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Old lens usable on new camera?



I have an old film SLR camera (Canon EOS Elan 7E) with a handful of Canon EF lenses - got when my now college age child was born.  Rather than have the lenses collecting dust in my closet, I was considering getting a Canon DSLR body but I don't know if the lenses would still be compatible.  I apologize if the answer is obvious but should I assume these 20-year old lenses are or are not compatible with a current DSLR 




Canon EF lenses are compatible with any Canon camera, film or digital, with an EF mount. 

However, modern digital body sensors have resolving power greater than analog film. You will have to decide based on your shooting results if there is value in saving and using those lenses. 

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, M200, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, Pixma TR8620a, Lr Classic


If the old lenses have no electronics, then you will not get auto focus. I use a 45 year old Minolta ROKKOR 50mm F/1.4 lens on my EOS R5 attached with an URTH adapter. I find it much more pleasing than a new EF 50mm. The mirrorless camera highlights edges that are in focus making manual focus easy.

I suggest trying the lenses and looking at the results. It is possible to rent a camera from lensrentals before deciding. All of my old lenses work better with my new camera than they did with the camera they were originally purchased for. New lens designs might work better if one wishes to spend money.


All your Canon EF lenses will work. If you have any 3rd party lenses like Sigma or a Tamron, they probably won’t work on a Digital body. Tell us which lenses you have and we can recommend which ones would be best.

You also have to consider which body type you plan to buy. Most start out with the cheaper APS-C DSLR which have a smaller sensor and add a 1.6 “crop factor” to the focal length of the lens. These cameras include the Canon T6, T6i, T7, T7i, 80D, 90D, etc.

”Full Frame” cameras like the 5D and 6D series cost more, but have no crop factor. They also generally have better image quality and better performance in low light.


Mike Sowsun


Even old EF-S lenses work better with a new EOS R5 than they did with my old EOS REBEL T1I.

Here is an example of an old Canon lens used on an EOS R5 camera with a Canon adapter: 

I made this photo as an experiment with two stacked extenders. The Canon DPP software was able to do digital lens optimization for the lens, but not for the third party extenders. The image is softer than a modern lens would produce, but that is partly because it is F/16 and has diffraction blur as well as blur from the two cheap third party extenders. 2021sep02_bumblebee_IMG_3837c



"Tell us which lenses you have and we can recommend which ones would be best."


Please do, the exact lens will be the determining factor. A simple statement that they will mount isn't very helpful.

"Even old EF-S lenses work better ..."

"Better" is subjective. Differently is a 'better' adverb.

I agree if they are older off brand lenses I.E., Sigm, Tamron, etc., they probably are not worth the effort.  Even old FD lenses can be used on a new DSLR but most are not worth the effort, time nor money to do so.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!


Any and all EOS EF lenses will work on ANY AND ALL EOS camera bodies ever made, film or digital.

But EF-S lenses will only fit on digital crop-sensor DSLR camera bodies....Rebels, 20D thru 90D, 7D.

EF and EF-S lenses can be used on mirrorless bodies with adapters.

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