Cannon photo lens interchangeability

I have a 50mm f1.4 lens that I purchased many years ago with my Cannon A-1 body. It’s still in great shape, I recently shot a roll (expired but worked fine) in some lower light and the end results were very good to my eye.

Is this lens useable on a new DSLR body from Cannon? I realize it won’t have any of the wiz-bang auto features. But can it work in the low light arena (no flash like in some museums)?

No. The A-1 used the FD mount. All Canon DSLRS (and film SLRs starting in 1987) use the modern EF mount. You can, however, use old lenses from Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss, And more via mechanical adapter. The FD Canons don’t work because the register distance is shorter than the EF register, which means you can’t focus very far if you mount an FD lens on an EF body.

Slight hijack: Jman, since you seem to know what you’re talking about… is there a chart somewhere that shows which older lenses I could use with a modern Canon DSLR? There are a bunch of older lenses of various brands on consignment at my local photo shop and I’d like to know which ones I can use.

Are there any drawbacks to using an adapter? Vignetting? Focusing issues? Other things?

The EF lens system was designed to be a standard across several generations of Canon camera bodies. Modern EF lenses and bodies use a somewhat complex communication protocol, and not even the “plug-compatible” 3rd-party lenses get it right all of the time (there have been more than a few cases were a 3rd-party EF lens didn’t work on a newer camera body).

Unless you have a really great old lens, or one with some particular imaging defect that gives it a certain “look” that you want, I’d go with a modern EF lens rather than adapting. Particularly if the old lens is non-powered (manual focus / aperture).

BTW. not all EF lenses interchange. Some of the digital bodies come with EF-S lenses which can’t be used on non-S-compatible bodies. You can use regular lenses on S-body bodies. And there are some combinations that are physically possible, but not advised. For example, any of the heavier L-series (pro) lenses will put a lot of strain on the mounting bayonet on the plastic-bodied consumer models.

I highly recommend “EF Lens Work”. It goes into a lot of the history and also characterizes each of the EF lenses. There seem to be copies on Amazon and similar places. I’m not sure what the current edition is - the one I have here is Lens Work III, Twelfth Edition. [Canon sends me one every year - one of the perks of being a pro.]

Hmm, thanks for the info. Do you know if the 60D counts as a consumer model? It has a plastic body around a metal frame, I think?

The only reason I’m considering the old lenses is, frankly, price. Between the kit lenses and other genuine Canon lenses, it seems the only remotely affordable choices (<$300) are maybe Sigmas and the really old ones (though I’d love to be corrected if I’m wrong).

I’d love to have something wider angle… eventually.

I’m not familiar with that model, sorry. All EOS 1’s here (in a variety of models) :smiley:

If price is that much of an issue, I don’t think the weight of the L-series lenses is going to be a problem, so don’t worry about a plastic camera body lens mount.

There aren’t really that many bad lenses in the EF lineup. Particularly when compared with a similar lens that’s older and on an adapter.

You might want to keep an eye on the used inventory at places like B&H Photo. [In case the link dies, that’s the used Canon 35mm lens section.]

Canon regularly releases updated versions of lenses, and the people who absolutely need to have the latest and greatest often trade in their old ones. For example, the L-series 28-70 f2.8 was replaced by the 24-70 f2.8 some years ago, and there was a glut of the older ones on the used market. Given that that’s an L-series lens, it is likely out of your budget, but you get the picture.

If you don’t mind manual focus, there’s a pair of 35-70mm ones listed now, one at $69 and one at $99.

Oh, awesome! So much easier than eBay. Thank you!

I have adapted MANY lenses for use on my 1Ds Mark II, and before that, my 30D. Yes, modern EF lenses will be easier to focus since they have autofocus, and aperture is fully manual with an adapted lens (You focus and then stop down manually to take the picture).

That said, some truly amazing glass is out there from older mounts at a fraction of the cost of the Canon equivalent, and in many cases are better.

The mounts that are easily adaptable to Canon with a simple adapter ($20 or so on eBay or Fotodiox, or about $80 if you get a focus confirm chip, which will let you manually focus, but have the camera confirm when focus is reached (and provide EXIF data in the file matching the lens):

-Contax/Yashica (Carl Zeiss lenses) - Some of the best lenses around…the 50/1.7 Planar and 85/2.8 Sonnar are relatively inexpensive ($200-$400) and are truly exceptional…best color and contrast of any lenses I’ve used.

  • Leica R (not M mount, but the SLR R mount)
  • Olympus OM (Check out their 24/2.8 for a pittance, and one of the sharpest 24mm lenses out there…also, the 50/3.5 Macro can be had for about $100 in mint condition and is razor sharp…use that regularly on both my Canon kit and my micro 4/3 kit)
  • Pentax Screwmount (M42 screwmount) - Tons of great old lenses…The Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is one of the best all around 50s made, and it’s tiny and built amazingly well.
  • Nikon F. Modern Nikon lenses don’t have an aperture ring, and so aren’t easily adaptable without spending big bucks (there’s an adapter that works with some lenses like the 14-24, but the adapter is about $200). A simply mechanical adapter will work for all the AI, AiS series and such lenses…tons of good optics here.
    Here’s a good guide to adapters and using manual focus lenses on Canon. Be careful, though…it can start serious gear collection. I’ve had about 30 old lenses for use on my various cameras. Some are junk, but some are real steals and amazing optics. They also often have a very different ‘look’ than Canon lenses, which is often what people are after with these. Zeiss lenses have rich, saturated color and very high microcontrast…makes things pop out amazingly well. Olympus lenses tend to be more muted and natural in their color rendition and have a shallower contrast curve, etc…

FD adapters are available, but have optics in them to get to infinity focus, and act as a teleconverter. Most of them are also quite poor in image quality and would ruin any reason to use the lenses.

But surely, if you have a really big lens relative to the camera body, you would not hold the camera body, or put the camera body on a tripod: you would hold the lens, or attach the lens to the tripod. The lens would easily support the camera body.

Thanks, Rats!

To all, the other info is great, I’m always looking for bargains and quality.

FWIW, you can use FD mount lenses on DSLRs that have a 4/3 or micro 4/3 mount.

Besides the list Jman posted, you can also use Tamron Adaptall lenses on EOS.

I used to own Canon. But then they screwed all the owners by changing the mount and forcing them to replace perfectly good lenses with new ones.

If anyone asks me, I tell them to get a Nikon. Even 50 year old Nikon lenses fit the new Nikon bodies (and vice versa) with only minor/no adapting required. There is literally no way to get the old lenses onto the new bodies because you have to push the old lenses so far into the new bodies that you’d break the mirror.

If Nikon could do it (maintain compatibility) I believe Canon could have to. But they *chose *not to.

Yes, this is somewhat unrelated to this thread. Yes, I’m still angry.

To clarify about adapters, yes, you could get a POS $20 adapter from ebay, and if your picture quality isn’t important, it’ll mostly sorta kinda work (depends on the adapter). Those adapters have extremely low quality glass to change the lens-to-film distance. But you’ll lose light, get distortion, and lower the image quality in general. Some of those adapters don’t support automatic exposure (aperture control).

Even the cheapest (but new) lens will produce better pictures than the old lens with a crappy adapter.