At some point, most of us Nikon or Canon users have probably wondered, “Why can’t I use my lenses on a different make of camera body?” Although there are many different reasons why lenses and bodies from different brands aren’t interchangeable, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. When I saw that Vello made a Nikon to Canon lens mount adapter, I was intrigued. I use Nikon and have plenty of lenses, but I know many people who shoot Canon who might want to try my lenses. Could it really be so simple? Read my review of the Vello Nikon to Canon Lens Mount Adapter to find out. You can also read a previous post about why you might want to use Nikon lenses on Canon DSLRs.
1) Product Specifications
- Allows you to mount Nikon F-mount lenses to Canon EF-mount bodies
- Does not allow communication between lenses and bodies
- Easily removed
2) Packaging and Field Use
The lens mount adapter arrives in a simple little box. It’s not much bigger than a box a 52mm lens filter might arrive in. It comes with some simple instructions that show you how to put it on the lens and remove it from the lens. Keep the instructions! I had some trouble removing it from my lens the first time and had to refer to the instructions to get it off.
Mounting the adapter to your lens is as easy as putting on a dust cap or mounting it to a camera body. Simply place it on the rear of the lens, align the red dot like it’s the dot on your body and twist. It is now mounted to the lens. Now it’s just like you’re mounting a Canon lens to a Canon body, even though it’s actually a Nikon lens!
Now I can just take my Nikon 85mm f/1.4G and use it on my friend’s Canon 5D MKIII, right? Not so fast. The adapter doesn’t let the lens talk with the camera body, so you’re not going to be able to use auto focus or adjust the aperture with the camera. Not only can you not adjust the aperture by using the controls on the camera body, if you’re using a G lens that doesn’t have an aperture ring, the lens will be stopped down to it’s smallest f-stop. This means a beautiful piece of glass like the 85mm f/1.4G just became a manual focus f/16 lens that I’d only find useful for seeing how much dust is on my sensor… not exactly what I had in mind.
So what good is this lens adapter if you can’t fully use your lenses with it? Well, if you only own Nikon G lenses, it’s pretty useless. If you have a few D lenses (or older AI lenses) in your arsenal like I do, you start to see how it could be useful to have. The older lenses have aperture rings that allow you to manually set the aperture of the lens. This means that when you use one of these lenses with the adapter, you have full use of the lens. You still are not able to use auto focus and you have to manually change the aperture, but at least you’re able to fully use the lens.
I share a studio with a Canon shooter. She was mentioning that she wanted to eventually buy a macro lens. I just happen to have an old AI Nikon macro lens. We put the adapter on it, put it on her camera and suddenly she was shooting macros! When I shoot macro handheld, I’m focusing manually most of the time, so the lack of auto focus (which this lens doesn’t have anyway) didn’t matter. She was able to just meter, set the aperture and shutter speed for the correct exposure and manually focus her shots.
You might be wondering how photos taken with this adapter look? Honestly, they look much better than I thought they would. For some reason I was expecting them to be slightly soft. When I took a look at the photos I was shocked that I couldn’t tell the difference between photos taken with the lens/adapter combo mounted on a Canon and the lens mounted on a Nikon. Metering is exactly the same as if you’re using a Canon lens.
One other potential audience who might find this adapter to be very useful are DSLR videographers. Almost everyone who shoots video will avoid using auto focus and instead pull focus manually. Furthermore, rarely will the aperture need to be adjusted while shooting video. This removes both of the major drawbacks to using this adapter for photos and makes it a perfect tool for video. I would imagine that most Canon-shooting videographers would love to have the option of using both Canon and Nikon lenses.
One thing that gave me some concern was the fact that the lens and adapter don’t seem to perfectly fit together. There is a bit of play between the lens adapter and the lens. I was worried this might lead to inconsistent photos or even light leaks. Fortunately, I couldn’t find any evidence of either of these occurrences.
When it came time to remove the adapter, I couldn’t get it off. I looked and couldn’t see any obvious buttons to press. I had a slight moment of panic. “They wouldn’t make this a permanent adapter, would they? Surely there would be a big warning on the box if it became permanently attached to the lens.” Of course, I was overreacting. I calmly grabbed the instructions and was relieved to see there was a section titled “Adapter Removal”. There is a small lever that is set into the adapter that you press to remove the adapter from the lens.
This shot of my iPhone was taken with a macro lens using natural light.
These owls were shot using studio lighting. Metering was done with a light meter.
This photo and the following shots were all taken outdoors using natural light.
Here’s a crop of the above photo. You can see how sharp it is. Of course, with manual focus you’ll get some soft shots as well, but with a little practice it’s not too hard.
Drew was in the studio for some headshots and graciously agreed to be my test subject. He was photographed here with studio lighting.
Once I realized that I wouldn’t be able to let my Canon friends borrow all of my Nikon lenses, I wondered how I’d use this adapter. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to see it’s potential. For macro photography it could be very useful. The same goes for landscape or other types of photography that don’t require fast changes in focus or aperture. Finally, I think the adapter has the most potential for use in video where almost all focusing is done manually and exposures are typically not changed while shooting. Of course, you’re limited to older Nikon lenses that have aperture rings, but there are plenty of amazing lenses out there that are not Nikon D lenses (they’re usually much cheaper as well). It might not be something that I use often, but it’s something that I can see being used in a pinch and being glad that I have.