Old Lenses: how to use, choose and adapt old film lenses for your new DSLR

Old Lenses: how to use, choose and adapt old film lenses for your new DSLR

How to use a lens adapter

 

Because most lens adapters don’t let digital cameras ‘talk’ to old lenses, you will need to go through a series of steps to use them successfully. Specific models of camera all work in slightly different ways. Here’s how we added a 1960s-era Pentax screw-mount lens to a shiny new Nikon D7000 SLR.

Old Lenses: how to use a lens adapter - Step 1

Step 1: Attach your adapter
This is usually a case of attaching the adapter 
to the camera and then fitting the lens onto the adapter. Because they will not recognise that there’s a lens attached, some cameras will require you to set the camera to shoot without a lens. This option 
is usually found in the Custom Functions menu.

Old Lenses: how to use a lens adapter - Step 2

Step 2: Set the maximum aperture
When using most adapters, you will need to set the lens to its widest aperture (lowest f number) to compose and focus easily. Some adapters have a switch that lets you reduce the aperture to the setting you’ve selected, once you’ve had a chance to focus with the aperture wide open.

Old Lenses: how to use a lens adapter - Step 3

Step 3: Focus manually
With the lens at widest aperture you can focus using either the viewfinder or Live View screen. If focus is critical, it’s worth using Live View and magnifying the image so that you can set the focus more accurately. You will also have to set most cameras to Manual exposure mode, via the top dial.

Old Lenses: how to use a lens adapter - Step 4

Step 4: Set the aperture
Once you are ready to take a shot you will need to set the aperture you want to use on the lens. If your adapter has a stop-down switch or lever, press this down. This will give limited exposure metering on some cameras, while on others you’ll have to guess the shutter speed!

The crop factor
Remember that if you’re using an APS-C SLR or a compact system camera you’ll need to take the crop factor into account when choosing lenses.

For example, a standard 50mm lens will give a field of view equivalent to around 75mm on APS-C and 100mm on Four Thirds cameras.

PAGE 1: Types of old lenses
PAGE 2: What to look for when buying old lenses
PAGE 3: Which old film lenses fit my digital camera?
PAGE 4: How to use a lens adapter

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