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DSLR with SLR lenses


TPF Noob!
Sep 3, 2020
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I have always been into film photography rather than digital, but its time for me to take the leap as film is costing me a fortune. I am wanting an affordable (couple of hundred) DSLR that can be used with vintage SLR lenses. A few people have recommended the Sony Alphas. Has anyone had any experience in this? Which camera/ lenses have you used?

Thank you in advance
Hello and welcome to the dark side (digital)
I shoot with Nikons and can still use my 50+ year old 50mm F1.4 that is on my Nikon F with my Z7. Other (earlier) Nikon digitals will use old lenses without any special consideration. Cheaper then buying adapters.
Welcome. I had an old Canon FD mount 50mm lens that I used to use on a 350D about 20 years ago with an adapter. It was fine until I closed the van door on it. Oops!!!
Well, it kind of depends what SLR you're shooting with now. Yes, there are always adapters. But the smoothest use will be a Nikon SLR lens to a Nikon DSLR body. Here's an article that goes in to depth based on the mount and maker of your DSLR and type of lens: Old lenses on new cameras

Also, while we're talking Nikons, unless you like to shoot without autofocus, avoid the D3000 and D5000 series. I know people who love those entry level cameras but for your purposes they're a terrible fit. You see, most DSLR's have an autofocus motor in the body. And most modern lens have an autofocus meter in the lens. The D3000/5000 series save size and weight by not having an AF motor in the body and relying on the lens to have one. But the age of your SLR lens may mean that many of them don't have an AF motor that will work with a DSLR. So you need to be sure you're buying a body with an AF motor in it.
Ill take the hit on this.

Also consider mirrorless.
If you have older lenses and possibly multi-platform lenses (Canon EF and Minolta SR for me) a mirrorless allows you to use those lenses.

If however the SLR direction is what you want to stick with, many AF lenses will work just fine on any modern body with the distinct exception of older Sigma lenses with Canon EF.

Depending on the brand your with, the options are endless.
You didn't say what make lenses you have.

But my old Nikon D90 had the autofocus motor in the body.I loved mine and I imagine a nice one could be had inexpensively.
Nikon is good for this and so is Pentax. Both have retained their original bayonet mounts (though more advanced automation features have been added over the years which don't exist on the earlier lenses).
What lens mount are your current lenses?
I tried an adapter on a Canon DSLR but honestly, the quality of the optics of the native kit lenses was far superior to the old classic glass. Perhaps the optic in the adapter contributed to this as well.

It is my understanding that Nikon DSLRs work very well with classic glass.
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I use my old film Nikon lenses on my D90 body all the time. BUT I do prefer to shoot manual, both focus and exposure. Which is what you will have to do "if" your lenses are not the AF models. Mine are not. If you don't mind that and the loss of other digital doohickeys on the new lenses, then your options are wide open.
The Pentax K100d I brought nearly 10 years ago for £160 works still works OK with SLR lenses in either PK mount or M42 mount, as well as with various enlarging lenses etc for macro work. All the lenses I had before getting it where manual focus models, but I added film era AF lenses after getting it & had no issues using them either. It's not a model I'd recommend anymore things have moved on so much, that cameras with better low light performance, higher resolution & better battery life can be brought for very little extra,

However as I like playing with adapting lenses I've switched to mirrorless systems for my everyday cameras. These allow a wider range of lenses to be adapted, give the ability to enlarge the image in the viewfinder for critical focusing, and in the newer models also have focus peaking for a quick guide on focus. I've not yet tried Konica AR or Exacta mounts on my mirrorless cameras but I think I've now tried all the other reasonably common SLR mounts as well as several rangefinder mounts.

I've not had much experience with Sony Alpha DSLRs (only handled two) but I don't see any particular reason to go for them (unless your lenses are Minolta A mount). Sony's e-mount cameras (mirrorless rather than DSLRs) are flexible and a good option IMO. The Nex 6 I brought over a year ago would be at the bottom end of your price bracket & is a reasonably good camera. I found the spec.s on earlier NEX models had significant factors that put me off. If you feel 'full frame' is a real benefit the original A7 might be just within your budget - depending on quite what you mean by a couple of hundred (I think they're about £400 now but haven't checked for quite a while).

If you really want to have a DSLR & mirrorless doesn't suit you then the main factor is what mount your exisiting lenses are.
Canon EF digital single-lens reflexes can use 7 brands of legacy 35 mm lenses with a glassless adapter and give you full infinity focus.

A mirrorless camera like the Sony A7 or other model could also use almost any brand of 35 mm or medium format lenses with infinity focus with a glassless adapter.
I have used the Canon 20D and the Canon 5D with four different brands of 1970s and 1980s manual focus lenses with a glassless adapter. It worked pretty well.

The Nikon d40, the Nikon d60, and the Nikon d3000 series and the Nikon d5000 series can all use pre-AI Nikon f mount lenses, but in 100% manual mode with no metering and no flash metering. These cameras can also use AF and afd autofocus lenses but will not autofocus with them, but you will have light metering.
Canon EF digital single-lens reflexes can use 7 brands of legacy 35 mm lenses with a glassless adapter and give you full infinity focus.

A mirrorless camera like the Sony A7 or other model could also use almost any brand of 35 mm or medium format lenses with infinity focus with a glassless adapter.

Please explain to el-dummy here what a "glassless adapter" is. Just a metal adapter?

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