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Photo by James Bold on Unsplash
Photo by James Bold on Unsplash

Nikon Lenses on Canon EF Cameras

For those among us that lack brand loyalty, the idea of a universal lens mount is always tantalizingly out of reach. But we can come close with lens adapters - an affordable way to bring new life and flexibility to our lens collection. The most common interchange is between Canon and Nikon, but selecting the right adapter isn’t as easy as just going on Amazon or B&H. 

None of these are correct
None of these are correct

ADAPTABILITY IS DEFINED BY FLANGE FOCAL DISTANCE

Lenses from a system with a longer flange focal distance mount easily onto cameras with shorter distances, while cameras with very short flange focal distances are able to accept almost any lens from a longer-flange system. Canon’s EF mount has a depth of 44mm, making it a ready and willing host to the longer-flanged Nikon lenses. Canon lenses cannot mount onto Nikon bodies, though. At least, not without corrective glass elements.

NIKON F LENSES CAN BE ADAPTED CHEAPLY AND EASILY

Nikon has utilized the same simple mechanical mount since 1959 - named the Nikon F mount. Lenses of this mount are still 100% compatible with modern Nikon cameras like the D850, but feature fully mechanical diaphragms controlled by a good old-fashioned aperture ring.

Mounting a Nikon F lens onto a Canon EOS body - either Full-Frame or APS-C sized - is very simple. Because the focus, iris, and zoom are all managed within the lens itself, one only needs adapt the physical bayonet to allow it to sit on the Canon body. Fotodiox is a reliable brand that sells these options for less than $20.

NIKON G LENSES REQUIRE MORE HIGH-TECH ADAPTERS

Look mom, no aperture ring!
Look mom, no aperture ring!

As is the trend with modern photography glass, Nikon has moved away from manual aperture rings with their modernized G-series lenses and instead made it a digitally-controlled function. The lack of aperture control may seem to be a huge hindrance in our quest to adapt them to non-Nikon bodies, but loopholes and workarounds have been engineered that still give you full manual aperture control. 

You see, electronic aperture control is just manipulating the same mechanical parts with a different interface. When the aperture is manipulated on a digital Nikon body, a lever on the lens is pushed or pulled at the place where the lens mount meets the rear of the lens. And so, Novoflex and 16:9 have created high-quality adapters that allow you, the user, to regain click-less manual aperture control for Nikon G lenses on Canon EOS bodies. 

There are a few catches to this arrangement, however. The first, of course, is that these Nikon G to Canon EOS adapters regularly sell for $200+. They also do not provide power to the lens, which means no Autofocus, VR (vibration reduction), or even EXIF data in some models.

Darren Levine shows off the Nikon G to Canon EF adapter

IN CONCLUSION
While it would be nice to put Canon lenses on Nikon bodies, the difference in flange focal distance makes it much more realistic to adapt the other way. Nikon F lenses are very easy to adapt with cheap metal mounting rings, but G-type lenses require more precise (and expensive!) options. But both will produce excellent results on any Canon EOS camera. 

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