Mirrorless cameras are finally living up to their potential. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune replacing all your lenses. Try a Urth lens adapter to give your old glass new life and avoid spending too much on new lenses.
Words by Hudson Brown
The market for mirrorless cameras may have matured, but there are still plenty of opportunities to utilise your legacy glass. With lenses for mirrorless systems still costing top dollar, lens adapters are the missing link between your new camera and your favourite lenses.
“The Sony A7 III recently became the best selling mirrorless camera in Japan, eclipsing Nikon and Canon’s 2018 sales combined.”
A MATURING FORMAT
Mirrorless cameras have risen to rival DSLRs over the last few years – so much so that you might assume that it’s a cutting-edge invention. But in reality, mirrorless cameras have existed for almost fifteen years with Epson – of all companies – releasing the R-D1 in collaboration with Cosina back in 2004. However, the release of Sony’s Alpha series has been widely credited as a watershed moment for the format, with the micro four-thirds system offering a compact size that maintains an array of professional features. With much of the line-up proving popular with professionals and enthusiasts alike, the full-frame Sony A7 series was the camera that truly announced the arrival of mirrorless cameras as a serious alternative to DSLRs. In fact, the Sony A7 III recently became the best selling mirrorless camera in Japan, eclipsing Nikon and Canon’s 2018 sales combined.
“With the appropriate lens adapter, it’s easy to convert just about any legacy lens to your current system and open up an entirely new photographic world without needing to spend a fortune.”
THE SECOND-HAND MARKETPLAC
Another factor that can’t be overlooked is the resurgence of film photography. Analogue photographers have reinvigorated the second-hand lens market, through online stores and meet-ups dedicated to buying and swapping old glass. Now, those working with mirrorless systems can also go digging for high-quality SLR glass. That’s because with the appropriate lens adapter, it’s easy to convert just about any legacy lens to your current system and open up an entirely new photographic world without needing to spend a fortune. Instead of having to work with the lenses the camera manufacturer or a select few third-party producers offer, now photographers are able to use just about any lens from the last fifty years.
INEXPENSIVE, SUSTAINABLE BUT NOT PERFECT
The beauty of buying second-hand lenses is that they tend to be rather light on the wallet. Even if the resurgence of film photography has contributed to an increase in the price of legacy glass, these old lenses can still be hundreds of dollars cheaper than their modern counterparts. While modern lenses offer some features that many of the formerly great glass simply can’t, it only takes a quick peek at eBay to realise that they can still offer incredible value for money with their image quality. The sustainability factor is also something that should be celebrated, as repurposing products means that you’re not contributing to the endless cycle of technology being manufactured and discarded every year.
However, there are some noteworthy drawbacks to legacy lenses. Perhaps the most important of these is the loss of autofocus. While it is possible to purchase another type of adapter to fix this issue, they’re expensive and often limited in their function.
With more consumers and professionals choosing to use mirrorless systems, keeping your legacy glass on-hand is a great way to keep some flexibility in your practice without spending thousands on new lenses. Whether you’re working with the Sony E-mount, Leica M, Canon EF, Fujifilm X, Nikon F or another system, Urth has an expansive range of lens adapters to help you connect with legacy lenses.
A one-off editorial by Tim Swallow that captures Tahiti’s raw beauty.