Viltrox EF-NEX IV adapter (v1.9)

Featured

Viltrox has released a firmware update min-2019, and this posts talks about the updated performance of this adapter. I’ve specified my experience per lens, to give you a better overview on how each EF/EF-S lens performs in combination with this adapter. Be sure to check out my previous thought on this adapter here, as this is a continuation or update from the findings I reported in that post.

I’ve used this mount adapter exclusively in combination with the Sony A7 III, so all my thoughts presented here are related to this combination.

General remarks

So, after almost a year, we get a new firmware update for this adapter. While there’s a whole list of new lenses that have been tested and added to the compatibility list, the one thing that interested me the most was the improved CDAF functionality, improving the AF performance by allowing the adapter to make use of hybrid AF, combining CDAF and PDAF, just as native Sony FE lenses do!

Other EF to FE lens adapters have also had this update. Recently, Yongnuo, another Chinese camera accessory manufacturer, released their mount adapter, which includes this functionality (see Petapixel, for instance). I’m not a 100% sure, but I believed Metabones recently updated their mount adapter as well, also allowing for hybrid AF functionality.

When you download the updated firmware (link), you’ll be presented with two files: the regular v1.9 firmware and the ‘test-v041’ firmware, which includes the aforementioned hybrid CDAF functionality. I’ve exclusively used this ‘test’-firmware.

In addition to all the stuff written down below, this mount adapter allows you to mount EF or EF-S lenses to your Sony A7 camera. Please note that mounting an EF-S lens switches the camera to s35 mode, cropping the sensor to simulate an APS-C style camera. The adapter was able to control the aperture of all lenses that I’ve tested. The correct focal length is sent to the camera’s IBIS system, allowing for automatic sensor stabilization that adapts to the focal length of the lens. For instance, zooming the Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L USM to 17mm changed the IBIS to 17mm, while zooming to 35mm changed the IBIS to 35mm. This means that if your Sony camera supports IBIS, it automatically chooses the correct setting for the attached Canon lens.

Compared to the previous version of the firmware, v1.8, the adapter has become a lot more stable. I’ve never had the camera lock up with this firmware, which is in stark contrast to my experiences with firmware v1.8, where the camera-adapter-lens combination would lock-up and freeze every 100 or so pictures.

However, if you change settings related to AF in the camera, you need to reboot the camera and remount the lens-adapter combination for the change to occur. For instance, I changed the focus speed settings from normal to fast. This caused the camera to cease operating: even though the EVF and monitor still displayed a live feed, I couldn’t change camera settings like aperture or shutter speed. Rebooting in this case was not enough, and this caused the camera to boot up with a black screen (even though the lens cap was off). After uncoupling the mount adapter from the body and re-attaching, my camera worked as expected again, with the changed AF settings successfully changed.

Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L USM

This lens combination works wonderfully on the Sony A7 III. The camera automatically changes the IBIS system based on the focal length of the lens. AF works better than I expected in both photo and video, delivering a sharp and L-level quality image.

Face-detection works in both photo and video mode. In photo mode, it even detects the eyes and draws a green square around them, indicating that the eyes are in focus. However, one consistent finding that I experienced is that face-detection only works when the subject is in the center of the frame. When a subject is to the side, the camera detects a face, but is unable to achieve focus. Instead, the lens keeps hunting back and forth and ultimately gives up. The same is true for tap-to-focus: it only works when it’s in the center of the frame. This finding holds true for both photo and video.

The AF motor makes a little noise when shooting video. It is noticeably louder than my native Sony FE 28-70 kit-lens. However, if you’re in a somewhat noisy environment, the noise this lens makes is insignificant. For instance, when I use my Rode Videomic Pro, focussing noise is barely noticeable in the video.

AF is fairly quick, quick enough for my taste. I’m unable to compare it to how this lens performs on a native Canon camera, but I suppose it’s quicker. As far as I’m concerned, it’s quick enough for me, and I’ve not missed a shot both in video and photo due to this lens not focussing fast enough. You can take a listen to a recording of the A7 with this lens, where you can hear the AF motor, when audio sensitivity is set to 31 (link).

Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM

I’ve used this lens after using the EF 17-40 for a couple of weeks, so naturally I’ve compared it to the performance of that lens.

First and foremost, the focussing system in video is significantly slower. I’ve changed the focussing speed to fast (and causing the camera to cease operating properly, as explained above, requiring a re-mounting of the lens in order to relieve this). Setting the speed to fast still makes this lens acquire focus a bit slow. It is significantly slower than using the native FE 28-70 kit-lens, and is a little bit too slow for me when you need to change focus form very close to very far. However, I don’t think you’ll need to perform such a focus move, as with my video shooting I usually need the lens to perform only slight focus adjustments, as with tracking a face or subject along a background. For photo however, focus is achieved quickly enough, making this a non-issue for photo.

Just as with the EF 17-40, face detection works only when the face is in the center of the frame, both with video and photo.

AF is noisier than the EF 17-40, which was noisier than the native FE 28-70. I’ve not had enough experience with video shooting with this lens to form an opinion on whether it is usually in real-life scenarios. Also, mind you, there’s the internal IS that works alongside the IBIS system, which also makes a significant amount of noise. Here’s the noise from the AF and IS system when setting the audio sensitivity to 31 (link).

Canon EF 70-300 IS USM

On the day the firmware was released, I made a video showing off the AF-C capabilities of my new-to-me Canon EF 70-300 IS USM tele-zoom lens. I’m not sure if this combination uses hybrid AF or regular CDAF, and I’m not sure if I’m able to tell whether this is used at all! However, this should give you an indication of the usability of AF in video using a Sony A7 III and the Canon EF 70-300 IS USM. Check out the YouTube test footage here!

Last weekend, I used this lens to shoot racing cars on a circuit nearby. I took a spot near the track on top of a building, allowing me to chase the cars as they moved through the final two corners before accelerating along the straight. I was able to track most cars for about 5 seconds. Using the Hi+ drive setting during photo mode, allowing me to shoot photos with 10 fps, all the pictures I took where sharp and in focus. Take a look at the GIF I made from the pictures I took.

When I tried to shoot a video of the cars moving by, sometimes the lens was unable to achieve focus for the 5 seconds. In other cases, focus was achieved during the first second, allowing me to track the car along the corners while perfectly in focus using AF-C. A tactic I uncovered here was starting out at 75mm, tracking the car and zooming in along the way to 300mm to get the car to be in focus.

Canon EF-S 55-250 IS

This is the first iteration of this lens, that does have IS but it’s not the II or the STM version.

This lens presents an affordable option for the EF-S system, and matches neatly with the EF-S 18-55 kit-lens. However, for a full-frame camera such as the A7 III, this lens is a lot less sensible.

First, this lens shows a heavy black border when the camera is not set to s35 mode. As this crops the sensor heavily, the quality goes down noticeably. Secondly, to make things worse, the autofocus is very slow on this combination. It takes ages for this lens to achieve focus, making it almost unusable when trying to use it in practice.

Finally, on a positive note, the IS system works neatly in combination with the A7 III’s IBIS.

In my opinion, taking into consideration the value of this lens, I would choose the Canon EF 70-300 IS USM over this lens anytime. Even thought that lens is bigger and heavier, the AF system works faster and better, and image quality is also improved.

Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 AT-X

The full name of the lens I used is the Tokina AT-X PRO SD 11-16 F2.8 (IF) DX II. This is relevant as there have been a number of variants of this lens produced.

Unfortunately, the copy of the Tokina that I used had a malfunction with AF, where the AF system would not engage in any way. This means that I have no idea how the PDAF or CDAF functions on this camera-adapter-lens combination. I did, however, discover some other interesting findings.

First, as does with most lenses, the lens’ focal length is communicated with the IBIS system. This is relevant because even though most original Canon lenses allow for this functionality, this is the first third-party manufacturer lens that communicates the focal length. You can rest assured that the image of this lens combination is being stabilized by the A7 III IBIS system.

Secondly, even though this lens was made for an APS-C camera, the Sony A7 III does not automatically change to s35 mode, as it does with native EF-S lenses. This results in the outline of circle against a black background when I first turned on the lens at 11mm. This heavy vignetting is unusable, you really need to manually set the camera to s35 in order to use this lens at 11mm. However, and here it gets interesting: at 16mm there’s no vignetting anymore, when the camera is set to FF mode. That means that you can use this lens as a 16mm F2.8 full-frame lens at 16mm! If you would set the camera to s35, the widest you can get is 11 * 1,5 = 16,5mm with a cropped sensor. Setting the camera to full-frame and zooming to 16mm will get you a slightly wider FOV and allow you to use the full sensor of the camera!

Conclusion

Pros

  • Cheaper than both the Sigma MC-11 and Metabones adapters
  • Firmware can be upgraded and it still being updated by Viltrox as of July 2019
  • Contrast AF (hybrid) in video mode
  • Both contrast AF and phase AF in photo mode
  • Compatible with EF-S lenses
  • Communcation with camera: both type (APS-C or FF lens), lens name and focal length are communicated to the body, so you have IBIS functioning as expected, as well as correct EXIF information

Cons

  • Phase AF is not usable for video: AF-C will not be as smooth and stable as native Sony lenses
  • Some EF/EF-S lenses are not supported
  • Non-STM lenses can make a lot of noise when focussing (although this is not a con of this adapter, but concerns most Canon EF lenses)
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Canon EF 70-300 IS USM

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As an upgrade to my frequently used Canon FD 200mm F4, I recently bought a used Canon EF 70-300 IS USM to replace it with. As such, this review will mainly focus on why I think this lens is better suitable for the type of photographing and filming that I do.

Canon EF 70-300 IS USM with Viltrox EF-NEV IV mount adapter

As this is a Canon EF lens, and I shoot solely with Sony camera’s, I use my Viltrox EF-NEV IV mount adapter to mount this to my Sony camera. You can read all about my experiences with the mount adapter here.

Features

The main two reasons I upgraded from my FD 200mm are 1) autofocus and 2) image stabilization. I will explain both in further detail.

First up, autofocus: even though the focus ring on the FD 200 is great, meaning it has a lot of travel to more precisely focus on subjects, the travel distance is still not enough to make me confidently focus on subjects. Every time I’m focussing, I use the digital image zoom function of the Sony camera to digitally zoom the image to check whether I’m really in focus, or just a smidge off. Now, I’m well aware that using an older Canon EF lens on a Sony body is not the best combination for confident autofocus, but in my experience, it is reliable enough for me. Sure, it takes a while for it to acquire focus, but once it’s locked in, you can be sure that it really is in focus. So far, if the camera tells me something is in focus, by showing a green box or the dancing green squares (during AF-C) is most cases the photo turned out perfectly sharp. However, I’m sure a native Sony FE lens will lead to better results, but this will come a much higher price!

Second, image stabilization. After spending a weekend with a Canon EF 70-200 F2.8 IS USM, I was instantly amazed at how well the lens IS and Sony IBIS combination works together. Initially, when I mounted the 70-200 on my Viltrox EF-NEV IV mount adapter, only the IBIS worked. On my Sony’s display, the correct focal length showed up, so I assumed this information would be sent to the IBIS system to adjust the focal length. However, lens IS didn’t seem to function, as the 70-200 didn’t seem more stable than my manual Canon FD 200mm. After I changed the aperture of the lens however, suddenly IS kicked in, and the image was totally stable. Initially, I thought the mount adapter caused the camera to freeze, the image was so stable! I was amazed after this experience, which caused me to consider purchasing an IS lens as a replacement for my tele-prime.

Performance

As this lens in a step up from the cheapest Canon tele-zooms, but not an L-series lens, I had modest expectations for this lens. Previously, I owned the non stabilized Canon EF 75-300 III, which was by far the worst lens I have ever owned. I would not recommend this lens to anyone, on any budget! I still see this lens being sold today, sometimes bundled with a newly released camera. Beginners would be far better of considering the Canon EF-S 55-250 IS, which is better suited to APS-C Canon camera’s and performs a lot better! Or, you know, the lens I’m reviewing here!

Anyway, I digress. The image quality out of this lens is OK. It is not stellar, like the Canon EF 70-200 F2.8 IS USM that I was able to use during that weekend, but that is not surprising considering that lens costs a whole lot more. For a tele-zoom that costs less than €300 on the used market, I don’t think you can go wrong with this lens.

The bokeh on the tele end is a bit distracting, not in a good way. It can cause the image to look a bit unnatural, so you have to take that into consideration when composing your shot. Chromatic aberration can sometimes be observed, but this is to be expected from tele-zooms at the cheaper side of the EF spectrum, and can usually be solved by adjusting a slider in your photo editing software of choice.

I’ve added a couple of pictures I made specifically for this review. I think it does a good job of giving an honest impression of this image quality that this lens produces. While the bokeh can sometimes look unnatural, for a lens in this price category, it produces totally useable images.

By far the best feature of this lens is the image stabilization, which enables me to shoot wonderfully stable video’s, handheld at 300mm, with no problem. The IS system of the lens works great in combination with the Sony IBIS system, both when taking pictures and shooting video. As this was one of the main considerations for me to upgrade, I’m very happy that this turned out the way it did!

Autofocus, while making a lot of noise, especially during continuous autofocus, also performs better that I expected. While it may take some time to acquire focus, this lens, in combination with the Viltrox EF-NEX IV mount adapter, makes for a very usable combination for a Sony FF camera. Be sure to check out my review of the Viltrox!

I’ve shot some video material showing of the AF-C capabilities of this lens. Check out this YouTube video for some test footage showing of the AF-C performance.

Alternatives

Some alternatives I considered, besides this lens, where the Canon EF 70-200 F4 USM, which costs a little more, has greater image quality, but lacks image stabilization, and the Canon EF 70-200 F4 IS USM, which does have image stabilization, but costs a whole lot more than both this lens and the non-IS 70-200 F4 version. Lack of IS and price where the reasons these two lenses where dropped.

A worthy contender, which costs a lot more, but offers greater image quality, is the Canon EF 300mm F4 IS USM. However, as this lens is bigger and heavier, carrying this lens with my in my bag would not be practical. As the lens reviewed here was already bigger than my previous Canon FD 200mm F4, the EF 300 F4 IS USM prime would be way to big for me to carry around.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Autofocus (not very fast, but faster than manually focussing, more reliable than you might expect!)
  • 300mm instead of 200mm (compared to Canon FD 200mm F4)
  • Image Stabilization
  • Relatively light (heavier and bigger than Canon FD 200mm F4, lighter than most other Canon EF telezooms)
  • Relatively cheap (not as cheap as an MF tele-lens, cheaper than most Canon EF options, a lot cheaper than anything tele that Sony has to offer!)

Cons

  • Autofocus makes a lot of noise, especially during AF-C
  • Front element moves during focus (looks silly)
  • Image quality not as good as more expensive L-series Canon EF lenses (obviously)
  • It doesn’t have true ring-type USM, even though it says so on the lens barrel

Canon FD 70-210mm F4

This will only be a short review, as I’ve only used this lens on a small number of occasions. My main objective was to compare it to the Canon FD 200mm F4 that I have previously reviewed on my site (here).

This is another fine example of a cheap second-hand manual focus lens. As this lens cost me only €25, this really confirms that using vintage lenses can get you far on this Sony mirrorless system.

Just as with the Canon FD 200mm F4, I’ve used the K&F Concept Mount adapter (reviewed here) on my Sony A7. Zooming is done used the old fashioned push-pull technique, while focussing is done the normal way, by twisting the lens barrel. I say barrel because the whole front part of the lens moves when focussing, including the lens hood (more on that later). Focussing on this lens is smooth and heavy, allowing for more precise adjustments than the aforementioned 200mm F4.

This lens is a little bit heavier, but noticeably bigger than the 200mm F4. Also, the diameter is also wider: 58mm versus 52mm on the 200mm F4. This is by no means considered wide on modern lenses, where the often used 18-55 EF-S lens sports a 58mm filter thread, with 70-200mm zooms bearing a 67mm or 72mm diameter!

Contrary to the 200mm F4, this lens comes without a built-in lens hood, unfortunately. While the external hood make the lens look more badass in my opinion, a built-in hood is far more convenient and easier to use.

Conclusion

Actually, I was only interested in how this lens compared to the 200mm F4 at the tele end, to see if I might replace my 200mm prime with this lens. After doing a quick comparison I came to the conclusion that while this lens is marginally sharper and has less chromatic aberration, the difference is not noticeable enough to justify the increase in size and weight. So I’ll stick to my Canon FD 200mm F4 prime for now!

Pentax-M smc 50mm F1.4

I considered buying an AF Sony 50mm, but seeing as the Sony FE 50 1.8 is not considered very good (source), and the Zeiss 55mm 1.8 is a bit pricey, I opted for a used manual focus variant which cost me just €60 ($70)!

Features

There’s not much to say really about this lens. It is what you can expect from it, after all! Soft at F1.4, as most lenses are, but it gets better when you decrease the aperture. Focussing is easy as there’s a lot of travel on the focussing ring, and do most manual focus lenses from the MF era.

For video, this is quite a useful lens. Because of the large focus travel range, you can precisely adjust focus, which comes in handy when filming. Focusing by hand is quite easy on this lens, and if you want to step your game up, you can easily adapt this to work on a follow focus system.

One thing that is interesting is that most people that use MF lenses on a Sony E-mount body opt for the Canon FD 50mm 1.4 variant. However, even after using one for only one day, I can safely say that this Pentax is superior to the Canon, especially in sharpness and CA. At 1.4, the Canon was barely usable, as it was way too soft and CA was all over the place. While the Pentax is only a little sharper, CAs are a lot better controller by this lens.

If you have the choice between the Pentax 50mm 1.4 and the Canon FD 50mm 1.4, you should definitely choose the Pentax!

There’s a couple of interesting reviews of this lens out there, I’ll link back to them here. Here’s a comparison between the 50 1.4 and other Pentax lenses from that era with similar focal lengths (link). The author goes into great detail comparing the lenses, offering a lot of interesting insight!

Conclusion

Pro

  • Small, light and cheap
  • Very good for low-light
  • Large focus travel range makes for easy MF focussing

Con

  • A bit soft at F1.4
  • Manual focus
  • Set IBIS manually

K&F Concept mount adapters

If you’re looking to use lenses from the manual focus era, such as the Canon FD 200mm F4 (see my review here) or the Pentax-M 50mm F1.4 (see my review here), on your Sony E-mount camera, you should take a look at these mount adapters by K&F. I own the Pentax PK to NEX and both of the versions of the Canon FD to NEX adapters, and they all work great!

These mount adapters are fairly simple. There’s no communication between the lens and the body, as there’s no electronics inside the lens whatsoever! This means that these adapters can be had very cheaply (around €20), but you’ll have no lens information in EXIF. That means no automatic lens correction in Lightroom or information about your aperture or focal length. You can add this information later, using the Lenstagger plugin for Lightroom, combined with exiftool.

FD – NEX I on the right, FD – NEX II on the left

I’m very happy with these adapters. I have the PK to NEX (E-mount) and FD to NEX version, and they work great. I think they look nice, the black lines up pretty nice with the lenses. That’s about as much I can ask for such a simple item!

Version I on the right, version II on the left

As far as the FD -NEX adapter goes, there’s two versions. The first version has a black E-mount, made out of some sort of metal, but I’m not sure what exact material is used. The second version, version II, uses a different material, resulting in a chrome-looking mount. As far as I can tell, this is the only difference between the two versions. I haven’t had any issue with both versions of the lens though!

The Canon FD adapter has an interesting feature. In order to operate the aperture ring, there’s a pin that needs to be pushed. If you don’t, moving the ring will not affect the aperture of the lens. I have no idea why Canon has engineered the FD mount like this, but that’s what they did. In order for an FD lens to operate correctly, you’ll need to set the adapter to the ‘lock’ position when you mount the lens. Then, after mounting, slide the ring to the ‘open’ position, and you can adjust the aperture!

Godox TT685 Flash (Sony)

This title is a bit of clickbait-y one, as my flash hasn’t arrived yet, so it’ll be a while before I can make a proper review. In the meantime, check out the very in-depth guide to the Godox flash ecosystem by The Overrated Photographer. He talks about the various options that Godox carry in their line-up, and how you should set up your camera to get the most out of the flash unit.

I’ll write my review of this unit when it arrives!

Canon FD 200mm F4

On my journey to find usable manual focus lenses for my A7, I came across this small and light tele prime from the FD era. Lets see how it performs!

Canon FD 200mm F4 with K&F Concept FD-NEX mount adapter

Features

In order to use this lens on your Sony E-mount camera, you’ll need a mount adapter. Luckily, these can be bought for about €20 or $30 (see my review). As this is a (n)FD lens, you’ll need to ‘unlock’ or ‘open’ the aperture, allowing manual aperture control.

There’s a number of different versions of this 200mm F4 lens. First off, there’s the older FD 200mm F4 SSC, which sports the older FD mount. Next, there’s more valuable ‘macro’ version of this lens (http://www.canonclassics.com/canon-nfd-200mm-f4-macro/10-86/). Finally, there’s this version, which comes equipped with the nFD mount, but without macro capabilities.

UPDATE: I’ve recently had the opportunity to test the heavier, but more capable and better performing zoom-brother of this lens, the Canon FD 70-210mm F4. Take a look here my short review!

This lens is relatively small and lightweight, especially for such a long reach. If you would compare this to AF variants, they’re usually longer and heavier. Although such a comparison would not be fair, because more modern lenses usually offer a zoom range or a higher maximum aperture.

Being a manual focus lens, you need to consider a few things. First, you obviously need to focus manually. Luckily, the focus ring has a lot of travel, allowing for precise adjustments when achieving focus. Next, if you have a camera with an IBIS sensor, you need to manually tell your camera the focal length of your lens. Fortunately, in this regard, this is a prime lens, so the focal length will never change, so you’ll only have to set IBIS once. Finally, you’ll need to set the aperture manually. However, I rarely set mine to anything other than F4, so this is somewhat of a non-issue.

This lens comes with a built-in metal lens hood, that you’ll have to manually extend and retract.

At F4, this lens is sharp enough, but can be prone to some chromatic aberration (CA). For photos, this can be easily corrected in Lightroom. For video, you probably will not notice it, so this is not a big deal.

I want to take a moment to reiterate how portable this lens is. Last year, I took this lens with my on a trip to Indonesia, and because it was so light and small, I was able to take it with me on all my trips. I took some great shots that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to make. Not with my general purpose FE 28-70 lens, or with any other (larger and heaver) tele lens.

There are some other reviews of this lens out there (https://couvcamera.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/canon-fd-200mm-4-0-if/, http://www.canonclassics.com/canon-nfd-200mm-f4/10-85/). Most people seem to agree that this is an excellent lens, especially for the price point that you can find this one on the second hand market.

Conclusion

Pro

  • Light
  • Small
  • Affordable

Con

  • Not very fast at F4
  • Manual focus
  • Set IBIS manually

All-in-all, I’m very pleased with this lens. I don’t use it as often as my other lenses, as it’s quite a specialty lens. Once it’s on your camera, you greatly limit yourself on what pictures you can take. However, it’s great to have in your camera bag, ready for those moments that you need a tele prime.

Viltrox EF-NEX IV adapter (v1.8)

Here, I present my experiences with the Viltrox EF-NEX IV adapter, for adapting Canon EF and EF-S lenses to my Sony E-mount camera.

UPDATE (20-08-2019): There’s a new firmware out, v1.9, which includes a test firmware update improving CDAF performance, stating that CDAF “…now simulates the hybrid focus of the original lens, improving focus performance. (source)” After using this firmware v1.9 during my summer holiday, I’ve written up my experiences here.

UPDATE (18-05-2019): I’ve added a section (it’s just before the conclusion) concerning this adapter causing the camera to freeze! However, since the v1.9 update, I’ve had no problems with the adapter causing the camera to stop functioning.

The box looks and feel quite luxurious

I bought my copy from an online camera store in the Netherlands (link), but you can also buy this adapter directly from China (link). It should cost you around €130 or $150.

Background

Coming from a background as a Canon shooter (see my background), I still had a number of old Canon lenses. Furthermore, some of my friends still shoot Canon, and I was looking for a way to be able to use these lenses on my new Sony A7 III.

After the unboxing…

As I started looking into what’s out there, I found two relatively expensive options: the Sigma MC-11 or one of the various Metabones adapters. Because I didn’t plan on using Canon EF lenses in my adventures, but just wanted to try out if and how I could use EF lenses in this new Sony E ecosystem, I opted for the cheaper alternative: the Viltrox EF-NEX IV.

Canon EF 28-105 3.5-4.5 USM with Viltrox EF-NEX IV adapter attached

Even though Viltrox has used the ‘NEX’ moniker for this product, it is aimed solely on the full-frame E-mount cameras. One would assume that ‘NEX’ would refer to the APS-C line of E-mount cameras, but this is not the case. Rather confusingly, Viltrox also offer a product called the EF-E mount adapter, which is similar to a speedbooster, and would only fit on APS-C E-mount cameras, or force FF E-mount cameras in their APS-C/Super35 mode. This makes no sense to me at all…

Features

However, apart from the confusing naming convention, let’s move on to what this thing can do. As you would expect, you can mount Canon EF lenses to this adapter, which you can then mount on your FF Sony E-mount camera. Thanks to the electronic communication between the adapter, lens and body, you can change lens settings like aperture. Funnily enough, you can even override the AF/MF switch in some cases!

Electronics allow for aperture control and auto focus

Physically, the adapter comes with a tripod adapter, that thankfully can be removed easily. I’m not sure what the purpose of this mounting system is: if you have a lens that needs to be supported, why not supported the lens directly with its tripod collar? It might be just me, I’ve only used such big and heavy lenses on a small number of occasions.

The tripod mount comes off

Both EF and EF-S lenses work on this adapter. More interestingly, when you mount an EF-S lens, the adapter sends this information over to the camera. If you have APS-C/Super35 mode set to auto, mounting an EF-S lens with this adapter will tell the camera that a crop-factor lens has been attached, which crops the sensor, just as would mounting a native APS-C lens!

Moreover, the EXIF information of the EF lens is communicated over to the body. As such, when you view your pictures in Lightroom, you can see exactly which lens you used, including the exact focal length!

Loupe info shows a Sony camera with a Canon lens

Finally, this focal length data is also sent through to the IBIS system, at least it does on the A7 III. This means that the IBIS system ‘knows’ the current focal length, and can adjust accordingly. When mounting MF lenses, you have to specify to your IBIS system what focal length you’re using, as the camera has no electronic communication with the lens. With this adapter however, this information is passed on. So if you’re camera supports IBIS, all your non-IS Canon EF lenses now functionally have IS!

This adapter has two interesting features that set it apart from other adapters. One, it has a USB port, that allows for upgrading of the firmware. In 2018, Viltrox has released a whole lot of firmware upgrades for this adapter. With each of these updates, ‘support’ for new lenses is added. Although, I’m not sure what that means, as the lens that I use the most with this adapter, the Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM, is not on the list, but it works just fine!

Cheap UWA solution for the A7

Finally, next to the USB port, there’s a CDAF <-> PDAF switch. As far as I have discovered, this switches between Contrast Detection Auto Focus and Phase Detection Auto Focus. If you’re unfamiliar with the difference between these two (as I was), you can watch this very helpful and informative video by Gerald Undone. If I understand correctly, the more expensive Metabones adapter also supports both AF modes, although they call it green and advanced mode. Green mode would be CDAF, and advanced mode would probably be PDAF, but as I’ve never used this Metabones adapter, I can’t say for sure.
One quirky property of this adapter is that when you change AF mode, you have to disconnect the adapter from the body. I’ve tested this, and if you don’t unmount and remount the lens + adapter combo, it does not function properly.

The choice for either CDAF or PDAF depends on what you want to do. For video, you should definitely go with CDAF. In this mode, you can actually use your lens just as you would a native Sony lens. AF-C is supported, and even face detection works! While AF is not as reliable or quick as a native Sony lens, it is quite usable. Sometimes however, focus is not immediately achieved, and the lens starts hunting. PDAF, on the other hand, is not usable at all in video: all of the lenses I have tested, some of which were on the ‘supported’ Viltrox list, keep hunting for focus. When they stop focussing, things are horribly out of focus, with no way of getting them back in focus. The PDAF setting on this adapter is a big no-no for video, but I’m not surprised, as Metabones does not recommend their ‘advanced mode’ for video either.

USB port and AF switch

For taking photo’s, both PDAF and CDAF work on the A7 III. On the original A7, PDAF does not seem to function. It shows the same behavior as the A7 III shows while in video mode, and can thus be considered unusable. PDAF on the A7 III works like a charm: face detection, snappy AF, even eye-AF! On the A7 III, PDAF works a lot better than CDAF. I would say that, depending on the lens, for photo, PDAF on the A7 III is on par with native lenses!
CDAF, which works on both the A7 and A7 III, feels a lot like a crippled variant of AF. Focus hunts in dimly lit scenarios, but eventually catches on. In better lit circumstances however, CDAF can achieve focus just as quickly as PDAF can. I would say that CDAF in photo mode behaves a lot like CDAF in video mode.

For both AF modes on the A7 III, all focus modes (AF-A, AF-S and AF-C) are available.

However, not all is good and well with this mount adapter. After using this adapter for a good few months, I noticed that this adapter sometimes causes the camera to lock up. For some reason, in some cases, it is unable to take a picture when I press the shutter button. The viewfinder freezes, and the camera becomes unresponsive. This can be solved by restarting the camera (sometimes the battery needs to come out, or the lens needs to be taken off and on again), so it’s not a big deal. However, if timing becomes a challenge in your photography, you cannot be a 100% guaranteed that the camera will actually take the picture, with this adapter! It’s hard to put an exact number on how many times this occurs. I recently took a trip where we went to a park, and I took maybe 100 photos with this adapter, with this flaw occurring maybe three times? I was taking all photos with Silent Shutter turned on, maybe that’s related to this issue? I’m not sure, I should do some more testing. It has however, never caused the camera to freeze during video recording, so if that’s what you’re into, you’re good to go!

One final remark is the noise that AF-C can introduce, on non-STM Canon lenses. Whilst filming, using the adapter in CDAF mode, and the camera set to AF-C, you can definitely hear the focus motor trying to keep focus. I’ve tested a number of lenses, including cheap EF-S lenses and more expensive Canon L USM lenses. All of these produce, to a certain degree, an annoying and definitely distracting, noise. The only exception to this is the only STM lens I have tested, the Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM. This lenses is just as quiet as a native Sony lens, and can thus be used for video with AF-C.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Cheaper than both the Sigma MC-11 and Metabones adapters
  • Firmware can be upgraded
  • Contrast AF in video mode
  • Both contrast AF and phase AF in photo mode
  • Compatible with EF-S lenses
  • Communcation with camera: both type (APS-C or FF lens), lens name and focal length are communicated to the body, so you have IBIS functioning as expected, as well as correct EXIF information

Cons

  • Phase AF is not usable for video: AF-C will not be as smooth and stable as native Sony lenses
  • Some EF/EF-S lenses are not supported
  • Non-STM lenses can make a lot of noise when focussing (although this is not a con of this adapter, but concerns most Canon EF lenses)

So, in conclusion, I’m very happy with this adapter, which allows me to use and experiment with various EF and EF-S lenses. So far though, after testing a number of lenses, including an EF-S 10-18 IS STM, EF 17-40mm F4, EF 17-35mm F2.8, EF-S 17-55 F2.8, EF 24-105mm F4 I, EF 28-105mm, EF 50mm F1.8 II, EF-S 18-55mm IS, EF-S 55-250mm IS, as well as the Tokina 11-16 F2.8, I’ve concluded that only lenses with an STM motor are usable for me, as I shoot mostly video with AF-C engaged.