Recently got into taking pictures with a traditional 35mm Minolta SLR – the Minolta XG-SE. The first thing I noticed..and what’s half the fun with these cameras are the manual focus lenses. The lenses I happen to have are all made of metal and are really fast fixed focal lengths. I thought to myself…wouldn’t it be cool if i could use these on my digital SLR? I’d get these really nice pieces of glass, their manual focus fun, and their low-light capability all with the immediate gratification of digital technology.
After some scouring on e-bay and a few websites (I really like the DigitalRev article) I found that the Minolta (MD mount) lenses could be adapted to Canon (EF mount) bodies with the use of a small teleconverting adapter. The back end of a Minolta lens sits closer to the film than the Canon EF mount permits. To counter-act shoving the lens too far into the Canon body (and interfering with the shutter) the adapter uses one lens element to adjust the focusing distance of the image so it produces a focused image at the right distance to the sensor in the camera body. By using an extra lens element you effectively increase the focal length of the lens (I haven’t taken the time to figure out what my 50mm Minolta actually becomes on my Canon yet…but I’ll let you know when I do.
The adapter itself was only ~$30 on eBay, it’s not the AF confirmation one, but I figured my eyes are decent enough w/ a pair of contacts to make up for not having any auto-focus assistance. It’s made out of metal and feels really sturdy. It pops onto the Canon body with no problems and the MD end receives the lens without trouble…it’s a little tight at first, but I think it’ll loosen up with continued use.
Using the lenses on the Canon body is easier than I thought, but not nearly as easy as using modern Canon lenses. You have to set f-stop and focus manually, so that means fewer shots, more thinking, and patience. It also gives me a greater sense of how non-trivial making great images was.
Here are a few pictures of the adapter and lens:
I’ve found that the results are pretty good – the 50mm f1.4 that I snatched off Craigslist for $30 bucks performs really well, it’s very soft when it’s wide-open, but all problems are gone at f2.8. The six bladed aperture gives really nice out-of-focus effects (bokeh) and the buttery smooth focus ring makes doing everything manually actually quite pleasant. Here are some results: