One of the best features of mirrorless cameras is that due to their thin body design, it’s possible to use virtually every make of 35mm lenses with the full angle of view for which those lenses were designed.
While writing my book, Sony a7 Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots, I tested a wide array of lens mount adapters. Here are the best lens adapters for Sony a7, a7R, a7S, a7II, a7RII, a7SII, a7 III, a7R III & a9.
AF Smart Adapters for Sony E-Mount Cameras
“Smart Adapters” are so named because they retain electronic communication between the camera and lens to provide automatic aperture control, EXIF data, image stabilization and autofocus.
Please Note: You’ll get the best AF performance from a7 II, a7R II, a7 III, a7R III, a9, along with a6300,a6400 & a6500 as these cameras enable Phase Detection AF with adapted lenses.
Sony LA-EA4 lens adapter is an exception to this since it uses its own AF system which works equally well with all Sony mirrorless cameras.
Sony A-Mount to E-Mount Lens Adapters
Before we jump into a discussion of third-party lens mount adapters, I should first mention a pair of Sony lens mount adapters made for mounting Sony A-Mount or Minolta Maxxum lenses on Sony A7 Series cameras.
Sony LA-EA3 lens adapter transmits the lens data to the camera to control aperture and uses the camera’s focus system to provide AF on SSM lenses. The LA-EA3 is and ideal choice when using SSM lenses in order to capture the highest possible resolution. ($199 at Amazon | B&H)
Sony LA-EA4 lens adapter adds full-time continuous Phase Detection AF using Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology making this adapter well-suited for shooting fast moving action or when shooting with older screw-drive lenses. According to DxO, the light loss from the translucent mirror is only 1/3 stop. Because it uses it’s own PDAF sensor, it works equally well with all Sony E-mount cameras. ($349 at Amazon | B&H)
Read more here: https://briansmith.com/sony-a-mount-lens-sony-a7rii-guide
PLEASE NOTE: While the Sony Adapters listed above come supplied with front and rear caps – most third-party adapters do not. My advice is that whenever purchasing a third-party adapter, you also purchase a Sony R1EM rear lens cap and a body cap for the lens mount you’re adapting.
Canon EF to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapters
Two AutoFocus Canon EF and EF-S lens Smart Adapters stand out above the rest.
Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-Mount T Smart Adapter V ($399)
Metabones is the original – and most popular – AF Smart lens adapter for Canon EOS to Sony E-mount.This is my adapter of choice as it’s the only Smart Adapter that gets regular user-installable firmware updates that improve AF performance with many Canon EF lenses not supported by cheaper adapters.
Sigma MC-11 EF Mount Converter for Sony E-mount ($249)
Enables all native AF functions including Eye AF, Lock-on AF and Video AF with Sigma EF-mount Art, Contemporary and Sport lenses on Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. This adapter also supports auto-exposure, in-camera lens correction, in-camera image stabilization and retains full EXIF data. Interior is flocked to reduce reflections. An integrated LED can be used to display select Sigma lens compatibility with the adapted camera body. This adapter also gets user-installable firmware updates, but please note that Sigma firmware updates are aimed on improving performance of Sigma EF lenses – not Canon or other brands.
Budget Canon EF Smart Adapters
I STRONGLY recommend the first two adapters listed above, but I’m often asked for ‘budget options’. Here are two options that work fairly well with most lenses – but unlike Metabones and Sigma MC-11, these adapters are NOT as consistent across the entire line of EF glass.
High-Speed Commlite CM-EF-E HS Lens Adapter ($159)
Commlite CM-EF-E HS lens adapter is the best of the sub-$200 Smart Adapters since it supports Phase Detection AF for faster AF. Users can switch between PDAD and Contrast AF by pressing the Focus Mode Button on the side of the adapter. CM-EF-E HS firmware update system is user-upgradeable via a USB port on the side of the adapter.
Order from Amazon
FotodioX Canon EF Lens Pro Fusion Smart AF Adapter ($100)
While it lacks Phase Detection and video AF support or user-installable firmware updates, this adapter does offer full electronic communication. With AF speed similar to the third-generation Metabones Smart Adapter III, this adapter works well with many – BUT NOT ALL – Canon EF lenses.
There are other Canon AF Smart Adapters on the market. I do not recommend any of them. Buyer Beware.
Shooting wide open at f/1.2 with Canon EF 85 f1.2 lens using a Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-Mount T Smart Adapter V allows you to limit focus so that only the eyes pop out of an otherwise soft, dreamy image. Only the eyes pop out of an otherwise soft, dreamy image.
Auto Focus Nikon to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapters
There are three Nikon AF Smart adapters on the market. All three are produced by Commlite with different branding. When using a7II, a7 III, a7RII, a7R III, a9, a6300 & a6500, they work fairly well with many of the newer Nikon Type G or E lenses. With older Nikkor D-Types lenses – yet they will still control aperture but forget about AF. Nikon PC-E lenses are also incompatible.
Read how they perform on a7 II, a7 III, a7R II, a7R III, a9, a6300, a6400 & a6500
Commlite Nikon F to Sony E Autofocus Electronic Lens Adapter v06 ($200)
Commlite made the world’s first Nikon AF adapter as well as the re-branded adapters listed below. Commlite made physical changes to all adapters beginning with v05 that adds compatibility with several additional Nikon lenses that cannot be used with previous adapters. AF works best with E-type and G-type Nikon AF lenses – but not with many of the earlier D-Type lenses.
Order from eBay
Fotodiox FUSION Smart Mark II Adapter v06 ($312)
This Second generation Fotodiox Fusion adapter is a re-badged Commlite adapter that also ships with fw 06. North American users may prefer for its USA warranty and support. AF works best with E-type and G-type Nikon AF lenses – but not with many of the earlier D-Type lenses.
Order from B&H Photo
Vello Nikon F to Sony E Autofocus Lens Adapter v06 ($399)
Vello’s Nikon AF Adapter is another re-badged Commlite which North American users may prefer for its USA warranty and support. AF works best with E-type and G-type Nikon AF lenses – but not with many of the earlier D-Type lenses.
Order from B&H Photo
Manual Focus Nikon G/F Lens Adapters
You can pick up fast manual focus Nikon AIS glass at a great price these days. Metabones Nikon F to Sony E-Mount Adapter II ($90 at Amazon | B&H Photo) is a great choice to mount them on A7/A7R. I picked up a Lens: Nikkor 55 f/1.2 AI-S for $350 which combined with the Metabones adapter makes for a killer combo for available light that’s hard to beat for $450.
However, if you plan to use Nikon G lenses, which have no aperture ring, a better choice is to use the Novoflex Nikon to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($293 at Amazon | B&H Photo), Metabones Nikon G to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($139 at Amazon | B&H Photo), Vello Nikon G Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter ($60 at B&H) or FotodioX Adapter for Nikon G to Sony E-Mount ($60 at Amazon | B&H Photo) which allows you to control the aperture of Nikon G lenses. You can use Nikon F lenses on Nikon G adapters – but Nikon F adapters can’t control the aperture of Nikon G lenses.
Lensbaby Tilt Transformer for Nikon F to Sony NEX
One more quite interesting choice for Nikon lenses is the Lensbaby Sony NEX Tilt Transformer. This adapter allows you to turn any Nikon lens from 8mm to 800mm into a tilt lens.
This can come in handy for adjusting the focus plane when shooting landscapes or product photography. Since Nikon manual focus glass is available with fast apertures, this adapter works great for selective focus enabling users to to limit focus to just a small part of the frame.
This adapter can be found on Amazon for $349.
Activating Focus Peaking
Most of the following lens adapters are “passive” adapters that don’t communicate lens data with the camera. Unless otherwise noted below, auto functions like automatic diaphragm, auto-focusing, or other electronic functions will not operate correctly while using lens adapters, however aperture priority or manual exposure modes work just fine. Make certain “Release without Lens” is enabled.
Press Menu > Custom Settings 2 > Release w/o Lens. Then press center of the Control wheel to set to Enable.
Focus Peaking is a great tool to quickly confirm focus with manual focus lenses. It takes bit of practice, but when focus peaking is enabled in manual focus mode, in-focus areas appear highlighted in red, yellow or white in your EVF or LCD. To activate focus peaking, press Menu > Custom Settings 2 > Peaking Level, and then select High, Mid, or Low. I find that the Mid setting works best.
Next, press Menu > Custom Settings 2 > Peaking Color, and then choose Red, Yellow, or White. This allows you to pick the peaking color that works best for a given scene. I use yellow in low light and red when shooting bright, high-key subjects.
Activating Focus Magnification
Focus Magnification is another great tool to confirm focus when using manual focus lenses. If you shoot a lot with manual focus lenses, you’ll find it really handy to program the C1 Button to magnify fine focus.
Menu >; Custom Settings > Custom Key Settings >Custom 1 Button > Focus Magnifier
Then simply press the C1 Button with your index finger to zoom in to confirm focus. Press it a second time to zoom in more. Use the top/bottom/right/left of the Control wheel to redirect the magnification.
Simply touch the shutter button lightly to go back to normal view.
Leica M to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapters
Since the debut of the original NEX-5, I’ve been using Leica M to Sony E adapters to use my Vintage Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander M-mount glass on Sony mirrorless bodies. I’ve tried quite a few from the inexpensive Chinese ebay adapters to the top of the line Novoflex and they all work fine – though the cheaper ones need a bit more upkeep like occasional tightening of the mount. Metabones Leica M Mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapters ($90 at Amazon | B&H Photo) hit a sweet spot between price and quality.
However there is one Leica M to Sony E adapter that stands out from the rest. The biggest problem with rangefinder lenses is that they rarely focus as closely and SLR glass. It’s not unusual for a 50mm M-Mount lens to focus no closer than one meter. That’s where the Voigtlander VM-E Close Focus M-Mount to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapter ($309 at Amazon | B&H Photo) comes in handy. Its Helicoid focus extension allows you to rack out an additional 4mm focus extension to the nearest focus point the lens. That’s enough to go from half body to a tight face when shooting with a 50mmm.
Portraits shot with Sony A7R + Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 Nokton at it’s closest focus distance (left) and with 4mm extension using Voigtlander VM-E Close Focus M-Mount to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapter (right).
Please see Part 2 of this review for information about Leica R lens adapters.
Pentax K to Sony E-Mount Lens Adapters
Pentax K users who’d like to bring their favorite glass like the 31mm f/1.8, 43mm f/1.9 or 77mm f/1.8 Limited lenses with them, have three good choices in lens mount adapters: the Voigtlander Pentax K to Sony E Lens Mount Adapter ($179 at B&H Photo) and Novoflex Adapter for Pentax K Lens to Sony E-Mount ($292 at B&H Photo) or Dot Line NEX Adapter for Pentax K Lenses ($50 at Amazon | B&H Photo).
• Leica R to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
• Canon FD to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
• Contax G to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
• Contax N to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
• Contax/Yashica to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
• Minolta MD to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
• Hasselblad V to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
• Mamiya 645/Phase One to Sony E-Mount Lens Mount Adapters
For more tips and tricks about getting the most out of your Sony a7 series camera, check out my book ‘Sony a7-Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots’. It’s your guide to all of the Sony a7 Series I & II cameras. While the camera manual explains what the camera can do, it doesn’t show how to use the camera to create great images! Starting with the Top Ten things users need to know about the cameras, author Brian Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Sony Artisan of Imagery, carefully guides you through the operating features of Sony a7, a7R, a7S, a7II and a7RII and how to use them. Get practical advice from a pro on which settings to use when, great shooting tips, and assignments at end of chapter to practice what you’ve just learned.
‘Sony A7 Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots’ is available NOW from Amazon
Read: Photography Gear Guide: Lens Adapters
Read: Field Test: Sony A7R
Read: Field Test: Sony A7S
Read: Sony A7II Hands on Review
Read: Sony A7/A7R/A7S Lens Mount Adapters – Part 2
Read: Guide to Sony A7/A7R/A7S Camera Accessories