Adaptation | Testing a Nikon Adapter with the X-Pro1.

I have a gig coming up for which I'll probably need the new 14mm XF lens (what's life without rationalization), which means finally jumping in with both feet and getting rid of my remaining Nikon gear. Why? Because I don't use it, I don't plan on using it and it'll help fund the new kit. If a situation arises where I need a DSLR (or anything else) I can always rent. But before doing so, I wanted to see if I could possibly salvage some of my glass for use with the X-Pro1. You never know. One of the great advantages of mirrorless systems is their ability to use most lenses out there with an appropriate adapter. When I first looked at this option last summer, the landscape was rather bare but now: choices aplenty. So I turned to Ebay and ordered a Rainbow Imaging Nikon G adapter with aperture ring for a whopping $24, shipping included. I figured I didn't have much to lose.

I hadn't been expecting much at this price point so I was pleasantly surprised: metal, sturdy feel, didn't look half bad either*. 

But the best part of it is: it actually works. A few bucks and I'm shooting the X-Pro1 with a whole new range of focal lengths. Perfect right? Hmm... It is fun... But there are some  things to be aware of:

  • The camera needs to be set to Shoot Without Lens which means no focal length info in the EXIF.
  • G lenses don't include an aperture ring and the one on the adapter doesn't communicate with the camera, so you set it by eye through the LCD/EVF while half-pressing the shutter. It's very... Let's go with "vague" for lack of a better term.
  • No communication means no info: everything you shoot shows up as f/0. Fastest glass I've ever owned ;)
  • No AF and no IS either. That fast and heavy telephoto just got a serious case of the jitters (case in point: a Nikon 70-200 2.8 that made no sense at all).
  • This specific adapter's aperture ring has an extremely short throw. It's about 1/8th of a turn from one end to the other. Not very precise to say the least. 

You quickly realize that beyond this basic ability to mount a lens, it actually needs to make sense overall. There's a reason the XF lenses are so light: they're meant to balance with the X-Series bodies. Some of the lenses I tried made the kit seriously front heavy. Interesting to see though... 

Bottom line: I'm glad I didn't spend a boatload on a $200+ adapter. From the few days I've had with it, it's just not something I'd use as part of my main shooting workflow. Compared to shooting native lenses it leaves a lot to be desired.

That said I will be keeping a few things, and surprisingly not what I would've expected. Expensive and fast Nikon glass is usually on the heavier end of the spectrum so the few lenses I'll be keeping are actually my lightest and cheapest; which is perfect from a seller's standpoint. I'm keeping the Sigma 70-300 Macro, maybe the cheap but often impressive Nikon 50mm 1.8D (still not sure about that one) and the original Lensbaby. Stuff I wouldn't get much for anyway and that might be fun to have around. They also all have their own aperture ring (well, the Lensbaby doesn't but it's fixed anyway). I would've preferred keeping the 10mm fisheye but the small built-in tulip hood that surrounds the glass shows up in the images. If I miss it I'll get the Samyang alternative sometime in the future.

That Sigma tele btw has always surprised the hell out of me: it's not the best built lens in the world, it's not fast (f/4-5.6), the manual focus ring is wobbly, it doesn't have IS but... Every time I've used it I've been super happy with the results. I guess they must've done something right. You just need to be aware of its weaknesses and work around them.

I'm including my tests below: first the 70-300 (#1-2-3-4-5), then the 50mm (#6-7-8-9) and finally the Lensbaby (with the f/2 aperture insert). In case you're wondering the images of the X-Pro1 with mounted lenses above were shot with the X100.


* I've heard this adapter's fit can sometimes be less than perfect and the connection to the camera can be a bit loose. I was lucky as mine doesn't have that problem. But it's something I wanted to mention in case you plan on buying.