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Using Vintage Lenses On Sony A7, A7r and A7s

Published: 03/11/2014

PFRE reader Jukka Töyli in Tampere, Finland is an avid Sony enthusiast. Recently Jukka sent me some tips that he'd like to pass along for other real estate shooters interested in the new mirrorless cameras (Sony A7,A7R and A7s or MFT).

Jukka says:

I just found out that old vintage lenses can be really good and affordable. Old Nikon AI-S and Canon FD lenses are really great and are dirt cheap. I'm still building up my Sony A7s set, but so far, I have been surprised by the image quality. I paid about the same for price for my 17mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm prime lenses about same price that I had to pay for my Canon 16-35/2.8 and all my lenses (except 17) are 2.8 or better. It’s really easy to find adapters, there are also nice Asahi Pentax, Minolta, Zeiss lenses available. See:
Yep, I have to focus manually, but it’s not that hard. Some of these lenses look even better than new lenses. They are tack sharp in the middle, and corners are also not problem. So, brand new is not always the only answer. Used gear can sometimes be as good as new gear. Especially if you are on a tight budget.
So far I've used a chinese adapter that costs 20 euros (Fotodiox and Metabones). Last one cost more but feels really high quality product. But to be honest, most of my adapters are chinese and I've had no problems. I've also found this adapter on Ebay that works as good as the metabones.
I just got my Sony A7s, so I’m still learning, but I've found out my number one lens Nikkor 20/2,8 AI-S is nearly same as new one so I can use  the same Lightroom profile to correct and believe me, it does perfect quality. So far, I'm really pleased with the A7s dynamic range and image quality. RAW files are only 12 Mb and I don’t need bigger one, it’s enough. Much faster editing and pictures need less space in hard drive.
Love my job, again…:0)
So if you are wanting to use the Sony A7 series bodies, you don't have to spring for expensive glass.

Learn more about picking a good lens for interior photography with our guide.

Larry Lohrman

7 comments on “Using Vintage Lenses On Sony A7, A7r and A7s”

  1. It's important to note that Jukka is using the Sony A7s. The Sony A7s is "only" 12 megapixels so even very old lenses are most likely going to look pretty good on it. I think you'll notice a huge difference with many older lenses just not being up to snuff on a higher megapixel camera like the Sony A7r.

  2. Duder, partly true. I tried A7r first and some lenses (older and new also) didn't look so good, even couple of older Zeiss look awfull. New Sony FE 16-35 should be out soon, interesting to see how it works. Worst thing in A7r was file size, didn't like at all so big files. And also video quality was not so good, i'm doing more and more video so that's why i have a7s and gh-4. But same time, i really understand also if someone want new AF lense but i really like feeling and look i get out of vintage lenses.
    And i have to say, even I'm shooting most of my shots whit a7s, i also use gh-4 which could be my number one body in future.

  3. I tried the Sony A7 and did not like it. I wanted too, as I really like my wife's A6000 and was toying with the idea of selling my Nikon stuff and consolidating around Sony. It was frustrating. While most of this was tourist, battery would not last a day if left on (sleep mode) and had taken less that 100 shots when battery indicated below 20%, and thankful had extra battery for wife's camera. Clearly would not support 2 pro shoots in one day, and questionable about one. Lighting - Sony's weak point and further complicated by two flash mounts. 3rd party triggers and flash are based around the old Minolta mount requiring an adapter - if the even support Sony in TTL/advanced remote manual modes (PW TT1/TT5/AC3 doesn't, Phottix Odin does). Was able to directly mount my Nikon flash for manual mode on the new Sony mount, but was "fully in" with 1/4 hanging out and no lockdown. Moving on to lens...used an adapter for Nikon 16-35, 50 and 85. Fully manual as no electronics pass between lens and camera, which is fine because I shoot in manual mode most of the time. Focusing was a major issue (and might be a user error) as camera was set to "fire without lens" but focus peeking would not activate with the adapter attached. Perhaps there were additional setting I needed to turn on, but no manual was provided by Sony (same with wife's A6000) beyond quick start instructions how to insert battery and SD card. Another possible user error - that couldn't find any menu item to address - was photo locking viewfinder for approx. 5 sec after each shot before live view returned, however, as I did a factory reset, it came back to normal. Presume it was the result of trying to change something with that spinning wheel which controls so many functions. Speaking of the spinning wheel, ISO was the easiest to change...and unfortunately, it self changed rubbing against clothing. Finally, Lightroom in lens correction auto recognized Sony glass but EFIX data with Nikon glass was "no lens attached" and had to manually load the profile for each photo (no syncing) with the 16-35 f4 requiring scrolling to the second page of lens to find.

    On the positive side, loved the live view as it reflected the changes as aperture/shutter/ISO were manually adjusted. Also, as expected, IQ was great, however, I did note some tonal shift between Sony and Nikon glass. And yes, it was light, but that weight savings is almost 100% due to the camera body, similar lens weigh about the same. Lens, excluding Zeiss, cost similar - or more for Sony but typically reduced to similar for "Sale" promotion. Also, warranty on paper 1 year but Nikon expands camera and lens warranty for free with timely registration while Sony sells you an extended warranty.

    So an I going to sell my D610 (which uses the same Sony sensor as the A7 but to Nikon specs). NO!!! Wife will use the adapter for the Nikon glass on her camera. Just too many negatives to adopt it to shed about 1 1/2 lbs.

  4. I have the Sony A7R and simply love it! Battery is much better after the firmware update, same for boot up speed. The IQ is amazing and seeing the settings changes live in real time on the LCD and/or the view finder is just amazing. I have the Sony FE 16-35 on pre-order, it releases on Nov 18. Cannot wait! I'll be switching to this as my prime setup for shooting RE. Nikon D300s + Sigma 10-20mm will become the backup.

  5. I bought A7R earlier this month primarily to "recycle" my old lenses and due to busy days at work I kept it untouched in the package for more than 2 weeks before testing it!! But now I have been using it since last weekend and simply love it. I bought it mainly to use with older all manual glass, Nikon mount, Konica mount etc. that I have a lot of. I have got 3 adapters and have been trying out various combinations of lenses and adapters. The results are as expected, some lenses are far from good enough to use on this camera, others are good and the rest I have not tested.

    My experience with this camera so far is.
    1. It is very easy to set up the focus peaking and it works with everything I have put on the camera so far of adapters and lenses. I recommend assigning the focus peaking to the c2 button. And this focus peaking is the biggest advantage of this camera as it replaces and betters the old split image focusing screens used in film cameras. This is much better focusing solution than anything else I have tried ever before and simply makes all good manual focus glass usable again on a full frame digital camera. And this also makes all the autofocus "or point and shoot" lenses not needed in most cases. Even sports and wildlife can be photographed with good results on this camera used by a photographer that has trained a bit for that kind of use. Of course within the limitation of fps.
    2. The low light quality is worse than I expected comparing with Nikon D600 and D800E.
    3. The camera is a bit too small for me, I like better the size of Nikon D600 f.x. But when travelling the small size is of course handy.
    4. I was aware of the battery issue before I bought it so I bought 3 extra 3rd party batteries and charger for very low price. All of this works perfectly.
    5. One unexpected advance of focus peaking is that it not only helps focusing, but also confirms the shaking hands of a photographer or the need for a tripod or an in camera stabilizer that would be especially useful with this camera. Maybe that will be included in a upgrade of the camera later on.
    6. It seems to me that the A7R is maybe the best camera available when it comes to the use of old lenses or getting a high resolution pictures in decent light on a full frame camera. On the other hand it lacks flash, image stabilizer, more fps, better battery life, better startup time, double card slot and surely many other things. But it is great for what it does best and a brilliant camera for those who understands what it is good for and what not.

  6. Hi everyone. I am interested in the A7s for video of homes. I am new to video and currently shoot stills with a Nikon D4 (too heavy for video). The A7s seems to get very favorable feedback regarding low light and general picture quality. Can someone help me with recommendation of a wide angle len for the A7s? I appreciate the forum and any feedback. Thanks, Mike

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