9.08.2012

Cheap Adapter to use Sony Alpha lenses on a Sony Nex 7. It works.


Web pundits besmirch the Sony Nex 7 for its paucity of lenses. Maybe yes, if you want to use only lenses specifically designed just for the Nex system. Positively no, if you are open to spending less than $30 on an adapter and opening yourself up to all the lenses that are currently available for the Sony DSLT cameras. In the image above you see the Sony Nex 7 camera body, the Fotodiox AF-NEX adapter and the inexpensive, but highly capable, Sony DT 30mm Macro lens. The assemblage is easy to work with and delivers really good performance.

Unlike the two Sony branded adapters that are available to do the same task, the Fotodiox adapter doesn't give you any electronic connection between the lens and the camera body, only a mechanical one. The adapter controls the aperture with the ring labelled "lock" and "open."  The ring moves a peg in the adapter which in turn stops down the aperture in the lens. It works totally by guess-timation. There is no readout anywhere of the aperture value.

When the adapter ring is set to open you are shooting with a wide open aperture. When you go to the "locked" position you are shooting at the smallest aperture. And you get to choose an infinite range in between.  You can do it by assessing how much depth of field you need, visually, on the EVF or LCD finder or you can look at the front of the lens and try to make each small increment reduce the circle created by the aperture blades by half to stop down one stop.  Not the right adapter for control freaks who need to see an aperture read out and to know exactly what aperture they are shooting at...

Focusing is more elegant. Set the camera to use focus peaking, grab the small rubberized ring at the front of the lens and------focus. In my camera I have the focus peaking indicator set to strong and red. When the red splotches invade the area I want to have in focus I'm done focusing and it works well as long as there is detail to focus upon.

While I'm happy with the few Nex lenses I have I'm even happier to be able to tap into the entire collection of lenses I've picked up for my a77 cameras.  The 30 macro is a good, cheap macro and I like using that focal length with the cropped sensor. While the camera doesn't auto correct for distortion (not much in there to correct) or CA or vignetting the lens performs well and the camera, in aperture priority seem to hit exposures correctly as well.

There are certain lenses I am hesitant to use on the smaller camera. For instance, I can't see that it makes a lot of sense to mount the five hundred pound Sony 70-200mm 2.8 G lens on the camera. They see to be at philosophical cross purposes.  Same with the big 16-50mm 2.8 zoom.  But with a petite collection of primes the combination really comes into its own. I use the adapter with the 30mm, 35mm, 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8 and the 85mm 2.8. Owning both the a77/Alpha systems and a barebones Nex system is fun now that they're unidirectionally compatible.  But other than the macro or lenses like the 35mm and 85mm which are not single focal lengths provided by the Nex system I really don't think it's a vital tool. 

The Nex cameras excel at being small and discreet---especially with the kit lens installed. The a77 is right at home with big lenses and professional camera performance. It's nice though that they can exist in the same equipment drawer and the addition of the Alpha to Nex adapter makes the Nex 7 a nice back up companion to any Sony APS-C primary system.


The two images above were made with one of my favorite "adapted" combinations. The taking body was a Sony a77 while the lens was the 120mm Hasselblad/Zeiss Makro Planar lens. The couple were joined together with yet another inexpensive Fotodiox lens adapter.  Using the Zeiss medium format lenses on the a77 camera is like coming home again.  Just make sure you use the stop down switch on the Hblad lens or you'll be shooting everything wide open.

This is a quick sample of the 30mm Macro Alpha lens on the Nex-7


If you already own the Sony DSLT system the 30mm macro, on an adapter, is the perfect way to add close-up capabilities on the cheap...

If budget is no object you could snap up either of the adapters from Sony.  The barebones item is the LAEA-1 which is a tube with electronic connections that give control and display power over aperture.  It does provide for autofocus but from everyone I've heard from who's used them the focusing is very slow and doesn't not work with older, screwdriver drive AF lenses.

The LAEA-2 is a bigger adapter and comes with a pellicle mirror and a module that allows for fast phase detection focus when using most of the Sony DSLT lenses.  In the end, whether you need to adapt other lenses to the Nex system in the first place is something you'll have to consider based on how you use or intend to use your Nex 7. Next on my order list is an inexpensive adapter that will allow me to use Leica M series lenses on the same, Nex 7 camera.

Having fun doing it "wrong."

10 comments:

Corwin said...

LAEA-1 does provide AF, but only with SSM lens (should with SAM too, but not sure if anyone tried). No AF for conventional screw driven AF (old Minolta non-SSM and such).

I think even tho its more expensive solution, control over aperture is quite nice thing. But for example for video, having aperture without hard stops is very useful (eg. that cheap adapter you are using should be great for video).

kirk tuck said...

Thanks Corwin. I corrected that in my article. Don't know why I keep getting that wrong.

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kirk tuck said...

Cool.

AndyK said...

Now I understand the utility of the lock-unlock gizmo on those adapters. I have only been adapting older manual-focus lenses that have their own aperture dials.

kirk tuck said...

Andy, it really does work fine as long as you can divorce yourself from the need to know the exact f-stop.

Keith I. said...

Funny you should mention the 70-200G on the NEX. I spent a fair amount of time this Friday night with just that combination. I had the 70-200G and EA2 adapter on the NEX-7 and the 24-70Z or 135Z on my A900. That is what I love about the NEX cameras. They can be very compact and light to carry, or they can be SLR companions.

Jesse said...

Hi Kirk, did you order your adapter from Amazon? In the Amazon link in the article text, the adapter that's pictured doesn't have the "lock-open" aperture control ring that your adapter has. I'd like to get an Alpha-NEX adapter with that feature. I have the Sony LA-EA1, but it gives me clipped bokeh at apertures larger than f/2.2 or so, due to the rectangular opening of the LA-EA1. Thanks!

Owen said...

Do you have a link to the adapter with the Lock/Open feature?

Owen said...

Here's a link to the adapter.
http://www.amazon.com/RainbowImaging-Minolta-E-Mount-NEX-VG10-aperture/dp/B004G3D61W/ref=sr_1_17?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1347465994&sr=1-17&keywords=Alpha-NEX+adapter