David Manns

Adapting manual lenses on a mirrorless camera

Minolta lens to Fuji camera adapter
Minolta 28mm adapted to the Fuji XT-1.

One of the things I did soon after buying my mirrorless camera was adapt my Nikon SLR lenses to my new Fuji X-T1. While the Fuji lenses are great, there is nothing wrong with older glass especially if, like me, you’re used to manual focus from film cameras. For the type of photography I do, I think I’m almost as fast manual focusing as I can be using back button autofocus. And using older equipment is a good way to get great prime lenses while not spending too much money.

I had used the Fuji X-T1 with the XF18-55 zoom, which is a great zoom lens by the way, but I already had a few really great Nikon prime lenses. The Nikon 55mm AiS 2.8 (a great manual focus macro lens), Nikon 50m f1.8D, and later I acquired a Minolta 28mm 2.8 MD. I picked up a K&F concept Nikon - FX adapter to use my Nikon lenses on the Fuji which I think had great results.

Coffee beans close up picture taken on Nikkor 55mm f2.8 micro lens adapted to the Fuji XT-1 camera.
Lens: Nikon 55mm 2.8 ais micro. Camera: Fuji XT-1.

Using the Nikon 55mm Ais micro was a great way for me to get close up capability on my mirrorless camera without breaking the bank and avoid doubling up on lenses as I still use my Nikon SLR cameras regularly. Mirrorless is great in that you can repurpose lenses like this including lenses that were considered "old" or obsolete such as Canon FD, Pentax, Minolta lenses etc.

A 28mm lens was what I really wanted though. On a crop sensor camera that works out about a 42mm equivalent. I think it is the perfect length for editorial, advertising, and general photography - in my opinion at least. I could have gone with the relatively inexpensive new Fuji XF 27mm pancake lens, which is a nice lens but something about a pancake lens doesn’t really do it for me. I wanted something more substantial. I saw a Minolta 28mm 2.8 MD lens in a bargin bin and picked it up cheaply. I’m glad I did, it’s an awesome manual focus lens.

Sunset picture.
Lens: Minolta 28mm f2.8 MD. Camera: Fuji XT-1.

Because of mirrorless tech and adapters you can put almost any lens on a modern camera. For $50 plus the cost of the K&F MD-FX adapter, my Fuji camera now operates like a manual focus SLR. If you’ve never had to learn manual focus before, you should learn. You can get excellent glass on the cheap and, with practice, you’ll get fast at focusing. A few weeks after you start using manual lenses it won’t even be something you think about.

While modern lenses are definitely technically superior some of them lack the character of the lenses of previous decades. I have certainly become a fan of Minolta glass lately. It has its own color palate, which is perhaps not as accurate to reality as the modern Nikon Z lenses (I'm not ripping on Z lenses, I like them) but the pictures look cool. When it comes down to it, pictures that look good and get you the shot you want is what photography is all about.

Sunset picture taken with minolta 28mm lens adapted to a Fuji XT-1.
Lens: Minolta 28mm f2.8 MD. Camera: Fuji XT-1.
Southshore sunset