Manual / adapted lenses on Canon bodies?

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by jarl, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. jarl

    jarl Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2012
    I'm trying to gather information about canon cameras, thinking about creating a franken-camera. Before reinventing the wheel and/or buying something that won't work I'd like to get some feedback, though.

    I like my m43 camera but the balance with older lenses is not that good so I'd like to get an APS body for some endeavors, and I like manual focus lenses anyway. Besides, I'm not that much into spending thousands or dollars in fancy lenses, hundreds on crappy ones or paying extra to have a certain branded lens. I know I could probably get a Panasonic GH*, but I have my reasons not to get one.

    My plan is to modify a Canon body to take cheap(er) manual lenses. The flange-to-sensor distance seems to be very close to Minolta's MD, so it's a good alternative for me. I know I could use Pentax lenses using an adapter, but for now I'd like to stay with Minolta AND I don't want to use an adapter with glass on it. And I like the challenge as well :)

    The question I have is: which cheap/older Canon bodies can meter in Aperture or Manual mode when using manual lenses? What I have in mind is something with a CCD sensor and decent noise behavior, 6-10 megapixels and a decent flash synchro speed. Who has toyed with these cameras around here?
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Canon was one of the pioneers in CMOS sensors for DSLRs and I don't think they have anything remotely modern with a CCD sensor. All of the Canon DSLRs I tried with adapted lenses (mostly Olympus OM in my case) metered fine but one of the first things you will discover is that plain, modern optical viewfinders weren't designed with manual focusing in mind. Using live view with the magnified focus assist was the most reliable method. To be honest, the whole idea of using manual lenses on DSLRs bodies is just really clunky compared to doing the same thing on a mirrorless camera.
  3. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2012
    It sounds like you really know what you are after, so I don't want to talk you into something you don't want. However, I'd strongly recommend looking at something mirrorless with a viewfinder. That way, you'll have magnified focus assist (at the least, and with newer, but more expensive, bodies, probably focus peaking, too).

    You wouldn't have to go with the more expensive GH series; even the G series would be great. A G2 or G5, maybe? (The G3 had a less substantial grip and no eye sensor.) I'm guessing there is something comparable and affordable in the Samsung NX lineup, too. I was going to suggest Sony NEX as well, but I guess that means no built in viewfinder (right?) and probably poorer handling with adapted lenses, compared to a DSLR-styled body like Panasonic Gx series or Samsung NXxx series.

    Were you thinking APS-C because of the larger crop factor of m43?

    In any case, mirrorless improves your flexibility for which manual lenses to adapt. But it especially improves usability of manual focus, compared to a DSLR viewfinder.

    Again, I don't want to dissuade you from something you have your mind set on. Sadly, I don't know enough about Canon EOS bodies to suggest the best choice among those.

    Good luck.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
  4. photo_owl

    photo_owl Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 8, 2013
    I would suggest 200g of blu tack or similar as the easiest solution; many add a grip, some use a QR plate or other weight to the tripod mount - even if the flange to sensor distance does provide sufficient scope for an adapter I don't understand what you can possibly gain if you are starting with a question as to which body.

    if you had a body in mind for 'balance' it would make a lot more sense!
  5. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    I've used my Zeiss and Canon FD manual focus lenses on my 5D Mark II, and agree that focusing is nowhere near as easy as it is with a mirrorless camera. I love the big optical viewfinder, but it's not like 35mm days when you had a ground glass screen with microprisms or split image focusing aids. Another thing to keep in mind is that just because an adapter is available to put Brand X lens on Camera Y, it's not a given that every focal length of Brand X lens will work. Case in point are Contax / Yashica mount Zeiss lenses on the 5D Mark II. Although many do work, the 28mm f2.8 Distagon does not, the mirror hits the rear element of the lens when it flips up.
  6. jarl

    jarl Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2012
    Je je... I already have a VF-3 I use with my E-PM1 and my MD-mount manual lenses, but I hate the fact I can't use the viewer and the flash at the same time. Admittedly using manual lenses under low light conditions is a pain in the lower back, but a couple of times I've needed flash fill and I don't have the option. So my option would be to buy at least an E-P3 (built-in flash), but I'm not *that* fond of the noise of the camera (I think it has the same sensor as the E-PM1). So I could spend several hundred dollars and buy a camera with one of the newer 16 MP sensor and built in flash. And I would still have the balance problem. Or I could try something else :)

    When checking the flange-to-sensor distance of the Canon cameras vs. the Minolta MD you'll find that the canon is 0.28mm longer, which is too little to be able to use a glassless adapter, but this also means if the lens mounting ring could be shaved 0.28mm (doable) the distance would be fine. But of course the bayonet is different :/ so a new ring would need to be machined. Meaning I need to take a look at one Canon mounting ring to see if it's doable (my guess is the answer is "yes").

    I don't need a gazillion MP, and hopefully I would be able to find a focusing screen for the camera (i.e. KatzEye. Yes, I know it's not perfect :) ) if initial tests are positive. So I just need to identify a cheap sacrificial body :rolleyes: I could buy a *really* cheap, *really* old camera (i.e. a D30) just to see it works, and then repeat the whole thing with a better one if things go fine. But I'd rather start with a not so ancient one to begin with... and I'd like to try to stick with CCD if possible. I guess if I could fit a CCD into one of my Minolta bodies I would be a happy man, but that would be a tiny bit too extreme :D

    [Edit] Forgot to mention: I'm aware of the problem with some lenses hitting the mirror on some cameras (thank you for mentioning it, JudyM). I guess I'll have to live with it -if I manage to modify a Canon :) -

    BTW: I've done some research on Sugru and DIY alternatives, and I want to create a grip for my E-PM1 along with better (i.e. moved forward) tripod mount to get a better balance with long lenses, like the 200f4 I got for a whopping $11. But...
  7. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    I know I have seen people who have taken Canon cameras, pulled the metal mount off, and thru some combination of shaving various things, turned them into MD mount cameras. IIRC, there was even a service provider doing the mount swap, and guaranteed infinity focus for MD lenses. Personally, I have a G3 and a growing collection of MD glass, and the only one that is really unbalanced to be "more difficult" to shoot is an 80-200 f3.9. Even the V135 I have isnt bad, and anything shorter is great.

    Sent from my LG-P769 using Mu-43 mobile app
  8. jarl

    jarl Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2012
    Aha! Valuable information you provide, my friend! I'm glad I'm not reinventing the wheel :)

    I like my Minolta lenses, and I like the result of using them on my E-PM1 (the attached image is a ~2.5" target at 25ft using the 200f4 at f5.6... for $11 I can live with that), but that 200mm sticking on the front of the camera is not really that comfortable :D And the Kalimar 60-300mm is not too bad, but is also very awkward to use. I'm just thinking that a full frame lens can be handled better with a larger camera. I'll have to take a deeper look at the G3 though.

    ...but an MD-mount Canon sounds like a nice thing to have

    BTW: I was looking for reviews of the katseye on canon cameras, and landed on a thread that mentions a bunch of cameras... but it's from 2005 :/ Still, it has valuable information, some great pictures of what I have in mind (but using Leica and Zeiss lenses :( ), and a great description of the autofocus on Canon cameras:

    Attached Files:

  9. jarl

    jarl Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2012
    Just a quick update in case anyone has the same curiosity I have:

    I found a Canon EOS Rebel XT (350D) for a song at a local goodwill store, and was able o fix it with a little piece of aluminum foil. It looks like it can play the part :D I'm tempted to keep the Canon as is and forget the whole thing about using manual lenses, but on the other hand just getting started with this camera (getting decent lenses for it) is *very* expensive.

    ... and then I found this:

    Got to love internet :D
  10. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I admire your persistance with this project jarl. I think within the next year or two there will be a plethora of fullframe mirrorless and offer those of us with ff lenses a tantalising set of options.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.