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Why doesn't Canon make adapters for my old SLR camera lenses? I can get them with Sony but not Canon

farsidefan1
Apprentice

I have an old Canon Ftb with a 1.4 fd lens. I am getting into digital cameras now (just have a G 12 for now, mostly used for underwater photography). I would like to stick with Canon but I am very annoyed that Canon doesn't have a way to keep using their old lenses. Nikon, for all their flaws are much better at letting you keep using your old stuff.

 

Then I find that if I switch to Sony (yes, really, Sony) I can use my ol Canon lenses via an adapter. C'mon Canon, tell me it ain't so.You must have a way, I just have not yet discovered it.

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

TCampbell
Elite
Elite

There are numerous challenges with this and the "adapters" should be viewed with some skepticism.

 

The FD lenses are mechanical -- no electronics.  The camera body, on the other hand, only has an electronic interface to the lens -- nothing mechanical.   This means that if you could attach the lens, you'd have to manually adjust the aperture as well as manually focus the lens.

 

Your Canon SLR had a split-prism focusing aid in the viewfinder.  A new camera does not.  The reason it has no focus aid is because most lenses are auto-focus so it's simply not needed.  This makes it especially difficult to tell when you've accurately focused the lens.  Making it even more difficult is that any camera with an APS-C size sensor (most of them) have a smaller viewfinder than you had on your Canon SLR film camera.

 

Also, the lenses are optimized for a specific back-focus distance.  Canon EOS cameras have a 44m depth from the lens mounting flange on the front of the body to the focus plane inside the body.  When you use an adapter, it changes that distance.  If you change it too much, the lens behaves as if it's mounted on extension tubes, the whole focus range is shifted closer to the camera, and it may no longer be able to focus to infinity.

 

There are 3rd parties who make conversion kits for these lenses... but they only make them for some lenses (not all) and they require a bit of surgery on the lens (e.g. that level that protrudes beyond the rear of the lens used to set the f-stop has to go.)

 

But lastly... the modern lenses are just so much better than the old FD lenses.   You'd really have to own quite the specacular FD lens to make it worth the fuss.  I also own a Canon SLR (AE-1) and some FD lenses.... but have no interest in trying to use one of those lenses on my EOS DSLR cameras.  

 

I think of this question almost along the lines of asking Ford why they don't make wheel adapters to let you mount Model T wheels on a 2015 Mustang.  The new wheels are so much better than the old wheels, you should want to keep using the old wheels.

 

Leave your old lenses in the past.  Mine are on the shelf alongside my AE-1 body... as a conversation piece.  I don't actually use them anymore.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

View solution in original post

6 REPLIES 6

TCampbell
Elite
Elite

There are numerous challenges with this and the "adapters" should be viewed with some skepticism.

 

The FD lenses are mechanical -- no electronics.  The camera body, on the other hand, only has an electronic interface to the lens -- nothing mechanical.   This means that if you could attach the lens, you'd have to manually adjust the aperture as well as manually focus the lens.

 

Your Canon SLR had a split-prism focusing aid in the viewfinder.  A new camera does not.  The reason it has no focus aid is because most lenses are auto-focus so it's simply not needed.  This makes it especially difficult to tell when you've accurately focused the lens.  Making it even more difficult is that any camera with an APS-C size sensor (most of them) have a smaller viewfinder than you had on your Canon SLR film camera.

 

Also, the lenses are optimized for a specific back-focus distance.  Canon EOS cameras have a 44m depth from the lens mounting flange on the front of the body to the focus plane inside the body.  When you use an adapter, it changes that distance.  If you change it too much, the lens behaves as if it's mounted on extension tubes, the whole focus range is shifted closer to the camera, and it may no longer be able to focus to infinity.

 

There are 3rd parties who make conversion kits for these lenses... but they only make them for some lenses (not all) and they require a bit of surgery on the lens (e.g. that level that protrudes beyond the rear of the lens used to set the f-stop has to go.)

 

But lastly... the modern lenses are just so much better than the old FD lenses.   You'd really have to own quite the specacular FD lens to make it worth the fuss.  I also own a Canon SLR (AE-1) and some FD lenses.... but have no interest in trying to use one of those lenses on my EOS DSLR cameras.  

 

I think of this question almost along the lines of asking Ford why they don't make wheel adapters to let you mount Model T wheels on a 2015 Mustang.  The new wheels are so much better than the old wheels, you should want to keep using the old wheels.

 

Leave your old lenses in the past.  Mine are on the shelf alongside my AE-1 body... as a conversation piece.  I don't actually use them anymore.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Thank you for a well thought out and thorough answer. Obviously I am disappointed but the old saying comes to mind, "It is what it is". I just hate giving up my 1.4 lens. As I approach retirement I have 3 things I love to shoot and need to decide what system to adopt going forward. Grankinds (any lens will do), travel scenery (most any standard lens will do), and wildlife. That's the "toughie".  I need reach but I don't want to lug around a lot of weight.

 

Mirrorless cameras seem lighter but I'm not sure about the sensor size limitations. I spoke to one bird photagrapher who loves his Canon SX 50 and was not nearly so kind regarding the SX 60. But then I'm stuck with a really small sensor.

 

I'm open to suggestions, Thanks again for an excellent response.

The lightest of the EOS cameras is the Rebel SL1.  

 

I do have a bias toward true DSLR cameras for focus performance, lens selection, and overall versatility.

 

Action wildlife is tricky -- mostly because of the focus performance issues (and often a desire for very long focal lengths).  Birders that I know tend to like lenses in the 400-500mm range.  Both Sigma and Tamron make 150-600mm zoom lenses for Canon EOS bodies.  

 

The Canon 7D II body has a phenomical focus system for action-wildlife photography... worlds ahead of the focus system of the Rebel bodies.  The 70D and T6i/T6s bodies have a pretty good focus system (better than the Rebel bodies) -- which is very similar to what the original 7D has.  Most other Rebel bodies have the 9 point AF system.

 

I find that "weight" usually translates into "comfort" -- meaning when someone says a camera is "heavy" what they really mean is the camera isn't comfortable to wear around your neck for long periods.  But to get around this, I use a "sling" type strap instead of a neck-strap.  I have a 5D III body with the battery grip, and usually with my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens.    This rig tips the scales at just barely over 7 lbs (no kidding).  If I wear a neck strap, I'm tired of it in 5 minutes.  But with a sling-type strap... I can wear it all day long and not think it's too heavy.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Thanks, I'll look into one of those sling straps.

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

" Nikon, for all their flaws are much better at letting you keep using your old stuff."

 

There is no camera company that has a more complicated and convoluted line up of lenses than Nikon.  I shoot both, Canon and Nikon, and have for some time now.

It is far easier to just say, no they don't work.  I also went through the massive amount of FD lenses that no longer worked.  I hated it, too.  But there is no way I would go back to film or even FD lenses.  I have tried every way know to man to convert old FD lenses.  It is always not worth it.

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

RexGig
Enthusiast

The shorter flange-to-sensor distance of the EOS M cameras, compared to the EOS DSLRs, means that FD lenses can be used with simple mechanical adapters, that require no electronics or optical elements, and allow infinity focus. The bad news is that the best adapters, such as Novoflex, are not inexpensive.

 

I have used a Novoflex EOS/NIK adapter, which allows use of Nikon F-mount lenses on EOS EF-compatible cameras, with results I like. Focusing is best accomplished using magnified live view, on a tripod. I have not confirmed that Novoflex makes a an FD-to-EOS M adapter.

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