter to a new canon? I have friends with some decent canon DSLRs too
     
  6. Ron Evers

    Ron Evers Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    With a micro four thirds format camera (m4/3) Olympus or Panasonic you can use pretty well any old 35mm film camera lens. I use both old Minolta & Pentax lenses on my G1 with the appropriate adapters. You can even focus with the lens stopped down because the electronic viewfinder boosts the light for you.
     
  7. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    No, not significantly. The register distance on the Canon EF mount (the mount used by Canon's DSLRs and earlier EOS film cameras) is not short enough to allow for the adapter without focus issues similar to those mentioned.

    The only digital cameras that the old Canon FD adapt well are the 4/3rds DSLRs and the newer micro4/3rds EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) models. The m4/3 models work the best because of the brightness amplification the electronic VF offers, as Ron mentioned.
     

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