Saturday Spotlight: The Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

March 22, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | Compact System Camera, Digital SLR Cameras, Lenses | 36 Comments |
Saturday Spotlight: The Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter Image

If there's one big problem for Sony's new full-frame mirrorless camera system, it's the lack of native lenses, with just the 35mm, 55m, 28-70 and 24-70mm FE optics currently available.

That has led a lot of early adopters to explore ways of fitting non-Sony lenses to their A7/A7r cameras, which is where companies like Metabones enter the stage with adapters like the Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Smart Adapter (Mark III) that we're taking a look at today.

This clever product allows Canon EF lenses to be used on the Sony A7 and A7r with full support for electronic aperture and EXIF data, and on some of the more recent EF lenses, auto-focusing and image stabilization too.

We were keen to try out some of our Canon EF lenses on a Sony A7/A7R to find out what the AF performance is actually like and if the combination of the worlds' smallest full-frame camera and a range of Canon optics actually makes sense (or indeed works at all).

Saturday Spotlight: Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

The Metabones adapter (MB-EF-E-BM3) fits snugly onto the Sony A7, adding a couple of cms to the depth of the camera. Fitting a lens onto the adapter is an even tighter fit, requiring quite a lot of force to turn the lens into place (this was true of every lens that we tried).

Saturday Spotlight: Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

Saturday Spotlight: Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

Saturday Spotlight: Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

The 5 lenses that successfully autofocused with the Metabones adapter are shown above - the 17-40mm f/4, 24-105mm f/4, 85mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/4 and the 100mm f/2.8 macro.

We say successfully. Autofocusing the Canon EF lenses on the Sony A7 via the Metabones adapter sounds great in theory, but proved to be a rather frustrating experience. Firstly, it takes at least a couple of seconds for the lens to focus - Metabones themselves say that "Autofocus speed is very slow and inadequate for most moving subjects. The autofocus speed is unfit for professional use for sure, and it would disappoint most enthusiasts." We'd wholeheartedly agree. Furthermore, we often found that the subject was actually out-of-focus, even though the Sony A7 had confirmed the focus point, making autofocusing a slow and unreliable affair.

Saturday Spotlight: Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

And here are the 3 lenses that wouldn't autofocus - an older generation Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, Sigma's excellent 35mm f/1.4, and the Tamron 24-75mm f/2.8. Metabones state that "Autofocus is disabled for most third-party lenses."

Don't despair though - manual focusing still works, and best of all, it works really well, so much so that we found it quicker and more accurate to focus manually than to rely on the hit and miss autofocusing. The Sony A7/7R really is a joy to use in this regard, with the combination of excellent focus peaking and a large electronic viewfinder making it a cinch to manually focus.

Saturday Spotlight: Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

The 17-40mm f/4 rather dwarves the Sony A7...

Saturday Spotlight: Sony A7/A7R and the Metabones Canon EF Adapter

...as does the 70-200mm f/4.

In summary, the Metabones adapter successfully allows you to use Canon EF lenses on the excellent Sony A7/A7R mirrorless cameras - just don't expect snappy or reliable autofocusing. Instead, learn to use the Sony A7/A7R's excellent manual focusing system instead, and you can enjoy using Canon's vast range of lenses on our favorite camera of 2013.

Have you used the Metabones adapter with the Sony A7/A7R, or any other adapter? Let us know how you got on in the Comments section below.

Entry Tags

compact system camera, lens, mirrorless, canon, CSC, lenses, a7r, a7, sony a7r, sony a7, canon ef, adapter, canon lenses, canon lens, EF, metabones, MB-EF-E-BM3

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#1 Nicholas Dunning

This reminds me when someone mounted a huge 500mm lens to a canon eos m when it first came out.

12:51 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#2 Ranjit Vuyyuru

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 does indeed work with the Metabones III, I have the combination. The following lenses do work:
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

4:12 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#3 Ranjit Vuyyuru

With the above comment, I do have to add the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM does show some vignetting at 20mm and below. I am aware that a number of other lenses also do work. The AF is indeed slow but Aperture, IS and Exif do function. The Sony A7R, which I have along with the Canon 5D III, is better suited, with the 36MP sensor, for landscape and cityscape work where fast AF is not required. I use the Manual Magnification function which is most accurate. Aperture function is also present with the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II.

4:22 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#4 Ranjit Vuyyuru

I have to add the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM does show some vignetting at 20mm and wider. The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II also shows Aperture function. I have the Canon 5D MKIII and the Sony A7R+Metabones Mark III which I use mainly for landscape and cityscape work. I use the Manual magnification function which is the most accurate method in my experience.

4:27 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#5 Tom Fama

I use the Matabones adapter for my NEX-6 with Nikon mounted glass. The Matabones Adapter allows manual (though uncalibrated)aperture setting.  I also lose auto focus and anti vibration.  I gain the use of all my lenses.  Fit is excellent.  An extremely useful point seldom mentioned is that the Metabone adapters come with an 1/4”-20 tripod thread in the foot of the adapter.  This solid tripod base on the Metabones adapter takes all the weight and imbalance from the small camera body, avoiding any damage to the tripod socket in the base of the camera body.

6:20 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#6 Fredy Ross

I have it and tried it with 3 lenses and yes it is slow but found it works better with a cheap wireless remote control set to 2 seconds. As I have the fe lens 24-70mm and think of the A7r as a landscape lens, I will only use my 70-300 DO if I need longer. It also works the same with my canon 100-400L the same way. I can hold both rested on my arm and hold the remote in front so that it faces the camera. The metabones works quicker with my sony nex6 and canon 18-135 lens but also not fast moving people. today I put on my site a street photo photoshopped which I took with the a7r and the DO. The reason I bought it was because my DO lens is iighter to carry than the future sony fe 70-200G and I already had it.

6:36 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#7 Fredy Ross

yes it works but slowly. I had a wireless cheap remote from e-bay with my nex 6 and found the metabones works well with the 2 second delay. I think of my a7r as a landscape camera and have the 24-70mm FE lens but just in case I need the longer focal length I have my canon lenses like the DO 70-300IS and 100-400L IS. The metabones works quicker with my sony nex 6 and 18-135IS in a test. I have uploaded some on my site, today in my album photoshoped, a street party.

6:57 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#8 Jacques Cornell

You wrote repeatedly that the Metabones was fitted to a Canon body. Wasn’t it actually fitted to a Sony a7 as shown in the photos above? Also, what is a “Canon EOS Mark III”?

“The Metabones adapter (MB-EF-E-BM3) fits snugly onto the Canon EOS Mark III”
“Furthermore, we often found that the subject was actually out-of-focus, even though the 5D Mark III had confirmed the focus point”

11:57 pm - Saturday, March 22, 2014

#9 Paul Fan

Since manual focus with the costly Metabones adapter, any cheaper replacement adapter for manual focus only help to reduce cost.

12:11 am - Sunday, March 23, 2014

#10 Brian

I’m using the Metabones III adapter and several no-name adapters (3 at last count).  Metabones is the best todate; however, one by King (Viing) is a close competitor and about one third the cost.

As you’ve stated, (fast) autofocus is a lost cause.  I’ve mainly reverted to my old habits of 30+ years ago and am back to manual focus.  I’ve also dug out a number of ol’ 35mm film camera lenses…  They work very well with the A7R!

I have also acquired an FD adapter and am making good use of several ol’ Canon FD lenses.  They also work very well on the A7R.

4:10 am - Sunday, March 23, 2014

#11 chuck

Thanks for the article. I was looking at a canon 24-70mms with metaphors because it is one stop faster than Sony’s DR at F4 I don’t care about autofocus but have a real need for image stabilization which you didn’t cover. My question is does it work? Because if not I will stick with my Nikon 32955-70 f2.8

Thanks

3:08 pm - Sunday, March 23, 2014

#12 chuck

Wow! Don’t post here from a cell phone! Anyway, what about IS or what Sony calls: OSS

3:11 pm - Sunday, March 23, 2014

#13 Brian

@chuck

Image Stabilization works on all my Canon and 3rd party lenses with the Metabones III and A7R.  I’ve been using both Canon EF and EFS lenses, the Sigma 150-500mm zoom and Tamron lenses.  No problems; work just like they do on my Canon 60D bodies.

11:58 pm - Sunday, March 23, 2014

#14 Mark Goldstein

As Brian confirmed, image stabilization works perfectly with the lenses that we tested.

10:54 am - Monday, March 24, 2014

#15 Christopher

Hello all, YES the Canon 24-70 2.8 II works good and so does the Sigma 35 mm 1.4 ART, and my old 400 F4 DO and also with the Canon 1.4 x teleconverter, the 2 x don’t but if you don’t mind the focusing delay and misses sometimes this adapter works GREAT on MF with focus preview at 7x and 14.4 x very well and as said works faster.

Christopher

5:48 pm - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#16 Alex

I shoot 95% landscape with my Sony a7. The Canon L lenses are very sharp and work great. I have the 17-40 and 24-105. The 17-40 focuses correctly 99% of the time while the 24-105 needs to be corrected most of the time, especially in lower light. The Metabones 3 works great for me since I do not shoot for speed and I take my time composing the shot.

The EF 50mm 1.8, aka nifty fifty, does not communicate at all with the a7 via Metabones. You can not even set the aperture. it just goes wide open when you turn on the camera.

6:08 am - Thursday, March 27, 2014

#17 David B

have king adapter and tried. Metabones 3 adapter inside a store.  My king adapter provides slow af to all my canon lenses including 50 1.8 II .  It appeared to me inside the store that metabones 3 af with 24-105 was faster than I am getting at home with king adapter and the same 24-105. I wish I had both adapters to try side by side.  King was much cheaper than metabones.

12:57 pm - Saturday, March 29, 2014

#18 Christopher

Hello David B. I think the reason is the Metabones uses a 32 bit processing cpu where the others use a 8 or 16 bit cpu. I wanted to test the King and the Commit ( I think that’s the name) but here in the US you must order and return if not happy. So that’s why I decided to keep the Metabones III over the others even over the cost savings.

5:02 pm - Saturday, March 29, 2014

#19 DAVID B

Christopher it is interesting information.  All the other adapters lincluding my King adapter are silent in what CPU is inside.  Metabones is the only one that claims has 32bit processing CPU.  How does one find out what processor their adapter is using without first disassembling it?  I don’t feel like spending $400 on Metabones III but if it is twice as fast maybe its worth it.

10:56 pm - Saturday, March 29, 2014

#20 Christopher

Hello David, I don’t know, but I am 99% sure that they are NOT a 32 bit CPU and quite likely copied the Metabones technology. I had emails with the guy at RJ Camera about his new full frame adapter and he said it slower but did not have a Metabones III to test and I asked RJ to send me a sample to test and got a no. So the main reason I have decided to keep the Metabones is the adapter can be upgraded firmware and all of the others can’t and with that investment I would prefer it to be upgraded if a improvements are done. Also if AF is 65% or 85% or more the speed in AF could be worth it, also I do find on manual focus as fast or faster that the Metabones AF, so if you do MF then the speed is a non issue and what you have works. As some help I noticed that the Metabones on some objects in AF is 2-3 sec to lock focus and 3-5 tries locks are off not in focus. In bright daylight it works very good FYI.
Christopher

1:09 am - Sunday, March 30, 2014

#21 DAVID B

Christopher, thanks for your information.  In the videos on youtube where Metabones III is used, the speed is about the same I am getting with King adapter.  On the other hand, they are all trying it in youtube videos in extreme low light.  I kind of wish someone did a video test in normal daylight.  we don’t just shoot always in low light.

5:37 am - Sunday, March 30, 2014

#22 Alan Aurmont

Mark, are you sure you got the real thing? ‘Cause Metabones promo shots show the adapter’s release lever made out of aluminum, whereas yours looks like black plastic.

These small inconsistencies is one of the reasons why I hate Chinese products. Alas, ‘Made in China’ will always be associated with cheap and fake.

God, I wish Novoflex got their act together and released their version already. Nothing can beat German quality.

12:00 am - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#23 Brian

“Mark, are you sure you got the real thing?”

I have the Metabones III adapter.  Release lever is aluminum but anodized black.  King release lever is shiny (silver) aluminum.

Both work about the same but Metabones is a bit tighter fit.  Not sure if this worth triple the cost!?

7:36 pm - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#24 Christopher

Ok got a email from china and the King adapter is 8 Bit CPU and I would think my Metabones III is also a 8 Bit as I did not see and night and day difference. I did get a King because it was only $160 and thats a savings of $240, but when I just got the King it damaged 3 of my Canon lenses, 24-70 II & 16-35 II and 70-300 f4-5.6 L because the King pins are too close to the Canon gold contacts and or the pin spring is to strong and won’t compress easy and then damaged the Canon contacts, but the seller said they will pay and today paid me for the return shipping of the adapter and FedEx to Canon service to replace the gold contact black part and the shipping cost and tonight got the $160 back and the $65 shipping to Canon, won’t know the repair cost until next week so I am happy with the seller and my understand they make the King adapter. Updates when I have some.

Christopher

4:42 am - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#25 Peter Russell

I have 3 adapters, a manual Fotodiox (£34), a modified Viltrox (£64), and a new Metabones III (£360!). The Viltrox provides OS but cannot provide AF and OS at the same time, and AF is much poorer than Metabones even with OS off. With the Metabones I can successfully focus my 17-40L and 70-200L f4, the lens I want to use in addition to my Zeiss 24-70.

In hindsight could have stuck with my 24-105L + Metabones. Also, canon 40mm instead of Zeiss 35mm and save £s ($s!)without much IQ loss.

Problem - Metabones failed, it defaults to ‘Advanced Mode’ with no AF every time the lens is removed. Getting a replacement.

Another problem - I have had to shim the converters to get sharp edges, none are perfectly aligned although the Metabones was much better than the others. I use my Samyang 14mm to test as edges are ultra-critical with such a wide angle lens, and this lens is much sharper wide open on the edges then the 17-40L.

Compared with my Canon 5D II, I get significantly superior images with the A7r so long the the subject is static. For action I have a D7100 system.

A7r + macro (Tamron 90) ace for slide copying, better than Coolscan 5000! (Except the dust).

10:12 am - Friday, May 2, 2014

#26 Peter Falson

Can I fit a Minolta 70-200 AF lens to a Sony A7 with a Metabones adaptor and if so, which one?

9:39 am - Monday, May 12, 2014

#27 Christopher

Hello Peter, yes you can but not with the Metabones III as the Metabones III is a electronic adapter and your Minolta is 100% mechanical and maybe ebay you can find something.

You can also check out fredmiranda.com & dpreview.com for others that have Minolta lenses and may be able to suggest a brand.

Good luck.

Christopher

3:15 pm - Monday, May 12, 2014

#28 Brian

“Can I fit a Minolta 70-200 AF lens to a Sony A7 with a Metabones adaptor and if so, which one?”

I use Minolta, Pentax K, Canon EF & FD, M42 and T2 lenses with the A7R using various adapters available on the web; all Chinese made BUT quite reasonable.  You can also get adapters with a built-in manual aperture for use with automatic lenses; sorta handy.

I bought most of mine through:
http://stores.ebay.com/jiakgong-DIGITAL?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

bwa

7:32 pm - Monday, May 12, 2014

#29 makinista

I rent a metabone adapter with the most expensive 70-200 mm I had to put in deposit $2,500.00.  Two weeks after I bought a viltrox adapter for only $ 117.00 and a Tamron 70-200 with stabilization “VC”  So with have of the money I got better results I can shut at 1/60 with confidence.

1:50 am - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#30 Mike Cummins

Great review Mark thanks very much.

I have Sony A7r (just) with Metabones adapter for Canon EF lens fit (+ Zeiss Distagon ZE 21mm f2.8). The Zeiss works brilliantly as it has no auto focus to start with and manual focus works blissfully. However my Canon EF 50mm f1.4 autofocus won’t work at all and I cannot set an aperture even in Manual mode (unless I’m missing something. Finally my Canon EF 135mm f2 can autofocus but appears useless - I couldn’t photograph my standing dog for several seconds unless I haven’t set it up correctly.

I’ll update if I discover anything new re auto-focus.

However, all this can be forgiven as the manual focus works quickly & superbly and the resultant RAW file IQ is just staggering.

Hope this helps :)

MC

7:31 pm - Thursday, June 5, 2014

#31 makinista

I think we should contact Metabones an make a petition for a metabone with translucent mirror adapter for sony a 7/7r for canon mount, which will make a really good combo. I have the LA-EA4 adapter for sony A to E mount and it’s really fast.

1:05 pm - Sunday, June 8, 2014

#32 Mike Cummins

Update on my earlier post (June 5th). I can indeed set the aperture with Canon EF 50mm f1.4 when in manual mode.

I read in yesterday’s Photography Monthly July 2014 (UK) that Joe Cornish rates the IQ of the Sony A7r as ‘the egual of or superior to Medium Format film’. Enough said..

2:17 pm - Sunday, June 8, 2014

#33 John E

I just got the A7R and a Metabones III. I tried my 135mm 2.0L and Tamron 24-70 VC. I could not get either one to autofocus at all on the A7R but both worked right away on my NEX 5N and NEX 7. Metabones shows firmware Ver 31 on NEX settings detail. The 135mm is from 2012. 
Any ideas?
John

7:01 am - Saturday, June 21, 2014

#34 Mike Cummins

Hello John E - did you update the firmware of the Sony A7r to version 1.02? See Menu 6/6/2 to check your current version. This should enable the autofocus of the 135mm to ‘work’ but I’m afraid it’s useless all the same. Manual focus using focus peaking is fast though.

Hope this helps.

2:29 pm - Saturday, June 21, 2014

#35 Christopher

Hello all, the Metabones III is said to work with Canon EF lenses 2006 and newer, so the 135 mm f2 should not work per that info.

But my Canon 400 EF f4 DO is older than 2006 and it works, well I think it’s older than 2006?

I don’t think updating the Sony A7/A7r FW should not make it work, because I think the issue is with the MBIII as they reversed engineered the Canon EF code to get it to work as it is.

6:35 pm - Saturday, June 21, 2014

#36 john ehman

I updated the firmware this morning and now all is well with my 135mm f2L and Tamron 24-70 VC. The 135mm date is 2012. I won’t need the AF much but is nice to know I got my money’s worth with the Metabones.
Thank You

10:04 pm - Saturday, June 21, 2014