I have used lens adapters on mirrorless cameras–just like loads and loads of other users do. When I made the decision to buy the Sony A7, my previous experience with adapters influenced my purchase. Instead of buying Sony lenses, I would keep on using my Nikon lenses. It had been suggested one would have to be insane to use Nikon lenses with a Sony camera, which doesn’t make sense to me. With this decision I knew there would be some sacrifice. Yes, it would have been easy just to buy another Nikon camera, but I wanted something that was full-frame and mirrorless. Nikon is not creating the cameras that I want, but I love my Nikon glass.
And with that, begins my story of what I lose with adapters.
While I mostly use Nikon lenses with my Sony A7 there are many more adapters out there. It may be sacrilege to say this, for some, but there is an adapter to use Nikon glass on Canon cameras,T-mount lenses on Nikon cameras, Bronica SQ lenses on Pentax cameras, etc. It all depends on what you want to do.
When using an adapter you lose autofocus for the most part–that is if you’re using an autofocus lens to begin with. One of the few adapters that lets you retain autofocus with a camera like the Sony A7 is the canon adapter from Metabones. Still though, it’s not a bad idea to rely on the focus peaking of the camera. Micro four-thirds cameras have this function as well. With focus peaking you have to change the way you look at things if you’re not used to it. It requires practice.
You have to expect that your speed with be decreased. You are focusing by hand and you’re not going to be as fast as a autofocus lens. You’ll need to accept that you will miss shots. It’ll require more planning; but if you’re a street photographer you probably have these skills already. You have to learn to prefocus and judge your distance a lot better. It takes a bit of determination to do this all the time. It’s easy to rely on AF lenses, but to use most lens adapters you must accept that things will not be as fast.
Losing your lens’s metadata is one of the toughest things to accept. There are no chips in most adapters. so there is no data to transfer when you import into Adobe Lightroom. It takes a while to get used to it and you either have to simply let the data go. It’s an older way of thinking–there was no metadata in before digital photography. If you wanted to remember a setting you would have to write it down or take a picture of your lenses settings or write it down. The other option is to let the data go and just worry about the composition of the image.
What Lenses To Use
Not every Nikon lens or non Sony lens is worth the use. You have to think this part through. Primes are practical because they’re easier to track. You know for this day or so you were shooting with a 50mm lens or an 85mm. If you use a zoom, it’s easy to lose track of your focal lengths. With a lens on its proper camera mount, it’s captured in the metadata at least. Another thing to note is sometimes older lenses work the best with adapters. They have aperture rings and less moving parts to worry about. With older lenses you’re closer to using them to their full potential. With newer lenses, if you’re only using a camera like the Sony A7, they do lose a bit of their accuracy. After I used all of my lenses with the Sony A7 I realized that some of the lenses were really big on the Sony A7. A few lenses like my Vivitar 35mm f1.4 were not great ergonomic fits. My primes lenses like my Nikon 50mm f1.2 worked like dreams.