How to save money by using old lenses
The Benefits of Using Old Lenses
Did you know your old lenses might just fit on your new DSLR? Some mounts have remained the same since film days, while for others there are adaptors available to make them fit. We take a look at the main lens types and give you all the information you need to bring them back to life.
The FD mount was used on Canon cameras from 1971 until the introduction of the EOS range and the EF mount in 1987, with the T60 being the last camera to use it.
Though the FD lenses are not compatible with the EOS range directly, it is possible to buy an adaptor mount that allows them to be used.
Pre-1971 FL mount lenses did fit on the FD mount so, in theory, should work on EOS bodies using the FD to EF adaptor.
This mount was introduced in 1987 with the original EOS film cameras and has remained unchanged since.
EF stands for Electro Focus, as before this point Canon lenses were manual, and any of the EF lenses (or lenses designed for the EF mount) can be used on the full range of Canon EOS DSLRs.
EF-S lenses are digital only lenses, introduced in 2003; these lenses can only be used on APS-C sized sensor models released after this date and line up with a white square on the body mount.
The basic design and fit of the F mount has remained the same since 1959 to today – this year celebrating its 50th anniversary. However, lenses made before 1977 without secondary aperture ring or pre-AI (automatic indexing), can damage more modern cameras and therefore should not be used.
All other lenses should be fully compatible – though if it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fit, don’t force it. It is also worth noting that recent budget Nikon DSLRs do not have a focus motor built in and require lenses with focus motors to offer AF performance – these are marked AF-I or AF-S. There is a wide range of other manufacturers offering lenses with the Nikon mount, including the likes of Zeiss and Voigtländer.
The Pentax K mount, like the Minolta and Nikon mounts, has stood the test of time and remained largely unchanged since its advent in 1975. Largely the entire range is forward and backwardly compatible and, certainly for digital SLR users, all K mount lenses will fit on the body. There are, however, limitations in terms of usable features for the original K mount lenses (marked SMC or SMC-M), and lenses with an aperture ring need to have the ring set to A to allow full control. Due to the popularity of the Pentax mount in professional and amateur circuits there are also a wide range of lens manufacturers, and other cameras, that use the mount, from Almaz to Voigtländer.
In 1985 Minolta introduced the world’s first autofocus SLR and with it introduced its new lens system: the Minolta AF mount, or Alpha mount, as it was known in Japan and Asia. All Minolta AF lenses, Konica Minolta, and Sony Alpha lenses are fully compatible with the Konica Minolta Dynax and Sony Alpha DSLRs.
The Sony SSM (supersonic motor) lenses are only compatible with the newer Sony cameras. Older Minolta SR/MC/MD lenses are not compatible.
Zuiko lenses or those designed for use with the range of Olympus OM cameras (from the 1972 OM-1 through to the 1997 OM-2000) can all be used on current Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras, with the addition of an adaptor available from Olympus (MF-1 or MF-2).
The only exception is the power focus lenses, designed for the OM-101 (OM-88) and OM-707 (OM-77) that lack a manual focus ring.
There are various other lenses which also hold potential for your digital camera use. The Leica M mount is still used in the latest Leica digital cameras, such as the Leica M8 and also by the Epson RD-1 digital rangefinder, and it has recently had a resurgence thanks to an adaptor for the new Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Various screw mount lenses also exist, including the Leica M39, the universal M42 mount and the Tamron T2 mount. These have been made by a wide variety of manufacturers from Cosina to Canon and though there is no direct fitting that exists in recent cameras, specially made mounts are available from the likes of camera specialists, SRB (www.srb-griturn.com).
Third-party manufacturers – companies who produce lenses for existing camera mounts – are also plentiful. If the fitting isn’t immediately obvious from the brand, check the lens cap or full model name as it may reveal a fitting that is still current. Two of the biggest names in third-party lenses are Tamron and Sigma and their lenses are usually available in most common lens fittings – though Sigma also produces its own SA mount for its SA film SLRs and SD DSLR range.
Thanks to London Camera Exchange for loan of equipment.
This article has more pages:
- 1. How to save money on your photography and camera equipment
- 2. How to save money by using old lenses
- 3. Budget camera equipment for under £50