Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7

Okay, everybody is talking about how manual lenses work so well on the Sony a7 series but how does it actually work? And which results can I expect?
Read on if you want to know.

DSC00720a7 II | Zeiss 2.8/28 | f/11 | price: around $250

a7 II | Olympus OM 2.8/100 | f/2.8 | around $100
a7 II | Minolta MC 1.4/50 | f/2 | around $60

Why should I use manual lenses?

    • They can be very cheap, you can get a great 1.4/50 lens for $50. For most applications such a lens will give you 90% of the performance of a $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55 FE. For the $1000 you would have to pay for that Zeiss you can buy an excellent set of five lenses from 20 to 300mm.
    • You have a huge choice between thousands of lenses ranging from exotic ones with lots of “character” to some of the very best lenses available.
    • There are 30-year-old primes with better image quality than many modern lenses. Of course progress has happened in recent years but still even cheap primes are often sharper than very expensive modern zooms.
    • Old lenses are usually beautifully built and more reliable than modern lenses which are full of electronics and very complex designs, both of which make them more likely to fail.
    • They also hold their value much better than modern lenses. With some patience you can sell most manual lenses without a loss but with new lenses you can expect to lose 30% in the first year.
    • Manual focusing can be very enjoyable. This certainly depends on application and personality but I for example enjoy working with fully manual lenses a lot more than with any AF lens. Check out our manual photographers series to read other photographers stories.
Sony a7 | Minolta MD 2/50 | f/2 | ~$25

Why shouldn’t I use manual lenses?

  • You have to do everything yourself. You have to think about the aperture and set it manually. You have to focus manually. The need to think about these things has improved my own technique a lot, but if you cannot or do not want to spend the time to learn these things manual lenses are probably not for you.
  • Manual focus is often slower than AF.  After some practice you will find that you can capture almost anything with manual lenses but it isn’t as convenient.
  • Camera and lens do not communicate. Because of that your exif information will be incomplete and the camera can’t correct lens defects like distortion, vignetting or chromatic aberrations (CA). While CA can be corrected automatically by a raw-converter like Ligthroom you need to correct distortion and vignetting manually. Luckily these aberrations are seldom detrimental to an image.
  • Image stabilizers are handy but manual lenses don’t have them. This makes photography with the Sony a7 and a7r a little more inconvenient, you have to carry a tripod more often and achieving focus with longer lenses is a bit harder. Newer Sony cameras like the Sony a7ii or a7rii feature an integrated image stabilizer which works with manual lenses! You need to tell the camera your focal length which costs 2 or 3 seconds each time you change your lens but it will gain you about two stops.
  • Older lens coatings are less efficient  this means that many lenses have lower contrast when you have a bright light source in your image. But there is a big variation between manufacturers and age.

Are those 30 year old lenses any good?

The short answer: Yes, they are.

The long answer: There are many old lenses which deliver very good image quality. Here are two examples :

Sony a7 | Olympus OM 2/100 | f/2 | ~$600
Sony a7 | Minolta MD 2.8/35 | f/8 | ~$70

Of course not every manual lens will be that good, here are some general observations I made while using manual lenses for 3 years:

  • There are many very affordable lenses which give beautiful 24MP files and some of them even perform very well on the 42 MP sensor.
  • Many lenses are very good in the center from f/2 or f/2.8 but sharpness decreases a lot outside of the center, more than many modern lenses do. If you stop them down to f/8 there are many lenses which are very sharp across the frame.
  • In my eyes this is an unproblematic behavior because at f/2 I very rarely have important details in the corners and for landscapes when corners matter I stop down to f/8 any way.
  • At f/1.4 and wider older manual lenses are definied by lower contrast, mediocre sharpness and somewhat busy bokeh. Recently released modern lenses like the GM 1.4/85 or Zeiss 1.4/50 show a much stronger performance but they also cost a lot.
  • Zooms have improved a lot over the last three decades and most of the older ones aren’t very good. But there are a few notable exceptions. My Minolta 3.5/35-70 for example is sharper across the frame than the Zeiss 4/24-70. The Zeiss has higher contrast though.

To see some good full resolution sample images with manual lenses you can visit this flickr album.

Now I think that nice character in a lens  is usually more important than its sharpness and here the old lenses offer even more, they often have nicer bokeh than modern lenses. And lower contrast and under corrected aberrations create a certain look at wider apertures which I like a lot, here are some examples:

Sony a7 | Tamron SP 5.6/300 | f/5.6 | ~$100
This lens does have pretty busy bokeh, but I think this worked well for this shot
Some flare and very nice bokeh helped me to catch that summer feeling in this shot

[Bilder neu einbinden]

For more images visit my flickr stream. I use mostly manual lenses.

Are they as good as the native E-mount lenses by Sony?

The short answer: It depends on the lens and what you are looking for.

The Zeiss 1.8/55  is a great lens. What is most remarkable about it is, that it is sharp in the corners at f/1.8 which no older normal lens is and it has smoother bokeh than any classic normal lens.
But I use faster lenses for portraits and closeups were I care about central sharpness, not the corners. In the the center many cheap 50mm lenses are very sharp from f/2 so the real world difference between the FE55 and my cheap manual lens won’t  be that noticeable. What is very noticeable is the much better flare resistance of the modern lens. Here is a comparison of the Minolta MC 1.7/55 and the FE55.  At f/8 the difference between a $1000 Zeiss and a $25 Minolta 2/50 is negligible in most aspects.

This image with the $80 Pentax K 3.5/28 wouldn’t have been any better had I taken it with the 10 times as expensive Zeiss 4/16-35 FE

The Sony FE 1.8/50 is actually less sharp than a few of my classic normal lenses like the MD 2/50 or C/Y 1.4/50 but it has higher contrast and a bit smoother bokeh.

The Sony FE 2/28 has a tremendous amount of distortion and isn’t built to the highest standards but apart from that it will outperform most classic 28 mm lenses.

The Zeiss 2.8/35 faces even stiffer competition. First it is remarkably small but not that great optically and secondly there are manual 35mm lenses for less than $50 which are of similar optical quality. These manual lenses are sharp from corner to corner at f/2.8 and sharper than the $800 Zeiss in the corners at f/8 like the Canon nFD 2.8/35. They are a bit bigger  but for some applications image quality can be better than that of the Sony.

The Zeiss 4/16-35 is a remarkable lens which performs as well as the better classic primes over it’s entire zoom range.

The Zeiss 4/24-70 is very sharp in the center (at least in the 24-60mm range) but the corners at the ends are quite soft and even cheap manual primes will offer better image quality. The Zeiss is still a viable option if you look for a very flexible solution but the less flexible manual lenses will be cheaper, smaller and sharper. The GM 2.8/24-70 plays two leagues above but it is an expensive beast of a lens.

24mmcorner
A little comparison showing a 100% crop from the Zeiss 4/24-70 and  Sigma 2.8/24 . The Zeiss has a more contrast but less detail in the corners.

The Sony G 4/70-200 (affiliate link) is quite sharp, focuses fast and is very versatile but also large, expensive and it’s bokeh isn’t very smooth. Personally I prefer to carry a smaller and 2.8/100 in my bag which is much more affordable and as sharp with more pleasant bokeh.

The 3.5-5.6/28-70 is okay for a kit lens but many manual lenses will perform better, especially at the short end.

How does manual focusing work and is it hard to learn?

There are several methods for focusing and each could be the best, depending on what you are shooting.

Focus Magnifier

For landscapes and other non-moving motifs I usually use the Focus Magnifier function . It is absolutely reliable, but it is also a bit slower that other techniques.

It works like this: You press a button and a small orange rectangle appears. You can move this rectangle around wherever you want to focus.

DSC00732

At a second press of the button the selected area is magnified and you turn the focusing ring until the image is sharp:

DSC00734

I can only recommend to assign the focus magnifier function to an easily accessible button. The default position is c1 but I find that button hard to reach. My choice is the AF/MF button.
Go to menu / gear wheel /6 or 7 /Custom Key Settings /AF/MF Button and select Focus Magnifier.

Focus Peaking

Focus peaking is another focusing aid of the a7. It will highlight areas of the image which have a high microcontrast with a color like red, white or yellow.DSC00731

There is an issue though: Even in it’s least sensitive setting it highlights too much. If you magnify a highlighted area you will often find that it is semi-sharp but it would have been sharper if you had used focus magnification.

I use focus peaking if I shoot quickly moving subjects were the image won’t be super sharp anyway but in general I think focus peaking is  quite over hyped. It can be useful but most often it is not. Tip: If you shoot raw you can set your image profile to black and white which makes the peaking more visible.

A third method

If you want to focus fast and precise you can take advantage of a technical shortcoming of the electronic viewfinder (EVF).

When there are very fine structures in the image you see shimmering pixels  in the EVF. Just focus your camera on some structured fabric and you will see it.

This method is more sensitive than the focus peaking and much less distracting.With this technique I usually get critically sharp images without using the focus magnifier button.

You can increase the effect by increasing the sharpening to +3 (Creative Style/ your picture mode/ Sharpness). This will result in overshapened jpgs but if you are shooting raw this won’t bother you.

A typical situation were I used this method to focus quick enough before this robin flew away. Tokina 2.5/90 Macro | ~ $300

Manual Focus – Conclusion

It is in fact very easy to learn to focus amanually. Over time your focusing skill will improve so that you can react faster and focus on people and other objects which are moving slowly. But it won’t take you more than 5 minutes to learn the basics needed to focus on a static object.

I also find that my results are more reliable than when I use AF and I enjoy the feeling more because it is me who is focusing, not the camera guessing were I want to focus.

Of course there are situations were AF is superior, I sometimes have to borrow a friends 5dII with 2.8/24-70 to cover an event and I wouldn’t want to shoot sport with manual lenses. But wherever I can get by with manual lenses I use them because it is more enjoyable for me.

Do I need an adapter?

For most lenses you do. There are some third party manufacturers which offer their lenses with E-mount but they will advertise it. Every lens older than 3 or 4 years needs an adapter.

DSC09932

Which adapter you need depends on the lenses you want to use, every major manufacturer in the 70’s and 80’s had it’s own bayonet and you need one adapter for each bayonet you want to use.
Lets say  you want to use a Minolta MC 1.2/58 and a  Canon FD 4/300 L, then you need one Canon FD to E-mount adapter (affiliate link) and one Minolta SR to E-mount adapter (affiliate Link).

Now if you clicked on the link above you will see that the is a vast supply of adapters in a very wide price range. To get started the cheaper K&F adapters (affiliate link) for $20 are perfectly fine.DSC00721
If you plan to use more expensive lenses I would  recommend a more expensive adapter like the one from Novoflex (affiliate Link). The Novoflex Adapter (which I have reviewed here) has lower tolerances and is more durable than the cheaper Chinese adapters. The difference isn’t huge but if you use your lenses a lot (like I do) you will appreciate the difference.

Sony a7II | Voigtlander 1.7/35 | f/1.7 | An expensive modern lens which is much more exciting than Sony’s 2.8/35.

Which are some good lenses to get started?

I usually recommend Minolta MD/MC or Canon FD lenses to people who want to try a manual lens. Not because these lenses are better than those of other manufacturers, but because they are a bit cheaper.

If you want to buy a singe lens I would recommend a 1.4/50. These lenses are very affordable (you should pay less than $75 for one in good condition) and stopped down they can show you the full potential of your sensor. They are also very versatile lenses, if I could keep only one lens it would be a 50mm lens.

lenses on A7 (5 von 19)
The Minolta MC 1.4/50

Minolta made three optically different 1.4/50 lenses and Canon two but all are very good so I won’t bore you with the details. The Canon lenses are a bit sharper at f/1.4, but I like the character of the Minolta 1.4/50  lenses a bit better.

Sony a7 | Minolta MC 1.4/50 | f/2.4

Minolta MC or MD 1.4/50ebay.de | ebay.com (affiliate links)

Sony a7 | Canon nFD 1.4/50 | f/8 | ~$60

Canon FD 1.4/50: ebay.de | ebay.com (affiliate links)

If you look for a set of lenses I would recommend these:

MinoltasMinolta MD 2.8/35, MD 1.4/50, MC 2.5/100

You could replace the 2.5/100 with a MD 2.8/135 which is more common and cheaper but the 2.5/100 is a better lens if you ask me. For more information about Minolta lenses check out my Minolta lens ratings  list.

Other options are the 1.8/85 and 2.8/135. The 85 is probably the best and most expensive one. I can also recommend the Canon new FD 2.8/24.

All those lenses are very good and you could get each set for around $200 / 200€ if you are not in a hurry.

I get most of my lenses at ebay, camera forums are often  a very good source for used lenses as well.

My advice would be to stick to just a few lenses in the beginning but if you need some inspiration for other lenses check out our guides:

I paid 750€ for this Canon FD 2.8/300 which is nearly as good as the 10 times as expensive current version.

Which Sony camera is the best?

For manual lenses I prefer full frame cameras like the Sony Alpha 7 a lot over APS-C cameras like the Sony a6000. The larger sensor is less demanding on the lenses, you can get decent wide angle lenses, more DOF control and the sensor offers better image quality.

There are currently 6 fullframe E-mount cameras. Which is the best? As always it depends. Here is my very brief take on the topic:

My Alpha 7 with a Minolta MC 2.5/100 attachedThe Sony Alpha 7r has the highest resolution (36MP), but it lacks an electronic first shutter curtain which can, under very specific circumstances, cause vibrations which degrade image quality and it is also louder and a bit slower.
I think the a7r is best for photographers who often print really big. For smaller print sizes and web images you won’t see a difference but you have a more expensive and slower camera.
About $1400 used at ebay.com or $2100  new at Amazon.com (affiliate links)

Sony Alpha 7

Sony a7 with the mighty Canon FD 1.2/85

 It is priced very attractive today and a good option if you want to give manual lenses a chance without breaking the bank.
I have used mine for more than two years, found it a great tool and got many good images out of it. It has two design issues: The sensor is unusually reflective which can be a nightmare for architecture photography at night and the mount can become loose which can be fixed by a $80 replacement. For a more detailed discussion check out my Sony a7 vs a7ii article.
About $750 used at ebay.com or $998  new at Amazon.com (affiliate links)

Sony Alpha 7 Mark II 

The Sony a7II is my current camera. It is a bit thicker and heavier than the a7 and at least in my opinion it is easier to grip. It’s most important upgrade over the a7 is the integrated image stabilizer which works with manual lenses as well as with native lenses and compensates about two stops and the less reflective sensor. Image quality is exactly the same.
The a7ii is without a doubt a better camera than the a7 but it isn’t that much better and the importance of the image stabilizer is overestimated by most. So you must see for yourself, how much it’s benefits are worth to you.
About $1100 used at ebay.com or $1698  new at Amazon.com (affiliate links)

Sony a7rII

The Sony Alpha a7rII is currently the “top of the line” model and unfortunately priced accordingly. As of today it uses the most advanced BSI (backside illuminated) 42mp fullframe sensor which allowed to increase the resolution and high ISO performance at the same time (compared to the A7r). It has pretty much the same body as the A7II including the image stabilizer, but the silent shutter from the A7s  – as well as some other small improvements, like better Auto-ISO – were also included.  If you intend to adapt rangefinder lenses (like Leica-M or Contax-G) this camera alongside the A7s(II) is your best bet, take a look at this article for further information.
About $2600 used at ebay.com or $2898  new at Amazon.com (affiliate links)

The Sony Alpha 7s is a great camera if you are interested in video but it’s better noise performance is only noticeable at very high ISO values and it actually has a worse dynamic range at ISO 100 than the a7/a7r. Another nice feature is the fully electronic shutter which is super quiet. I think it can be an exceptional tool if you are into video or do lots of high ISO work but for most users it will bring more disadvantages than advantages. It’s successor the a7sII adds an image stabilizer and some video features, I wouldn’t recommend it for photography purposes.
About $1450 used at ebay.com or $2200  new at Amazon.com (affiliate links)

Conclusion

Just give it a try.

You could find that you prefer AF lenses. Then you would have lost about two hours and $15 after selling the lens and adapter you bought for less than $100. So you would have lost very little.

Or you might find that you enjoy working with manual lenses a lot. When I got my first Nex and discovered manual lenses, I found more joy in the process it improved my photography noticeably. So you could find more enjoyment in the process, your photography could improve and you could save a lot of money.

Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/35 | f/8 | ~$50
Sony a7II | Minolta MD 2.5/100 | f/2.5 | ~$150
Sony a7 | Canon FD 4/300 L | f/4 |~$350

If you have any questions or suggestions just leave a comment!

Further Reading

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I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

241 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7”

  1. In terms of zooms that might compete with the the Sony 70-200mm f/4 G, I’d say that both the C/Y Zeiss 80-200mm f/4 and the Canon FDn 80-400mm f/4L are very much up to the task. And neither is expensive.

      1. In terms of CA’s, I think its worse than the nFD 80-200mm f/4 L and the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS. There is some purple Fringing especially at the long end and f/4. It is easily correctable in LR and C1.

    1. For a f4 lens I would save the money and go for the Minolta 70-210 beer can and a la-ea4 adapter..f4 is not adequate for any serious indoor photography without a flash anyway and the adapter opens up all the a mount 2.8 glass with quick autofocus

      1. If fast focus is your priority or you value exif information a lot that is a viable path.
        Personally I would prefer a truly manual lens over a AF lens because of the process and also because a Minolta MD adapter is smaller and the available lenses cheaper

    2. I have owned two Canon FD 80-200m f4L lenses, but only used them on the crop sensor of the 5N and A6000. The only manual zoom I have kept in this range is the Tamron Adaptall SP 80-200mm f2.8 LD. Whilst it shows more purple fringing than the Canon L glass at wider apertures, it is incredibly sharp across the frame – even on my A7ii. I have only used it once so far on the A7ii, but I love it as a landscape lens now – having previously used it largely for wildlife and portraits.

      They are occasionally on EBay and normally go for far less than they should do – beautifully built, including a metal lens hood.

  2. Well, I’ll let you judge for yourself. This is a screen capture jpg (ignore the compression) of the before an after. You can see a slight bit of longitudinal CA in the transition from shadow to sunlight on white flower petal and a bit on the edge of a petal transitioning into the green background.

    https://hye4lg-sn3301.files.1drv.com/y2pGyl-xc746aBBXg31N1QT6knGkAzZyzYYnBQ0evfrGmoQ3sFY8ycikGG5YLj8T1wjWLDD_beNu6GrvxqX8ABOUq2XFyGcJ_2QCKP_WbggJtlNgdN5PA_UDeTWNl6NaqVOa_TyC7tjCakOnZ4yFIZR7A/Zeiss%2080-200%20f4%20CA.jpg

    I’ve actually ended up selling the lens. I found that having the FD 135mm f/2 on the A7 or the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 my the E-M5, an aperture of f/4 just wasn’t enough appealing to me.

  3. Interesting Post, Philipp,
    especially I learned something new to have an alternative to focus peaking using a flaw of the EVF, have to try it out!
    On the adapters when using Nikon, especially the G lenses (those without aperture rings): I have the Novoflex (now for Sony-Nikon) adapter with the aperture ring and I am fine with it, however you can’t really control the aperture well enough with G-Lenses. For MFT I even calculated a rough scale to get the proper F-settings for the Novoflex: http://www.mopswerk.de/mft-nikon-lens-adapter/
    A good alternative are the adapters from metabones (not the speedbooster): They are not as expensive as the Novoflex but also have a very good quality. And there’s also an Nikon G adapter available allowing to control aperture by means of a f stop scale. On top it also has a removable dent with an arca profile alllowing you to mount heavier lenses on a tripod. I find myself preferring the metabones over the Novoflex …

    1. I have read several reports about bad quality control from Metabones and never about issues with Novoflex adapters and I am very happy with my own Novoflex adapters so I am a bit biased towards the Novoflex adapters. The Metabones mounting system seems to be better though.

      1. Hi Phillip,

        VERY nice article, as usual!

        I am constantly surprised about people disliking Metabones for one or the other reason. Some reviewers even claim the Sigma MC-11 would handle better than the Metabones IV AF adaptor, because Metabones “features a distracting Arca mount”!! These experts didn’t even realize that the Arca mount (a big advantage for some heavier lenses) is fixed with 2 hex screws which allow for easy removal, if desired. Metabones even supplies the corresponding hex key with the adaptor. So much for the “expert reviewers…”
        I own quite a lot of Metabones adaptors, which -with one exception- are all well crafted and work flawlessly. This is also true for the AF adaptors. The one slight exception is my copy of the Contax/Yashica adaptor, where the lens locking mechanism is a bit unreliable or not so distinct as I would like it to be- which it shares with another (no name) C/Y adaptor I have tried.
        I also use the AF feature of the Metabones IV frequently, as you know, especially with longer (Canon L IS USM) glass like the 4/70-200 or 4/300, and I am quite happy with reliability and even focus speed.

  4. Nice posting and the tip about watching for shimmering is an interesting one. Two other advantages of manual lenses. (1) The focusing mechanisms are designed for manual focus, so not only feel better, but are often easier to control – smoother, with a bit more resistance than autofocus lenses in manual mode. (2) There are specialist adapters, such as the Kipon tilt-shift adapter that convert manual lenses into the equivalent of very expensive til lenses. The Kipon is limited in that it shifts only one way (I would say the wrong way relative to the tilt) but it is nice to have this.

    Everyone has their favourite choices of manual lenses. Mine are Olympus OM, which are very compact and the best of them are very good, though a few of them are quite pricey.

  5. If you do not tell these “newbies” about the stacking problem with the a7r you are doing them quite a big disservice – you will then hear from them.

  6. Hallo Phillip,

    erst Mal danke für den informativen Artikel. Ich habe kürzlich für meine A7R eine Canon 35mm 2.8 TS S.S.C. Linse erworben und mir dazu einen entsprechenden FD – NEX Adapater (NIPON) besorgt. Der Adapter hat objektivseitig jedoch extrem Spiel, vermutlich mehr als 1mm und erzeugt dadurch bei Einstellung auf Unendlich für unschärfen – ist also praktisch unbrauchbar.

    Da dies meine einzige Canon FD-Linse ist, kann ich nun schlecht einschätzen ob es am Adapter liegt oder an der Linse. Daher meine Frage an Dich: Hast Du ggf. Erfahrung mit dieser Linse bzw. kannst Du (ggf. ganz allgemein) FD-Adapater empfehlen?

    VG Marco

    1. Ich habe das Objektiv und sowohl mit meinem recht teuren Novoflex als auch mit günstigeren Adaptern gibt es da kein (Novoflex) oder wenig (billige Adapter) Spiel. Würde den Adapter austauschen

  7. Good job! I found that there are lots of quality contents on your website. I browsed through the sample images page on your Flickr then I saw that the Name of the manual focus lens and focal length display on your Adobe lightroom screenshot. Could please share to us … How can you do that ??? Thanks 🙂

    1. you can edit the the exif info with a tool called LensTagger. You can save profiles for different lenses. It is still abit of work and you have to remember lens and aperture but it can be very handy

  8. Just got the a7 ii and trying old Nikon glass: Nikkor-H 28mm, f3.5, and Nikkor Reflex-C, 500mm. I am using the Metabones N/F-E Mount adapter. Thus far, more luck with the 500 than the 28. Two issues: 1) In both cases when I set up the menu under Camera Settings…(screen 7) Steady Shot Settings…Steady Shot Adjust…when I press Steady Shot Adjust, it comes back with a message, “Lens, Invalid because lens not attached. Attach the lens correctly.” With the 500 I am still getting good pictures, despite the message saying no lens is attached. 2) On the 28, even though I adjusted the focal length to 28 in the menu setting, in EVF and final picture I get a circular view of the object with all the corners blacked out. Any help appreciated.

      1. Im using an ais nikon manual 28 f3.5 on my a72 with metabones n-fe, and getting great results, barely any fringing except at f22 etc, has he set the cam to “release without lens” enable? [your meant to arent you with man lenses?]
        I have the ibis set to 28 focal length. You can see some photos taken with it on the forum. No problems at all.

    1. Make sure that the camera doesn’t switch automatically to the APSC format : when the camera is set to auto switch (aka detecting whether you have mounted an APSC or a FF lens) it will work correctly with FE or E lenses, but may guess wrong with legacy glass that don’t communicate with the body. So set that option to FF.
      If that wasn’t the problem, then the culprit may be the adapter. Some adapters made before the introduction of the A7 series were built with the Nex and and APSC format in mind and the opening isn’t enough for FF. It may be enough for tele, but not for wide angle.
      Last but not least : some wide angle lenses have a design which was OK for film, but not for digital : the incoming rays of light are striking the sensor at a too oblique angle thus resulting in a lot if smearing and vignetting. Typically, lenses that were made for range finder film bodies are bad performers starting up at 35mm and shorter. This is often the result of symmetrical design. Most Leica M lenses 35mm and shorter are bad performers for instance. You will be luckier with SLR lenses that have a retro focus design.
      Also : the defaults/weakness of any lens will get magnified on digital sensors, especially if you have an A7r.

    2. When using old manual focus lenses on the Sony alpha cameras you need to go into the menu and choose the option to ” release shutter without lens attached ” since it doesn’t see any lens attached when an old lens with adapter is attached due to no contacts on the lens so you have to change the setting when using old lenses. Hope this helps.

      1. Hi guys, thanks for the very informative post and comments. I have just started using manual lenses with my Sony alpha and am loving the more organic use of my camera. One thing I can’t work out though is that the exposure of the image I see on the screen/viewfinder is different to what is actually captured by the camera. It will look fine on the screen but the image is over or under exposed. Is there a setting somewhere I need to change? I’ve had to check all my photos to make sure they are exposed correctly.

        1. hmm, curious. Do you own any native lenses and does whichever exposure mode you are using work with them? Normally there shouldn’t be a difference between the exposure you see in the viewfinder and the final image

    3. Don’t bother with the massive vignetting on the 28mm. Same with my Leica Elmarit 28mm. Lighromm* helps you to correct it. * .-)

  9. Hi Phillip,

    I have just happened across your website after searching for manual focusing with Sony A7. I have read all your posts on the subject with great interest. My main reason for wanting to find out more about manual focusing on the A7 is because I have two legacy Nikon lenses that I still use on my film SLR. This are a 28mm 2.8 Ais and 105mm 2.5 AiS. I have bought myself a Fotodiox adaptor and have been practising manual focusing via the Peaking method and I have to say I am very hit and miss with regards to getting the main element of the image in focus.

    So, I was very interested in two points you make in your blog post, one is the peaking sensitivity. I have it set on high sensitivity at the moment using the assumption that this is better, but you mention having it on low sensitivity. Should I set mine to low, and of yes why is that, is there a benefit to having it set to low?

    The second point is in regards to you ‘shimming’ suggestion. I have tried this against some fabric and notice what I think is the shimmering, but when I put it against other subjects I only get a solid haze of speckles from the peaking function, I can’t seem to see this shimming affect. I am wondering if I have it on incorrect settings to experience this, please can you expand in the manual focus ‘shimming’ proces to help my better understand it.

    Thanking you in advance.
    Matt

    1. the higher the peaking setting, the less selective it will be in highlighting areas which are not really sharp. Even in the lowest setting focus peaking will highlight areas which are not really sharp.

      If you want to use the shimmering method you must deactivate peaking!

      1. Hi Phil,

        Brilliant thanks, I have done this and am getting much improved results already. I just need to train my eye to see the shimmering better and quicker.

        Matt

      2. Hi Phil,

        Thanks for all you do.

        I am missing something about the Shimmering pixels.

        I have focus peaking turned off and still don’t see the shimmering pixels.

        Would you happen to have screenshot of what it looks like?

        Thank you!
        Rajesh

          1. Yes Phil. I have Zebra and Focus Peaking turned off and Sharpness in Creative details set to +3. To me it just looks like manual focusing with any manual lens. I am not seeing any shimmering. What am I missing?

            Thanks,
            Rajesh

          2. which lens do you use? at what aperture? what are you focusing on? I would suggest a sharp lens like any 50mm lens at f/2.8 and some fabric to focus on. You should definitely be able to see it then. if you know what to look for you will see it much more easily

          3. Hi Phil,

            Posting out of sequence here since the reply button was not available on your last response.

            Which lens am I using? Thanks to your recommendations, I now have pretty much every lens you have recommended except the 85mm ones. I will try with all my minolta lenses by focusing on a fabric (I take it you mean like a blanket or other cloth).

            Thanks,
            Rajesh

  10. Hey Phillip,

    Thanks for the info. Its been extremely informative. I was wondering if you had a recommendation on a Minolta or Canon FD lens in the 200mm focal range? thanks

  11. Hi Phillip,
    I’m an illustrator and painter and want to buy a camera to shoot my artwork, and also of course take pics of other general stuff.
    I was looking between the Sony a6000 and the a7. My budget is more for the a6000 but I might be able to make it to the a7 price range.
    You can see in my blogsite scans of my drawing and sketching on paper mainly. I also do very large drawings on paper. Mostly, I’m looking to see if I can take pics of my work inside my studio and without special lights and all that. That’s why from what I’ve been reading the a7 sensor might be important.
    I also have two old Minolta MD lenses from my old film camera. I know that by buying the adapter I can use them on these cameras. And that’s pretty interesting.
    Any advice?
    Thanks a lot.
    Javier Aguilar

    1. so, which Minolta lenses do you have?
      I think a decent lighting setup is more important for your reproductions than the camera (unless you have some patience and nice window light). For reproductions I would buy a cheap Nex-5n and a cheap macro like the Minolta MC 3.5/50 Macro. Should be less than $300.

      1. I have:
        1. Minolta MD 135mm 1:3.5, o49mm
        2. Albinar ADG 28mm 1:2.8 Macro Focus, o52mm
        And I’ve checked into adapters and the FotodioX Adapter for Minolta MD/MC/SR Rokkor Mount Lens to Sony NEX Mount Camera, seems to be able to handle these lenses well I think.
        I have a studio with high ceilings and a very big window. Also I installed a large ceiling fluorescent lamp system which gives off quite a lot of light. The only problem is that the light color comes out very yellow with my point-and-shoot little Fuji camera that I have been using for years now..

        1. I would try to avoid any artificial light, put the camera on a tripod and experiment with different kinds of natural light (cloudy, sunny, different hours of the day). I don’t know about your other uses for the camera but for that specific application I would not buy a fancy modern camera. Image quality is the same with a Nex-5n.
          That Minolta lens is decent, the Albinar probably not. Fotodiox Adapters seem to work well enough.

        2. How big are your drawings ? How big is your studio ?
          This will determines the focal length you need. Usually a 50/60mm focal length is what will reproduce your drawings with the less distortion. This is OK for smaller drawings, of if you can shoot from further away.
          Don’t forget that using an APSC sensor a 50mm lens will become a 75mm (requesting smaller drawings or a longer distance from the drawing).
          If your drawings are A3, you won’t gave problems, but if they are 1, 2 meters a 135mm mounted on APSC format will probably be too long.

        3. Fluorescent lighting is a nightmare if you want correct colors.
          You can use a Gretag Macbeth color checker card, or a white balance card in order to get the right colors : just rake a picture of the card at the beginning and then correct the results in postprocessing. Don’t use AWB (auto white balance) so that all the shirts will have the same color balance and all will need the same correction.

          1. Hi, thanks for the fantastic instructional blog. I have a NEX-6 and a Novoflex adapter for Yashica/Contax lenses. I have a couple of fixed Zeiss lenses (50 1.7 and 85 2.0) I also have a couple of zooms (Yashica and Tamron) from my old Contax camera system. With the NEX-6 and Novoflex adapter, I have had a lot of trouble of getting a sharp focus (nowhere near the Sony’s autofocus). Is there a way to get a sharp focus on these manual lenses? I am looking at the Sony A7 and would love to start using the manual lenses more often.

          2. Do you use focus magnification or focus peaking? I think it is very unlikely that an adapter is the reason for your unsharp images, you technique is a much mor elikely reason

  12. Excellent article, Phillip. It covered all the questions I was asking myself about where to start on manual lenses. I have the Sony A7ii, and am looking forward to experimenting with the legacy lenses. Thank you.

  13. Hi Phillip, thanks for your reply. I am sure it is all about me, the user. But, to whom do turn to find out the correct method? As to focusing methods (focus magnification or focus peaking), please explain. Thanks.

  14. Hi Philipps and thanks for good advice on focussing!
    I have much fun using my 30 years old Nikkor 1,4/50 with Novoflex adapter for close-ups with f 2 or 2,8 for little deepth of field.

  15. I took your advice and ordered some used Minolta lenses for my A7. So far, the results were not good.

    The two lenses I received so far are a 28mm 2.8 MD that was listed as being in “great condition” and a 35mm 2.8 MC that was listed as being in “excellent condition.”

    The 28mm lens had a focusing ring that was so tight it was difficult to turn. The 35mm lens had some kind of black crud inside the front optic, possibly mold.

    Both of these sellers specified “no returns” so I have to ask for a return based on the item being misrepresented. If the seller doesn’t reply, I’m going to have to try and recover my money from eBay.

    I ordered a replacement for the 35mm lens from another seller. In addition, I have two more lenses coming, one from another eBay seller and one from B&H.

    Based on my experience, I would not advise anyone to buy used old lenses on eBay. The sellers don’t seem to be honest.

    1. Sorry to hear about your misfortune. There are certainly unhonest people on ebay and it is often not that easy to spot them. But if you are careful and a bit more experienced your chances of getting bad lenses are very low, I have probably bought over 100 lenses on ebay and I had only four cases were they were in bad condition, three of them could be resolved.

      If you are not that experienced I would try to buy from professional sellers or KEH were you have a right to return lenses. This will be more expensive but also less risky.

    2. I had a similar experience recently. I bought a Minolta 28-70mm 3.5 MD zoom lens from an eBay seller who claimed to be the original owner and lens was in excellent shape. Unfortunately what I received was a lens with about 1/3 area in the mid element covered by extensive fungi growth. Had to raise an eBay case to get my money back. There are a lot of dishonest sellers on eBay.

  16. hi phillip,

    I wrote to you directly about a week ago, but I didn’t get an answer. as you made this wonderful guide, I would like to put a link on the front page of my (future) web page http://www.a7camera.com. you explained everything, so why should I try to repeat what you already said in very concise way? it would be a great help.

    with my future site I want to share my findings about manual lenses on the a7, just for fun. there will be no adverts and there is no professional interest for me. it’s only about sharing information. the site is not ready yet, I’m working on the sample pictures. there will be a bunch of russian m39 lenses soon.

    so, if you could give me the permission for a link I would be delighted.

    kind regards

    reinhard

  17. Hi Phillip, thanks in advance for the article…its really interesting.
    I’m a canon user, mostly shooting video, but i’ll switch to Sony, A7S probably….mirrorless cameras can rescue a lot of lenses, as you said.
    I intend to buy at less three lenses 35mm 50mm 85/100mm to cover that section. I was thinking in manual lenses, of course, but i can afford a higher budget, but not enough to get a native Zeiss. What lenses would you recomend me? Voigtlander, this new cinema line from Rokinon…etc. that worth? By the way, great photos and surprising performance from Minoltas lenses.
    Thanks again!

  18. Good site.
    I finally switched from my Canon F1 to the A7m2.
    I have tried some FD lenses and looked at their raw image and histogram:
    17F4; 20F2.8; 28F2; 50F1.4; 85F1.8; 135F2.5; 200F4; 500F8(Tamron).

    The wide angle lens are very sensitive to the adapter. I had one for 15Euro that was not black enought and the stray light reflection would be bad for the picture. The Fotodiox adapter seemed ok, but there might be better ones. It seems not to matter with tele lenses.
    I love the looks of the 17mm and want to buy a 14 mm too. The 50 and 85 mm where too soft with open fstop, the 135mm was a surprise and very good.
    I compared the Sony kit zoom at same mm values to the FD lenses. The FD lense have a better contrast, the FE lens looks flat compared to them ( at same fstops).
    The image stabilization is another game changer. I can shoot the tele lenses at low light now. The 500 mm is good to use with the EVF even at F8(fix), much better than on the F1 even with the bright laser viewfinder lens.

    I hope for an improved adapter that would signal the fstop position to the camera. So far I am quicker with the F1 as I see time and fstop in the viewfinder. A motor drive fstop change should be possible too.
    Focus with open F stop is good even without magnification, but I did use my F1 with the laser viewfinder lens without any focus help for years and am used to it. I am still trying to find the correct Lightroom settings because I have not quite got to the analog color cibachrome quality yet but I am sure I get there. It would be great to receive advice on that.
    These are truly modern times now thanks to Sony.

  19. Gran blog amigo Phillip , me encanta, como fanático de las lentes manuales es todo un lujo leerte.
    personalmente creo que las lentes nativas son demasiado caras y poco luminosas, prefiero adaptar lentes manuales y disfrutar relajándome de mis disparos.
    gracias por tu dedicación y esfuerzo .

    saludos cordiales

  20. Thank you for this great write up and the excellent review of the FD 50mm 1.4 lens with A7. I bought my A7 about six month ago and have been enjoying it every time I was taking pictures. I have the Minolta MD 50mm 1.7 from my X-700 days. I also bought the Canon 50mm 1.4 based on its good reputation. I found the Canon 50mm is sharper and more contrasty then the Minolta.

    I am a bit worried about sensor reflection problems of the A7 as the highly reflective sensor is so close to these old manual lenses which do not have modern anti-reflective coatings. Any thoughts/advice on this subject? Thanks again.

  21. I enjoy your writings about the Sony alpha camera. I just purchased the alpha 7 II and am having trouble identifying a good description of the focusing techniques. Nothing out there spells it our in simple language, for instance, how to move the focus cursor, when and what size cursor works best in what situations. Can you point me to a source. Thank you.

    1. Hi Bob,
      you can move the cursor byclicking the wheel at the back in the direction you want it to move.
      I usually zoom in once because thats enough for me.

      I don’t know any source which details these steps, I would recommend to just experiment a bit

    2. It took me a while to learn to focus. The EVF is not as sharp an optical viewfinder so focusing is much slower. Now, the focus magnifier is all I use. Focus peaking only works on sharp edges so it’s usually useless for many subjects.
      With a fast lens, I sometimes open the lens and use the shallow depth of field to assist before stopping it down to the DOF I want. Old SLRs did this automatically but A7s don’t do this.
      My main point is that it took several days to learn to focus satisfactorily. It’s an involving process and it really slows the camera down. But forcing involvement gives added value to the cameras.

  22. Hi Phillip,
    Thanks for the article! I would like to use your affiliate ebay links, however you have included only ebay.de and ebay.com. Consider adding an ebay.co.uk affiliate links as well.
    Regards

  23. Fantastic write up! I recently came across a super albinar mc auto zoom 80-205mm lens at a thrift store in great condition and was hoping to find an adapter to fit a sony a7, however Im having some trouble. Could anyone lead me in the right direction?

      1. Wow thanks for the fast reply. Is there any more info, measurements, or pics that I could give you on the lens that might help determine the proper adapter?

        1. you could mail me a picture of the mount but I can’t promise that I will be able to identify the mount. You should aslo know that the lens is most probably not very good. A $20 Minolta MD 2/50 will eprform mcuh better

  24. Philip, I rarely leave comments, but this article blew my mind. Such well written and in-depth piece. After reading I immediately learned how to use my manual lens on Sony A6000. Thanks a lot!

  25. Hi Phillip,

    Firstly can i say i love your site. I have been looking for an affordable E mount lens for ages and then found your site. I have since ordered an adaptor (K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Minolta MD)and a Minolta 135mm F3.5 Lens (arrived today) I have been out over lunch for a quick play with it and I love it. Need to work on getting the images sharper though (Focus) but this will come with practice i guess.

    The adaptor is very well made i think its a solid metal thing and did not notice any movement when using it.

    Thanks again

    Andrew

  26. You sir are the best. I been reading every single review and saw most of your Flickr photos of the lens you use. I bought a a7ii back in March and I am stuck with the kit lens. And I kinda stopped taking photos because the lens can do so much. And the fact that FE lens cost an arm and leg, but after reading all your articles I am glad to say I have ordered a few Minolta lens and adapter of course and look forward to take photos again. And I hope you can increase on options for manual lenses and reviews. So I can buy. Thank you ! Looking forward to more posts

  27. If I need to use some legacy rangefinder wide-angle lens, will both A7II and A7SII has similar performance.

    The lens are such as Zeiss 21mm f4 biogon, Zeiss 35mm f3.5 planar, Leica 21mm f3.4 super angalon.

    My major concern is the color change effect.

    1. The a7ii will be a lot sharper in the center and at least as sharp in the corners. Colorshift will be worse on the a7II. That Biogon won’t work well at all, I don’t know about the others

  28. Hello phillip, I enjoyed reading this article. I just bought a Sony a6000 and I know you said you preferred full frame cameras but this is what I could afford for now because I now know how expensive glass and cameras can be. Will I still get great image quality out of my a6000 with these older lenses? I like shooting product photography as well, Cakes, food and beer. Can you recommend a prime or all around lens for this style of photography? Manual, Af or zoom? I just don’t want to break the bank because I can’t afford 500+ lenses at this point? Saving up for my studio lights and gear. Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you!

  29. Hey Phillip. Face palm moment but i need your help with lenses. I thought i would bite the bullet as someone new to photography and buy the Sony a7ii. I have had a look at the Sony lenses for this camera and they are very pricey, not just that but in all truth i have no idea what lens(es) i will need. I am someone who wants to take nature pictures of forests and just all things nature. So as an all rounder nature lens which which won’t cost me the earth would you recommend? Also as just a general all rounder what would you recommend? And could you also tell me what adapters i would need for the the two lenses you suggest? I’m sure you have covered this in this very well written article but i’m new to photography so bare with me for this one. I hope you can help me, thank you, Ryo.

    1. Hey Ryo,

      as i write in the article I would recommend a 1.4/50 lens to get started. You will also find links to adapters in the article. When you have learned to use the 50mm lens you could add a 24mm and a 100mm or 135mm lens.

  30. Thanks for the review and the many good comments! I´m really thinking about trying this myself…

    So, with manual lenses, do you have to set aperture and / or shutter speed manually as well (besides focusing manually)?

    Greets Mat

  31. Very Informative website. Thank you. Have you got the chance to review the A7rii with the manual lenses? Benefits etc as I’m leaning towards that.

  32. Great site!

    I bought a sony A6000. and I have many old Minolta lenses. They give great results…when I get it right…
    I have used Focus peak (not always very good) but I cannot find the focus magnifier (not same menu as A7 for which you explain). Can you help?
    Thanks.

  33. With the A 6000. I have lenses from 24mm to 500mm rf and they don’t need the same speed (500mm needs at least 1/640 s I would assume while 24mm can tae 1/30s). Is there an elegant way to manage this? (beyond aperture (notan option for 500), I suppose the ISO could adapt itself). What mode would you suggest? (have not found the menu with focal length you mention for A7 in A 6000)

  34. Hello Phillip, Have you tryed the old Zuiko om lenses? Do you think they would work nicely on an A7II? Great article!

    Regards.

  35. In argentic, I always used to have 2 cameras (each with a different lens, one with colour film, one B&W) and occasionaly had an extra lens. I now have an APS-c (A 6000) with many “cheap/old” prime lenses from 24mm to 500 mm (eq 36 to 750 mm so unbalanced towards teles) and am thinking on 2 options:
    – Buy another A6000 and then add say a Sony zoom 10-18 mm or a short focal length prime
    – Buy an A7 (to choose between the 4+ models available: stabilisation or not, 24 Mp or 36/42 Mp) and just keep my lens range as it is since I’ll have 24mm on FF

    Any advice on the 2 options?

    1. How important is the wideangle side for you? The E 4/10-18 is a nice and versatile lens and few manual lenses will perform as well.
      I like the results I am getting on FF with manual lenses more than those I got with APS-C sized sensors.

      So I would lean towards a a7II

      1. Thanks. Very useful as everyday use and results is what really counts.
        I was expecting 35mm manual lens to perform better on APS-c since you crop the centre of the image where the lens has better performance but, I suppose there are other parameters (DOF,…).
        Obviously, A7ii has got stabilisation, a plus, but I assume you have to tell the camera what focal length you are using (as it will not know) and the camera is quite heavier
        (I also assume 24 mP is enough since it is 4000*6000 which gives quite a lot of definition…)
        Will first improve my understanding of the A 6000 because I am not used with these endless menus and bits and pieces all around the camera and may wait for the A7ii to become a bit cheaper/my savings higher.
        By the way the MD rokkor 100mm f4 macro is great (plus eq 150 mm gets you closer

  36. Do you use the a7 and manual lens combo with an external flash sometimes? Like when shooting a party/wedding/dancefloor in low light? I havent got any experience with manual lenses or the a7, but I’m really thinking of switching.

  37. Thanks for some great info. As a recently retired portrait photographer I am looking for my last camera. I am going mirrorless because I believe this is where we are all going. a thought on adaptors, I have no problem paying $250 for one. This is what I am wondering, all of my lenses will be FD primes so could you just put the adapter on the camera and leave it there? I am goingbwith the A7ll because of the reported lens mount issue with the A7, again I am looking for my last camera. Thanks again for all the great info.

    Dave

    1. Nothing wrong with leaving the adapter on the camera.

      I am very happy with the Novoflex adapter so if you are looking for the best solution and don’t hesitat to pay good money for it I would go for it.

        1. Would just like to add my adapter recommendation, for Kindai(rayqual), Japanese manufacture.
          Very accurate, well engineered AND incorporating two baffles to “prevent” internal reflections. Not sure how prices are in Germany, but in UK, Amazon sell them for £89.99. (If you get charged at customs for extra, I found the supplier refunds the extras as soon as notified.)
          http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=Kindai(rayqual)+adapters+Sony+aE&rh=n%3A560798%2Ck%3AKindai(rayqual)+adapters+Sony+aE

          1. The Kindai(Rayqual) adapters come from Japan Hobby Tools in Japan (Despite what Amazon advert says).
            Yes, I find the baffles very effective, though I also add flocking, just in case.
            They are very accurate in length with practically no variation in machining.

  38. Hong Kong reader here. Just want to say hi. I love your blog and I find it very relaxing to read your blog. Great pictures and reviews! Please keep working on your great works! 🙂

  39. Thanks to all for good advice, because of you, I have a a6000 and A7 with Minolta’s manual lens and happy with results, if somebody ask if you can shoot a wedding with manual lens you can say of course and really happy with my rokkor 58 1:1.2, 45 1:2 and 135 1:2.8
    again thank you

  40. Hi Phillip,
    Thank you for this info on using older lenses on the A7. Your points have made me think I should get an A7 instead of the A7 II that I have been thinking about. Better value.
    Looking at my old gear I have an old Hanimex PZ4200 flash. Do you know if it would be compatible with the A7?
    Thanks for your info!
    Cheers

  41. Interesting to see the comparison with the Sigma 24mm Super Wide II. I was rather surprised just how well this worked at landscape stops (f8-f11) on my A7R and the ‘macro’ focus is useful also. Another but of course slightly more modern wide angle I’ve found to be excellent on the A7R is the compact but solid 20mm Nikkor f2.8 AF, examples of both on flickr

  42. Hi Phillip

    Read your review about manual lenses was a really pleasant experience. I am a Nikon (actually D610) and mostly 50mm last 2 years.
    Now I am going A7II and love wide angle.. What do you suggest :
    – Samyang 14
    – Voigt 15 (waiting)
    – manual legacy (suggestions??)
    – Some new Sony FE ..

    Again, thank you for your job!

    Mauro

    1. If you want to go really wide the both the Samyang and Voigtländer are good solutions. I would choose the Samyang if speed is important to you. Personally I would choose the smaller and lighter Voigtländer. Both are very good optically but the Samyang seems to be not very reliable.

      1. Phillip

        Thanks for you fast return ! I am undecided :

        -a7 for 1000 euros (body only)
        – a7 I I for 1689 euros..

        Ideas ?

        Best ,

        Mauro

        1. Evaluate for yourself how important the stabilizer is. The a7ii has a bit better grip, somewhat improved AF and a few other features. It is a better camera than the a7 but if you look at the larger picture the differences aren’t huge.

          Here in Germany the a7ii body can be had for about 1500€ and at that price difference I would choose the a7ii.

  43. Thanks! “increasing the sharpening to +3” great advice. I’ve been shooting a Leica M6 for years. Simplicity itself.

    I have been disappointed by the clutter and distraction of the A7. EVF is a great idea, but I still feel like I’m looking at a video game.

    Also, the list of lenses is exciting. I should add that there many of the Nikon legacy lenses are excellent and adapt well.

    This bit of advice will keep me from selling the thing.

    I assume the 24mp sensor is more forgiving than the 36/42 mp alternative.

    Finally, your work is lovely.

  44. Hi, I did not go through all the comments so I don’t know if somebody has pointed this out already, but one thing you don’t mention is that these old manual lenses can be easily calibrated to focus to infinity at their infinity hard stops. I my self calibrated Canon FDs 50 and 28mm and Minolta MDs 24 and 135mm on my FUJI X-Trans camera. I am awaiting delivery of A7 shortly so I am going to recalibrate them again for A7 + relevant adapters. This way you don’t have to critically focus for anything which is for example 5 meters+ away from Canon FD 28mm and similarly with other lenses. You just move your focusing ring to infinity hard stop and shoot without worrying. And that is the major beauty of these lenses which very much simplifies shooting street, landscapes, nighscapes, starscapes etc. Just twist the ring to hard stop and shoot 🙂

      1. Thanks 🙂 What I ment was that I attach the lens to the adapter that it is going to be used with, and calibrate the lens itself, not the adapter. You calibrate it wide open for best accuracy and then you can rest asured it will be tack sharp stopped down when shooting i.e. landscapes. The thing is that lens adapters have margins to guarantee infinity focus so the lenses usually focus well past the infinity on the infinity hard stop, thus calibrating them enables you to shoot these vintage lenses as they meant to be shoot on film cameras. Basically, you don’t have to worry if your focus is right when shooting landscapes, cityscapes etc. especially in dark. On the top of that, calibrating them is really easy. I may make a video on how to because I think that properly calibrated infinity focus is soooo handy i many situations. 🙂

        1. I would be very interested to see how you do this Vit. Please do make this video. I have several lenses from the same manufacturer where one will hard stop at infinity and the other will focus beyond with the same adapter. This is very frustrating as I am a weather photographer and rely heavily on infinity focus.

  45. Hi Phillip,

    Thank you so much for such a practical, helpful, informative, and inspirational website and set of blogs and images. And I congratulate you on your excellent use of english too. Your sharing of your knowledge and experience has helped give me the confidence to take the next step and buy an A7ll. I would like to do this through one of your affiliate links. I couldn’t see one on the site though for Amazon UK? Also you might consider linking to Wex photographic who are a very good uk online retailer?

    I have a few questions that you may be able to help me with when finalising my set-up. I bought myself a Sony RX100ii two years ago now I am retired as a carry everywhere camera to see if I could enjoy getting back into photography after many years of just carrying a point and shoot compact for holidays as my family grew up, whereas in my twenties and early thirties I had a really good Exacta then a Contax film camera and lenses and used to enjoy taking really nice images, particularly landscapes, but which I haven’t used for 25 years. I did switch to digital right at the start but was pretty disappointed with the results in those days and work pressures took over anyway. I have been really pleased with the RX100ii, most recently using it mainly with Manual mode, Raw, and toggling to manual focus and focus magnification on critical images, although have had to learn how to get the best out of the autofocus as my film cameras were manual focus only. And the Rx100ii is manual focus by wire of course and this is not very easy to use. I have been able to get some really nice images but now want to step up and also to use again my Contax (c/y) Zeiss lenses as they will seem both much more natural for me to use and also should give excellent results whilst enabling me to move to full frame without major expense apart from the camera body. I have 3 really good c/y Zeiss lenses: Plannar 1.7/50, Plannar 1.4/85, and Vario-Sonnar 3.5/35-70. So after that rather lengthy preamble here are my questions!
    1. What would you recommend as a wide angle lense to complement these. I have been thinking of the FE 2/28 which although focus by wire would give me an AF lense for family photos and some street photography as well as landscape. Or would you recommend that I opt for a manual lens to keep things consistent? Or go for a wider focal length with landscapes in mind?
    2. I have been struggling to find online a c/y adapter that will definitely work with the A7ii as apparently some of the ones being sold may only fit the earlier a7 models, although some comments seem to say that they do fit. Have you experienced this when using/trying the A7ii or can you use all your existing adapters from your a7 with no problem?
    3. If I get good adapters they can be quite expensive. You seem to use an adapter per lens, but I presume it might be acceptable to work the other way around and leave a single good adapter on the camera, at least initially? Or would you recommend rather buying a number of cheaper adapters and shimmying them?
    4. For image stabilisation to work with manual lenses I gather that you have to input the focal length of the lens to the A7ii. Does this mean that I will have to turn IBIS off when using my 35-70? Have you used your Minolta 35-70 yet on a A7ll and if so how did you deal with this?

    Many thanks for your patience and understanding with me and others using your blog, regards, Andy

    1. Yeah I need to apply for the Amazon.co.uk affiliate program but I haven’t yet 😉

      About your questions:
      1) I have recently reviewed the Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 and for landscape use I would prefer it over the FE 2/28 which I also own. The FE is nicer for family pictures because it is faster and has better bokeh. Personally I have the luxury of owning a FE 4/16-35 aus well but most often I use a manual 28mm lens. So yeah you probably want to hear a recommendation for just one lens… Personally I would choose the Zeiss 2.8/28 because I enjoy using it so much more.
      2) Some adapters are problematic on the a7ii but usually you can fix them by removing a little screw. I am very happy with my Novoflex adapters but they are pricey and because I don’t own many Zeiss C/Y lenses i use a cheap C/Y adapter which works well enough.
      3) I like to have one adapter per lens because then I don’t need to put the cap on the back of the lens but there is nothing wrong with having just one adapter.
      4) When I use zooms I either deactivate the stabilizer when light levels are sufficient or I adjust the focal length in the camera when I change the focal length.

      Good luck with your adventure, you have some very fine glass there and a a7ii would allow you to use get even better results than in the film days.

  46. Many thanks, Phillip, for your speedy and helpfull response. When you do set up a UK affiliate arrangement, no doubt you will post up the link. If I buy the A7ii in the meantime I’ll make a donation. At the moment, I can’t quite decide between buying now, as there is a UK Sony cashback which brings the body price down to £1,089, or waiting for a couple of months to see if a new announcement (eg an a7iii – wishful thinking!) brings the price down a bit further.

    1. Many thanks for the Distagon 2.8/28 recommendation. I’ve now read your recent review of the lens and it sounds like it would perfectly complement my other lenses and give me a consistent set up and handling for all my shots. For family pictiures, especially the grandkids, I will still have my RX100ii and if I want bokeh then I will have the 1.4/85 and will probably be shooting in a more considered manner anyway. From some quick web searching, it seems like the Distagon may not be so easy to find here so It might take me a few months to track one down. But I can get started with the other lenses meanwhile.
    2. Will it be obvious which little screw needs removing? And which is the cheap c/y adapter you use?

    As to getting better results than my film days, i feel that is the case already, as digital quality has now come so far since my early days disappointments. I have now invested some time in to getting to grips with post-processing my selected images in Lightroom and have been very pleased with the results – and all with my 1-inch sensor camera! So reusing my zeiss glass on a full-frame camera with a similar form size to my old contax 137 quartz should be a real pleasure. Thank you so much again for your encouragement. Regards, Andy

    1. Hi Philip,

      I have now bought my A7ii. Having seen your rcent review of the A7vs A7 ii, I did think again about which to get but in the end decided that for me the image stabilisation would be worth the extra expense, as I like to be able to hand hold a lot of my shots and have found the image stabilisation on my RX100ii very helpful when out between dawn and sunrise or late afternoon walking my dog, and also when taking informal family shots in the evening. I have had the A7ii for some days now and have found the manual focus using the magnification very natural, and the results from my old zeiss c/y lenses to be very crisp. Following your review and advice, I have now bought a zeiss distagon c/y 2.8/28mm which just arrived a few hours ago. It has a beautiful feel to it and is a perfect match for my other lenses. I am delighted with my new set up and to be able to use these lovely old lenses again. Thank you again for your encouragement and for the most helpful information and examples on your blog here. Best regards, Andy

      1. Hi Philip, one further thing. The options for c/y adapters in the UK were limited and the best seemed to be Fotodiox from Amazon uk. To make sure I got the right one that would definitely fit the A7ii, I emailed their technical support in US and had a helpful reply back within 15 minutes which impressed me a lot! They recommended the cheaper one which they called their consumer model rather than their more expensive pro model which they said was sometimes too tight a fit on the newer bodies of the A7ii and A7Rii. I have bought a number of these (£24.64) so that I have one per lens. They seem very well made and a very good fit. I will post the amazon link for them if anyone else is interested. Cheers, Andy

  47. I came across your website a little while ago and really enjoy it. Your photos with the Minolta lenses are wonderful I’m also struck by your willingness in answering questions so here goes mine. I’ve been looking into purchasing a 7II so I can use many of my old lenses because I really don’t enjoy using lenses where the aperature is accessed only through the camera body like on my Oly MD5. I’ve got several old Nikkors – a 35mm F2; 50mm F1.4; 55mm F2.8 Micro; and 105mm F2.5. The 50 and 105 had to be adapted for AI so they go back to the ’60s. I’ve also got a 28mm F2.8 Konica, 50mm Summicron, and 90mm Elmarit, all of which are M mount. The two Leitz lenses are as old as the oldest Nikkors I have. Buying a couple of adapters is not an issue. My question is will all of thes work on the A7II to the point that I don’t need to buy anything else?

      1. Thank you, Phillip. I’ve accumulated this stuff over 40 years and, with the exception of the two early Nikkors, none came into my possession as new. I guess I’ll have to experiment which feels and works best. I appreciate your help and look forward to more of your work.

  48. I recently acquired an A7R after using both an A7 and A7S. I am looking for vintage lenses that will provide enough sharpness, etc. to match the 36MP resolution of the A7R. Any recommendations in both wide and normal lenses appreciated. Zoom as well. {Don’t use tele that much. I mostly do landscapes, rock art and astrophoto.}

    TNX!

    1. Even the Zeiss 4/16-35 doesn’t resolve good enough in the corners to really make use of the 36MP sensor. I was quite happy with the Canon FD 2.8/20 but you really need to stop it down to f/8 or better f/11 for very good results. For Astro it is a poor choice though and I would recommend a Samyang 2.8/14. About any normal lens will be good enough at f/5.6. You might have a look at the Canon 1.4/50. A slightly longer lens is the Tokina 2.5/90 Macro which is excellent.

  49. Hi Phillip
    Thank you so much for all the info and great review . I love your website and photos!
    I m a Chilean photographer and I’m interested in child and family photography with a documentary style. I just changed from canon to a sony alpha 7 II and i m very happy! Olympus 50mm 1.4 lens and 28-70 lens kit sony. I would like to have a 35mm lens and 135mm. but I really do not know, because the Sony lenses are very expensive and manual lenses are cheap and great but do not have af focus… and for child photography is a little hard manual focus…
    Which lens you recommend me?
    Thanks again!
    chao
    Alexa

    1. Hi Alexa,

      so do you need AF? Then I am probably not much help. The FE 2.8/35 is a good lens for your purpose but quite expensive.

      If I was you I would probably buy an affordable manual lens like the Canon FD 2.8/35 and the FD 2.8/135 for a little more than $100 for both lenses and see how well they work for you. If they work well you have saved a lot of money and if they don’t you just sell them with minimal loss.

  50. I have Leica M lenses for years. I recently bought a Sony A 7 II, with an adapter, to use these lenses. I did not make a lot of pictures so far, but my first impression is disappointment for the quality of the results. I did not get sharp images, like expected.
    I am nearly sure that I did not make good settings, on the camera, but I do not know what.
    If you can teach me some method to improve the results, I would appreciate.
    (pictures are done with Summicron 35 and 50, Elmarit 90, in aperture priority, at 400 iso, and use of focus peaking and/or magnifier. Most of the time, speed is higher the 1/200. I have blurry images in details, like when focus is not correctly set). Thank you

  51. I think I’ve done something fairly stupid but I was hoping someone might be able to confirm that. I’ve purchased a Minolta AF 24mm 2.8 for astrophotography. The EBAY seller listed it as “Minolta AF 24mm 2.8 / Sony A7” – well turns out that it’s an A mount not an E mount. Not a huge problem, except, I can’t figure out that if I buy a standard non electric adapter, whether or not I’ll be able to control the aperture setting? Can anyone help me with that question? So I know I’ll be able to focus the lens manually, but can I set the aperture manually as well?

    Thanks.

    1. You should get the Sony LA-EA3 adapter which controls the aperture for you so you or the camera can select the aperture. And don’t expect good astro performance from that lens at f/2.8, f/4 should work okays but for very good results you need to stop it down to f/5.6.

  52. Hi thank for great review,i want to buy a samyang/rokinon 85mm f1.4 for my sony a6000
    waht’s your opinion about this lens for portrait? and in my countery is so hard to find a e mount version,and i think buy a canon mount and use it with adapter,these adapters will reduce T stop and sharpness?
    should i buy e mount?
    thank you,

    1. I think the Samyang is a very nice lens for portrait: Very smooth bokeh and good sharpness from f/1.4. I was less than thrilled by the build quality though and Samyang doesn’t have the best quality control.

      An adapter won’t reduce sharpness or T stop, at worst there will be some play but that only happens with bad adapters

  53. Hi phillip

    Thanks for the great review and beautifull sample photos. Has the Hybrid AF of the A7 any cons to the IQ because of interpolation?

    Thanks and best wishes,

    silvio

  54. “You have to do everything yourself. You have to think about the aperture and set it manually. ”
    Why do you say this? All the A7 are “saying” that you over or underexpose, aren’t they?

  55. Hi – just curious if you have lens wiggle if so, do you think its a big deal? I considered getting the tough e mount but I’m not sure if it’s just a waste money or if it will effect the vignette when using manual lenses.

    Cheers

  56. Hello! Sorry for the rather late reply but I just found your site and have found it invaluable. Have you ever tried out the OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.4? I have been using that recently on my OM-1 and its surprisingly sharp. It’s only about $60 and has a great build. Maybe it can make it to your top lenses list 🙂

    Cheers!

  57. I also found the assignment of Focus Settings (which includes Focus Magnification) to the C1 button awkward to use. I moved this function a couple of times before settling on assigning it to the Down Button of the Control Wheel. Usually the first thing I want to do when I have the orange rectangle on screen is to move it using the Control Wheel. so having the button that switches it on assigned to the Control Wheel means that my thumb can seamlessly start moving the target without having to move around the camera, since it’s already in exactly the right place.

  58. Hello,

    Amazing detailed article that has convinced me to go legacy until I can afford otherwise. I have one questions, how do you, or is it necessary to do lens profile corrections in LR. For example my FE 28 f/2 has terrible distortion but is automatically corrected in LR. Do the Minolta lenses above have similar distortion, and if so how do you correct them?

    Thanks,

    Andrew.

  59. Hi Phillip,

    some times ago you recommended a converter software for converting Sony arw files to Adobe dng files. I seached for the review with your recommondation but I haven`t found it. Will you plaese be so kind and recommend it again. Thank you very much.

    Sincerely yours

    M. Jäkel

  60. Hello, simple question from a beginner: what is the effect of using an adapter in terms of focal lenght? How is the additional length between glasses and sensor compensated?

    1. It doesn’t have any effect on the focal length. Simply speaking the adapter fills the space which is usually occupied by the mirror in a SLR so that the distance between the lenses and sensor is exactly the same.

  61. Phillip,

    a. Thank you for your work here. You are a godsend!

    b. A question which has withstood much google-research without result: what is the most effective focal length to tell my A7ii IBIS that I am using when I attach a Hasselblad 150mm lens? My “logic” goes this way; 80mm is “normal” for the Hasselblad 60×60 format. 50mm is “normal” for the A7ii 24×36 format. 50 is 62.5% of 80. 62.5% of 150 is slightly less than 93.8mm. I don’t know how to, or even whether to, compensate for the different aspect ratios of the two formats. So far, I just set the IBIS to 90mm and shoot. Seems to work pretty well. But I wish someone smart would tell me if I am leaving any sharpness on the table with this setting “logic”. Thank you. Best wishes from Texas. PS I am very fond of using this lens. I just bought an 80mm, set to arrive late next week. I’m imagining setting its focal length for the IBIS to 50mm. Thoughts?

    1. Hi,
      how do you attach die Hasselblad monster lenses to the Sony A7ii with its near grip? Could you post a picture, tx!

  62. Thank you! You are the first person to say anything in response to my question other than, “I don’t know, but that’s an interesting question”! “180” (actually 150) it is for me from now onwards. Thanks, again!

  63. Hi and thank you fot your hints.
    My question is how the view finder correction wheel (for people needing glasses or “optically challenged”) is disturbing the result of the search for sharpness. Is what I see what I get..? Tx for that!

  64. Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information about this
    topic for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now.
    But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you certain in regards to the supply?

  65. Hi Phillip,
    Love the pictures and thanks for outlining the main issues with manual lenses. I’ve been using an EOS-M but really need a viewfinder and I’m looking out for a used NEX-6. I like the idea of using my early 80s Pentax ME Super 50mm lens, (and borrowing my Dad’s collection of PK lenses) especially as PK to E mount adapters are under a tenner on Amazon. I’ve read adapter descriptions that say ‘doesn’t transmit aperture information’. Does aperture priority work with a manual lens? Or can the camera just read light levels off the sensor anyway, and is that reliable? Or perhaps I need a better/more expensive adapter? Might be worth adding a line or two to clarify apertures/adapters in the main article. Many thanks

  66. My first and only foray into legacy manual glass is the lieca r 135mm f2.8, and i like the rendering quite a bit. I’m primarily a portrait photographer, and so sharpness isnt a huge concern for me. So im looking for some portrait glass on the shorter end, 75-100. From the research ive done, quality wide aperture legacy glass + cost of novaflex adapter runs only a bit cheaper than new glass. My ideal setup would be loxia 85 2.4 for small and lightweight handheld shots and milvus 135 f2 for tripod work. But that combo is about 3800 with adapter.

    Any recommendations for comparable quality in legacy glass – at less than 500 per lens?

    1. And might be overkill – i shoot primarily with a7s so colossal amounts of detail is not what im after. I do have an a7 and 70-200 fe f4 if i want super sharp and detailed. What im looking for lovely rendering and glow.

  67. One reason to buy the Alpha 7 II has been that I did want to be able to continue to use my old Zeiss Manual lenses with Contax/Yashica Mount.

    I recently tested the Zeiss 2.0/100mm and only can say I love that a lot. It’s sharpness and color fidelity are very good.

    Now I also start to understand why this old lense fetches today being a used lense almost the same as when I bought it as a new lense.

  68. Thanks for all this info! It’s great. But the one question I came here for wasn’t addressed. At least not that I saw anyway. What program mode do you use when using these lenses? Obviously you have to control the focusing and the aperture manually, but how do you set the camera settings for the best result? Or any result? Obviously will differ from camera to camera, but do you select M (full manual) or something else?

    Thanks

      1. Thanks. And sorry if I sounded blunt and critical — I just reread my question and it didn’t come across the way I intended. 🙂

        Since I posted that a couple days ago, I now have some experience with this and yes, aperture priority the way to go. Sometimes M, but mostly A, yup.

        Getting gorgeous results so far using a nothing-fancy Minolta Maxxum AF 50mm f/1.7 and the Maxxum 35-105mm on my Sony a5000.

        Cheers

  69. Hello Phillip,
    without probably having read every entry in every category, have you also looked at tele zoom lenses? Especially one lens “from my youth” always seemed like the dream lens to me, the Vivitar Series 1 70-210. There are several versions of this lens, a very good description can be found here: http://www.robertstech.com/vivitar.htm
    Have you heard of this lens, or ever owned or used one? Are they as good as their reputation (especially “Version 3” from Komine)? The nice thing about using them with an A7 is that you do not depend on a specific mount, but can use any available, right?
    I love the blog, if I had the money I would go and buy an A7 II tomorrow 🙂

  70. Phillip,

    Apologies in advance for this long winded post. I wrote it as an article, and now I am looking for people who are knowledgable on the subject to lend some advice. If you could help me, I would be very grateful!

    The new Sony A7rII firmware (v 3.30) killed my workflow!

    I do a large variety of different types of photography. Different situations present challenges and opportunities to use equipment in creative ways. A flexible system is very valuable in these moments! One of the great benefits of the Sony A7 / FE system is its flexibility. The most recent firmware has crippled some important functionality for me. I hope there’s a way to restore it!

    The specific moment and type of photography in question is close range, social/cocktail party style photography in dimly lit spaces. I focus on a documentary approach, and look for emotion and reactions amongst the people to capture. There’s no time for slow, low light auto focus – I have to mingle and pop the shutter on an instinctual basis with very little prep time in each scene.

    My method goes back to the days before digital. I learned this technique from my first photographic boss, and mentor, Steven Gross of real life weddings in Chicago. His method was to use a Leica M6 in his right hand, and in his left hand a Vivitar 283 flash with a wide angle diffuser connected to the camera via long cable. He would then focus using the distance scale on the lens, set it to approximately 1 meter, the lens at f/8, the shutter dragged a bit, and the Vivitar set to an automatic mode for proper flash outlet. The photographer mingles amongst the crowd with camera close to the chest and flash nonchalantly held in the left-hand. At the decisive moment the left-hand brings the flash up and to the left angling down towards the subject at 45°, the camera goes to the eye, and the shutter is depressed 2 to 3 times. The whole exercise takes just a few seconds – it’s like a little karate move!

    When done properly, this technique yields exceptional results. When I was working for Steven, I quickly invested in a Leica M6, Vivitar 283, and learned this technique well.

    Links to 2 recent photos using this method:
    http://www.marktomaras.com/weddings/ac#9
    http://www.marktomaras.com/weddings/ac#8

    Fast forward to the first days of digital and this technique became more challenging. For starters there weren’t any professional digital cameras anywhere near the size and weight of a Leica M6, so holding the camera in one hand for an extended party became difficult. I’ve used this technique with a Canon 5D and a hand strap, and a flash connected via radio slave. I’ve also used it with my digital Leica M cameras, with flash both wired and wireless.

    Fast forward to today, where I am invested in the Sony A7rII system, and this technique gets a new fresh breath of air in feasibility and outcome! The Sony body is lightweight, and the lens choice almost infinite.

    when I switched to Sony, I looked heavily into the available flash options. I needed a flash with built in radio receiver – no reason to have a radio slave receiver attached to a flash anymore – all I want is a transmitter on the camera and the receiver built into the flash. The Phottix Odin transmitter system along with the Phottix Mitros + flash rose to the occasion. I own four of these flashes and two of the transmitters. Not only do I use this system in the way I’ve described in this letter, but I also use it as a location lighting kit when I don’t need very high output. I essentially have four heads and can use them with any number of light modifiers.

    My general recipe for exposure with this system in the Steven Gross style party photography is to set the camera at approximately ISO 3200, the shutter at approximately 1/30th of a second, the lens at f/8, manually focus the lens to 1 m, set the viewfinder to ignore exposure and show me a bright image, and I get to work! The Phottix flash is set to TTL, and I get great results.

    One challenge with the Sony FE body and Lens is the small time delay, even in manual focus, when during exposure, the camera stops the lens down to take the exposure. Despite this being brief, it is not instant, and it slows me down. This led me to experimenting with different lenses.

    I recently shot a wedding, and when I used this technique, I used a rented, manual focus Zeiss Loxia 35mm lens. Being a manual lens, it didn’t need to stop down to the taking aperture, it stayed in f/8. This meant that my shooting technique could be at it’s maximum efficiency and preserve total spontaneity. Woo hoo!

    The downside is, I prefer 28mm for this method. 35mm works, and the Loxia is lovely, but 28mm gives me a bit more depth of field, and a bit more field of view. I looked into adapting a Leica M lens (or m mount lens) to the Sony, but the rangefinder wide angles are not a great fit with the Sony A7 series. I then started recently experimenting with older manual focus SLR lenses. Most decent 28mm manual focus lenses are going to perform well at f/8, even if they are aging designs.

    I first tried a Nikon AIS 28mm lens with Novoflex adapter. The technique worked brilliantly with the Sony and the Phottix, but in the end, I wasn’t blown away by the lens. Research led me to an obscure-ish lens made by Pentax – an f/3.5 version of one of their 28mm lenses. At f/11, this lens is outstanding. I bought it, and an adapter, and took it to work yesterday.

    As is my habit, I tested the gear, and I had noticed that my method was hobbled. The flash exposures were not working at all. Either they didn’t sync or they were blown out. What the hell??!!

    Enter Firmware 3.30. I was using 3.10 for a long while, and remembered to upgrade last week. 3.30 rewrites some of the code governing flash control as Sony now has a radio transmitter (but still no flash with a built in receiver).

    So now, oddly enough, when I use an adapted manual focus lens, I can no longer use the technique that I have been using for many years with great result. It does seems to work with a native FE lens, but that little delay every time I squeeze the shutter kills me. I am not sure why this would matter anyway. TTL metering uses a sensor to measure light – it shouldn’t need to know what aperture the lens is at. Anyway, I am quite sad about this – especially as I just spent a ton of time researching, buying, and selling lenses and adapters to use in this method!

    I spoke to Sony and Phottix. Sony was completely unhelpful. So sad that they are moving up in the ranks of competition with Canon & Nikon, yet their pro service is lacking in a huge way. I asked for the installer for the 3.10 firmware. They refused and made excuses. Sorry, you can’t have it. Give me a break.

    So now I have a Pentax lens that seems really promising, and I can’t use it. I wasted a ton of time, and most of all, I can no longer shoot in the way that I found to work so well.

    Any advice on how I can find a solution here?

    1. I shot with a very similar setup until recently (Nikon D600 and Sony a7). A few observations:

      Due to its long flange distance, the Nikon will only accept Nikon F-Mount lenses. On the Sony, you can use just about any lens with the right adapter.

      With the Nikon, you can enter manual lens data into the camera to get partial EXIF data (focal length and aperture). Very few adapters (the Techart pro is the only one I’m aware of) allow this on the Sony, and even then it’s very fiddly process.

      When shooting handheld, focusing precision is limited with the Nikon because of the optical viewfinder. When shooting fast lenses wide open, I almost never managed to hit correct focus with the Nikon. Your mileage may vary, of course. A huge advantage for the Sony. On a tripod, where you can use live view, the Nikon works fine.

      Image Stabilization – only Sony has it. On the other hand, the Nikon body is much more comfortable to hold and also heavier, so I found that it does not need stabilization as much as the Sony does. Still, a clear advantage for the Sony.

      Electronic first curtain shutter (EFCS) – only Sony has it. I found the effects of the first curtain to be easily visible in the Nikon when using longer lenses with a tripod mount. May not be relevant for you, but if it affects you, there’s no workaround except to buy a D810.

      About the better DXO Score: true – even though the Sensor is basically identical, the Nikon has the edge in electronics and about one stop better dynamic range, even if you use uncompressed raws on the Sony. As mentioned, I used both cameras in parallel for over a year, I do like to pull shadows up quite a lot (one-shot HDR), and still never saw a relevant difference. Even though I only had the a7 with its compressed raws. But I often got much better sharpness because of precise focusing and EFCS – see above.

      On little tidbit that is completely irrelevant in practice, but can affect shots of test patterns, so be careful when analyzing these. Both of these cameras have an anti-alias filter that works only in one direction: Vertical on the Nikon but horizontal on the Sony. Most easily visible on siemens stars. So if a test scene contains only feature in one orientation, it will unfairly favor one of the cameras (vertical patterns are sharper on the Nikon, and horizontal ones are sharper on the Sony).

      Since I prefer MF lenses, I recently sold my Nikon and switched over to Sony.

  71. Hello Phillip,

    This is a really great guide as usual. For the sake of debating there’s a couple thing I don’t agree 100%:
    1) “situations were AF is superior” are actually more common then depicted here: kids, sports, street with movement, wedding with movement etc…
    2) “the image stabilizer is overestimated by most”. It really depends on what you shoot: sur you can boost the speed to avoid blur but if your camera is not a god of high iso you will run out of margin fast especially for: a) long lens b) low light shooting.

    So sure if you shoot landscape & slow moving objects with short focal lenght no problem for 1 & 2. But if you do everything like me…AF and stabilization is a saver sometimes…

    That’s it for the debate part…I agree 100% for the rest.
    Like me you must have started manual lens a long time ago and see the price of those lens increase dramatically, because it s becoming super trendy! Sometimes I see like minolta 85mm f1.7 or 2 going for 3/400€ when a good canon 85 f1.8 goes for 200€. Personnally I use a la ea4 (and manual lens) and I have made great deals on amazing minolta af lens because people have left them for zeiss/leica/voig manual or FE lens so I can’t complain!!!

    1. Hi Steph,
      I have shot a wedding with manual lenses and my friends were very happy with the results as well as kids. There is no debate that it is less convenient and one will probably miss some images but I wanted to make it clear that it can be done and you won’t be limited to shooting rocks with your manual lenses.

      Again, I am not saying that it is useless but those two stops rarely make the difference between a good and a lost picture. Sometimes they absolutely do though!

      I started about 5 years ago with manual lenses and some lenses I bough back the cost twice as much today.
      Phillip

  72. Don’t know if this is useful for other manual focus shooters, but I found a way to increase my manual focusing accuracy – especially in bright sunshine conditions which cause the viewfinder to go unpleasantly dark.

    Since focus peaking to me is way too unreliable, I prefer to use the manual focus aid under CF1. In bright sunlight, however, it is often difficult to judge the sharpness of the viewfinder image. This can be resolved by:
    1. Focusing with closed aperture (in bright sunlight, I usually shoot A mode). Note: live view is on, so the viewfinder shows the final image.
    2. In order to pinpoint my focus, I then push CF1, bringing up the focus aid rectangle. If necessary, I move this to the area in my image I want to focus on.
    3. To brighten my viewfinder image subsequently, I open my aperture . I have found that the live view effect does not work when the focus aid is activated, so my dark viewfinder image brightens substantially.
    Of course, this works best with the old fashioned preset aperture lenses, but I can follow the same procedure with my FD and Minolta glass.
    4. Bringing up enlargement , I can focus fairly well – also thanks to the fact that I can regulate my viewfinder brightness by allowing more or less light to enter through my aperture. An additional advantage is that I focus wide open, thus placing my focus point halfway in my depth of field.
    5. Once focus is established, i switch off the focus aid and dial in the final aperture and exposure, using the histogram in my viewfinder.

    Obviously, this is not a focusing process for quick action shots, but when accurate focus on a specific point is desired it works fine – for me, at least.

  73. Hi, nice post. Thank you .-)
    Focusing: “A third method”.
    This is true for your camera´s EVF but also for any camera´s back screen, using LiveView (+ magnification) to focus?
    Thanks.

  74. The EVF is 0,5inch with 2.359.296 pixel.
    If you use the LCD sreen, it is impossible to see details during a sunny day. Resolution of the LCD is 921.600 pixel at 3inch. If you try under optimal circumstances to focus exactly it is not possible. Later versions will probably (hopefully) improove these two screens (higher resolution and better dynamic range).

  75. Thanks. Your camera´s EVF is better than my screen, indeed.
    My 5DIII rear screen is 1044 dots (348 pixels). Its hard sometimes to focus with manual lens (I use a few); I know. I wish I have the Leica SL EVF for critical focus.
    Cheers.

  76. At least with SONY’s APS-C bodies, you can’t lose on this track. So much great glass out there for a pittance.

    Just copped a clean, used a6000 body this week on Adorama, so I’m officially in the club. Already have several E>A manual adapters and plenty of vintage glass to work with before I get an LA-EA4 for the AF lenses.

    Made the decision to carry a camera every day now with one fortunate manual lens – got enough or ’em for a different one each day. The a6000 will be a treat to play with – great features and controls.

    Thanks for the constant prodding, Phillip. We need someone like to keep us from noddng off…

  77. Hi Philip
    Been following your post and fantastic pictures since before I got my (now broken) A6000. Seeing as I am in the market for a new body I am considering the A6500 for it IBIS with manual lenses. The reason I’m looking at ibis is for use with longer lenses ie 200/300mm for shooting windsurfers/surfers.
    Any idea how effective the ibis would be while in magnified mode while hand held trying to focus. With the A6000 just trying to keep subject in frame was difficult
    I don’t do a lot of this type of shooting to justify the likes of the Sigma 150-600mm or the shorter more expensive sony lenses, but like the challenge

    Ever try anything like this ?
    Some examples of my attempts on the website link with varying lengths between 100/200mm F4/5.6

      1. Hi, Phillip. Having acquired a lightly used and LN A7 II this week (I’m pretty jazzed by this one!)… and coming back into the A7 camera fold, this time with IBIS, I am suddenly interested in the Canon EF 200mm f.4.0 L zooms, which I’ve looked into thoroughly (I also have a Canon M3/EVF APS-C mirrorless body).

        Taking account of your answer above, would you still give the same advice when the body in question is the FF A7 II? It’s my understanding that the IBIS performance in this first generation system for FF sensor falls considerably short of Sony’s marketing claims. The lens stabilized version of the f.4.0 Canon L is, of course, easy to acquire, too; but I prefer to focus my resources first on prime lenses which will be useable with the Leitax bayonet exchange adapters or the like on a Pentax K-1, which I anticipate acquiring at some opportune time down the road. Canon EF lenses will do me no good there.

        Thanks for your advice, Phillip. Either Canon is an excellent buy secondhand here in the U.S. with lots to choose from, and one of those can always be sold on without much trouble or economic pain.

    1. David, if you want my humble opinion for shooting fast sports on 200mm + on apsc (a6xxx):
      1) Manual focus will make you miss a lot of shots, trust me. I do those kind of shooting and you want to be in sport mode or equivalent with high frame rate and high autofocus speed. A Tamron 70-300 usd is not expensive and can give you great results
      2) Sony is not the best in terms of good quality for price. Sigma tamron definitely better but you will need to go la eax adapter or sigma mc11 as mentionned by phil. A lot of people think Canon and nikon make more sense for that specific use.
      3) you will need at least a monopod (or a tripod), especially if the sun is not fully out…The ibis is thus less important. be carefull

  78. Hi Phillip,
    I noticed you snuck a shot with the Tamron 54B in this article. Can we expect a review of that lens? I adore it and put up with it’s flaws because of it’s very small size for a 300mm.

    Another adaptall stand out is the 151B, which is a tiny 17mm.

    Also, the 19AH which is not small at all, but an outstanding performing 70-210 zoom, and I end up lugging it around more often than not.

    Some of the old adaptall SP lenses are really quite good and I was very excited to see that great shot with one. Not many people realize you can forgo the weird springy adaptall adapters and get direct e mount adapters.

  79. In your post, you give a few hints about focusing manually. But with those lenses, everything is manual. How hard is it to adjust correctly and manually the speed of the shot? And do you need an external ightmeter?

  80. Hi Philip,

    I have bunch of Legacy Minolta MF Lenses and trying to use them on Sony A6000.

    50MM F1.4 matches well with Camera. I am having issues with a MD 16mm F2.8 Fisheye. I am finding strong blue color cast in all images. Please advise me if there is a workaround for this in Camera Settings. I had been using AWB , Shade and Daylight WB. Thank you.

  81. Hi Phillip,
    Regarding the “shimmering” of the subject’s texture as a focusing aid, it is quite useful and thank you for the tip. Unfortunately I see it only at certain distances and focus magnifications. It is not a defect, but a moiré effect due to the resolution of the EVF. Try rotating the camera for increased effect when the texture does not align with the rake of the EVF.
    On another note, I have both a Novoflex and a Metabones adaptor for my Leica R lenses. Both are very good quality, the Metabones is heavier, chrome-plated at both ends, has tight tolerances and is stiffer to turn. The Novoflex is butter-smooth, but the setting screw for the optional tripod collar prevents the fingers from gripping the a7R II, IMO a waste of money, whereas the Metabones tripod support is very unobtrusive and I don’t worry about the weight of the lenses. However, if I look at the rear element of the lenses with the collars mounted on them, with the Metabones I can clearly see the cams of the lenses and part of the front chromed mounting ring. With the Novoflex, I can only see the cams and a tiny sliver of the mounting ring. So far I have seen no evidence of reflections from either adaptor.

  82. Thank you, Philip for the ideas! Can you please recommend a cheap macro lens, for my a6000? I need it taking photos to some handmade products made by my wife.

  83. Thanks for a great write up! The main reason I bought the Sony a7ii is the full frame and great flexibility. I own a series of Nikkor non Ai , Ais and D lenses. I usually set to ASA auto and shoot wide open, and the pictures are simply awesome (compared with film or Nikon earlier DSLR).

    Here are some problems I encountered and if you can help will be great:

    1. If I set ASA to manual at ASA100, the view finder can become very dim at low light even the lens is fully open for F2 or F1.4 large aperture lens. There is no auto stop down so if I set to F8 then the view finder is totally dark. Of course , if set to ASA auto this problem will go away. Is there a way to set the view finder to remain visible at low light when setting ASA to manual at low settings?

    2. Manual flash is a night mare. I set the a7ii at manual M for ASA 100, 1/125 lens at F4, and set the off camera flash (SB22) to Auto mode F4. The picture always turn out washed out. I have to set flash comp at -3 stops, on top of exposure at -3 steps… still a hit and miss. When doing this with Nikon DSRL at exactly same setting, no problem. Is there some settings I have overlooked? Thank you so much!!

    1. 1. If you use A-mode this shouldn’t happen. But you can set Setting Effect to off which will deactivate exposure preview.
      2. No idea, I very rarely use flash and when I do my old Metz usually works fine.

  84. Hello,
    Thank you very much for a great post. I am currently considering selling my canon 70d and purchasing sony a7 ii since i always wanted to upgrade to full frame. I shoot film as well and I own numerous manual nikon lenses such as 35mm f2 50mm f2 85mm f2 (planning on purchashing more). Do you think it would be okay to use only manual nikon lenses with sony a7 ii? I love manual lenses and I am on a budget so I thought this would be a good idea share my old nikon manual lenses with sony a7 ii and not buy and modern lenses.
    Thank you

      1. Thank you for the prompt reply. I think I will be switching to Sony thanks to your recommendation. But I have a few questions. It would be greatly appreciated if you would answer these questions.
        1. How good are old nikkor ai, ais manual lenses compared to olypus zuiko, minolta or canon fd lenses?

        2.I have noticed in your post that you mainly use minolta and canon lenses. Is there a reason for the preference? Is it because they are superior than the nikon lenses?

        3.Can I just keep one adapter mounted on the sony body and just mount nikon lenses on and off instead of having an adapter for every lens?

        4.When shooting in aperture priority mode with manual lenses, is it possible to set aperture on the lens and have a fixed ISO and let the camera choose to shutter speed for the correct exposure?

        5.When looking through the viewfinder, is it always bright even when the aperture is stopped down to f22?

        I understand that these are a lot of questions and I value your time, so it is okay even you can’t answer these questions.

        Thank you

        1. 1. They play in the same league
          2. No, but usually cheaper
          3. Yes
          4. Yes
          5. The EVF works different than an optixal viewfinder. The aperture will be closed all the time but as long as you have suffient light the image will be bright. At f/22 it will be very dark for artificially lit scenes but brigth on a sunny day outside.

  85. While on vacation, besides the outdoor shots, I can often only take hand-held no-flash shots inside museums, cathedrals, etc. in low light situations. My old Minolta XE-7 with its MC 50mm 1.4 lens was great as was the MC 28mm 2.8 lens. I like my Pentax K-10, but it’s bulky for carrying all day, especially with extra lenses. So I’m thinking of going to a Sony a6000 or a6300 with the kit lenses, but they aren’t well suited for the interior shots and a fast f1.4 lens is probably too expensive. I think using my Minolta 50 mm 1.4 lens indoors could be a reasonable solution. As I understand it, using my legacy Minolta 50mm lens with an e-mount adapter on the Sony would be about the same as using a 75mm lens on my old XE-7 because of the difference between film full-frame vs the Sony sensor size. But I’ve never seen any mention if there is any correction for the lens aperature. Does my MInolta f1.4 lens from my XE-7 still function as a f1.4 when mounted to an adapter and the Sony a6000/a6300 camera? Or does the f1.4 function as a different aperature when mounted to the Sony? If so, what is the correction factor?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Mike,

      if you set your Sony a6000 to ISO 100 and use the MC 1.4/50 @ f/1.4 you will get the same exposure times as you would get with the XE-7 and a ISO 100 film.

      Depth of field with the MC 1.4/50 will be similar to a 2/75

  86. Thanks for the great review. I have the A77ii and I am now buying a used A7R for architectural photography and a Nikon
    and Minolta adapter for starters. Your review did not mention anything about aperture control. I can’t find any adapters with manual aperture and some lenses don’s have manual aperture. There are some newer Nikon AF lenses that seem to have a manual aperture override? Any advice?
    PS: the Minolta 80-200mm f2.8 HS is fantastic as well. Unfortunately I was one of the first to review it on Youtube and now the prices have climbed a lot especially with the surprise A99ii arrival.
    Thanks.

    1. Almost any manual lens has an aperture ring. Many modern lenses control the aperture through the camera.

      So for which mount and which lenses do you need an adapter? If it is Nikon G lenses, check out this guide:

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