If you’re lucky enough to own one of the Sony range of mirrorless camera bodies, then you have a distinct advantage. Namely, the ability to use Canon lenses, both old and new. This is a definite added bonus, especially if you are swapping platforms from Canon to Sony and already have a good bunch of lenses. But, you will need some sort of high-quality adapter, such as the Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Camera Smart Adapter IV.
On the surface, it may seem like any old adapter will do the job as long as it attaches a lens to the camera body. The problem here is that lenses need to communicate with the camera body seamlessly as if they were directly attached. With modern lenses, that means all the autofocus and stabilization information needs to pass through. The adapter should also work with any type of lens, accessing its full functionality.
In this regard, only a quality adapter will do the job. Thus, let’s see what the Smart Adapter IV has to offer.
Firstly, the Adapter IV only works with Sony full-frame and APS-C E-mounts. Sorry, Sony DSLR cameras. As for compatible Canon lenses, all EF and EF-S lenses, along with newer STM lenses should fit seamlessly. The adapter should also work with sensor-shift stabilization.
As the Metabones is on its IV generation, it has some new features. These include an LED which can change from blue to red to let you know a solid connection has been made. There’s also a stabilization on/off switch and a rubber gasket for a tighter seal along with slight weatherproofing. There’s also a micro USB port for firmware upgrades.
The adapter is solidly built, all-metal and as it may stay on your camera permanently, it initially feels like part of the camera body, giving confidence that this little unit will last for a good deal of time.
There is no glass in the adapter to alter a lens’ optical characteristics. But, as the distance has changed between lens and camera body, it has to do a remarkable job of working seamlessly and with a good variety of lenses.
The Smart Adapter IV comes in its own little plastic case for easy storage which includes two Allen wrenches, lens caps, a handy built-in tripod foot, and with a nominal weight of 142.8g.
Fitting the adapter to the camera is as straightforward as attaching a lens. The adapter has a knurled feel, which makes it easier for gripping and the addition of an AF Lock button adds to the functionality, although it isn’t always the easiest to reach.
Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Camera Smart Adapter IV in Use
We used a Sony a9 camera body as the testbed, along with a bunch of the latest generation Canon zoom and prime lenses. There were initial high expectations for the adapter, as from the off, it had to work with a large variety of lenses and functionality. Basically, as if the adapter wasn’t there in the first place.
Starting with the workhorse, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, autofocus snapped into place very quickly, with images coming out noticeably sharp. Having Sony’s in-camera stabilization further extends the functionality, so no complaints here.
Trying out a slightly older lens in the form of the Canon 28-135mm IS, was not just to test out the connection with image stabilization, but also with an older lens. Again, everything worked seamlessly, with the autofocus system working spot-on.
Another go-to lens for Canon users is the 70-200mm IS III. A good testbed for trying out the latest Canon workings. In this respect, the results were along the same lines. No perceived difference in the speed of autofocus and the linkup between camera and the lens stabilization worked very well.
Moving onto prime lenses, the ubiquitous Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM worked as expected. Sharp and accurate, with the added bonus of the in-camera stabilization. The same goes for the Canon 50mm f/1.2L. Sharp images and quick to snap into focus.
Exposure functionality in general comes out as you set it on the camera. The different metering modes were not thrown off in any way and we didn’t experience any images that were overtly over or underexposed. Pleasantly surprised, this was the same in low light conditions, with only focus hunting starting when the camera went into really dark areas. However, this can be said for any camera and lens combo when conditions get too dark.
Auto white balance is handled well on more modern lenses, but it can be problematic on older lenses where there is no communication between lens and body. Color fringing can also occur on older lenses with no automated correction, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem with the newer types.
Although we only tested a short-range of Canon lenses with the adapter, they all worked seamlessly and even the image stabilization linked up well. Also, EXIF data records focal length and aperture, but not necessarily the type of lens.
How Does It Compare?
The Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Camera Smart Adapter IV isn’t exactly the cheapest adapter on the market, which means you could be eyeing up some cheaper offerings. There are not many on the market, but they are out there, such as the Fotodiox adapter.
The Fotodiox adapter has largely the same working as the Metabones and can work with a large variety of lenses. But, some lenses will trip up its performance, such as with autofocus. This means you will really have to test out this one with your own particular set of lenses.
The same goes for the Fotga adapter. It’s a very cheap alternative to the ones above. You may strike it lucky with this adapter working with your own lenses, but in our experience, it didn’t want to play. So, it may be cheap, but if it can’t work straight out of the box, it’s not worth the bother. This is why we haven’t brought you the usual comparison table. These units either work or they don’t, no matter the comparable features.
An adapter, such as the Metabones was a much-needed feature when the Sony range first came out, as there simply wasn’t the range of lenses available as today. It’s a different story now, but for those swapping platforms from Canon to Sony, a seamless adapter is a much-needed bit of kit.
Obviously, a dedicated Sony lens is always going to work the best on a Sony body. But, not everybody is going to be in a position to be able to migrate all their beloved lenses to the Sony platform in an instant. However, this should be the ultimate route forward.
If you’ve decided on a Sony camera body and a working photographer, you need that peace of mind that everything will work as it should do. In this regard, the Metabones works very well. It may not always be the fastest to focus, as the camera body, adapter, and lens try to talk to each other, but in the majority of cases, you should have a smooth ride.
However, there are always going to be caveats, where you either have a particular copy of lens that isn’t playing ball or simply doesn’t want to communicate. Therefore, it’s a good idea to test out this adapter with your own bunch of lenses and camera before committing.
In total, the Metabones is the best adapter you can currently buy if you want to hook up Canon lenses to your Sony mirrorless camera body. It’s definitely not a cheap bit of kit, but if you want all your Canon lenses to work as intended, it’s a far cheaper proposition than swapping over your complete lens collection in one fell swoop. The Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Camera Smart Adapter IV is definitely a worthwhile purchase for hooking up Canon lenses to a Sony.