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Making the lens fit the camera

OK, to answer the burning question: will the lenses from my old film camera fit any digital camera?

Minolta XG-1 or other manual focus Minoltas, such as the SRT-101 - no, they won't fit.

Lenses that fit an automatic focus Minolta - Maxxum or Dynax - will generally work on a Sony or Minolta DSLR.

Canon AE-1 or other manual focus Canons, such as the FT series or F1 - no, they won't fit.

Lenses that fit an automatic focus Canon EOS - Rebel - will generally work on a Canon DSLR.

Pentax K-Series (bayonet lenses) - yes, they will fit Pentax and Samsung digital SLRs but they won't focus automatically and they may be a pain to set the exposure.

Nikon F (bayonet lenses) - yes, they will fit Nikon digital SLRs but they won't focus automatically and they may be a pain to set the exposure.

Even if they will fit, you may not want to use old lenses on a new digital camera.

Digital SLRs mostly have a sensor that is smaller than 35mm film. That means that the 28mm lens from your film camera is not a wide-angle lens when used on a digital camera. So you're going to need one of the lenses that usually is included - pretty cheaply - with the purchase of a DSLR. Most come with an 18-55mm lens that gives a field of view similar to a 28-90mm lens used on a film camera. And they function properly with the new camera, and they focus automatically, and some even have image stabilization.

Old lenses you may want to use with a DSLR:

50mm f1.8 or f1.4 have much more light gathering ability than the typical zoom lens, so you can take better photos in low light levels. An old 135mm f2.8 or f2.5 lens is a great "long" portrait lens or action and stage lens because of its greater light sensitivity.

I'm talking about high quality lenses here - crappy lenses are even crappier when used on a DSLR. Digital cameras work best with lenses designed for them, particularly late model lenses with low internal flare levels.

Back to the original article, written in 1998

One of the reasons our customers buy advanced cameras is to have the option of choosing different lenses. Some think that any camera can take any lens, but no! None of the autofocus SLR's on the market take lenses designed to fit any other brand.

In the older, non-AF SLR, here's a brief rundown on what fits what:

Pentax Screw mount (also called Universal thread, M-42 mount) was actually first used on the East German Contax S and D cameras. The basic thread mount fits

  • old Pentaxes (Spotmatic, H-series, S-Series) old Yashicas old Rollei
  • old Mamiya-Sekors and Mamiyas
  • old Ricoh and most older Sears (Tower) cameras

Pentax F and ES had an extra cam for full-aperture metering.
Mamiya MSX and DSX did too, as did some Fujica ST cameras -- but each had that extra cam in a different spot!

With adapters, screw-mount lenses can be mounted on Rolleiflex SL 35 and still have automatic diaphragm.
With a different adapter, they can be mounted on Pentax bayonet, but with no automatic diaphragm.
With still different adapters, they can be mounted on Yashica/Contax bayonet, Minolta, Canon with non-automatic diaphragm.

PENTAX M, K BAYONET: (PK mount) Fits Pentax M, K, A series cameras. The earlier ones are not programmed on Pentax A- and P- series. Fits many Ricoh, Sears, and Chinon late cameras.
PENTAX A and PROGRAMMED LENSES will fit all model cameras with Pentax K mount.

Aftermarket models for Pentax bayonet mounts:
Vivitar PK/A/R lenses Will fit all Pentax and Ricoh,
Sigma KPR lenses will fit, and operate in program modes, on all Pentax and Ricoh Program Models

Manual mount Pentax bayonet lenses will fit and function on autofocus Pentax cameras, and AF lenses will fit the manual cameras too. The autofocus function only works when both the camera and lens are an autofocus model, of course.

Nikon:

  • Nikkor-F fits Nikon through F-2. Nikkormats, Nikkorex F and Ricoh Singlex (reportedly Mamiya made the Nikkorex F camera for Nikon and possibly also the Singlex models that used the Nikon lens mount.).
  • Late model Nikon reflexes use AI (Automatic Indexing) instead of the meter-coupling prong to connect to the light meter. AI lenses were made with the prong as well for full backward compatibility.
  • The Series E Nikon lenses didn't even have the prong, so will fit all models but will not couple to the meter of the early ones.
  • Early (non-AI) lenses put on late model cameras will usually fit - but try it gently to make sure the rim doesn't bind against the camera's lens mount. Don't put early lenses on an EM, FG, or 4004 or "low-end" AF models.

Fuji and Fujica SLR cameras

  • Fuji ST cameras use a Pentax thread-mount lens
  • Fuji STX lenses are a Pentax thread lens with an extra cam for full aperture metering.
  • Fuji AX lenses are a special bayonet mount. With an X-S adapter, thread mount lenses can be used on AX series cameras. They will always have automatic diaphragm operation, and with the X-D adapter will even work in programmed mode. This bayonet mount is not the same as the Pentax bayonet mount lens.

Minolta:

Every lens from the earliest SR-7 fits every SLR camera before Maxxum. MC lenses are meter-coupled. Earliest ones did not couple to the light meter -- they were designed for the earlier SR-1, SR-2 and SR-7.

MD lenses are capable of programmed operation with X700, shutter priority with XD-5 or XD-11. If an MC lens is used in the program mode, exposure will be correct but the in-camera display will not work right. The lens must be closed down to its smallest marked aperture for this to work.

Maxxum

Lenses to fit a Minolta MD series can be used on a MAXXUM with the special adapters made by Rokunar and others. The focal length is slightly increased, about 10 %. They're really a weak teleconverter with a Maxxum mount at the back and an SRT mount at the front.

Mirror lenses used on "ai" Maxxums, or anything else adapted, will not autofocus. Some Minolta Maxxums can't be used at all with non-automatic lenses - check with the Minolta fax-on-demand technical hotline about this.

Some independent manufacturers lenses that functioned properly with early model Maxxums won't work with later models. Minolta changed the chip at one point. All Minolta AF lenses should work with all Minolta cameras, except that the 500mm mirror lenses only works with "better" Maxxums.

Sears (Tower)

  • Sears cameras have usually used the same lens mount, be it thread or bayonet, as contemporary Pentaxes. Most were made by either Mamiya or Ricoh. Years ago some Sears "Tower" brand cameras were made by Pentax.
  • At least one Tower camera, the Model 37, used an Exacta bayonet mount!

Canon

Canon FD lenses will fit and work automatically on all AE, A, AV, AL. and T series cameras. Also F- 1, FT-B, TL-B, etc. The older FL lenses have the same breech-lock bayonet mount, but do not have full-aperture metering pins for the later A and T series cameras. EOS lenses work only on EOS.

Konica

Konica had a series of cameras before the Autoreflex that used a different lens mount. It's rarely that you'll encounter one -- Konica was the first company to "bite the bullet" and make the change in lens mount necessary for full automation. No new lenses are available for those older Konicas, though from time to time we run across used ones.

Less popular lens mounts

Exacta, Petri, Alpa, Topcon, Miranda, Praktica, Leicaflex - each has its own bayonet, not interchangeable with much of anything, not a significant factor in the marketplace. Exacta lenses can usually be mounted on Topcon focal-plane models but upside-down!

Interchangeable mount systems:

Some lenses don't fit directly on any camera without a mount. They are designed so that when the proper mount is attached, they will fit almost any camera.

  • T-Mount lenses: many pre-set lenses, mirror lenses, slide duplicators and other devices that don't have an automatic diaphragm use a system of interchangeable "T-mounts". Most T-mounts cost about $15-20. There are some female T-mounts available that allow you to do things like mount a Leica (39mm thread) enlarging lens on a bellows for close-up work. Example: the Beseler Dual Mode Slide duplicator uses a T-mount at the top, to mount the camera. It uses a female T-mount at the bottom to mount an enlarging lens, which is an excellent choice for copying or duplicating slides.
  • T-4 mounts are an interchangeable mount system that allow automatic diaphragm operation. Vivitar and Soligor made them. Mounts and lenses are interchangeable between the two makers.. T-4 lens adapters were not made for Konica or any shutter- priority system -- with the possible exception of Canon (the mount fits, but EE exposure is erratic.) TX is a later system that allows programmed operation and shutter priority. Some TX and T-4 mounts are interchangeable.
  • Tamron has had three separate systems:
    • Adapt-a-Matic (adapters for these lenses are no longer available
    • Adaptall
    • Adaptall-2 (almost the same is Adaptall)

    Most mounts are $40.

Uniswitch adapters from Samigon let you use Pentax screw mount lenses on various bayonet mount cameras. None will provide full-aperture metering or even automatic diaphragm control.

Reverse adapters let you turn the normal lens of an SLR around, so that you can take sharp extreme closeups. They do not use the automatic diaphragm mechanism, and leave the delicate levers exposed.


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