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I am looking at some older lenses for sale. There are a lot of Minolta MC and MD mount lenses out there. Can they be used on an AF mount body at all (as a fully manual lens)? Will either of the MC or MD lenses have any automatic features (aperture, focus, etc)? I am looking to update a 1990's era Minolta film camera, so it is not clear whether these older lenses will work or not.

I see from this question, Using SLR Lenses on DSLR Cameras, that it appears that older lenses do not work with the AF mounts? Will they not fit at all?

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Minolta MD/MC (like Canon FD/FL) are not usable on dSLR/dSLT bodies without an adapter with an optical element in it to act like a short teleconverter so you can achieve focus to infinity. And a cheap one will be likely to have cheap glass, and can reduce image quality. A simple ring adapter will limit the focus capability of the lens to less than infinity, and could be useful for a macro or portrait lens. But overall, adapting MD/MC to dSLR/dSLT bodies is problematic.

The reason is because the distance the lens has to be held from the image plane is specific to the mount system and for achieving the full focus range. Holding the lens farther out from the body is like using a macro extension tube. MD/MC's "registration distance" is shallower than all the dSLR/dSLT mounts that are current. And an adapter ring adds distance. It's easy to adapter a deeper mount to a shallower one, but adapting a shallower one to a deeper one requires shaving some distance off the camera mount or the back of the lens mount. It can be done, but it's not for the faint of heart. The only easy MD/MC adaption to dSLR that I know of is getting a Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 onto Canon EOS with a Leitax lens mount replacement kit.

Mirrorless cameras, however, have much shallower registration distances than dSLR/dSLT mounts. So all the mirrorless mounts: micro four-thirds, Sony E, Fuji X, etc. can use simple ring adapters with Minolta MD/MC lenses. But be aware that the crop factor is liable to cause a few issues, here. MD/MC are manual focus film lenses, so it's unlikely you'll find anything wider than 28mm at affordable prices. And on a 1.5x or 2x crop sensor, 28mm isn't particularly wide any more. There's also the fact that mirrorless cameras tend to be small, and SLR lenses can be large. Many mirrorless adapters tend to prefer rangefinder glass--if they can find/afford it.

You also, of course, lose autofocus, aperture control from the body (i.e., you can only shoot in full manual or aperture priority modes), and EXIF information from the lens, since these lenses have no electronic communication to speak of.

  • There seem to be plenty of 50mm f/1.7 MD/MC lenses out there for cheap. – casual photographer Oct 16 '14 at 3:07
  • Yup. The registration distance issue makes the pool of buyers smaller than for other mounts--Canon FD/FL is equally plentiful and cheap for the same reasons. – inkista Oct 16 '14 at 4:06
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MC & MD are functionally similar.

Will fit on A mount with adaptor - will not infinity focus with no glass. Will infinity focus with extra lens in adaptor so quality is at mercy of adaptor.
Manual operation. Probably get "focus peaking" with an eg A77.

Will fit on E mount with glassless adaptor (AFAIK).

  • ...and on Canon EF/EF-S/EF-M and Micro Four Thirds, of course. The difference between them, IIRC, is/was just the "lens is set to minimum aperture" tab on the MD. – user32334 Oct 15 '14 at 5:44
  • @user32334 actually, not on Canon EF/EF-S--still requires glass in the adapter for those. MD/MC = 43.5mm registration distance; Canon EOS = 44mm. – inkista Oct 16 '14 at 4:11
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No. The Minolta/Sony Alpha mount is different from the old Minolta manual focus mount so the old manual focus lenses will not fit at all.

  • I have seen some MD lenses advertised as adapted for NEX3. Does this mean they have been modified? Will those lenses fit AF mounts? – casual photographer Oct 15 '14 at 3:24
  • Caveat emptor... – JenSCDC Oct 15 '14 at 10:19
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    The lenses themselves won't have been modified; the adapter merely allows a Minolta lens to be mounted on on one end and has a NEX bayonet on the other. The flange distance for Minolta MD is much greater than that for for the NEX, so the adapters probably won't need glass in them. However, remember that you'll still have manual focus plus stop down metering. If you're insistent on getting an adapter, I'd go with the Metabones. From everything I've read the company has a good reputation. – JenSCDC Oct 15 '14 at 16:25

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