With This Ring I Thee Wed

I intend for this to be short.

Photography can be darn expensive. I suppose it is the tariffs that are driving up prices lately. Maybe the Virus from Hell messing up supply chains. I don’t know, but cameras and lenses were just a few hundred dollars six months ago, are coming in at over $1000.00 (USD) now. I’m not made of money.

If you have jumped into mirrorless cameras, you know the Sony A6000 has an excellent reputation and it is relatively inexpensive. It has a “plastic” body and not much in the way of dust and moisture sealing, but it has most of the features of its more expensive siblings. Plus, you can make it more robust and protect it better with a tempered glass screen and a leather half-case.

Oh, about those Sony and Zeiss lenses. Ouch! If you get Sony or Zeiss glass, they are pricey. Sigma is great, but their Art lenses are about as expensive as the OEM lenses, within a hundred dollars or so. There are some exceptional lenses that can be had inexpensively. Sometimes the Sigma lenses outperform Sony and Zeiss. See dpreview.com for comparisons.

So what do you do to get decent lenses and save money?

Let’s say you own a Nikon DSLR system and a few lenses. You can buy a Nikon Z50 and get an adapter. But you really like Sony and you you’d like to try it out. You can make use of your Nikon lenses on the Sony A6000 by using an adapter. ALERT: This setup will not work with Nikon G lenses.

To use a simple adapter, the lens must have an aperture ring. If you want to use Nikon G lenses and you want to have the lens communicate with the camera for autofocus and to pass metadata, then you will need a smart adapter and they will be much more expensive than the simple ring. But do I have a surprise for you…

A simple adapter that will mate your Nikon lens to the Sony A6000 body costs between $20 and $30 (USD). In this example, I use a Fotasy Nik-NEX adapter which you can find online for a whopping $13.00 (USD). It seems to be well made. It has baffling inside the barrel to prevent flare. It mounts securely. It allows infinity focus. It is inexpensive. It may wear out. Oh well. Buy another.

Your Nikon F-mount lens (except G lenses) will work in manual mode on the camera. No data will be transmitted to the camera but it will work just fine to take photographs. It will focus to infinity. The A6000 will still give you aperture and shutter speed information, and you can use the camera’s “focus peaking” feature to confirm you are in focus.

Here are some photos of the setup.

The Fotasy Nik-NEX adapter is a simple tube. It has a Sony e-mount on the camera side and a Nikon F mount on the lens side. In this case, I have my 20 year old Nikon 50mm f1.8 D lens mounted. The A6000 has an APS-C sensor, which makes the 50mm field of view like a 75mm lens. It is very nice for portraits. As of this post, a Sony FE, full frame, e-mount, 50mm f1.8 costs about $225.00 (USD), new on Amazon.

I also use a Nikon 28mm f2.8 D lens. On an APS-C sensor, the 28mm angle of view is the equivalent of a 42mm lens.

The lens with the adapter feels nice on the camera. It balances very well. The f1.8 aperture makes the image very bright in the viewfinder and on the screen, too.

Shooting in manual mode on the A6000 you have to set the camera to “Release w/o lens”. Go to the Settings gear icon in Menu mode, Tab 3, and the setting is near the bottom. You have to do that because the lens is not communicating with the camera. Now you are ready to shoot.

Notice several things here. First I am in Manual mode – the large “M” in the upper left tells me that. Next, note the shutter speed 1/30 in the lower left. You select the shutter speed using the dial on the back of the camera. Notice the F– bottom, center-left. The camera does not know what F-stop you are using. You set it on the lens.

On the bottom, center-right you notice -1.0. That tells you your exposure is one stop under. You also see I have the ISO set to 400. You set the exposure by adjusting shutter speed on the dial or by adjusting the F-stop on the lens, or by adjusting ISO. When the exposure is “correct” it will show 0.0. But wait a minute. Who wants to fiddle around with all those camera settings?

The A6000 will give you some automation even in Manual mode!

You know that correct exposure is a combination of three things; ISO, F-stop, and shutter speed. You set the F-stop and shutter speed. Then you let the A6000 select the ISO for a perfect exposure.

Let’s say you are doing street photography, and you want to shoot at f8 and 1/250th of a second. You don’t want to have to fiddle with F-stops and shutter speeds while doing that kind of photography. You just want to focus on the subject and shoot. Soooo… just set the A6000 ISO to AUTO and the camera will adjust the ISO up or down within your minimum and maximum ISO settings, to give you the proper exposure.

The ISO will top out at your maximum ISO setting. ISO settings are menu settings: Go to your A6000 Menu, Camera – which is the first icon, then to Tab 4, ISO. You set your ISO to Auto. There is a minimum ISO setting and maximum ISO setting. I have mine set to minimum 100 and maximum 3200. You set your lens F-stop to whatever you want. You set your shutter speed to whatever you want. The A6000 will give you a correct exposure by automatically adjusting ISO!

Here are some snapshots I took using this method. My ISO setting was AUTO, with a minimum ISO of 100, and a maximum ISO of 3200. I set the shutter speed to 1/250th second, and the F-stop to f8. “F8 and be there” I used a Nikon 28mm f2.8 D lens, and a Nikon 50mm f1.8 D lens. These photos have no edits except to apply the lens profiles found in Lightroom.

Shot with Nikon 28mm f2.8 D lens, set at f8, on Sony A6000 with shutter set at 1/250th
Shot with Nikon 50mm f1.8 D lens, set at f8, on Sony A6000 with shutter set at 1/250th
Photographed using the Nikon 28mm f2.8 D lens, f8 and 1/250th. Camera set the ISO.

One more thing to notice. Do you see the yellow in the bunny’s eye’s. That is not jaundice. That is “focus peaking”. It tells you what the camera is focusing on. Most of the newest cameras have the feature. It really helps. I have my peaking color set to yellow. Blue and red are also available colors for focus peaking on the A6000. I used focus peaking on the sample images above.

Other Benefits of Adapters

Battery Power Is Conserved

Battery power consumption dropped about 30% or more when I mounted a lens to the camera using the adapter. That was a pleasant surprise. The A6000 eats batteries. I assume the power saving occurs because the lens-CPU is no longer connected.

Depth of Field Preview

By rotating the lens aperture ring, you can observe the effects on the image when you stop down and when you open up the aperture. Nice feature. You can also do that with regular CPU lenses. I was more aware of it shooting on manual with the adapter mount.

Old Lens Qualities

You can get simple adapters for several screw mounts such as Leica screw mount L39, Pentax screw mount M42, Leica M mount, etc. All the old lenses are now being bought up to use on the mirrorless cameras. You can mix and match legendary glass from different manufacturers. What a blast, and you will get some of the same look and feel of photographs made decades ago. But hurry. Demand is driving up prices.

Recommendations

I would say if you are going to use adapters, use the inexpensive simple adapters. Currently, based on reviews, the ones with the CPU interface are expensive, running $200 up to $400 or more. For that money, save another hundred and buy a lens made for the camera. A simple adapter costs $20.

On the A6000 the simple adapters work great. The camera’s automatic ISO setting will get you perfect exposures. Focus peaking is almost as quick as autofocus. You may have a challenge if you use face recognition and eye focus features.

Finally, adapters allow you to try all kinds of lenses, ancient and modern from many different manufacturers. You can photograph and obtain many different “looks”.

Final Shots

I made these snapshots on the A6000 with the Nikon 50mm f1.8.

Selah

~ by Bill on July 9, 2020.

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