Mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera systems, like the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) from Panasonic and Olympus, the Sony NEX and the Nikon 1, are gaining popularity amongst photographers, both new and old. Many existing DSLR photographers are looking at them as a lightweight backup system for travel, hiking or just walking around.
However, if you’re an existing DSLR user then depending on the mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera system you get, you may or may not be able to use your existing DSLR lenses on your new mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera.
For some systems, like the Sony NEX, Olympus MFT and Nikon 1, you can get an adapter from that manufacturer for their own DSLR lenses. But, if you just purchased a Sony NEX-7 camera and have a number of Pentax DSLR lenses, you will quickly find that neither Sony nor Pentax make an adapter to connect your lenses to the camera.
Luckily there are a number of companies that have come to the rescue and produced adapters for different mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras and DSLR lenses. One of these companies, the subject of this review, is Novoflex, a German photography accessory manufacturer.
Among the products that Novoflex produces are a number of Sony NEX and Micro Four Thirds cameras to lens adapters. For the Sony NEX and MFT camera systems, some of the lens adapters include Canon FD, Nikon, Contax/Yashica, Leica M and R, Sony Alpha/Minolta AF, Minolta MD and MC lenses, Olympus OM and Pentax lenses. What’s really neat about the number of adapters they make is that they include many of the current DSLR lenses, but also a lot of older lens types, giving photographers an almost unlimited selection of potential lenses they can use on their Sony NEX or MFT cameras.
The one notable exception, unfortunately, is they don’t produce an adapter for Canon EOS lenses. Since there are large number of adapters for different camera and lens combinations, make sure you carefully read the included instructions to ensure you’re using the adaptor correctly.
For this review I chose to test their Micro Four Thirds camera to Nikon lens adapter, using an Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera. The first thing that one notices when taking the Novoflex adapter out of its packaging is its high quality metal build. This is a really important feature because there needs to be a very strong connection between the camera and lens, especially when using large, heavy lenses. You do pay for this quality build as the Novoflex MFT/Nikon adapter sells for $219.
None of the Novoflex adapters will transfer functions like auto focus from the camera body to the lenses or vise versa, which is unfortunate but not that big of a deal. Photographers can use aperture priority or manual metering, but you will have to manually stop down the lens (i.e., manually adjust the aperture to the desired setting). Adapters for Nikon, Sony Alpha/Minolta AF and Pentax K lenses are equipped with an integrated aperture control ring and can also be used with many of the new lenses that don’t come with a manual aperture control ring anymore. However, this manual aperture control ring doesn’t have specific aperture settings, so you have to estimate your aperture.
I found the adapter very easy to operate and allowed me to use a wide range of lenses, many of which aren’t available for the MFT system, including my tilt shift lenses. Since MFT cameras have a 2x focal length magnification factor, using the adapter and a DSLR telephoto lens turns that telephoto lens into a super telephoto lens. For example, my Nikon 300mm f/4 lens became a 600mm f/4 lens on the Olympus, which is great for wildlife photography.
Many photographers with existing DSLR lenses wanting to use them on a MTF or Sony NEX camera will find the Novoflex camera to lens adapter a very useful addition to their camera bag, even with its loss of some camera/lens functionality.