My wife has multiple lenses from her old Canon Ae1 film camera with a doubler, I would like to upgrade her to a Canon rebel T5. Is there an adapter available to make use of her old lenses ? If so , where would I purchase one ?


Before I say anything else let me just say that the choice of a camera is quite a personal one, as handling is very important. It is probably best that you let your wife make a choice on the camera she likes.

For technical reasons adapters from Canon FD ( the AE1 mount ) to the Canon EOS mount are practically non-existent, although eBay may help.

Canon did make an adapter years ago, but it's quite rare. There are versions on eBay. However I think this is a mistake. If you go the DSLR route I would suggest that modern DSLR lenses ( some of which are cheap enough ) are optically quite good and better matches to the system.

However it is relatively common to mount Canon FD lenses on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras ( or MILC for short ). Examples of MILCs that would be suitable are :

  • Sony E-mount and FE-mount systems like the A6000 and A7
  • Fuji X-mount series, like the X-E1 and X-E2

The Sony E-mount system would have the most adapter for it, I think. I have a Sony E_mount system myself.

MILC systems either use an electronic viewfinder ( typically a good one ) or have no viewfinder at all.

Many, but not all, MILCs have a feature called focus peaking. This is a terrific aid to manual focusing. This is quite important because modern DSLRs do not have split focus screens, which were the way you would get a good focus with a manual film camera. With MILCs you can often get both focus peaking and a magnified view in the screen.

Controls on MILCs normally come as something of a shock to people used to film cameras, but they are, I assure you, quite capable of adapting to. I personally come from an SLR then DSLR background and found it relatively painless to get used to my Sony NEX F3, and the A6000 is something of an improvement on the F3 in terms of customization and controls.

When using manual lenses on a MILC you would typically set the aperture on the lens, and the camera can adjust exposure automatically using it's internal metering system. In many ways this is something of the best of both worlds and I woudl have my old Pentax lenses on my own Sony NEX F3 more often than not.

One last point. The sensor on some MILCs is smaller than standard film frame. This creates what is known as a crop factor effect. It means than an lens with e.g. a focal length of 50mm will give a field of view on a crop frame system like a 75mm lens ( 1.5x crop factor ). This is why kit lenses for crop frame DSLRs and MILCs have kit lenses starting at 18mm ( 1.5x 18mm is about 27mm or about the same as the wide focal length on old film camera kit lenses ! ). So this all means that using an old lens from a film camera on many MILCs will not get you the expected field of view.

But there is a fix for that. They're called focal reducer adapters. These neat bits of optics project the full frame down onto the crop frame sensor, almost restoring the full frame view.

In addition focal reducers also give you as much as a stop more light than the lenses rating ( but not for very wide apertures ). So an f4 lens will act like an F2.8 lens, but an f1.4 lens will be about the same. It's still very useful.

All these adapters can be found on e-Bay quite cheaply.

So the kind of system I would suggest you consider if you really want to utilize old FD lenses would be :

  • Sony A6000 ( nice EVF built in )
  • A focal reducer adapter for the NEX ( like this one ).

Note that the "plain" adapters give you the crop factor effect I mentioned, but are really cheap and it's actually easy to buy both types ( the focal reducer is the expensive one ).

Now there are many alternative, so don't think this is an absolute recommendation, but a simple suggestion.

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