Legacy Lens & Sony Alpha Cameras

One of the many things that draw photographers to purchase Sony Alpha cameras is the ability to use old-ass lens on the Sony body. All you need is the following:

  1. Old-ass lens
  2. Sony Alpha series body (think: a6000, a7, etc)
  3. Adaptor 

Sounds easy, right? It is...sorta. There are a few nuances one must consider when purchasing old glass. When it works, it works well. When it doesn't, there are no photos.  Here is a bit more insight:

Old-ass Lenses

I use use the shit out of a Minolta 28mm MF on my Sony. It works because the lens was manual focus when it was manufactured. All I had to do was locate an adaptor that worked for Minolta manual focus and my eMount Sony system. But there is more to the story. When a legacy lens is mounted to a hyper-modern digital camera like Sony, some of the body functions one may be used to may not function. 

When that lens is mounted, the ability adjust aperture vanishes. Now you've got to manage that setting via the lens ring directly. Also, focus is manual. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I find that a lot of people over-look this part. People "know" that their modern lens with their modern body are AF generally. So they may not think about it. This was a startling revelation when I first started using my legacy lenses. It exposed how crappy I was at understanding focus. I had previously allow my camera or phone do the thinking for me. Now that I have to think about focus every time I am much better at being aware of it.

Take all of the above information and apply to an older AF lens made for SLRs [read: not made for modern mirrorless digital cameras]. That's a different beast that you want to avoid. The camera body responds the same way, but you won't be able to manually focus the actual lens because there may not even be a focus ring. No joke. So, reign-in that fervor for legacy glass and be sure about the set-up you're creating. 


Don't forget that these are VERY specific to the set-up you want to use. Start with your mount system and then the lens. For example, I look for "eMount" not just "sony adaptor".  Sniff around on eBay and you'll find some super cheap ones.

Don't forget that the quality of the glass you use will be unique. It's rare that I see a photographer capture the same super crisp and modern look by adapting a legacy lens to their Sony. Rather, they achieve richer and more unique photos.