How do I know if a lens is compatible with my camera? Do all lenses fit all cameras? How to check the compatibility of the lens? These are some common questions asked by people shifting from a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera to a digital camera with interchangeable lenses.
You have to move from a point-and-shoot camera to an interchangeable lens camera sooner or later. It can be the most important decision since not all cameras work with all lenses. For example, you have to buy Canon lenses or certain third-party lenses for Canon cameras. Similarly, the camera lens mount is also a decisive factor when it comes to purchasing a lens.
What about the Kit Lens?
Your digital camera may come with an 18-55mm kit lens. Although the kit lens can be a great beginning point yet a time will come when you will need an advanced lens. You may want to capture beautiful landscapes, captivating portraits, mouthwatering bokeh, or a telephoto lens for wildlife. For these types of results, you need to splash a huge amount of money on a high-end camera lens.
Choose Your Lens Carefully
Modern lenses tend to be expensive and therefore, you must not buy the wrong lens. Before you dig deep into its features and functions, you have to ensure it is compatible with your camera. Even lenses from the same manufacturer that make your digital camera may not fit on your camera body, depending on its lens mount. We are going to help you understand the confusing and complex network of lens acronyms and mounts, making it easier for you to choose the lens that works with your camera.
What is a Lens Mount?
Lens mount is the junction where the lens connects with the camera. Every camera manufacturer has its specific proprietary lens mount or even more than one mount. For example, Canon has EF, RF, and EF-S mounts for its cameras. Therefore, you have to buy a Canon RF lens for a Canon camera with an RF lens mount. Similarly, some third-party manufacturers also make cameras with all the popular camera mounts. Some of the largest third-party lens manufacturers include Tamron, Sigma, and Tokina.
Difference between a DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Lens Mount
DSLR cameras were the dominant force in the photography industry just a few years ago. Unsurprisingly, they are also compatible with a wide range of lenses. DSLR cameras feature a mirror that flips vertically and horizontally to reflect incoming light. As a result, their lens has to be relatively far from the sensor. In the case of mirrorless cameras, the lens connects much closer to the sensor because they don’t have a mirror box. Most people don’t bother about these technicalities but they can have serious consequences at the time of buying a lens.
You can use a DSLR lens with a mirrorless camera using an adapter but not the other way around on most occasions. For instance, you can connect your older EF DSLR lenses to Canon’s R-series mirrorless camera using an adapter without any compromise in performance. However, it is impossible to use a native RF lens, made for Canon mirrorless cameras, with a DSLR camera. Even if you somehow connect the lens, it will greatly reduce the focal range because of its proximity to the sensor.
Consider Sensor Size while Choosing a Lens
Digital cameras, both mirrorless, and DSLR have primarily two types of sensors, the APS-C and full-frame sensors. APS-C sensors are equal in size to traditional 35mm films. However, they have substantial crop depending on their make and model. Full-frame sensors are 25% smaller but they don’t have any crop and provide a full view of the image. Therefore, you need to consider the sensor size while purchasing a lens.
You can use a full-frame lens on cameras with APS-C sensors. However, the camera will not capture the entire scene because its sensor is cropping the image. The image looked zoomed-in because the APS-C sensor is smaller than the full-frame sensor. It can only capture the image circle according to its size, not the full image circle in the case of full-frame cameras. It will simply crop the image in real-time.
For example, an 18mm full-frame lens may be equal to a 35mm lens on an APS-C camera. It cannot capture the entire field of view as you would capture with a full-frame camera. Your image will just look like it has been zoomed in.
Lens manufacturers benefit from this situation a lot even though it is quite confusing for the common users. APS-C lenses with smaller image circles are often smaller and cheaper than full-frame lenses. You can always use APS-C lenses on full-frame camera bodies but the penalty is zoomed-in images with reduced resolution.
How Do I Know What Lens Fits My Camera?
You have to learn different types of camera mounts and their differences if you want to buy the right lens for your camera. The following is a detailed review of some of the most popular lens mount types in the world.
Canon Lens Mounts
Canon has four different lens mounts that are as under.
It was Canon’s one of the most common lens mounts during the era of SLR and later DSLR dominance. EF mount can work with all kinds of Canon cameras including SLR cameras with autofocus, DSLR cameras irrespective of the sensor size, and mirrorless cameras if you use an adapter.
EF-S mount lenses are compatible only with DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors such as Canon EOS 80D and Canon EOS 90D despite being the same as EF mount. They also create a smaller image circle just like every APS-C lens.
Canon also has a forgettable line of mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors. They work with EF-M mount but the range has a limited variety of native lenses. The number is less than a dozen. However, you can use EF lenses on such cameras with a help of a fully-featured adapter.
All the canon mirrorless cameras from the R series use RF mount but these lenses are not compatible with any other camera. This is perhaps the only future-proof series as Canon is releasing quite a few R-series mirrorless cameras.
Sony Lens Mounts
Sony also has three different types of lens mounts.
Sony no longer produces DSLRs with A-mount. Therefore, there will be no more new cameras to support these lenses natively. This particular mount dates back prior to the advent of mirrorless cameras. Sony acquired the technology of these lenses from Konica Minolta. Therefore, you can use old Minolta lenses with Sony A-mount cameras without any adapter. Sony also makes adapters to use A-mount lenses with their mirrorless cameras.
Sony mirrorless cameras use the FE lens mount. The mount works with all mirrorless cameras with full-frame sensors. It is also compatible with cameras with APS-C sensors but delivers cropped images because smaller sensors cannot capture the full image circle.
You can also use older A-mount lenses with cameras with FE mount and still avail of all of their features.
Sony introduced the E lens mount for its range of mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors. Some people confuse E and FE lenses but you have to buy FE lenses for full-frame cameras, especially if you want full-frame coverage as well. Since E lenses capture smaller image circles they are also smaller and cheaper than FE lenses.
You can use a full-frame camera in a crop mode by using an E-mount lens. The resolution will reduce but you don’t want to throw away your E mount lens when you upgrade to a full-frame mirrorless camera.
Nikon Lens Mounts
Nikon has two types of lens mounts.
Nikon F mount first came out way back in the 1950s. The attachment system for the mount is still the same even after 8 decades, especially for its DSLR cameras with F mounts. However, the lens compatibility becomes more and more complex beyond the F mount. Nikon offers certain types of lenses for certain types of cameras only. However, the company explains which lens is best for your camera in detail on its website.
The best thing about old Nikon lenses is that you can still use them on modern models without any adapter.
Nikon introduced the Z mount for its full-frame mirrorless cameras just like the RF mount by Canon. You cannot use Z-mount lenses with APS-C sensors for the same reasons as well.
Pentax Lens Mounts
Pentax offers three types of lens mounts to the users.
Pentax’s DSLR cameras have been using the FA lens mount for decades without any change in design. The mount is compatible with Pentax full-frame DSLRs. However, you cannot find many lenses for full-frame DSLR because the brand focused mostly only on APS-C cameras and lenses before entering the full-frame market.
Pentax has way more APS-C compatible lenses compared to full-frame lenses. The DA lenses are for DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors. You can still use FA lenses on DA-mount cameras but with low resolution and a zoomed-in look.
Introduced in 1971, the K mount is also known as PK mount. It used to connect interchangeable lenses to 35mm single-lens reflex cameras. It has been in use since then and all Pentax DSLRs and 35mm SLRs are compatible with it. Similarly, it also works with MILC Pentax K-01.
Fujifilm Lens Mounts
The two lens mounts developed by Fujifilm are as below.
GFX cameras feature bigger sensors than the average full-frame sensors used in other cameras. Commonly referred to as “medium format”, these sensors require larger lenses to create large lens circles. Besides being bigger, GFX lenses are also heavier and more expensive. Similarly, they only work with cameras featuring GFX sensors.
The famous X mount is only compatible with APS-C sensors with no support for full-frame cameras. They are excellent lenses despite their small size and produce stunning images.
You can also use X-mount cameras with vintage film camera lenses with the help of an adapter.
Micro Four-Third Lenses
Most companies have proprietary lenses for their cameras. However, Olympus, Black Magic, and Panasonic use standard Miro Four-Third Lenses. These lenses work with sensors that are half the size of a full-frame sensor. For example, a 35mm lens on a Micro-Four Third camera will be equal to 70mm if used on a full-frame camera. Therefore, it is difficult to get wide-angle coverage with a Micro-Four Third lens.
One of the biggest advantages of Micro-Four Third lenses is their interchangeability. You can easily use a Panasonic lens on Olympus cameras and vice versa.
Apart from using lenses from the same brand as your cameras, you can also choose from some terrific third-party lenses provided they have the same Lens mount. Lenses from companies like Tamron, Sigma, and Tokina are not only excellent but sometimes cheaper than branded lenses as well.
The only thing you need to ensure is that the third-party lens is compatible with both the sensor size and the camera’s mount.
You should take your time to understand different types of lens mounts and how they work. It is necessary to choose the most suitable glass for your camera. Similarly, lenses usually have a much longer life than cameras. Therefore, you can use them with your new cameras whenever you decide to upgrade in the future.
With this, we conclude our guide to, “How do I know what lens fits my camera?” I hope our article helps you get the right lens for your camera.