Matching up decades old high quality lenses with modern digital cameras is possible with lens adapters and can provide a lot of fun for the photographer. (John Enman photo)

Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

Thoughts on lens adapters for photographers

While I was at the Vancouver Camera sale there were photographers who came to my table, lay several metal rings on the surface and begin to attach different lenses from my table to them. They would then mount the lenses to a camera they had hanging around their neck and take pictures of each other to test a lens.

The metal rings were lens adapters. Lens adapters are small and lightweight devices that allow photographers to use the wide array of different manufacturer’s lenses, both old and new. Most have no optical elements and provide no electronic control to the lens. Features such as auto focusing or aperture control will be missing for those that were checking out lenses at the used camera sale.

I did have a few lens adapters that I had included in a box of filters I brought that sold quickly when they were discovered.

I also thought about how popular those adapters where when a guy came in my shop this week asking if I had any lens adapters for his Sony Mirrorless camera.

Lens adapters are great for photographers that want the flexibility or option to use many different lenses on their cameras. The lens adapter, an affordable ring that connects the lens and camera, allows use of older, or those saved favourite lenses that might be from a different manufacturer than the current equipment one owns.

Travel photographer and editor of Outdoor Photography Guide, Ian Plant writes, “Want to make your camera system even more flexible? These magic rings can make many lenses fit on cameras they weren’t made for. Lens adapters allow you to use a variety of wonderful alternative lenses—including some truly exotic optics and some classics that are so exceptional that you may wonder why they aren’t still made. Although the lenses made for your camera may be great, having options is nice.”

My friend Drew Vye shoots with a Canon 5D. The 5D is a full-frame workhorse that is nothing but wonderful for photography. Although Drew has auto focus lenses for it he is always on the lookout for older M42 thread mount Pentax Takumar lenses. He has a growing stable of (although years old) quality Pentax glass that has cost him much less than modern Canon lenses. Like Drew, the fellow that stopped by my shop, and those photographers at the Vancouver camera sale they were all looking for quality manual focus lenses.

Yesterday, I put a Nikon to thread mount adapter on a Nikon D610 I have in my shop. The adapter allowed me to test out a classic 1950s Meyer-Optic Gorlitz 100mm f2.8 lens. That is a fun little 100mm lens that is known for it’s low distortion, shallow depth-of-field and it’s “soap bubble effect”. It is neat to match up decades old high quality lenses with modern digital cameras.

Do you have an old lens stuck away in a drawer that was once a favourite? Have you chanced upon a neat looking lens at a flea market or some neighbour’s garage sale? Get an adapter, and mount it on your DSLR or Mirrorless camera…and just have fun.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at or


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