May 19th, 2011, 05:47 PM
A How-To Guide to using Adapted Lenses
A How-To Guide to using Adapted Lenses on Micro Four Thirds Cameras
Olympus Pen E-P1 + Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f1.4
This is a basic guide on how to adapt non-native lenses to Micro Four Thirds camera bodies. It is intended to answer some of the most commonly asked questions on the forum relating to the use of adapted lenses.
1) Why use adapted lenses?
Why not? This question is probably outside the scope of this thread, which was created based on the assumption that you are interested in trying adapted lenses on your Micro Four Thirds camera. If I was to provide one reason for adapting lenses it is to be able to shoot using classic lenses with all the convenience of a modern digital camera body.
2) What adapted lenses to use?
I'm not going to go into brands here - everyone tends to have their own favourites. If you're looking for some ideas you can try here: Adapted Lens Sample Image Archive
The important things to look for in selecting what lenses to use is that, a) they will physically fit on a Micro Four Thirds camera, b) they produce a sufficiently large image circle, and c) there exists a commercially available adapter for that type of lens.
Essentially any lens from an older full-frame or half-frame SLR, Rangefinder, or (only just!) 16mm Cine camera is fair game, as long as it meets criteria c) above.
Canon new FD 24mm f2.8
3) Can you use modern electronically controlled lenses?
Yes, but because the adapters are a physical mount only you will lose any electronically controlled functions such as autofocus, lens-based image stabilisation, and often aperture control as well. Using the example of Canon EF and EFS lenses, you will only be able to shoot with them at their largest aperture, which negates the usefulness of using these otherwise excellent lenses. There is a method to override the aperture setting and get it to stay stopped-down when not mounted on the camera, but it involves using a Canon DSLR body. This begs the question, why not just leave it on the Canon in the first place? So the answer to this question is definitely yes, but is it practical? I'll leave that for you to decide.
Panasonic Lumix GH1 + Canon EFS 17-55mm f2.8
The exceptions are the Olympus Zuiko, Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma Four Thirds SLR lenses. By using the Olympus MMF-1, MMF-2, or Panasonic DMW-MA1 adapters, full electronic control is maintained between the lens and camera body. Bear in mind though that not all Four Thirds lenses are optimised for contrast-detect autofocus so the focus speed may be significantly impaired. Also, the first generation Panasonic bodies (G1, GH1, and GF1) will not autofocus with the non-CDAF optimised Four Thirds lenses.
Olympus Pen E-P1 + Olympus Zuiko 35mm f3.5 Macro
A list of Four Thirds lenses optimised for CDAF can be found here
4) Where to source adapted lenses?
Try online trading sites like eBay or other regional equivalents, camera shops, pawnbrokers, garage sales, swap meets, even the Member Buy, Sell & Trade section of this website. Prices and condition of lenses vary wildly. Do your research and decide how much you want to pay.
5) What adapters to use?
Browse through sites like eBay and Amazon and you will find a large variety of adapters at an equally large range of prices. To an extent you get what you pay for, but you have to decide whether it is worth purchasing a $100+ adapter just to fit what might be a $20 lens. The cheaper adapters generally work fine but there can be the occasional issue of loose fit where it mounts to the lens. See the following link for a guide to fixing loose lens adapter mounts.
It is also common for the cheaper adapters to be built deliberately short to ensure infinity focus. This leads to the rather odd phenomenon of the lens focusing "beyond inifinity" at the longest focus distance. This is not a major issue, but something you need to adjust for and be aware of. The more expensive adapters should have tighter manufacturing tolerances and not display the same issue.
It is possible to use two "stacked adapters" if you don't have a single Micro Four Thirds adapter. See examples below;
Olympus MMF-2 adapter + 4/3-OM adapter
Exploded view of a stacked MMF-1 + 4/3-OM adapter
6) Do I need an adapter for each lens?
No, not if all your lens share the same mount, but if it makes it easier for you then by all means go for it. This has the added benefit of not wearing out the mount between the lens and adapter, which may cause the mount to loosen up on the cheaper adapters.
m4/3-Canon FD adapter + Canon new FD 35mm f2
7) What to do when the adapter arrives?
Check for any loose screws or any metal burrs that have not been removed in the assembly process. You don't want anything loose coming off and finding it's way inside the camera or lens.
8) Any special tricks with mounting lenses?
Most adapters are straightfoward bayonet mounts or screw mounts and the lens attaches in the same way as it would if you were mounting it on the original camera. One notable exception is the Canon FD mount. The adapters for Canon FD lenses have a ring with an "open" and a "lock" position. The lens must be mounted and dismounted in the "open" position, but set to "lock" once the lens is attached so that the aperture ring on the lens is engaged.
The aperture open/lock ring is shown in the following image;
m4/3-Canon FD adapter
Of course the camera-side mount of an adapter is physically identical to the native Micro Four Thirds lenses (minus the electrical contacts) and attach to the camera in the same way. The adapter should be just as easy to mount onto the camera as a native lens. Don't risk breaking your expensive camera for the sake of trying to force on a poorly constructed adapter.
Rear camera-side monts of a m4/3-Canon EF adapter and Olympus M Zuiko 17mm f2.8
9) What camera settings?
Olympus cameras will automatically shoot with adapted lenses. For Panasonic cameras you will need to delve into the menus and set "Shoot w/o lens" to "On". This can be set permanently - there is no real reason to set if back to "Off" when you remove the adapted lens.
Panasonic Lumix GH1 menu
You can shoot with adapted lenses in all available modes, except for the Panasonic "iA" mode (this is true for the G1, GF1, and GH1 at least). In any mode other than 'M' or 'S' the camera will still meter and select the exposure for you. Regardless of mode you will always need to set the aperture value manually on the lens itself (with the exception of Four Thirds lenses which are controlled in the same manner as native Micro Four Thirds lenses).
Olympus cameras are well-suited to using adapted lenses as their image stabilisation (IS) is sensor mounted, however for this to be effective you will need to set the focal length of the adapted lens in the menus. Don't apply any crop factors: if the lens is 24mm then set the IS to 24mm. And what if your adapted lens is a zoom? I don't know exactly. My assumption is that if you set it to the smallest focal length it will be most effective at wide angle but less so at the telephoto setting. Conversely if it is set to the highest value it will over-correct at wide-angle. My only advice is to experiment and use whatever you find works best, or turn the IS off and do it like we used to in the old days
Olympus Pen E-P1 menu
10) Automatic lens functions?
All manual, baby! Aperture setting and focus is all up to you. The magnified MF assist view available in all Micro 4/3 cameras can be used to assist with critical focusing.
11) Performance issues?
This is a tricky subject. You are dealing with lenses that might be decades old and in less than perfect condition. They might have been dropped, scratched, have fungus, etc. They were also never designed for digital and won't have the same sophisticated coatings as modern lenses. Even with a lens in perfect condition some common image quality problems are flare and a lack of contrast.
There are a number of issues that may cause these two problems but the easiest solution is to use a lens hood. The original lens hood may not be sufficient as in the case of SLR lenses the hood was designed to work with a film negative twice as big as the Micro Four Thirds sensor. On a Micro Four Thirds camera you can use a larger hood than the original. Screw-in hoods are readily available and can be had quite cheaply. As long as they don't project forward enough to cause vignetting you may be able to use them on multiple lenses which share the same filter thread diameter.
Olympus Pen E-P1 + Sirius OM 28mm f2.8 with screw-in lens hood
Some other methods to reduce the quantity of excess light reaching the sensor are to use step-down rings on the front of the lens, devise a baffle over the rear element, or apply a non-reflective coating to the inside of the adapter. These methods range from simple to more advanced so don't attempt anything you don't feel comfortable with. I believe a hood is the best practical solution, if not the most space efficient.
Canon new FD 50mm f1.4 with 52-37mm step-down ring
When using automatic metering you may find that the exposure is slightly out in either direction, and this is more likely to happen when using smaller apertures. Remember that the lens is operating in stop-down mode such that selecting a smaller aperture is instantly reducing the transimssion of light to the lens and sensor, which may cause metering accuracy to suffer. If your lens has a metering issue like this you can adjust the exposure compensation until the screen image looks correct or to use a histogram overlay for assistance.
Operating with the lens stopped-down may also mean that at smaller apertures and in lower light the LCD screen or viewfinder will struggle display the scene properly and turn into a dark, grainy mess. A way around this is to focus and compose with the aperture wide-open and then stop it down prior to taking the image.
12) What if you're not getting acceptable image quality?
It could be that over time your lens has developed an "issue". It could be that your lens was never very good to begin with. It could be that you manual focusing technique needs work. Eliminate yourself as the problem first before blaming the lens. Trying using the magnified MF assist view to help, and practise, practise, practise!
Above all, have fun and go and make some great images with your adapted lenses!
13) Are the old lenses any good (aka should I bother trying them)?
A lot of my reason for using manual lenses is that they provide a far more tactile experience than using a modern, all-singing, all-dancing auto-everything lens. You have to work harder for your shot which makes a good result all the more satisfying. At the end of the day though, if these older lenses weren't capable of taking great images I wouldn't use them. For some example images from my favourite older MF lenses please follow the links below.
This guide should hopefully have helped to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about how to adapt non-native lenses to Micro Four Thirds cameras. As noted it was not intended to provide an exhaustive list of all the possible lens and adapter combinations available, nor every particular idiosyncrasy that they may exhibit. If you have any helpful advice related to adapting lenses then please feel free to add it to this thread. You may have a favourite brand of adapter, a least favourite brand, or other issues that you've encountered and how you solved them (if it all).
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May 19th, 2011, 07:15 PM
Great Piece of Work!
That's a very informative well thought out piece of work.. it should be required reading for all new users..
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The following member thanks Alanroseman for this post:
May 19th, 2011, 10:29 PM
I bought a lens from the classifieds here last week and my adapter showed up today....I fired off a few test shots today, but expect some totally newb-ish questions shortly, but this is a great head start.....thanks!
The following member thanks Luke for this post:
May 20th, 2011, 07:57 AM
Each lens type/brand has it's own peculiarities. OM and Pen F lenses, for example, need a small modification if you don't want to use the DOF preview button every time you want the lens to stop down. I use a small piece of plastic (usually a cut up old credit card or metro card will do) to hold the preview lever on the lens back open. Easily removed when not needed.
E-M5, Computar 12.5, Oly 14-42, Lumix 14, Oly 45mm, Hexanon 55 Macro, Oly 40-150, OM 135 f2.8, OM 300 f4.5
The following member thanks thearne3 for this post:
May 20th, 2011, 08:14 AM
The following 4 members thank Luckypenguin for this post:
May 20th, 2011, 08:15 AM
Sorry for the newbie comment, but a small note on the use of onboard/remote flash with legacy lenses would be quite useful. If anyone with experience can add that info it would be useful to many of us starting out using legacy lenses. Case in point: I had (perhaps naively) thought that I would be able to use the pop-up flash with a manual lens, but everything comes out way too overexposed.
The following member thanks leonberdi for this post:
May 20th, 2011, 03:51 PM
what about the DMW-MA1 Panasonic m4/3 adapter?
I am about to purchase the oly 14-54mm f/2.8. would i need the adapter to get CDAF and all to work on my GF1?
another question. how do i tell if a lens supports CDAF or not?
Last edited by aohus; May 20th, 2011 at 03:59 PM.
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May 20th, 2011, 05:59 PM
All Four Thirds lenses support CDAF to a certain extent, but sadly the first generation Panasonic bodies haven't been designed to support all of them. See section (3) of the first post regarding the use of Four Thirds lenses, the different adapters available, and a link to a page that lists the CDAF optimised lenses. According to the list you would need to look for a Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 MkII to be able to autofocus with a GF1.
Originally Posted by aohus
May 20th, 2011, 06:58 PM
Originally Posted by leonberdi
Hopefully someone else here has some experience using adapted lenses with a flash. I rarely shoot with a flash so I can only hazard a guess here.
I'm assuming that in any of the automatic exposure modes the camera is struggling without any information coming from the lens re: aperture and focal length, which the camera would normally use to calculate exposure, flash intensity, and coverage (on an external flash) in normal TTL metering. It may be that you need to use 'M' mode and set the shutter speed and flash intensity manually, but you need to take a few test shots to find the right settings.
The following member thanks Luckypenguin for this post:
May 20th, 2011, 07:02 PM
Thanks for your hard work, it's appreciated!
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