Simple Guide To Sony E-Mount Adapters

ShadowSimple Guide To Sony E-Mount Adapters

One of the reasons mirrorless Sony cameras are gaining popularity in the photographic community is that, apart from having great sensors, they offer the most flexibility in terms of using third party lenses to date.

Indeed, it seems like these cameras were made with this in mind.

Do you have a collection of old manual lenses laying around but you are not sure you can make any use of them because you are (maybe a little too much) used to autofocus?

No problem!

The focus peaking feature will make sure you see exactly what your focus is on

and for the moments when you need even more precision, the 6x and 12x magnification is available at your fingertips with the touch of a button.

But in order to put those off-brand lenses on your Sony, you need an adapter that will have Sony e-mount on one side and whatever lens you want to mount on the other. And if you do a quick search on E-bay or Amazon you might quickly become overwhelmed by all the options. But don't worry.

focus peaking

This guide not only help you get oriented to the market, but also will make suggestions on which adapters are ultimately the best and/or are the best value.

focus peaking

So, without farther delay, let’s begin.

Things to keep in mind.

If you’re the proud owner of a Full-Frame e-mount Sony (that’s A7, A7R, A7S, A7 II, A7R II and A7S II), in order to take advantage of the full 35-mm sensor you should avoid adapters that have ‘Speed Booster’ or ‘Turbo’ in their description, as those will convert the image circle down to a cropped APS-C format. If you have an APS-C camera, those will be fine. However, I recommend that you avoid them so that if you upgrade to a full-frame Sony you won’t have to change the adapters.

Here’s the list of trusted brands that worked closely with Sony on developing very well-made adapters (sorted by price range). You can trust products from these brands even if they are not mentioned in the review below:

  • Novoflex
  • Voigtlander
  • Metabones
  • Fotodiox
  • Vello

Here’s the complete list of Sony cameras with which all the adapters described below will work: A7 II, A7R II, A7S II, A7, A7R, A7S, A6300, A6000, A5100, A5000, NEX-7, NEX-6, NEX-5(n/r/t) as well as all Sony NEX camcorders.

Autofocus compatible (a.k.a. "smart") adapters

(All the adapters below support autofocus capabilities and EXIF data transmission, albeit, a number of the AF functions are limited due to Sony's own restrictions – meaning no Eye AF, no Lock-on AF, and no phase detection in video with all the adapters except for Sony LA-EA4)

For Canon EF/EF-S lenses:

FotodioX AF Adapter for Canon EF to Sony E-Mount ($100)
Adapter Fotodiox CanonThis is our top-pick adapter for Canon lenses. Because not only does it allow you to use autofocus with Canon EF lenses, save all the EXIF data, control aperture, and use image stabilization but buying it won’t break the bank.

The focus speed and accuracy won’t be the same as with the native Sony lenses, so if you’re planing to use it to photograph sports or children running around, I should just tell you now that it’s not going to work. However, it will definitely spare you the necessity of manually adjusting focus every time you want to take a street photo, portrait or landscape.
Also, it’s relatively cheap compared to the 4 times more expensive Metabones adapter.

Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-Mount Smart Adapter IV ($400)
Adapter Metabones Canon
This is the best made and best performing adapter you can get for Canon EF lenses. Metabones was the first company to make a "smart" adapter, so they have had 4 generations to try and perfect it. As such it’s a little better made and performs faster than ForodioX. But still not fast enough for sports photography. It also features two modes: green and advanced. The former cuts back on some features to save the battery life of the camera, which is quite a problem with Sony e-mount cameras. The manufacturer is also very committed to hardware updates, so the chances are this adapter will only get better as time passes. Still, considering there is a 4-fold difference in price, I think FotodioX adapter is a better overall choice.

Viltrox EF-NEX II Canon EF to Sony E Mount Adapter ($80)
Adapter Metabones Canon
Until FotodioX re-released its adapter, it was the only alternative to Metabones. Overall, it performs solidly and you won’t have any complaints about the quality, but it’s just a touch worse than that of FotodioX. If you’re really on a tight budget you can buy it without hesitation but I’d recommend you find an additional $20 and upgrade to our top-pick by FotodioX.

Sigma MC-11 EF Lens adapter for Sony E-mount ($250, available soon)
The recently announced adapter by Sigma slides into the middle price range and can fully make use of Canon lenses all while maintaining functional stabilization and EXIF data.

It also features an integrated LED to display mounted lens compatibility with your camera body.

I cannot speak to the performance of this adapter as it isn't for sale yet, however, we will update this article as soon as it’s tested.

For Sigma SA lenses

Sigma MC-11 SA lens adapter for Sony E-mount ($250, available soon)
Recently announced adapter by Sigma allows you to put-on your camera originally made Sigma lenses with and keep all the functions of the lens, such as autofocus, image stabilization, EXIF data and in-camera lens correction. Just like Sigma’s adapter made for Canon lenses it has built-in LED to display mounted lens compatibility with your camera body and isn’t available for sale yet.

For Nikon G/F lenses

Commlite Nikon F to Sony E Autofocus Electronic Lens Adapter ($400, available soon)
The release of this first-of-its-kind adapter for Nikon lenses has already been postponed several times. The latest promised released date is late April 2016, and when it does come to stores it will be a game changer for Nikon owners. And now, not only will Nikon cameras use Sony made sensors, but Sony cameras will also be able to use Nikon made lenses.

For Sony A and Minolta Maxxum lenses

Sony LA-EA3 Lens Mount Adapter ($200)
Adapter Sony A
Sony offers two adapters for you to be able to put any lens they made for their DSLR’s A-mount onto the newer e-mount. This one being cheaper and smaller, still offers all the goodness of "smart" adapters and will be the ideal pick for not-action photography genres, such as landscape, portraiture or architecture. For other genres, just like all other adapters, it will be too slow.

Sony LA-EA4 Lens Mount Adapter ($349)
Adapter Sony A
This one is a bigger, heavier and more expensive adapter. It is also the fastest autofocusing adapter - with it you can shoot anything with an A-mount lens that you would have on Sony’s DSLR as it supports continuous Phase Detection AF. This is possible because inside this adapter there is a dedicate focus sensor, just like the one found in DSLRs, and… a mirror. The mirror is there to direct light to that autofocusing sensor and let it "see". So, this might lead you to ask: "if there’s a mirror that redirects light to a focus sensor, how can I see, given that viewfinder on all e-mount cameras is electronic?" Don’t worry, you’ll be able to use the camera just like before and that’s because that mirror we spoke of is translucent. That means it both reflects some light down to the focus sensor and lets it through to a camera sensor in the same time. Of course, there’s a price for that and DxO estimates the light losses of using this adapter at 1/3 of a stop. This is also the only one adapter that’s not subject to restrictions such as no Eye AF, no Lock-on AF, and no phase detection in video.

For Contax G lenses

Techart Contax G to Sony NEX AF Adapter III ($270)
There are several adapters available for Contax G lenses, but if you’re looking to keep AF capabilities this is the one to get. It’s not cheap but with latest update it offers considerable improvements in focus speeds, however the results will vary greatly depending on the lens used.

Simple adapters

(adapters below just represent a piece of metal with one mount on one side and the e-mount on the other. They don’t have any electronics in them, so are lightweight and compact but you will need to focus manually and change aperture with on-lens dial)

For Canon EF/EF-S lenses

FotodioX Adapter for Canon EF to Sony E-Mount ($50)
This adapter is our top-pick for Canon lenses. It’s excellently built, affordable and has built-in iris control. What for you ask? Well, most of Canon lenses do not have a manual ring for adjusting aperture, which means you’ll be stuck with whatever aperture you previously set with your compatible camera. Having iris control built into the adapter allows you to have at least some control over the brightness and depth of field.

FotodioX Vizelex ND Throttle Adapter for Canon EF/EF-S to Sony E Mount ($200)
This is a version of a previous adapter on steroids. It has a similar design but is built with even better quality and instead of built-in iris control it has a natural density (ND) filter with an adjustable density from 2 to 10 stops. This last feature is a very handy thing to have for daylight photographers, and especially videographers, as it allows you to get a very shallow depth of field in extremely bright conditions.

For Canon FD/FL lenses

Fotodiox Canon FD/FL to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapter ($30)
Our top-pick. With this you’ll be able to use your beloved FD or FL lens on the Sony e-mount camera. They are well made and will serve your purposes.

Metabones Canon FD Mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($100)
Basically, a higher quality version of previous adapter from different manufacturer. It will perform the same but might be more durable in the long run and has that "premium" feel. If you have some spare cash, go for it. Otherwise the Fotodiox’ adapter will do just fine.

For Nikon G lenses

FotodioX Adapter for Nikon G to Sony E-Mount ($60)
Adapter Fotodiox Nikon G
This is the adapter we recommend you get for your Nikon G/F lenses. It has an all metal design and aperture control ring which will allow you to change the aperture even though there won’t be an electronic connection between the lens and the camera. It also has a unique switch for click-less aperture, which is a must have for smooth looking videos.

Vello Nikon G Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($60)
Offers the same features and build quality as FotodioX’ adapter but has a less bright design. In addition it features a 1/4″-20 tripod mount that will allow you to shift the camera's center of gravity, which is handy when using heavier lenses.

For Nikon F lenses

Vello Nikon F Mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($45)
Adapter Vello Nikon F
This well built, all metal adapter will make sure that your lens fits securely and you won’t have any problems with compatibility. The best value for Nikon F lenses.

Metabones Nikon F to Sony E-Mount Adapter II ($99)
Adapter Metabones Nikon F
Just like any other Metabones adapters this one is of super high-quality made with chromium plating on both the camera-body and the lens side of the adapter. Worth the premium if you have some extra cash.

Lensbaby Tilt Transformer for Sony NEX ($349)
Adapter Lensbaby Tilt Nikon F
Now this is not a simple adapter. In fact, it’s perhaps the most interesting one on the market. The times when you had control over the tilt and shift of the lens in any camera are long gone and now if you need those features, for example for architectural photography, you don’t have much choice but to buy $2000+ Canon and Nikon lenses that support tilt & shift adjustments. Well, it turns out you actually do have another option and it’s this adapter. It will allow you to convert any Nikon lens from 8 to 800mm to a tilt lens. Now, keep in mind that it doesn’t offer shift change, so it will hardly help with architecture, but will work nicely for landscape and product photography where you need a tilted focal plane for greater depth of field, or a wide open or much shallower one for creating that creative "toy" effect. It also tilts twice as far as any other lens available on the market, so extreme results are possible. Needless to say that it is high quality and not cheap. But compared to alternatives, it’s quite worth the investment if those are the effects you are after.

For Nikon S RF lenses

Fotodiox Nikon RF Rangefinder to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapter ($24)
Another well made Fotodiox’ adapter that offers a great value and allows you to put some Nikon lenses to use.

For Olympus OM lenses

FotodioX Adapter for Olympus OM to Sony E-Mount ($60)
Great stainless steel adapter for Olympus OM lenses which are known to be quality made and are quite compact. If you’re looking for premium feel, check out Metabones Olympus OM to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($99) or Novoflex Adapter for Olympus OM Lens to Sony E-Mount ($212)

For Pentax K lenses

Voigtlander Pentax K to Sony E Lens Mount Adapter ($180)
This is a premium quality adapter and although it is fully mechanical, you will fall in love with it. It’s noticeably better built than our second pick, so if you can afford it, you should go for this one.

Dot Line NEX Adapter for Pentax K Lenses ($50)
If you’re on a tight budget, here’s the cheaper alternative for you. It will serve the purpose, but the quality of Dot adapter is unfortunately not as high as that of FotodioX adapters for other mounts.

For Sony A lenses

Metabones Alpa Mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($119)
This is the only decent off-brand adapter you can get to keep using your A-mount lenses on new mirrorless bodies. It’s well built and if you don’t need autofocus ability it will be just what you’re looking for. However, given that for $200 you can get a Sony branded "smart" adapter, I think most people would opt for that.

For Minolta MD/MC lenses

FotodioX Adapter for Minolta MD/MC to Sony E-Mount ($60)
Best adapter you can get for Minolta lenses. It offers the best balance between built quality and price.

FotodioX Vizelex ND Throttle Adapter for Minolta MD Lenses ($100)
In essence the same as the above mentioned adapter, but features a built-in 10 stop variable ND filter. This will be very handy for filmmakers that are limited in shutter speed selection, as well as daylight photographers wishing to shoot wide open with a bright sun.

For Leica M lenses

Voigtlander VM-E Close Focus M Mount to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($309)
Adapter Leica M
If you’re a lucky owner of some Leica M-mount lenses, this is the adapter to get. Besides high quality materials that will match those of your lens, this is the only adapter available to solve the common problem associated with lenses made for rangefinders: the inability to focus close. But with this adapter it’s not a problem as it features 4mm Helicon focus extension. 4mm might not seem like much, but with a 50mm lens, it’s the difference between coming close enough for a head-shot versus a half-body shot.

Metabones Leica M Mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($90)
Adapter Leica M
A simpler and significantly cheaper adapter which still retains that premium feel. It doesn’t feature focus extension, so you won’t be able to get your subject as close as with Voigtlander’s adapter.

For Leica R lenses

Metabones Leica R to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($99)
High-quality adapter that also features a mount compatible with Arca Swiss ball heads.

For M39 lenses

Fotodiox Leica M39 to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapter ($16)
Adapter M39
This screw mount adapter will let you use any legacy lenses with M39 mount that you might have laying around. It’s well made, thin and light.

For M42 lenses

Fotga M42 to Sony E-mount Lens Adapter ($10)
Adapter M42
Despite being very inexpensive, it’s well made using anodized aluminum and will make sure your legacy lens fits firmly in place.

Fotodiox Pro M42 to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapter with Macro Focusing Helicoid ($16)
Adapter M42
For the small price of $6 dollars you can get this adapter which not only has a more rigid design but also features an extending focus helicoid tube which will allow you to turn any lens into a macro lens.


About the Author

Denis ProtopopovLandscape, lifestyle and product photographer for the past 3 yearsView all posts by Denis Protopopov →

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