? re: Older film lenses with new DSLR
New member here and first post..

Looking to buy a Nikon or Canon DSLR. My primary use in the beginning will be close-up, macro shots ( insects and plants mostly ). I have been told that older lenses for Canon cannot be used on the Canon DSLRs. I have been told that the older Nikon lenses can be used on the Nikon DSLRs by one photo shop and that most cannot by another photo shop. I'm thinking of buying a body only and a good macro , later adding other lenses. So right now can someone shed some light on the compatibility of older manual film lenses to Nikon and Canon DSLRs. Just so you know auto focus is not an issue manual focus suits me fine...

Comments (13)


I can shed some light on Nikon. Most of the Nikon DSLRs are backward compatible with older lenses, though some of the older models will not autofocus or meter correctly. Check out the following link:.


Regards, Mirza.


Comment #1

A loyal (more than 30 years worth) of Nikon equipment, I can only answer for Nikon..

The simple answer is that virtually all Nikon lenses manufactured post-1977, when they introduced AI (aperture indexing lenses) will mount on a Nikon DSLR body. This includes manual focus and auto focus lenses. Beyond that, it becomes more complicated. With some bodies, although the lenses will mount, they won't meter. On other bodies, they will meter in certain modes (shutter, aperture, manual prority)..

The compatibility chart at Nikonians is a great resource that should fully answer your question:.


Comment #2

Thanks for your input, the link you provided failed in both Explorer and SafariIs the the right link?.

Check out the following link:.


Comment #3

Canon changed their lens mount from 'FD' to 'EF' in 1987. The modern DSLRs only work with EF (post-1987) lenses..


Best wishesMike..

Comment #4

Re>shed some light on the compatibility of older manual film lenses.

What's a manual film lens? A manual focus lens?.

If so, forget using a manual focus Nikon or Canon lens on a digital Nikon or Canon..

Much more trouble than it is worth..

If you actually have any intention of taking pictures of things beside bugs, get a kit lens with wehatever body you buy. Nikon offers a wider range of kit lenses to pick from, but the new 18-55 Canon IS kit lens is a great value..

As for compatiblility with older autofocus lenses... Nikon's D40, D40x andD60 camerasrequire motors inside lenses in order to work properly, and that eliminates lots of older, and even current, Nikon lenses..

Canon D-SLR cameras take older autofocus lenses, but which current lenses fir on wihich bodies, varies. Some take EF-S lenses, and some don't. All take EF lenses..


Comment #5

All older Canon FD lenses made for their film cameras won't work on a digital camera..

With Nikon, all lenses except for a very very few from 1959 to present will work on all digital Nikon cameras. Some require a small update to the lens if that lens was built prior to 1977. A few lenses built for the F5AF won't work..

Lenses built between 1959 and 1977 are pre-AI and require a $25 conversion to work on the D200 and higher Nikons. They require a $35 conversion to work on the D80. They will all work on the D40, D40x and the D60 with no conversion..

Lenses built 1977 and later will work on all Nikon cameras. They will meter on D200 cameras and higher. AIC means converted to AI..

You're safe with the designation AIC, AI, and AIS on manual focus lenses. OV and Pre-AI means you need to get the $25 conversion except for the D40-D60s..

Those very very few I mentioned were a couple of expensive and rare fisheye lenses where the back of the lens protruded into the mirror box. They would obviously damage modern cameras..

All AF lenses will mount on all the cameras. AFI and AFS will autofocus on D40-D60. All the rest will auto everything on all the AF lenses..

I use a 1973 Macro lens and extension tube on my D80 and D300 all the time...

Comment #6

Thanks to everyone, and to BAK yes the manual was for manual focus...

Comment #7

VERY sharp, very easy to focus (even stopped down a click) and, yes, cheap...I got each of these lenses off fleabay for UNDER $ another $40each for a couple of adapters with focus confirm chip...which I also use on my 85/2 and 200/4 MF nikkors....

Yes, they do require skillful eye-hand coordination, but if you're already experienced with MF lenses as I was from my film days, it's a great combo....

Here are two shots...the first taken with the 300mm/4.5 MF nikkor ...full frame...on my XT[img].

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

This one 100% crop (life-size) taken with my 135/2.8 MF nikkor on my XT[img].

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #8

That's funny, because I don't find it any trouble at all! I don't have a single DX lens to use with my D200 - I use the lenses I had before. My lenses are all AF, but I've tried manual focus lenses and they've all worked very nicely indeed..


Comment #9

Really? SO you bought an autofocus camera, but think skipping autofocus is good advice to someone else?.

You think that encouraging someone to buy a nice new autoexposure camera isa good prelude to not having autoexposure capabilities?.


Comment #10

BAK wrote:.

Really? SO you bought an autofocus camera, but think skippingautofocus is good advice to someone else?.

You think that encouraging someone to buy a nice new autoexposurecamera isa good prelude to not having autoexposure capabilities?.

That's not what I said at all. The OP asked about compatibility of certain cameras with older lenses. Perhaps he has access to lots of old lenses. He wasn't asking for advice on how convenient it might be. Maybe he wants to do a lot of macro work where things like AF and AE are not exactly top priorities..

You offered your opinion that it was too much trouble. That might be the case for you, but may not be for him. I was merely pointing out that I didn't find it any trouble at all..


Comment #11

I haven't read all the replies but Canon moved over to an all electronic mount in the late 80's or 90 (fuzzy memory here). But why would you want to mount an older Canon lens on your camera?.

Lens technology has changed over time. There are some good lenses from Canon's past but you are well served by what is available now and by third parties. Want an good budget macro, get the Phoenix 100mm f3.5 Macro from Adorama, want a better quality lens and the Tamron 90mm Macro will work great, or the Canon 100 macro or the Sigma 150 macro - get the picture..

You go to longer lenses and you will probably want them "stabilized;" there are no older lenses that do that. I think you are creating a tempest in a tea pot in your own mind over a "non-issue." Canon has the best choices of lenses from it's own stable and from third party vendors, enjoy what is available today; don't dwell on a non-issue from the past..

There is a new thread here from a guy thinking of buying a Nikon D40 who wants "stabilization" from 3rd party vendors and he is being told that some lenses won't work so well with his D40 - and that is "today's" lenses.Rationally I have no hope, irrationally I believe in miracles.Joni Mitchell..

Comment #12

If you can imagine buying something else than Canon/Nikon (and you should), then Olympus becomes a possibility. The nature of the 4/3 mount allows you to mount lenses from exceptionally many brands using adapters, and you'll get image stabilization, too!.

Pentax also has in-body image stabilization, and also has IS support for older lenses. They also have focus confirmation, although I believe they're limited to old Pentax lenses (which there are plenty of though)..

There are many options, and many are outside the Canon/Nikon camp.

Comment #13

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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